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
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!
Not a joke! Not a dream! Our man Edie Fake has gone Ivy League at last, in a duel with Gil Kane - to the death! Well, not exactly. It's the Illustration, Comics and Animation Conference at Dartmouth College and it's happening right now this weekend. You might be wondering what, exactly, Edie Fake, author of the superduper, super queer Gaylord Phoenix, and Gil Kane, artist and co-creator of Green Lantern and Iron Fist, might have in common. So did we. We'd paraphrase, but we're very stupid, so here's a quote from a study by Brian Cremins, who has a Ph.D. and stuff: "Fake’s emphasis on the “cross-pollination” of ideas informs my reading of Gaylord Phoenix and of Sweetmeats, which, in this paper, I will place in dialogue with the work of the Gil Kane, an early innovator in the graphic novel form who produced his best known work on superhero titles published by DC and Marvel Comics in the 1960s and 1970s. Both Edie Fake and Gil Kane are fascinated with the transmogrification of the body." Yep. You heard it here, folks. We typed transmogrification. Cremins is fleshing this out (no pun intended, kind of) into a full-fledged article, coming soon to very smart people everywhere. There's more on the conference at the link. Get there if you can, and report back to us, please!