It would be easy to call Tom Kaczynski the J.G. Ballard of comics. Like Ballard, Kaczynski’s comics riff on dystopian modernity, bleak man-made landscapes and the psychological effects of technological, social or environmental developments. Yet while Kaczynski shares many of Ballard’s obsessions, he processes them in unique ways. His visual storytelling adds an architectural dimension that the written word alone lacks.
Kaczynski takes abstract ideas — capitalism, communism, or utopianism — and makes them tangible. He depicts and meditates on the immense political and technological structures and spaces we inhabit that subtly affect and define the limits of who we are and the freedom we as Americans presume to enjoy. Society and the individual, in perpetual tension. Once you’ve read Kaczynski’s comics, it should come as no surprise to learn that he studied architecture before embarking on a career as a cartoonist.
Beta Testing includes approximately 10 short stories, most notably "The New," a brand new story created expressly for this book. It’s Kaczynski’s longest story to date. "The New" is set in an unnamed third-world megalopolis. It could be Dhaka, Lagos or Mumbai. The city creaks under the pressure of explosive growth. Whole districts are built in a week. The story follows an internationally renowned starchitect as he struggles to impose his vision on the metropolis. A vision threatened by the massive dispossessed slum-proletariat inhabiting the slums and favelas on the edges of the city. From the fetid ferment of garbage dumps and shanties emerges a new feral architecture.
Hurricanes can't stop comics! Visit Fantagraphics at the Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festivalthis Saturday, November 10th from 12:00 - 7:00 PM! Our lovely Marketing, PR and Outreach Fiend Jen Vaughn will be bringing you the fun!
PROGRAMMING: These will all take place at The Knitting Factory [ 361 Metropolitan Avenue ], and the panels are free and open to the public:
11:00 AM // The Architecture of Comics: Ware, McGuire & Spiegelman: Comics are more than illustrated literature: they are the poetic application of structure to visual art. Their distinct modes of operation permit unique ways of exploring perception and expressing meaning. Richard McGuire, author of the seminal short comics story “Here,”Art Spiegelman, author of the modern classic Maus and works including In the Shadow of No Towers, and Chris Ware, author of Building Stories and Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth will consider the architecture of comics in conversation with Bill Kartalopoulos.
12:30 PM // Shape, Line and Color: Blexbolex, Carré & Schrauwen: Comics have traditionally been bounded by a visual approach that privileges a linear, outline-based approach to art that can survive historically poor methods of reproduction. As technology has developed and as comics have gained from contact with other areas of art, contemporary cartoonists have increasingly embraced a greater variety of approaches to producing narrative graphics. Bill Kartalopoulos will discuss developing aesthetics with Blexbolex(Seasons, No Man’s Land), Lilli Carré (Heads or Tails) and Olivier Schrauwen(The Man Who Grew His Beard).
4:30 PM // The Narrative Collage: Burns, Hensley & Ricard: The mainstream publishing industry has often imposed the standards of conventional literary fiction on the comics form, suppressing comics’ essential status as an assemblage of potentially—and productively—discordant fragments. Charles Burns (Black Hole, The Hive), Anouk Ricard (Anna and Froga) and Tim Hensley (Wally Gropius, Ticket Stub) will discuss the possibilities and pleasures of crafting narratives that capitalize on the collage-like qualities of the comics form—in matters of structure, style and format—in a conversation moderated by Tom Spurgeon.
So, pull on your galoshes and we'll see you there!
If you weren't one of the lucky few who got the opportunity to paw over a preview copy of Tom Kaczynski's Beta Testing the Apocalypse at last Saturday's Fantagraphics Bookstore event, here's your first glimpse of the finished book, which will be arriving in stores in January (and our mail-order warehouse a bit sooner). Printed in various duotone shades throughout and bound in the snazzy Flexibound softcover format we've been so fond of lately, this super-smart package of super-smart comics will be one of the first must-haves of 2013 for discerning and intelligent comics readers. Further previews are forthcoming; you can pre-order a copy and read a free 10-page excerpt right now, right here.
I'll confess: I'm such a fan of Gabrielle Bell's work that I couldn't even wait for this Saturday's event to get my hands on The Voyeurs, her latest collection out now from Uncivilized Books. I started reading it on the plane home from APE, and finished it last night. No surprise, it's really, really good!
Tom is not only the proprietor of Uncivilized Books, he is also the artist behind our forthcoming release Beta Testing the Apocalypse, a collection of his contributions for Mome with some new material, too! The book won't be ready in time for Saturday, but be sure to check out the Uncivilized titles he'll have in store!
Join us for what's sure to be an incredible night filled with awesome, nice, talented folks, this Saturday, October 20th, from 6:00 to 8:00 PM, at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, located at 1201 S. Vale Street in Seattle's Georgetown district.
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is pleased to welcome two titans of alternative comix, Chris Ware and Charles Burns, as well as emerging artists Gabrielle Bell and Tom Kaczynki in a lively series of events this Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. This’ll be a blast!
Burns, Bell, and Kaczynski will sign books at Fantagraphics Bookstore, 1201 S. Vale Street, on Saturday, October 20 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM. This event coincides with Elysian Brewing's "Great Pumpkin Brew Festival" featuring dozens of pumpkin beers from regional boutique breweries, just up the street at Elysian's Georgetown bottling facility. We'll be serving complimentary samples of the Black Hole-inspired "12 Beers of the Apocalypse," including "Blight" pumpkin ale and a preview tasting of "Omen," not released to the public until the following day. (Burns will appear briefly a block away at Full Throttle Bottles at 5:30 to sign "Apocalypse" bottles to go.) Guests at the bookstore will be the first in the country to receive free copies of our Basil Wolverton Spacehawk sampler to go with other seasonal Halloween treats.
Burns will appear at Elysian Brewing Co. Capitol Hill location, 1221 E. Pike Street, on Sunday, October 21 from noon to 3:00 PM for the tapping party for "Omen" Belgian Raspberry Stout, number 10 in the "12 Beers of the Apocalypse" series. Hang out with the artist in a casual atmosphere in the heart of Seattle’s colorful Pike/Pine corridor.
On Monday, October 22 listen to Burns on Seattle’s NPR affiliate KUOW-FM at 10:00 AM. Then plan to attend "Building Comix with Chris Ware and Charles Burns" at Town Hall, 1119 8th Avenue, at 7:30 PM. Tickets are only $5 and the admission price can be applied to the purchase of any book at the signing following the talk. Ware will discuss his monumental new work Building Stories, and Burns will present The Hive, his anxiously anticipated sequel to X’ed Out. (You can catch the last presidential debate from 6:00 to 7:30 at the Pub at Town Hall for free prior to the event.)
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!
Another entertaining evening at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery last Saturday for the launch of our EC Comics Library line. Thanks to series associate editor J. Michael Catron and the enchanting Molly Nilsson for providing a focus to the festivities. If you missed it, you have through October 31 to view the display. No better time than this Saturday, October 20 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM, when the bookstore welcomes the incomparable Charles Burns with special guests Gabrielle Bell and Tom Kaczynski. Pick up brand new graphic novels by Burns and Bell, and preview Kaczynski's forthcoming Fantagraphics title Beta Testing the Apocalypse.
Speaking of the apocalypse, we'll be serving complimentary samples of Elysian Brewing's Black Hole-inspired "12 Beers of the Apocalypse," including "Blight" Pumpkin Ale and a preview tasting of "Omen" - not released to the general public until the following day. This event coincides with Elysian's "Great Pumpkin Brew Festival" up the street at their Georgetown bottling facility. Taste dozens of pumpkin beers from regional boutique breweries. Yummy. All this plus massive Halloween surprises make this another event not to be missed. See you then.
Our production department has been cranking away and all the rest of our books coming out in 2012 (and one for next year) are now at the printer. I have a bunch of new cover images and excerpts to share, so let's take a peek, shall we?
There really is a Great Pumpkin! He's bringing Charles Burns, Gabrielle Bell, and Tom Kaczynski to Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery on Saturday, October 20 at 6:00 PM. This event coincides with Elysian Brewing's Great Pumpkin Brew Festival - (just up the street at their Georgetown bottling facility) - featuring dozens of seasonal pumpkin beers from regional boutique breweries. The bookstore will be serving complimentary samples of Blight Pumpkin Ale from Elysian's Black Hole-inspired 12 Beers of the Apocalypse series. Our EC Comics Library exhibition, "The Horror," provides the perfect atmosphere for this festive pre-Halloween function. Don't miss it!