Last week, Philip Nel -- my co-editor on our forthcoming Barnaby series , announced that his long-awaited bio of Barnaby (and Harold and the Purple Crayon) creator Crockett Johnson and his wife Ruth Krauss (the towering figure of children's lit responsible for such classics as The Carrot Seed, A Hole is to Dig, I Can Fly and so many others) finally has a title.
Nel's bio of Johnson & Krauss will be published next June by the University Press of Mississippi , and we're aiming to release our own Barnaby Vol. 1 simultaneously. It's going to be a great summer for Johnson fans.
I took no pictures at APE this year save for the one above, of my pal Dan Shahin in his homemade Rory Root t-shirt (with Root's face comprised of a mosaic of hundreds of comic book covers). If I was to only take one photo, this strikes me as a perfectly appropriate one, as APE always reminds me of Rory, and his memory loomed large over the show for me (I wore my old Comic Relief t-shirt on Saturday in my own small attempt to honor the big guy).
This was the first APE I've attended since Rory passed away in 2008, and it didn't feel the same without him. Rory was a champion of the small press, a man with an omnivorous appetitie for the medium who could always be counted on to take a chance on a self-published mini that many other retailers would likely never make shelf space for. Comic Relief was a mecca for fans of cartooning, and its presence at APE always struck me as a vital component in the physiology of the show; no matter how few copies of your book you sold on the floor over APE weekend, if it was good, you could count on Rory to buy a few at the end of Sunday and help you leave on a high note.
Of course, APE was also missing another towering figure of the scene: Dylan Williams (who once worked at Comic Relief). Thankfully, Sparkplug Comics *was* there, honoring Dylan's memory in the one way I suspect he would approve: by selling and promoting good comics.
With that in mind, and for fear of sounding a bit maudlin, it really did feel to me that this year's APE was defined by who wasn't there as much as who was.
That said, my APE weekend was fun, and somehow a success despite the fact that attendance was invariably, adversely affected by gorgeous weather and a massive free concert in Golden Gate Park over the weekend. I enjoyed the company of many pals -- Richard Sala, Daniel & Erika Clowes, Adrian Tomine, Mario Hernandez, Jim Blanchard, J.R. Williams, Leslie Stein, John Pham, Terry Zwigoff, Martin Cendreda, Dan Nadel, Matthew Thurber, Renée French, Mark Kalesniko, Calvin Reid, Brett Warnock, Tom Devlin, Esther Pearl Watson, and many others -- and met a few new ones. That's all I could ask for, short of selling a ton of books, and things went well on that front. GANGES #4, POGO Vol. 1, OIL & WATER, MOME 22 and MARK TWAIN'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY 1910-2010 were amongst the books that flew off the tables by the end of the weekend.
I also came home with an entire suitcase full of books and minicomics, most of which I've only begun to wade thru and a roundup of which would require more time and effort than I'm willing to do right now. But I'm especially keen to dive into Jesse Moynihan's FORMING and Matthew Thurber's 1-800-MICE, which seemed to my eyes to be the books of the show.
I can't remember when I first heard the "Shut Up, Little Man" tapes, but it was almost certainly a cartoonist who introduced me to them, specifically either J.R. Williams, Jim Blanchard or Peter Bagge, all of whom were connoisseurs of the "prank call" genre and sated my growing appetite for same in the early 1990s by making me mix tapes (including the also-essential "Tube Bar" recordings that catapulted "Red the Bartender" into infamy as the inspiration for The Simpsons' Moe Szyslak). The "Shut Up Little Man" tapes weren't phone pranks, per se; they were better! Two hateful drunks chewing each other new assholes, over and over again, in such eloquently vicious fashion! Little could these two awful men know how their vitriol was bringing others together. It seemed like every alternative cartoonist in America had heard these tapes by the early 1990s, so it seems only fitting that Dan Clowes and Ivan Brunetti would be amongst those featured in a forthcoming documentary on the great Peter and Raymond. I can't wait to see this. [CBR video link]
If you work at Fantagraphics long enough, you will invariably learn to marvel at the way that our fearless co-leader, Kim Thompson , has his hand in virtually everything that happens here. His ability to multitask is a source of endless conversation and awe. He juggles projects as easily as he does multiple languages. How does he do it? Well, thanks to this recent discovery in our archives, we now know the answer, and it turns out he owes it all to former Marvel Comics Editor Mark Gruenwald :
Celebrating the release of MARK TWAIN'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY 1910-2010
"Here Mister Kupperman," he said, thrusting a manuscript into my hands. "Publish this, and let the world read of my adventures."
My name is Mark Twain, and I write these words to you in the good old days of August 2010. "What's that," you say? "Didn't you die a hundred years ago, you old coot?... The truth is I never died, but the same old rumors got exaggerated and then a bunch of other stuff happened, so people forgot I was still alive.
And with that preface, the celebrated man of letters -thought to be dead for a hundred years but actually surviving due to a wizard's spell- returns with a sequel to his best-selling autography, aided and abetted by humorist and cartoonist Michael Kupperman. From WWI to the Great Depression, WWII to Woodstock, and through the present, Twain details his careers as an ad man, astronaut, hypnotist, Yeti hunter, porn star, drifter, grifter and more, rubbing shoulders and having never-before-told adventures with many major figures of the 20th Century.
Meet Michael Kupperman at the following events in New York and Connecticut this Fall!
Sunday, Sept. 18th, 1PM Brooklyn Book Festival 180 Remsen Street, Brooklyn "Comedy in Comics" Panel discussion with Keith Knight, Kate Beaton, Jennifer Hayden and Heidi MacDonald, in the St. Francis Screening Room
Wednesday, Sept. 21st, 7:30PM Book Court 163 Court St., Brooklyn Reading and signing with Ben Katchor
Saturday, Oct. 1st, 7:30PM Mark Twain House 351 Farmington Avenue, Hartford, CT Reading and signing
Tuesday, Oct. 4th, 8PM Littlefield 622 Degraw St., Brooklyn Twain in the Membrane Comedy Party Live comedy & cartoons! Twain costume and frog-humping contests! General absurdity! Featuring Michael Kupperman, David Rees, Julie Klausner, Jon Glaser, Kate Beaton, Max Silvestri, Emily Flake and others!
Thursday, Oct. 13th, 7PM Desert Island 540 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn Book and Print release party/signing
Michael Kupperman lives and works in Brooklyn with his wife Muire and son Ulysses, where he creates the ongoing Tales Designed to Thrizzle comic book series. His most recent book is Mark Twain's Autobiography 1910-2010. His cartoons and illustrations have appeared in magazines from the New Yorker to Fortune, newspapers from The New York Times to the Village Voice, and numerous books, including many published by McSweeneys. His first book, Snake'N'Bacon's Cartoon Cabaret, was also adapted by the author as an Adult Swim animated pilot which can be seen online; two strips from that book were also adapted into cartoons for the Comedy Central series TV Funhouse. Other television work including drawing a TV Funhouse cartoon for Saturday Night Live, and writing for The Peter Serafinowicz Show on BBC2 in the UK. He can currently be found on Twitter, where his user name is @MKupperman.
"Kupperman may have one of the best comedy brains on the planet right now." - CONAN O'BRIEN
I don't think I've taken a trip to New York City in the last ten years without making a stop at Jim Hanley's Universe. I wish I could stop by tomorrow. If you're near one, they could use your patronage. Preferably in the form of Fantagraphics books, but that's up to you...
I walked into Gary's office to ask him if he'd sent Johnny Ryan a contract for Prison Pit yet. He said he had. I asked him what Johnny's advance was. "Seven dollars," he replied. I was mortified. Gary stated that he meant to offer "seventy dollars" but when he wrote up the contract, he mis-typed and liked how it looked so much he decided to go with it. I suggested that perhaps $7 was more insulting than no advance at all. He laughed. I pleaded with him to reconsider. He wasn't having any of it. Suddenly, a large hawk landed outside Gary's window on the office driveway. We were captivated by its beauty. Someone opened the front door and the hawk casually walked into Gary's office. Its presence made me nervous. The hawk sensed my fear; it leapt onto my shoulders and began slashing and pecking me. Gary laughed uproariously. I woke up sweaty and mad at him. Where was Ernest Borgnine when I needed him most?
METALHAUS returns to Seattle's Northwest Film Forum for another night of Punk Pricks, Metal Maniacs, and New Wave Hookers. Don't even try to categorize this designer mess-up of VHS flotsam, hipster kitsch, and remastered live shows from seminal provocateurs like David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Blondie, Roxy Music, P.I.L., The Clash, and, oh yeah, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Twisted Sister, AC/DC. Special Guest Appearance by Killbot. METALHAUS is sponsored by Fantagraphics Books and Ninkasi Brewing Company. Curated by Jacques Boyreau , Darren Aboulafia, and Tim Colley.
Larrybear has moved back to New York after having lived in the countryside. She finds herself employed at a dress shop run by an absentee boss in the East Village, and living with her old friend Seashell in an infested Brooklyn apartment. Of course, Marshmallow and her anthropomorphic friends are there too, but being magical they are not allowed to leave the house. Not that this stops Marshmallow, who is becoming increasingly depressed and drinking way too much.
On a nice winter day, roaming around Manhattan, Larry finds herself drawn to the Visionary Arts Museum, and is amazed to find they are having a retrospective of Victorian Sand Counters. Inspired, Larry begins to count sand seriously, but in a world where this is largely a forgotten art form, where can it possibly take her?
Quotes throughout by Theodore Dreiser, from his fantastic 1900 book Sister Carrie.
48 pages, color cover and back cover, black and white insides, Newsprint
I love this series. Buy this now!
Leslie will be making appearances in late Sept./early Oct. on the west coast, including APE, so stay tuned for more info.
Fantagraphics Books President and Co-Publisher Gary Groth announced today at Comic-Con International that the Seattle-based publisher has entered into an agreement to publish The Complete ZAP Comix in Fall of 2012.
ZAP remains the best-known and most influential underground comic of all-time, and in many ways is Ground Zero for the entire field of underground, alternative, literary and art comics that exists today. Created by Robert Crumb, it was one of the defining events in the counterculture of the 1960s and singlehandedly launched the “underground comix” era.
“ZAP took comics from children to adults, crushing The Comics Code Authority in the process,” proclaimed ZAP artist Victor Moscoso.
The Complete ZAP Comix will be published as a two-volume, slipcased hardcover set, printed slightly larger than the original comics, and shot from the original negatives to the comic books, ensuring the finest reproduction ever seen of the material. It will also include the rarely-seen ZAM, a one-shot mini-comic/jam spinoff of ZAP from 1974, as well as other supplementary features, interviews with the artists, and other surprises.
“ZAP may be the most significant series in the history of American comics,” said Fantagraphics President and Co-Publisher Gary Groth. “Its cultural preeminence is the result of artistic merit, not collectibility or economics and that sets it apart from most comics series that have achieved this level of public awareness or notoriety. The artists that Crumb invited into ZAP each proved to be a stylistic virtuoso with a unique point of view and an uncompromising vision. ZAP was the vanguard of a movement that segued into the alternative comics of the ’80s and the graphic novels of the ’00s. We couldn’t be prouder to collect this landmark series in its entirety in a beautifully packaged two-volume set.”
Originally printed by Beat writer Charles Plymell in an edition of around 3,500 copies, ZAP #1 was the first title published by the late Don Donahue under the Apex Novelties imprint, and was infamously sold on the streets of Haight-Ashbury out of a baby stroller pushed by Crumb’s ex-wife, Dana. Over time, the series’ 16 issues have sold millions of copies.
Although R. Crumb had initially created ZAP as a showcase for his own work, the success of the first issue led him to open up the pages of subsequent issues to several other artists. He invited his peers S. Clay Wilson, Robert Williams, “Spain” Rodriguez, Gilbert Shelton, Victor Moscoso and Rick Griffin to join him, effectively creating an artists’ collective that has remained mostly constant in the subsequent decades; when Rick Griffin died in 1991, the artist Paul Mavrides was invited to join the group.
“Fantagraphics’ The Complete ZAP Comix, as designed by Victor Moscoso, will be a classy item for the bookshelves of underground comics fans — those who can afford it, that is,” said ZAP artist Gilbert Shelton. “I imagine most of the original readers wish they still had their copy of the first edition of ZAP #1, which sells for over ten thousand dollars now, if in perfect condition. But part of the secret of the success of underground comix was that they were cheaply produced and turned yellow and fell apart quickly, and also that they were borrowed and never returned by one’s friends, thereby forcing you to buy another copy. This will not happen with the new collected edition, which will be produced under the most rigorous of quality control.”
“Much as the effect EC’s MAD had on the mid-20th Century, ZAP was equally influential and disruptive to cultural mores at the end of the 20th Century, but without the hindrance of the old comic book code that cramped graphic novel expression for 40 years,” said ZAP artist Robert Williams. “I’m very pleased that Fantagraphics will release this long-awaited compendium of ZAP Comix.”
“When Robert Crumb started ZAP in 1968, no one had any idea that it would still be alive 45 years later,” Shelton added. “This exercise in anarchy — there were never any rules, restrictions, or editorial policy — is still the flagship of the underground comics movement. I tried, and failed, to get my fellow ZAPsters to correct their spelling errors, but they would not be subjected to such editorial tyranny. I also wanted to let other artists into the group, but it was decided to restrict the number of contributors to seven. So be it. Spell free or die, I now say.”
Fantagraphics will be publishing the The Complete ZAP Comix in Fall of 2012.
The Complete ZAP Comix By: R. Crumb, S. Clay Wilson, Robert Williams, Spain Rodriguez, Gilbert Shelton, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffin, & Paul Mavrides Release Date: Fall 2012 Page Count: 800 PP Black & White • Two-Volume, Slipcased Hardcover Set