Hey Bartender! pg. 28

nine days later...

June 18, 2006 / More →

Shoot... so hard getting back on the horse when i've been away. To recap the last ten days.

MoCCA. good. Sales were down a little from last year, but hey … the crowd was steady, the vibe was groovy, and we were in New York, so that's o.k.

Good times at the Top Shelf booth. We had Alex Robinson, Tony Consiglio (whose 110Per¢ debuted), Lilli Carre (Tales of Woodsman Pete debut), Rob Venditti, Andy Runton, Jeremy Tinder, Chris Duffy (from Nickelodeon) pimping Grampa & Julie, the aforementioned Liz Prine and Aaron Renier, and of course, Papa Chris.

Publisher's Weekly wrote:
"...Lilli Carré was in Top Shelf's booth to sign the biggest debut of the show, Tales of Woodsman Pete…and they sold 125 copies of it over the weekend." (Subscription required, i think.)

Saw lot's of friends, partied pretty hard (the Barcade party by Sparkplug fucked me right up), played foosball at the Fantagraphics party, ate some lame and some great grub. Walked a lot. Rode the subway more times than i can count.

Stayed two nights at Aaron Renier's pad in Brooklyn (as did Liz Prince, in from Boston), and my last night at Gregory Benton's beautiful place on the Upper West Side.

I visited a plethora of bitchin' comics shops (Rocketship, Forbidden Planet and Jim Hanley's) and bookstores (The Strand and Virgin Megastore), and amazingly only spent $30!! I'm shocked and amazed. (The big ticket item, volume 2 of The Times of Botchan manga reprint, by Jiro Taniguchi [author of The Walking Man] and published by Potent/Fanfare.)

Meanwhile, once again my amigo Gary Butler asked me a couple geeky questions recently, and i thought the communique worthy yet again some bloggity fun.


On Jun 16, 2006, at 11:25 AM, Gary Butler wrote:
I am not a fan of Grell's writing at all. I enjoyed LONGBOW HUNTERS at the time that he did it, and felt that it evinced a (dare I say) maturation in his style. But I can't say that it aged well at all. (Still own it, mind.)

Brett responds:
As i mentioned in an earlier email, when i was 15 i was a HUGE fan of Warlord, but i just never liked his superhero stuff. In fact, i hated it. I'd totally lost it for him with Sable (The assassin who moonlights as a children's book author? What the fu.?), and never even picked up on Longbow Hunters when it came out. (Although i bought it a few years ago after i'd read a seemingly enlightened review of it, on how much deeper it runs than it's credited for. Bullshit. I sat down to read this thing and literally couldn't get past the first 10 or 15 pages. Just horrible stuff.)

Gary Butler wrote:
You a CONAN fan at all? Me, not so much. Never read the Howard. Hated the Arnold movies. Never got into the Marvel stuff. I have the entire Dark Horse run and have read maybe a third of it; it's clearly top-notch stuff, but consistently fails to make me want to immerse myself, so I have to figure that Conan's just not m'man...

Brett responds:
HUGE Conan fan, starting with the paperbacks with the Frazetta (and a few Boris) covers when i was but a wee lad. Those were great, especially the visceral writing of Howard himself. Hated the Conan movie... yeah, like this wimpy kid was forced into slave labor pushing this wheel around for ten years, and now he's a freakishly buff fighting machine... god that's so lame.

Anyway, i LOVED the long Marvel run by Roy Thomas and John Busceme (inked by Ernie Chan). Really beautifully drawn and well written fantasy. In fact, it's some of the tiny amount of fantasy i have in my library at all. The Dark Horse reprints of these are awesome, and well worth picking up. All the way through the first ten volumes. (And up until they reach issue #100, after which the magic flame burned out and quality plummeted.)

If you try any more Conan ever, go straight to the source and read the originals by Robert E. Howard.

Gary Butler wrote:
Now, early Cerebus, *there's* a charcter...

Brett responds:
Waaaay late on this bandwagon, and at about the time i was about to dive in, he launched his screed against womankind (i think it was called Reads?), and now i have no desire to ever read Cerebus.


off to nyc

June 9, 2006 / More →

New incredible work by Martin Tom Dieck in Strapazin. If you don't know this guy's work, i highly recommend seeking it out. Strapazin is a comics anthology /review magazine out of Germany and/or Switzerland. (I think they have offices in both, but i'm not exactly sure where the World Headquarters are.) The focus being what we call Lit Comics... sort of a polar opposite of our own Wizard magazine (which my inner fanboy loves quite enough, thanks).

Very happy with Jeffrey's cover painting for I Am Going to be Small.

Off to New York. Thanks for the ride, Steve Lafler!!

the number of the man-beast

June 7, 2006 / More →

two fabulous links.

Melinda Gebbie in the house at Suicide Girls. Interview by Daniel Robert Epstein.

Review of Jeffrey Brown's coda to the Girlfriend Trilogy, Every Girl is the End of the World for Me.

being scott mccloud

June 4, 2006 / More →

Cartoonist and long-time friend Garret Izumi and myself drove two hours hours south yesterday to the University of Oregon in Eugene, to see a lecture by Scott McCloud. Apparently it's only the third or fourth time he's done this particular talk, although as tight and perfectly executed as it was, i almost find this hard to believe.

The lecture was broken down into three parts. The first, a brief overview of his forthcoming third academic book, Making Comics, was prefaced by a fast-paced and delightfully funny author biography. McCloud's deft use of Powerpoint as a storytelling medium in itself is unparalleled.

He then talked briefly about a formal comics theory he calls The Four Tribes, representing different schools of thought and emphasis about the medium (if i recall, essentially Craft, Story, Formalism, and The Auteur), and how these various schools can and do overlap. This part of the talk blew my mind. I can only hope that he makes a book collecting these ideas one day. (And offered to publish said book if he ever needed to find a publisher for it.)

Lastly, he talked of course about his love of web comics … a topic which he discussed at length over the second half of his last book, Reinventing Comics. In Reinventing Comics the tone McCloud used seemed at least in part to intimate that web comics were THE future of comics, and print comics merely a sadly dying breed. He now seems to have tweaked this view, acknowledging the limits of web comics (mostly technical limitations), while at the same time admitting merits of comics as printed matter. No more "either/or" proposition.

Where Scott DID sell me on the merits of comics viewed through the new web-based format, is on the idea of the internet as primarily just a new tool in the toolbox for telling stories with words and images. He's clearly given this a great deal of thought, and no matter where one might stand on this debate, McCloud's ideas are absolutely a critical part of the discussion.

Truly a brilliant mind. This was a thoroughly riveting Powerpoint chalk-talk. Thanks, Scott. Kudos also to my old prof Ken O'Connell, for his continuing mission to infuse his enthusiasm for comics into the curriculum at U of O; and especially to the head of the Comp Lit program, Lisa Freinkel, for bring comics into the literary fold.

It's kind of an unexpected, though not unreasonable twist in finding a college market for comics. We've been trying to quietly sneak comics in through the Art School for so long (and all this time to their utter disdain), who would have imagined that in the end, it would be the Lit Department who've opened the door. If Lisa and Ken keep this up, Eugene might just become a thriving Sister City to the Comics Mecca that is Portland.

• Meanwhile, here's a delightful illustration by German cartoonist Mawil (creator of our own Beach Safari), for the wedding invitation of Sebastian Oehler, who works for the German comics publisher Reprodukt.

Congrats! Sebastian, your wedding gift from the U.S. is in sending fellow Deutschlander Dirk Nowitzski and the Dallas Mavericks to the NBA FInals for the first time in their history.

•Â Yes, that's right... the table has been set. The run & gun Phoenix Suns ran out of gas, and without the shot-blocking presence of Amare Stoudemire and Kurt Thomas they just couldn't keep up the pace. For the Title, we'll be watching the Dallas Mavericks vs. the Miami Heat (also in their first trip to the NBA Finals). Even though i'm sad to see the Suns fall, it'll be nice to see some fresh faces in the Finals. My call … Dallas in seven games. Shaq is playing quite inspired, and Dwayne Wade is a future Hall-of-Famer, but i think they'll eventually go down to the mighty Mavs.

catching up on a few things

June 2, 2006 / More →

• The freaking Phoenix Suns, who had a kick-ass third quarter tonight, led by the hot shooting of Tim Thomas, caved and lost to Dallas in this Game 5 of the seven game series. Dirk Nowitski had 50 points! Shit! I'm amazed the Suns weren't quicker to double-team this one-man wrecking ball. This time of the year i get so fired up with hoops fever, that by the time the Finals are over, i'm exhausted, and glad for the season to be over. (But not so much as my wife.)

•Â International Comics Ambassador John Weeks has uploaded yet another fine installment of his wonderful Comics Lifestyle. A former staffer at both Dark Horse and (maybe?) Fantagraphics, and a stalwart in the Australian and New Zealand scene from years ago, John has spent the last few years working in Cambodia, and is, on the side, feverishly attempting to document the comics scene there. Boy, the world could use a few more good men like this.

• Took some books in the other day for trade at Powell's City of Books (one of the most glorious bookstores in the universe), and picked up a luscious coffee-table art book called Art Out of Time: Unknown Comics Visionaries, edited by Dan (Ganzfeld) Nadel. Essentially, this entire volume provides stellar samples of work by cartoonists who toiled in the trenches like their more well-known comrades, but just never received the same attention. It's a really fabulous book, and most importantly, Nadel chose to showcase entire story strips, so that the reader isn't limited to just bits & pieces. The only flaw in the whole book was the weird inclusion of underground legend Rory Hayes. Not that Hayes' work isn't worthy (even though i feel it's the weakest work in the whole, and just not to my taste), but more that it sticks out like a sore thumb from the rest of the work in the book. Still, this Abrams release is well worth every penny. I can only hope that it does well, and that we'll see more archival books like this in the future. Well done, Dan.

•Â Recently wrapped up the run of Ed Brubaker and (in this last three issue story arc) Greg Rucka's unbelievably good comic Gotham Central. Wow. What a damn cool series this was... easily the best cop drama that i've ever read in comics. The conceit … how does the Major Crimes Unit operate in a grimy city littered with super-types … is a no-brainer, which i can't believe took this long to come along. "The Brube" and Greg Rucka (who either traded story arcs or collaborated on them together) were really in their element with this series, and the early issues drawn by Michael Lark are nothing short of world-class. That said, while he started out a little shaky, regular replacement artist Kano, along with the sturdy inks of Stephano Guadiano, really developed an excellent style that lended itself perfectly to the book. I hope DC has the wherewithal to finish collecting the entire run into trade paperbacks.

•Â Another sweet "pop single" (a perfect term coined by Warren Ellis for one-shot gem) is the Oni Press Free Comic Book Day effort this year, called Free Scott Pilgrim. This comic shouldn't be as good as it is, given that the narrative is fractured, and the reader is dropped into the story willy-nilly (both qualities also shared in the graphic novel series) … but in a similar manner of cartoonists like Paul Pope, the sheer blistering energy in this comic negates any story inconsistencies. Bryan O'Malley's art too is a fluid blend of contemporaries in the lush Craig Thompson school, fused with a healthy dose of manga influence. Great stuff, and very highly recommended.

•Â Reader Ron Swintek wrote in:

"I've been enjoying your Hey Bartender blog for a few weeks now, and since you were just lamenting the lack of topics, and I've been meaning to make a request anyway...
"Awhile back, you alluded to the problems you guys have had bringing From Hell back into print, and wondered aloud if anyone really cared. I keep my ear pretty low to the ground on all things From Hell, and haven't really heard the deal with not having this book out during Alan's most popular time here on Planet Earth. I, for one, would love to hear the whole, sordid tale.
"Keep up the good work on the blog … yet another X-Men Omnibus convert, here, thanks to your comments!"

Thanks for writing, Ron.

O.k. Here's the dilly. Eddie Campbell had been self-publishing From Hell through his imprint Eddie Campbell Comics, up until two years ago when Top Shelf took it over. Up until then, we were just handling distribution. When Top Shelf picked it up i did a little tweaking to the design and added flaps to the cover. It looked great, and sold through pretty quickly. Then the fuckery started.

The printer that Eddie had been using for the life of the book theretofore, Prenney Litho, had just received a $20,000 advance from ourselves and co-publishers Knockabout from England for another printing, when they informed us that they were filing for bankruptcy. Oh joy. (Flashbacks of Black Tuesday and the Twelve Hour Miracle popped in my head.) Unfortunately, they also had the only extent film for the book, and when the owner told us that he was planning on restructuring, and to hold on until then, we really had no choice but to sit back, cross our fingers, and hope that this would happen. Months came and went, and still we heard the same sad song.

Clearly, we were in a bind. Finally something happened which forced our hand. Prenney up and disappeared entirely. No phone, no email, no website, no 20K, and no book. Zippo. And so it was at this point, that Eddie Campbell had to dig out the master photocopies that he had made (having long since sold off the original art for the book) and began scanning. How long this took, i'm not sure, but it must have been a long long while. After ten years, i've done my share of scanning, and i can tell you firsthand, there are few things more mind-numbing than this.

Move ahead, eight or ten discs containing the scanned art arrive here for me to work with, and as i began the (also) long and grueling process of cleaning up Eddies scans (a necessary process, erasing defects like stray pencil marks, gobbed-up white-out, hairs, dust, and what have you) i discover yet another problem. It seems that as Eddie was burning discs for me, his computer was in the process of dying. The result of which, at least a third of the files were corrupted. (Most often manifested by weird lines running arbitrarily through the pages, making them unprintable.) AAAARRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! Make it stop!

So finally, after all of this, i'm just days away from sending this to our own trustworthy printer, Lebonfon (formerly a subsidiary of the behemoth Quebecor), hopefully in time to make San Diego.

The end.

yeesh... more x-men?

May 30, 2006 / More →

I don't get much feedback on the blog, so at times i'm not sure what to write about. I've pretty much whittled things down to basketball (which most people probably don't care about, but bare with me, it's over soon), comics and movie reviews, many revolving around my own inner fanboy proclivities, and of course, happenings in the wide world of the comics industry. Hoping to bring a human face to Top Shelf, and perhaps mildly entertain a few readers along the way.

A couple days ago, i received a validating letter from Mr. Alan David Doane, maestro of Comic Book Galaxy. Thanks, Alan.

He writes:
"You talked me into it [X-Men Omnibus]; I was sitting on the fence because of the shrinkwrap and Marvel burning me with badly reproduced shrinkwraped shit before. Just wanted to say thanks for your description of the book, you showed me it was really what I wanted it to be, a well-reproduced edition of my all-time favourite super-hero comics... can't wait to dig into it!"

And again, believe it, if the Claremont/Byrne era is among your favorite runs of spandex comics, you will NOT find a better edition of this material. 'Nuff said.

And speaking of, went to see X-Men: The Last Stand last night. Basically, it kicks ass. You can't know how relieved i am that the director-who-wasn't-Bryan-Singer, didn't totally blow this for me. (Like how Lucas single-handedly destroyed his own legacy with "the prequals.") Sure X3 is flawed, but the flaws don't mangle the continuity and believability of the characters, or the world-building Singer set up … plus there are numerous storylines and/or moments torn from the pages of the X-Men comics, from all eras (including Master Joss Whedon's current fine run), for schooled fanboys to love. But i wonder, how much do non-literate-in-the-mythology movie-goers dig this film?

The two real missteps i caught both concerned character and • SPOILER WARNING!? • both were in the scene where Magneto is looking to rescue Mystique, and he's throwing around cars, trucks and semi's like a symphony conductor [AWESOME]. First, when Jamie Madrox totally and completely out of character from the comic, is sprung from a holding cell, and on a whim agrees to join Magneto's little club, with a glib "yeah, sure... why not?" Lame. Clearly the writers needed his power for a crucial scene further along in the story.

And then the big grievance i have, was when Magneto just blows off Mystique because she's been injected with "the cure," her powers suppressed, and reverts to human form. I don't like it. He never would have turned on one of his own like that, being (even in the "super-villain" sense) a man of honor. New director Brett Ratner screwed up here, because instead of showing any shred of humanity in this scene, he made Magneto into a Pure Evil villain, an unfortunate turn from the shaded, nuanced, and INTERESTING character he was in the first two films. Still, that scene at the end? Loved it.

To a lessor degree; i was disappointed in Peter (Colossus) Rasputin's wooden character; annoyed about most of the new characters (except for porcupine-boy); and underwhelmed with the general pacing... just too much stuff happening for a two hour flick. (Bryan Singer's faux pas, which carries over into this film, no fault of Ratner, was casting Halle Berry as Storm. What the hell was he smoking when he thought of this?!) And then whatever happened to the powers-negating kid who was the source for the cure itself?

Otherwise, i think X3 rocked hard. It's a very fun, if not a pretty dark film. I mean, major characters dropping like flies. Damn! Favorite line, Kitty Pride calling Juggernaut a dick-head. Check it out. Oh, and if you go see it, make sure you stay through to the very end of the credits. Wow.

classic x-men

May 26, 2006 / More →

I was browsing yesterday at Things From Another World here in Portland, and the manager Brady was the first retailer in town to let me take off the shrinkwrap on the recently released X-Men Omnibus, before i even considered buying it. (Thanks, Brady!) This sucker is a freaking behemoth, clocking in at over 800 pages, and given the $100 price tag, i wanted to see how they did on the production. Because i'd be maybe a little disappointed if it was sub-par.

(Aside. I sold my individual issues of the classic Claremont/Byrne run years ago, when Marvel announced that they'd be issuing deluxe hardcover editions in their normally high-quality Masterworks series. My mistake. While i did indeed purchase said volumes, the production (up until vol. 4) is atrocious. The scans are faint, with some of the more delicate art dropping out entirely; the coloring looks like someone who had just discovered Photoshop, and believed that this new-fangled computer coloring was superior by default. In a word, and i'm sad to say this, but volumes 1-3 of the X-Men Masterworks SUCK.)

Well i'm here to tell you, Marvel has more than made up for past transgressions. The Omnibus edition is absolutely flawless. The paper stock is heavier, opaque, and has a subtle ivory tint. The line-art reproduction is tight, and the coloring is as it was originally done. PLUS, they include the letters pages too, and the whole thing is oversized. And collecting 40 issues like this, if you break it down by today's average cost of a floppy comics book at 3 bucks an issue, it's really a great bargain. It would actually cost WELL over $100 by todays standards, for 40 issues of a comic.

This one book has leapt into my Top 10 all-time favorite collections and/or graphic novels ever. I can't recommend this enough, if you have any love for super-hero mythology.

And in hoops: How about the Phoenix Suns! After a grueling seven game series against the L.A. Clippers, they come to Dallas all beat up and bruised, play a merely o.k. game in game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, and still managed to steal a win, with .05 seconds left on the clock. I don't think anyone saw that coming. If you like basketball, or ever did, and you have cable t.v., this is awesome entertainment.

new reneè french art

May 23, 2006 / More →

Reneè French's work speaks for itself. Astounding. If you haven't read her most recent graphic novel, The Ticking, you really should. Here are some recently illustration's she's done. Dig.

fanboy stuff

May 21, 2006 / More →

My pal Gary Butler wrote this to me a few days ago. My utterly fanboy reply follows.

"Hey, here's a really interesting blog posting about John Byrne and a never-written West Coast Avengers story circa 1989. Best, G"


Brett responds:

I've been reading comics for a long long time, and while Byrne is a bad parody of himself now, and frankly, an embarrassment to comics, in his prime (which peaked on his run with Claremont on Uncanny X-Men) he was simply astounding. He did some amazing work on many titles during a solid 10-15 year span: Captain America, Marvel Team-Up, Iron Fist, Fantastic Four, Superman, and even a fun short run on Hulk, not long before Peter David took it over. And for me, the West Coast Avengers was his last hurrah (along with his OMAC mini-series at DC a couple years later), before he lost it forever. Back when his ideas for the mythology were more important than stroking his now-immense (dare i say, planet-sized), living ego.

And while WCA wasn't epic in proportion per se, it was … with the unfortunate exception of Wonder Man's mullet … really solid super-hero comics, with some interesting continuity tinkering. It was also one of the last projects which he actually cared about drawing with any real panache. The reveal scene at the end of an early issue in this run of WCA, where Wanda finds the Vision dissected on the table, was totally killer. His android insides splayed out like the formaldehyde-stinking frog i squeamishly dissected back in high-school.

Ha! Am i geeking out or what?!

(I guess i could justify my interest in the West Coast Avengers by bring up how Byrne's story idea, of Wanda maxing out here hex powers to "imagine" her twin children out of thin air, is the nugget from which the current super-star Brian Bendis informed his own Avengers Disassembled, and the following House of M. But no... there's no excuse.)

Currently listening to:
Pearl Jam (eponymous)
Neil Young Living With War
Wolfmother (eponymous)
Tool 10,000 Days

Picked up a few dvds yesterday at a local used place. They have $5 shelves with titles that come in en masse: Collateral (the most recent Michael Mann flick, and believe it or not, a fine performance by his royal freakness Tom Cruises); About Schmidt (by Alexander Payne, with classic Jack Nicholson; and for an extra 5 bones, and still factory-sealed, Chinatown, a neo-noir classic, and one of Nicholson's greatest roles ever. Oh, and today i was weak, and bought Seth Green's masterful Robot Chicken. If you're a fan of Twisted Toyfare Theater, by the Wizard guys, then you'll LOVE this show. Sick and wrong, and perfect fanboy fare.

better late than never?

May 17, 2006 / More →

I've been so lame at this blog thing, as of late. How do some of these cats put in so many hours on a non-paying gig like blogging? I've gained a huge new respect for the folks who put in the time writing considered thoughts on the comics medium and the industry through which it flows.

Moving right along, if you don't dig hoops, then move on to the pretty pictures up ahead.

Now, i'm a Phoenix Suns fan, first & foremost. I have been for three years or so... since they picked up Steve Nash at point guard, to be exact. Seriously, i love this team. I like the style of ball they play. I like their players. Guys like Boris Diaw, Raja Bell, Leandro (The Brazillian Blur, fastest guy in the NBA) Barbosa, and newly acquired Tim Thomas are all great loads of fun to watch. Game Five is starting right now... gotta run.

(And imagine how they would be playing if they had the injured Man Child and Kenny Thomas playing in their line-up!)

But at any rate, if there is one thing this series has done, it's also made me a fan of the Los Angeles Clippers. With old-school, smack-talkin' leadership by Sam Cassell, the inside presence of the studly (and likable) Elton Brand, young kids like Shawn Livingston, and vets like Catino Mobely... they are a team of the future, and one to watch.

In the end though, neither one of these teams will beat the Juggernaut that is the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals. Mark ("i'm richer than most 3rd-world countries combined) Cuban has finally put together a real contender. And kudos to Avery (The Little Tyrant) Johnson for whipping these guys in defensive hound-dogs.

O.k. On the comics front, last week i sent two new books out the door... keep your eyes peeled for James Kochalka's SuperF*ckers #3 and Lille Carrè's Tales of Woodsman Pete.

And in a day or two i'll have the expanded reprint of Jeffrey Brown's cartoon tour de' force I Am Going to be Small, also heading out the door to our friends at Lebonfon.

(Jeffrey's cover rough)

* Now for some fanboy goodness. Here's a listing of books DC is listing for Fall release. The one's i have my eye on picking up are listed in italics. To which i say, curse you DC Comics! I love this archival work coming out right now, but alas, it's all maybe too rich for my blood. I might be able to score half of these.

Re: Archival work. At this moment, DC is simply shredding Marvel (and Dark Horse as well) in the category. DC's Showcase series has allowed them to re-release some seriously wacky and cool comics. Metamorpho? Yes!

ENEMY ACE ARCHIVES VOL. 2 (Kubert, Russ Heath, Neal Adams, etc.)
SHOWCASE PRESENTS: BATMAN VOL. 1 (Infantino at his artistic peak)
SHOWCASE PRESENTS: CHALLENGERS VOL. 1 (Kirby, Bruno Premiani, Wally Wood, etc.)
ABSOLUTE NEW FRONTIER (Darwyn Cooke's epic masterpiece)
NEW TEEN TITANS ARCHIVES VOL. 3 (Part of my personal Holy Trinity)
ADAM STRANGE ARCHIVES VOL. 2 (More delicious Infantino and Murphy Anderson)
SPIRIT ARCHIVES VOL. 20 (I've got everything post-WW2)

Finally, several weeks ago, i posted some rough sketches that Aaron Renier had done, one set for a promotional postcard pimping his excellent graphic novel, Spiral Bound, and the other, the Top Shelf Christmas card for later this year.

Here are the two finals, for your eyes only. Can this guy draw, or what!?

view from the commander's chair

May 10, 2006 / More →

some cool things i read

May 8, 2006 / More →

Finally got a chance to read a few things i picked up on the early-season convention circuit:

Soft Smooth Brain #7, by Bwana Spoons. This is one hella kick-ass book. I've been a fan of Bwana Spoons' comics and zines going waaaay back to his seminal Ain't Nothin' Like Fuckin' Moonshine. But this issue of S.S.B. represents a monumental leap in his stylings, reminiscent of Ron Rege or some of the old Fort Thunder peeps. Really solid stuff, and highly recommended. For more info check out www.grasshutcorp.com.

Paperdummy, by Peter Conrad. A mini-comics collection of short autobiographical one-page strips. Ironically, Top Shelf helped spawn a glut of really truly horrible auto-bio comics, with the release of James Kochalka's Sketchbook Diaries. (Which i feel have yet to be bested in this genre.) That said, Pete Conrad has done a wonderful small body of work, which has tons of charm and very witty insight. I'm really impressed with this mini, and hope to see more. I'm reminded of Sean Bieri's Jape comics. Nicely done.

Things Fall Apart. This is the third collection of miscellaneous drawings by Mike Huddleston. Holy fuck, this guy can draw!! Mike did The Coffin (with Phil Hester) with Oni Press a few years ago, Deep Sleeper (also with Phil Hester), Mnemavore (with Ray Fawkes), and is currently drawing a Manbat mini-series written by Bruce Jones. Amazing chops on this cat, all of which is worth tracking down.

Captain America 65th Anniversary Special. We've got the Brub (Ed Brubaker) writing, with Javier Pulido and Marcos Martin crafting spectacular art on an espionage story that goes back to WWII, and a team-up with Sgt. Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos. I haven't read the first collected edition of Ed's run on the regular series yet (though it is in my to-read pile), but if it's half as much fun as this, then i can't wait to dive in. This is a great example of mainstream comics that rock.

Meanwhile, how about those Phoenix Suns, coming back from a 3 games to 1 deficit against Kobe Bryant's L.A. Lakers!! What a killer series this has been. (I LOVE to see the Lakers lose.) Next up, Suns vs. the other L.A. team, the Clippers. Should be good.

a few things this time around

May 3, 2006 / More →

First of all, with the news that Lost Girls is at the printer, we're starting to get some buzz. The first 2-part interview that rolled out was conducted by Kurt Amacker over at Cinescape, and it is awesome. Alan really explains how and why this book is so important. Check it out.

Second, as per his usual excellence in blogging, Steven Grant throws in some fabulous insight into the history of comics culture in his new column, and how that has affected scheduling. And i mean that in a not-so-good way. He uses Grant Morrison's 7 Soldiers of Victory as a current example, but this is a widespread problem in mainstream comics; announcing and soliciting comics before the work is done, only to lose big face when the book is due, and it's not ready for consumption.

Actually, this is the very same reason why Chris and myself decided, almost a decade ago, that we wouldn't serialize comics at all. In fact, in a sense, we sort of broke the mold, with the decision to not serialize the mammoth Blankets. That (coupled, to be fair, with the phone book Cerebus volumes that Dave Sim has been releasing for forever now), has lead to the current trend for releasing anything and everything in the comics-brick mode. (Maybe i'm talking out of my ass, but i think not. Readers feeling i am talking out of line are welcome to write in, and i'll post their response here.)

Lastly, in the better-late-than-never category, here are the few pics i snapped at APE a few weeks back, before my camera battery died.

Aaron Renier, Liz Prince, and Jeffrey Brown

Jon Lewis and Jennifer Daydreamer (two members of the seminal Seattle Scene from the mid-90's, including Jason Lutes, Ed Brubaker, and Tom Hart.)

Kelley Seda, Chris (AdHouse) Pitzer, and Scott Morse.

Kristen Siebecker and Alex Robinson

Renee French (Wha..?)

There's Top Shelf Webmaster Nate Beaty, on the left, pimping his truly excellent comic book BFX.

This was my view, mixing margaritas as guest bartender at Isotope. Their new digs are much more spacious than the one in the Sunset, but true to form, it still got PACKED.

The lovely Kirsten Baldock (and yours truly), who so graciously shared her Sacred Bar Space. (Inside bartender thing.)

Sequential Tart Adrienne Rappaport … Queen of the Beer Taps.

a time for heresy

May 1, 2006 / More →

Well i still haven't had much time for extracurricular entertainment, and i haven't been able to keep up with juicy comics industry developments either, but i did read just now a very inspirational (if somewhat depressing) essay by the great investigative journalist Bill Moyers, A Time for Heresy. If you have any interest in reading more about the real world in which we live, this essay might open some eyes. Especially as it pertains, given Moyers' professed and upstanding Christian Values, to the hypocrisy of the movement of the modern religious right to marrying church and state, all the while acting against the very values they profess to hold.

Oh, and i suppose, in all fairness, i can't say i haven't seen anything... during this final stretch of pre-production on the New & Improved edition of From Hell, i found myself rather enjoying a 48-Hour Nickelodeon Marathon of Miami Vice. I know, i know... i'm dating myself (hey, i am 40 years old, after all), and yes much of the trappings of this show are dated as well. But that said, if you can get over the pastels and Phil Collins tunes, it holds up pretty well. You can see where Michael Mann cut his teeth on this tv show, and episodes from the early seasons especially have plenty of gritty goodness. (Including the offing of Crockett's original partner, Jimmy Smits, the sacrificial lamb, whose death was necessary to bring in the laid back Tubbs.)

Plus, in just the several episodes i caught, there was a plethora of guest stars (who at the time i originally watched these, back in college, i had no idea who they were), including: Frank Zappa, Pam Grier, Steve Buscemi, Willy Neslon, and the latino crew-member from the second-to-last (and lame) Star Trek spinoff. Oh, and Edward James Olmos as Lt. Castillo was just a supreme bad-ass.

I really can't believe i liked watching these again as much as i did. So sue me.

not dead yet...

April 28, 2006 / More →

Yes, it's been too long since i last posted. Post-APE has been chaos. I've had nary a moment to enjoy much tv, film, or reading as of late. Good news is … GASP!! … Lost Girls actually went out the door to our printer in Hong Kong over a week ago!! I seems like forever that we've been working on this book, and given the nature of its content, i'm VERY curious to see what kind of reaction it will get.

Meanwhile, i did pick up the newest Marvel Masterworks yesterday, compiling the last run of X-Men comics, before it was turned into a reprint title, and then relaunched and turned into the mega-franchise it is today. Neal Adams may be off his rocker now, but back in the day, this guy could freaking draw like nobodies business. I LOVE this stuff!! (This brings the reprinting of Adam's Marvel and DC work almost up-to-date, at least as far as his "big runs" go. But he did a plethora of stunning covers, one-shots, fill-ins and what have you... i'd love to see this collected as well one day.)

But what surprised me in this X-Men collection, was how much i enjoyed some of the work by Werner Roth and Don Heck. I'm guessing it must have been the solid inking, because both of these guys are pretty hit or miss for my tastes. The only drawback to the collection was some very poor reproduction, especially the line art, which is noticeably jaggedy. No surprise here though... Marvel has long been the weaker of the Big Two with their reproduction quality. (Although DC handily loses the production values game to Marvel, what with their shitty newsprint for the bulk of their trade paperbacks.)

Anyway, enough inner fanboy. I'm just hoping that this post will inspire me to get back to this on a regular basis again. Until then, enjoy this recent photo of The Kid, at a family event last weekend.