I'm going into this hoping that less is more and that a little convention report goes a long way with most folks. I know that's true of myself. I have yet to meet a comic book convention that I want to read more about than, say, WWI, despite how many con reports endeavor to prove me wrong.
What I'm really saying is, I didn't take as many pics as I should, especially as the weekend wore on.
I flew down Friday afternoon, this time attended by my girls (wifey Rhea and 5YO child unit Clem), which was a rare treat for me. It wouldn't be APE without a kickoff party at the "offices" of the House that Ron Turner Built, a.k.a Last Gasp, so we began there. In a vast warehouse of thousands of filthy, filthy books (I mean that most affectionately), my little girl zoomed in on this book like she was a dog working for the DEA and this was a brick of high grade hash that someone abandoned hastily during a raid of the premises:
BOO: THE LIFE OF THE WORLD'S CUTEST DOG features back cover endorsements from Nicky Hilton, Khloé Kardashian, cuteoverload.com and "Facebook Fan." Of course we bought it for her. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if Gary Groth had had a daughter.
I could have spent the rest of the weekend taking pictures at Last Gasp. It is one of my favorite places in the world. It gives me MAJOR WORKPLACE ENVY. Fantagraphics is a wonderful place but we don't have Binky Brown's coffin on the wall (although our inventory manager, Martin Bland, has a very similar Jack-in-theBox):
Anyway, the always totally awesome Kristine Anstine showed Clem the toy section while Mommy and Daddy enjoyed the party a bit more...
Kristine, however, continued to take orders throughout the party because she's a PRO (take note: this will come up again later).
Before we took leave, the great Ron Turner himself gave us a tour of his "private stash". I love and respect Ron immensely and really admire the empire he's built. His collection of cool shit is nonpareil.
From Last Gasp, we kept on truckin' (hyuk) to Mission Comics for onetime MOME contributor Malachi Ward's exhibition. Which was great, but you'll have to take my word for it, because I'd had two IPAs by that point and forgot to take any more photographs.
APE kicked off on Saturday morning at 11AM after a couple hours of set up. This will be my own little "panic room" for the next 36 hours or so:
Here is our first customer of the day, Brian Herrick, a fine cartoonist in his own right, with equally exceptional taste. I believe he is the first person in the world to take home a copy of Julia Gfrörer's BLACK IS THE COLOR. With great power comes great responsibility, Brian. I was so excited for you I couldn't hold the camera straight.
Remember when I mentioned Kristine Anstine being a true PRO? Well, here's another. APE Special Guest Bill Griffith dutifully worked on not one but two ZIPPY dailies behind our booth all weekend, in those rare moments that no one was asking him if he was having fun yet. Now that's a pro. Always working. I asked Bill if he ever got tired of drawing (something I've heard more than once from cartoonists who have been at it a lot less time than him). He matter-of-factly and without missing a beat answered, "No."
Can you tell I'm running out of steam? I'm thinking of trying to get a blurb from cuteoverload.com for this one:
Here is a picture of Alec Longsteth, followed by a picture of Mario Hernandez. Excellent gentlemen, each. Mario is always one of the people I look forward to seeing most at APE. He had the prettiest fingernails at the show this year.
Here is my APE stash. I didn't get a chance to do any proper shopping this year, but thanks to generosity of many of my fellow exhibitors, I managed to come home with an impressive haul.
Which reminds me, did anyone else notice the spine of this month's issue of THE BELIEVER?:
There were so many old friends at APE that I didn't get a chance to take a photo of, like Jim Blanchard, J.R. Williams, Pat Moriarity, and Renée French. I was too busy closing deals. ABC! ALWAYS BE CLOSING. What can I say? I, too, am a PRO.
Anyway, let me leave you with this cuteoverload.com-worthy piece by Graham Chaffee:
FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS TO PUBLISH IN CASE WE DIE, A NOVEL BY DANNY BLAND
SEATTLE, WA 1/23/13 -- Fantagraphics Books is proud to announce the forthcoming summer 2013 publication of In Case We Die, the first novel by longtime Seattle music figure Danny Bland, which follows a pair of addict outsiders who find themselves locked in the palpable, dizzy grunge-rock drug scene of '90s Seattle. The book will also be supported by a unique audiobook project from Seattle's Local638Records.
It wasn't the pounding headache or the all-too familiar taste of blood in my mouth that woke me that morning, but the stink of cat piss. They all have cats. Cats and bad tattoos and mops of dyed black hair that reek of cigarettes and watermelon Bubblicious. They all have ripped fishnets and dark red lips and Daddy issues.
Both love story and horror story, In Case We Die is a semi-autobiographical and visceral story of love, crime, addiction, redemption and revenge. Bland, a 25-year veteran musician (The Dwarves, Cat Butt, Best Kissers In the World) and road manager (Dave Alvin and the Blasters, The Supersuckers) and longtime Seattlite, brings his own experience to a harrowing tour through Seattle's darkest underground.
"When I first read a draft of In Case We Die, I did it purely as a favor to Rachel [Flotard, proprietor of Local638]," said Fantagraphics Associate Publisher and acquiring editor Eric Reynolds. "Rachel is hard to say no to. But I read it and loved it and actually tried to convince Danny to get an agent, and sell it to a big NY house who could land him a big movie deal. I actively discouraged him from thinking about Fantagraphics. But Danny told me all the reasons he thought that would be a bad idea, and I knew we were kindred spirits. He's shown great faith in us packaging the book he envisions and I'm proud to make that happen, because it's a book I'll be particularly proud of not just as a publisher, but as a Seattlite. It's a quintessentially Seattle novel."
Vulnerable to the high relief of heroin addiction, Bland's characters — Charlie Hyatt and Carrie Finch — are beloved, unapologetic protagonists whose epiphanies are as blinding as their weaknesses. Finch, 21, beautiful and dangerous, drowns out the voices in her head and the consequences of a misled life with electric guitar, booze and petulant misbehavior. Her single abiding faith takes the form of an unlikely savior — 60s psychedelic musician Roky Erikson. At the ripe old age of 28, Hyatt attempts to make sense of the cards he has been dealt; a miserable job, a drug habit he cannot afford and the wildly unstable woman he had chosen to love.
In Case We Die will also exist as a remarkable audio book project to be released by Local638Records [ http://www.local638records.com ]. An exclusive roster of legendary artists, musicians, actors and friends have lent their support and donated their talent by reading and recording chapters of the book including Dave Alvin (Blasters, Knitters), Greg Dulli (Afghan Whigs, Twilight Singers), Duff McKagan (Guns & Roses), Donal Logue (Sons of Anarchy, American Splendor), Blag Dahlia (Dwarves), Wayne Kramer (MC5), Eddie Spaghetti (Supersuckers), John Doe (X, Knitters), Jacob Pitts (actor, Justified), Damien Echols (West Memphis Three), Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees, Queens of the Stone Age), Rob Delaney (comic, Twitter superstar), Lou Beach (author, artist), Steve Earle (singer, songwriter, actor), Mark Boone Jr. (Sons of Anarchy), Amiee Mann (singer, songwriter, actress), Marc Maron (WTF podcast), John Sinclair (White Panther Party, MC5 manager), Lew Temple (The Devil's Rejects, The Walking Dead), Mark Arm (Mudhoney) and others t.b.a., with a portion of the proceeds benefitting MusicCares, a non-profit organization helping musicians and roadies gain sobriety and obtain medical care.
Two damaged people can balance a seesaw for a long time, even finding the illusion of safety; but when one gets off unannounced, the other will fall. As Finch finds sobriety, her sanity and her relationship with Hyatt falter until an inevitable event brings the two back together a decade later.
In Case We Die will premiere in Seattle this July with a number of local events t.b.a. promoting the release, with a wide release in August.
"Our anti-hero is floating in a tiny lifeboat made of heroin, graveyard shifts & rock music. His companions are two fabulous women; a bombshell who robs banks & a beautifully pale rock violinist who can barely dodge suicide. ICWD is much funnier & more satisfying than any other junkie rock'n'roll tragedy." – John Doe (X)
"Bland is a brutally funny and bravely honest writer. A perfect guide through the bloodshot streets and desperate bedrooms of the underground wilderness." – Dave Alvin (Blasters)
"In Case We Die is a poetic and elegant journey ... straight to the gutter." – Wayne Kramer (MC5)
"A great piece of work — full of filth and heart." - Steve Earle
"A suitably Peckinpah finale. Bravo. It has been like a traveling dream state and sometimes familiar look into the abyss." – Greg Dulli (Afghan Whigs)
"I am a believer in what Bland has to say. He writes with eloquence, candor, darkness, and humor....the good stuff!" – Duff McKagan (Guns N' Roses)
"In Case We Die is a riveting, funny and sometimes tragic story that I couldn't stop reading. It's a tale as beautiful as it is brutal. Addiction, love and music in the seedy underworld of rainy Seattle in the 1990's … the prose are so vivid I had to pinch myself to make sure i wasn't back there again. Danny is a modern Charles Bukowski." – Mike McCready (Pearl Jam)
It should be a fun show for us. Seattle and King County boast two of the great library systems in America, so you know it should be a great ALA, and we'll be excited to show our hometown pride. Come ask us for great book, comics, restaraunt and tourist tips!
Also, out-of-town visitors please note! We'll be hosting a reception at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery that Saturday night from 4:30 to 6:00 PM following a Graphic Arts Guild workshop featuring Ellen Forney, David Lasky, Phil Foglio, and others. Stay tuned for more info.
ALA Midwinter Booth #2409: FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS / W.W. NORTON
Earlier this month we wrapped up what has been my favorite project I've ever worked on. I've been pretty lucky to work on some amazing books by many of my favorite cartoonists, but this... this is something else. This is Crockett Johnson's BARNABY . This has been my #1 dream project for well over a decade, and it's now real.
Which is all to say, I'm genuinely thrilled to be the first one to present this sneak peek at Vol. 1.
If you're unfamiliar with BARNABY, let me allow Chris Ware to set the stage. This is from his introduction to Vol. 1:
"I never thought I'd see this day, but the book you hold is, well... the last great comic strip. Yes, there are dozens of other strips worth rereading, but none are this Great; this is great like Beethoven, or Steinbeck, or Picasso. This is so great it lives in its own timeless bubble of oddness and truth..." — Chris Ware
BARNABY is the long-lost comic strip masterpiece by Crockett Johnson, legendary children's book author (Harold and the Purple Crayon) and illustrator (Ruth Krauss' The Carrot Seed).
Featuring the misadventures of five-year-old Barnaby Baxter and his cigar-chomping, bumbling con-artist of a Fairy Godfather, J.J. O'Malley, BARNABY deftly balanced fantasy, humor, politics and elegant cartooning in a strip that captured the imaginations of kids and intelligent adults alike, including Dorothy Parker, Charles Schulz, W.C. Fields, Gardner Rea and Milton Caniff. We will be collecting in five volumes the entire, original ten-year run from 1942-1952.
Speaking of BARNABY superfans, our books are being designed by Daniel Clowes, which would sound more inspired if he weren't really the only man ever considered for the job. Dan is the person who first introduced me to the work of Johnson over 15 years ago, and I know this series means as much to him as anyone. I couldn't be happier with his designs. You've seen Dan's final cover for Vol. 1 above. Here's Dan's initial thumbnail rough from his sketchboook earlier this year; as you can see, he pretty much nailed it on the first take:
Here's a similar peek at one of Dan's initial "storyboards" for the book, this time for the opening spread of Jeet Heer's introductory essay:
... and here's the final, more-or-less identical final version, executed by our own esteemed Tony Ong and Clowes:
Dan makes things easy.
Here's a teaser of the entire jacket:
I can't end this post without mentioning my series co-editor, Philip Nel. Phil knows more about Crockett Johnson than anyone. Period. If you like Barnaby, please read Nel's definitive bio: Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children's Literature from the University Press of Mississippi.
In addition to his invaluable help behind-the-scenes, Phil has provided two indispensible resources for our first volume: a comprehensive biographical essay on Johnson focusing on the creation of Barnaby, as well as "The Elves, Leprechauns, Gnomes, and Little Men's Chowder and Marching Society: A Handy Pocket Guide," a stunningly comprehensive glossary to everything referenced in BARNABY. He'll even explicate formulas like this:
Anyway, there's much more to be had in this first volume, but I'm honestly reluctant to tip our hand too much. I can't wait for people to see this book. Featuring the first two calendar years of the strip, 1942-1943, you're in for a dense, rewarding treat. Look for it in stores by late-March or early-April (we'll update you as we go).
And once you finish Vol. 1, look for Vol. 2* in Spring 2014:
Well, I spent about four hours last night and this morning writing, formatting, linking and tagging a detailed SPX report that our flog system just decided to erase. So much for that. At least the photos were saved, so here you go, I don't have the patience to write it again. Let's just say SPX was indeed the Best Con Ever and leave it at that. I'm going to go punch a wall.
THE COMPLETE COMICS JOURNAL ARCHIVES JOIN THE UNDERGROUND AND INDEPENDENT COMICS ARCHIVE FROM ALEXANDER STREET PRESS
Fantagraphics Books, publisher of The Comics Journal, has announced a partnership with Alexander Street Press to make the complete archive of the The Comics Journal available as part of its Underground and Independent Comics online collection. This is the first-ever scholarly online collection for researchers and students of literary and underground comic books and graphic novels, and the inclusion of more than 25,000 pages of interviews, commentary, theory and criticism from the 35 year history of The Comics Journal marks a significant contribution to the academic study of the comics form.
“Most back issues of The Comics Journal are sold out and unavailable,” says Comics Journal founder and Fantagraphics President Gary Groth. “This will allow academics, critics, and historians access to the magazine that's covered the widest range of cartooning for the longest period of time. We believe Alexander Street Press' project serves an important cultural function and we're very pleased to be part of it.”
The Underground and Independent Comics online collection covers the works that inspired the first underground comix from the 1960s (such as works by Basil Wolverton and Harvey Kurtzman), to the first generation of underground cartoonists (including R. Crumb, Gilbert Shelton, Spain Rodriguez and many others) and encompasses modern sequential artists like Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez and Daniel Clowes, with over 75,000 pages of comics from the 1950s to present. With the inclusion of The Comics Journal archives, scholars can now similarly trace the roots of comics criticism and have access to the Journal’s incomparable oral history of the field.
Institutions who have already subscribed or purchased the archive include the Library of Congress, British Library, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Notre Dame and many others.
Comics have become an increasingly popular area of academic study, and yet the typical library has only a small selection of graphic novels in the catalog. Underground and Independent Comics solves this problem, collecting thousands of comics and related texts in one, easy-to-use online collection. With multiple combinable search fields, users can sort the materials in the collection by type, coloring, publication date, writer, penciler, inker, character, genre, publisher and more. Scholarship never before possible is now just a few keystrokes away.
“The chance to have access to 100,000 pages of underground and new wave comics in ways that were unimaginable a short time ago should change the face of comics research completely.” — James Danky, faculty of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Sooooo, I'm at Seattle's Pike Place Market yesterday morning with my daughter near the fish-throwing guys. We're standing out on the curb next to an empty cop car, waiting for a friend. The back seat windows in the cop car are rolled down and I just happen to catch something out of the corner of my eye. I look closer, between the bars, the backseat is completely empty aside from a large ziplock bag with something familiar inside...
Evidence of a crime scene? Something more nefarious? If there are any Seattle law enforcement officials who can shed some light on this mystery, do tell. Ellen, if you need a good lawyer referral, talk to Gary.
I've been going to Comic-Con for almost 30 years now, god help me. Sometimes I think I know downtown San Diego better than any town I've actually lived in. These are some of the things I think of when I think about Comic-Con:
• The Picadilly
• HateBall Tour 1993
• Scary bail bondsmen offices
• When you could easily park in the convention garage
• When Hall H was just a grassy knoll where you could hang out before the con opened
• When I cared about the Marvel and DC booths
• When I first met Gary Groth and he had a pony tail
• When I first met Dan Clowes and he charged me $10 for a sketch but not the cute girl in front of me
• When I showed Dick Giordano my portfolio as a teenager and he was incredibly encouraging
• Drunk late-night walks with Jaime back to the hotel
• Eisner Retailer Judging with Sergio Aragonés, who brought his guitar to kill time
• Sin Alley Cats, The Ol' Prospectors, and Action Suits with Rube Reuben at that Fanta golf course party
• Danzig's stripper room
• Riding elevators with Lou Ferrigno, the guy who played Chewbacca, and Stan Lee
• Being told on at least three separate occasions over three separate years "NO PHOTOS!" by an off-the-clock Lou Ferrigno (including in the elevator)
• Selling comics to Leonardo DiCaprio, who had just flown in via helicopter with Gaston from Meltdown
• Eisner tears
• Jack Kamen's kiss
• When I realized that the Playboy back issue dealers didn't check ID
Someone buy THIS for me? There was a time that we had this painting in the Fanta offices for awhile, during production of the first GHOST WORLD hardcover edition in 1996 or 1997. It's much larger in person than it was ever reproduced. I loved it so much I made a full-size color xerox of it that I still have. I'll just have to get that framed, I guess. *sigh*