June 20, 2011 / More →
has a super fun blog post called Color Chart of Yore, explaining the relatively simple color charts used in the comics i grew up with, and commenting on the abuse of color in contemporary comics.
• I recently set up my friend Barbara [copy-writer deluxe, film buff, and furniture refurbisher] with a set of Top Shelf Kids Club comics and Owly plushie to give to her daughter Hayden. These adorable pics attest to her response, and can i just say, make the hard days in this industry worth it all.
June 16, 2011 / More →
is launching a new publishing house called Retrofit, "specifically to publish short, cheap, stapled ALTERNATIVE comics a la Drawn and Quarterly in the 90's." They're going Kickstarter to get this off the ground... learn more here.
Contributing authors include: James Kochalka, Colleen Frakes, Pat Aulisio, Josh Bayer, Corinne Mucha, Joe Decie, Tom Hart, Liz Baillie, Chuck Forsman, John Martz, L. Nichols, Nathan Schreiber, Noah Van Sciver, Ian Harker, Jason Turner, Sally Madden, Brendan Leach
June 12, 2011 / More →
is schedule for a September release, is featured on the Babeland website. That's awesome. Jennifer writes:
"Back story: I did this comic for my strip S'Crapbook on Only The Blog Knows Brooklyn. This one was about my reading at "Edgy Mom's Nite", which was organized in part by OTBKB (and where every scrap of paper I brought along--postcards, business cards, flyers, and minicomics--disappeared by the time I left!). The event involved some items from famed sex toy store Babeland, and OTBKB sent the comic to them, and they put it on their website. Ha!"
• Diana Schutz is interviewed by Patrick Rosenkranz at the Comics Journal. Diana and Bob Schreck are two of the most influential people in my comics career. Diana, you rule! XOXO.
• My pal Ben Saunders' new book, Do The Gods Wear Capes?: Spirituality, Fantasy, and Superheroes, is now up for pre-sale on Amazon.
June 5, 2011 / More →
has made his mini-comics oeuvre available in one fat tome, She's Not Into Poetry, and is selling it on Lulu for a mere 17 bones. This, dear readers, is truly seminal comics from "our" early/mid 90s Generation, stands the test of time, and is worth every cent. I own all of the original minis. Hey, now i can eBay those and take a trip to Tahiti! (I kid, of course... maybe i can get a cheap ticket to Cleveland?)
• PGC3′s Geek Olympathon Sets Schedule, Opens Registration. This is so freaking cool, i'm just going to copy & paste the awesome press release from the awesome Elisabeth Forsythe from TFAW.
The Portland Geek Council of Commerce and Culture (PGC3) is proud to announce that team registration is now open for the Geek Olympathon, June 11 and 12! Participants will form teams of up to five members and then take part in a weekend full of geeky contests and events held all over Portland. Entry is free and dozens of prizes are up for grabs, including the grand prize: a trip for two to the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con, donated by Things From Another World!
In addition to a multitude of geeky contests, there will be two awesome parties: the sure-to-be legendaryDrinkathon on June 11, from 6:30 pm to close at Vendetta at 4306 N. Williams Ave., and the Awardathon on June 12, at the Mission Theater at 1624 NW Glisan from 7:00 pm to close. There’s no cover for either of these parties, but you must be 21 or older to attend!
The Olympathon will kick off at 9:00 am at Backspace at 115 NW 5th Ave. on Saturday, June 11 with opening ceremonies and a Geek Alleycat Bike Race sponsored by Old Town Computers. Backspace will provide free house coffee and facilities for last-minute team registration.
Other prizes include a night’s stay at the Jupiter Hotel, two Club-level tickets to a Portland Timbers game from Centerplate, and a Nettop PC from Old Town Computers, so get your team together now! Register your team now and get the full details.
May 28, 2011 / More →
Nate Powell has an art show going up for the month of June at The Owlery vegetarian restaurant — 212 S. Rogers St., Bloomington IN 47404. There'll be an opening on Friday, June 3rd from 10pm-1am. He'll be exhibiting work from Any Empire, The Silence Of Our Friends, and a few other things he's been doing from 2009 to now.
• Steve (Bughouse) Lafler just announced some excellent news! He's releasing NEW Dog Boy comics!! Head over to co2 Comics. Updates every Saturday. This is great news, to any cats out there who fancy themselves fans of mind-bending stories and terrific cartooning. (Or fans of Terence McKenna.) Steve describes it best himself:
"Dog Boy is pure Id, a lad with an enormous Golden Retriever head. He stands in for everyman and quests for the meaning of life, often with the aid of copious amounts of cheap beer. This singular series is wholly improvised by Lafler, with unscripted flights of fancy at turns running into dead ends, or courting the sublime."
May 19, 2011 / More →
make sure to hit Eric Skillman's release party at Desert Island in Williamsburg for his swell crime noir graphic novel Liar's Kiss.
And here's an interview with Eric at none other The Criterion Collection. (Where he works on staff as one of their ace designers.)
• Our editor on the Veeps film (which is nearing the final edit in post-production), Dusty McCord, has a hilarious new web series called Dumb Geeks, and Episode 1 just debuted on YouTube. This is funny f*cking stuff...
May 18, 2011 / More →
• Update to the Swedish Expedition... Andres Lundgren wrote in to help fill in some blanks, regarding the wild night of of mai tais and dancing:
"...some additional info for your excellent festival report: Linda "something" = Borgstrom.
"...two folks who's names i don't recall" = also present were Sara Israelsson, Ola Hellsten and Esteban Meiko (yeah, we drank quite alot so understand if some names slipped your mind.)"
Tack så mycket, Anders!
• Francois Vigneault released the second awesome issue of Elfworld, under his Family Style label. This is such a cool book. If you're half as big a fan as i am of indy cartoonists taking on superheroes or sword & sorcery, then you'll want to pick this up. PLUS it features a strip by the long lost Dylan Horrocks!
May 12, 2011 / More →
Great to see our Swede pals Kristiina Kolehmainen, Johannes Klenell, Simon Gärdenfors, Kolbeinn Karlsson, Mats Jonsson, Joanna Hellgren, Fredrik Strömberg, Knut Larsson, and more at the Swedish SPX in Stockholm this last weekend.
Non-Swedes i enjoyed seeing again or meeting for the first time included: Mari Ahokoivu (Finland), Bendik Katelborn (Norway), Nicolas Mahler (Austria), Kati Rickenbach (Switzerland) and Ulli Lust (Germany), and, well, that's all that comes to mind right now.
Mari gave me a boss little mini-comic, Batman #1: The Sad Issue [Adventures of The Batman including Bad Friends, Hipsters and other depressing things.] Nicolas Mahler gave me one of the comics from his new comics line called Kabinett Passage. (His own, titled Mahlermuseum.) Also met an expat named Brendan Monroe, who gave me an oversized mini titled Islands that both Eric Reynolds and myself were marveling over. Turns out he's a sweet painter too. (Evokes the fantastic realists Beksinki and Yerka, but with a more contemporary flavor.)
Friday night i ended up with most of the American contingent at, of all places, expat Austin English's girlfriend's (Clara Bessijelle) mom's house a short walk out of downtown for a civilian (i.e. not comics based) house party. Met another expat named Juliacks. Unplanned and unimaginable events like this are one of the things that make my job so awesome. Priceless.
[Austin and Clara]
The Saturday night party was a hootenanny! Chris and i started the evening out with Anders Lundgren, Freddie Kaplan, Linda ("something," from the sci-fi bookstore in oldtown) and two folks who's names i don't recall, sucking down mai tais at a bitchin' Tiki lounge, then ended up dancing for four hours at the official festival party. I'm pretty sure it was Johannes DJ'ing no less! Gods, what a fun night.
[Chris, Anders, Freddie, and ?...]
Our pal Anna Petterson took this snap of myself and Chris on the last day of the show. Great to see her!
So i didn't have to carry extra weight, the single book i purchased at the show was Tour d'Europe ("The story of two aspiring yogis on a bike ride through Europe"), by Kaisa & Christoffer Leka. Kaisa produced my favorite pick-up from our last visit two years ago, On the Outside Looking In. And they're both in English! I'm not quite sure how to acquire it, but if you can, seek Kaisa's comics out... i love her work sooooo much.
• The mighty Tom Hart is having a fund-raising campaign through Indie Go Go to launch his new comics school — The Sequential Artists Workshop — in Florida! Tom is a rock-star, and no doubt his school will be as important to the medium as James Sturms' outstanding Center for Cartoon Studies.
• Alex Robinson has a brief interview on MTV dotcom. That's rad.
• Matt Bors has been cranking out some awesome strips called Idiot Box, that i think are up there with Tom Tomorrow's This Modern World and Lloyd Dangle's late Troubletown. Smartly written, gorgeously drawn, and funny as hell.
• Finally, back to the Swedes, our pal Simon Gardenfors is soooo close to their Kickstarter goal to fund a pilot episode of Paco the Judo Popcorn! Help them reach their goal, please please please?
May 3, 2011 / More →
• Former Top Shelf intern and current ink studress Jen Vaughn posted a news item on the CCS blog about the Vermont House Resolution formally declaring Kochalka the first Cartoonist Laureate of Vermont.
James transcribed some of the fine-print legalese:
"Whereas in a recent edition of his American Elf cartoon series, in which James Kochalka humorously depicts his own life, he acknowledged to his thrilled agent the importance of being designated the first Vermont cartoonist laureate, but then refused to discuss the matter further citing an immediate preoccupation with making grapefruit-peel candy with his sons Eli, 7, and Oliver, 3"
• Heading to the printer NOW, in hopes of a San Diego ComicCon release: Chris (Elio) Eliopoulos' Okie Dokie Donuts; Ray Friesen's Pirate Penguin vs Ninja Chicken; Nate Powell's Any Empire; and Kagan McLeod's epic Infinite Kung Fu.
• Meanwhile, i got a wee little way into my pile of comics picked up at Stumptown. Here's some micro-reviews. As always, if you read about it here, it comes recommended. By them now and thank me later.
First, Little Otsu doesn't really have a prolific publishing schedule — in fact, much of their output are blank artist journals and such — but what they do put out is usually amazing. Case in point, volumes 2-4 of the Living Things series. (I already gave huge props to #1 a while back.)
These are all excellent, but my favorite of the three is titled Pheromones: A Chemical Conversation, by Jo Dery. As a budding naturalist myself, books like this that explore the natural world can't come out often enough.
Next up, What, Were You Raised by Wolves, by Vera Brosgol. This is a very affecting little tale, with a surreal and dark twist that reminds me of the twisted tales of Graham Annable. Vera's art and storytelling are simple, in the best way. Gorgeous.
From David Lasky (drawn, anyway) comes Soixante Neuf (that means "69" in French), written by Mairead Case. This is a terrific little flip-book about the May/December romance between Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. ("She was 21, he 40. Jaws dropped. Eyes popped.") Lasky could draw the phone book, or the menu at a cheesy diner, and it'd be a gem. This is just good stuff all around. Released by Light in the Attic Records.
Finally, in the It's-About-Time column, Secret Acres has released the first collection of comics, I Will Bite You!, by the brilliant Joseph Lambert. I've raved about Joe's comics several times before, and here's where you can get most of his output to date in one volume.
• Catch you kids when i get back from Stockholm!!
April 24, 2011 / More →
We might have gotten the shaft on nominations this year... whatevs. But future Top Shelfer Shannon Wheeler got a nom for his book I Thought You Would be Funnier (from Boom!), in the category Best Humor Publication.
UPDATE! I've been informed that Shannon's name has been left off of the online ballot, so if you can, use that old-fashioned mail thingy and send in the paper one instead.
No surprise, but Stumptown was a blast. I just unpacked all the sweet loot i brought home, and will cover some of that later. Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin's Gingerbread Girl was a smash success, selling out of the 100 copies we brought along with us, and Jeffrey Brown had a constant line, waiting for a signature. We sold a boatload of his new Incredible Change-Bots Two. I do love this show. Next up for this bartender... Stockholm, Sweden, baby!!
• Speaking of Sweden, please check out the Kickstarter campaign for our pal Simon Gardenfors and the project titled Paco the Judo Popcorn: A Cartoon for Kids.
• I missed MoCCA this year, and i'm bummed to have missed out meeting the great Brecht Evens. Pascal Girard made this terrific cartoon diary talking about the force Brecht was on the proceedings, care of The Comics Journal.
April 14, 2011 / More →
Kids, there's gonna be a hot time in Portland this weekend! It's always a blast attending a convention in your own hometown. Heck, this is the only trade show where i show up with my son in tow!
And fresh of the FedEx truck, we've got 100 copies of Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin's terrific Gingerbread Girl! These won't arrive from the slow boat for at least another 4-6 weeks, so if you want to get a copy you'd better act fast fast fast!
Also, Jeffrey Brown will be here as well, with copies of the brand spankin' new Incredible Change-Bots Two in hand! Yee haw!
So y'all head on out and come say hi!
• Meanwhile, here's a Kickstarter campaign for one of my favorite up & coming animators working today, Nick Cross, and his forthcoming Black Sunrise. Check out the trailer, and kick in!
April 7, 2011 / More →
In the rearview mirror already: WonderCon, STAPLE, Emerald City, C2E2, and one or two more(?). This weekend, MoCCA. Next weekend, Stumptown. Then TCAF and SPX (Stockholm, Sweden). Yeesh...
April 11-13th, Nate Powell will be doing a series of presentations/ Q&A sessions in his hometown of Little Rock, AR in conjunction with the Arkansas Literary Festival and National Library Week. Check out Nate's blog for more info.
He's also doing set artwork and projected comic illustrations for the play The Outstanding Eight by Gabriel Cooper and Jonathan Wierenga, performed at Michigan State University's RCAH Theatre on April 28-30th.
March 28, 2011 / More →
March 23, 2011 / More →
That's right, James' artwork graces the cover of the current issue of Trends in Cell Biology magazine! This is NOT a typo!
• Meanwhile, check out The Comic Book Guide to the Mission, an anthology of comics about San Francisco's Mission District, from Skoda Man Press. Skoda Man is the brainchild of Lauren Davis, who just threw props our way for Chester 5000, on the bitchin' genre website io9.
What a sweet idea!
• Finally, go out and get yerself the new issue of Papercutter, edited by the great Greg Means at Tugboat Press. This issue features a gripping cover story by Jonas Madden-Connor. It tells the parallel stories of a young boy who realizes his world is not what it seems and a retelling of the Hercules myth as he tricks a cowardly king. Melinda Boyce recounts her harrowing childhood memories of ill advised candy consumption and dental mishaps. MK Reed and Drew Weing wrap up the issue with a cautionary tale titled "My Boyfriend... Or My Kitty?"
And check out this insanely awesome back cover by Drew!