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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 very 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 (plus 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.

 

 

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 incredible 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, since 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

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

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