Save the visit to the Library of Congress, which will come up later, these are THE pictures and thoughts on Small Press Expo 2012. We honestly were so busy that there was little time to make the rounds to other aisles and buy books or snag pics of our friends at this family reunion of a show. So please accept my apology for no SWEEPING landscapes of the table set-up as it was busy, busy, busy. SPX'sExecutive Director, Warren Bernard, ran a good show and David Michael Thomas could not have been better with convention previews and making sure we were comfortable throughout.
The Washington alt-weekly newspaper or insert covered the special guests of the con including the Hernandez brothers. Love and Rockets tattoos are the ink du jour as you can see along with Jughead hats and SUPER short skirts (even though we all know leggings that look like wormholes or intestinal tracts are really in this year). Drawing by Thomas Pitilli.
The signing at Politics and Prose in D.C. kicked off the 30th Anniversary Northeast Tour. With trusty escorts like Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds, PR Director Jacq Cohen and myself, what could go wrong? First things first though, toothpicks to make sure teeth are clean.
The first book of the weekend AND the first copy of The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver went to Leon Avelino, publisher at Secret Acres.
Long lines formed for the Hernandez Brothers both days and were chock full of other exhibitors and cartoonists like First Second's George O'Connor.
Fans got books signed, bought drawings and got their SPX convention badges signed.
That night at the Ignatz awards, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez cleaned up. While humbly accepting their Herriman bricks, they thanked Daniel Clowes & Art Spiegelman for NOT having new stories this year. The Brothers won Outstanding Series for Love and Rockets while Jaime won Outstanding Artist and Outstanding Story for "Return for Me"of Love and Rockets: New Stories #4.
Author Phillip Nel sold his Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss biography to whet everyone's appetite for the Barnaby book. Rich Tommaso sold his The Cavalier Mr. Thompson, a Fantagraphics-distributed book about a 1920s hotel in Texas.
Fans and friends got their signatures and tiny drawings by Tommaso.
Cartoonist TJ Kirsch shows off his Daniel Clowes drawing in Twentieth-Century Eightball.
Despite his dour face, Daniel Clowes genuinely liked Gary Panter's Dal Tokyo while Charles Burns looks on.
John Porcellino (of Spit and a Half, King Cat and Drawn and Quarterly) soaked in the cross hatching glory of Van Sciver's The Hypo. Maybe he was enjoying it too much.
As always, my partner-in-crime Jacq Cohen and I accidentally dressed to match some of our favorite classic books, me with Nancy and Jacq with Peanuts.
Jacq and I ran off after the convention to eat some delicious food with our good friends. Clockwise from the bottom left: Gilbert Hernandez, me, Jaime Hernandez, Tom Neely of Sparkplug, Joseph Remnant of ZAP/Top Shelf, Noah Van Sciver and John Porcellino. Delicious!
And finally, a picture from 2010's MoCCA Fest where I'm handing Jaime minis as a fan. Now we get to argue about baseball uniforms and proper sock height while working the Fantagraphics table. Thank you everyone for coming to the Fantagraphics table to buy our books, talk to our artists and spread more of the convention cheer. See you next year!
Photos by Jacq Cohen and me. Attitude by Fantagraphics.
We're pleased to announce that we have a few exclusive bonus items to give away to our customers at Small Press Expo this weekend! Since a few artists with debut books can't make it to the show, we have SPX signature plates, all exclusive to the show and all with brand new artwork!
Folks who purchase Ron Rege Jr.'s The Cartoon Utopia will receive one of these hand-drawn, hand-colored plates along with the book. Ron sent us a scan of his lettering, we printed them, and then Ron drew his special signature-drawing on each one, with lots of unique variations.
Buying Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit Book 4? You'll get one of these signed plates featuring a drawing by Johnny done specially for SPX. (This photo is of a full sheet before we cut 'em up.)
And with Carol Tyler 's You'll Never Know Book 3: Soldier's Heart you'll get one of these beautiful signed two-sided double-bookmarks, handcrafted by Carol using little fake flowers and bits of sandpaper from her dad's workshop! They're like paper nunchucks of beauty and wonderfulness.
But wait, there's more!
Even though he'll be there signing his new book Blacklung in person, Chris Wright drew this special page for us apologizing for the page mixup in the book, which we've made into a print that he'll be signing for insertion into the book. We also printed mini-posters of some of the promotional art Chris recently drew for the book, which we'll be giving out to anyone who asks!
Whew, that's a lot of sweet stuff to get your hands on! All are available exclusively at our SPX table this weekend while supplies last, first come first served! (And if there's any left over, we'll maybe make them available to our mail-order customers.)
(And that's not all... our signing artists may also be bringing their own goodies — for instance, Steven Weissman's Barack Hussein Obama campaign stickers, and who knows what else!)
Ron Regé, Jr. is a very unusual yet accomplished storyteller whose work exudes a passionate moral, idealistic core that sets him apart from his peers. The Cartoon Utopia is his Magnum Opus, a unique work of comic art that, in the words of its author, "focuses on ideas that I've become intrigued by that stem from magical, alchemical, ancient ideas & mystery schools." It's part sci-fi, part philosophy, part visual poetry, and part social manifesto. Regé's work exudes psychedelia, outsider rawness, and pure cartoonish joy.
In The Cartoon Utopia, "Utopians" of the future world are attempting to send messages through consciousness, outside of the constricts of time as we understand it. They live in a world of advanced collective consciousness and want to help us understand how to achieve what they have accomplished. They get together to perform this task in a way that evolved out of our current system of consuming information and entertainment. In other words, the opposite of television. Instead, these messages appear in the form of art, music and storytelling.
Praise for Ron Regé, Jr.:
"One of a handful of cartoonists in the history of the medium to not only reinvent comics to suit his own idiosyncratic impulses and inspirations as an artist, but also to imbue it with his own peculiar, ever changing emotional energy. To me, he is unquestionably one of 'the greats.'" – Chris Ware
"Slow down when you read his pictures and ornately lettered words, quivering, scintillating, radiant, and they will leave you awake and awakened." – Paul Gravett
Join Fantagraphics this weekend for the 2012 Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland! On September 15th & 16th, we'll be filling the Marriott Betheseda Conference Center with some dazzling debuts, panels, and signings! Come meet your favorite artists and get your books signed:
The 1-2-3-4 color process Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Interview: Italy's VICE interviewed Josh Simmons on his work like The Furry Trap. Here is a snippet translated by journalist Tim Small, "In comics, I think the good horror cartoonists are few. But I like Renee French, Junji Ito, Al Columbia, Charles Burns and Suehiro Maruo. Horror directors have probably have the most influence on me of all. The best movies from John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, George Romero and Tobe Hooper were huge from me as a kid."
• Review: Rob Clough has more coverage than a local news team. He writes a tribute to Gilbert Hernandez and his work collected in Heartbreak Soup, Human Diastrophism, and Beyond Palomar on the High-Low, "In Gilbert's Palomar stories, there's a rawness that dominates the proceedings: raw anger, raw sexuality, raw passion for life, death and art." To round out his Love and Rockets weekend, Clough writes another High-Low review of the most recent Love and Rockets: New Stories #5 with both Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez. "Both brothers, after thirty years, are looking forward and looking back at the same time, revisiting characters on the verge of adulthood like in the earliest days of their comics (characters who were the same age as they were, essentially) while still spending time with characters who are now pushing fifty."
• Interview (audio and transcript): A work long in the making, Ron Rege was interviewed by Maria Sputnik on Gazeta Comics a few years ago about Cartoon Utopia. Rege says, "And I love it that…with comics it’s a one-on-one communication. It’s not like a bunch of people in a movie theater sitting watching the movie all at the same time. It’s one person quietly and they’re looking at exactly what I drew…The marks I made with my hand are what they’re looking at. So it’s a one-to-one communication."
• Review: In case you needed another reason to read Ghost World, Kerry looks at Daniel Clowes' masterpiece at Hello Giggles. "Enid Coleslaw remains one of the best characters I’ve ever encountered because she seems like a real person. She’s not a hero or a role model; she’s flawed and confused. She’s not a bad person, but she does bad things. She makes mistakes, alienates people and cries a lot. But she’s also funny, smart and strong."
You won't believe how many debuts we're bringing with us to Bethesda for the 2012 Small Press Expo on September 15th & 16th! Here's your SPX shopping list -- bring extra bags to carry everything:
• The Lost Art of Ah Pook Is Here: Images from the Graphic Novel by Malcolm McNeill (not officially out 'til October!) In 1970, William S. Burroughs and artist Malcolm McNeill agreed to collaborate on a book-length meditation on time, power, control, and corruption that evoked the Mayan codices and specifically, the Mayan god of death, Ah Pook. McNeill created nearly a hundred paintings, illustrations, and sketches for the book, and these, finally, are seeing the light of day in The Lost Art of Ah Pook.
• Observed While Falling: Bill Burroughs, Ah Pook, and Me by Malcolm McNeill (not officially out 'til October!)Observed While Falling is an account of the personal and creative interaction that defined the collaboration between the writer William S. Burroughs and the artist Malcolm McNeill on the graphic novel Ah Pook Is Here. The memoir chronicles the events that surrounded it, the reasons it was abandoned and the unusual circumstances that brought it back to life.
• Barack Hussein Obama by Steven WeissmanIt’s neither a biography nor an experiment, but a whole, fully-realized parallel America, a dada-esque, surrealistic satirical vision that is no more cockeyed than the real thing, its weirdness no more weird, its vision of the world no more terrifying, where the zombie-esque simulacra of Joe Biden and Hillary and Newt and Obama wander, if not exactly through the corridors of power, through an America they made and have to live in, like it or not. NOTE: Steven Weissman will be signing at SPX!
• Blacklung by Chris Wright (not officially out until October!) Chris Wright’s Blacklung is unquestionably one of the most impressive graphic novel debuts in recent years, a sweeping, magisterially conceived, visually startling tale of violence, amorality, fortitude, and redemption, one part Melville, one part Peckinpah. Blacklung is a story that lives up to the term graphic novel, that could only exist in sequential pictures — densely textured, highly stylized, delicately and boldly rendered drawings that is, taken together, wholly original. NOTE: Chris Wright will be signing at SPX!
• Came the Dawn and Other Stories (The EC Comics Library) by author: Illustrated by Wallace Wood; written by Al Feldstein et al.; edited by Gary Groth (not officially out until October!) Working within the horror, war, crime, and science fiction genres, publisher William Gaines and editor/writer Al Feldstein combined a deliciously disreputable, envelope-pushing sensibility with moments of genuine, outraged social consciousness, which shone a hard light onto such hot-button topics as racism, anti-Semitism, mob justice, and misogyny and sexism.
• The Cartoon Utopia by Ron Rege, Jr.(not officially out until October!) Ron Regé, Jr. is a very unusual yet accomplished storyteller whose work exudes a passionate moral, idealistic core that sets him apart from his peers. The Cartoon Utopia is his Magnum Opus, a unique work of comic art that, in the words of its author, "focuses on ideas that I've become intrigued by that stem from magical, alchemical, ancient ideas & mystery schools." It's part sci-fi, part philosophy, part visual poetry, and part social manifesto. Regé's work exudes psychedelia, outsider rawness, and pure cartoonish joy.
• Corpse on the Imjin! and Other Stories (The EC Comics Library) by Harvey Kurtzman, et al.; edited by Gary Groth(not officially out until October!) Corpse on the Imjin! is rounded off with a dozen or so stories written and laid out by Kurtzman and drawn by “short-timers,” i.e. cartoonists whose contributions to his war books only comprised a story or two — including such giants as designer extraordinaire Alex Toth, Marvel comics stalwart Gene Colan, and a pre-Sgt. Rock Joe Kubert... and such unexpected guests as “The Lighter Side of...” MAD artist Dave Berg and DC comics veteran Ric Estrada — as well as a rarity: a story by EC regular John Severin inked by Kurtzman.
• Naked Cartoonists: Drawers Drawing Themselves Without Drawers by Various Artists; edited by Gary GrothIn an irreverent twist to the fine art tradition of The Nude, this unique and original collection presents a “stripped” down version of the infamous “Gallery of Rogues” exhibit of cartoonist self-portraits at Ohio State University. Here you’ll find a cornucopia of cartoonists’ nude self-portraits from the collection of Mark J. Cohen and Rose Marie McDaniel.
• Heads or Tails by Lilli Carré(not officially out until November!) The creator of 2008’s acclaimed graphic novel The Lagoon — named to many annual critics’ lists including Publishers Weekly and USA Today’s Pop Candy — is back with a stunningly designed and packaged collection of some of the most poetic and confident short fiction being produced in comics today. These stories, created over a period of five years, touch on ideas of flip sides, choices, and extreme ambivalence. NOTE: Lilli Carré will be signing at SPX!
• The Hypo by Noah Van Sciver The debut graphic novel from Noah Van Sciver follows the twentysomething Abraham Lincoln as he loses everything, long before becoming our most beloved president. Lincoln is a rising Whig in the state’s legislature as he arrives in Springfield, IL to practice law. As time passes and uncertainty creeps in, young Lincoln is forced to battle a dark cloud of depression brought on by a chain of defeats and failures culminating into a nervous breakdown that threatens his life and sanity. This cloud of dark depression Lincoln calls “The Hypo.” NOTE: Noah Van Sciver will be signing at SPX!
• Is That All There Is? by Joost Swarte[softcover & hardcover 2nd edition debut] Under Swarte’s own exacting supervision, Is That All There Is? will collect virtually all of his alternative comics work from 1972 to date, including the RAW magazine stories that brought him fame among American comics aficionados in the 1980s.
• Love and Rockets: New Stories #5 by Gilbert & Jaime HernandezIn Jaime's story “Crime Raiders International Mobsters and Executioners,” Tonta comes to visit for a weekend and sees what kind of life the Frog Princess is living with Reno and Borneo. On the other-brother side, Gilbert celebrates the 30th anniversary by bringing one of his current characters (“Killer,” granddaughter to the legendary Luba) into the Palomar milieu. NOTE: Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez will be signing at SPX!
• Prison Pit: Book 4 by Johnny Ryan(not officially out until November!) “Cannibal F***face discovers the only way to escape the Caligulon is to brainf*** the Slorge and create a giant, brainless oafchild that only knows how to annihilate everything in its path. And what happens when the Slugstaxx show up and use their nightj*** to turn this mindless monster against CF? Total F***ing Mayhem.”
• Ralph Azham Vol. 1: Why Would You Lie to Someone You Love? by Lewis Trondheim(not officially out until October!) Within his tiny village, Ralph Azham is considered an insolent good-for-nothing layabout, a virtual pariah — particularly since he was supposed to be a Chosen One. (Things didn’t work out.) Yet his odd azure coloration and a few unique abilities (he can predict births and deaths) suggest that there may be more to him than meets the eye.
• Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Vol. 4: House of the Seven Haunts by Floyd Gottfredson(not officially out until October!) Who says dead men tell no tales? When grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize, they’ll find fearless Mickey all ready to rumble — as soon as he’s done fighting gangsters, bandits, and international men of mystery, that is! From Africa to Eastern Europe, our favorite big cheese is in for terrifying thrills — and he’s bringing Goofy, Donald Duck, and that big palooka Pegleg Pete along for the ride!
• You'll Never Know Book 3: Soldier's Heart by C. Tyler(not officially out until October!) In one of the most eagerly-anticipated graphic novels of 2012, Soldier’s Heart concludes the story of Carol Tyler and her delving into her father’s war experiences in a way that is both surprising and devastating — and rather than trying to summarize this episode and thus possibly spoil it for readers, we prefer to simply offer a selection of comments on the first two installments of this autobiographical masterpiece.
The we'll-need-to-iron-these-papers Online Commentaries & Diversions:
• Interview: Everything is coming up Barnaby this week. On the Westfield Comics, writer Philip Nel and Associate Publisher Eric Reynolds (both editors of the upcoming Barnaby collections) dish on this popular but hard-to-find strip comic by Crockett Johnson. Reynolds states, "If Peanuts was the Beatles, Barnaby was the Velvet Underground." Nel continues, "Yeah. Schulz read Barnaby. Bill Keane read it. Dan Clowes, Spiegelman, and Chris Ware are all fans of it. . . It was a strip the culturally influential loved. So it's important and influential, but it's not something that many people have read because it's not been available or hard to find."
• Review:Scripp News mentions the Barnaby book while conducting a concise account of creator Crockett Johnson's life: "Once a hugely popular comic strip, whose fans included columnist Dorothy Parker, jazz great Duke Ellington and actor W.C. Fields, 'Barnaby' now has been all but forgotten, except by comics aficionados.
• Interview: Creator Gabriella Giandelli of Interiorae was interviewed onSequential Highway by Will Scott. When asked if she sees the world a bit surreal, Giandelli said, "I try to focus on aspects of life related to the magical, the irrational. Life is hard; I place my hopes in finding all the things in the world that seem to be less harsh, less sad. I’m interested in the spirituality of many aspects of life."
• Plug: Chris Mautner mentioned in Food or Comics? on Robot 6 that he'd splurge and spend more than the $30 allotment for Dal Tokyo by Gary Panter. ". . . if my comic shop should happen to get an early copy, I’d definitely splurge on Dal Tokyo, Gary Panter’s wonderful sci-fi/punk comic strip, now lovingly collected by Fantagraphics."
• Plug: Dan Nadel of The Comics Journal boasts about Cartoon Utopia, "Ron [Regé] is one of our very best cartoonists and it’s been too long since we’ve had new material from him."
• Plug:Forbidden Planet gets excited about The Cavalier Mr. Thompson by Rich Tommaso, "It combines a great two colour fine-lined cartoon style, with the era and genre invoking a Darwyn Cooke Parker feel. . .it looks fantastic -lively and humorous. It’s been a while since I’ve been excited about an upcoming book after July’s deluge, so I’ll definitely be grabbing a copy."
• Plug:The Hypo's Noah Van Sciver and comics legend John Porcellino had a boy's night out and just went wild at the pottery painting place in Denver. Purchase your own special Van Sciver or Porcellino porcelain mugs, vases or clocks here.
• Plug: Another drink inspired by Love and Rockets Ghost of Hoppers was created and featured at the Rye on Market in Louisville, KY today. Recipe by bartender Scott Kirkpatrick:
2 oz. Pampero Aniversario Rum (or another aged dark rum) .5 oz Cynar .5 oz Agave Nectar .25 oz Ruby Port 3 dashes blood orange bitters
-combine ingredients in a mixing glass -add ice and stir vigorously -strain into a double glass filled with ice -express and orange peel onto the cocktail and use as garnish
If you're gonna have an ideal society, you're gonna need some Ron Regé Jr. comics in it. Fortunately, The Cartoon Utopia is coming your way soon to show you the way with its visionary blending of sci-fi, philosophy, visual poetry, and social manifesto. We're pleased to be debuting Ron's latest eye-popping, mind-expanding opus at SPX next month, and it should be arriving in stores in late October. In the meantime you can feast your eyes on a 13-page excerpt and pre-order a copy here.
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