A DEAR FRIEND told us that we budgeted our sanity to last us until SPX. She said it last year, which we looked up in disbelief because it felt like a million years ago. Magical thinking sucks and makes losses pretty excruciating, for example: missing yet another Small Press Expo. For us, the restoration of Camp Comics qualifies as a magic trick, or time travel, since everyone behind the tables came out of the distant past or the near future. Megan Kelso and Matt Madden ran into each other at our table, like it was the punchbowl at the Highwater Books twenty-year reunion. Our veteran leader on the floor, Zak Sally, chatted up Ariel Bordeaux, for the first time in three decades. The rest of the time, we kept asking each other who everyone else was. Old blood, new blood, but none of the usual suspects, like Koyama Press, Tom Spurgeon, the CBLDF or D&Q. Of all the Ignatz winners, we count exactly one, R. Kikuo Johnson, with a previous nomination, and that nom goes all the way back to 2006. Maybe we should’ve held on to our sanity a little longer, but this kind of temporal displacement rings all the right bells.

 

 

The usual suspects lined up on the other side of the table. From Meg Lemke to Marc Sobel to hours and hours with the unsinkable Heidi MacDonald, we got caught up on everything. You gotta love the lifers who keep your history for you. Our publisher brethren bitched a bit about suppressed attendance, which we found a little ridiculous. Back in April, MoCCA counted enough showgoers for three shows worth, but we think TCAF makes a better comp for SPX in 2022. Eyeballs alone would tell you numbers shrank. Sales, however, tell a different story. Of course, Zak and Recidivist IV (redux) make a hot ticket, though we are particularly proud to have ditched every copy of Sammy the Mouse in the hope that it might get Zak to wrap that story up at last. Even in absentia, Gabe Howell moved many units of Forget Me Not, which got a nice write-up at PW, ICYMI. Speaking of high praise, our most awarded debut ever, Washington White, winner of the CAKE Cupcake Award and MoCCA Best of Show, made its way into the world after years of delays, shipping and otherwise, and, man, what an entrance. The weekend served as Adam‘s coming out party in many ways, including a sneak peek at his gallery, event and studio space, Dwight’s Mess, soft opening in Silver Springs momentarily. The crowd spent, and we were spent, with a couple, unexpected sellouts, no less. Not bad, considering at least two people told us they thought we were dead. Honestly, Secret Acres books don’t always make shopping lists, so a little breathing room in the aisles goes a long way for us, since folks like to kiss and cuddle our comics before taking them home.

 

 

The steady flow left us little room for shopping, and yet we lugged a backpack and gym bag of goodies home with us. The Told to Tell anthology, which was news to us and contained a lot of old friends, dropped by our place. Proud papa, Noah Van Sciver (whom we will always and forever believe is a teenager), landed one hell of a one-two punch with As a Cartoonist and Joseph Smith and the Mormons (which we were tempted to leave in the hotel bedside drawer), either of which could be the Book of the Show – and Noah claims to have gone two full weeks without drawing since the last SPX. Talk about fertility. Kevin Reilly also got busy during lockdown, showing up with a pair of spectacularly beautiful minis and prints. Kate Lacour, ‘toonist turned taxidermist, got us collectively laid with her Borgasm mini. Kilgore delivered with a gathering of all things Alex Graham. Sean Knickerbocker rolled out Rust Belt Review 4 and Alex Bullet‘s Bullet by Comparison, a Rust Belt Review Comic, because Sean keeps it rusty. Yael Levy gave us a copy of her gorgeous mini memoir, Fly. Parsifal Press put out their Ignatz winner, the Lover of Everyone and put Kit Anderson in the Weeds. G. Davis Cathcart‘s One Eight Hundred Ghosts claimed our table favorite. The incomparable Bred of Bred Press brought us Gabe Howell’s latest, Flash, and continued to make us feel bad with their best in the business printing skills. Az Sperry and MK Reed both handed out new minis and hung out at our table, for a while, like long enough for Az to qualify as a common-law Secret Acre, poached or not. Aeon Hand‘s Misfortune could have used Az’s batshit fortune cookie fortune from our family dinner; “Your IUD will make you proud after your lousy lays.”

 

 

Being in the family way, despite IUDs, was the running theme of our show. Every meal in Maryland was a family dinner, with old pals and new, big enough for the restaurants to auto add the tip. However, this meant no room for us at the table with Chris Pitzer and his considerable AdHouse gang. The only spare floor time we got, we spent at the AdHouse farewell panel. With legacy to burn, Chris can walk out head held high. Every artist in the room lamented the loss of AdHouse. Chris really broke in the new guys, and those chances are rare for artists without influencer moves. Chris leaves a lot of slack to take up (Looking at you, Parsifal.). But, seriously, fuck the arists: what about us? What about us, Chris? While we reminisced at dinner about ye olde publisher beefs of the late aughts (Where is evil genius Dan Nadel, anyway?), the talk turned to Chris. If we call Dylan Williams the high priest of comics, we call Chris our big brother. He carried a lot of us, sometimes literally, letting publishers piggyback on his distribution deal. Years went by when every Koyama Press book went through him to get to you. He walked us out of a couple of cartoonist beefs, Jimmy Carter style, with unlimited patience, even with AdHouse serving as a flagship feeder for the likes of Fanta and D&Q. We respect his choice to retire, but we need Chris Pitzer. We have a plan, or at least a desperate plea. If you’re reading this, Mr. Pitzer, and we know you are: keep your corner at SPX. Picking through long boxes and picking up barely legal rarities, sage advice and brotherly love is half the fun of hitting the AdHouse tables. Annie still has her retirement job, Chris. We bet Warren would let you keep yours forever. Give us something to look forward to. Pretty please.

 

 

We did promise a look ahead at next year. With 2022 in the books, 2023 brings us five newbies and the comeback of a classic. First up comes the wrap-up of Jokaim Drescher‘s Motel Universe trilogy. MU3, like the first two, might be out of this world sci-fi, but it reacts to the world around us, so expect a seismic shift and a twist ending the way only Joakim knows how. The party does not stop there, with Erik Kostiuk Williams2AM Eternal hot on those heels. 2AM Eternal captures a decade of nightlife in Toronto’s queer community, from basements to the backstage to back rooms, collecting comics, posters and firsthand accounts from the author, the organizers, the performers, and the crowd. From there, we head into Satan’s Kingdom with Robert Sergel. Rob will scare you with his special knowledge, making Freud proud by blurring the line between horror and comedy in this latest Eschew collection. Dropping the family friendly front for a minute, our very own L. Nichols goes deeper and darker with Fremdsprache. We love a mad, bad dad, and we speak German, so we love that title (which might be subject to change, but we hope not). Sean Ford returns with his extremely, somewhat preposterously long-awaited, Shadow Hills. We talked about this before, so you probably know all about Sean’s secret horror masterpiece, but he is done with it, and we have it, we shit you not. Finally, what would Secret Acres be with Theo Ellsworth‘s Capacity? Theo drops by the house he built with a new, slightly revised edition of his old favorite.

So there. See! We’re not dead yet. Thank you, beautiful people, for joining us on the way back to real life. We’re going to take a very long nap now. See you on the other side…

Your Pal,

Leon

ALL THE MONSTERS descend on comics island this weekend. No one can resist the siren call to the Small Press Expo. The artist headcount officially crept over 500, with nowhere to go. SPX makes the most of one-stop shopping, keeping everyone together because everything is on site. So much for suburban sprawl. Speaking of large, indoor gatherings, the SPX gang kept the safety on for all the big guns, with everyone tested, vaxxed and masked, with a max occupancy of two per table. At least we can breathe a little easier after seeing some seriously stupid bullshit going on at comics shows. Like SPX, Secret Acres lives to serve our comics community, and we are proud of our people at MoCCA, at TCAF and SPX for sparing us the super spreader part of our main events.

 

 

The main event at the Secret Acres tables took a decade to make. Adam Griffths brings Washington White home to the District (or pretty close, anyway). More than a few of you got lucky and picked yours up early. After picking up the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo’s Cupcake Award and MoCCA’s Best of Show, Washington White goes super spreader at SPX ahead of going viral everywhere. The viral metaphor fits the world of Washington White, where the President authorizes covert testing of a mind-control disease, a greedy developer is gentrifying the universe within the disease, and the black owner of a local tabloid, Washington White, threatens to expose the corruption—because his evil, white tycoon dad is the one behind it. If it sounds to you like it’s ripped from the headlines, you’re right. Washington White is also the true story of Adam Griffiths’ grandmother, Peggy Griffiths, a lawyer for the U.S. Civil Service Commission’s Appeals Review Board, best known for winning a landmark bias lawsuit against the federal government in 1977 for wrongfully being denied a promotion. Does this count as futurism?

 

 

The other part of our two-top table duo takes the shape of none other than Zak Sally. Speaking of a decade in the making, Recidivist IV returns to IRL, printed in a six-color, metallic process, with some text and figures are only visible in light, some only in shadow (and there’s a bunch of hand-stamped pages, too, because we get it right, dammit). This comic literally makes you wrestle with it, but form follows function. Part resignation letter, part manifesto, the stories in here comprise a medium-defying visual experience of the freedom in obscurity. As old pal Chris Mautner puts it, Recidivist IV “rewards you with its tightrope act as the reading experience and the content cohere into a breathtaking whole.” Buckle up!

 

 

Where’s everybody else, you ask? This SPX, the Secret Acres gang’s omnipresence constitutes a veritable mini-fest of its own. The satellite show includes the “Trans Identities in Fantasy and Fictional Storytelling” panel, moderated by they who brought you Flocks, our very own L. Nichols. Sean Knickerbocker, of Rust Belt fame, totes the new issue of Rust Belt Review, which even we need to catch up with. Supergenius Keren Katz grabbed a pair of Ignatz Award nominations for Outstanding Series and Outstanding Story with her issue of Ley Lines, co-published by the aforementioned L. Nichols. Palefire powerhouse MK Reed moved out of the Secret Acres table and got her own place. They grow up so fast. Finally, on a related note, it appears Chris Pitzer and AdHouse Books are moving on. If Chris actually makes good on his threat to bounce forever, you kind of have to come to the show.

If you require more of an invitation, we got nothing for you. How much do you people need, anyway? If you skip school, you can come right back here for the Cliffs Notes Scuttlebutt on all things SPX, possibly a tearful goodbye to Mr. Pitzer, plus a sneak peek at next year. See you in a few…

Your Pal,

Leon

IT TURNS OUT that rolling over the border beats flying. Do we blame Father’s Day? Juneteenth? Pride week? Whatever that music festival was that Miles was talking about at Tranzac? We loved the CBSA for getting us through customs in record time, but we spent hours waiting for planes parked on the runway, being brought into the terminal one by one. We kept busy with Eric Kostiuk Williams serving as tour guide, for which we are super grateful since it seems Toronto has been entirely torn down and relocated in these intervening years. Mostly, we explored the maze at the Black Eagle. Seems like Canadians like a challenge since the glory holes looked like credit card slots, but there you go. Our debut superstar, Gabriel Howell, arrived in time to check in at the lovely library, and we woke Adam Griffiths up for midnight snacks on TCAF eve. After a two year delay, all was right with the world.

 

 

TCAF put us right back where we were, on our little island across from Koyama Press, so we could flip each other off and have a weekend-long candy foodfight. Instead, our old island neighbors, Conundrum Press, in true Toronto style, took over Annie’s old spot, and we must say, that made for a pretty damn good re-fit. Once upon a time, during Fantagraphics 25th anniversary celebration, Sean T. Collins wrote (someplace we can’t find), that once D&Q got to their 25th, that would be the last 25th anniversary in indie comics publishing. Well, Conundrum can call it, too, being around longer than Tillie Walden. They didn’t throw any chocolate at us, but they gave us plenty of eye-candy with DILF Joe Ollman at the table – and they had our vote for Book of Show with Sami Alwani’s the Pleasure of the Text. We made it rain for Sami and spent a small, personal fortune on stuff from Genvieve LeBleu, Stanley Wany, et al. So we offer our sincere, belated congrats to Conundrum on a quarter century in the books.

 

 

TCAF switched in our distro labelmate, Uncivilized Books, as our table bunkies. We fell madly in love with A.Z. Terry (Jordan who? Tom what?) and her comics, on the way to breaking some records with our haul, picking up stuff we missed with the comic show circuit on pause all this time. We picked up the semi-latest from Max Morris and Perfectly Acceptable, who, along with Bred Press, make us feel bad about our printing skills. We went full French at the Pow Pow table, with new stuff from Cathon and Sophie Bédard. Whatever the hell that little, yellow Peow book is, it gave us headaches, in a good way. We even made it upstairs, where our latest comics crush, Nicole Rodriguez, was hiding. Take note that we could only make it upstairs since this TCAF was far less congested – but don’t think it was empty. Forget Me Not launched like a rocket. We could have packed our leftovers in a backpack and had room to spare. We thank the beautiful people of TCAF for a pillaging of books so total, we had to break into artist copies of Forget Me Not and Washington White both. And we managed all this without a Wowee Zonk room, another victim of Toronto reconstruction. We miss the Wowee Zonk room.

 

 

We missed everybody. TCAF feels like a family reunion most of the time, but this year got eyes watering. Tom and Peggy popped up after taking Gigi on a campus tour of the University of Toronto. Gigi. College. Seriously. Michael DeForge leveled up from healthy to swole. Patrick Kyle studied up on French for Fremok. We dragged faux Canadian Dustin Harbin away from his stacked table. John Martz brought over our very own, lone Canadian, Aaron Costain, to talk farm life. Peter Birkemoe stole the last of our Forget Me Nots, and Miles Baker is a full-grown adult holding the reins of this post-pandemic TCAF. Our old co-worker from our days at the Distinguished Competition, Heidi MacDonald, showed up at the after party. We sobered up after a night of bar-hopping with a secret, deluxe breakfast with soul-sister Annie Koyama herself, eating poached eggs and poaching the aforementioned Eric Kostiuk Williams. So now we’ve got two Canadians. We stifled quite a lot of tears on our way home between the feels and cancelled flights which damn near stranded Adam Griffiths in Toronto. But wouldn’t you be okay being stuck in TCAF forever?

Should we survive our separation anxiety, we promise to return here ahead of our last show of the year, the ginormous Small Press Expo. Good thing Adam made it home, because the real deal Washington White finally makes its official way to you this SPX. We can’t wait, either.

Your Pal,

Leon


IN THE MIDST of yet another great migration, it occurred to us that it might not be a good idea to drive over the border in a car that doesn’t even have dealer plates. The assurances of the excellent CBSA aside, we remained perhaps overly paranoid, and traded cars with none other than L. Nichols, shortly after reuniting as neighbors for the first time since we all had Brooklyn addresses. Secret Acres quietly made its way back to New York a couple weeks ago, albeit not to New York City, to Upstate New York, in the middle of nowhere, off a lake, but within walking distance of an opera house. All this continues to be a work in progress, with a ton of books yet to arrive before we hit the road for another family reunion, the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.

 

 

TCAF 2022 marks our tenth time in Toronto for the biggest show of the year. It should be a dozen, but Corona cut us short. You know what else got cut short? The promised grand finale of Koyama Press. Kickass Annie herself scheduled that wrap two years ago. Meanwhile, Koyama Press books continue to dominate our bookshelves and our minds. We figured we’d be writing a tearful farewell back then, but better late than never. (Annie, please skip to the next paragraph if you’re reading this.) You can only understate the incredible generosity and take-no-shit spirit of Annie Koyama. Through (damn near) fifteen years of doing Secret Acres, Annie stuck right by us, even through the dark, discouraging valleys, and when we saw only one set of footprints, it was because she carried us. We feel robbed of a fitting send-off, despite the fact that Annie is really, really bad at retiring. This woman is a force, or at least the very best kind of enabler, which we love because we don’t have to stalk her. Like everybody else, we owe you big time, and we plan on thanking the shit of you soon as we’re back up north.

 

 

Speaking of stalking and moments years in the making, we finally get to drop Gabriel Howell‘s Forget Me Not, our big TCAF 2022 debut. At least his books showed up on time. A long time ago, our very own Edie Fake brought Gabe’s comic, Father, back to our CAKE table, and that thing haunted us so hard, we proceeded to immediately haunt Gabe until we could get a book together. We clearly got the right book, considering all the stalking going on in Forget Me Not. To give credit where credit is due, here’s Edie’s take on Gabe’s book: “Like a cherished keepsake rebelling against the cruelties of an online auction, the wayward waifs of Howell’s porcelain landscape are forced to fight their way through splintered selfhood in a broken world. Vulnerable and scrappy, wistful and ferocious, Forget Me Not is a sharp pinch in a tender place.” Not bad, huh? However, words don’t do justice to the spot-glossing, embossing, flocking, and linen-tex graining – and that’s just on the cover. We promise the insides will haunt you, too.

 

 

Having Gabe behind our table for the first ever feels like a win. Joining Gabe at TCAF table 154, we have another winner, the Washington Post‘s Real Art D.C. Contest finalist, CAKE Cupcake Award and MoCCA Best of Show winner, Adam Griffiths, with his still-in-previews, first book of the Washington White trilogy. Alas, L. joins us in car and spirit only, as they’re still unpacking. And from the ICYMI files, here’s superhero Hazel Newlevant at the Portland Mercury with a round-up of comics by trans artists, including L.’s classic, Flocks. We hope to host some more guest stars this weekend, but we don’t want to over-promise and under-deliver. You’re just going to have to drop by and see. We do promise to return here with a rundown of our return to TCAF. See you in a few…

Your Pal,

Leon

WHOEVER SAID you can’t go home again? MoCCA, or more fully, the Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art Festival, gave us the best homecoming imaginable. Despite our fried nerves, everything went swimmingly from the minute the plane hit the tarmac. Shipping and supply chain issues notwithstanding, (almost) everything arrived on time. This might sound like an odd choice of thing to fry one’s nerves over, but these days, you never know. You know what we couldn’t deliver to MoCCA? Zak Sally, who wisely stuck to health and safety protocols, and stayed put in sunny Minneapolis. We still owe you one, Zak. We owe one to poor, old Barry Matthews (the former other Mr. Secret Acres), who hosted a warehouse worth of our gear for a week. It took an SUV and a willing stepfather to get everything to the lovely Metropolitan Pavilion, but we needed every last bit of what we had. God bless the kind folks at the Society of Illustrators for giving us all the time in the world to set up the day before. As it turned out, the turn out for the first MoCCA of this decade wrapped a line of beautiful, comics-starved people around the block.

 

 

Mercifully, we rolled in with a gang of five, counting Rob Sergel, Sean Ford, Brendan Leach, Adam Griffiths and Glynnis Fawkes, our girl (at the table) next door. Rob brought along the brand-spanking new issue of Eschew, leading us to our favorite stan moment of the show, a visit from Dean Haspiel, showing off his profound knowledge of Rob’s ouvre to his gang. Dino, please continue being our best seller. Brendan stocked us with his latest, the Ignatz Award nominee, “Slum Clearance Symphony” aka Ley Lines no.24. Glynnis pretty much took our stock of Persephone’s Garden away from us, but because she made it, we won’t call her a thief. Adam snuck in some ARC’s of Washington White, which we earmarked for critics and distributor-type people. This stopped absolutely no one from buying them up. The big shocker hit when the Society of Illustrators and the generous people at Wacom dropped some balloons on us, and a purple Best of Show ribbon on Washington White. All this made MoCCA 2022 our best MoCCA ever, in every respect, with enormous crowds, huge sales and flawless organization. We don’t know what the Society and the show organizers got up to these past two years, but MoCCA reminds us of the folks that walked out of lockdown looking ripped.

 

 

More importantly, and perhaps even more fun, we spent damn near as much money as we took home. Our table favorites included the massive Kent State from Derf Backderf, which we admit we’re still reading because it’s a big, fat book, and also beautiful and required reading. Enchanted Lion revived our favorite kid’s book ever, Alastair Reid’s Supposing, with new illustrations from JooHee Yoon, also definitely required reading, but you can’t have it yet, yet another excellent reason to show up for MoCCA. If you like waiting for things, Jordan Crane’s complete Keeping Two will ruin your day since that arrived at MoCCA after what feels like, and probably is, decades since we first read the minis. Ansis Puriņš’s Super! Magic Forest is a keeper, too, and you can read it to kids, but only if they’re very cool kids. Nick Offerman completed his heartbreaking Do Geese See God? with a fourth and final chapter, another stellar MoCCA debut. We picked up, at long last, the Eisner-nominated memoir, the Burning Hotels, which might be even more heartbreaking, so trigger warning on that one. And you guys can stop telling us about Matt Rota. We get it already. Yes, we agree, he’s very good.

 

 

Last time, we promised you would hear more about Gabe Howell, and there’s now an entire page for him on this (still wonky) site. If you scroll all the way back on this blog, you can see that we have been courting Gabe for years and years and now. For us, at least, the most wonderful thing to come out of these comatose two years and change would be Gabe’s debut graphic novel, Forget Me Not. Gabe (via four adorable little girls on the run from a pretty fucking terrifying Death) reels you right into the conflict between visibility and privacy. We share a lot with each other, and even with strangers, even in isolation. We all want to be seen, but the act of observing changes the observed. We promise this book will change you. You won’t have to wait too long for this book, either. Forget Me Not and Gabe himself are coming to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, live and in person this June. If you missed MoCCA, you have to come TCAF. Those are the rules! We’ll be back here, we promise, before we hit the road. Meantime, thank you, everybody, for a great MoCCA weekend. It’s nice being alive again.

Your Pal,

Leon

THE LAST TIME we posted to this blog, Sadiya filed her rundown of Comic Arts Brooklyn. She survived her first solo assignment as camp counselor for the Secret Acres table, wrapping up another comics year that saw us drop Joakim Drescher’s first installment of his Motel Universe trilogy, Sean Knickerbocker’s Rust Belt collection, Keren Katz’s sophmore graphic novel, the Backtstage of a Dishwashing Webshow, and Glyniss Fawkes’s memoir of everything, Persephone’s Garden. Sadiya dedicated the third act of her first Scuttlebutt to the then-upcoming Marchenoir Library from A. Degen, and the second installment of Motel Universe. She signed off with: ” See? The world ain’t so bad. Happy holidays, everybody (and many thanks for sticking with us through this year of total, global meltdown). And we are outta here like Brexit! See you in 2020…” So we ended our comics year of 2019.

 

 

Talk about famous last words. We really made ourselves into total liars, since, in fact, we did not see you at all in 2020. We admit to faking optimism back in 2019, and not just because people started whispering the word pandemic before the virus even had a name. A week after that last post, we lost our friend, Tom Spurgeon. A week after that, sometime during the fifth Democratic presidential debate, we started thinking it could be another four years of Trump rule, and it might be a really good idea to get the fuck out of America, so we got tickets. About forty-eight hours after landing in Germany, Trump closed the borders, for what was supposed to be six weeks. It took that long to get a safe flight home.

 

 

We made it back home, and back to this blog, and now, finally, we’re back at MoCCA this weekend, two years late. These last two years took a lot out of us. They took a lot of our friends, parents and grandparents, our jobs, marriages and homes, our peace and supposed democracy, our health and sanity, our sense of history and community. Like everyone and everything, we are back at square one. It fits, being back in our hometown, and heading into MoCCA for our first show, with no idea of what we’re doing, of what to expect, of what this community feels like, or what community feels like, period. We did exactly this, fourteen years ago, at MoCCA, our first show ever, and now we’re making rookie mistakes again. At least something feels familiar.

 

 

We owe too many apologies to too many people to make them all here. We want to make good on those promises from the old world, back in 2019. We do indeed have Motel Universe 2: Faschion Empire and the Marchenoir Library for you this weekend, after releasing them into the ether of lockdown. We have Zak Sally’s astonishing Recidivist IV, after releasing that one accidentally. We have a sneak peak of Adam Griffith’s Washington White, which you can actually pick up and hold at the MoCCA table. We even have a new addition to the Secret Acres gang, Gabe Howell, but our site’s operating in beta, so you’ll hear more about him when we get back from MoCCA. You will hear from us when we get back from MoCCA, that we promise you. Meantime, please forgive us, and if you’re in New York this weekend, please come by and say hello because we’d love to see your faces. We really missed you.

Your Pals,

Leon and Sadiya

WE SHOOK off the childhood trauma of gym class and ventured early in the morning to Comic Arts Brooklyn, held at Pratt’s ARC, meaning Athletic and Recreation Center. This means there were 41,000 square feet of space filled with empty tables when we arrived. We unloaded our wares and set up. This being our first show as a solo op since Sadiya made Secret Acres a duo once more, we took the opportunity to set up the table exactly as we liked (and you can eat it, Leon). And then we reset it. And then we reset it. And we reset it once again. Special thanks to the wonderful Rob Sergel for showing up early and playing therapist to our table setting neuroses.

 

 

The table was staffed by a band of brilliant misfits, including Rob, Keren Katz, and Glynnis Fawkes. Within two hours of the doors opening, we heard at least five people ask Rob when his new comic would be out. We couldn’t give you a solid ETA, but if you’re just as big of a fan of his work as we are, you can visit him here. Keren made a scene, of course. Like the pied piper she is, she led a parade of cartoonists back to our table to trade comics. Keren gave us the distinct pleasure of meeting Natalie Wardlaw who gifted us a beautiful Mermaid comic we are still fawning over.

 

 

During a brief lull in the show, we spied someone wearing an I LOVE OTTERS tee. This prompted Rob to share some horrible facts about otters that had us reconsidering our love of nature, let alone these horrible, adorable animals. Go ahead and Google it; it’s all true. However, we were left wondering whether the love of otters referred to actual otters or gay otters. We can only hope gay otters are less evil, but you never know. A mysterious man came and told us bad jokes because he thought we looked “too serious,” and Kyle, the wandering book hoarder, let us in on the secret of his good cheer (Weed. It was just weed. He was just high.). We marveled at the sight of a holy trinity before our table, in the form Spiegelman, Ware and McGuire (and we were sober, and apparently very serious). All in all, we felt very Brooklyn.

 

 

Thank you, all you beautiful people in the aisles, behind the tables and behind the scenes of our hometown show. CAB sends us into our winter hibernation in style. Yep, this will be our last Scuttlebutt until the big thaw. However, as promised, here’s some things to look forward to in the spring of 2020…

 

 

Prepare your return to Joakim Drescher‘s Motel Universe with Faschion Empire: Motel Universe 2! The action picks up (and never stops) after the Skins’ slave rebellion and the assassination of tycoon dictator, Barton Flump. A lone bounty hunter, Clara Constellation, searches for Captain Littlehead and the ghost of Caligula. From Planet Pear, where screentime is all the time, to the Adonis Nebula, an empire where the Faschion Police rule with an actual iron fist, the adventure continues with the second installment of the Motel Universe trilogy. MU2 is 2x the size and 2x the fun (and you know, the second part of a trilogy is always the best one)!

 

 

Enter A. Degen‘s Marchenoir Library, a gallery of the most beautiful covers from the beloved (and completely fictional, as in it doesn’t exit (yet)), sci-fi romance series, Marchenoir. Unfortunately, the covers are all that’s left of the mystery of the titular Marchenoir, an ex-celebrity singer/songwriter working as a superheroine to pay off her debts, and defend our dreams and reality, as she searches for a terrestrial paradise. Can you read a book by its covers? SPOILER ALERT: Yes. Yes, you can. Degen won’t leave you completely in the dark, though, because there will be one, randomly selected issue of Marchenoir heading your way, too.

See? The world ain’t so bad. Happy holidays, everybody (and many thanks for sticking with us through this year of total, global meltdown). And we are outta here like Brexit! See you in 2020…

Your Pals,

Sadiya and Leon

GREETINGS to you, this Halloween Eve. We love Halloween and not just because it means it’s time for CAB, aka Comic Arts Brooklyn. We take great pride in the fact that Secret Acres has never missed its hometown show, going all the way back to when it was BCGF, the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. What once happened in a church basement is now an all-week affair and housed (mostly) at Pratt’s ARC, which we imagine is about one thousand times the size of that old, wet basement. CAB starts the holiday season in style. Many thanks to the CAB folks for keeping us on the guest list.

 

 

Our own guest list is quite the thing. Identical twins Glynnis Fawkes and Keren Katz will be cuddled up at the Secret Acres table. They will of course be signing and sketching out their respective latests and greatests (if we do say so ourselves), Persephone’s Garden and the Backstage of a Dishwashing Webshow. We figure the seasonal walk down memory lane of Persephone’s Garden coupled with the failed attempts at escaping one’s past in the Backstage of a Dishwashing Webshow makes for great holiday reading. Making a trio of things, is none other than CAB driver, Robert Sergel, with Bald Knobber, everything Eschew and Joe Bonaparte in tow. We can’t say this for a fact, but we can’t remember Rob ever missing a CAB, either. Look around and you might just spy some more of the Secret Acres gang. Nobody wants to miss this one.

You can’t miss it, either, we have decided. While you are in New York, you are also obligated, should you have any regard for us or for art or for life or for love, to go to the Drawing Center. Edie Fake, the Gaylord Phoenix himself, spent a couple weeks at the Drawing Center recently, and he has completed his Labyrinth. What is  Labyrinth, you ask? Why, this:

 

 

As usual, CAB is the capper on comics year. We need that sense of accomplishment as much as anyone else! This means we’re going to do our usual look ahead to next year when we return to this here Scuttlelbutt. We also promise a rundown of all things CAB. See you in Brooklyn this very Saturday, and see you here back here in a few…

Your Pals,

Sadiya and Leon

 

WE PROUDLY now sport a dozen SPXs under our belt, and we feel like champs. We also feel like calling everyone to set up a sleepover, wracked by separation anxiety. Speaking of, all apologies to L. Nichols for inappropriate snuggling and a shipping SNAFU. Our weekend started with a terrifying discovery during setup: our box of Flocks ended up goin’ back to Cali. We called every store in driving range and found three. We kept count of the times someone came asking for Flocks to a total thirteen. We blame acclaimed dungeon mistress, MK Reed, for cursing us on SPX eve. At least Keren Katz consoled us with some unlicensed, homebrewed Flocks merch. Nonetheless, the wonderful, beautiful people of SPX severely depleted our stocks of all but Flocks by closing time.

 

 

We split the gang Saturday night, heading to both the Ignatz Awards and an intimate dinner with everyone’s heroes, Chris Pitzer and Annie Koyama. Doubtless, you know this is Annie’s last SPX with Koyama Press. We needed and appreciated some real one-on-one time. Annie, like she does with everyone, stands behind us, keeping us going year after year and we expect that will never change. Naturally, we thought about the comics lifecycle, which seems to be about eight years. Every eight years, the folks on the scene collectively consider and reconsider their lives and their spots in the game. This being the twenty-fifth SPX, we expected to hear, and indeed heard, from a lot of people who were joining Annie in declaring this their last SPX. This sucks, for us. If it were up to us, no one would be allowed to bounce. As for us, despite rumors (which we heard for the first time this SPX) that Secret Acres was going to fold after Barry called it quits (at SPX 2018, no less), once again: we’re not going anywhere.

 

 

On the way back from dinner, our phones blew up. Keren, asked last-minute to present this year’s Outstanding Graphic Novel Ignatz Award, crushed it. We promise to get you video proof of what we already know, specifically that Keren is an amateur cartographer, and should never be allowed to run with scissors. In celebration of the Keren Moment, we took turns trying on her hat, with Sean Knickerbocker clearly the winner. We tried on a pretty pro tank top we got from Carta Monir. We stayed up late reading Hazel Newlevant’s No Ivy League, Eleanor Davis’s the Hard Tomorrow and Emma Jayne’s Ignatz Award-Winning Trans Girls Hit the Town.

 

 

Packing up, we realized that our shopping haul was pretty much all we had left. Sean Knickerbocker managed a total sellout of Rust Belt, anti-capitalist or not. Glynnis ditched all her copies of Persephone’s Garden, leaving her no choice but to check in at chez Acres. We counted a whopping one copy of Keren’s Backstage of a Dishwashing Webshow among the leftovers. All in all, Secret Acres hasn’t done numbers like this since SPX opened up the whole room. Don’t call it a comeback! Or call it a comeback, if you must. We cannot thank enough the good people walking the floor, manning the tables, running the show. Here’s to another twenty-five years of SPX.

 

 

We’re off to roll around in our huge pile of cash,  Indecent Proposal-style, but we’ll be back here in a bit for all things Comic Arts Brooklyn. See you in a few (unless you’re down for a slumber party right now (in a pile of cash))…

Your Pals,

Sadiya and Leon

SINCE RELOCATING to the California desert valley, the thought of breaking out so much as a jean jacket fills us with glee. After a long, ludicrously, incomprehensibly hot summer, we gear up for the comics fall, which, of course, means the Small Press Expo. If you live by the comics calendar, there is nothing more autumnal than SPX. If you see comics as a spiritual pursuit, you know SPX is like church: you have to go. Nobody misses an SPX. So, if you want to wipe out all of comicsdom in one shot, you know where to aim.

 

 

We’re bombing SPX with a stunning pair of debut books. First up is Keren Katz‘s follow-up to her SPX Ignatz Award nominated book, the Academic Hour, namely, the Backstage of a Dishwashing Webshow. Keren takes us back to school with this one, though it’s a very different school. At Mount Scopus Academy, everyone becomes who they always were. Ever wonder why you might sometimes feel like you’re dating your dad? Ever try to escape your past? Ever try to find what you’ve been missing? Keren’s got a map for that. You may need one, since it’s easy to get lost in the exquisite beauty and movement of her art, and there’s a lot of seltzer, too.

 

 

Or! You could take a walk through Persephone’s Garden, a collection of comics by Glynnis Fawkes, another Ignatz Award nominee. We must warn you, this book will make you cry. Persephone’s Garden is a deeply personal story and an inventive study of girlhood, womanhood and motherhood, through memory, history and mythology. Glynnis doesn’t leave a stone in this garden unturned. She is, after all, an archeaological illusrator by trade. Lest you think this is some kind of tearjerker, we promise you will also laugh yourself silly. Try yoga with Charlotte Brontë. Speaking of, come to the show and you might get sneak peek at Glyniss’s other book, Charlotte Brontë Before Jane Eyre.

 

 

We know, you want more. And there’s more! Sean Knickerbocker takes his Rust Belt tour outta the rust belt and to the nation’s capitol (or close enough) to make one helluva anti-capitalist statement. L. Nichols returns to the scene of the crime, and his SPX 2018 debut, Flocks. We swear everyone will have lots of new stuff. Plus, believe it or not, SPX is turning 25 this year. Still age inappropriate for the likes of us, but not bad at all! If you just cannot make it to the biggest show of the year, well, we feel for you, but you can pick up your own Persephone’s Garden and Backstage of a Dishwashing Webshow in our Emporium right now. Or you can read about Keren’s German show in German or English. See? You have options. You always have options.

We’ll be back in a bit with all our SPX happenings and whatever dirt we can dig up, promise.

Your Pals,

Sadiya and Leon

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CONTACT US

Secret Acres
PO Box 710
Cooperstown, NY 13326
Tel (718) 502-9882
Fax (718) 775-3991

info@secretacres.com

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