THE EARTH WILL MOVE, but that’s not going to stop SPX. There was some worry about the Bethesda Marriott, the hotel and event center that plays host to the Small Press Expo, otherwise known as Camp Comics. We’d been warned that they’d been hit hard by the earthquake and that the damage might have been bad enough to split the con up over two floors. This wouldn’t have been the end of the world, but there was even talk that the bar would be out of commission. If you’ve been deprived of an SPX experience, know that the bar and balconies are the hub of what is essentially a sleep-away camp for cartoonists. There’s plenty going on in the individual cabins, but you need the big campfire scene. A large cheer to all the Marriott folks for getting the job done and for quelling our qualms in advance. Apparently, Marriot Silver Elite status has its privileges, though we have no idea what that even means.
In addition to the earthquake, there was that whole hurricane thing. We were fine here in New York. Although we were disappointed that our local karaoke bar was closed, others had it even worse. In fact, the CCS Schulz Library was battered by a shipping container that went floating along the White River. While this was yet another weather-related comics catastrophe, the upshot of this story was pretty inspiring. Loads of volunteers saved every last book and mini. You can get more of the story here and you can donate to the library here.
If you want further evidence of comics people being the best people you can find, take a look at these Philip K. Dick cover illustrations here. Guided by Floating World Comics out in Portland, the proceeds from the sale of these guys (and two days’ worth of Floating World’s sales) will be headed toward paying off Dylan Williams’ medical bills. It’s amazing how easily bad news can turn into inspiration. We may be a silly bunch, but comics people should be proud.
Speaking of pride, we are sad to say that Mike Dawson was too shy to don his Boy Scout uniform for the Troop 142 release party at Bergen Street Comics. We also sold out of a couple dozen copies of Troop 142 in about as many minutes. That’s what we all get for being modest! However, we had a blast selling comics to people in an actual comics shop, which we haven’t had a chance to do in a while. Beyond our own books, we sold copies of Bulletproof Coffin, Wonton Soup, Ganges, Box Office Poison, the Incal and Zegas, to name a few. We even heard back from one reader that he had fallen in love with Stephen Gaedel (on page 354 of Box Office Poison, to be specific) and that Glenn Ganges had reduced him to tears.
The crowd included a chunk of the Dawson family who had previously appeared in Freddie & Me and who were nice enough to sign copies of the book. We got to talk to Tucker Stone about the new(ish) DC Comics, which would appear to be both a guaranteed flop and a huge success. We met Matt Seneca, who didn’t seem quite as bloody-minded as his writing sometimes suggests. We met Michel Fiffe and picked up a Zegas or two of our own. We got to chat with MK Reed, Matt Madden, Jessica Abel and Dean Haspiel. It was largely packed with people hanging out until about midnight. Several very lucky customers went home with Troop 142 patches.
The rest of the patches will be dispersed at SPX, where we will have Troop 142 in much larger quantities. We will be missing Edie Fake, who is too kind and has to cover for his Quimby’s co-worker while that guy is off at SPX. Edie has not forgotten you SPX folks. In celebration of its Ignatz Award nomination for Outstanding Mini-Comic, there will be a new batch of Gaylord Phoenix 5 on hand for SPX. This is a beautiful, handmade thing that was originally produced in very limited numbers for the NY Art Book Fair (Edie will be at that one, if you’re around). To celebrate Gaylord Phoenix‘s nomination for Outstanding Graphic Novel and to offer proof that he is worthy of the title of Outstanding Artist, Edie’s also made a five-layered silkscreen print. There’s only going to be 25 of them and they will look something like this. SPX is likely to be your only shot at picking up Edie’s print, Gaylord Phoenix 5 and a Troop 142 patch. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. If you’re not going to be there, check out Mike’s Troop 142 trailer. That ought to tide you over until the book makes it way to you.
Surely, you’ve been sweating out your voting choices for the Ignatz Awards, but we’re here to make it easy. Vote for Gaylord Phoenix 5 for Outstanding Mini-Comic! Vote for Gaylord Phoenix for Outstanding Graphic Novel! Vote for I Will Bite You! for Outstanding Anthology or Collection! As for Outstanding Artist, you really only have two options in Joseph Lambert or Edie Fake. Don’t look at us. You’re on your own with that one.
See you at the show! We’ll be back to re-cap on the other side.
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!