Here’s the story.

Categories:  News

I saw some mention today of Act-I-vate’s sixth anniversary and Comics Beat’s second. This means we’re five. I’m not sure when it started, but at some point it just became easier to use other people’s anniversaries to mark the passage of time. Like clockwork, I received a note from the domain registrar, reminding me to renew, and as ever, I hesitated for a moment. There’s a certain sense of obligation in such a renewal, as though it symbolizes locking oneself in for another year. I keep coming back to my friend Alex’s decision to shutter the doors of his much beloved Brooklyn comic shop, when the idea of another five-year lease simply proved too much to bear.

This is the part where I explain what’s going on. I’m sure I’ve touch upon this briefly in the past – work tends to get in the way of life, and 13 hour days and worked weekends have the tendency to take their toll on interpersonal relationships and labors of love, and this site has always represented a bit of both. In a sense, I never wrote for anyone but myself, so it ought be regarded as some astronomical impossibility that so many other people I know and respect saw fit to put any stock in the words that came out the other side.

And then it slowed down and then it stopped. These things always end with a whimper. But there’s no use here for such finalities. There’s no end here. Let’s call it a hiatus. And certainly me and comics aren’t through. I’ve already got some irons in the fire – for the time being, however, my involvement with comics will likely involve work for others, like the Engadget Comics I’ve been curating for my day job and the Art Spiegelman interview for Publisher’s Weekly – there are a few others as well that I’m not quite ready to yank the curtain from.

But the Cross Hatch never made sense as a one man organization, and thankfully, through the years, I’ve been blessed with a handful of writers willing, like myself, to work for free (or, in my case, a negative sum) for the sheer honor of writing about our era’s most vibrant art form (and, of course, the promise of free comics), most notably Sarah Morean, who served as my partner for the vast majority of the site’s existence.

So this isn’t a goodbye – it’s really just a note to let you know that, despite what you might have read on a CBR message board, I’ve not been kidnapped by Turkish Pirates, so maybe send a jokey birthday card in lieu of flowers – or better yet some comics. The stack’s starting to get low.

–BH

Sparkplug Comic Books: Made to Order

Categories:  News
Tags: ,
ddgoccoprint

Luggage tags from David King are on my shopping list. A $2 steal!

One of our favorite publishers of fine indie comics has been diagnosed with cancer. Evidently, for a second time. Can I get a “not fair?”

Dylan Williams is a man with enough on his mind. As one of the planners for the Portland Zine Symposium, he just saw the 11th year of that event wrap up, plus he’s the sole person running Sparkplug Comic Books, and now he has to deal with this major health issue (and bills). It’s unfortunate, unfair, and inspires a sense of melancholy from someone living so far away who isn’t sure how to help.

Actually, there is something you can do for Dylan at home.  It would be enormously useful and encouraging if you would go now to the Sparkplug Comic Books website and finally buy the copy of Lemon Styles you’ve been waiting for, or take a chance on another title that’s sure to please you.

Thanks to Rob Clough for getting the ball rolling on this one.

Here is the three-part interview we ran with Dylan back in 2008: 1 | 2 | 3

Here are some links to reviews of books published or distributed by Sparkplug we’ve run here on the Cross Hatch:

- Sarah Morean

Re-Captioning The Family Circus–For a Cause

Categories:  News

family circus scan 1

One of the more exciting/bizarre honors that has bestowed upon me as a direct result of the writing I’ve done for The Onion was the ability to scribble a caption into one of Feature Editor Joe Garden’s The Family Circus collections. Garden has a number of pocket paperback collections of the strip sitting around his desk, the vast majority of which are hilariously defaced thanks to Onion staff and other funny people who swing by the office on a regular basis.

Now Garden is auctioning off one of the books for a cause (not the book with my joke caption in it, of course—that one’s far too valuable). This particular volume has scribbles from an all-star cast of recaptioners, including Janeane Garafolo, Todd Barry, Kristen Schaal, Mike Doughty, Emily Flake, David Rees, and Ward Sutton. Profits from the eBay auction will go to the embattled Wisconsin Democratic Party, so keep that in mind if you love hilarious jokes, but aren’t too keen on unions.

Garden’s been kind enough to share some images from the book with the Hatch. Check those out—and a (mostly complete) list of contributors, after the jump.

–BH

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Looking for Writers

Categories:  News

Hey all. So, as many of you may already know, I’m starting a new job at the tech blog Engadget tomorrow. And while I’m incredibly exciting to get started with my new gig, the job is likely to cut further into my already severely limited free time. The frequency of my posts at the Cross Hatch, sadly, is likely to become a casualty of that move.

As ever, Sarah and I are looking to bring more writers into the fold. Over the years, we’ve seen a number of writers come and go—it’s hard to keep good people on-board for two major reasons: First, there’s not really any money involved in the project. That’s worth saying right off the bat. The Cross Hatch is a not-for-profit site in the strictest sense of the term—in fact, for Sarah and myself, it’s actually been something of a money-losing proposition. This site really is a labor of love.

Unfortunately, we can’t pay anyone in anything but review copies and clips. The nice thing about the latter is that, if you keep it up, people will take notice. We’ve been blessed since the early days of the site to count amongst our regular readers plenty cartoonists and other industry folk.

The other major strike is that we’re picky. This is our baby, so when we bring writers on board, it’s important that we maintain a high caliber of writing, which is why we ask to see clips before welcoming anyone to the staff.

If you’re still on-board, we’d love to see your work. We’re primarily looking for reviews at the moment—people who know webcomics, mini-comics, and assorted small publishers. We’re also always on the lookout for news writers, people who follow the industry, who are capable of writing pithy copy a few times a week.

For more information, please check out our Contribute page. We hope to hear from you soon.

–BH

MoCCA Fest 2011: The Cross Hatch Rehash

Categories:  Features, News

I’m not sure if it’s common policy among festival organizers of the world, but it’s something that I instated after last year’s MoCCA Fest: A two month moratorium on all discussions of next year’s show. You can talk amongst yourselves, of course, but I ask kindly (for the sake of my own well-being) to please refrain from any discussion of April 2012 until at least June 2012.

There’s a certain physical and mental toll, I think, that comes with helping run even the most successful convention. It certainly applied to the three shows I ran programming for last year—MoCCA Fest, MIX, and King Con in Brooklyn. Three shows that honestly didn’t have all that much in common, save for subject matter and the fact that, after each, I lamented the non-existence of human hibernation.

It’s worth pointing out, I think, that on a personal note, the timing of the show couldn’t have been worse—certainly through no fault of the museum’s. They, after all, had scheduled the event over a year ago. And it was only a little over two weeks go that I officially gave notice at PCMag, making for something of a critical mass of personal and professional stress, as I attempted to close things out at work and put the finishing touches on the weekend’s programming (no amount of pre-preparation on my part has ever made it possible to avoid that last minute crunch), cleaning out my office and sending off goodbye letters to colleagues and coworkers.

I left my office one final time and crossed the street to the 6 train station, heading down the to festival kickoff party, officially slotted to begin an hour later. I was fairly dazed, cursing the subway delays, when I heard my name cut through the rush hour crowd in the station. As far as omens go, one could certainly do worse than running into Drawn & Quarterly’s Peggy Burns on New York City transit the night before MoCCA Fest. She was heading back down to the Strand bookstore for the first “Strandicon,” a Friday event in which D&Q’s roster played heavily.

[More Images]

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What I’m Doing at MoCCA This Weekend

Categories:  News

peter kuper mocca poster segment

It’s been a busy week. It’s going to be an even busier weekend. I’m pretty booked up for the next few days—in the best way possible. As many of you know, MoCCA graciously asked me to curate the festival for the second year in a row. One of the upsides of that gig is the opportunity to play a role in many of the panels themselves.

And like last year, I will also be spinning records at the official MoCCA party. Sarah Morean will also be on hand, helping me run the panels downstairs at the armory, so if she doesn’t look too crazy busy, make sure to say “hello.”

Check out a quick schedule of my goings on at the show, after the jump.

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Announcing The MoCCA Fest Kickoff Party

Categories:  News

mocca lizard

Hey all, excited to announce that Jeff Newelt and I have organized a kickoff party for this year’s MoCCA Fest. The party is this Friday at Sutra in the East Village. This year we’ve got very special musical guests in the form of anti-folker/cartoonist Jeffrey Lewis and 60s freak folk legend Peter Stampfel of the Holy Modal Rounders. Myself and cartoonist Dean Haspiel will we DJing, while R. Sikoryak does some live painting.

The event kicks off at 7:00 (Lewis and Stampfel start promptly at 7:30PM). There’s a $5 donation at the door, which will go to help keep MoCCA afloat. Special thanks to sponsors Top Shelf and Zip Comics–and artist Sean Pryor, who created the amazing poster art, which you can see after the jump (Pryor will be selling prints of the work at the show).

For more information, please check out the official Facebook invite.

–BH

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Presenting the MoCCA 2011 Panel Lineup

Categories:  News

peter kuper mocca poster segment

Hey Everyone. I’m proud to present the official programming lineup for the 2011 MoCCA Arts Festival. We’ve had a few changes since last year’s show, most notably the addition of a second room (henceforth referred to as Room B), which has given us the opportunity to expand the panel lineup by a fair amount, including more one-on-one conversations (I’m honored to be speaking to both Peter Bagge and Gahan Wilson int his format), and curated panels from folks like the Ink Panthers podcast and New York fixtures, Comic Book Club.

There are a few publication-centric panels this year, as well, with spotlights on Mad Magazine, The New Yorker, and World War 3 Illustrated, the latter of which is celebrated its 30th anniversary, this past year. The legendary Jerry Robison is getting his due, in conversation with author Michael Uslan. The late Will Eisner will also be the subject of a spotlight featuring Jules Feiffer, Paul Levitz, and Denis Kitchen, moderated by Charles Brownstein, coinciding with the museum’s terrific exhibit, “Will Eisner’s New York.”

Carousel, a New York comics institution, will be back this year, featuring an all-star lineup, including Jeffrey Lewis, R. Sikoryak, Kate Beaton, Lisa Hanawalt, Ted Stearn, Julie Klausner, and more. And I’m also excited to be speaking with the fantastic ladies from Brooklyn’s Pizza Island collective.

All of this and lot more after the jump.

-BH

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Help Japanese Earthquake Victims, Get Free Comics

Categories:  News

japan_eq

[Graphic stolen from Lars Martinson]

It’s easy to get desensitized when you live halfway around the round. There’s a constant stream of horrific images and video of earthquakes and after shocks and tsunamis and power plants every time you turn on the TV or open up your laptop. But I’ll add to the chorus of echos: if you haven’t donated yet, do it. Now.

But if you need some added incentive to give (or, perhaps, to give again), a lot talented folks are offering up artwork to help raise money for victims of last week’s 9.0 earthquake off the coast of northern Japan.

We’ve put out the call to artists who are donating their goods and services for this cause. We’ll continue to add to the list as more names come in, so please, either drop us a line at dailycrosshatch [at] gmail.com or leave a comment below, if you or anyone you know is holding a benefit of this nature.

–BH

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Charles Burns Designs Poster for The Best Show on WFMU

Categories:  News

tomscharpling

The Best Show on WFMU—quite possibly my favorite comedy radio show/podcast of all-time—will, like so many other things in this world, forever in my mind be tied to the world of comic bookery. I first heard the show on a trip to Chicago a few years ago (odd considering that I had to leave the greater New York metropolitan area to be exposed to a Jersey City-based radio show).

A Quimby’s employee was playing the podcast over the store PA, with host Tom Scharpling going off on an upcoming Brian Wilson project called Pleasure Island, which, thankfully, has yet to see the light of day. As fellow Beach Boys nerd, the thing was love at first listen—and I haven’t missed a single episode since.

Upon discovering that Scharpling himself is also something of a comics nerd, we asked if he might be interested in submitting himself to a quick interview for the site. Never shying away from a little self-promotion, he happily obliged.

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