News pg. 12

Kevin Cannon is the Best Cartoonist in Minneapolis!

April 19, 2011 / More →

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Now, we wouldn't presume to make that call -- there are tons of talented folks in the Twin Cities, including Will Dinski, Tim Sievert, Lars Martinson, and plenty more. Top Shelf co-publisher Brett Warnock saw firsthand what a hopping comics town Minneapolis is at the MIX expo last year!

But CityPages just announced their 2011 Best Of awards, and we can't help but celebrate with Kevin Cannon as he landed the "Best Cartoonist" crown! CP has praise for his thrill-a-minute Top Shelf graphic novel debut, Far Arden, "which started out as a rollicking Arctic adventure story and bloomed into a narrative that was surprisingly affecting and devastating," as well as the many & varied other projects he's worked on.

Congratulations, Kevin!

To Celebrate, we're offering $5 off all our books by Minneapolis cartoonists! Take a chance and try something new from this great scene.


Catch GINGERBREAD GIRL and Jeffrey Brown at Stumptown Comics Fest!

April 15, 2011 / More →

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Portland, Oregon: where even the mayor is a comic book character! Home of hippies, hipsters, Top Shelf's production office, and one of our favorite comic conventions: the Stumptown Comics Fest!

It's this weekend, part of Portland's annual Comics Month, and it kicks off tonight with a Jeffrey Brown signing at Floating World Comics for his new book Incredible Change-Bots Two!

THEN: hit the Oregon Convention Center Saturday and Sunday. We're debuting the amazing Gingerbread Girl by Paul Tobin & Colleen Coover (who are featured guests of the festival, along with Jeffrey Brown)! This beguiling graphic novel is even set in Portland and prominently features local landmarks, as you know if you've been following its free online serialization, so we had to give locals the first crack at it! We'll also have plenty of Incredible Change-Bots (volumes 1 and 2) for Jeffrey to sign, and our other buzzed-about new releases Night Animals and Liar's Kiss.

Last but not least, head to the programming rooms on Sunday for two panels with Jeffrey Brown, an autobio comics roundtable at noon and an spotlight interview with Inkstuds' Robin McConnell at 1:00. For details, see the Festival events page.

See you soon!


Top Shelf and Zip Comics announce: Harvey Pekar's CLEVELAND!

April 13, 2011 / More →

Image for Top Shelf and Zip Comics announce: Harvey Pekar's CLEVELAND!

The late great Harvey Pekar pioneered autobiographical comics, mining the mundane for magic beginning in 1976 with his American Splendor comics (and Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning film starring Paul Giamatti as Pekar and Pekar as himself), and later with graphic novels like Our Cancer Year (with Joyce Brabner & Frank Stack) and The Quitter (with Dean Haspiel) and webcomics with The Pekar Project up until his passing on July 12, 2010.

Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland will be a 112-page graphic novel written by Harvey, illustrated by Pekar Project artist Joseph Remnant, edited by Jeff Newelt, and published by newcomer ZIP Comics in collaboration with indie comix veterans Top Shelf. Top Shelf will be providing ZIP with their distribution network, marketing support, a slot in their catalog, and booth signings by Joseph at conventions.

“It’s a privilege to publish one of my idols, especially a graphic novel with such breathtaking art by Joseph who really hit it out of the park, in this case Cleveland’s Progressive Field,” says Josh Frankel, president of ZIP Comics. “And its a true honor & treat to work with Top Shelf who put out so many of my favorite graphic novels like Blankets, Super Spy, and Jeffrey Brown’s terrific books.”

The graphic novel will be composed of 50% history of Cleveland and its characters and 50% autobiography. “The script was complete before Harvey passed and twenty pages had already been finished by Joseph,” says Jeff Newelt, editor of The Pekar Project and Harvey Pekar’s CLEVELAND. “So our man did get to see the book’s beginning and was super-pleased with how the art was shaping up.”

Harvey Pekar’s CLEVELAND covers familiar American Splendor-ous territory while weaving in chunks of Cleveland history, including the Indians winning the 1948 World Series, the notorious 1969 fire on the Cuyahoga River as well as profiles of Cleveland “characters” like Charles Ruthenberg, leader of the city’s Communist party whose ashes were buried in the Kremlin wall. And of course cameos by Pekarverse regulars like Toby the Genuine Nerd, Mr. Boats and Harvey’s wife Joyce.

“We jumped at the chance to play a part in the publication of this historic and exquisitely crafted comic,” says Chris Staros, publisher, Top Shelf Productions. “Long time fans are in for something special.”

This is Remnant’s first full-length work. His previous Pekar Project collaborations include “Legendary Vienna,” “Sweeping Problem,” “Muncie Part 1” and “Muncie Part 2.” He recently wrote / illustrated a self-published a one-shot, “Blindspot.”

Free prints of the Harvey Pekar's CLEVELAND cover were available 4/9 & 4/10 at MoCCA at both the ZIP Comics and Top Shelf Booths, as well as at the MoCCA pre-party co-sponsored by ZIP & Top Shelf.


LIAR'S KISS Launches at MoCCA this weekend! Plus Brecht Evens, Alex Robinson, and more!

April 7, 2011 / More →

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New York's indie comics show, MoCCA Festival, is this weekend -- and it'll be a blast! Here's the plan:

Eric Skillman is best known as a graphic designer (those are his gorgeous designs on Alec: The Years Have Pants, Ax: Alternative Manga, and The Playwright, to say nothing of his day job at the Criterion Collection) but he's also one heck of a writer, and his slick noir graphic novel Liar's Kiss, with artist Jhomar Soriano, is an unmissable debut. He'll be with us at MoCCA signing copies all weekend, along with...

...young Belgian comics star Brecht Evens, who's pulling double duty signing his acclaimed new books Night Animals (at Top Shelf) and The Wrong Place (at Drawn & Quarterly). He's come 4000 miles to meet YOU, thanks in large part to the Flemish Literature Fund, so come say hello!

Alex Robinson will join us as well, selling a brand-new Box Office Poison mini-comic (the first new BOP comics in a decade!) plus the redesigned edition of his award-winning graphic novel Tricked!

PLUS Mats Jonsson (Hey Princess) is coming once again from Sweden! And we'll have copies of the new books Incredible Change-Bots Two by Jeffrey Brown and Owly & Wormy: Friends All Aflutter by Andy Runton.

AND we're co-sponsoring a kickoff party tomorrow (Friday) night at Sutra in the East Village! Check this post or the official Facebook invite for more details.

So if you're anywhere close to New York, come on out! We'd love to see you.


Jess Fink explores "What the Love Robot Wants" in CHESTER 5000 Interview!

April 4, 2011 / More →

Image for Jess Fink explores "What the Love Robot Wants" in CHESTER 5000 Interview!

When we first read Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie's incredible Lost Girls, it was clear to us that sexually explicit comics can have as much visual and literary sophistication as any other graphic novel. And the massive success of that book has confirmed beyond a doubt that there are plenty of readers out there interested in erotic comics that are created with warmth, wit, and wisdom.

That's why we are so excited to bring you Chester 5000 by Jess Fink! Jess has built a loyal audience already with the online version of Chester, and next month we'll present this sweet, silly, sexy, romance in a beautiful hardcover edition. It's the irresistible story of a Victorian-era love robot and the woman who loves him -- and the man who loves her, and the woman who loves him, and... well, you get the picture.

Jess spoke with Tim O'Shea at Robot 6 for a wide-ranging interview that just went live! Find out about her creative process, her own Alan Moore connection, her upcoming autobigraphical book We Can Fix It!, her much-publicized battles with merchandise bootleggers, and more! Dive in, won't you?


Getting ready for a wonderful WonderCon!

March 31, 2011 / More →

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Hey, do you smell delicious burritos? Must be time to head to San Francisco!

Yes, WonderCon begins tomorrow, and Top Shelf will be there! Stop by our booth (#414) and say hello. Team BB Wolf -- Rich Koslowski and J.D. "Johnnie" Arnold -- will be on hand to hook you up with their great books as well as our much-talked about new releases, Night Animals by Brecht Evens and Incredible Change-Bots Two by Jeffrey Brown!

See you there!


Jeffrey Brown is "Good at Playing"!

March 30, 2011 / More →

Image for Jeffrey Brown is "Good at Playing"!

One of our most beloved authors, Jeffrey Brown has done books in a whole variety of genres: from heartfelt (and sometimes heartbroken) autobiography, to stream-of-consciousness goofy gags, to all-out balls-to-the-wall adventure.

In a thoughtful new comics-essay for the Graphic NYC site, Jeffrey does an amazing job tying all those strands of his career together. It's called "I'm Really Good at Playing," and it's a great "state of the artist" snapshot -- particularly given the release of Jeffrey's Incredible Change-Bots Two, which will reach stores next month.


MOVING PICTURES nominated for a Doug Wright Award!

March 16, 2011 / More →

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Following hot on the heels of a Stumptown Award nomination, Kathryn and Stuart Immonen picked up another honor late yesterday: their acclaimed graphic novel Moving Pictures is a nominee for the 2011 Doug Wright Awards, honoring the best in English-language Canadian comics.

Moving Pictures is a nominee for the Best Book category. The most recent Doug Wright Award for Top Shelf went to Jeff Lemire for Best Emerging Talent, honoring his work on Essex County.

Our warmest congratulations to Kathryn, Stuart, and all the other nominees! Head to the Toronto Comics Art Festival (TCAF) May 7th and join us at the award ceremony, won't you?


Top Shelf and NIGHT ANIMALS sweep Stumptown Awards nominations- now YOU pick the winners!

March 15, 2011 / More →

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We're delighted to see Top Shelf so well represented at the 2011 Stumptown Awards, whose nominees were announced this morning! Among a ton of great books from publishers large and small, Top Shelf leads the pack with five nominations - not to mention many other nominations in the extended Top Shelf family!

Brecht Evens' spellbinding Night Animals is one of the most recognized books, with nominations in three categories: Best Artist, Best Colorist, and Best Publication Design. That ties him with Carla Speed McNeil's Finder and The Unsinkable Walker Bean by Top Shelf alumnus Aaron Renier, with three nominations each.

There are also nods for Stuart Immonen as Best Artist for the powerful Moving Pictures and the eye-opening Ax: A Collection of Alternative Manga, edited by Sean Michael Wilson, as Best Anthology.

We're proud to see several veterans of Top Shelf 2.0 nominated as well, including Aidan Koch, Michael Deforge, and Emi Lenox!

Hats off to all the nominees.

Now, friends, it's your turn. Out of these nominees, the winners are being determined by an online vote, so head over to the voting page and pick your favorites!


Wizard cover story on THE HOMELAND DIRECTIVE!

March 10, 2011 / More →

Image for Wizard cover story on THE HOMELAND DIRECTIVE!

The new all-digital incarnation of Wizard sports a beautiful cover this week - because it's a huge feature on the upcoming graphic novel by Robert Venditti and Mike Huddleston, The Homeland Directive!

You can download the issue for free right here at WizardWorld.com in a variety of formats. The cover story (beginning on page 10) features a long interview with author Robert Venditti, in which he explains the creation of The Homeland Directive, describes the process of working with Mike Huddleston, and shares his thoughts on the big-budget film adaptation of his bestselling book The Surrogates -- plus his all-time favorite conspiracy stories! There's also plenty of gorgeous art previews from the inimitable Mr. Huddleston. Check it out here!

The Homeland Directive is available for pre-order now and will hit stores in May. Don't miss it - the fate of the country is in your hands!


Acclaimed hacker comic WIZZYWIG comes to Top Shelf!

March 4, 2011 / More →

We're delighted to announce that Top Shelf has signed the complete graphic novel WIZZYWIG by Ed Piskor, to be published in 2012. Ed's DIY releases of chapters of WIZZYWIG have already garnered substantial accolades and a cult fanbase, and we are eager to share this book with the world.

They say What You See Is What You Get... but Kevin "Boingthump" Phenicle could always see more than most people. In the world of phone phreaks, hackers, and scammers, he's a legend. His exploits are hotly debated: could he really get free long-distance calls by whistling into a pay phone? Did his video-game piracy scheme accidentally trigger the first computer virus? And did he really dodge the FBI by using their own wiretapping software against them? Is he even a real person? And if he's ever caught, what would happen to a geek like him in federal prison?

Based on the incredible true stories of early hackers, WIZZYWIG is the thrilling tale of a master manipulator -- his journey from precocious child scammer to federally-wanted fugitive, and beyond. In a world transformed by social networks and data leaks, Ed Piskor's debut graphic novel reminds us how much power can rest in the hands of an audacious kid with a keyboard.


GOD IS DISAPPOINTED IN YOU also comes to Top Shelf!

March 3, 2011 / More →

Image for GOD IS DISAPPOINTED IN YOU also comes to Top Shelf!

Top Shelf is also proud to announce that we have signed the very unique Bible project, GOD IS DISAPPOINTED IN YOU, by Mark Russell with cartoons by Shannon Wheeler, to be published in 2012.

GOD IS DISAPPOINTED IN YOU is for people who would like to read the Bible if only it would just cut to the chase. Stripped of its arcane language and its interminable passages of poetry, genealogy and law, every book of the Bible is condensed down to its core message, usually in the space of a single page or less. Written by Mark Russell with cartoons by Shannon Wheeler, GOD IS DISAPPOINTED IN YOU is a frequently hilarious, often shocking, but always accurate retelling of the Bible, including the parts selectively left out by Sunday School teachers and church sermons. Irreverent, yet taking the Bible at face value, this book is a must-read for anyone who wants to see past the fog of religious agendas and cultural debates to know what the Bible really says.


BB WOLF nominated for four Glyph Awards!

February 16, 2011 / More →

Image for BB WOLF nominated for four Glyph Awards!

Top Shelf is extremely proud to announce that JD Arnold and Rich Koslowski's graphic novel BB Wolf and the Three LPs is nominated for four Glyph Comics Awards! JD is up for Best Writer, Rich is up for Best Artist, BB himself is in the running for Best Male Character, and the book is a candidate for Story of the Year!

The Glyph Awards, founded in 2005, celebrate great comics created by, for, and about people of color. BB Wolf, through the allegorical retelling of a classic fairy tale, explores real historically grounded issues of race in the Mississippi Delta of the 1920s.

Congratulations to JD, Rich, and all the Glyph nominees! Many thanks to the Glyph judges and staff. We look forward to the award ceremony, May 20 in Philadelphia, in connection with the East Coast Black Age of Comics Con!


ESSEX COUNTY wins People's Choice in Canada Reads, despite first day vote-off from panelists!

February 11, 2011 / More →

Image for ESSEX COUNTY wins People's Choice in Canada Reads, despite first day vote-off from panelists!

With millions of book-lovers tuning in, Jeff Lemire's award-winning graphic novel Essex County faced off this week against four other books in the CBC's annual Canada Reads competition! Just landing on this program was a big victory for Jeff, for us, and for the graphic novel artform, especially since the show's theme this year was "Essential Canadian Novel of the Decade."

Eloquently defended by "indie music darling" Sara Quin (of Tegan and Sara), Essex County was introduced to a huge number of new readers who fell in love with its characters, and with Jeff's amazing artwork. Several of the panelists said they were initially skeptical about reading a graphic novel, only to open the book and find Essex County extremely moving.

But it is a "battle of the books," after all, and at the end of the first day the panel voted to eliminate Essex County from Canada Reads.

The audience had other ideas, though! In enthusiastic debates in the studio, on the CBC's liveblogs, on Twitter, and all over Canada, they made their voices heard -- and many felt that Essex County deserved a second look. When the CBC held the Canada Reads 2011 People's Choice Poll, Essex County took the top spot with a whopping 53.15% of all votes: a landslide victory!

So to recap: Essex County is officially the 5th most essential Canadian novel of the decade, it's the #1 People's Choice, and millions of people are now looking at a graphic novel with fresh eyes. Not a bad week!

Congratulations to all the nominated books and authors, and many thanks to those who made it all possible: host Jian Ghomeshi, Sara Quin and the other panelists, everyone at CBC Books, and YOU the fans.


Rep. John Lewis and Top Shelf Productions Sign Historic Publishing Agreement

February 7, 2011 / More →

Image for Rep. John Lewis and Top Shelf Productions Sign Historic Publishing Agreement

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 7, 2011

Atlanta, GA – Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Top Shelf Productions have signed a publishing agreement. Top Shelf Productions has agreed to publish the graphic novel March, coauthored by Rep. John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, tentatively scheduled for release in 2012.

“I am very pleased to be participating in this effort,” said Congressman John Lewis. “This is something I really wanted to do some years ago and there is no better time to do it than now. It is not just a story of struggle; it is a story of involvement. It shows the ups, the downs, the ins and the outs of a movement.

“It is my hope,” said Congressman Lewis, “that this work will be meaningful and helpful to future generations to give many people here in America and around the world the urge, the desire, to seek, to build, their own world, their own future.”

A meditation in the modern age on the distance traveled, both as a nation and as a people, since the days of Jim Crow and segregation, March tells the first hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights.

The publishing agreement is an historic first, both for the U.S. Congress and graphic novel publishing as a whole, marking the first time a sitting Member of Congress has authored a graphic novel. Top Shelf Productions is the first and only graphic novel publisher to be certified by the House Committee on Standards.

“As a proud resident of Georgia, and a long-time fan of the honorable Congressman,” adds publisher Chris Staros, “this is truly a deep honor. To bring, not only his life’s story, but that of the Civil Rights Movement to the comics medium is truly exciting. This will make this historical and timeless message accessible to an entirely new generation of readers.”

An artist has yet to be named for the project though candidates are being actively considered.

***

JOHN LEWIS is Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District Representative and an American icon widely known for his role in the Civil Rights Movement.

As a student at American Baptist Theological Seminary in 1959, John Lewis organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1961, he volunteered to participate in the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South. He was beaten severely by angry mobs and arrested by police for challenging the injustice of Jim Crow segregation in the South.

From 1963 to 1966, Lewis was Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). As Chairman, John Lewis became a nationally recognized leader. Lewis was dubbed one of the Big Six leaders of the Civil Rights Movement and at the age of 23, he was an architect of and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in August 1963.

In 1964, John Lewis coordinated SNCC efforts to organize voter registration drives and community action programs during the Mississippi Freedom Summer. The following year, Lewis helped spearhead one of the most seminal moments of the Civil Rights Movement. Hosea Williams, another notable Civil Rights leader, and John Lewis led over 600 peaceful, orderly protestors across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965. They intended to march from Selma to Montgomery to demonstrate the need for voting rights in the state. The marchers were attacked by Alabama state troopers in a brutal confrontation that became known as "Bloody Sunday." News broadcasts and photographs revealing the senseless cruelty of the segregated South helped hasten the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Despite more than 40 arrests, physical attacks and serious injuries, John Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence. After leaving SNCC in 1966, he continued his commitment to the Civil Rights Movement as Associate Director of the Field Foundation and his participation in the Southern Regional Council's voter registration programs. Lewis went on to become the Director of the Voter Education Project (VEP). In 1977, John Lewis was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to direct more than 250,000 volunteers of ACTION, the federal volunteer agency.

In 1981, he was elected to the Atlanta City Council. He was elected to Congress in November 1986 and has served as U.S. Representative of Georgia's Fifth Congressional District since then.

ANDREW AYDIN, an Atlanta native, currently serves in Rep. John Lewis’ Washington, D.C. office handling Telecommunications and Technology policy as well as New Media. Previously, Andrew served as Communications Director and Press Secretary during Rep. Lewis’ 2008 and 2010 re-election campaigns. Andrew is a graduate of the Lovett School in Atlanta and Trinity College in Hartford, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree at Georgetown University.

TOP SHELF PRODUCTIONS is the literary graphic novel and comics publisher best known for its ability to discover and showcase the vanguard of the comics scene. Founded by Co-Publisher Brett Warnock in 1995, and partnered by Co-Publisher Chris Staros in 1997, Top Shelf has produced over two hundred graphic novels and comics that have helped to revitalize interest in comics as a literary art form. Most notably, Alan Moore’s FROM HELL, LOST GIRLS, and THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN; Craig Thompson’s BLANKETS; Andy Runton's OWLY; Robert Venditti & Brett Weldele’s THE SURROGATES, Jeff Lemire’s ESSEX COUNTY, and Jeffrey Brown's CLUMSY & UNLIKELY, all of which have garnered critical accolades from the likes of Time Magazine, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, People Magazine, Publishers Weekly, The New Yorker, and the New York Times Book Review.

IN PHOTO (FROM LEFT TO RIGHT):
Chris Staros, Congressman John Lewis & Andrew Aydin