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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.

 

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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.

 

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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…

 

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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.

 

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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)

No Country for Old Men

blog-header-09_21_16LET US BEGIN by thanking the mama’s boys at Mama Says Comics Rock for hosting us. A dark and stormy Wednesday night held all but the boldest away. Thank you, you brave souls, who came out to see Reid Psaltis and Brendan Leach and their books, the Order of Things and Pterodactyl Hunters in the Gilded City. We hid out with the delightful Cade and Davey until the weather turned before heading out for a pleasant evening of Thai food al fresco, power outages be damned. Everyone looks good by candlelight, anyhow.

The next day saw the safe arrival of Gabby Schulz, returning to our fair city to get himself a new driver’s license ahead of the big show. Meanwhile, the young Mr. Psaltis took a trip over to the American Museum of Natural History. Reid, as you may know, interned at AMNH’s Exhibitions Department. Right now, you can see Reid’s very own Mei Long in the great halls of the museum. AMNH, like it does for all New Yorkers, played a huge part in our childhoods, so for Reid and for us,this ranks as one the of the most wonderful things that can happen. Congratulations, Reid!

 

mei-long

 

We took off for the Small Press Expo, locked and loaded and ready to drop Pterodactyl Hunters and the Order of Things on all the beautiful people. After hitting our usual steakhouse, we returned to the Marriott and cuddled up on the fancy new couches on the lanai, waiting for our surprise guest of the show, Sean Ford, to arrive. We played catch up another Secret Acre, MK Reed, and wished our distro-mate, Tom K, a happy birthday and called it a relatively early night of sweet dreams.

We woke up to a nightmare. The Order of Things, every copy of our big debut, was sitting on the curb in New York. Having seen such nightmare scenarios happen to other pals who were left bookless at big shows, horror quickly became desperation. Scientists suggest time travel requires moving faster than the speed of light. We assure you this is false, but we did manage a semi-save getting back to the city, rescuing the Order of Things and getting books on the table before closing time on Saturday. All of which sucked for everyone, especially Reid, and no apologies to him will suffice. Even Annie Koyama refused to be seen with us and hid behind Chris Pitzer‘s enormous thumb.

 

barry

 

Miraculously, we had a very good day, with Brendan’s Pterodactyl Hunters, Gabby’s Ignatz Award nominated Sick and the surprising Sean Ford keeping the crowd entertained. Gabby, alas, lost his Ignatz to Lisa Hanawalt’s Hot Dog Taste Test. He still sports a winning record at the Ignatzes, at least. Better yet, Noah Van Sciver, the biggest loser in Ignatz history, the Susan Lucci of indie comics, finally took home the gold for My Hot Date. When you’ve been working as had as that guy, as long as that guy, a little validation goes a long way. Kudos, Noah.

Speaking of the Ignatz Awards, Nate Powell, the Ignatz MC, talked a bit about hanging around the comics scene long enough to be the old guard. Right after the ceremony, the scene gave way to the SPX prom, now featuring a real live fog machine. Everyone over thirty, pretty much, retired to the lanai, only to watch the youths driven from dancing by a false fire alarm, not long after the prom began. Hopefully, this prom business got someone laid because no one we spoke to would admit to ever having “done it” while at SPX. Liars. Anyway, post prom flameout, Heidi MacDonald, aka the Beat, challenged all the old coots to identify, by image alone, the artists of the SPX badges. Not one person got them all right. Not one. We laughed about this, because we had the bar to ourselves and all the kids had gone to bed. Sometimes, being the grownups is not so terrible.

 

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We really cleaned the hell up on Sunday, turning a very good Saturday into great weekend. We also came back with some hot shit, like old pal Jessica Campbell‘s Hot or Not20th Century Male Artists, the all-new Leslie SteinTime ClockÚlcera from the Puiupo duo and a double dose of Carlos Gonzalez, to name but a few. Like we always say, no one remembers how much they spent at shows, but everybody remembers reading all the dope books they got. Thanks again, to all of you who got the Order of Things and Pterodactyl Hunters off to flying starts.

Speaking of flying, Secret Acres will be bi-coastal the next time you see us. Your pal, Leon, succumbed to the siren call of Los Angeles, without even getting permission from Cartoon Network. Barry’s heart belongs to Brooklyn still. He and Sean Ford will be manning the Secret Acres fort at Comic Arts Brooklyn, which is coming up sooner than you think. We promise to show up on time with all the books in hand for that one, and we’ll have plenty more to say on the matter, on this here blog, when the time comes. See you in a few…

Your Pals,

Barry and Leon

Jurassic World

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RUN for your life to Mama Says Comics Rock! You read that right: MSCR, Brooklyn’s newest funny book emporium plays host to the newest horse in the Secret Acres’ table, Reid Psaltis, and our old boy, Brendan Leach, TONIGHT. The fun starts at 6PM, so prepare for refreshments and a double dose of our two latest books, appearing for the first time anywhere in public. We love a good couple of debuts, sure, but lest we forget the occasion for such hijinks, MSCR is sending us all on our way to SPX, aka Comics Camp, aka the Small Press Expo, the big show happening this very weekend.

 

 

The aforementioned Mr. Psaltis takes his first-ever road trip with us, to bring his first-ever book, the Order of Things, to Bethesda. We never knew how dumb we were about animals until checking out this badass bestiary. Reid drops a lot of science here, which comes as no surprise since he got his learn on at the science illustration graduate program at California State University – Monterey Bay, and that was after acquiring a BA in oil painting. Be dazzled by his skills, but pay attention, because Reid pulls a fast one or twelve. By the time you remember raptors don’t eat ramen, you’re done for. Laugh and learn, people.

 

 

Then shed a tear for a pterodactyl, with the oversized, hardcover, spot glossy return of Pterodactyl Hunters in the Gilded City. Brendan Leach’s classic tale lands somewhere between the Red Badge of Courage and Long Day’s Journey Into Night, but with a flock of pterodactyls terrorizing turn of the century New York. This flight of fancy lands in familiar territory; even psychologists will envy Brendan’s ability to put the family drama in fantasy. Harpoon gunning a pterodactyl from a hot air balloon looks easy after dealing with a disappointed dad. A Xeric grant-funded, newsprint version of Pterodactyl Hunters won the SPX Ignatz Award for Outstanding Comic a couple years back. What better place for its rebirth?

 

 

Another Ignatz Award winner returns to the scene of the crime this SPX weekend. Gabby Schulz, winner of two Ignatz Awards for his graphic novel, Monsters, makes his way back to the Secret Acres tables, with Sick. Sick garnered Gabby yet another Ignatz nomination, this time for Outstanding Graphic Novel. We beg you to vote for it, and believe us, we’d keep our mouths shut because Gabby hates all civic duty, but Sick is truly outstanding, and it is a graphic novel. Get to SPX and make your voice heard. Democracy in action and all that.

See you tonight, see you at the show and then we’ll see you back here in a week!

Your Pals,

Barry and Leon

See You in September

Blog-Header-06_15_16OKAY. We’re going to do this out of order a little bit. On Sunday at CAKE, aka the Chicago Alternative (K)omics Expo, we unfurled our table cloth and Secret Acres flag to face day two of the big show. Our ginormous, loaner iPad was on the fritz, so we used our phones as cash registers because wonders never cease. The texts and e-mails came fast and furious. An “Americanized,” “self-radicalized,” “radical Islamist” shooter unleashed the most savage mass murder in American history, which really says something.

It’s strange when the Real World pops the bubble of a day at a comics show. It generally means terrible shit happened. This one happened to gay people at a gay club. We’re gay guys and we were talking comics at CAKE at the Center on Halsted in Chicago during Pride week. As gays, we’re used to being politicized. As Americans, we’re used to seeing mass murders and we’re used to seeing them politicized, too. “Americanized” is generally used to described Muslims in America, which, like any sane person, we find disgusting, ditto the term “self-radicalized” and whatever the fuck people mean by “radical Islam.” If only “Americanized” meant stockpiling violence upon fear mongering upon endless war, nuclear war, slavery and genocide, it would be an honest word, at least. So we were momentarily consumed by hatred for our own country.

 

Panel

 

Then we remembered who we were and where we were: CAKE was the place to be. After scrolling through the news, we walked into Sunday’s panel, a “Celebration of Sparkplug Comics.” The panel, an intimate affair, quickly turned into a celebration of Dylan Williams, in memoriam, at what was the last show ever for his publishing company, wrapping up after 14 years of great work and five years after we lost Dylan himself. The day we heard Dylan was gone, we happened to be at SPX, the Small Press Expo. We wrote then about what a blessing it was to be surrounded by so many people who loved him.

At CAKE, and in an LGBT center, post news of the massacre, we listened to stories of Dylan’s unending love for comics and the people who make them and the people who read them. Dylan told everyone what they needed to hear, and on Sunday, it was Austin English who said what we needed to hear. He talked about a time, on a road trip with Dylan, when he felt deeply discouraged and conflicted about complaining to Dylan: how do you get so wrapped up in comics when there are people dying by the thousands in Afghanistan? Dylan told Austin it was good to take it all seriously because comics were so important to him. That’s important to us. We’ve said this so many times, but it’s so easy to forget, and some sad souls might even forget that this is a community: our community is made of the best people on the planet and there are a lot of us.

 

Sunset

 

Lucky us to be in the same room with a good chunk of the beautiful people. Yes, we were selling comics, but if you believed like Dylan did, this was a holy act, too. We sold a decent amount of comics, but with everything else going on in the world and in Chicago, the turnout suffered a bit. Speaking of being in the room, how we longed to be in the big gym, despite our prime real estate, and nosey neighbors like the Uncivilized gang, our own Sean Ford, and Tin Can Forest. We did catch glimpses of Corinne Mucha and Reid Pslatis. We snuck in a little cuddle time with our favorite Martian, Marian Runk. We chatted a little bit with Tom Devlin and giggled with Jessica Campbell at Quimby’s. We received a killer submission of sorts from Chris Gooch. We picked up the new Lale Westvind. We leaned on Zak Sally like a crutch. We hugged the King Cat, John Porcellino. We stood on a rooftop watching the sunset while Eddie Campbell read to a packed house downstairs. We peed in peace and comfort in genderless bathrooms. We ate cake. We saw hundreds of naked people riding bikes through the streets. We celebrated the first anniversary of our gay marriage. This is all to say a thing like CAKE is a community event, not a market, and we’re grateful to have participated in it. Thanks, everybody, especially to all the volunteers, who make these things happen for all of us.

 

Naked Bike Ride

 

But back to Reid Psaltis. We promised a big reveal and reveal we must. Coming in September to the aforementioned SPX, will be the debut of the newest Secret Acre, Reid Psaltis. It’s called the Order of Things. Yes, it’s a bestiary. You’ll read and you’ll learn something, but pay attention, because Reid is going to mess you with you and the animal kingdom in equal measure. Reid boasts some serious science chops in addition to being a world class painter. In fact, you can find some of his work on display at New York’s own world famous American Museum of Natural History right now. Everyone say, “Hi,” to the new kid!

 

The Order of Things - Exterior Cover.indd

 

The there’s the old kid, Brendan Leach. We’re bringing Leach back to SPX, too, and bringing his Ignatz Award winner, Pterodactyl Hunters in the Gilded City back to print. Yep, everyone’s walking the dinosaur. Pterodactyl Hunters is a stone cold classic, like the Red Badge of Courage meets pterodactyls in turn of the century New York. We fell in love with Brendan at our first sight of the old newsprint version, so we’re pleased as punch to resurrect it out of a mosquito trapped in amber. Our dino-sized, hardcover, spot-glossed edition lands in your hands this fall.

 

PHITGC

 

Meanwhile, check out the starred, glowing review of Gabby Schulz‘s Sick over at Publisher’s Weekly. We discussed this a bit with old Gabby at our CAKE table. We appreciate the universal, glowing praise Sick has received–but, but, but it’s an argument against human existence and everyone who’s written it up describes nodding along while reading it. We adore Gabby and Sick, sure. If only he were more wrong!

Anyway, go forth and make love while it’s nice out. See you in a few.

Your Pals,

Barry and Leon

P.S. Thank you, Gene Kannenberg, Jr. for the use of your picture of Gabby at the 25th Anniversary of Quimby’s! We owe you one.

The Super Bowl Shuffle

Blog-Header-06_08_14WE LOVE YOU like a fat kid loves CAKE, aka the Chicago Alternative Komics Expo (sic). We got no CAKE last year, so we’re starving for flavor. Of the many things we love about the Second City or the Windy City or whatever, this show ranks pretty dang high on the list. As a couple of gay guys, we appreciate the queer friendly vibe of having a show in the hallowed halls of the Center on Halsted, the nicest LGBTQ center we’ve ever seen. Not to mention, our guy Edie Fake midwifed CAKE into the world. Though Edie relocated himself to the wilds of the Cali desert (no, really the wilderness), we are blessed to have some powerhouse local talent at the Secret Acres table. You will be witnesses.

Even if they’re sitting out of sitting at the Secret Acres table, our CAKE gang covers the floor real good. The remote roster boasts none other than Corinne Mucha, of Get Over It! fame and fortune. Corinne set up her own shop for this one, but rest assured, she will be bearing gifts. Our next door neighbor represents something of a reunion for us. Sean Ford, the maker of Only Skin and his current series, Shadow Hills, makes his way to CAKE from his new home state of Kentucky. Yep, he live theres now because that’s where they make the bourbon. Also, you’ll find Reid Psaltis at CAKE. Remember when we said, “hint, hint,” about that guy? Of course not, because we said that on tumblr or the like. We promise a big reveal when we return here with our CAKE tales.

 

KaviGuptaGallery005114

 

Front and center at our table is Gabby Schulz, aka Ken Dahl aka Food Stamp Beer aka Vomiting Larry aka some other names he’d kill us if we told you. He has so many names. He’s getting Sick to the lovely masses once more. As a fun aside, Gabby took over Edie’s spot at Quimby’s (kinda) when he dragged himself to Chicago a couple years ago. How fitting  he will be on the truly awesome sounding 25th Anniversary Celebration of Quimby’s! panel. That panel kicks off the weekend, too. If you’re angry about Gabby subbing in for Edie, or you simply need more Edie Fake all the time, prepare to be happy because the Kavi Gupta gallery’s got some Edie on the walls for their show Gist & Gesture. In short, make the trip to CAKE, people.

Can’t make the trip? Check out Midwest Book Review‘s take on Rob Sergel‘s SPACEAn Eschew Collection. Or pore over Optical Sloth‘s ideal reader type review of Gabby’s Sick. Or watch Gabby’s short film (we will never say “motion comic” aloud), Suicide Forest if you dare. Or see what the Comics Journal has to say about Sick. Or do all this and have your CAKE, too. See you folks at the show, and see you back in here in week.

Your Pals,

Barry and Leon

Contagion

Blog-Header-05_18_16LET US BEGIN by thanking the organizers and volunteers at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival for continuing to run the best oiled ship in the sea. We seem to go out of our way to screw up our TCAF plans, year in and year out, but they just won’t let us fail. For the prime digs, the easing of international border crossing and the constant attention to, and anticipation of, our every need, we offer you our sincere gratitude. We promise to earn it in the future.

 

Toronto

 

We breathed a great sigh of relief looking at both Gabby and Sick sitting at the Secret Acres TCAF table, next to Rob and SPACE. As you know, this moment took years to materialize. Though he held genuine and reasonable worries that people might line up at the table to scorn him, Gabby was wrong as usual. He had his chance and he blew it. Bless you, all you forgiving folks, Canadian and otherwise, who greeted us and Gabby with your smiles and your strange, plastic money. We did sell a bunch of Sick and SPACE and pretty much every other book we had, after deliberating whether or not to adjust prices for the exchange rate (which we decided was stupid).

 

Gabby

 

The flagging Canadian dollar certainly contributed to our own ludicrous haul, but who needed an excuse when there were new books from Noah Van Sciver, Matt Furie, Andy Burkholder, Mickey Z, Brian Chippendale (BRIAN CHIPPENDALE TALKED TO US), Rokudenashiko, Powerpaola, Cathy G. Johnson, Joann Sfar, etc? All of those people hung around all weekend. We got to meet Nicholas Gurewitch (NICK GUREWITCH TALKED TO US). He gave us prints. Like presents. Special thanks to Max Weiss, for delivering unto us our favorite submission (of sorts) of the weekend, PAPA TIME. Perhaps the strangest absence was new work from Michael Deforge. That’s never happened before. Think about how crazy that is. Want to know what sucks about TCAF? Though we did find Alex Hoffman and the new Ink Brick, we know we missed a ton of stuff, no matter how many rounds we made.

We missed our neighbors of the past few years, Conundrum Press, but they boasted flagship status for hitting a giant milestone, their 20th anniversary. Conundrum celebrated this with a pretty damn great history/anthology, 20×20, and an even more impressive catalog, which included the likes of: Michel Rabagliati, Chihoi, Simon Bossé, Pascal Girard, Dakota McFadzean, Nina Bunjevac, Jillian Tamaki and Joe Ollmann, the Lord of the DILFs, to name a few. Congratulations, guys!

We lucked out with new neighbors in our old pals, Aaron Costain, who finally, finally finished Entropy (and we knew you could do it, Aaron!) the omnipresent John Martz, the even more omnipresent Dustin Harbin and the good ship Uncivilized Books, manned by none other than Jordan Shiveley. Our own MK Reed hid somewhere in the upper stratosphere of the library, but that didn’t stop her from coming all the way down to chill with us. You should’ve been our mule, MK. That’ll learn ya.

Within an hour of Aaron telling us about Toronto phenomenon, Zanta, we were treated to an actual TCAF Zanta appearance. Zanta was escorted out of the library, but not before doing some impressive push-ups, tearing off his shirt and screaming, “I’m Zanta! Google me!” To be fair, it did snow on Sunday, so Zanta’s appearance was not wholly unwarranted. We Googled him.

 

Library

 

Speaking of Dustin, we call bullshit on Dustin hosting the Dougies, or as they are known in Canada, the Doug Wright Awards, which engages in discriminatory practices by only honoring Canadian cartoonists – but it’s okay for Dustin to host? Really? In protest, we skipped the Dougies for our annual poutine sports bar with Annie Koyama and a little bit of Chris Pitzer. But just as it hung over the Dougies, the shadow of Darwyn Cooke‘s sudden death fell over our Blue Hawaiian cocktails. We knew Darwyn a bit from our days at the Distinguished Competition. We’re sitting on some stories about that man which would knock your teeth out, but what a terrible loss for comics. No, we’re not going to gossip. Unless we’re drunk and talking to Heidi in the lobby of the Marriott while trying not to stare at Tom Devlin’s track jacket and ponytail combo and wondering how he convinced Peggy that outfit was okay.

 

Wine of Purity

 

For the first time in forever, we brought enough of a gang to sneak out to some panels. The winner, by far, was the little panel on artists “In the Studio,” with our idol, Bendik Kaltenborn, our mancrush, Brecht Evens, our bro, Kevin Czap, and the obviously bonkers but wonderfully talented MariNaomi. MariNaomi, by way of telling us all how she compulsively buys up pens for fear of running out of them, somehow leapfrogged to sharing her obsession with Chuck Berry’s habit of eating shit, literally, and how he was caught videotaping women customers defecating in the bathroom of his restaurant, Blueberry Hill. Of course, this derailed the panel completely, with MariNaomi exclaiming, in her best Chuck Berry voice, “COME TO PAPA… …yeeeaaah.” We left the table for that and we were glad. Also, now, MariNaomi, someone might stumble upon this mention of Chuck Berry’s sexual habits in their internet searches. PAPA TIME indeed!

On that note, we’re pooped. We have a lot of reading to do now that Gabby is safely returned to Chicago and Rob to Cambridge. We’ll be heading to Chicago, too, since CAKE, the Chicago Alternative (K)omics Expo is on deck. See you in a few.

Your Pals,

Leon and Barry

Outbreak

Blog-Header-04_11_16TRIGGER WARNING: this post may contain painful, embarrassing truths and mentions of Gabby Schulz, the artist formerly known as Ken Dahl. Thanks for hanging out and continuing to read, the beautiful few of you who are left. This weekend, we at Secret Acres drop Sick on the formerly suspecting, but now likely unsuspecting, horde of the world’s biggest indie comics show, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, aka TCAF.

Those blessed with a freakish memory and a long history of reading this blog, may remember that, in 2011, we went to our first TCAF and partied way, way too hard. Someone brought pills, others gave us free pot, we washed it all down with booze. On TCAF Sunday, like, while the show was happening, we searched frantically to find at least one of our gang trashed in the garage across the street. We knew no better at the time, so we drove home, across the border and back to New York, USA, right after the doors closed. The last line of our TCAF 2001 blog wrap up reads that we were all “literally feverish.” Two of us fell violently ill. One of us went to the ER. Gabby decided to tough it out. For weeks. This birthed Sick.

 

Sick - Cover

 

Stating that Gabby decided to tough it out qualifies as an understatement. Like millions of Americans, Gabby took his chances with no insurance. He’d argue that he was left to die, friendless. To our recollection, though Gabby violently disputes this, all of Brooklyn was begging to drag him to a hospital. We could probably prove it if we had the kind of chops to storify Twitter. If you enjoyed Gabby’s graphic novel Monsters, and bless the many of you who have, you know a little bit about him. He chooses darkness, or truth, as he would say. As his publishers, we’re aware that Gabby creates only in the bleakest hours of his life. It’s a dilemma: do we want him to be happy or do we want him to make some comics? No surprise, Gabby returned from the dead with Sick, the Ignatz nominated webcomic, documenting his illness/madness.

We announced the completed and collected Sick would be coming to TCAF in 2013. We announced the completed and collected Sick would be coming to TCAF in 2014. Last year, we stopped announcing Sick. This failed to stop folks at TCAF from asking if Sick was out, or if Gabby was at the show. If you asked, you might wonder what the hell Gabby was doing the past couple of years. He moved. Thrice. He accompanied us down some terrible paths in our Wilderness Moments. He cycled through three different, equally hostile and infamous Twitter handles before quitting the scene. Believing he had successfully alienated everyone, but not us, never us, he took over our own Edie Fake‘s spot at the legendary Quimby’s. He freaked out because, shocker, the webcomic Sick needed to be redrawn, top to bottom, to fit in a book. He decided it would be easier and faster to watercolor the whole thing, which, amazingly, turned out not to be true at all. He suffered some serious nerve damage that completely killed his drawing arm when he was a couple pages shy of finishing. He was knocked out of action for months. He finally finished Sick, five years after getting sick.

Secret Acres is proud to announce that Gabby Schulz’s Sick is debuting at this weekend’s Toronto Comic Arts Festival. Keep it away from the kids and the delicate in nature. We tried to encourage Gabby to complete his magnificently rendered and watercolored masterwork, Sick, by allowing his perennial classic, Monsters, to disappear from print until it could be reissued in a special edition next to Sick. We keep our promises in these parts: we are pleased to announce the return of Gabby Schulz’s perennial classic, Monsters, written as Ken Dahl, now in a special, deluxe, flexibound edition. Christ almighty, what a long, strange trip it’s been.

 

Monsters - Cover

 

Meanwhile, since we last appeared on this blog, Hillary Brown over at Paste, wrote up Robert Sergel‘s SPACE: An Eschew Collection. In this age of people constantly wringing their hands over the state of comics journalism and comics criticism, count on Hillary. She understands comics, she’s incredibly thoughtful and even better, she can really write. Thank you, Hillary for all the kind words for our latest. Hillary has company in Rob Kirby, who picked SPACE as his pick of the week, and in Alex Hoffman, whose Sequential State discussed SPACE on their podcast. Who says comics criticism is dead? What better way to celebrate all this love than to bring Rob and SPACE with us to TCAF. Yes, we love you all.

Alas, MK Reed continues to shirk her sacred duties as our TCAF comics mule, but she will be at the show, Palefire in hand, so no complaints there. If you can’t make it up to Toronto, you can still get Sick (and SPACE and Palefire) in our Emporium. If you just want to sit around listening to more podcasts, you can check out Mike Dawson and Theo Ellsworth on  Comics Alternative. If you need more Theo in your life, and we all do, really, there’s some lovely thoughts on his latest, The Understanding Monster – Book Three, over at Foreword. It’s so nice, they hit it twice.

See you on the other side, and back here in a bit…

Your Pals,

Barry and Leon

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