IT FEELS LIKE it’s been a thousand years since we last spoke. This is probably because so much has been going on. Worlds have changed. Universes have collided. We’ve got a ton of stuff to tell you, so there won’t be much editorializing (since we kind of blew our bitchy wad on the last post). Besides, you know we’ll deliver the dirt after the Big Show.
Speaking of the Big Show, it’s the most wonderful time of the year for us artsy comics folk. Yes, it is the Small Press Expo once again. If you want to see what the comics community looks like, get yourself down to Bethesda this weekend. Bethesda is definitely not the most obvious locale for the spiritual pursuit of comics, but it is home to the Marriott, aka Comics Camp. Once you’re there, there is no escaping. This will be our fifth SPX. Our fourth was both our most glorious moment as publishers and our most harrowing. Who can say what this one will bring?
Well, we can say. We’re bringing The Understanding Monster, the new book from Theo Ellsworth. It’s a departure for just about everybody. If you’ve never experienced Theo’s work before, you’re in for a shock. You’re in for a shock even if you’ve read everything he’s done. This will be the first full-length fiction comic from Theo. It’s also the first volume of three. You’ll be getting one a year. We’re breaking new ground here, as well. It’s our first hardcover and our first full-color book. Did we mention how big this thing is? It’s big. It will take you a while to get everything that’s in it out of it. The Understanding Monster is a trip.
Also making the trip to SPX will be Wayward Girls 2. Michiel Budel has been pushing the limits with his comic since he got started. The first issue nearly got us jail time. In this second installment of Wayward Girls, the stories have gotten a little longer and more developed, but no less dangerous. We’re grateful that we don’t need to stop at customs to bring this to you.
While we did okay at SPX’s Ignatz Awards last year (meaning we cleaned the fuck up), we are extremely proud that our resident All-American Boy Scout, Mike Dawson, has gotten yet another nod, this time for Outstanding Graphic Novel, for his rightfully ubiquitous Troop 142. We need your vote, fellow countrymen. Stuff those ballot boxes. Vote early and often. Disenfranchise the competition if you have to, because if Mike wins this one, he has personally guaranteed he will cry. Okay, he didn’t cry the last time Troop 142 won an Ignatz, but we promise to wax his nipples if he fails to squirt a few on this go. Besides, this book deserves it. For full disclosure, our lady of the Acres, Minty Lewis, and our man with a plan, Edie Fake, were on the nominating committee. We’re extra proud of them, too, because all the nominations are pretty badass.
You can find the Acres gang on three different panels this year. Mike will be moderating “Drawing Out Childhood,” with guests (and old pals) Julia Wertz, Derf Backderf, John Porcellino and MariNaomi. Theo will be joined by Michael Deforge, Jim Rugg and Hellen Jo for “Drawing Energy.” Finally, yours truly will be under fire from Heidi MacDonald, aka the Beat, but at least we’ll be sitting with Box Brown, John Porcellino (he’s everywhere and all over) and the Greatest of All Time, Annie Koyama (she hates that kind of praise, but we love her, anyway) – and this thing is called “Publishing During the Apocalypse.” Not a joke.
There’s been plenty of other stuff happening in the meanwhile. Sean Ford has been feeling the love for his Only Skin from IndieReader‘s Sarah Morean (If you don’t know who she is, look her up. We’ll wait.). Edie got a shoutout from the awesome Bitch Magazine. Gabby Schulz, the former Ken Dahl, was the recipient of some seriously glowing praise from Comics Bulletin for Monsters (which has to be the longest wait for a review we’ve ever seen). Mike got in trouble with Trouble With Comics, and his Ink Panthers Show! had one of their best spots ever with episode 142 (no relation to Troop 142), “The Voyage Home.” Theo had himself a big exhibit at Giant Robot, an enormous interview at Newsarama, and you can even see a preview of the rather large The Understanding Monster on the Beat.
If you’re in New York City or somewhere else but have the means to get to Brooklyn, you owe it to yourself to make the trip this Thursday night. Theo’s going to be signing The Understanding Monster at Brooklyn’s own Bergen Street Comics. The beer and bubbly start flowing at 8PM, so make sure you eat first. Get there on time, and you just might get one of these Theo-drawn Cubeecraft dolls (Assembly required, but, come on, look at that thing.).
Here’s something we’ve been very quiet about: on September 7th, 2012, Secret Acres turned five years old. We owe all of you, badly, for carrying us this far. We will do our best to live up to your support for many more years to come.
Sometime before our fifth, we got the keys to our first office. Secret Acres, named after a house that is no longer with us, is a place again. We’ve got .00390266 acres to be precise. It’s nice to have a home. But we’ve got to hit the road. See you in a bit.
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!