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Come Back to Me

SWEET JESUS, what a rush! So, first of all, we must thank the lovely legions of the legendary Quimby’s for hosting our guy, Sean Knickerbocker. Sean kicked off his big Rust Belt tour on Friday night, following up Aaron Renier and Alex Nall for the Quimby’s special CAKE (that’s the Chicago Alternative (K)omics Expo) edition of Drink n’ Draw. Please forgive us, as we were hauling ass to Chicago by car from New York and had no books on hand for the folks at the shop. Sean must have made one helluva impression since a good number of you people came out and got yours at CAKE. Even if the books didn’t make it, L. Nichols and Flocks and the rest of the gang all made it to the city in one piece(s), so we are counting our blessings (after rubbernecking a traumatizing accident that caused, and lent an aura of horror to, our lateness).

 

 

And then we had CAKE. We expect a lot from the Chicago Alternative (K)omics Expo, and it delivered on all expectations. The Center on Halsted remains our favorite show space, period, for the bathrooms (when they’re working), the light, the food, the everybody-is-welcome thing. CAKE’s organizers and volunteers continue their groove, and they are groovy as all get out. Everything on the floor is AKNF. New to us was Jasyot Sing Hans and his guide to those apps, Baby Let’s Cruise. We picked up the new Van Deusen from Killgore, eerie, since he was sitting right behind us the whole time and he really is his avatar. We scored the new Marian Runk book and record set. We found new Grant Reynolds right next to new Jessica Campbell. We stalked/courted Gabe Howell (again) and JJ McLuckie. One of L’s Ley Lines gang, Diana H. Chu, took home the big Cupcake Award. The big surprise of the show for us was La Mano 21‘s Ski Mask Jerry by C. Haack, and whoever that is, we are in love with you.

 

 

But all that’s to be expected. CAKE, of course, loves to defy expectations. This year, on day one, we got all settled in and on time for complete crickets. Like nothing happened beyond vegan donuts. Then Sunday, right after, say, brunch time, we sold literally everything and made out just fine overall, thank you. Everyone we spoke to, with a single exception, had similarly schizo sales in radically different ways. We find this fascinating and unique to this show. It usually makes for weird nights out after, but we kept our clothes on and managed a pinball bar crawl with our hero, Adam Griffiths, while Sean took his sweetheart out for her birthday – and, wow, she spent her birthday at a comics show; now that is true love.

 

 

Sean is still on the road, and, by the time you read this, he will have rocked out at Two Dollar Radio‘s HQ in Columbus. You can still catch him, though! You will see Sean again, this September, at the very least, when we will doing double damage at SPX with a pair of debuts. The Backstage of a Dishwashing Webshow will take the stage as Keren Katz debuts her latest, and greatest, graphic novel. Glynnis Fawkes will be getting lost in Persephone’s Garden, but there are certainly less beautiful places to be. Don’tcha just love to watch the leaves turn?

Until then, it’s summer break for us. See you in September…

…also, we hung out a bit with Simon Moreton.

Your Pal,

Leon

Missing in Action

FIRST OF ALL, we must thank Desert Island and Gabe Fowler in particular for hosting Joakim Drescher‘s Motel Universe coming out party. We should also thank L. Nichols for tag-teaming with Joakim and bringing his Flocks home to Brooklyn. We even need to thank Sadiya Abjani, now an official Secret Acres henchperson, for playing runner all night. As usual, a good time was had by all, and per the Desert Island usual, a couple legends showed up, including Mark Newgarden, J. Otto Seibold and papa Drescher, Henrik. Thank you legends and other beautiful people for joining us in sending Motel Universe and Joakim off in style.

 

 

Now let’s address a more urgent matter: it’s time for CAKE! Yes, the Chicago Alternative (K)omics Expo happens this very weekend. Secret Acres looks to be fully armed and operational for the Windy City party. At long last, we present the debut of Rust Belt by Sean Knickerbocker. This book took forever to happen, like the better part of a decade. We’ve been reading and loving Rust Belt and Sean too long, frankly, but here we are at last. Rust Belt is all about the people no one wants to talk about, the people some of us have to sit next to at Thanksgiving dinners, the doomed and the dreamers in the cold places of post-industrial America. In Sean’s hands, we get to see them live and breathe. You know these people, and you may want to forget them, but you won’t forget Rust Belt anytime soon.

 

 

This Friday night, you can see Sean at Chicago’s iconic Quimby’s, right after their big Drink ‘n Draw spectacular featuring Aaron Renier and Alex Nall. Sean will be at CAKE bright and early on Saturday with none other than L. Nichols, who is just crashing every shindig we got. Of course, it’s CAKE, so everyone in comics, or at least the comics worth caring about, will be there, especially Simon Moreton. Oh, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention our TCAF sneaky tablemate, Adam Griffiths. CAKE jumpstarts Sean on what will be a whirlwind Rust Belt tour of not exactly the rust belt, but more like comics meccas. Have a look-see…

 

 

ICYMI, and in case you don’t want to take our word for it, here’s the Beat on Rust Belt. Want more? Here’s Four Color Apocalypse counting the last installment of Rust Belt among the best single issues of anything of all of last year. If you can’t make it to the show, we pity you, but we offer solace in the form of pre-ordering your own Rust Belt right here in our Emporium. We have a lot of packing to do, like a lot, but all the legs and cars are working, so that’s a step in the right direction. We will return here in a week with all the gossip fit for print, so you can see who wound naked, especially Simon Moreton. See you in a few…

Your Pal,

Leon

Right Here Waiting

ROUGH STARTS happen. Our troubles began with the car that wouldn’t start. The night before, we packed for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, while Joakim Drescher flew through space and time, from Denmark. We were locked, loaded and ready to head for the North with Motel Universe in the boot. Then crickets. We tried one of those portable battery charger things and failed miserably. We gave up and called AAA to give us a jump, but got an F- on the battery test. We wheeled over to the dealership, since no one else in their right mind would have the batteries we needed. And we waited. And waited. And fell asleep. Four hours later, we picked up Sadiya, our TCAF comics mule three years running, and crossed the border at midnight. Most problems disappear once you’re in Canada and ours were not exceptional.

 

 

Joakim fit right in with our gang. We had another semi-surprise rookie behind the Secret Acres table in none other than Adam Griffiths. We told you about Adam when we met him at CAKE, but you oughtta get used to seeing him in these parts. We like that guy a lot. We adore Joakim, too, and while we dropped a ton of comics on Saturday, Motel Universe especially, the real star of the show was probably Joakim’s fucking disgusting Danish candy. Our crew gets husky with the eating, so we put strange things in our mouths on the regular, but the Danes have problems. We still have some of these things, if you’re curious.

 

 

Major props go to L. Nichols and Aaron Costain, not only for slinging and signing Flocks and Entropy and a bunch of prints, but for eating many of those Danish sewer candies on purpose and spreading the wealth. Edie Fake held his own at his remote site in the Wowee Zonk room, where we spent a fortune, particularly on Eli Howey‘s and Carta Monir‘s everything. We also broke a sweat (because it’s hot AF in the WZ room) to hang with our favorite, Eric Kostiuk Williams, who had a ton of great stuff as well as a three part name. Next door to us sat Mikal from Centrala which is Polish but based in London and wins our Most Beautiful Overall Spread Award, and triggered some serious book image issues for us. Kitty corner we found Kevin Czap, who remains ever present but who refused to eat that vile candy, and his Czap Books imprint took our money in exchange for new Cathy G. Johnson and Liz Suburbia books, plus a new Ley Lines and a new Four Years by Kevin himself, because there is nowhere Kevin is not. Also, Kevin has hair now. We caught a sneak peak at Georgia Webber‘s upcoming and expectedly brilliant and so fucking depressing Vivian’s Image (and brace yourself). Floating World dropped the new Carlos Gonzalez (YES! FINALLY!) so we could get our weird on, and there was some debate as to whether the new, collected Joe Decie stories are funnier than Kelsey Wroten‘s Cannonball, but everyone’s a winner. So, yeah, comics are alive and well all over the world and TCAF, in case you were wondering.

 

 

We could discuss our haul, dumplings, and Kid Koala all day, but we know you want the dirt. Yes, Sunday night, after the Tranzac party, which gave us the opportunity to thank everyone who makes TCAF happen every year, a bunch of us went naked clubbing (and no, not all of us, if any of you Secret Acres spouses are reading this). Oddly, at closing time, we had just been talking to the Beat herself, Heidi McDonald, about how sex-positive, queer-positive, trans-positive and all-around inclusive things have become on our side of the comics fence. As Secret Acres is queer-made and generally pretty queer, we take some great delight in this. For the record, Sunday was not a free-for-all (loving these hyphens). Instead, we got a drag show, a heated pool, respectful flirting, and people of all ages, races, genders, orientations, shapes and sizes. As for yours truly, well, after wobbling around on a busted leg all weekend, those squishy rubber beds upstairs were great for taking a load off. No pun intended, but it’s a free country up there, so go ahead and infer all you want.

 

 

Now that we are back stateside, we have other things on our minds. We demand you join Joakim and L. both, on Thursday the 23rd at Desert Island. The fun starts at 7PM sharp, plus FREE BEER. Joakim and L. both will have other new stuff, in addition to Motel Universe and Flocks, and who knows when you’ll see that stuff again? You will see us again, and sooner than you’d think as we have CAKE to serve up and another shiny new book: Rust Belt by Sean Knickerbocker. That one should come with warning labels.

 

 

Back in a few…

Your Pal,

Leon

Against All Odds

WE LIVE. Sorta. Your can find yours truly on crutches at this weekend’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival. Don’t worry, Secret Acres is ganged up fierce as ever for this trip. We’re sporting at least nine fully functional legs between us. We promised never to miss a TCAF so long as we’re invited, and bless the Beguiling and TCAF crew for keeping us on the guest list. This year, we present a debut book, one Motel Universe, from a debut Secret Acres rookie, by the name of Joakim DrescherMotel Universe chases the Skins, a slave race on the intergalactic run from the tycoon dictator of a casino galaxy, Barton Flump. Sound familiar? Flump and his degenerate plutocrats make game of the Skins, like actually hunt them for sport and fortune. Every now and then, a little revolution looks like a good thing. Resist!

 

 

So what happened to the other six working legs, you ask? A pair of them belong to Aaron Costain, returning to the scene of his big debut from last year, Entropy. In addition to holding his title as the sole Canadian behind our table, Aaron will have prints, originals and of course Entropy waiting for you, but get there early because those crow pictures move fast. Two more legs belong to Edie Fake, that Little Stranger guy what brought you Gaylord Phoenix and Memory Palaces. We feel like we’ve been waiting forever for Edie to come back to the North, so catch him while you can or you might be waiting a while, too. Finally the last set of legs are attached to none other than L. Nichols, lord of Flocks. L. has been everywhere and doing everything as usual, so we expect him to have something going on for the big show, but we don’t know what and we like a mystery.

 

 

As we collectively gear up for what may be the penultimate Secret Acres road trip, you can and, really, you should check out Joakim on It’s Nice That in case you don’t want to take our word for it how spectacular Motel Universe is. If you’re in Brooklyn on May 23rd, you can catch Joakim signing at Desert Island. You can go even if you’re not anywhere near Brooklyn; Joakim made the trip from Denmark so it’s the least you can do, plus it’s Desert Island, man. Should you prefer to keep it all online, you can get your Motel Universe in the Emporium right this instant, though that rewards impatience.

We will return with all the filthy TCAF gossip we can get our hands on, plus the deets on Joakim at Desert Island. We may even take a look at what’s next on the Secret Acres menu. You know, beyond physical therapy.

Your Pal,

Leon

The Boys of Summer

WE WENT to Comic Arts Brooklyn and all we got was this lousy t-shirt! We kid, we kid. We had a couple of kids running rampant all over Pratt’s ARC for half the day, a new thing for us, but delightful because they’re cute AF. The kids probably contributed to the many times when, at the end of the very (too) long day, we kept running into people we didn’t even know were there. On the other hand, we got lost easy in the ARC, which might be the biggest single room for an indie comics show (and we refuse to count TCAF, which sports many rooms on many floors in several buildings, as a room). CAB felt like it filled the place this year, which says something. Also, we’re keeping the t-shirt, L. Deal with it.

 

 

All that said, we made the rounds and picked up a ton of a comics. We copped the latest from Uncivilized, including Jesse McManus‘s gigantic Whistling Factory (which we almost missed, so thank you, Keren, for pointing out it was Jesse sitting in the corner instead of behind the table like a normal person). Sean Ford foisted Shawn Kurumeru‘s Burn Man upon us. We caught up with Anuj Shrestha, finally. E. A. Bethea actually gave us All Killer No Filler, which proved true to the name (but we’d have paid for it, silly). Our hero, Zak Sally, handed us the latest and last (SAY IT AIN’T SO, ZAK) Folrath. The kids discovered Scott Carr on their own, and their excellent taste makes us very proud indeed. The CCS kids (again via Keren) gifted us a stack of minis from Natalie Wardlaw (Give us a link, Natalie!), Sage Persing and Hachem Reslaw, suggesting it might be time to raid CCS again. We toed the floor and looked at the ceiling while Al Columbia signed Amnesia for us.

See! You shoulda been there! Many thanks to Gabe, the volunteers, Rob Sergel, L. Nichols, Keren Katz, Brendan Leach, Sean Ford and all the readers walking the aisles for ending our comics year in style. Speaking of, last time we were here, we promised you a sneak peek at our next comics year. Without further ado, we present a couple of the cats in our bag…

 

 

You can check in to Motel Universe, but you can’t check out! Welcome to a dystopian, casino galaxy of tasteless hedonism. On a macabre jungle planet, the Skins, a slave race, are hunted for their precious hides by tycoon dictator, Barton Flump. Sound familiar? It might be time for a little revolution around here. We invite you all to meet our new kid, Joakim Drescher, at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival 2019. Jokaim booked a flight from Copenhagen or something like that for the occasion, so the least you can do is get to Canada.

 

 

Some people aren’t invited to the Resistance. They meet no definition of the Other. Identity politics excludes them. They’re called unlucky when they fall victim to economic injustice. They even take the blame for our national crises – but who are these people? Sean Knickerbocker‘s Rust Belt looks right at the underemployed, the working poor and the dreamers of America’s changing, post-industrial cities. He might be a new kid, but you probably know Sean Knickerbocker, as he’s an old pal. Our dream of slapping a Secret Acres logo on Rust Belt comes true at the 2019 Chicago Alternative (K)omics Expo, aka CAKE. Because Chicago is in America.

These poor guys have a tough act to follow. Secret Acres had its best year ever, by pretty much any measure, in its first year as (sort of, but not at ALL really) a solo act. It’d take years, but we would like to thank each and every one of you individually, all of you beautiful people drawing and reading these comics that make even this world worth fighting for. Please, please, please let’s all keep showing up for each other. Now we need to pack on some winter fat for our long hibernation, but we promise to dream of you.

See you on the other side…

Your Pal,

Leon

Hard Target

WE LOVE pretty much anything and anyone with a history. It adds character; it creates an air of sleaze. What’s not to love? Comics Arts Brooklyn turns five this year. This means CAB has outlasted its predecessor, the former king of Kings County comics shows, the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. In addition to enjoying a second life, CAB has switched hoods, from Williamsburg to Clinton Hill, and from a church basement to a church gym to the Pratt gym, and in the process, it doubled up in size. For 2018, CAB moves from Saturday to Sunday, November 11th.

Keeping up with CAB can be a bear, but you can count on one constant: Desert Island‘s Gabe Fowler. Desert Island has owned Brooklyn for a decade now. In fact, Gabe hosted the first ever Secret Acres party there way back in 2008, for the debuts of our first books, Fatal Faux-Pas and Wormdye. We celebrated our tenth anniversary at CAB last year. Brooklyn will always be our hometown, so CAB is like our Homecoming Day. Even old Barry shows up for this one on his day off.

 

 

This year, we got L. Nichols making his first appearance at our CAB table. Mr. Nichols will be sporting the latest of Ley Lines, which would be his own, and the damn near last copies (gulp) of Flocks. Yes, Flocks technically sold out before it hit stores, so get ’em while they’re hot, people. Worry not, there’s plenty more coming in the next couple weeks, we swear. If you skipped SPX, you can make up for that at CAB, what with Robert Sergel coming to town with his SPX debut, Bald Knobber. At some point, we are going to go full Bald Knobber cosplay. Keep your eyes peeled and you might spot our old friend, Sean Ford, hiding out with us, too. Secret Acres indeed.

Meanwhile, catch up with the gang! Keren Katz, our sister from another mister, appeared on our favorite podcast, Inkstuds, hosted by the legendary Robin McConnell. Clearly, you’re reading this, so you probably know never to miss an Inkstuds. Over on our, um, other favorite podcast (?), the grownups on Comics for Grownups take a whack at Flocks in their 89th (!) episode. The estimable Annette Lapointe delivered her own thoughts on Flocks for the New York Journal of BooksNewcity Art dissected Edie Fake‘s Western Exhibitions show, Gut Rehab. Juxtapoz goes off grid for all things Edie, including puppy pix! We’ve been busy bees!

We’ll return with our CAB wrap up next week. Secret Acres will be on the move, literally, post-CAB, so this will be our last show of 2018, sadly. We promise to make it up to you with a sneak peek at 2019…

Your Pal,

Leon

Believe

WHEN LAST we wrote, we were about to set off to the Small Press Expo and deliver unto you Bald Knobber, the first graphic novel by Robert Sergel, and Flocks, by L. Nichols. We hustled to make our trains, planes and automobiles, meeting up late with special guest Keren Katz at the under reconstruction Marriott. We thought the new rooms were pretty fantastic, ditto the alien icescape carpeting. Our welcoming committee at the bar turned out to be Kevin Czap, who probably lives with us now, and Tom Spurgeon. So comics. We snuck out for dinner and discussed our gang’s various academic and artistic pursuits, artist visas and the looming threat of permanent diarrhea. Naturally, or no, the specter of a certain violently frivolous lawsuit hung over the conversation, as it would the weekend. Still, when the going gets tough, there’s no better place to be than Camp Comics.

 

 

Is it us or does the room get bigger every year? SPX definitely qualifies as weekend-worthy. Try working the show and getting anywhere near a complete checklist of people to see and comics to read. We dare you. Somebody up there likes us, as we were parked next to Carta Monir and Julia Kaye. Between them and L., it was the majority of the Trans Memoir panel tucked into a corner. Speaking of, Hazel Newlevant, the surprise moderator, absolutely killed that panel. They had the room rocking and spontaneously applauding. Oh! And holy shit, Gabe Howell. Have you seen his comics? See them right now; we’ll wait. We must warn you: trigger warnings galore.

 

 

About those trigger warnings: the Ignatz Awards began with a discussion of the eleven people (and one company) named in a defamation lawsuit filed by a man accused of sexual harassment and rape. The lawsuit even names the three women brave enough to speak publicly about what they suffered at the hands of this man. These women, and the other folks named, were trying to protect our community. You can call it insular, but, taken as a whole, the people in this comics community take care of one another. Yeah, we threw in to Defend the 11; so should you, if you have the means. Thank you, SPX, for organizing this fund.

 

 

Then Siren, a truckstop stripper (?), showed up to MC the rest of the awards. Carol Tyler, Siren’s alter-ego, blazed a trail for damn near every woman who makes comics. We get why people booed her mention of R. Crumb‘s name (and we booed, too), but maybe give her a pass on that one because there are a lot of folks standing on Carol’s shoulders. Carol even invited everyone to stay at her Inkfarm. She seemed serious about that. The highlight of the evening, for us, definitely goes to Carta Monir’s acceptance speech. If you go by the winners, Carta told the truth that comics belong to queer people of color. Okay, comics are for everybody, but fine with us, Carta! Afterward, the old folks owned the patio what with the kids heading to the Space Jam Prom. We tried to hold a conversation with Marc Sobel, who is too smart for us. Also, we accepted a bunch of marijuana products, which seem to have made it to SPX in style, and we felt like prudes for all being in closed relationships. Welcome to the future.

 

 

Our gang spent most of Sunday dressed in our matching Goth Bitch on Patrol t-shirts, playing with a rubber chicken and churning out fan art, including a Street Angel pop-up and micro versions of each other’s books courtesy of Dan Nott. We checked out the Practice of Diary Comics panel, since it had a killer lineup of Glynnis Fawkes, Summer Pierre, Kevin Budnik and Dustin Harbin – and we have to ask: what the hell were you doing under that desk, Dustin? We dropped some serious coin on books we’ve been waiting on forever (Berlin! Art Comic! 10th Anniversary Edition of Skyscrapers of the Midwest! Space Academy 123!). We gave as good as we got, ditching a ton of Bald Knobber and Flocks. We sang the bejesus out of 90s on 9 the whole way home, discovering new karaoke ringers to save for next year.

 

 

Speaking of, right before we hit the road, we got word that Flocks had sold out. Flocks officially hit shelves yesterday, but the entire print run is gone. Worry not, the wheels are turning on a new printing as we type this. However, you may want to grab the next one you see. If you’re in New York this Sunday, you’ll have your chance at the Bureau of General Services Queer Division at Manhattan’s LGBT Center, where L. will be reading from Flocks with Kevin Czap because we’d all be lost without Kevin. If you’re in New York and want a day trip, head up to Beacon next week, where L. will be reading once again, this time in his hometown bookstore, Binnacle Books. We will put all this on the social medias to remind you, we promise. Congratulations, L., you big sellout, you!

We’re outta Flocks and outta here ’cause we have books to print. See you next time for Comic Arts Brooklyn

Your Pal,

Leon

The Hurricane Heist

WE DARE to shake our fists at you, Florence! If you were wondering, the Small Press Expo 2018 is still on, hurricane or no. Comics kids don’t scare. Pardon our rustiness because it’s been a long, hot, boring summer. So we say goodbye to summer the usual way with a trip to SPX and a pair of new books – and what a pair we have. These books took their sweet time (not Entropy-level time, but still) making it to us and, at long last, to SPX and to you.

 

 

You might be familiar with the first of our debut books, Flocks by L. Nichols. Long ago, Flocks was serialized, first by the estimable Retrofit, and later by L.’s own Grindstone outfit. Somewhere along the line, the Flocks stopped coming. We blame Kevin Czap, the Comics Mom, for talking L. into publishing Ley Lines. Much as we love Ley Lines, we wanted the end of L.’s tale of being assigned female and growing up in rural Louisiana with conservative Christians. Now, we can all read the whole thing. You get to call first if you make it to SPX, and, if you fall in line early, you can check out L. on the Trans Memoir panel, along with Maia Kobabe, Gabe Howell, Julia Kaye and Carta Monir, no less. We loved last year’s panel, moderated by L. and featuring Carta and Kevin. Incest much?

 

 

We said two big debuts and the second marks the return of Robert Sergel, with his first graphic novel, Bald Knobber. Rob himself put together a serialized Bald Knobber in mini-minis. We gave Bald Knobber the hard cover treatment for the whole shebang. Like Flocks, this one tells a story of adolescence, but in an evil twin kind of way. A middle school boy and his cat, inspired by a book about the real Bald Knobbers, vigilantes of the Reconstruction Era, decide to seek a little justice of their own. We love this comic because it’s Rob, so it’s amazing. We also love it because we’re bibliophiles, and getting lost in a book about a kid getting lost in a book because the world stinks is a meta-cozy thing for us. If you’ve ever fallen in love with a book, we promise you will fall in love with Bald Knobber.

 

 

Lest you feel left out of the fun this weekend, you can order both books in our Emporium right now and we will send them to you. If you’re in New York on the 23rd of September, you can catch L. reading and chatting with Kevin Czap, AGAIN, at the amazing BGSQD. That’s the acronym for the Bureau of General Sevices Queer Division in Manhattan’s LGBT Center. If you’ve never been, you have to go and you have to go the bathrooms on the second floor to check out the Keith Haring murals. What did you expect to find in there? Perv. If you happen to be in L.’s hometown Hudson Valley on the 28th, you can catch L. (and probably Kevin, at this point) at Beacon’s Binnacle Books. You know, that place in all the Gabrielle Bell comics. If you find yourself in our beloved Windy City this weekend, you must get yourself to Western Exhibitions for our hero, Edie Fake, and his latest gallery show, Gut Rehab. Prepare to be overwhelmed by beauty. If you’re on the fence about getting to SPX, may we offer you one Very Special Guest? Last year’s Ignatz nominee for Outstanding Graphic Novel, Keren Katz, returns to the scene of the crime (since she was robbed of her Ignatz by that “Emil Ferris” person).

We gotta get packing. We promise to return with our SPX rundown and reminders of all of the above. It’s a lot to remember.

Your Pal,

Leon

It Must Have Been Love

GOOD LORD, you people left us with nothing! We mean this in a good way. Let us explain…

So we went to Chicago for some CAKE, aka the Chicago Alternative (K)omics Expo. Despite blinding flash storms in the great state of Ohio, the books arrived smooth and clean as a whistle. It took a minute, but we managed to assemble at a gay arcade (and you wonder why we love Chicago?) before heading to a gay, bird-themed bar (or a bird, gay-themed bar) for a late night feeding. Ben Sears kept drawing and refused to even look at us. Some people respect their deadlines. Ahem. We attempted to keep the pre-gaming short, but Dustin Harbin kept mansplaining cunnilingus to us.

 

 

We snuck in a disco nap at our sweet, sweet Boystown loft, our dreams haunted by the world’s most unintentionally phallic logo lurking outside our windows. Somehow, we rallied and got set up on time. It felt easy, but that might be because we were a quintet. Aaron Costain and Reid Pslatis reprised their TCAF roles, with newborn books Entropy and Kingdom/Order. Corinne Mucha returned to the Secret Acres gang with her reborn Get Over It! Edie Fake, who insisted on getting every last Secret Acres book on the tables, stole the show, making everything a Little Stranger. The goddesses even blessed with the best sixth man ever, our table bunkie and Cupcake Award winner, Adam Griffiths. Just try to go wrong with a gang like that.

 

 

We needed everybody to satisfy the needs of the CAKE hordes. Maybe we imagined the whole thing, but it seemed like attendance had tripled over the past couple of years. Aaron asked the most adorably Canadian question about comics shows: are they all so inclusive as TCAF and CAKE? We wish we could say yes. Hosted by the beautiful Center on Halsted, CAKE makes the most of everybody, and it shows in the crowd, all love and smiles and pronoun stickers. They all love some comics at CAKE, too, taking away every Little Stranger we had. Yes, Edie Fake sold out. Anybody out there wondering whether CAKE can compete with the big shows in the sales department needs to stop. Comic con economics be damned; we can pay some debts now. We offer our sincere thanks to CAKE’s organizers. When everybody feels like they’re invited, they don’t want to go home, let alone go home empty-handed.

 

 

We took a ton of stuff home with us, too. We scored an original Adam Griffiths. We raided Spit and a Half for the new Porcellino and Sally and Zervakis, who keep getting better, which would be scary if they weren’t so damn generous. Perfectly Acceptable made us feel woefully inadequate with their exquisitely printed Dog Nurse. Old friends Czap and Knickerbocker brought new comics. OPP brought comics from Italy. Domino hipped us to E.A. Bethea. Georgia finally gave us Dumb, but her table was a disaster. Get it together, Georgia. We may be the last people on the planet to fall for Isabella Rotman, but better late than never. Fifi Martinez received our So Fucking Depressing Award 2018. We won’t count our Kilgores, sine that was a Kickstarter thing, but: new Sergel! Of course, one the best discoveries of the weekend has no name on it. Tell us who you are, maker of the mini with the keyboard cover (the title of which we are too stupid to figure out)!

 

 

CAKE was great, really, but the best part for us happened off the floor. You should try it. Take the chance when you get it to chat with the aforementioned Porcellino and Sally because you’ll keep thinking about everything they say. Enjoy mediocre Thai food with new friends like Mr. and Mrs. Fiona Smyth and Kilgore Dan. Check out Reid howling through Zevon at karaoke. Let Edie drag your ass to the middle of nowhere for a Polish buffet with the most awesome Marian Runk belting out Roxette at the table. Follow the original CAKE baker, Grace Tran, to a basement reading by Lale Westvind. Talk binder fashion with superstar Carta Monir. Head back to the gay arcade and watch silver fox Dustin put the moves on some dude named Eric. We try to make it count because we never see the people we love and admire enough. Do you?

Forgive us, but we’re wiped out. Summer calls. See you in September…

Your Pal,

Leon

MacArthur Park

HUNGRY? Good, because it’s time for CAKE, aka the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (which should really spell Comics like communist Komiks, but whatever). It feels like it’s been years since the last time we went to CAKE, so we are going to make this one count.

Believe it or not, seven years went under the bridge like time standing still since we last had a book of comics from Mr. Edie Fake. We waited long enough, so allow us to introduce a Little Stranger. Look under the covers and you’ll find damn near all of the comics Edie’s made in the seven years since Gaylord Phoenix. Do yourself a favor and don’t expect the psychedelic, psychosexual, pretty, pink fantasy world of the Gaylord. The stories in Little Stranger scare the pants off people, walking the line between horror and comedy and right over into erotica. In other words, expect pure Fake and Edie will deliver you from squaresville.

 

 

But whatever happened to the Gaylord Phoenix? The Ignatz Award winner for Outstanding Graphic Novel, Gaylord Phoenix returns to print alongside Little Stranger. Better still, Edie has since returned to the adventures of the Gaylord Phoenix. If you missed them, you can pick up the queer classic’s seventh and eighth installments over in the Emporium. Trust us, these are some most beautifully printed comics ever.

 

 

Call it a comeback, too, for Corinne Mucha‘s Get Over It! The only heartbreak survival guide you’ll ever need is back in print for CAKE. Both giggle- and cringe- inducing, Get Over It! gives us all the gory, gooey details on the way to wisdom. Impress your friends with some sage advice, or chart your own progress to getting your groove back. Check in with Ms. Mucha at our table and maybe she’ll throw in some counseling.

 

 

In case you missed them at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, get caught up with the other new kids at CAKE. Aaron Costain invades America this weekend. Aaron has Entropy with him, so you can read along on a race back in time to the birth of humanity, assuming he makes it over the border. Arriving from not quite as far north, Reid Psaltis and his Kingdom/Order will show you what life would be like without all that humanity. Consider the state of the world and you might just want to wander off into the woods, too.

If you dare to skip out on CAKE, you can order up all of the above in the Emporium right now. If you happen to be in Los Angeles instead, you might want to check out Theo Ellsworth‘s Secret Psychic Friend Spotlight at GR2. You still need a real good excuse to miss CAKE, since Theo’s show runs until the 13th. Just saying.

See you in Chicago and back here in a few…

Your Pal,

Leon

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