IT’S A DISASTER AREA, literally (and not in the way people who fry every other syllable say literally, but in the literal definition of the word), for several of the Acres gang after that motherfucker Sandy flew through here, and we don’t mean Duncan, for once. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mike Dawson and his clan. He’s been beset with desperate vibes at the Home Depot somewhere in the depths of New Jersey, but he has been brilliantly trained in the art of survival (see Troop 142). Anyhow, though we may be powerless, we are not exactly powerless. There’s a riot going on, so pay close attention. There will be a quiz.
First off, weather permitting, there is still a Short Run happening in sunny Seattle this weekend. We couldn’t get it together to attend the inaugural small press event, but it’s back, it’s bigger, it’s better and it’s got Sean Ford and Theo Ellsworth to boot. Those guys will have have Only Skin and the Understanding Monster and a host of our very finest books and things. Not to mention, Theo usually comes armed with irresistible prints and originals. You’ll count yourself lucky to get them even if you go broke at the Secret Acres table. But, really, spread the love, guys. Kill those cash machines. Like we did for MECAF, we will do our best to coerce our guys to write up the show on this here blog. (You did such a good job, Sean! Really!)
The following weekend, that’s November 10th, for those of you keeping up, is the big, bad Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival in, um, Brooklyn. The guest list is absurd. As usual, the programming is unbelievable. Just go click on that link and come back to us. Forget about Chris Ware, that guy is all over. Oliver Shrauwen is going to be there. Like that ever happens. Don’t forget we’ll be there, too, and we’re ganged up: Edie Fake, Sean Ford, Sam Gaskin, Joseph Lambert and, of course, Eamon Epsey will be at and around our setup.
More importantly, Eamon will be sporting his new book and our last book of the year, Songs of the Abyss. It’s a delightful tune of a book, featuring Santa Claus! It makes a wonderful holiday gift. Not only will this be the first book from Eamon since his much beloved Wormdye, it will be the first Secret Acres comic to have a live adaptation.
In collaboration with Lisa Krause, of Black Cherry Puppet Theatre (and Bread and Puppet) fame, Eamon’s brought his Songs of the Abyss story, “Ishi’s Brain,” into the third dimension, with an original score from Stephen Santillan, formerly of More Dogs (Thank You, Ghost Life). Playing host to such madness is none other than Matt Thurber, the god who birthed the legendary 1-800-MICE. Along with Lisa and Eamon’s performance, Dongery, the Norwegian comics collective, will be having a book release party, for a collection of their work. It’s 1,456 pages long. Yep. This all happens ahead of BCGF, this Friday the 9th at 8PM, at Matt Thurber’s gallery, Tomato House. We won’t say you have to go, because you’re not obligated, but if you miss this, you might never forgive yourself. Or us. But we warned you.
Meanwhile, there’s been a bunch of love going around for our crew. Ahead of the game, ahead of even the book itself, City Paper has the advanced word on Songs of the Abyss and the “Ishi’s Brain” show right here. The Understanding Monster has withstood and conquered the critical eyes of the Comics Journal (more to come from those guys), Bookslut (one of the more moving reviews ever written about one of our books, we thought), his hometown Missoula Independent, Page 45, Comics Books are Burning in Hell, Under the Radar (whose only complaint was the color being a tad dark, which you can hang right on us and consider this a review a 10/10) and Paste (who were iffy on the book but loved the color, which you can credit to Theo’s genius). Oh, and Theo had this rather phenomenal interview with Tom Spurgeon aka the Comics Reporter. Joe Lambert got his own interview from Robin McConnell, the man that is Inkstuds. There was a comics format review of Wayward Girls by Suzette Smith that we somehow missed the first time. We’re not even sure how to link to this, but one of our nation’s greatest writers, Victor LaValle tweeted this about Only Skin. We will never get over that one and we will never get over the loss of the Ink Panthers Show!, which: what the hell, guys? If you want to bring the show back, you need to write Alex Robinson an actual letter and send it to his actual home. We have his actual address and we will actually give it to you. Just ask us.
Okay, that’s enough. No, it isn’t. There’s new stuff in the Emporium from Brendan Leach, Dakota McFadzean and Sean Christensen among others. And we should tell you there are new Koyama Press books in there, too, from folks like Dustin Harbin. Have a look. We’re sure you’ll find something you like.
We know we promised a sneak at next year’s books, but the lawyers said we couldn’t. Really. See you next time, hopefully, for some guest blogging and a wrap-up of Short Run. That’s where all the dirt is, anyway.
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!