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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

Here Comes Santa Claus


blog-header-11_16_16A DISCLAIMER: 
So we had this here Comic Arts Brookyn report locked and loaded last Wednesday, the 9th. If you live in America and are aware of your surroundings at all, you know last Wednesday shocked the bejesus out of most of the country. Call us cray, but it seemed in bad taste to hit people up with comics stuff while so many were devastated, furious and scared shitless. If America’s new President Elect gives you a happy because you are a white supremacist, a sexist or you’re lookng for a tax cut, please stop reading right now and don’t ever come back here. If you voted for America’s new President Elect because there was no hope that the Democratic nominee would help those left impoverished and desperate in the rust belt and elsewhere, please drop us a line; we can talk about this all day. Really, anyone reading this who wants to chat, particularly anyone who is afraid and looking for comfort or support, hit us up. Secret Acres isn’t exactly a political concern, but we’re not apolitical, either. We can talk about comics, too.

SO. After a week catching our breath, we give you our CAB breakdown, featuring guest co-Scuttlebutter, Secret Acres’ own, Sean Ford, a lapsed Catholic:

Comic Arts Brooklyn marks the end of the yearly convention circuit (Sorry, CALA). Perhaps because of its one-time December slot on the dance card, it feels like a holiday party. A few people mentioned that the room needed some christmas tree lights strung from the rafters to fit the mood. Holiday parties come with end of the year reckonings, weird hats, too much drinking, and evil spirits from the past. We sprinkled ourselves with holy water, said five Hail Marys, and got to the show early, with high hopes.

Perhaps due to the late announcement of CAB this year, (and like eighteen competing comic shows happening across the globe that same day), the show missed a few stalwarts like D+Q, Koyama, AdHouse, Fantagraphics and a spiked punch bowl full of eggnog. Who needs the carbs, anyway? Instead, artist tables dominated for once, interspersed with royalty like Charles Burns, Richard McGuire, and Dame Darcy. This left more time and space to find less obvious gems than one might otherwise.

 

sa1

 

We visited Kevin Hooyman just to say, “Hey,” only to find that he had TEN (10), as in one per finger, T-E-N (Jesus!), new issues of his excellent comic Conditions on the Ground since we’d seen him last. Catch up with Kevin; this comic exists somewhere between our man Theo Ellsworth‘s Capacity, and the comics of Thomas Herpich (Please make more comics, Thomas Herpich!). We spotted Heidi MacDonald who gleefully remarked that the Mets can now beat the Cubs next year, guilt-free. Leslie Stein sold us some stunning watercolors for far too little money. Noah Van Sciver‘s mustache made its last public appearance. Julia Gfrörer Laid Waste at CAB (which we forgot to bring to get signed, dammit). Darryl Ayo dropped copies of Little Garden and tabled up with old pals Aaron Cockle, Jon Allen, and L NicholsJosh Bayer brought a Ghost Rider watercolor, that was the most beautiful thing on the planet, and a collection of Steven that he got signed by Doug Allen, who was at the show and we missed it somehow. Someone reprint Steven already or we’ll do it ourselves! We ran into Greg Benton and he made fun of us for never having been to Angoulême. Someday, Greg. Meanwhile, Kevin Czap’s comics takeover proceeded apace.

Downstairs, we found Chuck Forsman, Michel Fiffe, and Melissa Mendes slinging their excellent comics to a very constant and pleased crowd. Peow Studio took all our remaining money and gave us a bunch of gorgeously printed, seemingly manga-influenced books. But our biggest spend went to Breakdown Press, where we bought everything we couldn’t afford, notably Anna Haifisch’s gorgeous new edition of the Artist. Find that book and smell it a few times.

 

cotg

 

At the Acres table proper, Brendan Leach appeared early, sold some copies of his slick, new hardcover edition of Pterodactyl Hunters, and split to go teach America’s youth about comics. Rob Sergel did a brisk business and sold out of his fine Eschew collection, SPACE, his mini, Bald Knobber, and damn near everything else. Sean Ford obsessed about the eyes of Tucker Stone and came up just shy of a Shadow Hills sellout himself. If you allow us one lament: we were too dumb to find Dame Darcy during the day, and too tired for the A+ after party, featuring a triple banjo performance from Dame, Matt Thurber and Jesse Gelber. After the show, we tuckered Acres went out to a quiet dinner, then home early to read Hooymans, giggling ourselves to sleep and feeling okay about our spot in the universe…

 

chuck

 

Thank you, Comic Arts Brooklyn, all the people there and special guest co-blogger, Sean Ford. You might just get to keep this gig, Sean, now that we’re bi-coastal. As for Los Angeles, we might just take a peak at CALA and report back here for fun. We shall see.

We also promised a sneak peek at 2017. Just remember we told you first, very first of all, that our first book of 2017 will be the Academic Hour. Feast your eyes on the debut graphic novel from Keren Katz:

 

the-academic-hour

 

We met Keren several lifetimes ago, but really got to know her at MoCCA 2015, where she won the Festival Award of Excellence (and, no, steering committee or not, there was no conflict of interest there since we didn’t even get a vote). Newbie or not, you likely peeped Keren’s work in the New York Times, or the Brooklyn Rail, maybe, or in a couple of anthologies from Locust Moon Comics or Seven Stories Press.

The Academic Hour charts the budding love affair between Poethel, a disgraced architecture professor, and his student, Liana, through their notes and letters. It’s all set in a fantastic, logic-defying art college of shifting rooms and secret performance spaces; perfect for an intense, fledgling, morally complicated relationship. Prepare for Keren to romance your pants off.

See you in a few, all you beautiful people…

Your Pals,

Sean and Barry and Leon

One Night Only

blog-header-11_02_16NOW comes the time to close the show on 2016. Our last show of this lovely (for us – and hideous for our nation and civility in general) year makes for our first show after the great Secret Acres schism. Barry Matthews serves as your soul proprietor at this year’s Comic Arts Brooklyn. We picked a good one for him, as CAB is now, and has always been, a breeze for us. Allow us to shower Desert Island‘s Gabe Fowler with our praise for keeping the comic book ball rolling in Brooklyn and for keeping us on the CAB floor. Thanks, Gabe!

The other, husky half of Secret Acres relocated to the best coast, Los Angeles, a scant few days ago. Please enjoy his LA report:

Sunny. 72°.

In lieu of Leon, we offer you the return of the previously relocated to Louisville, Brooklyn’s own Sean Ford. He of Only Skin fame returns to his former hometown with a fresh ish of his new series, Shadow Hills. Trust us, Sean will be just as happy to see you as you will be to see him. You can take the boy out of Brooklyn, etc. Seeing as we haven’t even read Shadow Hills 9 yet, you surely need that one, too.

 

shadowhills9

 

Local hero Brendan Leach, maker of Iron Bound, cabs it over to CAB early. He brings his latest, if not greatest: the brand new, hardcover, over-sized edition of Pterodactyl Hunters in the Gilded City. We know you like to sleep in, Brooklyn, but get there circa brunch time for Brendan because he’s got to teach the children of Montclair, New Jersey or something, a thing or two about comics in the afternoon.

 

PHITGC

 

We saved the best for last. Robert Sergel, the man from SPACEAn Eschew Collection rolls in from Beantown (okay, Cambridge) for CAB. We love Rob, obvi, and we have loved Eschew for the longest, and it fits that our first book of the year, SPACE, and Rob are showing up for our last shindig. SPACE showed up on more than a few Best of 2016 lists, so ICYMI, come get yours from Rob himself.

 

SPACE

 

Also from the ICYMI files, the other Rob, meaning the nicest guy in comics, Rob Clough (who had some kind words for Rob Sergel’s SPACE) can now call first with his reviews of our last books of the year, namely the aforementioned Pterodactyl Hunters in the Gilded City and the Order of Things, from Reid Psaltis. Alas, Reid is back in Portland, Oregon, but read all about his debut on High-Low. Congrats on your first review, Reid! It’s a winner. Thanks again, Rob!

We’ll see you, Brooklyn, at the CAB show, and we’ll be back here in a week with a peak at 2017…

Your Pals,

Barry and Leon (in LA)

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