ON A WING and a prayer, we are flying to the inaugural Chicago Alternative Comics Expo, aka CAKE. This marks the first occasion that Secret Acres has gone airborne since Stumptown of 2010, which seems both difficult to believe and fitting, considering the very nature of our CAKE debut, Weather. It’s a swift, beautiful, existentialist poop joke of a comic from Gabby Schulz, the artist formerly known as Ken Dahl, mostly taking place at 40,000 feet above the earth. It’s the return (and possibly end) of Gabby’s premier avatar, Gordon Smalls, and it’s the first print comic from Mr. Schulz since Monsters (which has won or been nominated for more awards than we care to count since its release way back in 2009).
Ironically, Gabby himself will be making the CAKE trip by car, while Sean Ford will flying in along with his Only Skin. Only Skin has been feeling the love lately, from Bleeding Cool, the Mindhut, Graphic Eye, Paste Magazine and kinda sorta (but mostly sorta) Dave Ex Machina. Not a bad haul at all. Believe it or not, Mike Dawson and his Troop 142 have gotten some shoutouts lately, from our favorite Optical Sloth and the monolith of comics criticism, the Comics Journal.
Speaking of the TCJ review, we had a little fun on Twitter telling everyone that the book was demolished by Rob Clough. For the record, Mike started it. People clicked on those links hard enough to break them. What is it about a fight that gets everyone running? A little while back on this here Scuttlebutt blog, we went after MoCCA a bit and got like a million hits from all over the world. We sang the praises of TCAF and got crickets. Perhaps it’s the Big Two fanning the troll flames with enormous, deformed tits, or maybe it’s big budget prequels messing with the fanboy canon, but boy are folks touchy these days! While there’s been lots of fun and valuable talk about creator rights sneaking into these flame wars, it’s making publisher into a dirty word. We’re on your side, we swear. Maybe we’ll we tear CAKE a new one in the wrap-up just to get your attention.
For full disclosure, our man, Mr. Gaylord Phoenix himself, Edie Fake is one of the folks running CAKE (Yes, there’s no k in comics. No, they did not call it the Chicago ACE. Yes, there might be cake there.). He’s got some new books, too, in a manner of speaking. Edie’s showing up in Fantagraphics’ No Straight Lines, which sounds fantastic and includes some stuff straight out of Gaylord Phoenix, and Seven Stories Press will have more Edie in The Graphic Canon. Though he will probably be too busy being the host with the most to hang out at the Acres CAKE table (number 36 on the map), Edie will be moderating the Comics in Chicago panel on Sunday.
We really have no idea what to expect of CAKE, but looking at the programming and guest list, it’s shaping up to be a monster. If you can’t make CAKE, we have some surprises in the Emporium for you. Now on the digital shelves is the latest from Jon Allen, Vactionland, new-ish pal Sean K.‘s Rust Belt, Jumbly Junkery issues 9 and 10 from superstar L. Nichols, the second issue of the awesome Genus from Anuj Shrestha, The Complete Talamaroo by Alabaster (published by that upstart Hic & Hoc gang) and, if you just have to have more Edie, Gay Genius, from our friends at Sparkplug and Annie Murphy. See, that’s practically a con in itself.
We’ll be right back with a CAKE report, gunz blazin’ and knives out!
Barry and Leon
What happens when Bigfoot meets the Breeders? Why, our Scuttlebutt TCAF wrap-up, of course! You'd think we were kidding, but we're not. If it weren't for Bigfoot, we'd never had gotten to meet the Breeders and see them play Last Splash front to back way up in Toronto. This has nothing to do with comics, but then most of what happens at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival has nothing to do with comics. It's really about the dancing. And the singing. And the topless singing. Worry not, we did get Capacity 8 unboxed and there were no border issues for anyone (except for Casey). We even made it to our panel, first thing Saturday morning. That may have been perfect timing, because it was something like Between Two Ferns meets group therapy. We're lucky bastards, for sure, but we missed the Comics Reporter, Tom Spurgeon, singing Bette Midler's the Rose (and, no, he was not topless). If any of you have video of this, or pictures of Drawn and Quarterly's jean vests, please, oh, please get back to us. Read on...
Finally, we are hitting the asphalt for our first road trip of the year. It's a long drive to the Toronto Comics Arts Festival and we are carrying some precious cargo as usual. Theo Ellsworth is being delivered via airmail, with fellow Acres Brendan Leach, Joe Lambert and Edie Fake meeting us there. Sean Ford has called shotgun, and Capacity 8 is in the boot. Capacity 8 is one of those surprise births with which we are regularly blessed here at Secret Acres. It's also the first time anyone in our gang has dropped a new story for a series that we've collected. Capacity, Theo's big, fat book, is a complete thing, for sure. The eighth issue is all new territory, but it's still all true. In a way. In that Capacity way. Oh, and we'll be kicking off first thing Saturday with a small press panel featuring pals and heroes, Koyama Press, Rebus Books and Grimalkin Press, too. This year's Acresmobile comic mule is the legendary Dash Shaw. Alas, last year's hitcher, MK Reed, is too lazy to make it to TCAF. Everyone else better be heading up - or catching Eamon Espey's Ishi's Brain show in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Yeah, we're looking at you. We're standing right behind you. No, the other way. Anyhow, there's explicit instructions up on Scuttlebutt.
PEOPLE OF THE SEATTLE: Tonight's the night! Go watch Eamon Espey and Lisa Krause as they bring their show, Ishi's Brain, to Hugo House. Which is in Seattle. Ishi's Brain is based on Eamon's story of the same name from his Secret Acres collection, Songs of the Abyss. Lisa Krause is an artist and puppeteer of Bread and Puppet fame, among other things. It's quite a unique experience and pretty much beats the hell of out any old, regular reading. They are on tour all over the country, but there's something fitting about performing Ishi in Seattle. You know, because Seattle is strange and dark and there are scary woodlands and coffee. The Richard Hugo House is also something to see in itself. They have a writers' residence for zinesters (currently held by ZAPP), classes on seemingly everything, a focus on a local writing community and, of course, performances. Go. Have fun. Report back to us. Even the Stranger says to check it out. See...
Stranger things have certainly happened, but it would appear our man, Theo Ellsworth, will have not one, but two debuts at the Toronto Comics Arts Festival. Yes, we will have the eighth issue of his ongoing Capacity (the first since our enormous collection of that title), but we'll tell you more about that later. Meanwhile, we knew Theo was working on a comic for an anthology, but we didn't realize it was the fourth Alternative Comics anthology. You may or may not be aware, but Alternative Comics published some truly amazing things, like Jeff Lewis' True Swamp and Steven Weissman's Yikes (yes, this was before Fantagraphics took over). Then they took some time off. Now they're back. Also included in this anthology are Alternative Comics graduate James Kochalka, this guy named Craig Thompson, the adorable Noah Van Sciver and #cybergang leader, Alex Schubert, to name a few. Get up to TCAF because it's amazing, and Theo and most of the Alternative Comics crew will be there to sign the thing. Collect them all!
On a more important note than usual: 282 Broadway is where the party has been for, well, seems like forever now. What the hell is that, you ask? It's the home address for Domino Books and Revival House and Rebus. It's known sometimes as Bill K's Place, as in Bill Kartalopoulos. Just about everyone who has ever attended or exhibited at a comics event in New York City or, hell, ever drawn a comic while in city limits, has been exhausted, high, drunk or lost in that apartment while rubbing elbows with their heroes. We've written plenty on our blog, about their comics and their parties, too. Now they're moving out. We're telling you this because these guys need a new home. Go buy some comics from them. Forget the good cause, their books are amazing and we've been seethingly jealous of their good work, so if you like us, help them and get some great stuff for yourself. Everybody wins!