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Print by Antoine Cosse
It’s hard to convince me to not contribute to the growing number of small press comic subscriptions–every season there seems to be even more great material I want to get my hands onto, and it’s a rather addicting cycle of excitement whenever there’s a new package at my door. Oily has proven to be an exceptionally versatile publisher with their subscriptions—the form of their pocket-size, digestible mini-comics has parlayed a habit-forming nature in their readership that stays true to the internal logic of comics. Series like Melissa Mendes’s Lou and Charles Forsman’s TEOTFW have hooked many a fan in, including myself, allowing a sense of gratification and appreciation that hasn’t always been as accessible in indie comics. There is something quite rewarding about receiving an Oily bundle; the mini-comics are neighborly crafted and packaged to make you feel welcome from the outset.
This season’s Spring Oily Bundle, a limited 200 count batch, featured 9 different mini-comics along with additional prints and art from the stylish roster of Oily cartoonists. Mixing a touch of the familiar and the new, this was an impressionably refreshing stack of work, demonstrating the inarguable benefits of reading comics in their printed format.
Noah Van Sciver’s The Lizard Laughed
The first of the loot is Noah Van Sciver’s new minicomic, The Lizard Laughed. Beginning with a quote from Martin Sheen’s 2012 shared memoir with son Emilio Estevez, Along the Way, Sciver sets up this father-and-son narrative, contorted through his trademark doom-and-gloom thematic craftship. While the recognizable tropes of bleakness and brooding malaise are definitely present, Sciver is able to input some very quiet and reflective moments within this short piece that make it surprisingly satisfying.
Harvey is the deadbeat, stoner dad who gets an unexpected visit from the son he abandoned so many years ago. Although supposedly complacent with his role as an absent father, Harvey endeavors to enact what he believes is fatherly action to Nathan, offering affection through engaging in conversation and artistic similarity, and even planning a joint rendezvous, the time-honored tradition of a father-and-son hike. Harvey’s tragic, cumbersome attempt to fill in a paternal guise is apparent at every moment of the two’s interaction, and the emotional machismo on display is unwieldy.
The ending is no surprise, and there’s a sense of crushing disappointment for both father and son. While Harvey is sure to continue in his cyclical inability to truly connect with another person, Nathan walks away from revenge, and in a way comes to grips with understanding, even in disconnect, why Harvey is the way he is. It would be flawed to associate this comic as another father-and-son narrative, the cringe-worthy air between Harvey and Nathan actually sheds light on Sciver’s creative ability to ride that line between empathy and ridicule. There’s not a lot of people, let alone cartoonists, who can exhibit the gnarled grace that Sciver does with a character like Harvey, someone who is incredulously unlikeable and irrationally mulish to boot.
Sciver pacifies the overarching tension with Harvey’s meandering tales of playful, fantastical adventures with dangerous historic sites and imaginative recounts of mystical creatures. It’s in these stories that Harvey seems the most in touch with life, his childish sensibility drawn with a touch of humor. He is swallowed by the fantasy of his surroundings, and it’s never more clear how misguided and detached from reality he genuinely is, a palpable actuality that Nathan plainly sees.
I’m unsure if Sciver meant to comment on or parody the Sheen memoir Along the Way (something tells me neither Sheen nor Estevez wouldn’t be able to connect that sad, self-deprecating psyche in quite the same way), and The Lizard Laugh is anything but a Hollywood memoir. Sciver succeeds yet again in creating a narrative that turns the focus inward; to our own shortcomings that we reject by fluffing up our own perception of wisdom, and the choice Nathan makes that allows Harvey to retain some dignity, to not be small and nothing.
Crash Trash, an uber little comic from French cartoonist Olive Booger, is a streamlined reworking of his style’s drippy, color-saturated, hysteric scratchiness as seen in Kuš! And his graphic novel, I Like Short Songs. While superficially shrunken down to a 4” by 2.25” mini-mini-comic, Crash Trash packs a whole lot of trippy detail in the comic’s anthropologic recounting of the rise and fall of a fictional 1980s gang called the Trash Boys, along with the antics and lawlessness of their home base, the district of Crashtown.
It’s at first a little jarring to see such a small comic flushed with a heavy hand of text—almost every panel is scrawled with as much space filled with script as it is image. There is no dialogue, only narration and a smattering of effects, thereby pacing the comic quite cinematically, as panel transitions move from pull back shots of the Trash Boys to close-ups of a fallen comb or cross-cutting to a colossal punt by enemy gang, the Mega Dogs. At first glance, it may seem Olive was restricted by size in the type of details he could use to fill in details, yet his histrionic prose amplifies the limited visual space, resisting an urge to rapidly read the comic. There’s a rhythmic cleverness in the way the comic moves, an ebbing and tiding in the momentum as well as in the elevation of dramatic moments. The story is neither bounded with innovation, so when particular key words are bolded, it aids in setting the scene because you’re most likely able to attribute certain visual cues.
What I’ve said so far shouldn’t discount Oliver’s artistic aspiration; his style is still largely tangible even when stripped down to its red and black risographed print. His previous work harkens a definite Charles Burns influence with the thick, oil paint execution and thematics resonating with the sordid darkness of a city’s underbelly. Crash Trash is situated with the aesthetics of raw, punk desperation of his preceding I Like Short Songs but the simplicity in his line work has taken a new mode, less garish and more nuanced. It’s very impressive to see his art pulsate even with the oppressively tight margins of space.
A lot has been said about Melissa Mendes’s Lou, the seventeen issue long pillar amongst the Oily lineup. This newest addition, titled A Very Special Lou, marks a revisiting to the series which ended in August 2013, and a warm return it proves to be. Like a childhood friend or long unseen family member, A Very Special Lou is an entirely new narrative that retains its delightful, underlying spirit of kindred nostalgia.
One of the reasons I really took to this particular issue was how it gently touched on the omnipresence of fandom for professional wrestling. I’ve always been comfortable broadcasting myself as a fan of comics, and more recently I’ve come clean as a fan of professional wrestling. Fans of comics and professional wrestling share a long, complex history of facing ridicule for following such a denigrated form of entertainment—wrestlers and superheroes are arguably a form of con-job, deemed “fake” by those who choose to stand by higher media forms, be it athletics or literary elitists. However, criticisms aside, fans of wrestling and comics share a distinctly unique concept of play, where we consume media in a way that extends the narrative fluidly, defying rigid roles between the identities of producers and consumers.
A Very Special Lou functions both as a piece about being an admirer of comics as well as wrestling through the domestic lens of childhood imagination. Referencing wrestlers like King Kong Bundy and Hulk Hogan through 6-year-old John’s fannish fascination and how it’s lived through his family, Mendes yet again accesses the real emotions that we feel as charismatic kids and continue to feel today. Through the entire Lou serialization, Mendes almost effortlessly lets the reader dip into points of their own life, spurring even the most dormant, forgotten affections.
The Lou Series all laid out
Stay up to date with all the Oily greatness by browsing the Oily Comics website.
(Image Credits: http://melissammmendes.tumblr.com, http://snakeoily.tumblr.com)
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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About a month ago, Steve asked me who my favourite comic creators were, and horrible as I am at answering on the spot questions, I did manage to provide him with one name: Julia Gfrorer. If you follow mainstream comics, your most beloved authors put out work regularly, but at indie central, you get a mini-comic or a book a year, with perhaps a few contributions to anthologies. Despite this, Gfrorer’s work is consistently excellent, featuring themes of myth, folk lore, mysticism and spirituality, coupled with her fine-lined, evocative art.
She also manages the seemingly possible: discussing sex in a way that’s interesting, sexy, varying degrees of disturbing, and all disgusting fluids at the same time: her work is never patronising or affected. Her excellent first longer length comic, Black is the Colour, is due to be published by Fantagraphics in autumn, and you can currently read it in full over at the Study Group Comics site, and hopefully that should be enough to convince you to pick up a print copy when it’s out!
Here’s a sneak peek from an upcoming interview with The Beat, where Gfrorer talks about how she ‘got into comics’:
‘When I moved to Portland in 2007, I had just made a mini called “How Life Became Unbearable,” about Saint Francis of Assisi. I took it to Pony Club Gallery to consign it, and that was how I met Dylan Williams, who was a member then. Around the same time, I was in a show at Launch Pad Gallery, and I was doodling a little comic at the opening, and Sean Christensen zeroed in on me like I had flashed the comix beacon. So those guys were my first friends in my new city, and they introduced me to their friends and encouraged me to be part of their projects, so before I knew it comics were my whole world.’
You can find her site here and buy her work here
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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TweetYou Can Never Be Me by Patrick Kyle There’s a meme (as I believe they’re called) that I see cropping up fairly regularly in my forays of Internet yonder. Here, allow me to show you: Batman is a seductive fellow, isn’t he? Fetishes aside, one of the main appeals of the character is that, theoretically, anybody [...]
Tweet I’m a HUGE mini-comics fan; I think they encapsulate the potential and diversity of the medium perfectly in the way in which they combine storytelling, art, and innovation with accessibility and a do-it-yourself attitude. Its currently a very good time to be fond of the floppy- the format has been experiencing somewhat of a revival in the past [...]
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
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, Amelia Onorato
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BY JEN VAUGHN – For anyone who has ever performed any improv, there is a simple rule: ‘Say Yes.’ Say yes to a situation when presented to you because your fellow troupe member has a story line. You can add even more “yes and…” The same rule applies to a game called Fiasco, which calls itself the ‘make your own Coen brothers film’ game. You create a story without props with high stakes, characters with high ambition and low impulse control AND with a traditional story structure. The first time I played was with Comics Journal editor and gaming partner Kristy Valenti and the heat was oppressive, adding to our Western setting. Center for Cartoon Studies professor and cartoonist (most notably for BERLIN), Jason Lutes, has taken the narrative he created with five CCS graduates and turned it into a 72 page full-color comic book called BINGO BABY.
The creators include five CCS graduates Donna Almendrala, Bill Bedard, Joseph Lambert, Amelia Onorato, and Denis St. John and Jason Lutes is their whip-cracking editor. It’ll be interesting to see this story that was created rather on the fly by creative storytellers and then coaxed into comic book page submission. Each of these young cartoonists are drawn to rich stories, no matter what genre or style. Based on the video, they draw a lot from the quiet mountain town of White River Junction, full of its share of characters from the meth addicts to the Vietnam War veterans to the bougie retirees to the dueling bingo venues crammed with hardcore players. You can do the ol’ Kickstarter pre-order now for only $10.
Lutes is known at the school for his board game nights. Wish there was a reward that included Lutes coming to YOUR board game night and teaching you a thing or two about wheat or stone trades. Rewards include the book itself, a shirt, hell—some original Lutes artwork!
Jen Vaughn is a Seattle-based cartoonist and marketing manager at Fantagraphics. CAVEAT: she’s played board games with all these creators and they are magnificent bastards.
If you’ve been following my haphazard writing at all, you know of my love for Corinne Mucha, aka the undisputed Queen of Mini-Comics. Mucha has only one longer format ‘graphic novel’ to her name (Freshman Tales of 9th Grade Obsessions Revelations and Other Nonsense aimed more at the teen and young adult market) and whilst it’s good, her mini-comics are where her talent is really and truly on show.
She won an Ignatz award last year for her Retrofit comic, The Monkey in the Basement and Other Delusions, but I personally believe My Every Single Thought to be her best work, where she deftly explores what being a single woman means -to single and non-single women, to men, to society, the expectations and connotations it carries as a label, and combining, as always, humour and whimsy with deeper, more reflective thoughts.
Here’s a bit more on her abilities from a piece I wrote over at FPI last year:
‘Mucha packs so much into these pages, pictures brimming off the edges and words, words, everywhere (an unfashionable and dying art in comics), that you never feel you’ve read anything other than a full, dense and enriching narrative. Her shining quality is her ability to combine irreverent humour with more serious ruminations in a manner that’s honest and contemplative without being overly earnest or preachy. Her mini-comics are one of the best uses of the format I’ve come across, her narratives layered and rewarding.’
You can find her website here and buy her fantastic mini-comics here.
The Masie Kukoc Award, presented to a mini-comic of merit as part of the Stumptown Festival, was given to Damian Jay for The Natural World #3-4
The other nominees were:
• Alexis Frederick-Frost The Courtship Of Ms. Smith
• Kevin Huizenga F, Back That Fact Up
• Levon Jihanian Danger Country #1
• Minty Lewis Salad Days
• Dan Zettwoch Tel-Tales #1, Back That Fact Up
Jay reacted to his win (over spouse Lewis!) on his blog:
This came as an absolute surprise. My wife Minty (who was also a nominee because she makes brilliant comics) and I have been forgoing comics shows this year to stay home with our new daughter, Sally. So I’m not at Stumptown and I wasn’t present at the award presentation. In fact when Jesse Reklaw called to put me on speaker phone at the award ceremony Minty and I had just taken a break from watching 30 Rock to change a diaper. Did I mention that I hadn’t been expecting to win?
The Alternative Press Expo kicks off this weekend, boasting one of the best guest line-ups imaginable, including Craig Thompson, Matthew Thurber, Kate Beaton and many others.
Please remember, Sparkplug Books will be at the show, and buying from them not only gets you some great comics but helps pay remaining medical bills from the late, truly great Dylan Williams. Here’s a very quick who’s where, debuts and all that other stuff:
Tonight there are two kick off events:
Cartoon Art Museum
and Isotope with the Isotope Awards ceremony!
Please post any more in the comments!
Marc Arsenault’s Wow Cool is relaunching at APE and has a new webstore up.
Drawn & Quarterly — with Clowes, Tomine and Beaton.
Reliable Comics and Sparkplug
WHO’S WHERE AND DEBUTS
Jenna Salume has CAPTAIN KITTEN!
An anthology of Box Brown’s much lauded EVERYTHING DIES mini-comic and webcomic is now available. Winner of two Ignatz Awards, EVERYTHING DIES deals with various historical and religious takes on the end of the world, second comings, death, and other eschatological matters.
This Lulu-produced collection includes selections from both versions of the strip. Brown’s THE SURVIVALIST is also available for pre-order and will be at BCGF this Saturday.
The Great Disappointment collects work from Box Brown’s web and print comic, Everything Dies. This first volume features the non-fiction and auto-bio stories such as: The Great Disappointment, The Great Upsucking, Alpha, Omega, Ben Died of a Train and many others. Everything Dies was on the notable comic list in The 2011 Best American Comics Anthology and won two 2011 Ignatz Awards (Best Series, Best Mini-comic for Ben Died of a Train.) This is the first of three volumes set to collect all of Everything Dies print and web comics. This is available exclusively through Lulu.
”More than anything, Everything Dies’ chief success is that it is an exercise in theological reverse-engineering, breaking down the unfathomable whole to better understand all of its working parts. Until Moses comes down from Mt Sinai with the instruction manual, I, for one, am more than happy to watch Box Brown work on it.” — Martin Steenton, Avoid the Future blog”
*Notable comic in The 2011 Best American Comics Anthology *Winner of two 2011 Ignatz Awards (Best Series, Best Mini-comic for Ben Died of a Train.)
Maybe I’m getting old… I entered the 69th Regiment Armory around Noon, and shambled out after Six, my feet aching, my shoulders sore, and my knees strangely stiff, even though my tote was not overloaded. Perhaps it was the Gebäudegeist of the armory, making me feel as if I had just completed a forced march of twenty miles.
I methodically worked the outside wall of booths, then zigzagged the islands in the middle of the floor. I finished up that tour of duty a little after Six, and will spend tomorrow at a few panels (if any catch my interest), and doing another circuit, meeting a few cartoonists I missed today, and to leisurely discover some stuff I overlooked today. Here’s what I bought (in no particular order, so check the program guide for locations.
Showman: The Bret Braddock Adventures by David Blumenstein: Volume 1: Crisis Ignored
Sally Quince begins a new job as a Production Manager at Docklands Entertainment, producing children’s television shows. Bret Braddock is the entrepreneurial executive who is also an arrogant idiot. It’s from Australia, a webcomic, and has two volumes collected so far.
Tic Tac Toe Comics by Matt Maden and friends. Take a nine panel grid (the tic tac toe board). One person draws panels with an X theme, the other draws panels with an O theme. The panels must read sequentially as a comic. The panels are placed just like in Tic-Tac-Toe, randomly. The first panel read could be the last panel drawn.
Mr. Madden also showed off a copy of Mastering Comics, the companion volume to Drawing Words and Writing Pictures. He mentioned that Françoise Mouly will be the guest editor for the next Best American Comics anthology. After TCAF, he’ll be the keynote speaker at Sequential SmArt, a conference organized by Dr. Jay Hosler (he of the awesome biology comics) at Juniata College in Pennsylvania May 18th and 19th.
A few booths down, along the wall, I reconnected with Nick Sousanis, currently writing and drawing his doctoral thesis at Columbia University’s Teachers College. Spin Weave and Cut
JG Quintel, creator of Cartoon Network's Regular Show at Comic Con 2011 (Image via Wikipedia)
The following interview with JG Quintel, the creator of Cartoon Network’s Regular Show, took place outside an East Hollywood Bar earlier this year. The interview was conducted as research for a Publisher’s Weekly article on the tremendous amount of independent comics talent working on Cartoon Network Shows like Regular Show. Animator/Cartoonist Benton Connor was hanging out with us for the duration of the chat and managed to squeeze a couple of choice sound bites and some additional levity into the conversation.
Shannon O’Leary: Calvin Wong a storyboarder and writer on Regular Show and Hellen Jo a storyboard revisionist on the show both claim you found their respective mini-comics at the Sparkplug Comic Books table at San Diego Comic Con in 2009. Sparkplug isn’t exactly a mainstream comics publisher or distributor, what brought you to their table that year?
JG Quintel: At the time I was gearing up for the (Regular) show. I was looking for new people and knew I wanted to look at independent comics because the style matched closer. A lot of mainstream comics, like Spiderman or whatever, don’t really fit what we’re looking for.
SO: How does it not fit? How does indie fit more?
JG Quintel and Benton Connor (Image via Calvin Wong's Tumblr)
JG: A lot of independent comics (are) written and drawn by the same person. It’s not done in a company kind of aspect where one person writes, one person draws, and one person inks. I wanted to find people who were the total package because we’re not a script based show. We’re a storyboard driven show – where the board artists write the dialogue and draw the drawings. Usually with comics you can tell right away what kind of sense of humor (someone) has. Are they funny? Can they draw? Do they understand perspective? You can tell a lot by a little mini-comic. And
by Shannon O’Leary
The second part of a two part series of email Q&A’s with some of the indepedent cartoonists working at Cartoon Network. There are so many of them who were so generous with their time and answers that we had to break their answers up into two posts! These Q&A’s were conducted as research for a Publisher’s Weekly article that spotlights the vast pool of indepent comics talent that’s currently rocking Cartoon Network’s world.
Minty Lewis (Storyboarder and Voice Actor, Regular Show)
How did you come to work on The Regular Show?
JG (the show’s creator) asked if I would be interested in taking a storyboard test after he read some of my comics. I thought the name JG Quintel sounded suspiciously spam-like, but once I confirmed that it was the real deal, I was really excited about the opportunity. Some might say a little too excited. So I took the test and then I waited three long months before I got a call asking when I could start. I think it was about a month later that I went down to Burbank and started working as a storyboard artist/writer. I was pregnant the whole time I was working there and when the show went on hiatus last October, I decided to move back to Berkeley to give birth, etc. Much to my surprise, I got a call a few weeks later asking if I would be interested in doing the voice for the Eileen character since they had liked my voice so much in the pitch for “Do Me a Solid.” Obviously I was interested, so now I fly down to Burbank every month or two to record for Eileen.
How has your work in comics informed your work in animation and vice versa?
It’s hard to say how my work in comics has affected my work in animation since I never did any work in animation before I was doing comics. I’m sure the experience writing and drawing was useful, but I don’t think anyone would be hired to work in animation with zero background in either of those areas. I have definitely noticed a difference in how I approach comics now, though. I’m frustrated sometimes by the lack of movement allowed in them and find myself wanting to include things like camera directions and animation cues. My experience in animation has also made me very aware of how motivated I am by deadlines and accountability. The sheer quantity of work I completed at Regular Show amazes me now, and that experience makes it very hard to come up with good excuses about why it takes me so long to finish a comic.
What comics have you made in the past?
A collection of my minicomics called PS Comics was published by Secret Acres in 2009. I have also contributed to several antho
BY JEN VAUGHN – Forget Kickstarter! Let’s talk OLD SCHOOL SUBSCRIPTIONS! Micropublisher Oily Comics has a DEAL for you. Center for Cartoon Studies alum, two-brick Ignatz winner and future Fantagraphics author, Charles Forsman is offering a subscription service for a few more hours! Days after subscribing I received a package full of comics. BAM!
Being a Friends of Oily Comics means you get a monthly shipment of comics made each month featuring the works of D&Q’s former jane-of-all-trades Jessica Campbell, Andy Burkholder, Melissa Mendes, Belgian cartoonist Max de Radigués, Aaron Cockle, Dane Martin, and soon Joseph Lambert, Warren Craghead III, Marian Runk, Alex Kim, Dan Zettwoch, Sammy Harkham, Zach Worton, Michael DeForge, and more on the way. How can you say no to that? Preview page of Charles Forsman’s comic:
$30 gets you monthly shipments from July-September, $50 gets you monthly shipments from July-December and a suh-weet patch for that bag/jacket/hat. Oh and a Michael DeForge-designed card and original portrait. Check mine out! Read more here and Order now!
BY JEN VAUGHN – From solid cartoonist, Sophie Yanow, a mini-comics TOUR is happening in TWO different countries. Deets below:
MONTREAL COMIC ARTISTS – August West Coast Book Tour
MONTREAL, QC, JULY 30, 2012 — August 17-25, members of Canadian independent comic book collective Colosse tour from San Francisco to Vancouver BC with multimedia readings of their acclaimed and edgy works, followed by book signings. Authors include Sophie Yanow (In Situ, a graphically daring, poetic journal strip) and Francois Samson-Dunlop and Alexandre Fontaine Rousseau (Pinkerton, an indie-rock rom com about getting over a truly 90s breakup in a post-90s world). Don’t miss this rare West Coast appearance!
Friday, Aug. 17 • Mission: Comics and Art, San Francisco, CA
Saturday, Aug. 18 • The Escapist Comic Bookstore, Berkeley, CA
Tuesday, Aug. 21 • Spine and Crown Books, Seattle, WA
Thursday, Aug. 23 • Lucky’s Comics, Vancouver, BC
Friday, Aug. 24, • The Waypost, Portland, OR
Saturday, Aug. 25 • Floating World Comics, Portland, OR
In Situ by Sophie Yanow
“This is an innovative, clever diary strip book that is strongly influenced by the poetic abstraction of John Porcellino… a beautiful first major work by an artist who is quite clearly concerned about how she affects the world, in terms of both art and politics.” – Rob Clough, THE COMICS JOURNAL
In Situ is Sophie Yanow’s poetic and humorous treatment of daily life, begun in Oakland in her native California, and continued throughout her residency at La Maison de la Bande Dessinée in Montreal. As the political climate in Oakland heats up, Yanow captures the tension between excitement for a new place, and the loss and longing for old homes and loves. Shifting through visual styles as often as philosophies, In Situ recounts a life in transition.
Yanow’s decision to stay in Montreal is reflected in In Situ no. 2, and finds the author sleeping on couches, bewildered at doom metal shows, and settling into a queer new city. A graphically daring, artistically ambitious endeavour as well as a revealing glance into the daily travails & hurdles of a politically aware cartoonist far from home.
Sometimes funny, sometimes touching, always quotidian.
Sophie Yanow’s work has appeared online in places like Top Shelf Comix and The Rumpus. She grew up in the woods just north of San Francisco, and in Fall 2011 moved to Montreal, Quebec for an artist residency at La Maison de la Bande Dessinée. Here she began her more experimental journal comics, published under the title In Situ, a nod to site-specificity in her creative process. She lives in Montreal.
Journal comics by Sophie Yanow
$11.00 Softcover • 40 pages black and white
Publication Date: November 26, 2011<
James Sime, owner of Isotope, the comic book lounge, tells us that there are only seven days left to submit mini-comics for the 2008 Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics.
“You have just one week left to draw, fold, and hand-staple your way to mini-comic glory!” Sime said.
While the minis continue to pour in there is still time to enter your own into the competition. “We’ve got a big stack of mini-comics genius already,” Sime said, “But I know there’s still some last-minute types out there sitting on some hand-crafted gold. It’s time to let your work get the attention it deserves. Get your submissions in and follow in the footsteps of past winners Danica Novgorodoff, Daniel Merlin Goodbrey, Joshua Cotter, Max Riffner, and Rob Osborne!”
To enter this competition, send five copies of your mini-comic to Isotope’s address (326 Fell St. San Francisco, CA 94102) before the October 24th deadline. As always, the Isotope will be taking submissions up until midnight on the deadline. From 11am until 7pm the Isotope will be open and available for anyone making those last-minute drop-offs, and from there the staff will continue taking submissions until midnight at The Orbit Room on Market and Laguna Streets in San Francisco.
Pranks, Tricks & Challenges to Amuse & Annoy Your Friendswritten and drawn by master tricksterSam BartlettWorkman 2008While I recognize that April is National Poetry Month it also happens to be the month that begins with one of my favorite non-holiday holidays: April Fool's Day. Is there anything more delicious than planning and pulling off that perfect prank, that preposterous practical joke?
The Space Prize is presented each year to the best in comics collected at the previous year’s SPACE festival in Columbus, OH in the categories Minicomic, Short Story and Webcomic and a Grand Prize. This year’s SPACE will be held on April 24 and 25, 2010 at the Ramada Plaza Hotel & Conference Center in Columbus. More info here. And the winners are:
The Dreamer #1-5
Lora Innes-Artist, writer
Tom Waltz- Editor
Tiny Life 1)a
Nick Jones and Nicolas Colacitti
The Second Part of the Secret History of the Ineffables
Minicomic / Short Story Category:
Aliens Poop on Your Children
Veggie Dog Saturn #3: Jason’s Quest
The Book of Biff
Vancouver-based mini-comic/undergounr cartoonist Colin Upton is taking to the web on his LJ page. Here he grapples with This Modern life.
As SPX’10 thoughts still swirl in the indie community, Frank Santoro looks back and swirls about why mini-comics no longer feel fresh to him:
Driving down to DC I was composing my rant for a panel with Tim. I felt like I wanted to rail against mini-comics and small press cuz I feel like, at this point, I’ve read every mini-comic. They all start to look alike to me after twenty-some years of collecting. It’s like a twenty-year black and white explosion. Lots of great shit, but man, you really gotta sift through the junk pile to find said shit. And I love doing just that, sifting through the bins, tables, whatever and maintaining a collection of great mini-comics. The thing is, that less and less cartoonists are investing in this form and really developing it the way, say, Kevin Huizenga did/does. Kevin perfected the mini-comic and carried that into his “mainstream” work. And it’s that level of craft is something I don’t see much of and, hey, that’s okay but it doesn’t make me excited about looking for new stuff – and it makes me wonder about the “concerns” of the small press in this world of web comics.
The response in the comments is equally rambling and covers many topics, some economic some artistic. Jesus, there is not one person who didn’t think this year’s SPX was the most awesome comics show they’d been to in years, but it has sure inspired a lot of soul searching! I’m not going to delve into the comments because it’s too all over the place for me to really get a read on, but a few thoughts. This one guy Jason, who no one seems to think much of, writes:
It’s amazing to see so little craft involved and to be around tons of folks who feel like they’re special and deserve (or demand (barf)in lots of cases) attention but who don’t have much talent or ambition. Maybe this has always been the case – for every Kevin H, Dan Zettwoch, John Hankiewicz, Gabrielle Bell, Vanessa Davis there has been loads of crap.
“Maybe”? How old are you, 11? I was cleaning up recently and I find these time capsule shoe boxes where I put all the minis from this year or that, including probably the first SPX I went to in 97 or so. Trust me, there are always also-rans and flashes in the pan. Anytime I even look something up on this blog from four years ago I’m like, “Say, whatever DID happen to that guy?”
That said, as in most things, each generation gets the mini-comics school it deserves. Minis were once known as mail art because you could literally mail them to people. Now they are pretty much made to sell at shows like SPX.
Rob Clough has a more pragmatic view of the kids these days:
There’s less hacked-out, scribbled-out, cheapie xeroxed stuff that I see and get nowadays. That said, I agree that I also see fewer “holy shit!” moments of stunningly good and cleverly-crafted minis ala Kevin H. (The best minis I’ve seen in recent years have come from Will Dinski [king of interesting design], Leslie Stein [insane detail in her drawing] and Annie Murphy [impressive content]). I attribute both trends to the large number of cartoonists at SPX who are now going to comix art school and the webcomix people who do obligatory minicomics for shows so they have something to sell. (Obviously, sometimes those two groups overlap.)
Exactly. People go to art school just to make mini comics these days. I’m wondering, though if Frank’s comments aren’t somehow tied to the whole economic fretting going on here and elsewhere — what is the career path fo
Mike Dawson’s award winning Troop 142
webcomic/mini-comic has found a paper home — Secret Acres will publish the collected edition next fall, just in time for SPX. Following a fateful scout camping trip in the mid=90s, it’s a sharply observed story of men and boys and what makes them men and boys. Dawson has been working on the story for over a year, with both a web version and a printed mini comics version.
Secret Acres is proud to announce it will be publishing Troop 142, the second graphic novel from Mike Dawson, author of Freddie & Me (Bloomsbury USA/Jonathan Cape). Advance copies of the four-time Ignatz Award nominated, and winner of the 2010 Ignatz Award for Outstanding Online Comic, Troop 142 will be available at the 2011 Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland.
Says The Comics Journal’s Rob Clough:
“Mike Dawson has two chief virtues as a writer: writing dialogue with an almost painful level of verisimilitude, and an understanding of the dynamics of teenagers that manages to emphasize the Darwinian nature of their relationships along with the naïveté of youth… Visually, the key to this comic’s success is his ability to convey body language, gesture and character interaction, especially since subtext is such an important part of what’s occurring in the narrative.
The comic raises interesting questions regarding the idealism of Scout law and the realities of being a teenager in 1995 (the setting of the story). Joining the Scouts implies a certain kind of adherence to ideals, but what Dawson raises is that sometimes this may be more the ideals of the parent rather than the boy. And even among the parents, the Scout ideals fall by the wayside when it comes time to wield authority.”
Troop 142 follows a group of campers and counselors at a week-long scout retreat in the woods of New Jersey. It is a story as much about adults as it is adolescents, the blurred line between childhood and manhood, and the consequences of authoritative posturing. Dispensing with idyllic notions, Dawson describes the hilarious and brutal truths about boys and men, the hypocrisy of institutional morality and the resilience of Spam and the human spirit.
TROOP 142 by MIKE DAWSON
ADVANCE COPIES: Small Press Expo, September, 2011
IN STORES SEPTEMBER 2011
SOFTCOVER, 240 PGS, ISBN 978-0-9799609-9-4, 6×9in, $20.00
by Brady Russell
S.P.A.C.E. is the Midwest’s answer to the Small Press Expo, founded twelve years ago by Bob Corby, as a show that comics creators without a huge following could afford to go to. I’ve known about it for a long time and always wanted to go. After attending SPX myself for the first time in 1999, I came home and started Googling creators I had met, and I think it was searching for Suzanne Baumann that I found out about S.P.A.C.E. for the first time. The photos made the show look much smaller, much simpler than SPX, which even ten years ago, at the original location, was a pretty crowded scene.
S.P.A.C.E has been around almost as long as SPX, though, and while comparisons are inevitable, some of the comparisons are pretty favorable, too. First of all, S.P.A.C.E. has grown nicely since those first photos I found. In fact, when Bob Corby, the show’s founder and manager, released the floor map this year I thought: that looks like it’s about the same size as my first SPX.
The nice thing about SPX over the years is that it has been a great way to watch the underground comics world grow up. As the Beat put it after the Small Press Expo moved to the new location:
The buzz on the floor was all book deal after book deal, and new lines of graphic novels both from comics publishers and New York Houses. Whereas in past years, people would have been talking about launching their own series, everyone is now working on a graphic novel, a painstaking, lengthy process that can see you out of commission for years.
However, I saw that show a little differently, because I’d been out of the alternative comics loop for several years before SPX 2006. So the 2006 show was my first show back from my alt-comics desert and the first thing I thought when I got in the room was: where are the mini-comics?
If you miss the mini-comics, you’ll still find them at S.P.A.C.E. Everything about this event reminded me of my initial brush with punk comic book glory in 1999.
You’ll find the hand stapled xeroxed shorts and you’ll watch creators collating their own books on the spot, you just won’t find nearly so many fans (at least not this year). Corby estimates that about 650 people were at the show, between comps, guests of exhibitors and regular attendees, though reckoning just how many of them were pure attendees is hard to say. From my spot on the show floor, it seemed like about 60% of the people I talked to were either exhibitors or there with an exhibitor. And there were a lot of exhibitors.
There’s a lot of reasons to come to a show like SPACE. For me, this would be my first go at exhibiting my work. For years I’ve been spottily sending out three page photocopies off to friends and family and the odd creator I’ve met, but it was only last year that I got serious about committing to a comics project. In February, I launched my web-comic about a living TV that pals around with a famous folk singer and a famous economist. I
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The latest Sundays Volume will be debuting at the 2011 MoCCA Festival in NYC; Table #H15. Check out the names involved below. We are very excited about this version!
SUNDAYS: Forever Changes
300 numbered copies
• Mickey Z
• Jeff Lok
• Ed Piskor
• Warren Craghead III
• Aaron Cockle
• Melissa Mendes
• Joseph Lambert
• Mark Burrier
• Alex Kim
• David Libens
• Ariyana Suvarnasuddhi
• Dane Martin
• Julie Delporte
• Michael DeForge
• Sean Ford
• Samuel C. Gaskin
• Scott Longo
• Jose-Luis Olivares
• Mari Ahokoivu
• Max de Radigués
• Damien Jay
• Lydia Conklin
Also making it’s first appearance is the all new KIDS anthology edited by Melissa Mendes and Jose-Luis Olivares. Kids will be available at the same table as Sundays, H15, right next to Secret Acres.
• Joseph Lambert
• Dane Martin
• Nate Beaty
• Chuck Forsman
• James Hindle
• Max de Radigues
• Lydia Conklin
• Robyn Chapman
• Alex Kim
• Amy Mendes
• David Libens
“Kids” is an anthology of comics by some amazing people, all having to do in some way with children or childhood. We, the editors, (Jose-Luis and Melissa) have been thinking a lot about kids lately, and how we’re not kids anymore, and how maybe now we’re supposed to be grown-ups, so we decided to put this together.
Editor and publisher Robyn Chapman is pleased to announce the debut of the new anthology This Isn’t Working: Comics About Ex-Boyfriends. Six cartoonists share their personal stories about this sensitive subject. Chapman has created a handsome, yet economical, showcase for their work. This Isn’t Working is the debut book from Chapman’s new minicomics publishing house, Paper Rocket.
Chapman selected 6 talented cartoonists to tackle this subject:
This Isn’t Working can be purchased for $3 at the MoCCA Festival. Look for this debut book at the AWP table (M6).
English Small Press
A bunch of UK Indy people are coming to MoCCA and The Forbidden Planet Intern