WELL, it wasn’t what we’d hoped it would be, but it wasn’t a total waste for us at the Locust Moon show down in Philly. It started with some confusion about the start time, as the Facebook page and the Locust Moon site and e-mails all listed a different hour. These weren’t the most communicative organizers we’ve ever not talked to.
Then a couple of headliners backed out at the last minute. We felt bad telling folks who came by our table looking to get their copies of Multiple Warheads signed that Brandon Graham was not to be found in the room. Not that Brandon would have been sitting with us, though that would have been just fine, too. Our gang showed up as promised, meaning yours trulies, Sean Ford (with Only Skin) and Eamon Espey (with Songs of the Abyss). We did, of course, come ready with our Koyama books in tow.
The result? The Koyama books outsold our own. That’s not much of a surprise considering we’ve gone the way of the big, expensive books this year and this show had a bit more of a mini-comics vibe to it. Or maybe it didn’t. Truth be told, Locust Moon would appear to be straddling the line between mainstream and indie. It’s not shocking to us that these guys had no idea what Secret Acres is. Like we’ve written before, we’re a bookstore publisher, but it was definitely a surprise to us that the Locust Moon store doesn’t carry our books. At all. As in not a single copy of anything we’ve published. It’s a beautiful store, though.
The show was fairly dead, save for one hour-long afternoon rush. After the psychotic, overwhelming and amazing crowds of our last couple of shows, this was actually kind of nice. We got to spend time talking to our pals in the room for once. We were right next to Kevin Czap, cartoonist and porn monger who is largely responsible for Wayward Girls making its way to us. We got a little coffee klatsch together with Brendan Leach and Nate Bulmer. We talked smack with Michel Fiffe and snuck in a smoke break with L. Nichols (Yes, we’re all back on the wagon since. Chill.). We even bought a bunch of comics.
Best of all, we got to enjoy a lovely dinner with Chris Pitzer and Jamie Tanner. It was a fitting last hour on the comics show year in 2012 to be sitting down with Chris, who’s been an enormous help and an inspiration to us for so long now – and he’s the guy who published Jamie’s book, the Aviary, which collects the minis that got us talking about starting our own company way back when. Our burgers were good, plus we got to order a beer called Round Guys Banana Hammock. Finally, Jamie hitched a ride back home with us. It turns out he does a great Bane voice. Yep. Sometimes we are nerds. We’re still going to miss ye olde P.A.C.C. show.
When we got home it turned out Theo Ellsworth‘s the Understanding Monster was in the New York Times Sunday Book Review with a picture and a little blurb from Douglas Wolk. Thousands of years ago, Douglas wrote the first ever article on Secret Acres for Publisher’s Weekly. It fits that he’s the one to crack the New York Times for us. We’re New Yorkers and this is the Times, so it’s about as big a deal for us as you can imagine. It’s the best way to shut mom up, too. We’re very proud of Theo, of course. Also, the Understanding Monster wound up at number sixteen on CBR‘s 2012 list, which is way, way up on where our books have landed on that last in the past. Speaking of CBR, they’ll have a preview of Theo’s newest comic up shortly. It’s not the one you were expecting (Keep reading.).
So endeth 2012. Great year for comics, shite year for us. Now, here’s a look at 2013…
That new Theo Ellsworth? It’s an all new eighth issue of Capacity. Capacity 8 is Theo’s first single issue comic since Sleeper Car. While both Sleeper Car and The Understanding Monster are works of fiction, Capacity has always been a true story. This latest installment is no exception. As Theo would tell you, everything really happened – in his mind. This one is headed your way for TCAF 2013. No worries, the second book of the Understanding Monster is well on its way, too, coming to SPX.
Meanwhile, there have been some new initiates in the Acres gang. If you’re watching us like stalkers, you can probably guess that Brendan Leach would be one of them. We’ve been in love with Brendan’s comics for a while now. Track down his Ignatz Award winning Pterodactyl Hunters if you have not seen it. You might have seen the first two minis of Ironbound, chapters from his forthcoming Secret Acres graphic novel of the same name. How big of a deal is this? So big that this book comes with a record. Brendan’s an extremely talented musician, too, and we’re suckers for vinyl, so a book and record set was bound to happen sooner or later.
Surely, we’re not the only people in love with Robert Sergel’s Eschew series. Like you, we’ve been wondering where the hell Eschew 3 is. Wonder no more, because we’ve got it right here. Eschew has always been the best brand of it’s-funny-but-it’s-not type of cathartic comics we’ve ever read. To say the least, we were delighted to hear that the third issue was on its way, and we were bouncing off the walls when it landed with us. Rest assured, you’ll see yourself in this issue, too. For better or worse.
The last of the new gang to join is Sar Shahar. We’ve got the first issue of his Sequential Vacation in the Emporium and the second issue is coming from us in 2013. Get to know this guy. Sequential Vacation is almost like Eschew in reverse. Sar does an incredible job of demonstrating just how disconnected we have become, and, oddly, in revealing our isolation, Sar manages to show us at our most human. Don’t get us wrong, though. His comics will have you loling, though it might be an uncomfortable loling (which, let’s face it, is kind of the Secret Acres specialty).
Finally, we’ve got one more Secret Acres guy returning to the lineup for 2013. We used to call him Ken Dahl, but that got old. His name’s Gabby Schulz. His first Acres book, Monsters, won a ton of awards and stuff. It was really good. His new Acres book, Sick, completes his webcomic of the same name, only this time in hardcover and in full color. We think it’s one of the best comics we’ve ever read. We suspect it will be one of the best comics you will ever read.
Stay tuned, because we just might have a few surprises left for 2013, but now’s about the time we go dark and retool our website and things like that. We’re also going to be busy helping to put the MoCCA Fest back together again. The Society of Illustrators has taken over and they’ve invited us and some other folks to fix what was the formerly ailing show. We did hand MoCCA its ass a couple times on this blog, so even if we didn’t want to help (which we do), we’d have been obligated. We promise MoCCA will be much improved. Hey, it already is, just going by our first meetings.
So. We’ll miss you, but we’ve got homework to do. Happy New Year, everyone. See you in a few.
Barry and Leon
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We're back on our Scuttlebutt blog with our Comic Arts Brooklyn report, and our Brooklyn Ale House party report and our Grumpy Bert show report and our year-end report and a tiny, little look ahead to next year. CAB is, for us and lots of other comics people, the start of the holiday season, so we're a little Auld Lang Syne-ish about the show. There were hiccups this time around, and no Cartoon House (see the post for an explanation of that) but CAB still has the best exhibitors at any show, making Brooklyn proud. Speaking of heart-warming, many thanks to the folks at Grumpy Bert. Someone came all the way from Philadelphia just to see Theo and the brand new second book of his Understanding Monster trilogy. That's the kind of amazing that made 2014 our best year ever. We owe everyone a big thank you for reading our books and, really, for reading. You guys are the best. Normally, in our last post of the year, we babble about all the new stuff coming your way. We can't do that anymore. We're joining the likes of Koyama Press and Uncivilized Books and Nobrow at the good distributorship, Consortium. Sure, that's business stuff, but it's a big deal for Secret Acres. Still, we did manage to sneak at least one 2015 comic into this final blathering. Read on...
Comic Arts Brooklyn is today! I'll be signing at the Secret Secret Acres table!
Join us and Theo Ellsworth and everybody else tonight for a gallery show and some Comic Arts Brookyln pre-gaming at Brooklyn’s own Grumpy Bert! You can beat the CAB crowd to the punch and get your very own signed and sketched copy of Theo’s latest, the Understanding Monster Book Two. Book Two picks up where Book One left off, following Pharoah Tellitome, Inspector Gimble, Turtletree, Master Sponko and Minnow on their collective quest to awaken Izadore and re-establish his identity and memory. Get to Grump Bert early enough and you can really lord it over folks: the first ten to arrive get a limited edition Theo print made just for tonight’s show. Of course, there will be free beer and bubbly, too. What more is there to life?