This tragicomic, debut graphic novel by acclaimed cartoonist Jesse Reklaw (Slow Wave) presents a series of novellas about cats, toys, and card games that collectively comprise a thoughtful, sometimes dark and often funny memoir about family, childhood, death, mental illness, sex and drug abuse.
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:
Get ready for APE this weekend in San Francisco! Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds will be selling you all your favorite comics and a couple of new shiny debuts! Visit table 112-115 for a whale of a time with plenty of special guests.
• Couch Tag by Jesse Reklaw Veteran alternative cartoonist Jesse Reklaw, creator of the long-running weekly comic strip Slow Wave, delivers this tragicomic graphic memoir, his first long-form work. Presented as a series of comic novellas that together comprise a thoughtful, sometimes dark and often hilarious memoir about childhood, family, death, mental illness, sex and drug use, the entire book is told through cleverly inviting conceits like cat histories and card games.
Veteran alternative cartoonist Jesse Reklaw, creator of the long-running weekly comic strip Slow Wave, delivers this tragicomic graphic memoir, his first long-form work. Presented as a series of comic novellas that together comprise a thoughtful, sometimes dark and often hilarious memoir about childhood, family, death, mental illness, sex and drug use, the entire book is told through cleverly inviting conceits like cat histories and card games. - See more at: http://www.fantagraphics.com/browse-shop/couch-tag.html#sthash.LBemowdy.dpufVeteran alternative cartoonist Jesse Reklaw, creator of the long-running weekly comic strip Slow Wave, delivers this tragicomic graphic memoir, his first long-form work. Presented as a series of comic novellas that together comprise a thoughtful, sometimes dark and often hilarious memoir about childhood, family, death, mental illness, sex and drug use, the entire book is told through cleverly inviting conceits like cat histories and card games.
• Celebrated Summerby Charles Forsman This original graphic novella is a funny and moving story of escalating humor and tension between two disaffected teens, Mike and Wolf, who take a spontaneous summer road trip after dropping acid. As the stark black and white of Forsman's cartooning indicates, however, this is not a psychedelic, Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby kind of trip. Instead of the escapism they crave from their fragile home lives, the LSD only heightens their sense of ennui, exacerbates their fears about the world they're about to enter as adults, and creates doubts about everything they think they know.
• Black is the Color by Julia Gfrorer Black is the Color begins with a 17th century sailor abandoned at sea by his shipmates, and as it progresses he endures, and eventually succumbs to, both his lingering death sentence and the advances of a cruel and amorous mermaid. The narrative also explores the experiences of the loved ones he leaves behind, on his ship and at home on land, as well as of the mermaids who jadedly witness his destruction. At the heart of the story lie the dubious value of maintaining dignity to the detriment of intimacy, and the erotic potential of the worst case scenario.
• Artists Authors Thinkers Directors by Paul Hornschemeier by Paul Hornschemeier Culled from his drawing blog - The Daily Forlorn, now one of Tumblr's featured illustration blogs, adding thousands of new followers every week - these portraits are as stylistically varied as the subjects they portray. A scrawled, single line drawing of Lenny Bruce shares space with a triangular Werner Heisenberg. A monochromatic, stippled Stanley Kubrick stares intently at a muppet-headed Frank Oz. Each turn of the page offers a new take on a familiar face.
Several fantastic cartoonists are joining us for the show and will be signing. Stop by the table and get a new book or sketch from 'em! Not enough? We've got cartoonists on panels like you wouldn't BELIEVE! Take a load off and enjoy some stimulating conversation
1:00pm-1:45pm The Importance of Independent Press APE special guests Ron Turner (underground comix pioneer and head of Last Gasp), Dan Vado (SLG Publishing and APE founder), and Eric Reynolds (Fantagraphics) discuss why the independent press is a necessary part of the comics community. Moderated by Andrew Farago of the Cartoon Art Museum, the panelists will discuss not only why they believe in the independent press but how you can become a part of it, too. Programming Room
1:45pm-2:45pm Ten Years of the Cartoon Art Museum San Francisco's comics history runs deep, from the first modern comic strip in the late 1800s to the birth of the underground comix movement in the 1960s. The Bay Area continues to produce some of the world's top cartoonists, and the Cartoon Art Museum's Small Press Spotlight focuses on the works of these talented individuals. Cartoon Art Museum curator Andrew Farago joins artists Susie Cagle (This Is What Concerns Me), Renée French (Micrographica), Justin Hall (No Straight Lines), Roman Muradov (bluebed.net), Fred Noland (Black Sheep), and Andy Ristaino (Adventure Time, Night of the Living Vidiots) as they celebrate the tenth anniversary of this ongoing exhibition and talk about the past, present, and future of comics in the Bay Area. Programming Room
5:15pm - 6:00pm Spotlight on Bill Griffith Meet the creator of Zippy the Pinhead! APE special guest Bill Griffith will be giving a slideshow talk on his long history in comics, from his days in the San Francisco Underground, where Zippy was born in 1970, to his syndication in daily newspapers, as well as work for The New Yorker and other magazines. Bring your own taco sauce; polka-dotted muu-muus optional. Programming Room
1:30pm - 2:15pm Spotlight on Anders Nilsen APE special guest Anders Nilsen will do a short reading from his new book Rage of Poseidon (D&Q) and discuss the book's origins. The talk will touch on the role of mythology and religion in his work (from Big Questions and Sisyphus to the present), what stories are for, and what the difference might be in re-imagining old stories that most people don't remember versus ones some people organize their lives around and hold dear. Audience questions are welcome. Programming Room
3:00pm - 3:45pm The Queer Cartoonists Panel The Queer Cartoonists panel's tenth anniversary is here! Come celebrate an entire decade of fabulous and talented creators discussing the art and business of comics, talking about the complexities of LGBTQ identity, and answering probing questions from moderator Justin Hall (No Straight Lines, Glamazonia). This tenth anniversary has a star-studded cast of panelists, including APE special guest Colleen Coover (Bandette), Beth Dean (Pregnant with Desire), Dusty Jack (Shounen Fight!), MariNaomi (Kiss and Tell), Desmond Miller (Between Here and the Lint Trap), and Sean Z (Myth, Bent-Con). On top of all that, the recipient of the Prism Comics Queer Press Grant 2013 will be announced! Sunday October 13, 2013 Programming Room
4:30pm - 5:30pm Keeping Comics Alive for the Next Generation Every generation hopes to leave behind a legacy for the next to follow. What does that mean in the comics industry? Why is it so important to keep comics alive, and how can this be accomplished? Moderator Ricardo Padilla (The Latino Comics Expo) discusses these questions and more with panelists Colleen Coover (Bandette), Bill Griffith (Zippy), Anders Nilsen (Big Questions), Raina Telgemeier (Drama), Ron Turner (Last Gasp), and Dan Vado (SLG Publishing). Programming Room
Veteran cartoonist Jesse Reklaw's new graphic memoir Couch Tag forms a portrait of the artist's offbeat and sometimes troubled life through thematically grouped vignettes.
In this 25-page downloadable excerpt, you'll meet a few of the "13 Cats of My Childhood," see some of the "Toys I Loved" at play, read the beginning of "The Fred Robinson Story" (where the titular "couch tag" comes in), witness games of War and Go Fish from "The Stacked Deck," and get "Lessoned" in life alphabetically.
This 176-page hardcover is due in about 6-8 weeks and you can pre-order your very own copy right here.
Jesse Reklaw, whose long-running strip Slow Wave has been an alternative comics mainstay for many years, emerges with his longest work to date, Couch Tag, a years-in-the-making memoir composed of themed vignettes which together form a revelatory self-portrait. Like life, the book is both harrowing and humorous, dealing with uncomfortable subject matter (death, sexual trauma, drugs, mental illness) in an accessible way.
My cameraphone snaps didn't come out so hot, but fear not, better-looking sneak peeks are on their way, and the book is available for pre-order now for estimated delivery in late November or early December.