ANNOUNCEMENT : Indie Comics Costume Contest

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May I have your attention, please!

goodiebags

THE SCOOP:
The Daily Cross Hatch is hosting an indie comics costume contest! This is your chance to win a fabulous prize and impress your friends.

THE PRIZE:
L.A. DiaryTom Kaczynski‘s publishing label Uncivilized Books has just released a new mini-comic from Gabrielle Bell titled L.A. Diary. The book features diary comics that will go into her next Lucky book, but also includes pages from her real life sketchbook. This glimpse into Bell’s work may never see print again!  Copies of L.A. Diary are limited, but one will find its way into the hands of every contest winner.

But that’s not all! There are five unique prizes to win — all of equal value.

Five screen-printed goodie bags (see above photo) will be completely stuffed with a mystery assortment of mini-comics and distributed to whichever five contestants earn the most votes on November 5th. Each bag is guaranteed to contain one copy of L.A. Diary, but you will also receive a handful of some of today’s best minis — cherry picked from Sarah’s own personal collection — including (but not limited to): Manny + Bigfoot, The Ballad of the Intrepideers 1 +2Covered in Confusion, Milky Way Shuffle, Prologue, and any new releases I pick up this weekend at APE.  Top of the heap stuff from today’s best independent comics creators and mini-makers.

HOW TO WIN:
Take a picture of yourself wearing a costume that was inspired by an indie comic.  Send that photo to Sarah’s email address: smorean@gmail.com

Include the following information with your submission: name of the image (i.e. meastylerperry.jpg) + your name + name of the character that your costume represents + name the comic from which that character originates. Make “COSTUME CONTEST” the subject heading of your email. Send in your email by Monday, November 2nd, 2009, at 12pm midnight (for whatever region you live in). Basically, get it to me before I wake up on Tuesday, November 3rd.  If you need an extension for some reason (it better be a good reason), then give me a heads up.  We can try to arrange something.

On the first Thursday in November — Thursday, November 5th, 2009 — beginning at 12am midnight through 12am midnight the next day, the readership of The Daily Cross Hatch will have an opportunity to vote for you and your costume! The top five costumes will take home the kitty.

THE DEADLINE:
If you didn’t catch it before, please send in your email submission to Sarah by Monday, November 2nd, 2009, at midnight.

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Comic Shop Focus: Needles and Pens, San Francisco, CA

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“I’m the needles half,” answers Breezy Culbertson, the shop’s pigtailed co-owner, seated behind the counter nestled in the back right-hand corner of her store. “The sewing needles half.” The pens half, she explains, is Andrew Scott, a former Maximum RocknRoll coordinator and editor of the long-running zine, sobstory.   Together the duo opened the quasi-eponymous Needles and Pens a few blocks from this spot, a half-dozen years ago.

“The old store was tiny. It was the size of a one-car garage,” explains Culbertson. “San Francisco is so expensive, it was the only place we could afford.” Needles and Pens opened up in 2002 on 14th and Guerrero, in storefront that had formerly been home to San Francisco’s Black and Blue tattoo parlor, a small but cozy location that shared the block with a handful of kindred commercial spirits. “It was off the beaten path, too, but it was fun, because there was a record shop and a print shop and a gallery and a bike shop,” says Culbertson. “We used to have events together and it was like a mini-block party. It was fun. But then they moved on.”

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XO #1-3 by Brian John Mitchell and Melissa Spence Gardner

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XO #1-3
by Brian John Mitchell and Melissa Spence Gardner
Silber Media

Format can do a lot to influence the attractiveness of a book, but even unique and unexpected styles of bookmaking can blend in at big conventions like MoCCA or APE. However, at a small Midwestern show like the Madison Zine Fest, unconventional books have a chance to really stand out.

It was there that I noticed three ultra-mini minis (1.75×2.25″) sleeved in small plastic bags and sitting unattended on a banister. I thought about taking them. They would fit in my pocket. No one would know. The sensation passed, however, and good karma struck back. The books were given as a gift to my table mate who gave them to me. Now I share them with you.

Baby corn, puppies, doll-sized furniture – typically these and other small things define cute. One might expect that XO, a series of mini minis would be cute as well. Even the series’ title XO implies kisses and hugs and touchy-feely stuff. However, these books are anything but cute, because each contains a story of murder.

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SPX 2008: The Cross Hatch Rehash

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[Flickr Set Here] [YouTube Videos Here]

News travels quickly in alternative comics circles. You’re greeted with reminders of this, from time to time.When the when the half of the North Bethesda Marriot conference room devoted to the Small Press Expo opened, just after 11 AM on Saturday, I soon discovered that tales of our roadside culinary misadventures had managed to arrive at the showroom floor far ahead of my fellow passengers. The reactions, strangely, were mixed between an outpouring of gastrointestinal sympathy and a defense of that American South chain that unrepentantly displays the words “scattered, smothered, and covered” at every imaginable opportunity.

The evening before, the decision was unanimous—some combination of morbid curiosity and the desire to sample the local cuisine, knowing full well that neither desire would be appeased by the next two days’ food consumption, which would likely revolve largely around the quasi-swank ambiance of the restaurant just down the hall from the North Bethesda Marriott lobby. Really, it was the same desire that drove Heidi MacDonald to purchase a bag of crab-flavored potato chips, a touch of the Maryland seasoning that she was immediately forbidden from opening within the confines of the maroon SUV thoughtfully rented by one Jeff Newelt.

As we sat down beneath the neon yellow glow of the Waffle House, moments before our waiter smiled to reveal a pair of brown filmy incisors, Ben McCool uttered cheerfully like a ravenous harbinger of impending doom, “you know, I think may be the greatest decision that’s ever been made, ever.” The tale of distress that followed that evening (and, troublingly, into the next morning, for me), is one which will live on in roadside lore, for years to come (though, for the record, so far as I can tell, The Beat’s reports of “explosive diarrhea” have been somewhat exaggerated). I mention it here for it was precisely because of that unfortunate decision that we missed the pre-SPX festivities occurring that evening at Atomic Books, featuring an impressive lineup of familiar names, like Brian Ralph, Lauren Weinstein, Jesse Reklaw, Julia Wertz, Laura Park, Theo Ellsworth, Austin English, Ken Dahl, and Ben Claassen III.

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Nurse Nurse #1-2 by Katie Skelly

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Nurse Nurse #1-2
by Katie Skelly
Calico Comics

Current global tensions heightened by the human population crisis, the Ug99 epidemic, and Pixar’s latest creation WALL-E (arguably) set a suitable backdrop for Katie Skelly‘s lovely yet eerie futuristic comic series Nurse Nurse.

The year is 3030 and Earth has already met its maximum capacity. Humans are migrating to the interplanetary limits and living in artificial conditions just to avoid extinction. Unfortunately, some of these pioneers became poised by their new environments – so Earth sent out a circuit of hot nurses to rescue civilization!

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Children and God Vol. 1-2 by Kelly Clancy

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Children and God Vol. 1-2
by Kelly Clancy
Self-Published

I am like a pile of warmed butter for this series by Kelly Clancy. Children and God parallels the lives of people living in post-communist Central Asia and modern day Middle America. Through nearly imperceptible changes, Clancy transitions between vignettes that span time and space and paint an overall image of sadness, progress, cultural disparity, innocence, ignorance, nostalgia, and religious fanaticism.

There’s something unique and beautiful on every page, but Clancy also cleverly employs devices reminiscent of other cartoonists’ work: Jeremy Tinder teardrop-shaped word bubbles, Lilli Carré-esque scrolling narration through the panels, Craig Thompson triple-bump noses, and large almond-shaped Sam Hiti-ish eyes. I make these comparisons only to help you visualize the humble curves that make up her artwork, which can be seen here, but there are also completely new aspects to her work. Overall, her comics have a fresh new feel and are more than pleasant to look at as well as read.

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Pockmarked Apocalypse #1 by Jeff Lok

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Pockmarked Apocalypse #1
by Jeff Lok
American Stronghold

There’s something funny about the Center for Cartooning Studies. What others might call a book, a project, or even more accurately a portfolio, CCS dubs a thesis. A thesis? Really?

Completion of the CCS thesis does not require research or compare/contrast methodology, like so many theses before it. There is no written requirement, such as a purpose of intent, to accompany the body of work each student presents for review at the end of the school year. On its own, the CCS thesis is a solid testament to all that the students learn at the school, but it’s still not a thesis in the classic sense. I’d like to applaud them on creatively pushing the envelope on academia, but my five-month devotion to patriarchal, dead theologians resulting in a 16-page essay on the concept of Utopian idealism – you know, a real thesis – makes me feel a little more than indignant at the implication that a single issue of a comic book is, on its own, a thesis. The mind of academia is not yet so broad that it can overlook the textbook definition of “thesis” – and what CCS calls a thesis is, in fact of Webster’s, a senior project or portfolio piece. There. I’ve said it. And now that the demon of umbrage has been exorcised, it’s time to talk about Jeff Lok’s lovely first issue of Pockmarked Apocalypse.

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Ivy #1-3 by Sarah Oleksyk

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Ivy #1-3
by Sarah Oleksyk
Self-Published

Sarah Oleksyk can be proud of herself. Through three chapters of Ivy, she continues to build strong characters, awful tensions, incredible realities, and consistently beautiful, full panels. Nothing gets skimped. It’s just a wholly good comic and I’m sure it will wrap up someday as a very satisfying graphic novel.

Ivy tells the story of its title’s namesake, Ivy Stenova, an only child to a single mom living in a Boston suburb. She is a bratty, selfish sort of girl who’s just trying to figure out her own life. She’s just like any other kid who wants to be an adult, but so far her ride to the end of senior year is kicking up all the evil possibilities of high school and isn’t handing her much slack. Friends, boys, family, school, rivals, and drugs all conspire to make her life more difficult than it’s ever been before. She feels criticized and judged by the people who used to make her feel safe. As her supports fall away, she behaves like an utter child, stubbornly shouting and stomping off at every opportunity.

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The Cornucopiates #1-2 by Daniel Boyd

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The Cornucopiates #1-2
by Daniel Boyd
One Pound Fire

Daniel Boyd takes farcical look at bunch of food-themed superheroes in The Cornucopiates #1-2.

Salt-Teen is the latest in a string of sidekicks to the great Souperman of Gourmet City. In issue 1, Souperman takes all the glory in a fight against Acid Reflux while Salt-Teen merely gets delegated to crowd management. By issue 2, Salt-Teen is heartbroken to see his sister Asparagirl advancing through the ranks, earning motorcycles, while all he’s entrusted with is a business card.

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Beautiful, Cool, and Irreplaceable by Will Dinski

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Beautiful, Cool, and Irreplaceable
By Will Dinski
Self-Published

Among the lessons that can still be learned from the works F. Scott Fitzgerald is the fact that melodrama and literature need not be mutually exclusive forces, a concept sometimes overlooked in this age of daytime soaps and Danielle Steel paperbacks. In the proper hands, hyperbolic characters and plot points can be an effective tools in spinning a story, without edging too far into the world of self-parody.

Will Dinski has seemingly learned a lot from his fellow Minnesotan, taking a page or two out of Fitzgerald’s character playbook in the crafting of Beautiful, Cool, and Irreplaceable’s cast. They’re rich, they’re troubled, and they possess a propensity for passionate embraces. On a surface level, the character interaction that comprises the majority of the book unfolds like standard soap opera fair. In fact, early on the book, it’s difficult to gauge just how seriously Dinski expects us to take their problems. Surely the average reader of a self-published indie comic must have some difficulty conjuring up the proper empathy for the shallow relationship problems befalling successful movie stars.

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