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Category >> Tony Millionaire

Diaflogue: Tony Millionaire exclusive Q&A
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Tony MillionaireDiaflogue 21 May 2010 11:50 AM

Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird by Tony Millionaire

Tony Millionaire graciously agreed to answer a few questions about his new book Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird, due for release next month. This interview was conducted over email by our recently-departed Comics Journal editorial intern Jenna Allen and proofread by TCJ's Kristy Valenti. Thanks to all! –Ed.

Jenna Allen: It's been four years since the first Billy Hazelnuts book. What other projects have you been working on?

Tony Millionaire: The reason it took so long between Billy books was not that I didn't have an idea. I actually have the first three books generally laid out as a trilogy and maybe I'll keep it going from there. The problem was The Drinky Crow Show, which gobbled up huge buckets of time. I shouldn't really call it a problem, I loved doing the show and though the first few episodes were kind of awkward, by the time we got to the last few we were really running along. My favorite is the second-to-last episode, which takes place mainly inside Mme. Duboursay's uterus and Uncle Gabby's rectum. I also did the Elvis Costello record album and a few one-offs like the Iron Man piece for Marvel, and of course, the weekly Maakies. There was also about 80 pages of Sock Monkey squeezed in there somewhere. I hope to get Billy Hazelnuts 3 out much quicker.

JA: Have you read any comics lately that you enjoyed?

TM: Yes, Wilson by Dan Clowes. It's the funniest thing I've read in a long time. I love the switcheroo of styles all through the book, and I love the way you think at first that it's just a collection of one-offs about an annoying loser who you can identify with because he's blurting out all the things you'd blurt out but you didn't want your ass kicked. I've read his more serious stuff, it's refreshing to see this accessible, funny version of his earlier work, I really love this book. I've also been reading Fletcher Hanks, this guy was totally out of his mind, you can see his insanity in his drawings even more than in the writing, strange peculiar man, I am crazy about his work. I've been going over the Popeye books, the hamburger jokes never get old. "Come up to the house for duck dinner, YOU BRING THE DUCKS." Also, I check American Elf every day for my dose of regular family life, and while I could stomach the Pasadena Star-News I loved reading Drabble, Family Circus and Tina's Groove by Rina Piccolo with my kids.

from Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird by Tony Millionaire 

JA: With all the attention and care you give to draftsmanship, it seems surprising that you're as prolific as you are. How long does it take you to make a single page of Billy Hazelnuts, from blank page to inks?

TM: Once I sit down, it's all work, I just crank it out. The problem is getting down to my table. When people say I'm prolific I have to disagree, I procrastinate a lot. Then again, walking around or doing nothing is a good way to come up with ideas, so I guess I'm always working. When I'm feeling good I get between one and two pages per night drawn from pencil to ink. I found a nice technique to speed it up, I work at a size which is just barely larger than the print size. That way, they shrink it down and it looks crisp, but I don't have to use a huge illustration board. With pens you don't need all that space, but if you work with a brush you do. I don't.

JA: Part of what makes your art so fascinating is the way you combine the grotesque with more classic illustration in the vein of Herriman or Winnie the Pooh. Do you ever feel conflicted between these two different aesthetics when you are drawing, or does it all come out very naturally?

TM: Sometimes I consciously try to draw more like Herriman or Ernest Shepard, but my hand always twists back to itself after a little while. Drawing is like handwriting, which is why you can tell a fake Pollock from the real thing. I can't, but I guess somebody could.

from Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird by Tony Millionaire

JA: Baby birds in your works seem to be connected to themes of life and what it means to be a living creature. It plays a big part in this Billy story, and it also came up in Sock Monkey too, when Uncle Gabby accidentally kills a baby bird. What do these baby birds represent in your work?

TM: Most baby animals are adorable; kittens, bears, horses, even alligators. But the poor baby bird, even with its giant eyes and wobbly head, is usually quite ugly. The grotesque pig-like skin, sticky feathers, ugly open screeching mouth. The curled up shitty feet and bumpy head, it really looks like a malformed earthworm. But it also exudes this charming sort of helplessness, you have to help the little guys, and when you see a dead baby pigeon on a city sidewalk it makes you tear up like a blubbering waif, pity mixed with nausea. There you lie, you hideous mass of garbage, if you'd gotten past this awful part of your life, you could have soared in the sunlight on a cold February morning! But look at you now, you look like the worst dish in a bad Chinese restaurant.

from Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird by Tony Millionaire 

JA: Why does Billy feel such a responsibility to help this baby bird if he finds animals to be "disgusting bags of meat"? What motivates Billy?

TM: Billy's story in Book One was about him being made, going through changes which depended upon who was cutting his scalp off and stuffing his head. First he's a fighting monster, then a friend to Becky, a demon influenced by that crazy Gator built by Eugene, etc etc. It was about Billy's journey to figure out who he was. In Book Two he is still a tough guy, fighting the animals in the farm, full of self-hatred because he realizes he is close to becoming one of them. In his rage he harms this little bird by driving away its mommy, he is driven by guilt to help it. Being a very passionate person, he takes this new responsibility very seriously, it becomes his duty to assist the bird, even though the bird is eating his "flesh" (suet, bread dough, mold, molasses etc) all through the adventure.
It's the second stage of life, see? 1. Getting alive. 2. Having a duty. 3. Attaining enlightenment.

Our Aunt Judy embroidered a pillow for us: "Raising children is like being pecked to death by a duck."

So there you have it, I've spilled the beans about the whole book and series. Now I just have to figure out how to deal with Book Three, the whole Old Man Enlightenment volume. Coming soon!

JA: In this book, Becky assumes a much smaller role than in the first. Does she have her own adventures when Billy's away?

TM: Maybe, I haven't figured that out yet, but I want her to have a major role in Book Three. She's a very strong character and means a lot to Billy, just as all guiding angelic scientifical motherly saints do. Her presence means everything. She's the one who gave him the hazelnuts, she's an agnostical Goddess!

from Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird by Tony Millionaire 

JA: Ann-Louise/Uncle Gabby seems to be almost the same as Becky/Billy, except of course with Becky being sassier and more involved than Ann-Louise. Do you think the relationships would be the same if genders were swapped around? Like if Ann-Louise or Becky were little boys or Gabby and Billy were girls? Would the stories still work? Or is there something about the mother/child relationship that is necessary for these stories?

TM: I think the mother/child relationship works for both genders, like me and my little dog "Whisky."

Even with me and my little girls, and vice versa. It just depends on the story.

JA: Have you received any feedback on the first Billy Hazelnuts from either children or their parents?

TM: Moms love the book, Daddies love the book, kids love the book.

When I presented my idea to Gary Groth at Fantagraphics he said, "Well, we don't really publish children's books." I said, "This is not a children's book! It appeals to the same audience that the Sock Monkey books appeal to!" He said, "I thought the Sock Monkey books were children's books..." I said, "No, they're great for kids, no swearing, but they're for people who remember being kids. Have you ever read an old favorite children's book and found it kind of lame compared to how magical it was when you were a kid? Well, Billy Hazelnuts is for that person!"

JA: Do you think there will be many more Billy Hazelnuts books?

TM: Yes, very many. I love these characters. I will always produce Maakies weekly, Sock Monkey now and then, and Billy Hazelnuts now and then. I don't like regular schedules, but I love continuation of character.

JA: Is there anything I've missed? Is there anything else you'd like to talk about?

TM: Let's raise the tax on tea by 15% !!!

from Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird by Tony Millionaire 

Things to see: 5/20/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Tony MillionaireThings to seeT Edward BakSteve BrodnerPaul HornschemeierMomeMaakiesfashion 20 May 2010 2:57 PM

Daily clips & strips -- click for improved/additional viewing at the sources:

blockhead t-shirt design - Paul Hornschemeier

• It's Paul Hornschemeier's new weekly t-shirt design for his Forlorn Funnies Shirt Shop

Maakies - Tony Millionaire

This week's Maakies by Tony Millionaire — come to think of it, I think I forgot to post last week's

Tony Hayward - Steve Brodner

Steve Brodner's portrait of BP CEO Tony Hayward

Wild Man - T. Edward Bak

T. Edward Bak gives you a nice big juicy (and sexy!) 12-page preview of the Fall installment of his "Wild Man" Mome serial

Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird by Tony Millionaire - Previews, Pre-Order
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under videoTony Millionairepreviewsnew releases 14 May 2010 7:28 AM

Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird by Tony Millionaire

Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird
by Tony Millionaire

104-page black & white 6.5" x 9" hardcover • $19.99
ISBN: 978-1-56097-917-3

Ships in: June 2010 (subject to change) — Pre-Order Now

Billy Hazelnuts is back for the first time since his acclaimed 2006 Eisner Award-winning debut. Life has settled back to normal in the old house. Becky and her mom are getting used to having Billy around, as he performs various household chores, utilizing his amazing strength. Nothing could be better, aside from a jumpy relationship with the cat. Until one day Billy hears screeching in the back yard and runs out to find a very large owl attacking his housemate. “I hate that cat, but it’s OUR CAT!” yells Billy, and chases the owl off.

Billy soon discovers that the owl he has just scared off has left an egg in his nest. When the egg hatches, it’s up to Billy to reunite the baby owl with his mother, and the two head off into the deep, deep woods in search of her. The resulting adventure is a crazy potion of all-ages fun, humor, thrills and chills like only Tony Millionaire is capable of.

Download an EXCLUSIVE 11-page PDF excerpt (1.1 MB).

Video & Photo Slideshow Preview (view in new window):

Billy Hazelnuts + Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird by Tony Millionaire

Bonus Savings: Order Billy Hazelnuts (Vol. 1) + Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird together for a discounted price of $31.99 (a savings of about 8 bucks)! Order now and we'll ship you both books when Crazy Bird arrives in our warehouse.

Daily OCD: 5/5/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Tony MillionairereviewsLove and RocketsLos Bros HernandezLilli CarréJaime HernandezGilbert HernandezDaily OCD 5 May 2010 4:20 PM

Online Commentary & Diversions:

Luba Locas II: Maggie, Hopey & Ray

Guide: At Time's Techland blog, Douglas Wolk tells you "Where to Start with Love and Rockets": "Fantagraphics actually has a guide to navigating the various overlapping reprints of the three Love and Rockets series (and assorted associated projects) to date, since everything's been repackaged and reformatted so many times. That's useful if you want to read everything in chronological order – but I'd actually suggest that you don't."

The Lagoon

Review: "The solid blacks and blocky grotesquerie of The Lagoon strongly recall Charles Burns’ Black Hole, a story in which adulthood is equated with monstrosity. In The Lagoon, too, sexual maturity and horror are linked. But that link is mediated by a third term — a metaphor, a song." – Noah Berlatsky, The Hooded Utilitarian (reprinted from the Chicago Reader)

Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird

Review: "The mind of Tony Millionaire is a funny, wacky and kinda disturbing place, but man do I love it! ... Billy Hazelnuts and the Crazy Bird is an incredible book for all ages. There is nothing else like it being published today and I think that is why it’s so special! In a time when comic fans are counting every penny and scrutinizing every purchase, rest assured this book is worth every penny." – Secret Identity

Things to see: 4/29/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Tony MillionaireTim LaneThings to seeSteven WeissmanSteve BrodnerPaul HornschemeierNewaveMaakiesJeremy EatonfashionDame Darcy 29 Apr 2010 3:51 PM

Daily clips & strips — click for improved/additional viewing at the sources:

Seattle Weekly illustration - Jeremy Eaton

• A heck of a Seattle Weekly illustration by Jeremy Eaton

School Spirits Stinckers - Steven Weissman

• Here's a color test for that series of School Spirits Stinckers that Steven Weissman's been working on (and here's another one — I like the green one better)

Original art - Dame Darcy

Dame Darcy has info on framed original art, a bunch of new handmade dolls (we saw them at Stumptown; they're gorge), new purses and more on her blog

David Bowie - Wayno

• Some great-looking digital prints of illustrations by Newave! artist Wayno are now available from Rockpop Gallery

Belligerent Piano - Tim Lane

• It's this week's Belligerent Piano by Tim Lane

I, Anonymous - Steven Weissman

• ...and this week's "I, Anonymous" spot by Steven Weissman

Maakies - Tony Millionaire

• ...and this week's Maakies by Tony Millionaire

Choose Your Own Shirt - Paul Hornschemeier

• ...and this week's new Forlorn Funnies t-shirt (featuring artwork from All and Sundry) from Paul Hornschemeier (buy)

Gov. Brewer - Steve Brodner

Steve Brodner's pointed portrait of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer

Things to see: 4/22/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Tony MillionaireTim LaneThings to seeSteven WeissmanstaffDerek Van Gieson 22 Apr 2010 3:16 PM

Daily clips & strips — click for improved/additional viewing at the sources:

I, Anonymous - Steven Weissman

• This week's "I, Anonymous" spot by Steven Weissman

Maakies - Tony Millionaire

• This week's Maakies by Tony Millionaire

Belligerent Piano - Tim Lane

• This week's Belligerent Piano by Tim Lane

Tarzan - Eric Reynolds

• That version of a Jesse Marsh Tarzan cover by our own Eric Reynolds that I believe we've featured here previously has finally shown up on the Covered blog

Abstraction House - Derek Van Gieson

Derek Van Gieson claims to be "toning it down" as "Tales from Abstraction House" proceeds — lies

Things to see: 4/8/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Tony MillionaireThings to seeSteven WeissmanMaakiesJohnny Ryanfan art 8 Apr 2010 4:07 PM

Daily clips & strips -- click for improved/additional viewing at the sources:

I, Anonymous - Steven Weissman

• This week's "I, Anonymous" spot by Steven Weissman

Maakies - Tony Millionaire

• This week's Maakies by Tony Millionaire

Loady vs. CF

Johnny Ryan describes this fan art by James Henry Dufresne as a "supervillain team-up"

2010 Eisner Nominees announced, on sale
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Trina RobbinsTony MillionaireThe Comics JournalRichard SalaPrince ValiantPeter BaggeNell BrinkleyMaakiesJacques TardiHumbugHal FosterGahan WilsonFrom Wonderland with LoveCarol TylerBlazing CombatawardsAbstract Comics 8 Apr 2010 12:42 PM

Eisner Award Nominee Seal

We are exceedingly pleased to report that Fantagraphics publications and artists received a record 18 nominations for the 2010 Eisner Awards. To celebrate, we're offering these titles at 18% off for a limited time! Click here for the full sale selection. (Sale is valid for online and phone orders only.) Winners will be announced at a ceremony on Friday, July 23, 2010 at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Congratulations to all the nominees! Fantagraphics' nominations are as follows:

From Wonderland with Love: Danish Comics in the Third  Millennium

• Best Short Story: "Because I Love You So Much," by Nikoline Werdelin, in From Wonderland with Love: Danish Comics in the Third Millennium  

Ganges #3

• Best Single Issue: Ganges #3, by Kevin Huizenga

Drinky Crow's Maakies Treasury

• Best Humor Publication: Drinky Crow's Maakies Treasury, by Tony Millionaire

Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations

• Best Humor Publication: Everybody Is Stupid Except for Me and Other Astute Observations, by Peter Bagge

Abstract Comics: The Anthology

• Best Anthology: Abstract Comics, edited by Andrei Molotiu

West Coast Blues

• Best Adaptation from Another Work: West Coast Blues, by Jean-Patrick Manchette, adapted by Jacques Tardi
• Best U.S. Edition of International Material: West Coast Blues, by Jean-Patrick Manchette, adapted by Jacques Tardi

The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley's Cartoons   1913-1940

• Best Archival Collection — Strips: The Brinkley Girls: The Best of Nell Brinkley's Cartoons 1913-1940, edited by Trina Robbins
• Best Publication Design: The Brinkley Girls, designed by Adam Grano

Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons

• Best Archival Collection — Strips: Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons, by Gahan Wilson, edited by Gary Groth
• Best Publication Design: Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons, designed by Jacob Covey

Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938

• Best Archival Collection — Strips: Prince Valiant, Vol. 1: 1937-1938, by Hal Foster, edited by Kim Thompson

Blazing Combat

• Best Archival Collection — Comic Books: Blazing Combat, by Archie Goodwin et al., edited by Gary Groth

Humbug

• Best Archival Collection — Comic Books: Humbug, by Harvey Kurtzman et al., edited by Gary Groth

You'll Never Know Book 1: A Good and Decent Man

• Best Writer/Artist — Nonfiction: Carol Tyler, You'll Never Know: A Good and Decent Man
• Best Painter/Multimedia Artist: Carol Tyler, You'll Never Know: A Good and Decent Man

The Comics Journal #300

• Best Comics-Related Periodical: The Comics Journal, edited by Gary Groth, Michael Dean, and Kristy Valenti

Delphine #4

• Best Lettering: Richard Sala, Delphine (Fantagraphics), Cat Burglar Black (First Second)



Things to see: 4/1/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Tony MillionaireThings to seeSteven WeissmanMaakiesLilli CarréKevin HuizengaJon AdamsJohnny RyanDebbie Drechsler 1 Apr 2010 5:34 PM

Daily clips & strips — click for improved/additional viewing at the sources:

Leon Beyond - Kevin Huizenga

Kevin Huizenga's new Amazing Facts and Beyond with Leon Beyond strip reminds me how grateful I am that Seattle is mostly free of the phenomenon in question

I, Anonymous - Steven Weissman

• This week's "I, Anonymous" spot by Steven Weissman

Maakies - Tony Millionaire

• This week's Maakies by Tony Millionaire (and guest writers including Drinky Crow Show co-creator Eric Kaplan)

blind towhee - Debbie Drechsler

• A blind-in-one-eye California towhee by Debbie Drechsler

print - Lilli Carré

• A trio of new silkscreen prints from Lilli Carré

Nancy Drew - Julia Wertz / Johnny Ryan

• It's the last of the Julia Wertz / Johnny Ryan kids-book spoof strips

dmc

• Speaking of Johnny Ryan, he did some Detroit Metal City fan art

 Truth Serum - Jon Adams

• It's a new installment of Jon Adams's Truth Serum already

Things to see: 3/25/10
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Tony MillionaireTim HensleyThings to seeSteven WeissmanRobert GoodinPopeyeOriginal ArtMark KalesnikoMaakiesJim FloraEC SegarDrew Friedman 25 Mar 2010 4:51 PM

 Daily clips & strips — click for improved viewing at the sources:

Alice in Wackoland - Drew Friedman

Drew Friedman strikes straight to the heart of the zeitgeist in his new cover illo for The Nation

Black Blizzard lettering - Tim Hensley

Tim Hensley takes you through his process for creating the cover lettering for D&Q's new Tatsumi book

I, Anonymous - Steven Weissman

• This week's "I, Anonymous" spot by Steven Weissman

Maakies - Tony Millionaire

This week's Maakies from Tony Millionaire

Yogi Bear - Robert Goodin

• We've featured this Robert Goodin piece before but it's up on the Covered blog today

original Popeye art - E.C. Segar

• At Three Men in a Tub, Ted Dawson presents the original art for a 1933 Popeye vs. Bluto Thimble Theatre strip (published in Popeye Vol. 3: "Let's You and Him Fight!"; via The Comics Reporter )

Celebrities - Jim Flora

Celebrities is a new fine art print available from Jim Flora Art

Mail Order Bride sketches - Mark Kalesniko

More preliminary sketches from Mail Order Bride by Mark Kalesniko


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