We've recently had some new blood join our satanic circle in comics and are proud to highlight them. Meet Keeli McCarthy, one of our designers. She's currently working on many books for us, too many but she's a tough nut.
What other jobs and experiences have you had in comics? I was the first female employee at a shop called Atomic Comics in the mid-90s in Phoenix. I was hired as the "alternative comics" person. I diverted a lot of questions about Image release dates with "um, how about checking out that Julie Doucet book there in the corner?"
What was the first comic you read? My introduction to comics came through the wonderful world of Jack Chick tracts. Mormonism, Satanism, D&D, hippies... I ended up with a childhood preoccupation with hippies because they seemed to be having so much fun freaking out in those densely-drawn panels. I still have dozens and dozens of pictures of hippies that I drew as a child. I was also a big fan of Archie.
What was the first comic that made you want to write, react, something? I really discovered comics when I picked up my first issue of Eightball. It was during the middle of Like A Velvet Glove Cast In Iron, and so I had to scuttle around the local comic shops to put together the back issues. I was so fascinated with Clowes' pastiche of period references, something that definitely influences my work today. I was also hugely influenced by the ghoulishness of Al Columbia's Biologic Show and anything horror from EC.
What can you recommend to Fanta readers? I discovered Carl Barks when I designed the Ghost Of The Grotto collection and I've fallen in love with his stories. His human/animal hybrid characters are a hoot. The gags are great, and the colors in the Fantagraphics reprints are so sunny and beautiful. I'm also excited to sit down with the final printed version of Gast.
Weirdest Fanta experience so far? I would say that the weirdest thing about Fantagraphics is the old house we work in. There is original art, staff art, and just...stuff everywhere. I discover some new little gem each day. Like the Gap ad in which the model's face has been replaced with one from an Al Columbia painting, the whole thing blasted through with a rifle shot. I have no idea how this came about and I will never tire of looking at it.
(note: associate publisher Eric Reynolds shot this many years ago)
Favorite way to wind down? I try to move away from the two-dimensional world as much as possible after work, and cooking is a great way to do that. I love making big elaborate dinners. I am also the queen of improvised soup.
What projects do you have ahead of you outside of your job? I've been working on a series of brush and ink drawings based on observations of people's behavior in public places-coffee shops, dentists' waiting rooms, nightclubs. They're a fun exercise in getting better at inking good solid blacks. Last year, while living in New Zealand, I put together a zine/gallery show of 20 artists commemorating Oddbodz, which were New Zealand's answer to the Garbage Pail Kids. I'm hoping my next project can be that huge and crazy and fun. I'm also planning a trip to Tokyo in the next year with NYC/NZ zinester Erin Fae to write and draw a book about Japanese coffee culture.
Best part of comic conventions? I'm not a huge fan of comic conventions. I usually only go when there is a creator I really need to meet. Then I just field that person's puzzled glances as I hover around their table with a huge creepy smile on my face.
Favorite place in Seattle for food or public place? I recently discovered the giant hammering person sculpture and its history of mayhem, which I rather enjoy thinking about. Food-wise, TNT Taqueria has been haunting my memory with their TWO delicious meatless taco options. Also, this town has a staggering amount of donut eating opportunities, which I find very appealing.
Favorite drink? Black coffee. Preferably accompanied by a donut.
Thanks again for answering questions, Keeli! More soon from the pit where management keeps us at night.
We've recently had some new blood join our satanic circle in comics and are proud to highlight them. Meet Anna Pederson, badass at large currently at the warehouse who started back in January but was also an intern back in 2012!
What other jobs and experiences have you had in the comics industry? Fantagraphics was my first comic industry initiation when I did a stint as an editorial intern my senior year of college. After moving to New York, I did another internship with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF), because this industry is a labor of love, and you have to work really hard for free for a while. In NYC I also did my first retail work with Forbidden Planet, which honestly is one of the most informative areas of comic book publishing.
When the West Coast called me back home, I bummed around for a few months on the internet writing reviews for blogs and retailers, until Fanta found me in a ditch and brought me back into the fold.
What was the first comic you read? I think I've been reading newspaper comics since I could read, even the creepy weekday ones that talk about work place sexual harassment (I'm looking at you, For Better or for Worse). But then it was a gradual slippery slope into manga with Toriyama and Otomo, and mostly Vertigo titles, like Hellblazer, by high school. I was always an art fan, so without realizing their comic book ties, I was a fan of people like Moebius, Barry Windsor-Smith, andJack Davis. These dudes expanded my reading and visual tastes for the better.
What was the first comic that made you want to write, react, something? I've always enjoyed comics, but I think I'd be lying to myself if I thought it was anyone but Brandon Graham that made me feel like the worlds he created were visceral, and existed beyond storytelling purposes. I think I got my hands on King City sometime in high school, and I hope this makes him feel old. His street/graffiti, Japanese, Moebius style wraps my head in a blanket and tucks me in at night, while simultaneously fulfilling my need for sexy puns. The best of both worlds if you ask me.
Anna's Brandon Graham tattoo of Earthling J.J. Catingsworth the Third, photo Robin McConnell What can you recommend to Fanta readers? A book I picked up completely at random, but fell completely in love with has been Things Just Get Away From You by Walt Holcome. His whimsical and classic cartooning style often feels like how Pogo would read if all those characters grew up to be slightly dejected about society. But throughout his stories, Holcome hits on distinctly profound moments of love, childhood, and chasing dreams.
But I'm also really really excited for the release of Nijigahara Holograph by Inio Asano. It's everything that drew me into comics; horror, intense detail, magical realism. Love it.
Weirdest Fanta experience so far? I think this place used to be a lot weirder than how I found it. At least according to all the stories I've heard from legacy employees. I do remember once talking about whether or not plants would grow better with the nutrients of menstrual blood. But I'm probably the only one who remembers that, so who's the weird one now?!
I remember that conversation well, Anna. What's your favorite way to wind down? I love to bake. Cookies, pies, etc. Ask Kristy Valenti (Fanta editor) and she'll probably regale you with stories of my pies. I also sing a lot, mostly show tunes. Alienating one coworker at a time listening to Cabaret. Which shouldn't be hard to do since I only have one coworker.
What's your favorite drink? Whiskey. In my experience, if you work in comics you either drink whiskey or nothing at all. So chose wisely.
What projects do you have ahead of you outside of your job? The past couple of years have been spent on a pet project with local artist Josh Heath. It's probably one of those 'will never see the light of day' things, but you can't stop working on it either; quantity creates quality. I still write weekly columns about new comics coming out and why you should buy them, along with awesome preview videos hand made at Zanadu comics. But long term, my dream would be to curate and produce at least one multi-artist book, which is kind of the like the nerd idea of a fantasy team.
What's the best part of comic conventions? Conventions can be stressful, but I honestly love talking to people who are genuinely curious about the books you're trying to sell. They usually have a lot of enthusiasm, and are wiling to let me sell them amazing and weird books that hopefully makes them appreciate the unconventional, and become a reader for life. I sell people what I believe in.
Thanks again for answering the questions, Anna! More to come from the office monkeys soon.
Not pictured: Eric Reynolds, Mike Dean, Preston White, Paul Baresh, Anna Pederson, Larry Reid, TJ, Janice Headley, Dave Holmes, Jacob Covey, Matt Silvie and Dean. Our smooshed spiders-everywhere-in-the-trees-oh-god outtake.
There's no greater love in the world (to us) than a good book. You can enjoy it on the bus, in the bath tub, while eating Cheez Whiz straight from the can and drinking a nice glass of Bordeaux (not OR there -- and). Here are a few of you enjoying and loving our books from the last year (and then some). Above, cartoonist Ben Cohen's daughter reads from The Frank Book by Jim Woodring.
Above, Little Bea read's Good Dog by Graham Chaffee. Gotta say, a lot of dogs seem to love Graham Chaffee's latest graphic novel so you may want to buy a copy not just for yourself but for the dog in your life. Although, most mutts believe that the FBI Mini Bad Dog is more their speed.
Sam Marx, organizer and head volunteer of both SPX and Linework NW, also digs Buddy Does Seattle.
UK cartoonist Joe Decie just HAPPENED to be reading the really cool and sold out Zero Zero by Al Columbia. ;)
Ladies, Ladies, Gentlemen, calm yourselves. Sirako from Mexico enjoys the noir tale that is Lost Cat by Jason.
Here Rocky (who hails along with his owner David from the UK) enjoys his favorite book in the Love and Rocket series: Penny Century by Jaime Hernandez! Human Damon Gentry (writer of Sabretooth Swordsman) failed to follow directions and is EATING instead of READING his favorite book, The Frank Book by Jim Woodring.
As a recent thank you to Publisher Kim Thompson and editor Kristy Valenti (and more) for moving offices, I hatched up a scheme to paint the library door in our basement. If you haven't visited the Fantagraphics office recently, the lovely 70s shag carpet was ripped up awhile ago leaving the basement aesthetics a bit similar to that of a cattle kill floor. NO LONGER!
Inspired by Guy Peellaert's smashingly neon art in Jodelle, Office Manager Steph Rivers and I pulled out the carbon paper to adapt the drawing to our door. Also called graphite paper and available at art or architecture stores, it is an invaluable tool for mural making or large scale painting projects.
And then we let the Vitamin-C-infused paint hit the door. Now our library door matches the library door in Jodelle! Steph on the left as I sneakily took a photo.
The finished product may have worked too well. Now everyone at the office wants a new door. Maybe a Graham Chaffee one or Johnny Ryan....
Now time to paint all the book spines to match the ones in this library. Mwuhahahaha!
Hey, you're a busy person. We get that. Or maybe you and your sweetie boo said you weren't doing anything but then you found a six pack of that craft brew you love so much or the full Battlestar Galactica series on DVD waiting for you. Well, we've got some cards for you to print out fast at work, while everyone is reading the cards their moms mailed to the office. They aren't going to save you but its better than handing someone a Slim Jim you bent in the shape of a heart while filling up your car at the gas station. Or is it? (Valentine above uses panels from Prison Pit 4 by Johnny Ryan)
So for the next month or so people will tell you all the reasons why you should read The Comics Journal #302. It has the last interview with Maurice Sendak, an amazing How to Draw section with Roy Crane and his ghost artist (it's worth at least one semester of comic book school credit), a tribute to Dylan Williams, an extensive interview with Jacques Tardi, a new Joe Sacco comic, a Percy Crosby examination and so much more. But I'm here to tell you how you could use TCJ 302 to sweat. At 672 pages, this tome is not just a brick of knowledge, it's a heavy-ass brick of knowledge.
While the matte cover could potentially soak up a lot of sweat, wrist bands and occasionally toweling yourself will keep your TCJ 302 fighting fit.
The single arm row is a great workout for your back. Kneeling over a chair or bench, place one knee and hand on it. Hold TCJ 302 in other arm fully extended towards the ground. With your back parallel to the ground, slowly bring the book up to your midsection and then return to the starting position. Remember to keep your back still as you shakily lift up TCJ 302.
Now the triceps are a problem area for most Americans. Standing completely straight, feet planted firmly hip-width apart on the floor, start with your TCJ 302 in your hand extended straight up in the air. Using not gravity or momentum but your own muscles, bend your elbow and slowly bring your forearm behind your head. If you do this move too fast, you might get a papercut on your ear as the pages flip around a bit. Make sure not to move your elbow or upper arm. Then return your arm to the fully extended position. Feel free to place your free hand on your hip or wrap it around your face to cradle your elbow to ensure it doesn't dip down during the rep.
Now, some of you think you can just read TCJ 302 on the bus or in bed without any training or conditioning. Unless you want a repeat of the late 90s-2000s "Harry Pottered Nose" or to generations before that "Unabridged Les Mis" we suggest you read sitting upright until you've conditioned your forearms to proper reading strength. Be alert and well-hydrated while reading.
Now don't think I've forgotten about cardio! Run your usual one mile, three miles, sprints or what have you, but while holding TCJ 302 and imagining Maurice Sendak's mischievous beasts breathing down your neck. For added horror, run while holding the TCJ 302 above your head.
Some of you might be cartoonists yourselves who have a love of history, the craft and critical analysis. Bully for you! This excersize will whip your arm into shape. Strap TCJ 302 onto your drawing arm and work on your 1000 pages of bad comics until the good ones show up (per Dave Sim's advice). Soon you'll be one-arm push upping your way to glorious two-page spreads and switching from nib to brush to tech pen with the greatest of ease.