Monday, May 24, 2010

See Us Go Over the Edge!

The Edggge.

Kick off the Memorial Day weekend plans with a reading and slide show presentation of comics, comics, comics! Join six Bay Area cartoonists, Trevor Alixopulos, Rina Ayuyang, Ben Catmull, Josh Frankel, Renee French and Lark Pien as they showcase their latest comics endeavors!!

Comics Over the Edge!
A Six-cartoonist Reading Event
Thursday, May 27, 7:30pm

Pegasus Books

2349 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA

Trevor Alixopulos,
Rina Ayuyang,
Ben Catmull,
Josh Frankel,
Renee French,
Lark Pien,

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Made-Up Desktop

made-up desktop

When I was a kid, I would draw a series of made-up desktop scenes because I never really had a desk. So I would dream some up and draw them. I wish I had those drawings here so I could scan them into a set. I think they are still at home buried under some notebooks or something in the closet. Just another thing I forgot to do when I was home. So, this is a homage back to those days and especially to White-Out which I would also draw a lot... as well as musilage.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hot Times in Cold Places

A real scholar

Motivated by the comics experience I had in The Burgh, I was excited to be traveling to Canada to exhibit at the Toronto Comics Arts Fetival. After a scary flight in a plane that had propellers, I joined my non-comics friend Annie who would be touring the city while I "slaved" away at the show. The weather was brisk and drizzly. It reminded me of a rainy day on Montmartre. I bought an umbrella at the drug store in the subway, and we strolled to a great nearby Italian restaurant, Cafe Nervosa. Anyway, we tried to walk off our dinner by touring the University of Toronto/Trinity College campus. I am always in love with gothic architecture as Annie models below.

Annie in U of T

That night, I attended the Dan Clowes event at the Toronto Public library (TPL). There was a huge crowd of young and old, very excited and stylish fans. Lots of people with glasses, including me. I was finally happy to get some wi-fi to access important business documents like Facebook and Gmail Chat. I realized that during the Q&A, a lot of people were staring at me, but I realized it was only because I was in front of this:

The cover on HD

It was a great Q&A session. It was nice to hear about Clowes' progression from his very early work in Cracked magazine to his new book, "Wilson." I read an advance copy on the drive home from Stumptown the month before and it really made me happy. There are so many layers of narrative going on in there. I was kind of sad to hear that he won't be doing anymore Eightball issues, only because of nostalgia reasons I suppose, because of course it'll always be exciting to see any work by Dan Clowes in whatever format. It was also fun to hear that he's working on a movie with Michel Gondry and his son.

During the Q&A, there was torrential downpour which lasted through the night, even the CN Tower was struck by lightning. So I headed out really early the next day to set up the Sparkplug booth.

Sparkplug Canadien

Here is what I like to call Sparkplug Comic Books Express because if you've ever seen Dylan Williams and Sparkplug at other shows, you will see that he has massive amounts of minicomics and graphic novels at his table. It's kind of insane, really. It was fun talking to people about the books Sparkplug carries. Many of the attendees were interested in Sparkplug's art comics offerings. It was pretty hard for me to get away from the table, but managed to talk to a variety of people, bookbinders, bookstore owners, novelists, zinesters.. at one point there was this man scolding me for not having a central female superhero in my book so that I could break into the movie business. That was a fun debate! Also, I got to meet Andy Brown from Conundrum Press who published "Guilded Lilies" one of my favorite books by Jillian Tamaki. Also, Alan Hunt, who is a fan of The Comix Claptrap, the comics podcast that Thien Pham and I co-host, came over and reassured me that he's not as annoyed by us as I thought he was.

The Publishers Pavillion

Sparkplug was set up in the Publishers Pavillion, a conference room shared by the likes of Fantagraphics, Brett Warnock for Top Shelf, and Dan Nadel of Picturebox. I was sequestered in the corner, but managed to sell a good amount of stuff and got a lot of traffic considering that we were separated from the main hall which was packed to the gills. At one point the room smelled like spoiled food in a refrigerator, but The TCAF volunteers did a great job of helping us out any which way they could, and made a determined-borderline-obsessive effort at directing the flow of traffic to and from the room which I appreciated. It was fun being neighbors with Vancouver's Ed Brisson of New Reliable Press, Jason Turner and Jeff Ellis of Cloudscape Comics. What was fun was that Annie and I bumped into Jeff at the Real Thailand restaurant on Bathurst the next evening. We had dinner together and had a nice discussion about Vancouver, the Olympics, web comics, and issues of sending books through U.S/Canadian customs. He made a great point that we as small press people should work together to make moving our books through our borders a lot more efficient, cheaper and easier.

Anne Koyama

I also got the great pleasure to meet Anne Koyama of Koyama Press, who is an inspiration. She is the publisher of Michael DeForge's comics series "Lose" which won a Doug Wright award that weekend. She really seems to nurture the artists she works with and publishes, and was really upbeat the entire weekend. I hope to see her at this year's APE.

When not slacking off at the Drawn and Quarterly booth, Tom Devlin visited the table with Gigi and Woody! They are the cutest, right? Tom made sure to remind me that I was neglecting my son, especially during Mother's Day. You're the best, Tom!

The one thing that made my day was when Woody waved at me later from across the room. Don't you love when kids do that? When you wave at them and then they decide minutes, maybe an hour later to wave back on their own terms? I am in love with Woody and Gigi, seriously.

watching the Pens in Hemmingway's Pub

Saturday night, Annie and I went to a pub so that I could see the Pens game. I mean, we're in hockey country, right?!? You HAVE to! Most of the patrons were rooting for the Habs, which is understandable, although I had a conversation with a fellow who just visited Pittsburgh days before. After the game (the Pens won), a rugby team took over the joint and sang "standards" from the digital jukebox like "I Think We're Alone Now" (Tiffany's version) and selections from Meatloaf. One of them had a Pitt Panthers cap on. ?!? Good times!

Honest Ed's at Bathhurst

Oh, and Saturday, we got went over to Bathurst for some spicy Korean food to warm us from the lake-effect chill. Of course, we went inside Honest Ed's just to say we did and also to get some packing tape.

Breakfast on Sunday

Sunday morning, a nice breakfast at a cafe on Cumberland. Then at the show, the crowds were not as crazy in the Publishers Pavillion. We were thinking that it was because of Mother's Day, but when I got a chance to take a break outside, the main floor was still as packed as it was Saturday. My biggest thrill was talking to Chester Brown, finally. I forgot, with all the craziness, that one of the reasons I wanted to go to TCAF was to meet him. His book "I Never Liked You" was one of the first books that inspired me to do my own mini-comic. Hopefully, if all goes well next year, you might hear him on an episode of The Comix Claptrap.

Overall TCAF was a fun and interesting experience. It was nice to see work by Canadian and French cartoonists. It seemed like a lot of people felt a real comics communal atmosphere which I guess I take for granted since I get a chance to go to shows of a similar nature like Stumptown in Portland or APE in San Francisco. Many thanks to Chris Butcher for inviting me to represent Sparkplug. Also thanks to cartoonist MK Reed and Greg Means, my publisher for their help and support during the show. And of course, Annie, my travel buddy! So, that was my Sort Of East Coast Whirlwind Tour experience! Had so much fun!

So glad to be back to with my guys again! I was missing them a lot and my only wish was that were traveling with me! Perhaps, we'll do it, maybe someday when I am not afraid to fly with a toddler sitting next to me.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Whirlwinding into Pittsburgh, PA

North Shore

Ah! I made it back to the Burgh! (aka PGH, aka Pittsburgh PA, aka The City of Bridges, etc..) It's been about 6-7 years since I made the trip back, mainly delayed because I hate to fly. God, what a wimp. Anyway, I made it safe and sound at 12am on Saturday morning, got the rental car (did you know that an HHR is considered Economy size?) and listened to Trevor Alixopulos' Spring Mix while driving in the dark, on the winding I-276. It was good to be home again.

Saturday early morning, I enjoyed a fun phone conversation with Anne Reilly from the Pittsburgh City Paper while standing outside of the Epworth Church's flea market. While my mom got 3 boxes of random stuff like found photographs and a clock with a hobo drinking beer, I talked to Anne about the book and the Burgh. She did this nice write up for the reading that was to come at the ToonSeum. You can read the article here. By the way, Epworth Church's volunteers make a mean cup of Joe! No kidding!

After eating some potato pancakes at Eat N Park, I went to my old local library since I am addicted to the internet, and that is the closest place besides Starbucks where I could get WI-FI-connected. The Shaler North Hills library was where I took out many of the graphic novels/comics that inspired me to make comics like Art Spiegelman's "RAW" anthologies, Chester Gould's "Dick Tracy", and Dave Breger's "How to Draw and Sell Comics" among many, many others. They had a decent collection of newer graphic novels including Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit?!?!! I also discovered the following book in the Mystery section......!

David King!!! I don't care, David. I love this cover, okay?

Sunday, I attended my first Pens games versus the Montreal Canadiens! We lost, but it was so much fun. Great seats along the blue line, jumbo chicken nachos and an RC cola. Spectacular. It was great to be in the Igloo one last time. I know, this isn't really interesting to comics people unless Tony Millionaire was playing center, so let's talk about the reading that I was totally nervous about all week long!

As you can tell, there was nothing on the screen. There were laptop issues, but that's okay!!! Who needs technology when we got books! So we did the reading the old-fashioned way for a change, or what I refer to as "The John Porcellino Way" of doing a reading. The last time I got to see a John P. comics reading was when he was on tour for his book, "The Diary of A Mosquito Abatement Man". He read straight from his book and people sat and just listened to his voice. John has a nice voice, seriously. In this case, I read from the laptop and people shared the books and followed along. My voice was probably not as soothing as John's, but everything went well and to quote from the book, "Dad was a hit! L-O-L!" ... again! Thanks to Carmen, Maureen, and Chelsea for attending too!

Here I am signing books, with Harold Behar, in the background looking with approval.

I finally got to meet some of the great Pittsburgh cartoonists that I only knew through the their books or Le Internet, like Pat Lewis, creator of the mini comic series, "Cragmore." If you want smart funny dialogue with stylish artwork, which you DO, you need to get his stuff, okay? Also, it was great to see cartoonist Rachel Masilamani, creator of the Xeric award-winning RPM Comics. I am eagerly anticipating her 3rd issue of the series like.. NOW, PRONTO!

Oh, look! Superstar Ed Piskor! Just a great dude all around. He gave me the first 3 installments of his self-published comic series "Wizzywig" which I read right when I got home. (Ed, DO NOT re-draw the first volume, or I will do harm!)

Awh, and here's class-act, Jim Rugg, Mr. Street Angel/Afrodesiac! I found out that Jim lives pretty close to where I used to live -- "close" meaning you only have to take ONE winding road to get from my house to his.. I think? He didn't give me his address, because, I mean, let's face it, Jim's too smart for that, you know? I am cheating because this picture was from TCAF, but Jim looks good in all types of weather, right?

The ToonSeum is a real special place and I'm really honored that I got to do a reading there. Many thanks to John Mattie, Harold Behar, and John Reilly Morgan who helped out with the event. My only regret was that I didn't get to see museum director Joe Wos, but his presence was definitely felt. The atmosphere was so inspiring and positive. The Akira exhibit that they currently have up is just mesmerizing. If you are in town, you should definitely go see it.

Oh, and to make the moment event more sensational, they let me draw something on their Wall of Fame. Oh my goodness, Lynda Barry!

You know, this PGH comics report would not be complete if I didn't mention the esteemed Bill Boichel, owner of the fantastic Copacetic Comics store.

This store is a real gem! It has everything I could ever ask for in a comics store!

The store is in this quiet part of Squirrel Hill. I mean, who would not want a store like this in their neighborhood?!? I finally got to see the place before the move to Polish Hill. Thank god I did... lots of mini-comics, limited edition issues... just great quality stuff!

Just when I was getting so comfortable and retaining my Pittsburgh accent (using the word "Yinzer" a whole lot than I ever did before), it was time for me to bring all of this comics inspiration up north to Canada at the Toronto Comics Festival. More about that on tomorrow's blog post!!

Thanks Pittsburgh, you'll always be home to me! Till Next Time!