The Blot by Tom Neely

Categories:  Reviews

The Blot
by Tom Neely
I Will Destroy You

Tom NeelyThere’s an allegory in here, somewhere—in fact, there are almost certainly several, all overlapping one another—there’s something about relationships, and inner-turmoil, and being an outsider in a familiar landscape. There’s plenty of things to read into the story—first time author, Tom Neely, makes sure of that. That the story is largely wordless only heightens the ambiguity of any message the author is quietly attempting to convey.

The Blot
thrives on such mystery. Anyone attempting to decipher some logical linear story from the book will likely find it as jumbled a mess as the pervasive splotch which gives the book its name. Fortunately, Neely’s first attempt is solid enough to work at face value. Taken literally, the book is a story of a bumbling everyman, caught up in a bad artistic trip of a nightmare, which clearly makes as little sense to him as to the readers—something of a psychedelic Night of the Living Dead, filtered through a surrealist nightmare landscape. On this level, the book is rather enjoyable, once you learn how to embrace its chaos, as the titular ink blot possesses and morphs, and unlocks all manner of strange new doors for our unassuming protagonist.

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Interview: Harvey Pekar Pt 3 (of 3)

Categories:  Interviews

Harvey PekarBy the last third of our interview, Harvey Pekar and I had essentially exhausted the subject of his new book, Macedonia. As he had made fairly clear in the first half-hour and change, the writer was rather unhappy with the way the book has thus far been received in critical circles. Let’s face it, though, if he didn’t complain such much, he’d hardly be the Harvey Pekar we’ve all come to know and love over the past few decades.

After a follow up conversation with Pekar a week and a half ago, it seems that  things are looking up a bit for the author. Acording to Pekar, the new reviews that have begun cropping up ‘get’ what he was going for, when he opted to tell the story of Macedonia’s successful campaign to avoid war amongst its dissident factions.

In this final part, we discuss the future of American Splendor, the current state of jazz, and Pekar’s long-abandoned artistic aspirations.

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While You Were Out: Dispatches from Beyond SDCC 2007

Categories:  News

Cross Hatch Con 2007

A few tips for all of those attempting to start up comic conventions in their own neighborhoods. First, and perhaps most importantly, don’t hold your convention the same weekend as the San Diego Con. Also important: invite some creators and have people set up booths, and you know, sell stuff. Advertising is good too—and oh yeah, one other thing: there are probably better places to hold it than your backyard in Queens.

Suffice it to say, the first-ever Cross Hatch Con was a slightly less rousing success than the 120,000-odd people that packed the San Diego Convention Center, this year.

Liz made it out to Comic Con 2007, and will be filing a report shortly. As for my own, well, I sold one autograph to a neighbor, who took pity on me, as I sat out in the rain—after I dropped the price down to fifteen cents. Oh, and I had to cancel the dance party, after eating too much zucchini bread.

We spoke to a few cartoonists who also didn’t manage to make it out to southern California, this year. Their reports, after the jump.

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Cross Hatch Dispatch 7/26/2007

Categories:  The Cross Hatch Dispatch
.---------------------------.

|/=========================\|

|             ..=..         | , You will lower your shields and

|    \\=//   //-=-\\        |    surrender immediately.

|   //o=o\\  __\-/__        |   Or we shall incinerate you.

|    _\~/_  /   \nU \       |

|   /  \nU\ |   /\  |       |

'---------------------------'dew

My computer is going crazy, so I can only handle ASCII art today. This one’s from an ASCII comic strip called Starship ASCIIprise. Enjoysss. (btw, the formatting might be screwed up, so check out the link). Read the rest of this entry »

Interview: Andy Hartzell

Categories:  Interviews

foxbunnyfunny.jpgIt might seem like Andy Hartzell just burst onto the scene with his richly-themed comic Fox Bunny Funny, but people in the know have been quietly excited about his work for some time now.

Hartzell has been reading independent comics since college, where he was originally planning to become a playright. He started producing his own, and in 1995, he landed a Xeric grant to produce his comic Bread and Circuses. He worked for some time as a newspaper cartoonist in Las Vegas, and contributed to several anthologies through the years. He now produces his comics out of Emeryville, CA. In addition to his newest comic Fox Bunny Funny, he continues to produce his Ignatz-nominated series Monday, a story starring the cast of the Bible’s Genesis story. The third installment comes out this Fall.

Hartzell’s small press output are often hand done silk screens, and he has an eye for cleverly composed layouts. Hartzell says he grew up hooked on Disney and Warner Brothers cartoons, and his comics seem to show a similar sensibility and visual style.

I met Hartzell when I attended APE this year, and he was one of the most approachable comic creator there. He was there to promote the Bay Area small press collective and distributor Global Hobo.

When I later contacted him for an interview, we had a very nice chat in which I learned a lot about him. The only problem is that I’m a complete idiot with a tape recorder—twice over. I’ll just leave it at that! Anyway, the point is, he was gracious enough to redo the interview—through email because I found I had to back away slowly from the scary recording equipment.

In this interview, we talk about the places he’s been, try on some English class meanings for some of his recent comics, and discuss his comic making process. Hartzell is at the San Diego Comicon this weekend, so make sure to stop by and see his stuff at the Top Shelf table!

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Flight: Volume Four Ed. by Kazu Kibuishi

Categories:  Reviews

Flight: Volume Four
Edited By Kazu Kibuishi
Villard Books

Flight Volume FourFor years, anthologies served as the in for the alternative comics scene, both in terms of readers attempting to wade into this sometimes overwhelming world, and artists trying to gain exposure in the oft-clicky realm. Over the years, the great anthologies have slowly faded into oblivion, as editors began to develop their own pet projects, and publishers’ rosters grew too full to nurture outsiders. As the last great collections of the era have died off, Flight has grown fatter, more comprehensive, and increasingly essential.

This fourth volume, edited by the much buzzed about Kazu Kibuishi, does everything a good indie comics anthology should: it’s lovingly (and stunningly) compiled, covers a broad stylistic range, and perhaps most importantly, exposes beautiful work by a handful of relative unknowns—aside from Kibiushi himself, Grickle’s Graham Annable, and husband and wife team, Dave Roman and Raina Telgemeier, the majority of names in the anthology will likely prove unfamiliar to a majority of comic fans.

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Interview: David Yurkovich Pt 2. (of 2)

Categories:  Interviews

David YurkovichBe it earnest, or merely a love of camp, nearly every alternative comics artist harbors some level of fondness for the superhero genre. Often times the artists choose to act on these whims, be it through satire, an attempt at transcendence, or even the occasional straight-forward embrace of a well-tread franchise.

David Yurkovich has never felt the need to closet his fondness for superheroes from his early work to Less Than Heroes, probably his best-known book, the artist has offered the world his own take on the style. Newly collected by Top Shelf, the artist’s early Death by Chocolate books offer a glimpse into these trends. Having finished the book shortly before my chat with Yurkovich, the subject was still on my mind. Yurkovich, for his part, was more than happy to humor me.

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Looking for Writers, Webcomic Edition

Categories:  News

Guess what? We’ve been neglecting webcomics. Sad, we know. There’s a ton of great stuff out there, but we don’t really have the time to look at it. We’re looking for someone who can devote themselves to the space–and hey, if you happen to be an artist yourself, all the better. Check the qualifications, after the jump, and spread the words.

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Misery Loves Comedy by Ivan Brunetti

Categories:  Reviews

Misery Loves Comedy
By Ivan Brunetti
Fantagraphics

Ivan Brunetti MiseryMisery Loves Comedy reprints the first three issues of Ivan Brunetti’s Schizo, thankfully in their entirety. I say this not for the obvious reasons—sure it’s great to have the author’s classic series back in print again, all in one hard-covered, fancy pants collection—but rather because, unlike most trade paperbacks, the book doesn’t skimp on oft-neglect supplemental materials of the individual issues’ first editions.

I bring this up because, were I forced to pull a single page from the book that best summed up Brunetti’s early work, it wouldn’t be a selection of panels, or even the introduction to the collection, penned by an extremely patient and forgiving Chicago-based social worker, who explains the reasons behind Brunetti’s rather sparse ouevre. Rather, it would be a letters page. More specifically, the letters page from Schizo’s second issue. The notes collected on the inside cover are almost entirely composed by Brunetti’s contemporaries—some of the most notable names in the comics medium.

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