Posts Tagged ‘SPX’



Thursday, October 1, 2009

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SPX 2009 was fun. I thought that I’d post my swag. Will post a scene report of sorts soon enough.

Erin Griffin

Sally Bloodbath

Kris Mukai

Mickey Z

Noel Troll

L. Nichols

Aaron Cockle

Scott A. Rosenberg

Pat Aulisio

Ben Granoff

Jason T Miles

Max Clotfelter

Dan Zettwoch

Jacob Berendes

Kevin Panetta

Noah Van Sciver

Chris Beckett

John Porcellino

Ian Harker


Kwik Lisnin


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

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Appreciating Frank’s point

The indefatigable Sean Collins has posted the audio for two panels from SPX that may be of interest to Comics Comics readers: the “New Action” panel featuring our own Frank Santoro (as well as Benjamin Marra, Kazimir Strzepek, and Shawn Cheng), and the criticism panel, which includes CC contributors Joe “Jog” McCulloch and Bill Kartalopolous, as well as about a million more worthy names than I feel like typing out.

[UPDATE: STC has posted a transcription of the “New Action” panel here.]

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PictureBox at SPX


Monday, September 21, 2009

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Well, while PB is waiting to be bought by Disney and/or be given the rights to half of Mole Man we will be exhibiting this weekend, September 26-27, at SPX. Booth D9-11.

We will have our full range of titles and Frank Santoro and Matthew Thurber will be in attendance. Besides our newest books, including Santoro’s Cold Heat 7/8, Thurber’s 1-800 MICE 3, Mat Brinkman’s Multiforce and Gary Panter’s Pee Dog 2, we will have a stack of the phenomenal new Bart Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror (now on sale in our shop!), featuring stories by Ben Jones, Jon Vermilyea, Thurber, Kevin Huizenga and many others. We will also have a selection of new mini-comics, zines, and the legendary comic book series Real Deal.

And, bonus: There will be a Treehouse of Horror signing with various artists on Sunday, 9/25, from noon to 1 pm.

SPX is always a fun time. Come out and see us.

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Hustling the PictureBox Merch


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

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Summer vacation was fun. But now it’s over….

Here is some shameless promotion from your sponsor, PictureBox.

We have some excellent new and recent items in the store right now: We’re pleased to announce that Cold Heat 7/8 by our beloved Frank Santoro and Ben Jones and Matthew Thurber’s 1-800 MICE #3 are now in stock! Two mighty comics series making bold returns. And Anya Davidson has returned with an excellent new comic, Cosmic Collisions.

Cold Heat 7/8!

Also, back in stock we have Yuichi Yokoyama’s Painting and his full line of posters for your gazing pleasure.

And last but certainly not least, we’re carrying vintage original printings of airbrush posters from the 1970s by Kings Peter Palombi and Charlie White III. We have limited quantities of these masterpieces, so get ’em while you can.

Other news:

ITEM: We are now offering some of our titles on the iPhone via Panelfly. So now you can read Powr Mastrs, The Goddess of War, Travel, and Storeyville on your iPhone!

ITEM: The PictureBox Gallery (online only) is bursting at the virtual seams with original art by Ben Jones, Gary Panter, CF, Charlie White III, Peter Lloyd and many others. Go have a look.

ITEM: We owe a giant thanks to all of you who pre-ordered If ‘n Oof and Powr Mastrs 3. You can look for those in March 2010.

Phew, that was a lot. Now, onto the sale!

For one week (Sept. 8-15) we are reducing our prices by up to 35% on many items in the shop, and for the first time we’re offering “Value Packs” for your shopping convenience. That’s right, we’re making it that much easier to enjoy PictureBox goodness. The sets are as follows:

The Overspray Deluxe Set: Pimp-out your bookcase and walls with a copy of Overspray: Riding High With the Kings of California Airbrush Art, as well as two enormous Peter Palombi posters: This is Why You’re Overweight and Exotic Pets.
All for just $35!

Powr Mastrs Set: Need to catch up on Powr Mastrs before the third one drops! Well, get the first two volumes and CF’s miniature masterpiece, Core of Caligula, for an even $20.

80s Grotesque Set: Pee Dog 2: The Captain’s Final Log and Monster Men Bureiko Lullaby. Feeling overwhelmed by the world? Hopeless and ruined? These two graphic romps through sexual confusion, misery and poop jokes will lift your spirits and have you up and around in no time! Cheap therapy for just $20.

Young Painters Set: Here at PictureBox we sure do love a good painting. So much so that we’ve published books with some of the best damn painters around. Get 6 publications by Eddie Martinez, Joe Bradley, Jonas Wood, Michael Williams, Chuck Webster, Katherine Bernhardt and Brian Belott for just $40. That’s a lifetime of gallery-going for one low price.

The Ben Jones Approved Set: Three books beloved by artiste Ben Jones. Mythtym, by Trinie Dalton; Travel by Yuichi Yokoyama; and Jones’ own New Painting and Drawing. See from whence Jones draws inspiration and sample these goodies. $35 is a small price to pay for a glimpse of immortality.

Rock Set: If you’re not to busy playing Rock Band, how ’bout immersing yourself in a multi-generational rock-out with these fab books. For the Love of Vinyl will teach you the meaning of album design; The Wilco Summer Tour Program will leave you in stitches; Real Fun will bring you back to your indie rock roots (or give you new ones); A fantastic Chuck Berry poster by Charlie White III will loom over you; and all of this can happen while listening to Gary and Devin whale away on their psych-country trip. Rock to build a truck on for just $50.

And that’s it. We hope to see you on the road in the next couple months, either at The Small Press Expo in Washington D.C. or The New York Art Book Fair. Thanks!

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Paul Karasik on Fletcher Hanks


Sunday, July 26, 2009

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Paul Karasik is the very first cartoonist I interviewed (well, as an adult. When I was 13 I interviewed Paul Ryan for an 8th grade paper and made a case that he was vastly under appreciated, natch). That first Karasik interview became a lengthy examination of comics history and was published in the very first Ganzfeld back in 2000 with considerable help from our own Tim Hodler and the beloved Patrick Smith. When we debuted the issue, Paul sat behind our table at SPX and helped flog the thing. Why, mine eyes, they grow misty just thinking about it. Ok, wiping away the tears from my keyboard, I now present, nearly 10 years later, Karasik v. Nadel: The rematch. Paul looks better than ever: He’s in lean, tanned, fighting shape, while I am old, graying, bitter, hunched and prone to mumbling. Paul won again. Sigh.

Thanks to Gabe at Desert Island for hosting a fun evening and asking me to interview Paul on the occasion of his book signing for the fantastic second Fletcher Hanks volume, You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation. Click below to listen to the interview.

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News and Updates


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

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Painting by Ben Jones

I realize it’s quite crass of me to only post here when I’m promoting, but as those who know me will tell you, I’m a crass jerk. So, that said, I’ll sprinkle in some appropriate content with my promotional text.

For example: Favorite comic taken home from SPX: Or Else #5. Post-SPX realization: Elektra Assassin is only good because of the art. And man, that is some fine, inspired cartooning. He was never better. I think Miller really is saved by his artists. It’s not that different in tone than his recent drekky stuff, but so beautifully imagined. Also, Ivan Brunetti’s new Yale anthology is just brilliant from top to bottom. I can’t help but smile at what he go away with: basically making a highly personal anthology for a major publisher. It’s so wonderfully indiosyncratic. I love it. Also, the complex and funny cover by Clowes reminds me why he’s so damn good, and that I can’t wait for whatever he does next. Plus, Ivan’s book finally gave me the little inspirational boost I need to get going on Art Out of Time 2, which at this point is so late it’s not even funny. Gee, what else… does anyone read Achewood? I’ve never read it. Maybe I’ll do that now. None of the above is actual, substantive writing, but, well, at least it’s something, and now on to the shameless promotion:

1) The Ganzfeld 7 is out now and will be in stores this week or next. 10 stores only or online. No Diamond, no bookstore distro. Edition of 1000. They are going very, very fast. Surprisingly so.

2) We’ve reduced prices on lots of stuff in the store again. All comics and zines especially. Poke around and you’ll find some deals/steals. Also, all King Terry stuff is back in stock.

3) Non-comics: Norman Hathaway has created a fantastic blog for Overspray: Riding High With the Kings of California Airbrush Art. Most PictureBox fans should check this out. I’m hugely proud of this book.

4) Also non-comics, but a little comics, since Michel, after all, did a comic:

Promoting his new book, You’ll Like This Film Because You’re In It, Michel Gondry is out on tour! Go see him!

Los Angeles:

Oct. 21, 7 pm: Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire, L.A. (A conversation and book signing)

Oct. 22, 7:30 pm: FAMILY, 436 N. Fairfax Ave., L.A. (book signing)

New York:

Oct. 25, 12-5 pm: NY Art Book Fair (PictureBox Booth I3), 450 West 15th Street at 10th Avenue, 3rd floor, NYC (Book signing)

Oct. 26, 2-5 pm: NY Art Book Fair (PictureBox Booth I3), 450 West 15th Street at 10th Avenue, 3rd floor, NYC (Book signing)

Oct. 27, 7 pm: The Strand, 828 Broadway, NYC (A conversation and book signing)

Well, that’s all I have for now, I think. Bye!

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

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SPX 2008

Man, did I have fun. I just hovered by the PictureBox endcap and harassed passersby to look at my back issues! Dan kept glaring at me from the other end of the table, haha!

Me: “Look, a complete set of Sienkiewicz’s run on The Shadow! You don’t know who colored them? Richmond Lewis! C’mon! You have to buy these comics!”

Customer: “Dude, stop yelling.”

Anyways, it was busy early and stayed that way all Saturday. I did my best to snag a particular demographic walking around: the comics fan who generally cannot help but look at a pair of white comics long-boxes perched on a corner table. People kept asking me if I was selling my collection, and I said, “No these are just my doubles! I hoard these things! I can guarantee that all the comics in these boxes are satisfying reads! Comics Comics-approved comics for your reading pleasure.”

But, really, the most fun was watching Powr Mastrs 2 just fly away, people freaking out over it. It’s insanely beautiful and glowing with color parts and killer continuity. Christopher seemed to be enjoying himself, watching the few advance copies we had to sell sell out THAT fast. It was a little bittersweet tho’ because we could have moved so many more if we had them. Stupid slow boat from China. (Homer Simpson voice please.)

Lauren Weinstein seemed to be signing and selling copy after copy of Goddess of War. It was crazy for awhile. She has a really diverse fan base, too. Lauren’s like an author and an artist and a cartoonist. Meaning she engages her readers on so many levels. I know because I overheard her having so many different conversations on a lot of different topics.


(And, oh, well, I humbly add that the new Cold Heat Special is fucking unbelievable. Lane Milburn really killed it, crushed it, sent it into orbit. It will be available on the PicBox site soon. I’ll post something about it when it’s time!)

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

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After a little wrangling, I have posted the somewhat infamous audio recording of my “interview” with CF at SPX 2007. Check it out here. But please don’t yell too loudly, he’s trying to finish Powr Mastrs 2. Shhhh. Also, remember to send positive thoughts to Obama today. He’s our only hope.

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Galactikrap #2


Monday, November 19, 2007

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I wrote this review in my notebook a few days after SPX this year. Recently, I thought about posting it, and as I was assembling this, Patrick Markfort wrote an excellent review of it over at Comics-and-More. But I thought I’d post mine anyway. So here goes: Maybe I’m biased but my favorite SPX comic so far has been Brian Chippendale’s Galactikrap #2. This comic sort of got lost in the shuffle after Maggots was released and I think that’s too bad. It’s an awesome standard digest-sized 52-page black + white mini-comic with two card-stock silkscreen covers stacked on top of each other. The story begins on the inside front cover, so the second cover is actually page two of the story, but the feel of the book is that there are two covers — you know what I mean, geez.

As I said, the story begins on the color pages — it made me think of some Japanese manga where the first and last few pages of the book are colored with a limited palette, while the rest is in black-and-white. (When I mentioned this to Brian he said that’s what he was going for a little bit) It’s especially nice because the color section informs the B+W section and lets me re-imagine how the B+W pages might look in color. It’s an interesting tension and one that Chipps has in much of his work, but not often as directly as in this particular comic. The open, playful colors also really help to “open” up the dense B+W panels. I can see it all in a new light.

Brian is economizing in new ways by “fixing” the page layout & moving the reader THROUGH the panels very directly. The depth of focus is deeper & wider than usual for him. He fills the frame with focused “speed lines” and mark-making. Nothing new but it seems to me this is a different Chipps than Ninja or Maggots. I think his poster and collage work are more center stage here and in service of the comic’s narrative velocity (and responsible for it in many ways). Brian’s always frenetic but here it’s a focused energy that is well organized with diamond-like precision. The action scenes throttle by with unheard of speed and terror.

Terror? Well, it’s like Brian can create this labyrinth of locales, of settings that feel very real and solid. He renders livable landscapes that teem with energy and scope. And when shit goes down in these mutant sci-fi worlds, I feel present, there. It’s uncanny. I think Brian has absorbed this single-camera point-of-view from certain comics and early video games, and that view has mutated into this buzzsaw that cuts away view after view of worlds unseen and hidden. It’s like you’re inside Brian’s notebook when you’re reading Galactikrap — and the stories are playing on an animated reel that just keeps rolling.

The comic is broken up into three sections, more or less. The first section could be read as a sorta Seinfeld momentary mishap, or it could read as a window on to a class struggle — strip away the mutant sci-fi futurepast setting, and it’s a story about consumers getting fucked over by the MAN. It tells the story of Su Long, a cute girl with a funny hat, trying to buy a muffin with her debit card. Her card gets denied. She rattles off her 35-digit account number to customer service over her “cellie”, and is told that her card has been deactivated because she recently made several purchases in a “strange part of town.” So the bank puts her card on hold because of suspicious activity. Su informs the customer service agent that because of this she’s now stranded in said strange part of town “with no money and no way home. And no muffins.”

This section is laid out in a way that creates a grid when the comic is held open — two same size gutterless panels per page. This is repeated for most of the comic — and when it does change, the layout goes full-page. The POV of the “muffin story” is also fixed — a medium shot of the muffin stand, the proprietors, & the customers. Figures come in and out of the frame, and the stationary shot of the transaction gives it, well, a stillness, and a sort of deadpan sitcom tone that works quite well. The characters’ expressions and dialogue create a subtle play of tensions and genuine laughs that reminds me of The Simpsons somehow.

The stillness and dry humor of the muffin section perfectly sets the table for the second section, which is an action bonanza that really must be seen to be believed. These are bigger, fuller panels. I believe they are drawn smaller, & that Brian’s enlarging his images much like he does in a lot of his poster and collage work. Consequently, the panels open up and because the panel structure is still fixed, the narrative breathes in ways I don’t normally associate with Brian’s pages.

There’s enough air for the action to really catch fire in the second section. A sewer devil has stolen a mother’s baby, and the Deep Cutz Force, a three member “pitch black ops team” goes after them. Sent by the military to gather children for “covert use, parent surveillance, foster home directionals, high school white washes, super soldier experiments and the needs of the State.” Fuck yeah! This is my kind of comic.

Deep Cutz Force takes off through the sewers, and meets up with the devils for a showdown. Clear and precise, yet open and free, here Brian is less concerned with mark-making just for the sake of it and instead appears focused on using the lines and his customary ballz-out approach to move the reader through the story. The pages fly by. The force of the lines and the movement and action of the characters are remarkably staged in this section. It all comes together beautifully and is executed with a certain skill that I feel is above and beyond Ninja. The action explodes at the tail end of the fight scene when Raw Star, a cute girl with cool hair and hot hands, shows up to blast a devil in half. But where is the child? Behind a well-guarded door that leads us to section three.

The third section opens up with some Teamy Weamy members trying to find a public bathroom. They try to use Snakezilla’s bathroom which is, like, a giant store in a building shaped like Godzilla. Only the assembled team is tricked by a member of Gang Gloom who slugs them with a bat, and sends them flying into a trap door beneath Snakezilla. The comic ends with a cliffhanger of the characters falling into a bottomless pit. These last two pages are printed in color on the heavier silkscreen covers.

Is it genre stuff, like a mainstream comic? Not really but close. Brian can do what no one else can do. Look close: it’s Brian’s TONAL perception that allows him to “see” these drawings, these movements, and fix them to the page. What’s fixed really is the SOUNDTRACK of the narrative. The marks, the velocity of his lines and the organization of space and movement — it’s musical. One’s eyes know (and one’s body feels) the BEAT and moves with the drawings. Rolling, rolling. Sort of like manga, sort of like some American action comics, but it’s effortless here, very much like the clearest manga but more like a John Coltrane blowout version of it or something. Brian’s playing the song sideways — he’s more like Yokoyama, really, than anyone else in American comics. I think Yokoyama’s work is the clearest of all manga I’ve come across; it’s musical to me, and it even almost looks like sheet music. The reader’s eyes follow the symbols and marks so fluidly that it creates a completely different experience, for me, than reading almost all other comics. There is a similar BEAT that moves the reader through Chippendale’s Galactikrap, one thats been there since Maggots. So just as Yokoyama is using the form to tell his futurepast adventure stories, so too does Brian use genre trappings to get at the heart of the movement, the action, the beat.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

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Comics Comics reader Brian Nicholson made a comment about my SPX post which got me thinking. Brian took note that the same words I used to describe the “new” mini-comics at SPX — “long on craft and short on narrative” — could also be used to describe some of my own comics like Chimera and Incanto. He also wrote that “not being at SPX this year, I just associated the type of new comics you’re talking about with some Souther Salazar comics, like Please Don’t Give Up“, and added that “maybe people were selling some pretty fucking out there comics that are nothing like the work I’m using as a reference point.”

Souther’s work is, I think, a little tame next to some of the pulsating color zines I saw at SPX. And I always found Souther’s work pretty narrative-based, even at its most dense and notebook-like. Chimera and Incanto are also, to me, totally narrative. And they too are pretty tame next to a lot of this “new” work I’m loosely describing.

One of the amazingly beautiful “out there” comics I bought at SPX was PANRAY by Raymond Sohn and Panayiotis Terzis. It is a remarkable, mountain-climbing achievement in terms of drawing, color, printing, and presentation. Like some spectral black-and-white silent movie that is interrupted by searing color patterns and abstractions, the book goes in and out of focus, organically and structurally. It’s beautiful. How do I even begin to describe it? And that’s what I want to get at or at least try to approach: a new way in which to discuss the purely visual elements of comics. There’s often too much emphasis on reading a comic like a novel when really it should be discussed like a painting or a sculpture. Far from dismissing these “out there” comics in my original post, I found myself simply hoping to discuss them and appreciate them better, and to do that I think a broader approach has to be encouraged, towards a less conservative definition of comics.

What I was looking for, or at least curious to find at this SPX, was something of both. I lament the fact that narrative comics, of all types, but specifically strong character-driven stories that are also beautifully drawn like, oh, Gilbert Hernandez’s Speak of the Devil unfortunately don’t seem to exist, or at least not in the embryonic form of new, well-executed mini-comics. That particular example might be a lot to ask — but where is the experimentation and growth in straight-ahead narrative alt mini-comics? Most straight-ahead narrative small press comics (read black-and-white autobio/cutesy big-head) don’t have a quarter of the energy and enthusiasm that the “nonobjective”, “abstract” mini comics have.

I was looking for a little of both and that combo was in short supply. There were, for the most part, silk-screened color out-there “art comics” and black-and-white variations on the same type of alternative mini-comic you’ve seen many times before. The “art” stuff looked and felt fresh. Yet they are, generally, not wholly engaging in comics language or structure. (However loose and arty Chimera and Incanto may be, they are rigorously structured to unfold as a comic narrative.) The “arty” minis from SPX are more interested, it seems, in image-making. And that’s awesome. But as a comics fan who reads a lot of older “mainstream” stuff, I would like to see “literary,” straight-ahead alternative comics-makers take a page from the “art” comics play book and try to adopt different approaches towards storytelling and narrative. And vice versa. I think the “new” crafty mini-comics took a lot of Fort Thunder to heart visually but don’t truck in the same “narrative strategies” as BC, CF, BJ, BR, LG and MB — who all tell stories, however visually challenging or stunning they may be.

And let me say this — I’ve always felt that all comics are inherently narrative because of the form that the book takes. For that matter a single image, an abstract painting, for example, is often narrative. Jackson Pollock‘s paintings are narrative — you can follow him, the story of him working by the lassos of color — and the same is true even with the color field abstractionists like Frankenthaler. It’s just a broader range, a greater bandwidth for inventing narrative.

Using this definition, PANRAY is narrative, too. It has characters that appear to repeat, settings where they interact, and even occasional panel structures. It is a miraculously hewn jewel of a comic. Do I lament that there are no obvious narrator type characters to guide me through the book like a Maggie or Hopey? Not at all.

I simply see this end of the comics spectrum flowering at a lightning-fast rate, absorbing SO much and spitting it back, drawing their asses off year after year. But, and I’m really overgeneralizing here, on the other side of mini-comics world is the umpteenth generation of the Ware/Clowes school, who seem to stay firmly planted in straightforward narrative, “literary” comics. With a few exceptions, nothing’s really changed here in 15 years, kinda like superhero comics. There are very few inventive, straight-ahead narrative “alternative” comics for my taste. I think Kevin Huizenga and Dan Zettwoch are the heirs to this evolving school. They both made (and continue to make) beautiful mini-comics that grew easily into their “professional” work.

But I don’t see work of that par so often these days. Most new minis in this school over the last few years are standard fare. The drawing and production values are weak, and the stories are usually slice o’ life snoozers. If I were to name names I probably couldn’t, because nothing from this camp stood out to me at this SPX. Generally, they make black-and-white minis with maybe a color card stock cover. I’ve talked to a lot of kids who do “alternative” comics, who read mostly “alternative” comics, and who know next to nothing about the history of comics before 1999 (or the history of art). They have this weird attitude towards “art” comics. I see them come up to the PictureBox table and literally sneer at the work displayed. They would be doing themselves a huge favor if they could get over their ingrained distrust for the more “arty” aspect of comics.

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