Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Mini-Comics Interview

There’s an interview about mini-comics with some jackass over at Simon Sandall’s While you’re over there, check out the past interview list, which includes interviews with Tom Gauld, Eric Reynolds, Ivan Brunetti, and artist Jeff Soto. Lots of good stuff.

While I’m thinking of interviews, I wanted to mention a newish blog named Graphic Language by good pals Kevin, Chris, and Ed. This week Graphic Language has an interview with Alex Cox of Rocketship, a must visit comics store if you are ever anywhere near their neighborhood.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Press Release from Family Style for Elfworld

Received the following from Family Style mini-comics stylist François Vigneault over the weekend:

Family Style is proud to be publishing the long-awaited "Elfworld" Vol. 1 in Fall of 2006!

"Elfworld" was the brainchild of indy-comics superstar Jeffrey Brown; an anthology of fantasy-themed comics by a wide range of alternative, independent, and self-published cartoonists. Although there was a lot of interest in the comics community and tons of submissions poured in, Brown found himself deluged by his more pressing assignments, and unfortunately "Elfworld" was put on the back burner for what promised to be an indefinite time.

At this year's Alternative Press Expo, young cartoonist (and member of the Family Style artistic collective) François Vigneault bought a copy of "The Basilisk" by Kazimir Strzepek. "He told me that he had originally drawn it for Jeffrey Brown's anthology, which was actually the first time I had heard of it," says Vigneault. "My first thought was that I wanted to contribute to it, but then Kaz told me that Jeffrey wasn't ever going to do it, so I had the audacious thought of editing and publishing it myself. I approached Jeffrey and asked him if he was planning to finish "Elfworld", and if not, if I could have it. 'What's your address?' was his response!"

The first volume of "Elfworld" will consist almost entirely of submissions created for Jeffrey Brown's original anthology and selected by François Vigneault. The 96 page, black & white book will feature fantasy-themed stories from over a dozen artists from across the indie-comics spectrum: Jeferey Brown, Martin Cendera, Erik Nebel & Jesse Reklaw, Matt Weigle & Sean Collins, Ron Regé Jr. & Souther Salazar, Grant Reynolds, Liz Prince, K. Thor Jensen, Jason Overby, Ansis, Dalton Sharp, Jason & Jody Turner, and Dave McKenna. There will also be a new, fully-painted cover by Jesse Reklaw. The book will be designed by Jonas Madden-Connor (another member of the Family Style collective).

The stories range from lyrically beautiful to absurdly funny, and the each author approaches the fantasy-inspired subject matter in a unique and often unusual manner; the overall result is a book that sure to please those who love the fantasy genre outright, those for whom it's a guilty pleasure (old D&D manuals hidden away in their closets?), and anyone with an appreciation for independent comics. "It seems like the perfect time for this kind of project," says Vigneault. "Jonas [Madden-Connor] and I have been working on our own fantasy collaboration for almost a year now, and I feel like I keep seeing new work that has a sort of fantastic bent, everything from "Basewood" by Alec Longstreth to "Crickets" by Sammy Harkham. It's like everyone's on the same wavelength." The first volume of "Elfworld" is currently scheduled to come out in October/November of this year.

François Vigneault is currently soliciting submissions for "Elfworld" Vol. 2 (currently planned for 2007), and Family Style intends to publish another book annually thereafter.

Family Style is a small group of cartoonists and other artists working out of the San Francisco Bay Area. They collectively publish several small-press comics and zines, their flagship title Family Style Jamboree has recently hit issue no. 7. "Elfworld" will be their most ambitious project to date.

For more information, links to "Elfworld" contributors, and submission guidelines for future volumes of "Elfworld" please visit:

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

J. Chris Campbell - He makes a lot of mini-comics
Last year at SPX, J. Chris Campbell handed me what he calls his "Fat Pack." No, the term “Fat Pack” is not a euphemism for something dirty, it’s a plain brown envelope stuffed with mini-comics - a lot of mini-comics. It’s kind of a daunting package, really, but I sat down with it last night and picked out a few minis of his that stood out. The first thing that strikes you about Campbell’s minis, is that they all have nice color covers. Most of them are quarter paper sized, cut in half on the vertical line so they are wider than they are tall. A couple of them are quarter page sized, and one is an eighth of a page size. Once you open them, another thing jumps out at you. Campbell focuses on the figures and their speech; there’s very little background and almost no shading. It’s comic making stripped down to lines, shapes, and word balloons. His comics are short, sweet, and usually absurd.

In Save Me a man is stranded on the top of a tall rock in the middle of the ocean. A pirate ship pulls up and offers to rescue him, but the man has no money. The conversation is very dry and polite between the two parties, but the pirate ship begins to pull away saying, “Good day then,” once it’s apparent the man has no way to pay for his passage. As the ship pulls away, the desperate man screams, “I’ll give you 5,000 for safe passage to Alderaan.” Well, everyone knows that Alderaan is no more. But then again, this is a tale about pirates, maybe they mean a different Alderaan. No, it’s the same Alderaan, and the pirate politely explains that Alderaan is no more, “I’m afraid I have bad news…”

So is a wordless mini that has a different feel to it. Much of Campbell’s work is done with the aid of a computer, but this one is totally freehand. The lines have a bit more life to them, although maybe it’s the story that involves a ladybug, an aphid, a rabbit, a bird, a lizard, an alien, and a top. The bunny is watching the ladybug as it struggles on its back. The top has landed on a see saw and knocked the ladybug off. All the characters get involved in this drama, but the bird is upset that the alien disturbed its newly hatched chicks.

I liked Mail Stop the best out of all the mini-comics in the “Fat Pack.” It matches Campbell’s subtle sense of humor in his comics, which often takes several pages to be revealed. A guy is standing at a mailbox, we assume it’s his own mailbox, opening and reading the mail. He laughs at a funny card, and then whines about TV Guide’s take on the upcoming fall season. But it’s not his mailbox. It’s not his mail. It’s his ex-wife’s, or ex-girlfriend’s, mailbox and she discovers him reading through her mail. I read this at Barnes & Noble last night and almost spit coffee out of my nose.

Another thing I enjoy about Campbell’s mini-comics is the little notes in the indices. After the copyright statement and all the legal yap, he sometimes puts in a little message; maybe it’s about where to get the best sweet tea or a problem he’s having with his back. In Mail Stop it’s a little message about our hero Lewis and what happens to him after he’s busted going through someone else’s mail. You can get a copy of Mail Stop at the Wide Awake Press website for $2. You should go do that now, it’s 40 pages of fun.

You can also still get the “Fat Pack” from Campbell’s website for only $25. That’s about a dozen mini-comics and a now a copy of Zig Zag # 1 from AdHouse Books.

Monday, May 15, 2006

S.P.A.C.E. Pictures
Pat Lewis and a bunch of other crazy looking people went to SPACE this past weekend. He took some pictures and you can see them here.

More pictures here by Matt Kish by way of Dara from Ferret Press. Scroll down for pictuers and goodies from S.P.A.C.E.

Updated: More pictures from S.P.A.C.E. These are from Matt of DC Conspiracy. Thanks, Matt.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Art Show
We went to a friend’s art show last night, but it definitely wasn’t your typical gallery show. As an art teacher for kindergarten through 8th grade kids, Sila’s dedication and talent show through the enthusiasm of the students she teaches. Many times we were stuck in front of a drawing or painting marveling at a perceived disconnect between the art and the grade that we expected the artist to be in. Kids from the third grade were picking up on concepts that high school art students struggle with at times. The projects were carefully chosen to teach art concepts like warm tones versus cool tones, but at the same time Sila made sure to mix up the texture, medium and subject matter to appeal to the different age groups.

Children’s art strikes me for many reasons, but the thing that I think really sticks out is that they aren’t afraid of falling on their faces when they make art. That voice that tries to hold them back from taking chances hasn’t developed yet.

I mentioned something similar last year over at Comic World News, but I couldn’t get past that again on the drive home.

I took several pictures and uploaded a few that weren’t totally crooked or featuring an unexpected human head and torso walking by as the main subject.

This one kind of read like a comic; it even has a panel that refers to Marvel Comics.
These were some of my favorite drawings. They kind of reminded me of something you might see in an issue of Paper Rodeo.

Sila picked several artists and allowed the kids to come up with their own interpretations of a famous work. You could tell this kindergarten class really liked The Scream.
Here’s Klee.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Not mini-comics, but I couldn't resist.

Fantagraphics to publish E.C. Segar's Popeye beginning in September.
Kim Thompson says the cover is just a mock-up and that the covers will be designed by Jacob Covey, who did an excellent job with the Fanta pin-up books.

Thanks to Tom at Comics Reporter for his always sharp eye for these kinds of things. And big thanks to Fantagraphics for recognizing the value in these amazing old strips, and for actually doing something with them so we can enjoy them.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

SPACE is this Saturday

Thanks go out to Larned Justin who pointed out that S.P.A.C.E. is this weekend (May 13th) in Columbus, Ohio. I won’t be able to make it, but after looking over the exhibitor list I’m really wishing I could. This year they have more than 180 exhibitors (tables are sold out), and it looks like the best list of creators that S.P.A.C.E. has ever had.

Go here and scroll down for the list that includes creator links.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Amish Elf by Chris Kerr

Santa, at least I think it’s Santa, gets pissed off at an elf and banishes him to some bizarre hole in the wall. The elf escapes into the forest only to get waylaid by a wizard. Said elf is now dead, but an Amish farmer buys the land where the elf’s bones are buried. After the farmer plants a field of corn, the elf is reincarnated or reborn as an ear of corn with a little elf face.

At this point you’re only on page 7. It gets much more bizarre – and more wonderful – in this 24 page mini-comic.

The Amish Elf is a silent and almost completely caption-free comic, but it’s easy to track the journey that Kerr devises for his tiny little protagonist. Beyond the story though, and much more important in this mini, is Kerr’s enthusiasm for drawing. Look, he doesn’t seem to be the most technically proficient comic artist out there, but he’s not trying to be either. There’s a joy and playfulness in his illustrations that’s lacking in artists that try too hard. I know, I see it in my own attempts at mini-comics.

On a few pages, Kerr abandons his unadorned lines and just sketches for fun. In this page he’s drawing things in nature; the page is so different from his other art in this mini. I like looking at the dark eye of the hawk and seeing the ink marks, spiral after spiral, line upon line, forming a dark circle. The imperfection, the not quite blacked out eye, exposes the human hand at work, giving the page an organic aspect.
Before I give you the contact info for Kerr, I’ve got to share this page. Regardless of what anyone tells you, even me at some later date, this is one of the most perfect comic pages ever created. You’re free to disagree of course, but you would be wrong.

The Amish Elf is $5. I got my copy at Quimby's. You could also try contacting Chris Kerr through his web site, where I noticed all kinds of neat art.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Something besides my face
My scanner is ailing so I haven't posted any reviews since I got back from vacation. But I can't stand looking at that picture anymore, so how bout some mini-comics links?
Jaime Tanner's "Robochrist."
This seems like a good excuse to link to Jaime Tanner's blog.

The Bodega Shop has some good looking minis in stock.

On the Partyka website I noticed the latest Paping looks damn fine. Check out the four page preview.

Check out the pretty colors. Onsmith's Triptych of the Primary Colors as Cartoon Characters.

Another one of those how to make a mini-comic tutorials. This one is by Gerry Alanguilan. Thanks to Aaron Dumin for pointing this out.

And finally, an online Leif Goldberg Wildlife Refuge. Because I love you all. This comic always helps me get the funk out of a rainy morning.