For everyone interested in the history of underground and alternative comics, Treasury of Mini Comics Volume Two gathers prime examples—more than 800 pages' worth—from a quintessential self-publishing format in this compact but hefty hardcover. Previously only seen in limited-run pamphlets, these comics are startling, visionary, hilarious, profane, and profound. This volume also takes a look back at the wild 8-page sex comics called "Tijuana Bibles" that sprang from the 1930s underworld, as context for the contemporary comics that compose this book. Editor and mini comics pioneer Michael Dowers provides a historical survey of several decades' worth of some of the best that DIY comics has to offer, from some of the medium's most talented independent creators, including: Johnny Ryan, Trina Robbins, R.K. Sloane, Jeffrey Brown, Jim Rugg, Tom Neely, Ellen Forney, Esther Pearl Watson, Renée French, Lisa Hanawalt, J.R. Williams, Pat Moriarity, Souther Salazar, Theo Ellsworth, Nick Bertozzi, Dan Zettwoch, Marc Bell, and many others.
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:
The Giant Robot Post-It Show 8 runs from December 8th through 16th at GR2 [ 2062 Sawtelle Blvd., Los Angeles, CA ] with an opening reception event on Saturday, December 8th from 6:00 - 10:00 PM. Come prepared to "cash-and-carry"!
Here at Fantagraphics, we're gearing up for one of our biggest SPX'es ever, taking place on September 15th & 16th in Bethesda, MD! We'll be rolling out our list of debuts and our signing schedule soon, but while you wait, why not memorize this schedule of panels at the 2012 Small Press Expo?
Saturday, September 15th
• 12:00 pm // Crockett Johnson’s Barnaby and the American Clear Line School [Brookside Conference Room] In a canny mix of fantasy and satire, amplified by the clean minimalism of Crockett Johnson’s line, Barnaby (1942-1952) expanded our sense of what comics can do. Though it never had a mass following, this tale of a five-year-old boy and his endearing con-artist of a fairy godfather influenced many. To mark the launch of The Complete Barnaby, Dan Clowes, Mark Newgarden, Chris Ware, and the book’s two co-editors — Fantagraphics’ Eric Reynolds and Crockett Johnson biographer Philip Nel — discuss the wit, the art, and the genius of Barnaby.
• 12:30 pm // Jaime Hernandez: The Love Bunglers [White Flint Auditorium]Jaime Hernandez and his brothers launched the alternative comics era with their epoch-defining series Love and Rockets. From 1981 to the present, Hernandez has produced a singular body of work tracing the life of Maggie Chascarillo and her vast network of friends, family, neighbors, rivals and lovers. In recent years, Jaime has, again, broken new ground with brilliant comics novellas that remain accessible to new readers while building upon years of narrative to invest his stories with a profound emotionality. He will discuss his work with artist Frank Santoro.
• 2:30 pm // Gilbert Hernandez: Love From the Shadows [White Flint Auditorium]Gilbert Hernandez and his brothers launched the alternative comics era with their epoch-defining series Love and Rockets. Gilbert first made his mark with his Palomar stories, an intergenerational saga detailing life and love in a fictional Central American town. But a parallel strand of Gilbert’s restless oeuvre has since taken center stage in new graphic novels and stories that combine formal play with genre experimentation to open another window into the workings of the human heart. Gilbert will discuss his work with critic Sean T. Collins.
• 4:00 pm // Mark Newgarden Presents: Cartoonists and Comics On Camera, Reel One: 1916-1945 [Brookside Conference Room] A once-in-a-lifetime presentation of rare footage featuring 20th century comics greats and some unusual animated adaptations of their work, curated by Mark Newgarden from his personal collection of rare 35mm film. See Rube Goldberg, Otto Soglow, Chester Gould, Frank King, Harold Gray, Hal Foster (and many more) at the drawing board! See Jefferson “Gags And Gals” Machamer act! Plus Krazy Kat and many more surprises!
• 4:30 pm // Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist [White Flint Auditorium]Daniel Clowes first gained fame with his iconic comic book series Eightball and graphic novel Ghost World, which he co-adapted into a film of the same name. In recent books, including The Death-Ray and Wilson, his unique visual-narrative voice expertly manipulates the position of the reader to get more deeply under the skins of his sharply rendered characters. Recently the subject of a major retrospective exhibit and monograph, Clowes will discuss his work with Alvin Buenaventura, editor of The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist, and scholar Ken Parille.
• 6:00 pm // Sammy Harkham Q+A [Brookside Conference Room]Sammy Harkham has left a lasting impression on the comics field as editor of Kramers Ergot, the irregular avant-garde comics anthology series that represents, for many, a carefully articulated statement about the art form today. Harkham is also an engaged cartoonist, mindful of comics’ legacy while telling intimate stories that resonate with contemporary concerns. Several of his stories are collected in his new book, Everything Together. Harkham will discuss his work with Picturebox publisher and Comics Journal co-editor Dan Nadel.
Sunday, September 16th
• 1:00 pm // Mark Newgarden Presents: Cartoonists and Comics On Camera, Reel Two: 1932-1965 [Brookside Conference Room] A once-in-a-lifetime presentation of rare footage featuring 20th century comics greats and some unusual animated adaptations of their work, curated by Mark Newgarden from his personal collection of rare 35mm film. See Al Capp, Bill Holman (and many more) at the drawing board! See a drawing lesson from Fred C. Cooper! Plus Popeye, Nancy, Jacky’s Diary and many more surprises!
• 2:30 pm // Life After Alternative Comics [White Flint Auditorium] In the years after underground comix, the medium’s flag of ambition was carried by so-called “alternative comics:” nonconformist work in conventional formats that occupied marginal space in comics speciality shops. Alternative comics found common cause with other subcultural movements—before internet culture and the bookstore economy permanently changed comics’ formats and context. Dan Clowes, Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez and Adrian Tomine will discuss the changes they have seen in a conversation moderated by Bill Kartalopoulos.
• 3:00 pm // Drawing Energy [Brookside Conference Room] What does it mean to invest a feeling of energy, of activity, of physical or emotional intensity in a drawing? How does the process and mindset of the artist at work relate to—or differ from—the visceral feeling the reader is intended to experience from the published image? ArtistJim Ruggwill discuss these issues and other questions of drawing process with Michael DeForge (Lose), Theo Ellsworth (Capacity), Hellen Jo (Jin and Jam), and Katie Skelly (Nurse Nurse).
• 3:30 pm // Perverse Comics Form: Challenging Comics’ Conventions [White Flint Auditorium] Comics’ traditional forms have been inventively engaged by countless artists towards unique expressive purposes. And yet, even skillful manipulations of the comics form often carry with them conventions forged over decades, often within a commercial context. This panel will discuss radically different approaches to comics form and their relationship to broader artistic practices. Bill Kartalopoulos will lead a conversation with artists Warren Craghead (How to Be Everywhere), Renée French (H Day), and Keith Mayerson (Horror Hospital Unplugged).
Did you memorize them? Good! We'll quiz you at the Fantagraphics table at SPX 2012! See you there!
Before there was Mome, before the current explosion of small-press anthologies, there was Blood Orange, the short-lived mid-'00s series edited by Chris Polkki which gathered rising stars of the art-comics scene in four distinctive, beautifully designed 48-page issues. Blood Orange captured the pulse of alt-comics circa 2004-2005. We recently recovered a small quantity of shrink-wrapped packs of all 4 issues from the distributor, and we're now offering them via mail-order for the special low price of $17.85 — that's 3 issues for the price of 4! (You can also get the individual issues for $5.95 each.)
In the first issue: Nicolas Mahler, Rick Altergott, Michael Kupperman, Lauren Weinstein, Typex, David Collier, Maaike Hartjes, Allison Cole, Tobias Tak, Dan James, Marc Bell, John Hankiewicz, Matthew Thurber, Kevin Huizenga, Ron Regé Jr., a sketchbook from Gary "Teacher's Pet" Baseman, and covers by Andrew Brandou.
The second issue continues to encourage experimentation, pushing the medium in new directions. Look for innovative stories from groundbreakers such as Archer Prewitt, Rebecca Dart, Chris Wright (with a full-length 18-page story), Ron Regé Jr., Jeffrey Brown, Matti Hagelberg, Lauren Weinstein, Cole Johnson, Helge Reumann, and Fabio Viscogliosi, along with drawings by Renee French... all wrapped in a lovely cover designed by the one and only Steven Weissman.
The third issue of this always-surprising quarterly anthology series features European cartoonists Pakito Bolino and Caroline Sury (of France's Le Dernier Cri), Ulf K., Alex Baladi, Nicolas Mahler, Olaf Ladousse, and Fabio Zimbres; as well the homegrown talents of Anders Nilsen, Renee French and Ben Jones (Paper Rad). Also includes a brand-new 11-pager by Jeffrey Brown! With an eye-popping cover by French illustrator Olivier Douzou.
Blood Orange #4 wraps up the series with exclusive new stories by Brian Ralph, Lark Pien, Tobias Tak, Rebecca Dart and Ted May. Covers by Lark Pien.
• Plug: Leonard Maltin gave a very nice shout-out to Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture on his Movie Crazy blog: "This beautifully produced, oversized volume pays tribute to every aspect of Davis’ wide-ranging career, including his movie art, and should please anyone who’s ever admired his amazing work. Samples of sketches and rarely-seen original art sit side-by-side with finished pieces, as well as a biographical essay by Gary Groth and an overview by William Stout."
• Review: "All six of the stories in this latest volume [Athos in America] from Europe's eminent purveyor of deadpan, blank-eyed, funny animals are quite good, but two of them especially seem to stand out for me. ...Jason isn't sitting on his laurels and cranking out repetitively quirky stories in his usual style; he's pushing himself to do new things and communicate through his art, and it's wonderful to watch." – Matthew J. Brady, Warren Peace Sings the Blues
• Analysis: At Comic Book Resources, Greg Burgas gives a close critical reading of the first page of Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot by Jacques Tardi & Jean-Patrick Manchette: "Much like many graphic novels, the first page is less concerned with drawing readers in than getting the story going, and Tardi does that well here. His art remains the main draw of his books, even though the stories are usually quite good. He knows how to lay out a page and get readers to turn the page, and that’s not a bad skill at all."
• Analysis:The Hooded Utilitarian begins a critical roundtable on Jaime Hernandez's "Locas" stories with "A Fan Letter to Jaime Hernandez" by cartoonist and esteemed manga blogger Deb Aoki: "As a comics creator and as a life-long comics reader, I’ve frequently been asked, who are your favorite artists, or which artists are your biggest influences? Time and again, Jaime Hernandez is in my top 10 list. Given that most of my comics life revolves around manga nowadays, my response often surprises people. And it’s true — Jaime’s work isn’t what most people would consider manga at all, although his work is admired by fans and artists around the world for his draftsmanship, dramatic use of black/white, supple line work, and most of all, his storytelling skills. But discovering Love & Rockets when I was in college was a major turning point for me, and one that changed how and why I draw comics."
• Interview (Audio):Bill Griffith dropped by the WNPR studios yesterday for a fun chat on The Colin McEnroe Show about donuts and other topics; in his blog intro McEnroe states "...I already know the answer to the question everybody asks Bill Griffith: Where do you get your ideas? He probably doesn't have to sit there holding his head and feverishly hoping something will jump out. The anomalies and cartoon dissonances of Zippy the Pinhead are really just average days along the byways of America."
• Portland, OR: Come hear Joe Sacco speak at the Portland Central Library from 2:00 to 4:00 PM. Tickets for this event are free, and will be available 30 minutes prior to the program. Space at programs is limited, and seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. (more info)
Gung Hay Fat Choy! According to Chinese astrology, it is the Year of the Dragon, and our friends at Giant Robot are celebrating with a fiery dragon-themed show, featuring mythical creatures from our own Andrice Arp, Renee French, and Steven Weissman, among many others!
Astrologists say the Year of the Dragon is a year of change and mobility, so it's only appropriate that this event also serves as a farewell to Giant Robot's Michelle Borok, who is moving to Mongolia. I will miss seeing her and her awesome eyeglasses at conventions!
Year of the Dragon opens on Saturday, January 28th with a reception from 6:30 to 10:00 PM at GR2 [2062 Sawtelle Blvd. Los Angeles, CA], and the show runs until February 15th.