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:
Thank you to everyone who came by our booth this past weekend at APE: the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco, CA! Look at how happy you made our Marketing Director, Mike Baehr! We hope we were able to make you guys happy, too, with all our amazing debuts and wonderful guests.
Our good pal Daniel Clowes made an unofficial appearance, and braved the crowds for a visit with The Hernandez Bros! I think that lady to the right just realized who cut in front of her in line...
Jim Woodring delighted fans with sketches of his iconic characters, and he somehow did it with just a cheapie ballpoint pen! (His usual drawing pen decided to give up the ghost right before signings began.)
The great Mark Kalesniko was all-smiles as he signed copies of his books for fans! Mark also brought both an electronic slideshow and some originals, which was a wonderful lesson in cartooning for everyone who stopped by.
We didn't manage to snap a pic of the elusive Tim Hensley, but he was at APE, debuting his Ticket Stub collection with Rina Ayuyang's Yam Books! And, good lord, can I tell you people, it is a thing of freakin' beauty. Get one, seriously.
Speaking of elusive, the rumors were true: Zak Sally did make an unexpected secret appearance at the show! He snuck away before I could take a photo, though!
While I visited with Fanta-friends Tom Neely and Emily Nilsson of Sparkplug Comics, Mike had to contend with that line you see in the upper-righthand corner of this pic for the Love and Rockets signing! Yikes, sorry, Mike!
A quick run back to our own booth, and I was able to catch the adorable Brett Warnock of Top Shelf kanoodling with Rich Koslowski across the aisle!!!
Going through our photos, I was surprised that neither Mike nor I snapped any pictures of my birthday-buddy Tom Devlin of Drawn & Quarterly. (We both turned a year older on Saturday of the show.) But his v-neck sweater really did look great with the collared-shirt. Happy birthday, dear Tom!
Yay, that was fun! Let's do it again next year, San Francisco!
And don't miss these excellent panels, featuring our great Fantagraphics artists:
Saturday, October 13th
• 2:45 PM // Queer Cartoonists Panel: LGBT comics, with a storied history of over four decades, have never been more vibrant. A true renaissance of queer stories is taking place, as they begin to take their rightful place in the comics world and fans increasingly demand more material that speaks to them and represents the genuine diversity in which we all live. It's all happening at the ninth annual APE Queer Cartoonists Panel, with talented, fabulous, and uppity panelists Tara Madison Avery (Dirtheads, Gooch), Tony Breed (Finn and Charlie Are Hitched), Dylan Edwards (Transposes), Steve MacIsaac (Shirtlifter), and Leia Weathington (The Legend of Bold Riley), with moderator Justin Hall (No Straight Lines, Glamazonia). On top of all that, at the end of the panel the recipient of the Prism Comics Queer Press Grant 2012 will be announced.
• 4:45 PM //Using Childhood Experiences to Create Adult Stories: The experiences from our youth are often those that have the biggest impact on the adults we grow up to be, but how do we share those stories with others? Miriam Libicki (jobnik!), Jim Woodring (Jim, Weathercraft), Kraig Rasmussen (monkeygong.com), and Derek Kirk Kim (Tune, Same Difference) explain how they molded their childhood memories into stories aimed at adults. Moderated by the Cartoon Art Museum's Andrew Farago.
• 5:45 PM // Spotlight on the Hernandez Brothers: 30 Years of Love and Rockets: The creators of the acclaimed Love and Rockets discuss the trials, tribulations, and joy that go into writing and drawing a series for over 30 years! Jaime, GilbertandMario Hernandez, talk to Andrew Farago (Cartoon Art Museum) about their three decades on one of comics' most popular and acclaimed indie series.
Sunday, October 14th
• 2:30 PM // "Gigantes" Walk Among Us!: Almost 100 years of cartooning takes the stage as APE special guests Jaime, GilbertandMario Hernandez of Love and Rockets fame join legendary MAD cartoonist Sergio Aragonés to discuss how their Latino/Hispanic experiences contributed to their amazing comic art. Join moderator Ricardo Padilla (Latino Comics Expo) as we celebrate these unique creators of this American artform.
• 3:45 PM // Spotlight on Jim Woodring: APE special guest Jim Woodring, the creator of the wordless Frank comics, waxes eloquent about his influences, motivations, and career experiences in "Please Stand By," a 45-minute narrated slide and video presentation followed by a 15-minute Q&A session. Topics include Woodring's animation studio work with Jack Kirby and Gil Kane, and the cartoon that irreversibly changed his life. If you have ever wondered what drives his enigmatic work, this is your chance to get the inside dope.
Marketing Director Mike Baehr and I can't wait to see you! Just swing by our usual spot at APE, tables 112-115! (Right by our good friends Jim Blanchard and J.R. Williams at table 116!)
We are excited to present an all-new, all-original 40 page comic by Mark Kalesniko for FREE, exclusively here on the Fantagraphics website! "Tarantula" is a hair-raising, funny, exciting, creepy-crawly tale which pits Mark's protagonist Alex against an unwelcome 8-legged home invader. Enjoy this fun and fast-moving tale right here!
Somebody brought an old Who's Who in the DC Universe for Trina to sign the page with her Cheetah illustration. That lady's done it all!
Another DC character also made an appearance at the No Straight Lines signing. (At least I think that's Poison Ivy.)
Matt Groening showed off his pal Gary Panter's Dal Tokyo while Akbar & Jeff walked past in the background. Matt recounted for us how he helped save the strip from being dumped at the L.A. Weekly back in the 1980s by arguing that it's one of the greatest works of art of the 20th century.
Eric shows off Johnny Gruelle's Mr. Twee Deedle to Matt, who was particularly taken with Gruelle's "birds-eye view" strips in the book and walked away with it under his arm.
Shannon Wheeler was signing Oil and Water before he even had a chance to sit down.
We're thrilled to announce the Fantagraphics signing schedule for San Diego Comic-Con 2012!
We're also extra-excited to announce our first-ever Preview Night signing!!! That's right! Last year, we met a lot of customers who lamented that they were only able to score a pass for Preview Night and they were missing out on all the signings. So, we've got the great Gilbert Hernandez, Mario Hernandez, and Gilbert's talented daughter Natalia signing at our booth that evening! You complained; we listened! Yeah, don't get too used to that.
"This book is considered a pioneering example of shonen-ai (boys’ love), often referred to as yaoi in the United States. In a German boarding school, young Thomas Werner kills himself because of unrequited love for a schoolmate, who is in fact in love with Thomas, but secretly. Unpacking the emotional threads among the boys and their fellows leads to a sophisticated and beautifully drawn melodrama."
"Herewith a color and black-and-white sampler from a less-recognized underground of gay comics from the past four decades, including Bechdel and Cruse, Europe’s Ralf Koenig, and 2011 ALA keynote speaker Dan Savage (Savage Love; The Kid; It Gets Better). Fantagraphics promises 'smart, funny, and profound' — and uncensored."
"A serious yet sweet fifth-grade drama about several boys and girls who want to change their gender. Unlike many manga involving boy/girl reversals, this one does not play gender issues for laughs, even if gentle comedy enters the picture along with serious emotional drama."
• Review: "The seventeenth volume of this great series from Fantagraphics [The Compete Peanuts] is just as delightful as all the rest. Yes, the ink line of Charles Schulz is a little wobbly at times, but his humor is just as sharp as ever.... I’ve said it before, but if you want reading material that will make you smile and laugh it’s hard to beat this series. And I’m continuing to admire the subtle and classy cover designs by Seth. Highly recommended." – Todd Klein
• Interview: At The Art Newspaper, Sarah Douglas chats with Robert Crumb about his museum retrospective show in Paris: "The contemporary fine art world has never particularly interested me. They started to embrace me and have big fancy gallery shows and museum shows. I’m one of the few cartoonists who mainly work for print who is now finding their way into the fine art world, and it’s the choice of the fine art world; it’s not my choice. I haven’t consciously promoted myself in that world."
• Commentary: At The Comics Journal, R. Fiore uses Mark Kalesniko's graphic novel Freeway as a springboard to discuss the history of American animation: "The eponymous metaphor of Mark Kalesniko’s Freeway is almost too easy: A transportation network that once granted free and effortless mobility that’s become a morass of stagnation and frustration to symbolize an animation business that promised personal expression amid camaraderie but delivers forced mediocrity in an atmosphere of Machiavellian backbiting. Condemned to a purgatorial traffic jam, Kalesniko’s dog-headed alter ego Alex grinds his teeth to reminiscences about his thwarted career, potentially idyllic but presently in-law plagued romance, and his abortive first expedition into Los Angeles, intermixed with idealized visions of animation’s golden age and premonitions of [SPOILER REDACTED – Ed.]."
• Commentary: "I’d love to see Locas become a well-made animated television series, because I feel like Jaime Hernandez’ work deserves the widest-possible audience. But is such an idea messing with a classic that doesn’t need such 'help'?" – Graeme McMillan, Spinoff Online
Hot on the heels of its Eisner Award nomination for "Best Graphic Album – New," Mark Kalesniko's beautiful, ambitious and complex book Freeway has been named an honor book (i.e. runner-up) for the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize by a jury representing the Pennsylvania Center for the Book at Penn State University.
From the judges' comments:
"Kalesniko's vivid existentialist drama of the dog and his artistic dream reassuringly demonstrates that in comics, at least, creativity and originality continue to flourish and (with this honor award) receive their rightful recognition." – Susan Squier
"With allusions to the history of the classic studio animation, the use of anthropomorphism and a great relationship story, Freeway is a fantastic graphic novel." – John Secreto
"How do we get to where we want to be — in the workplace, in love, in life, on LA's tangle of freeways? Kalesniko's dog-faced protagonist lives and imagines dozens of possibilities for us in this melange, which offers both a staccato pace and a gentle lyricism. How ironic that the pursuit of happiness turns out to be something of a demolition derby." – Henry Pisciotta
"Every nomination list needs one book that pays homage to the 1960s Existentialist movement.... The art work is perfect for this tale of hopeless desperation and despair. It's great to see this theme again." – Glenn Masuchika
Congratulations Mark! We're also pleased that Paul Hornschemeier's Life with Mr. Dangerous, originally serialized in Mome, has received the same honor this year, which last year was bestowed upon Drew Weing's Set to Sea.
Earlier this month, the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, NY kicked off their exhibit, LitGraphic: The World of the Graphic Novel, an "examination of the use of sequential art as a significant form of visual communication, placing specific emphasis on the art of the contemporary graphic novel."
The exhibit features more than 200 original art works, including paintings, drawings, storyboards, and more, including work from our own Mark Kalesniko's Mail Order Bride!