• WRCT: a zine

    It’s amazing how little reference I need to draw this place…

    The goal is 16 page minicomic for WRCT to distribute to new freshmen recruits. It’s no secret, I’m obviously riffing on Lewis Trondheim and Eleanor Davis’ Secret Science Alliance. I hope to have printed and ready to ship in 4 days.

    It’s kind of dumb how much I love that station.


  • Jordan Crane's NON #5

    The Schulz Library is officially open. The first thing I’ve taken out is Jordan Crane’s Non #5.

    There was a review of NON #5 in the Comics Journal #240 in 2001, but given that access to that information is only available to suscribers of TCJ, I thought that illuminating on the details of this gem of a publication would be good to have on the web. If anything I’d like y’all to see what a beautiful motherfucker Crane put together.

    Take a look at this beautiful anthology.

    What you’re looking at its a die-cut cardboard container holding three separate perfect bound comics wrapped within a hand-silkscreened cover. Put out in 2001, this baby is the way it is out of necessity.

    From Crane in 2008:

    _NON_ #5 is definitely a little different than all the rest of them. _NON_ #5 took that shape because it had to. That was the only way to collect it all together. I was originally going to have [_Col-Dee_ ](http://www.amazon.com/Col-Dee-Jordan-Crane/dp/0967798914)and [Kurt Wolfgang's graphic novella] [_Where Hats Go _i](http://www.amazon.com/Where-Hats-Go-Kurt-Wolfgang/dp/0967798922)n the [main _NON_] book. That was the original plan. But then Kurt and I got Xeric Grants to print them and we were able to overlap projects, which theoretically would save me money. It would've been a hell of a lot cheaper just to print the book as one big book, now that I look back on the whole thing. Those Xeric Grants were actually a hindrance. I was like, "Thanks for the $8,000 that ended up costing me $5,000." [_Laughs_] Since those were Xeric Grant books, I wanted them to be a part of the package, but they had to work separately because they were going to be sold separately as well. So that was my solution to that problem: I looked at the budget constraints of the book and tried to figure out how to make it as cheaply as possible. "How can we make it and still turn a profit?" It was just accepting the constraints and not being like, "I'm going to push my publisher to spend money that they don't have." In one way the form isn't the point. In the _biggest_ way the form isn't the point. It's about working within those constraints and creating the most high-quality work that is possible. It's giving the proper attention to creating a book.

    NON is worth thinking about because of the what it records at the dawning of “age of the anthology”. At the time of the publication of the five issues of NON (1997-2001), there was a ton of work being made by awesome dudes and dudettes that wasn’t seeing the light of day. NON gave those artists exposure. Given this environment, you can see why Crane would say the following to Sean T. Collins in the above quoted interview in 2001 about his curatorial work as NON’s editor.

     In a way, _NON_ was really easy. It was a bunch of very obvious choices, because all these great guys were not being published. I was like a kid in a candy store. It was _not_ a hard anthology to edit.

    Sure, it wasn’t hard for Crane to choose the best material, but the fact that it wasn’t hard to choose didn’t mean Crane was going to take a backseat to the process. Crane’s laboring over the overall design choices kept the whole publication astoundingly cohesive.

    So, why no more NON? Well, today’s world of contemporary comics seem to find themselves in a milieu steeped with anthologies full of rich contributions and high production value. It’s a trend that has become a strong current in the past ten years and that at the time of NON #5’s publication, Crane could already see coming. Today you’ve got Harkham’s Kramer’s Ergot, Fantagraphics’ MOME, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s_ Best American Comics_, Nobrow … that’s a lot of beautiful fucking anthologies coming out regularly and that’s without me counting the vast sea of selfpublished minicomics anthologies.

    Given the healthy state of anthologies, let’s look back to NON #5. Who was the contributing crew?

    Many of these fine folks were being published by Tom Devlin’s Highwater Books at the time.

    So, what do I love about NON #5?

    Let’s start off with Mat Brinkman’s illustrations that punctuate the whole reading experience. His work elicits immediate laughter and provides a solid counterpoint to the rest of the stories. They give each story the breathing room it needs in order to be experienced satisfyingly. Whenever I make an anthology, I’m sure as shooting going to use this technique.

    And my favorite contribution? Hands down, Pshaw. Pshaw’s lively cartooning was the biggest hidden treat. The only other time that I’d come across his work was in a comicscomics newsprint that comicscomicsmag had put out a while back. It was when I’d discovered the Picturebox crew and was still unfamiliar with what they were all about, but for some reason, the Pshaw strips that were printed really resonated with me. They were truly rad.

    Besides, Pshaw’s short little ditty, Kurt Wolfgang’s wordless novella, Where Hats Go was a delight. It had me physically feeling the tangling plot. It was a borderline synesthetic experience for me. The ups and downs in the pantomime were felt with an immediate intensity that I rarely feel when words are included.

    This deceptively simple story tells of a young boy in search of his grandfather’s hat, a cherished link to the man & all the memories associated with him. The artwork is dense, filled with detail, but it never becomes too busy or confusing.

    I was thoroughly impressed by Wolfgang’s capacity to put me in a headspace that was  just a couple steps away from my traditional headspace of verbal communication. One reads the Where Hats Go and halfway in, as the story is catapulting forward, the reader realizes that not a single word has been read and yet the whole story is grasped.

    Where Hats Go, sees Wolfgang work a really solid arc and includes several nice plot twists, along with a truly satisfying open ended final frame. I’m a sucker for heartwarming wordless stories (Set to Sea, Last Lonely Saturday), so the fact that I loved this that much isn’t too surprising.

    Lot’s of great things in here that speak to the state of American independent cartooning circa 2001 and well worth experiencing first hand.

    If you want to learn more about Jordan Crane or a more detailed telling of how NON #5 came to be the beautiful beast that it is, be sure to read Sean T. Collins’ 2008 interview with Crane.


  • The First Monoprints

    I spent the day playing around with monoprints at the Two Rivers Print Studio.

    Let’s see if you can put two and two together.


  • Schulz Library's Big Move

    These past couple of days I’ve been volunteering during the big move for the Schulz Library at the Center for Cartoon Studies. Why a big move?

    It just so happens that in the summer of 2011, Hurricane Irene brought some scary floods to the Upper Valley. At the time the Schulz Library was located right next to the White River, sharing a store front with White River Junction’s Main Street Museum. As such, the precious collection was in serious risk of permanent damage. With a collection as spectacular as CCS’ something had to be done. The books HAD to be kept safe.

    You can read more about the evacuation of the previous location on The Beat courtesy Jen Vaughn. After the evacuation they’ve been in temporary storage in the Telegraph building in White River Junction.

    Long story short, the Schulz Library is officially home and it is looking beautiful.

    I’m looking forward to the official opening of the library so that I can finally get to reading the odds and ends of the collection. The collection of anthologies and of international comics is nothing short of a dream come true. And yes, it’s true, CCS has copies of NON, the anthology that Jordan Crane created and edited a while back.

    Needless to say, I can’t wait until those doors officially open. Below are some photos of the move process.


  • Support American Political Cartooning

    The Toonseum, Pittsburgh’s non-profit cartoon art museum has a new project that you folks might fancy.

    The Toonseum and Rob Rogers, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Editorial Cartoonist, are looking to make a documentary that takes a look behind the curtain of political cartooning in America’s current presidential race. The documentary hopes to send Rogers to cover the juicy details of the 2012 Republican and Democratic National Conventions.

    _Journalism as we know it is changing dramatically. Newspapers are struggling to stay alive. Editorial cartoonists have suffered along with them, sometimes being the first to be let go when a company downsizes. I hope this mini-documentary, aside from giving a humorus look behind the curtain of our political process, will help show how cartooning and newspaper journalism are still an important part of our collective dialogue. _

    - Rob Rogers


     Check out the Indiegogo campaign here and support this rad little project, if you can.

    At the time of this posting, they’re already halfway there, which means that your contributions can help bring in the funding of this project into the homestretch.


  • Sate your 'zine cravings in Pittsburgh

    The Pittsburgh ‘Zine fair is coming up real soon. Are you stoked?

    Before that, there’s a little benefit being put together to help sponsor the event. If you can’t wait to meet other self-publishing cartoonists, poets, journalists and prose writers, check ‘em all out at the Zine Fair Benefit on August 24th at the Mr. Roboto Project on Penn Avenue in Pittsburgh.

    Be sure to check it out if you’re looking for some homegrown Pittsburgh culture.


  • let's take back the funny pages!

    Pittsburgh cartoonists, there’s a lot of you out there, but there don’t seem to be many of you in Pittsburgh’s periodicals.

    Why’s that? Is that because you don’t know which to submit to? Understandable! Fortunately for you, Nils Skeletonballs, was kind enough to put together a list of local periodicals that you should be submitting your comics to.

    Get crackin’ and let’s take back the funnies one strip at a time.

    The Bulletin (Bloomfield, Garfield, Friendship, East Liberty, Lawrenceville) Green Tree Times Greenfield Grapevine Morningside Newsletter The Northside Chronicle Observatory Hill Journal The Polish Hill Voice The Regent Square Newsletter The South Hills Almanac The South Pittsburgh Reporter (Southside) Squirrel Hill Magazine Suburban Gazette (McKees Rocks, Crafton, Ingram, Robinson) is there a periodical that’s been overlooked? let Nils know, as he’s curating a list at the bottom of his YINZ page. You can do so by sending him a short and sweet message.


  • Malphas all gussied up

    Malphas, tower builder and defense strategist extraordinaire.


  • 72 Demons: Malphas

    Hey all, I’m contributing to Tara Helfer’s 72 Demons Project. I thought I’d share my work in progress.

    You know how I am with anthropomorphizing birds, so when I saw that Malphas, the half-man half crow defense specialist and military strategist was still up for grabs, I jumped on that. Here’s a preliminary sketch fro my contribution. You can count on Malphas getting fancy.

    [![](http://fernandezjuanjose.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/photo-43.jpg)](http://fernandezjuanjose.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/photo-43.jpg)_Inspired by the Lesser Key of Solomon, comics, and 17th century grimoire, the [72DEMONS project](http://72demons.blogspot.com/) is a venue for new and budding visual artists. Our goal is to publish an illustrated book depicting the seventy-two demons archived in the Ars Goetia, believed to be a guide written by King Solomon for summoning both helpful and malevolent spirits. Thousands of years later these entities persist, although they have changed their names and faces!_ _ Since summer of 2011, [72DEMONS](http://72demons.blogspot.com/) has expanded into a diverse collective of illustrators, painters, graphic designers, writers and video artists - making for one hefty book!_

    Here’s a peek at the first proof of the beautiful book:


  • Copacetic's 2nd Anniversary Celebration

    When’s the last time you stopped by Pittsburgh’s Copacetic Comics? Has it been too long? Well, this weekend might be the weekend to change that. For two days you can celebrate by emptying your wallet and filling your backpacks and handbags with comics and artbooks galore at the 2nd Anniversary Celebreation of Copacetic’s location in Polish Hill. There’ll be sale prices on the raddest of the rad, so it’s certainly not something to miss out on.

    If you’ve never been to Copacetic and you’re a comics fan within a reasonable distance from Pittsburgh, you should consider a weekend trip and check out the Stephan Pastis talk and exhibit opening at the Toonseum.

    And if you’ve never bought a comic, here’s your chance! Start with the best for unimaginably cheap prices!

    Who knows you might meet that special someone… Just imagine it: Both of you reaching for that fancy Fantagraphics collection of Alex Toth at the same time. Obviously it’s destiny, so you better decide the way you’ll spend the rest of your lives reading comics together over a coffee at Lili Coffee Shop below Copacetic…

    There’ll be specials on back issues, odds and ends, giveaways and promotional premiums to no end.

    While you’re there, why not take a dip into one of the best stocks of minicomics in the United States? That’s why you’re there right? Of course, then there’s the re-issues of the Incal and Dan Zettwoch’s new release, Birdseye Bristoe that you’ll be ogling over. Check out the nitty gritty details on Copacetic’s page.

    Obviously, I’ll be there putting my dirty hands on everything in the shop. Sorry, Bill.

    Oh and on an unrelated note, if you haven’t checked out James Stokoe’s Orc Stain and you like gritty, thrilling, gruesome and sensual adventures, you should get on that. It’s JUICY.