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BIO

John Brodowski grew up in an “utterly unremarkable” New England town. Unfortunately this is also where he currently lives. During his brain’s most crucial developmental period he enjoyed watching many, many horror movies such as Rawhead Rex, Death Race 2000, and The Toxic Avenger. He also enjoyed staying up very late and eating 10 packs of Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. JB is currently battling a Pepsi addiction but can’t seem to make comics without it. Bottom Line: If you like the movie Cyborg starring Jean-Claude Van Damme then you should buy these comics.

 

IN THE EMPORIUM

John’s comics can be found in the Secret Acres Emporium here.


IN PRAISE OF JOHN BRODOWSKI

What were the best comic books of the last year? Dan Nadel, founder of the PictureBox publishing house, lists his favourites …

Way out in North America, in the countryside past the suburbs, near a forest near a lake, John Brodowski has planted his Curio Cabinet (Secret Acres). Each story in this collection maintains a perfectly reasonable veneer until, for example, an enormous dog paw descends from the heavens and slaps a man out of a car, or a menacing Loch Ness Monster is hailed by a hard-rocking Judas Priest. This is a book in which a doppelganger of the old Friday the 13th villain Jason Vorhees, he of the hockey mask, appears again and again, like a totem, achieving a weirdly peaceful mythos by the end. And yet it all seems so ordinary in Brodowski’s methodical, carefully shaded panels, each unravelling just so, patiently waiting for us to give in to his logic. All of this is to say: I can’t think of a better metaphysical horror comic in recent memory.

– The Economist: More Intelligent Life

Idiosyncratic, funny, and haunting, Curio Cabinet is a laugh out loud exploration of the mysterious and mundane, where the awe inspiring is unearthed and revealed, often without warning, from the detritus of modern life. There is nothing else like it. In Brodowski’s hands, content and style come together to create a surprisingly layered, rich, singular work, revealing an artist in deft control of his form. One of the best young cartoonists to emerge in years.

- Sammy Harkham

A shorthand way of describing this comic is that it’s very metal. ”Metal” in the very best junior-high school sense of the word, where a world of fantasies and possibilities have arisen that have a certain jagged edge to them, representative of the teenager’s simple view of the world as either awesome or deserving of scorn and/or revenge. It’s metal in the occasional id-born brutality of those fantasies. It’s metal in its sweep, and in its and unapologetic and unironic embrace of the epic, the over-the-top and the operatic. The genius of this book is the way that Brodkowski employs restraint in his narrative and patience in his pacing. He doesn’t bother to spell out what’s happening in these fantasy narratives, forcing the reader to simply accept what’s on the page and roll with it. This is not to say that his storytelling is unclear; indeed, the deliberate nature of that pacing makes his stories quite easy to follow in terms of structure. Each story has its own internal logic, no matter how screwy it may be. His control over his line is so exact yet expressive that one never questions what one is looking at, but rather why it’s happening…

Like the other books Secret Acres publishes, Curio Cabinet is the result of a cartoonist with a vision that doesn’t neatly conform to underground, genre or typical alt-comics sensibilities. Curio Cabinet is informed by pop culture detritus in terms of its form and inspiration, but Brodowski takes that juvenilia and creates something strange, beautiful and memorable. It’s a comic that must be approached on its own terms, because while the images and stories can be teased for meaning with a little effort, Brodowski not only doesn’t spell it out, he understands that spelling it out would destroy the effect he’s going for: that sense of full immersion in fantasy, following it to its furthest ends.

– Rob Clough, The Comics Journal

Every day throughout the month of December, Attentiondeficitdisorderly will spotlight one of the best comics of 2010. Today’s comic is Curio Cabinet by John Brodowski, published by Secret Acres — quietly ecstatic horror.

I’ve been writing about the similarity between the horrific and the sublime for (God help me) over a decade now, but its rare for me to come across a comic that makes that connection as frequently and as subtly as John Brodowski’s Curio Cabinet. While reading it I located squarely in the increasingly rich contemporary alt-horror tradition–the deformed figures and soft pencils of Renee French, the heavy-metal/D&D imagery of Lane Milburn, the mostly wordless narratives of (to my delight!) almost too many talented horror cartoonists to list. And yes, there’s even the de rigeur cat-torturing scene. But only in flipping through the book in preparation to write this review did I realize just how many of Brodowski’s short, creepy stories end with their alternately hapless or horrifying protagonists gazing into a vista of vast natural or even cosmic splendor. Two separate characters who have very different nature-based obsessions both end up immersed in the great outdoors, staring off into the distance–as does a lake monster after unleashing its full destructive power on a battlefield. Two other characters–one the victim of a monster-induced car wreck, the other none other than Jason Voorhees–become a part of titanic outer-space tableaux: Jason is cradled by his mother Pieta-style in the sky, the accident victim welcomed into the embrace of a colossal dog-god. Several stand-alone images, most memorably a series of illustrations from the old anti-Semitic myth cycle of the Wandering Jew, take on a similarly ecstatic, transcendental feel. The message is both troubling and comforting: It implies a connection between the individual horrors we experience and the very fabric of existence, yet it also suggests that perhaps an enlightenment is possible whereby this waking nightmare can be appreciated, if never fully understood. More like this, please.

– Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly

Curio Cabinet by John Brodowski is really terrifying, nightmarish and good. It’s smart and weird and everything I hope for when I got to pick up my mail at the PO Box.

– Kevin Huizenga

John Brodowski’s first two comics are drawn in lush pencils, the perfect medium in which to depict the dullness of suburbia and its inhabitants: grotesque families, D&D-inspired monsters, and passionate squirrel-men.

The stories in these books are very cinematic. The opening piece in Curio Cabinet #1, “Grandfather’s Clock,” reminded me of David Lynch’s Eraserhead. Like that film, its subject is a mysterious reproduction: A fiddler performing on stage creates a cloud of musical notes, two of which engage in some kind of intercourse, resulting in the birth of the protagonist. The mutated family, music incarnate, is observed eating a meal and communicating in musical-note filled speech balloons. The cute musical-note-headed hero visits the fiddler (his grandfather?) in the hospital … the end. This story has its own logic and doesn’t stoop to explain itself, leaving the reader with a generous amount of dark graphite images to ponder.

A series of drawings follow that deepen and darken the mood, depicting incursions of sci-fi weirdness into playgrounds and backyards. These remind me of Steven Spielberg or the photos of Gregory Crewdson, in which the burbs are invaded by inexplicable, supernatural forces. It’s a familiar device, but these drawings are very funny.

The book ends with another memorable and wordless tale. A picnicker is plucked up by a massive wolf-headed bird, much to his girlfriend’s chagrin. The bird files the man to a mountain in the clouds to do battle with two of the most gnarly characters ever seen outside of Napoleon Dynamite’s sketchbook.

The second issue of Curio Cabinet contains a long tale about a man’s obsession with squirrels, and a series of short strips starring Jason from the Friday the 13th movies. It is only slightly less perfect than issue #1, and is also highly recommended.

– Matthew Thurber, Comics Comics

Top 50 Books of 2010
8. Curio Cabinet, by John Brodowski (Secret Acres). Here’s my original review. To quote that review: “[Curio Cabinet is] series of stories where quiet moments quickly become outrageous and horrific in a way that is frequently ecstatic, and outrageous moments unexpectedly become calm and contemplative.” Like much of alt-comics horror, this book works on a number of levels, not the least of which is as comedy.

- Rob Clough, High-Low

Brodowski’s tastes for trinket collecting, gas station kitsch, 80′s horror and action movies, heavy metal, and rural Vermont get tossed in the blender and Curio Cabinet is the result. Brodowski has developed a signature drawing style that relies on pencil shading and leaves out the ink all together. The Curio Cabinet book by Secret Acres collects the self-published Curio Cabinet 1-4 plus some extra goodies. Each issue is a collection of short segments, with very little text or dialog, and other random drawings. Some of the pieces have the essence of a narrative, which is usually a very small segment of time or some psychedelic transformation. Browdowski has a real knack for expanding a moment and lingering on the details within. There is a really interesting tension between the hints of narrative and the refusal to lay it all out in some easily understood fashion. Basically, I think a lot of readers could mistake these short segments as not making any sense and not saying anything, but most of these segments do have some sort of logic to them, even if it is an inside joke and difficult to decode. Curio Cabinet really relies on reading the images, noticing small differences and having a twisted sense of humor. There is a continuing segment called “Cus Mommy Says So” which chronicles the loneliness John imagines for Jason from the Friday the 13th movies. Most of the other tales are short one-offs. Look for tales of a suicidal axe, a man who want to become a squirrel, teen dweeb metal heads, the joys of building a fort in the woods, and other weirdness that is too hard to put into words and best just experienced.

- League of Comics Librarians

BACKTALK

TWITTERPATED

@826CHI Back at you. We love what you're doing. It would be fun to work on something together one of these days.
- Thursday Apr 17 - 5:33pm

RT @mike_daws: A short excerpt from Angie Bongiolatti: Jon and Deb watching George W. Bush’s 2002 State of the Union speech … http://t.co/g…
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- Tuesday Apr 15 - 1:23pm

OFF THE WALL

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Secret Acres
Facebook IconApril 11, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Hello! Are you in New Jersey or have you escaped? If you are still in Jersey or anywhere near it, you ought to stop by the Asbury Park Comic Con, which is right along the historic boardwalk, which is the site of some terrible goings on in Brendan Leach's Iron Bound. Of course, Brendan will be there, and we promise it's much safer than you would think after reading his book. If you don't have a copy of Iron Bound handy, you can pick one up from Brendan at the show. If you do have a copy, you might want to wait to read it until after the show. You can still play pinball at the Silver Ball Museum, though. Even more ridiculous, Jersey boy Mike Dawson is crashing the party. He's back living in Jersey now, but his latest book, Angie Bongiolatti, is all about life in New York post 9/11. His other books, Troop 142 and Freddie & Me will give you all the non-scary Jersey you need. Get over there and get some comics and take a little stroll along the beach, where the "Jedi" play "Tatoine," as the kids say. We actually saw that last year. It was HILARIOUS.

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Asbury Park Comic Con | April 12 & 13, 2014 Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel, Asbury Park NJ

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Asbury Park Comicon will be held at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel on Ocean Ave. and expanding to two days April 12 and 13, 2014! Featuring 200 plus exhibitors! More comic creators! More dealers! More comics! More panels! More cosplay! Advanced tickets $18.50 for Saturday/ $17 for Sunday / $30 for 2…

Secret Acres
Facebook IconApril 11, 2014 at 3:28 pm

HEY! Are you in Portlandia or something? Because Edie Fake is in Portland, Oregon, doing some Linework. Linework NW, kinda like Edie himself, is blurring the line between comics, fine art and illustration work. They have Jim Woodring and Michael Deforge and some pretty killer events planned for the show, including an evening of Edie at the legendary Floating World Comics. We'd tell you what Edie is doing there, but the Lineworkers say it best, "Fake will be giving a short and colorful experimental lecture on the sexuality of patterns that weaves together fabric, the tarot, the concept of individuality and jeggings." Yes, sexy fabric and jeggings. Now you have to go! Read all about it here...

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EVENTS

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In addition to a bustling showroom with dozens of exhibitors selling their wares, Linework NW also features a wide-ranging set of programing. Full details will be announced as we get closer to the...

Secret Acres
Facebook IconApril 11, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Hi! Are you in Ohio someplace? Because Sean Ford is in Columbus, Ohio, aka SPACE, the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo. Sean's got the brand new edition of Only Skin and a brand new issue of Shadow Hills, which is the third of that series (!). There's lots of fun programming, but you can also double dip and go check out the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum right next door. It's probably the largest collection of comics anywhere and, in conjunction with the SPACE Jam (that's a thing), they're opening up the Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes, duh) and Richard Thompson (Cul de Sac, duh) exhibits, too! Now that's worth the trip. Make sure you get Sean to sketch your books out. That guy acts like every day is Angouleme. Deets at the link!

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What is SPACE?

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Facebook IconApril 10, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Well, well, well! It's Paste Magazine's Hillary Brown on Mike Dawson's Angie Bongiolatti, which is a lot of names. It's also a very thoughtful review. Angie Bongiolatti is indeed a macro, holistic view of a group of people at a particular moment. The book is not so much about the people themselves, but more a book of ideas. That ain't easy. Hillary is too smart to take the bait on the politics of Angie Bongiolatti, of course. As she writes, it's a story of ideals and idealization, and how they distort our view of some very flawed thinking and very flawed people. Hillary is one of the best critics out there, so stop reading this and go read her. Go on...

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Angie Bongiolatti by Mike Dawson Review

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As some of the final words of the book state, better to “celebrate the good where we can find it” than to burn everything down because it’s not perfect.

Secret Acres
Facebook IconApril 9, 2014 at 1:14 pm

And we're back on our Scuttlebutt blog with a rundown of all things MoCCA. Even as steering committee members, we were skeptical that a year's worth of planning would make much difference between last year's show and this one, but it turns out we were wrong, or we were "haters" as the kids like to say. A big balloon, a new layout, a Comics Week worth of events all over New York, some killer programming and a drop in admission prices really brought this show to life. And it WAS dead, Jim. We should have given the Society of Illustrators, and ourselves, a little more credit for learning on the fly. You can also check out the early bird reviews of Angie Bongiolatti and Memory Palaces, AND you can see where everyone is heading next, since both Sean Ford and Edie Fake will be at shows this very weekend, while Mike Dawson and Brendan Leach will be heading back to Asbury Park. We're staying put until TCAF time, but we'll return to warn you about that one and Corinne Mucha and Get Over It! we promise. Thanks, everyone, who came to MoCCA and to the Bureau of General Services - Queer Division and to Bergen Street Comics. We do it all for you!

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Secret Acres

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THREE years ago, the Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art Festival died. The vast majority of exhibitors were swearing never again to show up, us included, and several comment section style flame wars served to cremate the carcass of what was once our hometown’s premier indie comics show. This was follo...

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