Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The 30th, the 30th, and the 3rd. 

This comes out today, Wednesday June 30th:

Suspended in Language by Jim Ottaviani and Leland Purvis with Jay Hosler, Linda Medley, Roger Langridge and Jeff Parker. 320 pages of cool comics about one of the greatest figures of the twentieth century, Niels Bohr.

This next book comes out today too, and with a logo in the big blank space!

On the Road to Perdition, Book 3: Detour. Written by Max Collins. Pencilled by the great Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. Inked by Lard-ass McGurk.

Then, on July third, Free Comic Book Day, Matthew Clark, Jeff Parker and I will be signing at Cosmic Monkey Comics in Portland. And David Hahn will be at A-1 Comics in Roseville, California.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

More on the Stumptown fest. 

Via Kevin, here's The Freaky Bob report about the Stumptown show. I particularly liked the picture of Leland Purvis. It's not out-of-focus, Bob. That's just Lee.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Tempest in a teapot continues! 

Wow: The Stumptown comics fest got even more ink in the Portland Mercury. That makes three weeks in a row, now. This reply to Heather Lockamy's angry letter appears in the latest edition:



This is for "Ms. Real Geek" Heather Lockamy ["Letters," June 10, in which the author bemoans "hip" people starting a comics convention]. Hey Heather, we went to high school together! You might recall me playing Magic during lunch, or getting shoved around by meat-headed jocks between classes. You won't recall my table at the Stumptown Comix Fest, though, because it seems we just weren't geeky enough for you! Ho ho, observe the irony.

You imply that the comics scene is in danger of losing its "underground coolness." Yet it's the Portland Comic Con you defend which pushes the corporate, mainstream, spandex-dependent comics, and which relegates independents to the fringe in favor of guests from barely related, well-funded, globally distributed entertainment like Xena and DS9. The only thing underground about the Portland Comic Con is its location in the basement of the Memorial Coliseum; I'll also concede that it stays cool down there, even during the summer months.

Hey, just because we're independent doesn't mean we fit your own ugly stereotypes about "scenester fucks." It just means we love comics, and we make ours against the mainstream grain.

John C. Worsley, Stumptown Comix Fest Exhibitor

I agree with the defense, though I think Richard Finn, the hard-working promoter of the Portland Comic-con, has been treated unfairly in this discussion. Putting together a regional comic book show, even one that's largely mainstream, is hardly the road to riches. And he has always made room at his shows for local small press talent. In most towns, the space he's made available would be more than sufficient. One reason there's a need for a small-press show here is that the mass of Portlanders who make comics is a good deal larger than the population that just reads them. In a cartoonist-rich environment like Portland, there are artists who could double their audience just by handing out free books to all the other exhibitors.

Speaking of which, major talent David Chelsea gathered a bunch of Portland cartoonists together to produce 24-hour comics. Here's a short comic about the event, and here is Chelsea's finished comic. Look at those cityscapes, and in a 24 hour comic, no less. There's a reason the guy wrote a book on perspective.

"Ringo reports 

Over at his Comic Book Resources message forum, Mike Weringo has a report from the 2004 Heroes Con.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

"The pipe organ is pretty much a visual definition of boss." 

Kip replies to the unhappy comic book reader. Big geek hug!

(Editted to add) And Erika provides the pics

Sunday, June 13, 2004

A comic book reader is unhappy. 

This letter appears in the June 10th issue of The Portland Mercury. (No relation to this studio.)


TO THE EDITOR: This is for "Mr. Hip" Erik Henriksen. Nice of you to feature something comics-oriented, but you forgot something very obvious--the true comics community is made up of geeks [Destination Fun, Stumptown Comics Fest, June 3]. Now I know "geek" is extremely hip right now, but I don't mean indie rock/hipster geek. I mean the real geeks, the intelligent outcasts that played Magic in junior high while you made fun of them and hiply listened to grunge and Snoop Dogg.

Now pretty much anything in this city with an ounce of underground coolness has been taken over by scenester fucks, exploiting it until it's sucked dry and turned to shit. But the twice yearly Portland Comic Con you mentioned in your article is not for the too-cool-for-school crowd--it's for the real people. Not a fucking fashion show where scenesters can strut down their runway and "oooh" and "aaah" over each other's generic black/brown wardrobes, sip wine, and snub each other (which I'm sure the Stumptown indie comic extravaganza will be).

Just become the fucking yuppies you're destined to be and go to First Thursday like the rest of them. Stay out of the comic scene before you contaminate it more than you already have.

Heather Lockamy

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

News about others. 

Jenn Manley Lee has an encouraging report about the Stumptown Comics Fest. For those of you who didn't know about it, some Portland indy cartoonists decided that since Portland is absolutely crawling with comic talent, it ought to have a small press show of its own. Looks like they got off to a good start.

Speaking of local talent, there's a new cartoonist in town, Bill Mudron. Bill is funny and talented and has tremendous range as a cartoonist and illustrator. Maybe that's why he left Pittsburgh.

Ted Slampyak was my first collaborator in professional comics. I inked and lettered his pencils on a book called Roadways sometime back in 19mumblety-mumble. I just read on Johanna's blog that Ted is going to be the new artist on the Little Orphan Annie newspaper strip. Ted will be taking over for the strip's creator, Harold Gray, who is retiring from cartooning at the age of 110 to take a job with the Bush administration.

For the Kubert School alumni who read this blog, here's a link to a nifty interview with one of the best loved instructors at the school, the man who taught me how to letter, cartoonist Hy Eisman.

And finally, Publisher's Weekly has a review of Sean Stewart's novel Perfect Circle.

"Ghosts are like homeless people, we are told by DK 'Dead' Kennedy, the hero of World Fantasy Award winner Stewart's latest blend of magical realism and Texas regionalism: most of us look away, but he can't. This ability to see the other side complicates life tremendously (he can't drive because at night ghosts look just like the living, and he's wrecked cars avoiding them), especially when a distant cousin hires him to exorcise the ghost of a girl the cousin murdered. Part of the novel deals with DK's offbeat career as an alternative exorcist, but what Stewart seems really to focus on is how these abilities now threaten his relationships with family, both immediate and extended. DK still loves his ex-wife and is active in the life of his daughter, but comes to realize that he's like a ghost in their lives: 'Not all ghosts are dead, but all are hungry.'

Stewart's compelling account of how DK comes to grips with his ghosts, both actual and metaphorical, is alternately poignant and hilarious, with some genuinely creepy moments and one or two powerful jolts. This compelling story is a genre title with strong potential for crossing over into the mainstream."

Monday, June 07, 2004

Publisher's Weekly Article. 

As some of you might know, I recently illustrated a comics story for Sean Stewart that ties in with his latest novel. This past weekend, his publisher brought me to Chicago to attend the Book Expo America to present the comic.

I'm pretty sure this is the first time a prose author has done this with a comic- created a comics story to be given away to raise awareness of his novel.

The June 7th Publisher's Weekly has an aticle about Sean and his new publisher, Small Beer Press . Here it is:
Sean Stewart describes himself as "a writer who traditionally has fallen between categories." Having moved to Ace after beginning his writing career with the small Canadian press Tesseract in 1992, the World Fantasy Award–winner defines his natural constituency as "the people reading High Fidelity, Fried Green Tomatoes and The House of Seven Gables."

That's why Stewart has decided to return to his small-press roots for his eighth novel, Perfect Circle, which will be published in June by four-year-old Small Beer Press in Northampton Mass. The house, which specializes in crossover fantasy fiction, also plans to publish two of Stewart's previous books—Mockingbird and The Night Watch—under its Peapod Classics imprint, which will launch next year.

Stewart, who created The Beast, a popular Web game inspired by Steven Spielberg's AI, also admits to having been heavily influenced by The Lord of the Rings since reading it at age seven. He described Perfect Circle as "a meaning-of-life thriller—I like books about the human experience that don't skip all the sword fights." The title, which comes from a song by R.E.M., points to the other influences in this story of a down-and-seemingly out ex–punk rocker, William "Dead" Kennedy, who is haunted by family ghosts, particularly one that tries to get him to shoot his ex-wife and her husband.

Part of what attracted Stewart to Small Beer is co-founder Kelly Link's publishing philosophy: "a good book is a good book, and these genre lines aren't very helpful." ("Small beer," by the way, is the lighter beer that comes from brewing two beers from a single mash.) He was also impressed by the attention the press has garnered for its first six books, even before inking a deal with SCB Distributors, which will begin representing Small Beer's titles to the trade in June. In 2002, Carol Emshwiller's novel The Mount won a Philip K. Dick Award. The previous year, Link's short story collection, Stranger Things Happen, was chosen by Salon, the Village Voice, the San Francisco Chronicle and Locus magazine as one of the year's best books, and one of its stories won a Nebula Award. Link and her husband, Gavin J. Grant, also publish a twice-yearly zine, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, which they founded in 1996.

Booksellers clearly see Small Beer as the kind of indie press they want to support. Paul Ingram at Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City called it "my favorite tiny little press. They do really weird, far out, imaginative stuff." Susan Jett, a bookseller with Back of Beyond Books in Moab, Utah, said she feels certain that "if they put something out, it's going to be good. I trust their taste." At St. Marks Bookshop in New York City, Link's story collection and her fiction anthology, Trampoline (Aug. 2003), have sold well. "Small Beer is the kind of press we're always on the lookout for to give us distinction," manager Michael Russo told PW.

Link and Grant, who met when they worked at the now-defunct Avenue Victor Hugo Bookshop in Boston, are doing their best to apply the lessons of their bookselling years. "We joined Book Sense as a publishing partner," Grant said, "and sent out 450 galleys, which is a different level of galleydom for us." They've also decided to do simultaneous editions, to appeal to hardcover fantasy collectors and paperback mystery readers. And they have enlisted rising comics star Steve Lieber, who did the jacket art for On the Road to Perdition and Hellboy, to create a black-and-white promotional comic based on the book that will be mailed to comic, science fiction and general bookstores in June. In addition, Stewart will do appearances in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and New York City...


Not sure what's up with that stuff about "the jacket art," but it's nice to be a rising star. And I just want to say that I read Perfect Circle as a word document, in its entirety, and I couldn't put it down. I'm talking about hours and hours staring at a laptop, hitting the down-arrow. My eyes were bleeding by the end, but I HAD to find out what happened next. The book grabs your attention and doesn't let go. I can't begin to recommend it highly enough.

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