A Fan’s Notes


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hello and welcome to CC weekend edition. I’m your host – Frankie The Wop. In an effort to understand what it takes to achieve Tom Spurgeon level of comics bloggerdom – I have moved to New Mexico. Spurge is at 6200 feet above sea level and I think that it’s the air up here that makes looking out beyond the frontier of comics possible. Wait, what? I dunno what the fuck I’m talking about. I’m high as shit and it ain’t from the altitude. The holiday season has begun. I got nuthin’ this week.

It’s true that I have moved to New Mexico – for the winter at least. Me and the girl left all our stuff at my house in Pittsburgh, PA. We packed two cars and hoofed it down here. My car was mostly full of art supplies and comics. I hope my comics stash holds up – I didn’t see too many comics shops on the way out here. I brought two shortboxes and two magazine boxes full of crap to make it through the winter. I brought all my Hulk magazines (Get it? The Hulk, the desert. Perfect context. And with Moon Knight back-ups no less) and all my Warren mags which I’ve resisted really studying for years. I’ve always been afraid that getting into ‘70s comics mags of the 8.5 x 11 inch variety will make me want to start using that format in my own comics. A sure-as-shit way of losing money. Just ask Beto and Jaime.

And if any of you turkeys think that fleeing to New Mexico was a way of avoiding the east coast winters – well, you’ve got another think coming. It was 17 degrees Fahrenheit last night after Thanksgiving. It gets cold here. And dark. That’s what happens as soon as the sun goes down: it gets cold and dark. Really cold and really dark.

So as I continue to do my best DH Lawrence impression, many of my comrades are gearing up for the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. I’m bummed that I will not be making it this year. It’s just too far of a drive even to the airport to go. Maybe me and Spurge will decide to roadtrip at the last minute. But as of this writing, he hasn’t returned my emails about it.

It’s pretty slow going out here and I like it. My phone doesn’t work out here, which has been great. Internet service is spotty but decent. I keep telling my friends the same thing – which is basically that it’s beautiful here but really remote. And I’m getting a lot of painting done. I’m treating this like a writer’s retreat or an artist’s retreat – wait, which one am I again? If you tell people you’re a painter then they think you paint houses. If you tell them you are a cartoonist then they think you draw “funny stuff”. It’s weird. Still “cartoonist” sounds less pretentious than “artist”. So I’m on a “writer’s retreat” – that sounds best. So far so good.

I also haven’t bought a scanner, which means I can’t scan comics pages and riff on them until I do. So, forgive the interruption to my, ahem, comics classes that I’ve been doing in these hallowed halls. It’s hard to switch back to comics talk when I gotta psych myself up with painting talk all day. I’ll say one thing that’s nice about painting: there’s no fixing shit in post-production later. And there’s no scanning, which rules.

One of the most exciting things that has happened to me since I’ve been here was getting a box of books from Dan in the mail. He sent me the new MB, the new BC, and the new CF – all of which I didn’t have yet. I saw the new MB and the BC at SPX but not the new CF – that was brand new to me. But I hadn’t read any of them yet. So, it’s been a real treat to sit with these books for a few days and really dig in.

It’s weird when one’s heroes become one’s friends – and reading MB, BC and CF this is something that crosses my mind a lot. I forget that I know them and I sort of return to that original fan state of first discovery. Sort of a disbelief. Like encountering a scary barbarian who would like to entertain you and share drinks with you. Is this real? Is this really real? I feel like it’s a battle – not a battle to read but that I’m witnessing a battle. I get really pumped as a reader because when these heroes pull off moves that I’ve seen them do before and then do the move better than before this time around– it’s like watching an athlete whom I admire war with themselves – and in the process become a champion. It’s like I’m not shocked by their newness anymore. The shock is now a disbelief that they do what they do so well and so consistently. I feel really lucky to have watched these guys play from the sidelines. The view is pretty spectacular during a game. Thanks guys. Thanks Dan.

10. Ditko Charltons
9. crows – the real kind not the Brandon Lee kind
8. Pawn Stars season 2
7. letter from Aaron Cometbus
6. finding out local art store carries airbrush paint
5. fireplace romance
4. box from Dan
3. sunrises / sunsets
2. Sea and Sardinia by DH Lawrence
1. A Fan’s Notes by Frederick Exley

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25 Responses to “A Fan’s Notes”
  1. “Journey On a Davenport” — haha, Exley’s the best.

  2. phil says:

    damn….and i wanted to talk “comics shop” with you tomorra @ Copacetic, oh well. Maybe i’ll e-mail ya Frank. Enjoy the west dude!

  3. BVS says:

    I just read the new BC, it was great. I loved the Master of Kung Fu moments! what do you call the type of cover that If &oof and power masters have? plasticy? I think it’s my favorite tipe of binding or cover or whatever. enjoy winter in the south west, here in my town it’s going to be life on ice planet hoth till may.

  4. Sean says:

    Where in NM? Anywhere near Albuquerque? If you make it to Albuquerque, check out Lobo Anime & Comics. It’ the best store in town with tons of $1 comics and cheap sets and alternative trades…

  5. Shannon says:

    Hey Frank, where in New Mexico are you? I spent a couple of grad school years in Las Cruces in the southern part of the state and could steer you toward some awesome restaurants if you’re around there. If you’re up North, you have to go to Chaco Canyon no matter what, and the Folk Art Museum in Santa Fe is pretty dope. Also, have you gone to Lawrence’s tomb? His ashes are mixed into the concrete of the walls.

  6. Half Bizzaked says:

    A good place to go if you’re really high and in that area is Il Vicino’s Wood-Oven style Pizzeria. Santa Fe has one at 321 West San Francisco Street. Grape Fanta goes well with most of their delicious Italian style fare, but they don’t always put it on the menu, so sometimes you have to ask special.
    Also, though far less of a ‘locals-only-secret’ is White Sands Ntnl Mnmnt (not to be confused with the White Sand Dunes in CO), which despite its reputation for attracting ungainly tourists and college students out of control on acid, is a typically otherworldly southwestern paradise on earth.

  7. I’m outside of Taos – in the north of the state – 20 minutes from the road that leads up to Lawerence’s mountain tomb. There are dogs that live on his roof. It’s way off the main road up there – pretty crazy.

    I found “True Believers Comics” in Santa Fe. They carry Bulletproof Coffin so that helps. But that’s an hour and a half away. Maybe I’ll open a used comics store…

  8. brynocki C says:

    jesus, can you bag and board that dry heat and mail some to Rhode Island? My house is dropping down into the forties and my body ain’t acclimated yet…..

  9. Land of Enhancement says:

    Recommended: Hobbs, NM.
    Had a great nondescript diner (in 1993 anyway) that served excellent microwaved glazed donuts and passable coffee; close proximity to Carlsbad Caverns; references the greatest syndicated cartoon strip of the past 25 years (Calvin and Hobbs).

  10. david says:

    Taos is lovely as well.

  11. Sophie Yanow says:

    I think the magazine format might be an interesting one to try right now… I was at a lecture given by Scott McCloud a couple weeks ago… he brought up the fact that when we look at a book, we see both pages, not one at a time (which as cartoonists we know), and how this hasn’t really translated to online space, this utilization of the width of the screen… magazine format is a little wider than standard American comics, and might translate better (both as 1up and 2up)… a good halfway point if you wanted to try either. Well, I’m thinking about it anyway, so thanks for bringing it up… 🙂

    Welcome back to the West! Y’know, I’m going to Philly in a couple weeks and was thinking of hoofing it to Pittsburgh to see a friend and check out Copacetic and say hi… aw well!

  12. Tom Spurgeon says:

    Frank, I don’t recall getting e-mail from you I didn’t answer. I’m up for a road trip but you’ll have to come pick me up, which is sort of like driving round trip Pittsburgh to NYC. And drop me off. It’s only 28 hours extra!

    Nice person please tell me where the good places to eat in Las Cruces are. I know a good bakery down there but that’s it. There’s a butcher in Deming that runs a seven-table restaurant next to its grocery that’s pretty awesome, but that’s about all I know.

    Frank, “Dave’s Comics and Paintball” just went out of business in Las Cruces and they’re selling off a big chunk of their backstock at reduced prices. When I was in there the other day there were random groceries — 12 packs of Diet Dr. Pepper, a box of paper plates — spread out on top of the longboxes. I bought a copy of Fantaco’s Hembeck, two Kirby Thors, four Bendis/Mack Daredevils (#s16-19) and a full run of “Anything Goes” for less than $20. It was like shopping at my first used comics outlet, a pawn shop that kept its comics stacked in a shelf next to a wall full of throwing stars.

    Hobbs is nice. That whole region is nice. The Ruidoso part is a Texas vacation spot and is as pretty as it comes. White Sands you have see at least once.

  13. brynocki C says:

    I’ve been to Bandelier National Monument twice. Took some nice walks. North and West of Santa Fe. It’s got some picturesque cliff dwellings and a Kiva underground room you can go in. Felt good there, public but not overrun. But that was ten and 15 years ago.

  14. Duck Tales says:

    Tom, try Pho Saigon (1160 El Paseo Road). I realize It sounds suspiciously like “faux-Saigon” and it’s a little untested, no more than a couple weeks old, but for the novelty factor of Vietnamese in Las Cruces, I say it’s worth the risk. Maybe avoid the more exotic dishes at first as those are the most likely to be comprised of cat meat and silt. If you’re more into Asian-fusion though, check out Aqua Reef Restaurant (900 South Telshor Boulevard). For a family-friendly ‘fancy place’ it’s decently priced and has quite a menu.


  15. Shannon says:


    I always loved Nellie’s in Las Cruces. This was 12 years ago when I was in grad school, so who knows maybe things have changed. And Chope’s in San Miguel, about 30 minutes south of Mesilla, is the best. I proposed to my wife there.

    Also, I love Silver City.

  16. Ian Harker says:

    Frank, I’ve been thinking about the pulp magazine format for a while now. I’d bend your ear about it but you’re convinced that avant-garde genre comics are dead. Say it ain’t so.

    They aren’t dead, they’re just waiting for the 3-D revolution.

  17. Ian Harker says:

    Money? What’s that?!

    I don’t really see how it could be over. As long as people are still fond of the genre shit they were raised on, and as long as there are people among those people who want to read experimental comics there will always be a reason for it to exist. Not to mention that as the American bronze-age sentimentalists like me and you pass out of the forefront there is a whole new generation of artists who swam eyeballs deep in manga in their formative years coming around the bend. Some of them are even girls!

    • I love when you get all riled up – I’m just messing around – I love genre stuff – it’s just that art comics didn’t re-discover genre stuff – it’s always been there in comics. It’s a great window in time but, personally, I think that window closed. Like it’s 1981 and I want to listen to the Necros – it’s not ’76 anymore – I don’t want to listen to Television. I have no idea what that means in terms of genre based art comics but for me I don’t want to do genre stuff right now. I like reading them sure but I also liked mohawk bands in ’87 that were doing the same old ’77 punk riffs – but that stuff doesn’t hold up years later in my mind. Forgive the references but that’s how I think of things. Like do a funny animal comic or something -like USApe – flip the sample a a bit more

  18. Ian Harker says:

    I’ve got to stay away from art comic tea leaf reading. My new policy is shoot first, ask questions later.

  19. brynocki C says:

    Shit first, locate toilet later.

  20. Ian Harker says:

    Shirt first, pants later.

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