so much to do, so very little time...
March 1, 2009 / More →
Lots to talk about, true believers, so listen up.
• First up — if you're enlightened enough to order your comics in advance through the Diamond Previews catalog, two items of special note stand out this month, both of which y'all need to pick up.
First, Top Shelf alum Jeff Lemire's first original graphic novel for Vertigo, titled The Nobody. I can't tell you how stoked i am to read this! Page 116 in the current Previews. And Jeff's even provided sample pages here at his website.
Next up, the sophomore issue of a magazine that's been so long between issues, i forgot entirely about it. But forget no more, as Illo #2 explodes onto the scene with a cover feature on the sweet-ass illustrator & cartoonist, Toronto-based Michael Cho. I'm not talking him up just because i get his tweets every day. (LOTS of them, in fact.) He's the real deal, and really worth checking out.
• Local cartoonist David Chelsea hosts 24-Hour Comic Benefit for ailing cartoonist S. Clay Wilson. Yep, another 24-Comic event at Portland's own Cosmic Monkey Comics.
Cosmic Monkey 24 Hour Comics Event
5335 NE Sandy Blvd
Portland OR. Phone:503-517-9050
Saturday April 11th 10am to Sunday April 12th 10am.
• Veeps gets some love at Bookmarking.
And speaking of Veeps, master illustrator Wayne Shellabarger will have five of his Vice-presidential portraits from the book on display at the Factory Party in San Francisco!
• Cool shit alert, picked up at Grass Hut on East Burnside: The Whimsical Works of David Weidman, published by Ginko Press. I'd never heard of this guy, and WOW, his work is amazing.
Grass Hut's next epic art show is this forthcoming First Friday, March 6th, titled Curio-Logicals. No info on the site yet, but their promotional postcard features this stunning painted image from exquisitely talented illustrator Elizabeth Haidle... this is one of the coolest images i've seen in months.
• Scary-talented illustrator and Criterion Collection staff designer Eric Skillman blogs here about two projects he's recently wrapped up. Amazing stuff.
I'm still flabbergasted that we've started a working relationship with this wunderkind, which kicked off with his astounding Alec: The Years Have Pants covers, and followed-up with his template design for the AX manga compendium series due to start early next year. Whoo hoo!
Here's the final design for the AX template. Check out his process, and his entire slate of ideas. Great shit!
• Finally, stay tuned for a meaty review of Amid Amidi's terrific new coffee-table artbook, The Art of Pixar Short Films. It's a beaut!
terrific new t-shirts available from James Kochalka!
February 24, 2009 / More →
My favorites are:
And God is Cute
• Ah geez... geek alert! Geek alert!! Norman Saunders Hardcover. Published by The Illustrated Press. Wow. What a mind-bogglingly stunning book this is. For my money, gimme a pop-culture master over the so-called "fine artists" any day. 'Nuff said.
• Jeremy Eaton continues to impress. He's got some rockin' new paintings available (including this Luke Cage) on his website. If i had some extra coin i'd buy 'em all!
• If you happen to be in Terni, Italy the weekend of March 14 / 15, you could do worse than go see Pat Mills and Kevin O'Neill at the Fumetterni Comics Festival. And if you happen to speak Italian, read more about it here. (Thanks to Leigh for the tip.)
• Jeff Lemire's newest addition to his trading card collection.
• Diamond's own Jenny Christopher turned me onto this silly little motion comic, via Twitter.
• I barely have the time to read my cereal box every morning, let alone comics. Sad but true state if affairs. But i have read three new books recently, that by their inclusion here (in lieu of actual reviews), are hereby considered officially endorsed by me, for whatever that's worth.
Jin & Jam, by Hellen Jo. Published by Spark Plug. Another entry into the neo-manga fight comics made popular by the likes of Corey Lewis, Brandon Graham, and Bryan Lee O'Malley. Narrative is all over the place, but book succeeds on mad energy and killer art alone.
Shitbeams On The Loose. Various. Published by Tender Loving Empire. In the school of art-brut comics like those one might find from Picture Box (except for the most part better), this anthology is packed with cool art and stories. Stand out is the lead story by Mike Bertino, "Below Us." In a just world, Bertino would be a household name. He's not nearly as prolific making comics as he should be (instead, opting for a "real" career making money as a painter), so any opportunity to root out his work is worth the effort.
Mouse Guard, by David Petersen. Published by Villard. Gorgeously drawn fantasy comic. Story is not as strong as i was hoping it would be, but is a load of furry fun. Carter LOVED it, and i'd say there's no better endorsement than that.
• Finally, here's a sneak peak at a swanky new Jeffrey Brown cover for the forthcoming Ethan Frome reprint, by Edith Wharton. Published by Penguin Classics.
February 11, 2009
Surrogates fever is high!
Agent Leigh Walton was in the field at New York Con all weekend, and took this snap, a giant poster overlooking the main lobby entrance to the show, next to a big poster of the Pixar Up movie.
Slash Film has a post about it, and so does io9.
But how wicked cool is this new viral site for Virtual Self Industries!
• Buzz abounds also for the forthcoming AX Manga anthology. A nice post on cover artist Akino Kondoh at Electric Ant Zine Blog.
This also links to a Manga Cast entry showcasing older cover art by contributing artists in AX.
Meanwhile, Same Hat Same Hat! has a feature on Tatsumi's A Drifting Life, forthcoming from Drawn & Quarterly.
• Renee French has been driven to draw with her off-hand because of a pinched nerve... and her art still rocks! (Take care of yourself, Renee!)
• Some Kochalka love at Devil Vet.
• Tim O'Shea interviews Todd Klein for Robot 6 at Comic Book Resources! Todd is most widely known (and justifiably so) for his masterful lettering skills. What many people don't know, is that he's also an exquisite designer as well. In fact, in addition to lettering and title logo design, Todd is packaging League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 3: Century entirely on his own.
• Finally, here's some not-comics fun as sent via email to me by Politico editorial cartoonist Matt Wueker.
Ben & Jerry have created "Yes Pecan!" ice cream flavor for Obama. For George W. they asked for suggestions from the public. Here are some of their favorite responses:
- Grape Depression
- The Housing Crunch
- Abu Grape
- Cluster Fudge
- Nut'n Accomplished
- Iraqi Road
- Chock 'n Awe
- imPeach Cobbler
- Heck of a Job, Brownie!
- RockyRoad to Fascism
- The Reese's-cession
- Cookie D'oh!
- Nougalar Proliferation
- Death by Chocolate... and Torture
- Freedom Vanilla Ice Cream
- Chocolate Chip On My Shoulder
- Credit Crunch
- Mission Pecanplished
- Country Pumpkin
- Chunky Monkey in Chief
- Chocolate Chimp
- Bloody Sundae
- Caramel Preemptive Stripe
- I broke the law and am responsible for the deaths of thousands . . . with nuts
February 2, 2009
Super duper congrats to Jeff and Leslie-Anne Lemire! Wee lad Gus Michael Lemire was born last night, weighing in at 8lbs, 11oz!!
Best of luck, kids. And grab as many naps as you can squeeze in!
January 29, 2009
Jeff Lemire's Essex County Trilogy ranks as Greg Burgas' Best Graphic Novel of 2008, on his Comics Should Be Good column over at Comic Book Resources! (Full reviews here.) Nate Powell's Swallow Me Whole comes in third! (Full review here.)
Oh, and here's a sneak-peek at Matt Kindt's first design for the collected Essex County volume coming out this Summer.
• Jeff also scores an interview with Chris Arrant at Newsarama about his forthcoming Vertigo graphic novel, The Nobody.
Jeff has a sneak-peek on his blog!
• Belgian cartoonist, and Top Shelf alum, Jean Bourguignon has a terrific new website! Even if you don't read French, it's a delight for the eyes!
• Previews is out (i have yet to pick it up) bu i'm told that Mike Dawson's new book from AdHouse is listed — Ace Face: The Mod with the Metal Arms. I've read some of this stuff in Project: Superior, and it is awesome!! Buy it! Read it! Love it!
Shipping April 2009
Diamond Order Code: FEB094014
You can download a preview PDF from the AdHouse website here, and read an interview with Mike by Tim O'Shea at Comic Book Resources.
• Matt Kindt has some preview pages at his own website for his forthcoming Dark Horse book, Giant Man.
• Portlander Jamie Rich is interviewed at Newsarama!
January 25, 2009
Liz Prince is interviewed in comics form by Noah Van Sciver in the new issue of The Comics Journal. (Brian K. Vaughan cover feature.)
• My very very good friend, and one of my mentors in comics, Diana Schutz has a 2-part interview here and here at Comic Book Resources. Check it out, or burn in flames!
• Also, just heard that my other mentor in comics (and oddly enough, Diana's ex-husband and best friend) Bob Schreck was laid off by DC. I just don't know enough details to comment on this, but if this was out of the blue for Bob, and not of his choosing, all i can say is that whoever makes the decisions at DC has their head shoved very firmly up their ass. Bob is a legend in this industry, and justly so.
Best to you with the next chapter, Bob.
• On a brighter note, how amazingly cool is this Wolverine cover homage by Renee French. (Done for Rob Goodin's wicked cool Covered blog.)
mr. bill [kelter] returns to portland!...
January 16, 2009 / More →
well, from Vancouver that is (right across the Columbia River) for yet another reading from VEEPS: Profiles In Insignificance. This marks Bill's second event here in the City of Roses (although sadly sans his partner-in-crime, Veeps illustrator Wayne Shellabarger) to promote his book, and as it's on the Eve of The Obama Inauguration, this stands to be a doozy! So if you're in P-Town next week, come out and see what the fuss is all about!
Monday, January 19, 7:30 p.m.
Powell's Books on Hawthorne
3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Portland, OR 97214
• So my son Carter (just turned four) and myself are almost wrapped up watching the complete adventures of the original Johnny Quest, and hot damn i gotta tell ya, this is some kick-ass shit! Granted, by today's standards some of the ethnic characterizations or nonchalance towards environmental & wildlife considerations might not be considered very PC, but it's never mean-spirited in any capacity. Especially if one keeps in mind this was aired in 1964, near the peak of the Cold-War.
Created by comics vet Doug Wildey for Hanna-Barbera, the locales are exotic, the technology awesome, the adventures are fun and exciting, and the Bad Guys drown, catch on fire, or get blown up all the freaking time! Networks could never get away with this today. Y'know, usually when i watch old television for nostalgic reasons, it rarely holds up, but Johnny Quest is really quite solid. (I think it actually stands toe-to-toe with it's mutant grandchild, The Venture Bros.)
One thing cracked me up in a recent episode though... Johnny and Hadji get kidnapped, and the ransomer asks for $60,000. (What a small mind.) Anyway, Doctor Quest says, "But how can i raise $60,000?!!" What the fuck? This from the guy with tropical island research labs, hover craft, private live-in sailboats, personal jet-packs, giant laser cannons, etc etc.?? Then i dawned on me... duh. Cold War. High-tech. Do the math. Of course, he's got to be on retainer by the U.S. military, no two ways about it.
Sure the animation is limited, but still, this beats the crap out of most of it's competition of the day. (Or today, for that matter.) I mean, really, who can watch an entire season of Scooby Doo or the Jetsons? (Four-year-olds excluded.)
• Jed Alexander has a new website! I met Jed, oh man, at least a decade ago at SPX, and this gentleman's work rocks. See for yourself at Top Shelf 2.0!
• It's come to our attention that we've got a new celebrity plug for Nate Powell's recent masterpiece, Swallow Me Whole. Turns out someone from the tv show Heroes? Her name is Brea Grant? Now, i've never seen a single episode of the show myself (i'm a wait-for-the-series-to-wrap, and then watch it all in one big go kind of guy), but after checking out the website of this absolutely stunningly-hot hottie, i think i'll jump the gun on that. How cool. (I wonder if she's looking for a Soul Mate?)
• Finally, a day late and a dollar short, here's some holiday art from Christmas and New Year's past.
By Aaron Renier:
By Brian Biggs:
grass hut goodness!
January 9, 2009 / More →
• From a Grass Hut newsletter, i've learned that toy design team Gargamel is in town. This show comes highly recommended, if you'll be in Portland this weekend. It's gonna be packed: "We'll be handing out tickets/numbers anytime after noon on Friday. 6pm doors open and at 6:15 we'll call the first number and so on. For everybody else — around 8pm we will offer up the remaining stock, exclusives customs, ect online."
Here's a few sneaks, and more picks here...
Bwana will be debuting another one of his own kick-ass toys, Dolly the Dolphin, and what's more there will be guests Chanmen, Kiyoka Ikeda, Naoya Ikeda, and Koji Harmon bringing custom sofubi, paintings, exclusive releases.
Oh, and Rick Widmayer of the Screen Door (Brett's FAVORITE restaurant in Portland, hands down) will be providing some very tasty eats.
Art shows don't get much better than this!
arctic weather continues to pummel top shelf west coast headquarters!!
January 3, 2009 / More →
Just when a couple feet of snow melted from the last storm, the West Coast headquarters here in Portland got dumped on again last night. Then, driving around today i was pelted by a brutal shower of hailstones. Yeesh!
So, in any case, as per usual this time of year, it's been a slow week. Not much to report, except that almost twenty years after the fact i felt obligated to finally watch the highly touted television show Twin Peaks. (Spurred by my budding interest in episodic entertainment, rooted in a desire to create/oversee various iterations of web-specific content.) I'm roughly halfway done, and to be honest i was expecting to loath this. Well hellfire, anyway, but i love this so far! All of the noise i heard at the time about it being weird for weird's sake is downright wrong. Granted, it may have been complex for its time, but if anything, it may have been a blueprint for the currently hot trend of meta-television. That is, shows that take an entire season (or more) to tell a story. Kyle MacLachlan as the unflappable Special Agent Dale Cooper is a freaking hero for the ages. The rest of the cast, and the characters they play are spot-on. Plot unfolds at rapid pace, as the whodunit rolls along, all the while characters making growth from episode to episode. What really boggles, however, and something i don't associate with David Lynch, is the heart and triumph of the human spirit that shines through. Wow. Ahead of its time.
• Meanwhile, Top Shelf veteran David Yurkovich has recently self-published volume 2 of his superhero rumination Altercations. Altercations volume 1 was the very first book i ever read in the Yurkoverse, and i became an instant fan, thereafter publishing two collections of (remastered) previous material. It's terrific to see this finally complete, and i'm stoked to read it. If you like you men-in-tights flavored with a serious dose of humor and weird, check this out. Available at Indy Planet or by way of his own site, Sleeping Giant.
• And here is a bitchin' Batman illustration nabbed from Lukas Ketner's blog. This guy can draw. DIg this, and spread the good word.
• I'm out. Y'all have one hella kick-ass 2009!
jeff lemire's country nurse ranks tops on
December 24, 2008 / More →
Randy Meyers' Top Ten Graphic Lit books for 2008, at Contra Costa Times.
• Some recent holiday cards.
Center for Cartoon Studies sent their new holiday card, courtesy of James Sturm, art by Chris Wright.
Bill Kelter and Wayne Shellabarger. Read about the genesis of this timeless piece at the Veeps blog.
• Top Shelf alumnus Rich Koslowski is interviewed at Newsarama!
• Stripburger News!
The 48th issue of Stripburger features two special sections.
The first one introduces us to Dongery, a group of comics artists from Norway (Bendik Kaltenborn, Flu Hartberg, Sindre Goksoyr and Kristoffer Kjolberg).
The second sections reveals one of the youngest comics scene in Europe - that of Latvia (Anete Melece, Kaspars Groshevs and Ingrida Picukane). Also in the focus of this issue is Marco Corona, perhaps one of the most intriguing Italian cartoonists at this moment. Corona was interviewed by Paola Bristot.
Stripburger no. 48 also boasts an unusually high percentage of Slovene authors. Domen Finzgar makes his debut in this issue, while Damijan Sovec returns after a long absence with a series of travel comics. Other highlights of the issue include works by Olive Booger (France), Janek Koza (Poland), Tea Hvala (Slovenia), Gasper Rus (Slovenia) and the duo of Matej Lavrencic and Koco (Slovenia), to name just a few of them.
• B.ü.L.b comix, a non-profit making publishing house for independant graphic novels and comix based in Geneva, Switzerland, has just launched version 2.0 of the website and thought you'd be interested to visit it.
top shelf wunderkind Alex Robinson makes Pop Candy's
December 17, 2008 / More →
Top 100 People of 2008 list! Big ups, Alex!
• James Kochalka interviewed by Giant Robot, for his third Little Paintings show.
• Libby Egan took this snap while in Minneapolis over the Summer. Top Shelf love is everywhere!
• A bitchin' Wolverine piece from Matt Kindt. Damn, i work with some kick-ass peeps.
• Here's a first round of cover comps for the collected Essex County Trilogy, by Jeff Lemire, and designed by Jeff and Matt Kindt.
• More new Soap Lady art from Renee French.
if you're in Portland this weekend,
December 9, 2008 / More →
i highly recommend attending the re-opening of Guapo Comics. They moved a couple blocks away, and are back in business. But wait, there's more!... This Saturday, Guapo Comics & Coffee celebrates the re-opening at their new location, along with a graphic novel release party for local cartoonists Jesse Reklaw (The Night of Your Life), Nicole Georges (Invincible Summer volume II), and Theo Ellsworth (Capacity). Joining them will be Julia Gfrörer, John Isaacson, and Sean Christensen for multimedia cartoonist readings, live drawing, and a comics social. Experience cutting edge comics on the crossroads of the strange yet personal -- the everyday fantastic -- what can only be described as the funhouse mirror of your lucid deja vu re-enacted for your pleasure. Plus an art show, book signing, beer, and cookies.
one of my first publisher heroes, Dean Mullaney, is interviewed at Newsarama.
December 7, 2008 / More →
Topic of discussion — his brilliantly conceived and executed Library of American Comics. Terry and the Pirates, Little Orphan Annie, and Scorchy Smith have all seen gorgeous treatments (arguably the best ever) and starting soon, Dean will take over the Dick Tracy reprint series, and enlarge its size, bringing it up the the Terry book dimensions.
We live in a new Golden Age of classic comic strip reprints people (see also: Popeye, Peanuts, Dennis the Menace and Jules Feiffer from Fantagraphics; Walt and Skeezix from D & Q; Little Nemo, Little Sammy Sneeze, and Walt and Skeezix Color Sundays, from Sunday Press). We should all be thankful.
• I really dig the tiny little boutique here in Portland called Tender Loving Empire. Not only do they sell lots of nifty hand-made crafts and shit, but they create and produce cool stuff as well. AND they are a commercial screen-printing outfit as well.
You could do worse than visit their store (or the website, if you don't live in Portland), while you gift-shopping for your hipster friends.
Two books come especially highly recommended: Mike Bertino's Pinwheel, and the anthology Shitbeems On The Loose, featuring the likes of Luke Ramsey, Mike Bertino, Drew Beckmeyer, Ron Rege jr, Brent Harada, Hector Serna, jr., Thomas Crawford, Rusty Jordan, Matt Furie, Dave Nuss, RobynJordan, and Grant Reynolds.
• And another new drawing for the forthcoming, revamped Soap Lady reprint.
• LOVE it!!
witness: a stunning piece by Renee French for the re-formatted Soap Lady, which we'll be publishing
December 2, 2008 / More →
Tom McLean has left the Bags & Boards blog for Variety dot com. Bummer. But he's keeping the name and blogging on his own now, free from the constraints of his corporate masters. Whoo hoo! Tom knows his shit, people, so bookmark this site pronto. His links list alone is a marvel.
• Super-wonk Bill Kelter is back to his blogerific ways on the Veeps blog, after a brief post-election hiatus. And he delivers the goods, as always.
• NPR: Five Hefty Tomes to See You Through Your Turkey Coma. Almost a week late, but cool to see three of five NPR picks being Top Shelf fare: From Hell, Blankets, and Box Office Poison.
Peter Kuper took this snap at a fruit stand at 98th and Broadway. Top Shelf, baby!
November 25, 2008 / More →
• Top Shelf 2.0 contributor Stef Lenk is part of a launch party to celebrate her new comic, Tea Time #2.
LAUNCH! TeaTime 2 and Brick Literary Journal 82: high literature, visual oddities, and gratuitous drinking at Mitzi's Sister.
1554 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario
Wednesday the 3rd December (doors at 7.30)
There will be readings and excellent company and drinks and books for sale too. As always, friends, strangers, and those appreciative of oddities are all welcome.