Raw Deal

Blog-Header-09_17_14THE MOUTH of Tucker Stone damn near swallowed us whole on the ride down to this year’s Small Press Expo. We are hereby awarding him an Ignatz Brick for Outstanding Shit-Talking Comics Mule. Who knew Nobrow was so gangsta? We appreciate it, Tucker; you were the best consolation for us being down a man or two heading into Camp Comics.




With no fully-fledged debut to speak of, we worried we’d get lost in the crowd. SPX fills the whole room up to the brim. Last year, we’d heard complaints from some that there were just too many cartoonists at the Bethesda Marriott. This year must have shattered last year’s exhibitor numbers. Warren Bernard, SPX’s showrunner extraordinaire, dropped by our dinner on Saturday and did the math for us. The show holds 280 tables and over a thousand exhibitors. It lasts fourteen hours. Hitting every spot, you’d get about three minutes for each table. That’s terrifying and beautiful both.

Honestly, the crowd messed with us a little. We don’t mean sales. Sales were phenomenal on Saturday, a bit less so on Sunday. But SPX is often called Camp Comics because it’s the entire comics universe all under the same roof for a weekend. Other shows sprawl while SPX achieves a black hole-like density. The togetherness is our favorite part of SPX, but, like Warren’s numbers, we were lucky to spend three minutes with any of our pals. Factor in the attendees, all several thousand of them, and you get a never ending rush of over-stimulation. One sad moment: Frank Santoro, sitting on the patio, wondering where his gang was. We feel you, Frank. One happy moment: Malachi Ward, supergenius, coming by, putting a hand each on Iron Bound and Angie Bongiolatti and pronouncing them two of his favorite books in recent years. Bless you, Malachi.




Missing Theo Ellsworth due to fatherhoodness, we still brought a bunch of his (and our) latest book, the Understanding Monster Book Two. Theo had thoughtfully signed and sketched a stack for the show – and many thanks to everyone who came by to pick up a sneak copy ahead of the book’s official Comic Arts Brooklyn debut in November. Corinne Mucha, stepping into her leadership role at Secret Acres, offered to draw anyone buying Theo’s books a sketch of his new baby – and Corinne HATES babies. Miraculously, she had five takers. She even managed to contribute to Sean Ford‘s illustration for a die hard Only Skin fan. Throw that on top of signing and sketching her own Get Over It! and Corrine was flexing some serious drawing muscles all weekend. She even cranked out a custom baby just for Barry. She’s a beast!




However, Corinne has never heard of the Breeders. Odds are, if you made it to our tables, you were asked if you had ever heard of the Breeders yourself. Most of the time, this question was met with incredulity and suspicion. We promise no fast ones were being pulled. We (meaning Sean Ford) were simply trying to educate Corinne. So here’s a little background on the Breeders:

The Breeders were formed by two women, Kim Deal and Tanya Donelly, from two different but equally earth-shattering groups, the Pixies and Throwing Muses. They met when both bands were on tour together in support of the Pixies debut album, Surfer Rosa. In 1990, Deal and Donelly submitted demos to 4AD, the Pixies’ record label. They were signed, and recruited bassist Josephine Wiggs of Perfect Disaster to record Pod with legendary engineer Steve Albini. While Deal was certainly an integral part of the Pixies, Pod at last showed the world just how colossally great Kim Deal had always been. Shortly after the Breeders recorded the brilliant EP, Safari, Deal’s other band, the Pixies, split up and Tanya Donelly struck out on her own to form the band Belly. Kim Deal brought her twin sister Kelley to the Breeders, taking over for Donelly on guitar. Legend has it that Kelley had never before played guitar. There must be something to genetics as Kelley is one hell of a guitarist. With the addition of Jim MacPherson on drums, the Breeders lineup was set and recording began on Last Splash. Last Splash went on to do what no Pixes album had previously done: it went platinum. The album contained the anthemic single “Cannoball,” which even cracked Billboard’s Top 40. The Breeders would later headline the massively popular Lollapalooza festival on their way to becoming a worldwide phenomenon on tour with Nirvana. Kurt Cobain cited the Breeders’ Pod as the third most influential album on his own sound. In 2013, the Breeders celebrated the twentieth anniversary of their blockbuster classic Last Splash with an intercontinental tour, including not only the original band members, but the original equipment used to record the album. The tour, titled LSXX, culminated in the Breeders headlining another massively popular festival, All Tomorrow Parties. On the LSXX tour, the Breeders also met us, Secret Acres, at a gas station in the middle of nowhere on the way to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. They gave us tickets to their show that weekend. We gave them comics. And wept.




Anyhow, you can catch us and Mike Dawson at the Brooklyn Book Festival in Brooklyn this weekend. His panel, “Single Facing City: Coming of Age Comics,” moderated by the Paris Review‘s Nicole Rudick and featuring Michael Cho and MariNaomi, will get the parted started early on Sunday at ten. We’ll be sitting with Sean Ford, Brendan Leach and Koyama Press‘s Patrick Kyle and Michael DeForge. There may even be a Special Guest appearance by this other guy, Brandon something or other. Don’t miss it!

We’ll be back in time for a rundown of all things CAB, including a Theo Ellsworth gallery event. Trust us: you want to see Theo’s art in person.

Your Pals,

Barry and Leon


Big Baby



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