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The Incredible Journey

LIFE CHANGES hit us hard our first night at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. We crossed the border with the usual ease, and felt good about that ease being the usual thing. The kids flew in from Portland and Holland and settled nicely into their digs. We arrived early, checked in and set up at the library. We stole some Koyama hugs and planned Sunday dinner with Annie and company on our way to a late Friday night feeding. Our gang assembled, we turned the corner to find our spot shuttered. For good. After thirty years. No more Blue Hawaiians. Ever. RIP Spirits sports/gay bar/restaurant. How many condos do you need, Toronto?

 

 

TCAF remains the most well-oiled of comics shows. Credit the Beguiling’s Peter Birkemoe and Chris Butcher and (relative new guy) Andrew Townsend. If you exhibited at TCAF, you probably know Andrew’s e-mail by heart, and probably Butcher’s twitter handle and Peter’s digits. The volunteers, all two hundred something of them, keep TCAF’s heart beating like clockwork. They act like friends and make everybody feel special. If you guys do all this for everyone behind every table, sit on that so we can pretend we’re you’re one and only.

 

 

You want special? There was an entire gallery of Aaron Costain’s Entropy artwork between us and the Wowee Zonk room. Poor Aaron kept having to explain that this was, in fact, original artwork and not at all prints. He left a lot of raven print money on the table at TCAF. We pulled up with triple digit numbers of Entropy and came back with none, so the math stays very much on our side. We cheated, though, doubling up on debuts, with Reid Psaltis’s Kingdom/OrderKingdom/Order continued our animal vibe at the table, with Reid knocking out cricket and raven sketches all weekend. Are ravens a thing for We the North? Michiel Budel, in from Amsterdam with Francine, provided some raven relief, at least. Naughty can be nice, too, you know. With Michiel rounding out an unholy trinity, expenses be damned, we made bank. Kind of hard not to when you have a backlist to back you up.

 

 

After Saturday’s debut panel turned into an intimate conversation (and word to the wise here: if it’s the last hour of the first day, don’t go up against Jaime Hernandez with your panel), we got some dumplings with our crew, plus A. Degen and both Pitzers. The AdHouse captain lived the dream we all dream of, coming to Toronto with his better half just to hang and raid the shops in Kensington Market. We nearly managed to sneak in a trip to an escape room, but Degen insisted we hit the noise show instead. We did discover that Pitzer sucks at pinball, so there’s at least one thing he can’t do.

 


 

Sunday started with a couple of hours of portfolio reviews. They went well; in fact, we may be introducing you to one of these artists very soon. The day ended with a quick breakdown, and, with Spirits gone and our Sunday dinner plans scrapped, our homer, Aaron, brought us to his neck of the woods for an actually great meal ahead of the official after party. The TCAF after party speeches reminded us that, Aaron or no, we’re Americans, the punchline of every joke. With Butcher offering to help artists secure grants to attend the show, or travel to Japan, or even Denmark, American artists were offered good luck. This came up again and again, and it’s only fair. The closest we ever get to supporting American culture is cable TV bundling. This is the suckiest thing for Americans about going to TCAF: you have to go home.

Many thanks to the many beautiful people who took many books from us. We owe you one. The house is too damn quiet with all the kids gone, so we’re hitting the road again shortly. Yep, it’s time for CAKE. Worry not, we’ll be back here to remind you. Meanwhile, prepare yourself to get a Little Stranger

Your Pal,

Leon

Wild Things

OFF WE GO, into the wild, blue yonder of a new comics year with this, our first Scuttlebutt blog of 2018, to mark the occasion of our return to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. We missed you guys! Even though Barry bounced for greener pastures last year, we continue to rock the Royal We, as Secret Acres remains a gang. Permit us this indulgence, please, since we have a new kid and a pair of new books to introduce to y’all at TCAF…

 

 

Prepare for the return of Reid Psaltis, the guy what gave you the Order of Things. Reid drops a new world order with Kingdom/Order, his first graphic novel, which is the most graphic novel we’ve ever published. Kingdom/Order takes you right out of the modern world and back into the natural world, all without a word. If you insist on words, you can read all about Kingdom/Order over at our beloved Optical Sloth and check out a pretty dang hot take from Publishers Weekly. Come get yours from Reid at TCAF, or catch him at his homecoming party at Portland’s own Floating World after the show – but more on that later. Reid and Kingdom/Order hit the road plenty this year, and we’ll let you know when they get to you, promise.

 

 

This TCAF we also present our first ever canuck, Toronto’s own Aaron Costain, and his debut graphic novel, Entropy. Race back to the origin of humanity with Entropy, and pray you can outrun giants, angels and a very bad cat. Torontonians probably consider Aaron old news at this point, since he received not one, but two Doug Wright Award nominations, both for chapters of Entropy, even. In fact, the locals just took Entropy home in big numbers at Aaron’s signing and gallery show at the Beguiling, Toronto’s legendary bookstore. Many thanks to the hordes who showed up for that one.

 

 

Meantime, study up on Entropy at ForewordMidwest Book Review and Publishers Weekly, or, if you prefer, listen up to Aaron on Detangled. If you make it to TCAF this weekend, catch Aaron on Friday’s Comics as a Side-Hustle panel for TCAF’s Word Balloon Academy, and  on the Debut Books Spotlight panel on Saturday. He keeps busy, this guy.

 

 

Another reason you want to come by the Secret Acres table this year: a surprise visit from none other than Michiel Budel. Yep, he flew in all the way from Amsterdam for the occasion, poor thing. Funnily enough, his first comic, Wayward Girls, was a TCAF debut back in the day,  but he’s never been to the show. Believe it or not, Francine is a TCAF virgin, too. ICYMI, bad girl Francine made the Comics Journal‘s best of the year. No wonder Michiel never goes anywhere without her. Let’s show them a good time!

Speaking of a good time, yours truly has the honor and the privilege of doing portfolio reviews first thing Sunday morning. We love looking at new stuff, and we’ve already broken the Canadian seal with Aaron, so here’s hoping we get lucky. We realize we owe folks a bunch of responses to submissions, too, so, if you’re reading this and wondering why you haven’t heard from us yet, you will, we swear. Or you could find us on Sunday…

We’ll back in a minute with our TCAF wrap. Don’t go anywhere. Other than TCAF, of course.

Your Pal,

Leon

In Your Room

YOU can’t go home again, or something like that. Nostalgia be damned, Comic Arts Brooklyn found its new digs easy. CAB lived large in Pratt’s ARC, aka the Activities Resource Center. Gabe Fowler, CAB Captain and lord of Desert Island, claimed that the ARC is the second largest room in Brooklyn, right behind the Barclays Center. We believe him. R. Sikoryak, who was setting up not too far from us, remarked that the space was too big, that unless there were five thousand people in it, the place would feel empty. Maybe Gabe can catch us up on CAB 2017 attendance, but we thought the place filled up just fine.

 

 

Despite the shocking number of CAB debuts, and poor us with not a one, we sold some books. Reid Psaltis, taking a break from making a big fish for the American Museum of Natural History (really), filled a few Order(s) of Things. Rob Sergel sold out of Eschew 4. After setting up at every CAB in every year of its existence, we have learned that the CAB crowd are mostly generalists. They come for everything; we’ve seen folks with CAB debuts sell out of their previous books. Brooklyn remains weird that way.

 

 

We hardly got out from behind our tables, but Barry Matthews showed up as promised, stole some books from us to fill some orders from England and treated us to an album of cat pictures. We caught up with our guy, Brendan Leach, who swears he is working on new comics, finally. We got hugs from A. Degen, another guy without a full name, and Zack Hazard Vaupen, a guy with three names, and received from them a bookmark and a (stunning) book, respectively. We checked in with Ed Kanerva, making his way to Japan after the show. We picked up the latest from Jordan Jeffries, spent too much money at the kuš! table, and we were neighbors with One Percent Press, who were playing host to the darling Max Weiss, of Papa Time fame, who had a new comic, Convergence, which was even better than Papa Time, which he made in 24 hours, and which had a cover blurb from our very own Sam Gaskin, we shit you not.

All this happened at a one day show. We have never missed a CAB, and we never will, unless something truly awful happens to us, Goddess forbid. Thank you, Gabe, and all you CAB volunteers, for keeping the magic going. We can’t wait till next year’s CAB. Speaking of next year, we promised you a peek at what’s up at Secret Acres in 2018…

 

 

We waited long enough for our first Canuck! A decade in the making, Aaron Costain’s Entropy, twice nominated for a Doug Wright Award, takes place at the intersection of the world’s cultures. Mythologies and religions cross-pollinate, bleed into one another, and form a new soul from synthesis – or they will, if our hero, a golem with a surprisingly modern sensibility, can outrun man-eating giants, a vicious army of crows, a mute doppelgänger, an angel and one very manipulative, slave-driving cat.

 

 

Reid Psaltis follows up the Order of Things with his first ever graphic novel, Kingdom/OrderKindgom/Order wordlessly follows a nameless man as he searches for meaning in his life. Through symbols and sounds, he is reminded of his part in the greater, natural world, just as he is slowly divorced from the modern world surrounding him. Mysteriously, our hero discovers he can understand the calls of the animals around him – but how much of this is real, and how much is delusion? Whatever the case, Reid will leave you speechless.

 

 

What’s silly, scary, and sexy? Edie Fake returns with Little Stranger, his first book with a spine since his Ignatz Award winning Gaylord Phoenix. Throughout the intervening seven years, Edie’s never stopped making comics. In fact, he’s made a LOT of them, and, at last, they’re all under the covers of a Little Stranger, including the notorious and legendary “Night Taps,” “Foie Gras,” “Rico McTaco,” “Nightcrawlers,” and “Sweemeats.” You’ll never look at a turkey the same way again. Even better, Little Stranger launches with a new printing of Gaylord Phoenix and a new, eighth (!) chapter of that series.

 

 

Robert Sergel takes the awkward path to greatness with his first graphic novel, Bald Knobber. A middle school boy named Cole delivers a book report on the Bald Knobbers, masked vigilantes from the Reconstruction Era. Unfortunately for him, this thrilling tale of antebellum justice and a corrupt county has an uncanny resonance with young Cole’s real life. Donning a homemade Bald Knobber mask, Cole and his cat, Daisy, set out to avenge the wrongs perpetrated by his recently divorced parents, his mother’s new boyfriend and the school bully – but much like the real Bald Knobbers, Cole discovers there are consequences to taking the law into your own hands.

 

 

L. Nichols (another guy without a full name), is now an artist, engineer and father of two, but was born in a small town in rural Louisiana, assigned female and raised by conservative Christians. Flocks is his memoir of that childhood, and of the expectations of his family, friends and community, the flocks of Flocks, that shaped and re-shaped him as a young girl and a young man. Unexpectedly, L. never takes the easy way out, never accuses, never rejects, never blames and never flinches in the telling of this personal history. L.’s irresistibly charming drawings demonstrate what makes Flocks so special: L.’s boundless empathy.

We have some other stuff up our sleeves, but we can’t play all our cards at once without mixing metaphors. If you’re in LA, come see us at Comic Arts Los Angeles, which is coming right up. We’ll be back here in a few. Thanks, everybody, for giving us a great 2017 in a world otherwise fill with horrors.

Your Pals,

Barry and Leon

The Seven-Year Itch

STRETCHING back to its previous life as the Brooklyn Comic and Graphics fest, Comic Arts Brooklyn has changed names, leadership, locations and now, neighborhoods, but remains a constant mile marker for those of us who measure time by the indie comics convention circuit. We love an adventure! This year, CAB happens at Pratt. We find it difficult to imagine CAB outside of its usual Williamsburg stomping grounds, but landing in Brooklyn’s premier art school sounds good to us. We are grateful once more to have been included by Gabe Fowler of Desert Island and his CAB crew once more. Thanks, Gabe!

While Barry yet lingers behind the scenes here at Secret Acres, he shirks anything having to do with getting behind the tables. Find him wandering the floor at CAB on Saturday. Who knows what he’s up to? Worry not! We have Rob Sergel, of Eschew fame, joining Reid Pslatis, arbiter of the Order of Things, as official Secret Acres tablemates. Rob, you may know, hails from Cambridge, USA, but Reid came to town from Portland, OR, because he’s making murals and sculptures of animals (of course) for the American Museum of Natural History. Yep, that museum! We’ll have some news about about both these guys when we come back for the post-CAB post. Right now, however, allow us a moment of bragging, because, finally, on September 24th, 2017, Secret Acres turned TEN YEARS OLD!

 

 

Pity the poor anniversaries that are not divisible by five. Honestly, we find even the anniversaries that are multiples of five a little silly. The eighth anniversary ought to be more important, as, biologically, you don’t really have any memories stored away of the time before whatever eight years it is you’re celebrating, because there are no brain cells that make it that long. Especially in this economy. It’s all just stories we tell ourselves, like a game of telephone.

Meanwhile, ICYMI, the gang at Secret Acres kept doing things since we last wrote you. The House of Vans posted a great Art School Q&A with our very own Theo Ellsworth, except Theo did not pick the right kind of Vans as his favorite, which should be the checkerboard classics. Seriously. The Best American Comics Notable Comics list, aka the World’s Greatest Syllabus, includes every eligible comic that Secret Acres published in 2015-16, which is insane. Theo’s final installment of his Understanding Monster trilogy, Rob’s SPACE: An Eschew Collection and Gabby Schulz’s Sick all made the cut, and all three of them have been featured in previous editions of BAC. Old pal John Brodowski, of Curio Cabinet fame, also made the cut, which makes us feel like we almost know what we’re doing here. Kevin Bramer aka the Optical Sloth himself, feasts his eyes on Michiel Budel’s Francine and calls it good. Finally Edie Fake, of Gaylord Phoenix and Memory Palaces fame, hosted an origami performance workshop at the Glass Outhouse using real money for free as part of this year’s High Desert Test Sites, which we attended and which was kinda amazing. Come out next time! Crash with us! Also, we do have some Edie Fake news coming up in our post-CAB post as well.

Before we make any more promises about the next blog post, we’re signing off. See you at CAB!

Your Pals,

Barry and Leon

Last Dance


CROSS COUNTRY
 met cross continental travel in our home town of Brooklyn on the way to Maryland for the Secret Acres gang’s Small Press Expo 2017 odyssey. Our man from Amsterdam, Michiel Budel, broke his jet lag the hard way, heading straight for the airport to our beloved Desert Island, for our evening with Hic & Hoc and November Garcia, where we finally opened up a box of Francine. Yep, Michiel’s bad girl hit the streets this weekend, lord help us all.

 

 

We almost didn’t make it, with Michiel stuck at customs behind a woman trying to sneak a dog in her purse into the USA. Michiel says the dog was cute, at least. Poor Gabe and November had to share Desert Island with luggage from Amsterdam and Tel Aviv both, as Keren Katz came directly over as well. Only at Desert Island can one expect the likes of Katie Skelly, Dean Haspiel (who is keeping it real on LiveJournal) and Gabrielle Bell to drop in for a signing. What a honor to have these comics legends show up for our little shindig. Matt Moses was there, too.

 

 

We packed what we thought was more than enough books. The Beat herself, Heidi McDonald, remarked on Saturday that our tables were looking a little thinner than usual. The post-lunch rush accounted for half of our weekend sales over the course of three hours. This included the requisite moment of terror watching a little girl flipping through the pages of Francine and Wayward Girls. We let her because we’re those horrible people who don’t have a kids’ book imprint. We sold out of Keren’s Ignatz Award nominated book, the Academic Hour, for the third time in three comics shows in a row. Fool us once, shame you. Fool us three times and we get it already; we need to bring more books. Heidi was right.

 

 

With Michiel and Keren and Rob Sergel, with Rob’s host of minis surrounding SPACE, his Eschew collection, and a guest spot from our local hero, Eamon Espey, and with Barry behind the tables (for the last time) we had enough coverage to make it to a panel even. We picked Genderfluidity, Technology and Futurism, moderated by old pal, L. Nichols, featuring Jeremy Sorese, Carta Monir, Kevin Czap and Rio Aubry Taylor (who gave it up for free, comics-wise). Mercifully, Keren’s prom date (and our TCAF comics mule 2017), held a spot for us, because the line was very Hall H. Carta forced us to bite our cheeks bloody to kill the giggles after her description of prose writing’s failure at subtly identifying trans characters: “Her Adam’s apple glistened in the sun…” Have we mentioned how much we love our LGBTQUIA+ sisters and brothers and others? Back when our man, Edie Fake, picked up an Ignatz for Gaylord Phoenix, we felt like the doors were finally maybe opening for POC and for queer comics. Now? Just try to find a straight, cis, white guy with a brick.

 

 

Speaking of, Warren Bernard, Mr. SPX himself, gave a special shoutout to Barry for (almost) ten years of service to Secret Acres, right at the end of his opening speech at the big awards show. Barry bawled like a big baby. He claims he was sweating, out of his eyes, a lot. Thanks for that, Warren.

 

 

Keren also made history, losing two Ignatz awards by one vote each in the same year. How is that even possible? We declare the Ignatz Awards 2017, the Tear-Jerker Edition (looking at you, Emil). All this failed to deter Keren from breaking a sweat at the prom and losing her voice at karaoke. We grown-ups stayed up on the patio.

 

 

These days, and they’re some dark-ass days, we really, really, needed this SPX. There’s no taking these moments with the people we love and admire for granted when so many of us are living under what feels like constant assault from above. We promised to mention Frank Santoro and his Sluggo necklace that Gary Panter made for him. We got to watch Michiel meet Simon HanselmannFrancine cover-blurber, for the first time. A hug from Chris Pitzer, an ab check from Annie Koyama, and some real love and support from our friends old (Hi, Laila!) and new (Hi, Carta! Hi, Rio!) counts as necessary. Hopefully, we’re sending Michiel and Keren and Rob home safe with a smile. If this is where Barry signs off, he chose his spot wisely.

 

 

The rest of us have a couple more shows left on the docket for 2017. See you in a few…

Your Pals,

Barry and Leon

The Goodbye Girl

YOU may have gotten word that this Small Press Expo is Barry Matthews’s last dance as Secret Acres co-captain. Alas, you heard right. Worry not for Secret Acres, certainly, as we close in on ten years of existence with a baker’s half-dozen of books coming in year eleven (but more on that later). Worry not for Barry, either. Husky Barry remains on the Secret Acres masthead through the rest of this year. He plans on returning to shows as a muggle in the near and distant future, like the Carrie Page to Barry’s Laura Palmer, only with less screaming at the sound of his own name. We wish him well in advance, but surely, he will party like it’s (another) 1989 this SPX weekend.

For this, our tenth (!) SPX, we offer you Francine by Michiel Budel. Bad boy Budel brings bad bitch Francine to the comics prom, straight outta Amsterdam. If you thought his Wayward Girls were a handful, wait till you get a load of Francine. Look past all the barely legal murder, betrayals and adultery and you’ll find it easy to claim you read Francine for the sophisticated geopolitical allegory at the deep end of Francine’s kiddie pool. Still, We recommend you don’t take her across any borders. Don’t believe us? Here’s Rob Kirby on the Comics Journal on Francine. See.

 

 

Pregame with us tomorrow, back in our home town of Brooklyn, at the site of what was our first ever comics party, the excellent and legendary Desert IslandFrancine keeps good company at Desert Island, with party crasher November Garcia and her Foggy Notions. Expect indie comics celebrity guest appearances and FREE BEER. The DI shindig starts at 7:00 sharp, so make a long night of it.

We expect a bunch of Secret Acres celebrity guest appearance at SPX as well, considering the number of the gang asking for badges for the Big Barry Bye-Bye party. We guarantee the presence of Keren Katz, who’s got a nice pair of Ignatz Award nominations, one for Outstanding Mini-Comic for Our Tale of Woe, a comic that she and Geffen Refaeli put together about not being able to put a comic together, and another for our very own the Academic Hour, for Outstanding Artist. Not bad, huh?

ICYMI, Keren and the Academic Hour have been all over the place since last we got on Scuttlebutt. Catch her on Women Write About Comics, the Comics JournalSequential StateOptical SlothCalm Undertones Now Transmitting and Artsy. Meanwhile, the Standard LA chimed on the work of our man, Edie Fake, who is speaking at George Mason University coming up, and TONIGHT, you can catch some original Theo Ellsworth at Grumpy Bert‘s in Brooklyn. Everything comes back to Brooklyn. Including us. We got a plane to catch. See you on the other side!

Your Pals,

Barry and Leon

Cherry Pie

OVER HERE at team Acres, we argue on the merits of Chicago itself, but we agree that the Chicago Alternative (K)omics Expo boasts the most accommodating staff, and a star-spangled exhibitor list. Five years in, after attending all but one CAKE since 2012, we declare it a can’t-miss comics show. This year, CAKE brought the extra classy by introducing helpful pronoun stickers (She, He, They, and a blank one for any other preferred pronoun), and designating itself a safer space. We love you, CAKE. Yes, homo.

Flight delays prevented us from doing anything fun on Friday night, but we woke up ready to sling comics on Saturday morning, all of our boxes safely waiting for us at the table. Our old and hot pal, CAKE’s own Jessica Campbell, greeted us at the door, Neil Brideau helped us score some change, and, half a table away, we found our guy, Sean Ford, with tablemates Chuck Forsman and Michael Fiffe.

 

 

Keren Katz joined us at chez Acres with her debut graphic novel, the Academic Hour. We sold out of damn near everything by mid-day Sunday. That left us time to check in with old friends and check out the new kids. We said hi to Tom Spurgeon and enjoyed his spotlight panel on Fantagraphics hitting the big 4-0, which included Anya Davidson, Noah Van Sciver and Ivan Brunetti. John Porcellino showed up, dropping Spit and a Half‘s first publication, the classic and finally Complete Strange Growths by Jenny Zervakis. Welcome to the publishing game, John! We mourned the absence of Annie Koyama and Chris Pitzer, our regular con cohorts, but we met Eric Kostiuk Williams at the Koyama table and grabbed a copy of his sensational Condo Heartbreak Disco. We snatched the Shirley Jackson Project, a collection of comics inspired by Shirley Jackson, edited by our friend, Rob Kirby from Minneapolis. We chatted up Conor Stechschulte, Ethan Rilly, Gabrielle Bell and the ever-charming Jordan Shively, also from Minneapolis. All these people making relevant work, and practically all of them over the age of thirty! Wonders never cease! As for the younglings, we found a new comics crush in M. Dean from Brooklyn, and her gorgeously-crafted Baby Fat. No leering intended or implied.

 

 

We caught up with our old lady, Corinne Mucha, snagged a copy of her mini My Cat Is An Artist, and sat in on her Comics 101 Workshop. The divine Ms. Katz participated in the workshop and accomplished quite a bit in a single hour, creating the character, Happy Farmer Lady Bug and co-creating a disturbing comic where poor Happy Farmer Lady Bug is forced to face Hungry Snake Wedding Planner. That happened.

 

 

We failed on the party front, since we’re getting old and crotchety, closing in on a decade of Secret Acres, but we did share some beverages with buddies on the deck of the Center on Halsted Sunday night. Obviously, we made a little time for some goodbye pancakes before taking a Monday morning flight out of the windy city. Thanks to everyone at CAKE for making us welcome and letting us chill with our favorite weirdos for a few, lovely days.

 

 

We promise to party with you in September, what with the Small Press Expo lurking around the corner. We spilled the beans of the return of Michiel Budel to the USA (poor thing must not be reading the news), with his new main squeeze, Francine. Joining Michiel for Bethesda’s finest hour will be Ms. Katz, Gabby Schulz and Rob Sergel. Plus, expect an invitation to a shindig, on the eve of our journey to the Marriott, in our hometown of Brooklyn. We’ll return before then with all the juicy details. Meanwhile, we’re going swimming.

Your pals,

Barry and Leon

Marie Antoinette

LET ‘EM eat CAKE! Boy howdy, how we love CAKE, the Chicago Alternative (K)omics Expo. CAKE happens at the Center on Halsted and Secret Acres is the lovechild of two gays. Chicago birthed our man, Edie Fake, and we even have a book to prove it. Our lady, Corinne Mucha, lives there all the time. Chicago never fails to serve up huge feedings for the husky, and it serves as the stomping ground of some of the best cartoonists and artistes around. Just look at this CAKE guest list. What’s not to love?

 

 

Our lady of the evening, Keren Katz, continues her whirlwind tour of the planet at CAKE this weekend. If you jumped the gun and picked up her debut graphic novel, the Academic Hour, bring yours because you want a drawing from her. If you missed out on it, there won’t be a better time to pick one up. Keren’s got plans for some improv on Friday, so please stalk her and let us know if she manages to get on stage. She loves stalking; it’s fine.

 

 

The aforementioned Corinne Mucha hosts what may go down as the cutest comics event of the year. On Sunday, fearless Corinne faces down an audience of children of all ages for her Comics 101 workshop. Read Get Over It! and you’ll understand why expect her to be everyone’s favorite teacher. Corinne is not the only other Secret Acre on the floor this CAKE weekend, as Sean “Only Skin” Ford will be our table neighbor once again. Sean’s got the very last issue of his current series, Shadow Hills. We haven’t even read it yet, so, please, no spoilers.

 

 

Alas, Edie himself will be out in the desert of California, but, should you happen to be the windy city, do swing by the Perfectly Acceptable gang and pick up Edie’s Gaylord Phoenix 7. Yep, Edie returned to the scene of the crime. And all this time, we thought we’d collected the complete Gaylord Phoenix. Cali extends it’s grip on things Secret Acres this weekend with a solo show from mad genius Theo Ellsworth. Theo’s Haunted Helpers opens at GR2, the gallery end of LA’s Giant Robot, on Saturday night. Being bicoastal, we’ll cover that one for you folks that can’t make the trip, but if you can, imagine a room filled with Theo’s creatures. Miss that at your peril.

We’ll be back here in a bit with our CAKE regurgitations. We’ll even have some actual specifics on our bad boy Budel‘s return stateside with his bad girl, Francine. See you on the other side.

Your Pals,

Barry and Leon

The Upstairs Room

SPLITTING up the country meant our Toronoto Comic Arts Festival odyssey began with shipping stock from Los Angeles to Brooklyn, a red eye to Long Island (where our beloved wagon resides), a drive to Brooklyn for our comics mule, gear and books, and a drive up over the border into Toronto. We know. Everyone deals with this. The luck of New York’s centrality to the indie comics circuit spared us for years, but we feel your pain now, fellow indie comics peeps. That said, we got into the library and set up a quad stack of our big debut, the Academic Hour, all before closing time on Friday night, all without a hitch, and still in time for poutine and a couple of Blue Hawaiians with our lady of the evening, Keren Katz. So there.

Location, location, location means more at TCAF. We’ll cop to handwringing about our new second floor digs. We sold more downstairs, certainly. OTOH, given the work to get there, it’s pretty frickin’ comfortable upstairs. Exchange rate or no, we did well. Interesting tidbit about the upstairs room: it reversed our sales flow, with Sunday being the bigger day. Makes sense to us. TCAF’s enormous; why not split floors by day?

 

 

Keren ran a marathon. She started with a panel, “Expressive Lines And The Power of Restraint,” which went easy on the restraint part. Keren erases the lines between imagination and reality, making her something of a practical joker IRL. She started drawing on enormous boards to get the attention of the hot guy she watched from her window. Someone carved her school out of a mountain with a fifth floor lower than the third floor. She worked as an air traffic controller in the army. Okay. We listened to Hellen Jo assassinate Micron pens (and we agree that they suck) and discoverd she’s cool with OCD inking making her art stiff, because, hey, it wouldn’t be Hellen otherwise. Ron Rege, Jr., whose Skibber Bee-Bye altered our worlds, hipped us to Paul Laffoley, whose work Ron used to copy at a print shop in the Old Days. Consider the throughline from Laffoley to Rege to Fake to Jacobs, etc. Ms. Katz followed that with a stand up routine at R. Sikoryak‘s “Carousel: Cartoon Slide Shows and Picture Performances,” and capped it off with a book shrinking workshop on Sunday morning. Keren’s performance on the floor sent us back home with no copies left of the Academic Hour. Let love rule.

 

 

TCAF 2017 taught us how to go broke in sixty hours or less. Our gang obsessed over the Palace of Champions by Montreal’s local legend Henriette Valium. Juliacks dropped a brick of beauty with Architecture of an Atom. We scored a stack of minis from TCAF table bunky, cinemaniac Jordan Jeffries. MegaDILF Joe Ollman sketched out our copies of his latest, the Abominable Mr. Seabrook, while double-timing D&Q and Conundrum. Swimmers Group, Toronto locals who publish AND print all their stuff, our darlings of the show, snuck a whole new Matt Thurber (!) comic into our haul. Koyama surprised us with the placemat-sized Placeholders from graphomania sufferer, Michael Deforge, along with the new Eleanor Davis and Jesse Jacobs – who had TWO graphic novels at TCAF, the latter of which we completely missed.

Speaking of missing, we hardly had time to hang out. We squeezed some hugs and hellos out of Chris Pitzer, Kevin Czap, both Spurgeons, a Shiveley and Mickey Z. We got a drink with Jamie Tanner, the first person we approached about publishing, who told us to go to hell and we’ve been pals ever since. We dined, post-show, with the Koyamas and a guest appearance from the aforementioned Eleanor and Drew Weing. We skipped the Dougies, because they’re racist, but we will attend if we ever go full Canuck. Annie threatened to ditch, too, but as Koyama was celebrating its tenth birthday, she didn’t dare. She told us someone threatened  her with a roast instead of an honor, which scared her. The Dougies roasted her, anyway, and we feel crappy for missing it, but we did see the new Beguiling and spent a fortune there. Happy tenth, Koyama!

 

 

Generally, returning to the former home of the brave presents no problems. This year, thanks to President Shitgibbon, our exit featured the makings of a loaded, lesbian romcom. Keren, as you know, showed up on a visa from Israel. Our TCAF 2017 comics mule, a self-confessed fangirl who happens to be a queer Muslim activist, rightfully worried about getting home to the USA, citizen or not. These concerns sicken us, but a queer Mulsim activist and an Irsraeli artist stuck in Toronto without country makes a for a good round of jokes. Godspeed, Keren!

 

 

As for Candian milestones, we signed our first legit Canadian cartoonist this past weekend. Next TCAF, we’ll have that book and we’ll do the Dougies. CAKE, the Chicago Alternative (K)omics Expo happens in about a month, so we’ll return with deets on our impending trip to the windy city. Meanwhile, we promised a sneak peek our fall season, when Secret Acres turns ten years old. We plan to celebrate our birthday bash by bringing back bad boy Michiel Budel, with bad bitch Francine. Brace yourself.

Your Pals,

Leon and Barry

Love Story

AT LONG LAST, we start our official comics year of 2017 in earnest. After an unusually long winter hibernation, we hit the road for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival this very weekend. Normally, we knock the rust off with MoCCA, the Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art Festival in our hometown of New York City. Alas, circumstances scattered us both to the winds, but for those of you who did attend our beloved MoCCA, you may have caught sight of one Keren Katz. Keren drops some real knowledge at TCAF, the most truly international comic show, with her big debut, the Academic Hour. So it all turned out okay in the end.

 

 

The Academic Hour makes a mushy romantic out of just about anyone. Keren’s gorgeous, mysterious and seductive masterpiece charmed the pants off us and we’re bitter, husky, old dudes. Swing by our new digs, upstairs at table 233, and get some. Make sure you take a look at the divine Ms. Katz’s schedule, though, as she’s a busy bee. Saturday finds Keren at “Expressive Lines And The Power of Restraint,” talking composition and inspiration with a murderer’s row of Hellen Jo, Ron Rege Jr., Maggie Umber, and Xia Gordon. Later, she dances across the street to ride R. Sikoryak‘s “Carousel: Cartoon Slide Shows and Picture Performances.” Keren studied dance long and hard before she studied art, so expect a real performance to go with those pictures. Bright and early on Sunday morning, she puts her teacher hat on for a Book Shrinking Workshop. Keren’s got the goods, but BYO media and make a mini scale take on your best book. We swear this a real thing. Look, there’s a picture right here.

 

 

While we’re here, let’s catch up with the folks in the stables at Secret Acres. The guy who made Sick, our big book of TCAF 2016, the recovering Gabby Schulz, surprised us by dropping a collection of webcomics detailing his years of toil on the previously mentioned Sick. Our pal and comics’ faithful husband, Alec Longstreth, put out Gabby’s a Process of Drastically Reducing One’s Expectations through his brand new imprint, Phase 8. Way to go, guys! Listen up with the gang at Comics Alternative, as they bravely talk to Gabby about APODROE on their podcast. Meanwhile, Theo EllsworthCapacity king, and the good ship Kuš! performed an Exorcism. Sadly, we do not yet possess an Exorcism, but it’s Theo, man. Get a gander at Theo’s giant Borne bear right here, now on tour everywhere. Finally, our man, Edie Fake, returned to Gaylord Phoenix, with a brand new installment, beautifully printed by Perfectly Acceptable. Edie’s Memory Palaces art made its way into the New York Times, too, accompanying a sad and moving piece on disappearing gayborhoods. Sigh.

 

 

We promise to come right back here after the big show with our usual rundown of all things TCAF, which itself is like all things to all people. How we love TCAF! We also promise some big news about what we’ve got coming up for the rest of the comics year of 2017. Right now, though, we gotta get packing.

Your Pals,

Barry and Leon

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