ALL THEOLOGICAL ARGUMENTS ASIDE, ever get the feeling somebody up there doesn’t like you? Our PACC trip had a crappy moment of foreshadowing when it was obvious Gabby Schulz aka Ken Dahl wasn’t going to make it. This was perfectly clear when there were panicked e-mails about coloring for web vs. print headed our way into the wee hours of the night, with us having to hit the road at dawn. The latest installment of “Sick” did go live on time at the very least, which was some consolation. The remaining three of us, Sean Ford included, were all ready to face the day. Mad genius Eamon Espey was on his way from points south. PACC was happening.
The forecast did call for rain, true. It may have called for the kind of blinding, driving torrents which sidelined several cars on the highway, but we missed that. Secret Acres fears not rain. We kept our chins up and played with our iPad, giggling over Dan Nadel’s TCJ blog post and arguing with each other over MK Reed’s Beat post and the value of Kickstarter. Then we saw Tom Spurgeon’s “All Of These Things That Have Made Us” and that ground us to a halt for a while. If you have no idea what we’re talking about, go read it. We’ll wait here.
We made good time. We got set up. We hardly even got wet. PACC did not get off so easily. The rain kept falling, outside and inside. The PACC gang are some hardcore troopers. Leaks on your table? Up and move. Walls falling down? Brush it off. We were on stage with AdHouse, and we mean on stage, looking out over the rest of the show. This was fun, because it gave us plenty of quality time with Chris Pitzer. It was a little odd, too. Like an out of body experience, we watched everything happen on the floor. We may have gone a bit bonkers as well, since both the Acres gang and the Pitzers (two of them, Mr. and Mrs.) were sitting on a loudspeaker each, emphasis on loud. This was cool when it was McLusky or the Muffs playing. Other times, it felt like a test. Was it too loud or were we too old? The best answer is both.
Attendance (and our take) was about a third of what it was last year, if we had to guess. This isn’t anything to cry about. It was impressive that people made it out in record rainfall at all. Not to mention that behind those tables, it was the strongest group of cartoonists we’ve seen in a while. If you don’t know Collective Stench, get to know them. We were already crushing on Zejian Shen (who is so gangsta, she made the trip from California), but her fellow Stench peeps in the Dimensions anthology are nothing at which to be sneezed. Another dope anthology, Puppyteeth, finally made it into our mitts after some near misses and we got chatty with Kevin Czapiewski, the Puppyteeth steward himself, while picking up his nasty/beautiful Waffle. Waffle is highly recommended for those who like ladies and men who may be suffering with erectile dysfunction issues. Kevin’s Comix Cube-mate, L. Nichols was on hand with an all new Jumbly Junkery, which is on issue 10 (!) and which we have been enjoying for quite some time even though “L.” will not give us a damn name. We got to talk to Ben Marra about Gary Panter and some other stuff, which was a real treat for us, if not Ben. We spent almost as much money as we did at BCGF. All told, PACC managed to squeak out another win.
Others were not so lucky. While we were plowing our way back home through some deep waters (thank heaven for tall cars) and having a measured, irony-free discussion of the worldwide apocalypse at hand, Hanley’s on Staten Island was drowning. Hanley’s is a comics mecca in Manhattan. It is the place that has everything for comics people. It’s where employees at the Big Two go after work and it’s where we found Capacity, Wormdye and Curio Cabinet in the mini-comics section. They were not having a good time before their sister store got soaked. If you happen to be around, go buy a comic from Hanley’s. You’d be doing comics a favor.
The rain and the bad news kept rolling into Monday. In the middle of drying our tears over Spurge’s essay, we got word that Dylan Williams wasn’t doing so well, either. To quote Tom Neely, Dylan is the toughest guy we know. He probably doesn’t need our positive thoughts, but please send some his way, anyway. As the Sparkplug captain, Dylan is the moral compass of indie comics. The guy does everything the right way even when it’s a pain in the ass. Plus he gave us Asthma, among many other beautiful things.
Finally, the sun came out. “Sick” was, as usual, great and getting better with each installment, but if you’re still greedy, there’s some of Ken Dahl’s Gordon Smalls comics on Jordan Crane’s What Things Do. Troop 142 got a nice, almost age appropriate shoutout from UGO. Mike Dawson made a lovely little invite to his Troop 142 party at Bergen, which you can see below. He’s also got a TCJ Talkies with Lisa Hanawalt and an Ink Panthers spot with Laura Park, both of whom the Acres worships. Graphic Eye put together an enormous interview with Joseph Lambert. The Comics Journal‘s Rob Clough got thoughtful on Joe’s I Will Bite You!
If you’re waiting for a happy ending to all this, you win: Joseph Lambert continued his efforts at world domination by snagging not one, but two Ignatz nominations for I Will Bite You! including Outstanding Anthology or Collection AND Outstanding Artist! He truly is an outstanding artist in every respect. But it does not stop there! In case you somehow missed it in the link, Edie Fake got three, count ‘em, three Ignatz nominations for Outstanding Mini-Comic, Outstanding Graphic Novel and Outstanding Artist. We are floored, so we can’t even say how Joe and Edie are feeling. We were proud of Edie and Gaylord Phoenix before, and we’ve beaming about Joe and I Will Bite You! for a while. This is like being hit by lightning five times if lightning were just awesome and not lethal.
So turn off the dark, it’s time to celebrate all things comics and all comics people. Join us at Bergen Street. We’ll be the guys with the big smiles.
Barry and Leon
What happens when Bigfoot meets the Breeders? Why, our Scuttlebutt TCAF wrap-up, of course! You'd think we were kidding, but we're not. If it weren't for Bigfoot, we'd never had gotten to meet the Breeders and see them play Last Splash front to back way up in Toronto. This has nothing to do with comics, but then most of what happens at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival has nothing to do with comics. It's really about the dancing. And the singing. And the topless singing. Worry not, we did get Capacity 8 unboxed and there were no border issues for anyone (except for Casey). We even made it to our panel, first thing Saturday morning. That may have been perfect timing, because it was something like Between Two Ferns meets group therapy. We're lucky bastards, for sure, but we missed the Comics Reporter, Tom Spurgeon, singing Bette Midler's the Rose (and, no, he was not topless). If any of you have video of this, or pictures of Drawn and Quarterly's jean vests, please, oh, please get back to us. Read on...
Finally, we are hitting the asphalt for our first road trip of the year. It's a long drive to the Toronto Comics Arts Festival and we are carrying some precious cargo as usual. Theo Ellsworth is being delivered via airmail, with fellow Acres Brendan Leach, Joe Lambert and Edie Fake meeting us there. Sean Ford has called shotgun, and Capacity 8 is in the boot. Capacity 8 is one of those surprise births with which we are regularly blessed here at Secret Acres. It's also the first time anyone in our gang has dropped a new story for a series that we've collected. Capacity, Theo's big, fat book, is a complete thing, for sure. The eighth issue is all new territory, but it's still all true. In a way. In that Capacity way. Oh, and we'll be kicking off first thing Saturday with a small press panel featuring pals and heroes, Koyama Press, Rebus Books and Grimalkin Press, too. This year's Acresmobile comic mule is the legendary Dash Shaw. Alas, last year's hitcher, MK Reed, is too lazy to make it to TCAF. Everyone else better be heading up - or catching Eamon Espey's Ishi's Brain show in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Yeah, we're looking at you. We're standing right behind you. No, the other way. Anyhow, there's explicit instructions up on Scuttlebutt.
PEOPLE OF THE SEATTLE: Tonight's the night! Go watch Eamon Espey and Lisa Krause as they bring their show, Ishi's Brain, to Hugo House. Which is in Seattle. Ishi's Brain is based on Eamon's story of the same name from his Secret Acres collection, Songs of the Abyss. Lisa Krause is an artist and puppeteer of Bread and Puppet fame, among other things. It's quite a unique experience and pretty much beats the hell of out any old, regular reading. They are on tour all over the country, but there's something fitting about performing Ishi in Seattle. You know, because Seattle is strange and dark and there are scary woodlands and coffee. The Richard Hugo House is also something to see in itself. They have a writers' residence for zinesters (currently held by ZAPP), classes on seemingly everything, a focus on a local writing community and, of course, performances. Go. Have fun. Report back to us. Even the Stranger says to check it out. See...
Stranger things have certainly happened, but it would appear our man, Theo Ellsworth, will have not one, but two debuts at the Toronto Comics Arts Festival. Yes, we will have the eighth issue of his ongoing Capacity (the first since our enormous collection of that title), but we'll tell you more about that later. Meanwhile, we knew Theo was working on a comic for an anthology, but we didn't realize it was the fourth Alternative Comics anthology. You may or may not be aware, but Alternative Comics published some truly amazing things, like Jeff Lewis' True Swamp and Steven Weissman's Yikes (yes, this was before Fantagraphics took over). Then they took some time off. Now they're back. Also included in this anthology are Alternative Comics graduate James Kochalka, this guy named Craig Thompson, the adorable Noah Van Sciver and #cybergang leader, Alex Schubert, to name a few. Get up to TCAF because it's amazing, and Theo and most of the Alternative Comics crew will be there to sign the thing. Collect them all!
On a more important note than usual: 282 Broadway is where the party has been for, well, seems like forever now. What the hell is that, you ask? It's the home address for Domino Books and Revival House and Rebus. It's known sometimes as Bill K's Place, as in Bill Kartalopoulos. Just about everyone who has ever attended or exhibited at a comics event in New York City or, hell, ever drawn a comic while in city limits, has been exhausted, high, drunk or lost in that apartment while rubbing elbows with their heroes. We've written plenty on our blog, about their comics and their parties, too. Now they're moving out. We're telling you this because these guys need a new home. Go buy some comics from them. Forget the good cause, their books are amazing and we've been seethingly jealous of their good work, so if you like us, help them and get some great stuff for yourself. Everybody wins!