Guest Strip: Sophia Wiedeman

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sophiatzSophia Wiedeman got her MFA at the School of Visual Arts. She currently lives in New York. When she isn’t drawing or working off debt, she fills time by walking, stopping strangers on the street to pet their dogs, and disinfecting dog bites.

Her excellent comic The Deformitory won a Xeric grant in 2008. Right now she’s completing The Lettuce Girl, a re-imagining of the fairy tale Rapunzel, which should be out in time for MoCCA.

View more of her work online at sophiadraws.com and follow her blog at sophiadrawscomics.blogspot.com. You’ll also see her work featured on Top Shelf 2.0 and printed regularly in Time Out New York.

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Interview: Peter Laird

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“Timing,” Peter Laird proclaims wistfully, “in a lot of ways is everything.” A quarter of a century after first introducing his most famous creations to the world alongside long time co-conspirator Kevin Eastman, the artist has had plenty time to reflect on such things. It’s hard to argue with the sentiment. The introduction of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a black and white comic in the fall of 1983 was about as perfect as timing gets.

Three years after the release of that first book, the Turtles had been successfully translated into an animated series and action figure line. Soon after that, Eastman and Laird’s creations would become a bona fide cultural phenomenon.

Even after the cartoons, and the movies, and the breakfast cereals, however, the duo have never forgotten their roots as struggling independent cartoonist who, in the face of rejection from power house publishers, Marvel and DC, took a leap into the often rocky world of self-publishing. Eastman, for his part, launched Tundra in 1990, publishing works by artists like Jim Woodring, Scott McCloud, and Mike Allred. Laird took things a step further, creating the Xeric Foundation, which since 1992, has been a major force in self-publishing, having issued grants to such future big name artists as Jason Lutes, Adrian Tomine, Tom Hart, Jessica Abel, and Gene Yang.

We had the fortune of bumping in Laird in amongst the gauntlet that is The New York Comic Con Artist Alley. We spoke to the artist about his journey from self-publishing to pop-cultural icon.

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And How by Gregory Corso

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And How
by Gregory Corso
Powderfinger Books

howThe common definition of insanity, as I’ve heard it, is to expect different results from predictable courses. For instance, if you have a preferred route to work, and each day it takes you to the same office, that’s predictable. If you think that by following the same route, you will reach a volcano, that’s insane. By extension, if Steve Urkel thinks that hounding Laura Winslow will somehow get him a date when she says no every time, that’s also insane. Something else must occur to evoke change; he must partake of the Cool Juice and become Stefan Urquelle. You see?

Without directly addressing the subject of insanity, And How is a perfect and eerie portrayal of it. Through use of repetitive imagery and blithe, empty expressions, Gregory Corso builds a weird and fascinating story about a boy’s search for peace, a woman’s search for unity, and a man’s search for Bigfoot.

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My Alaskan Summer by Corinne Mucha

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My Alaskan Summer
by Corinne Mucha
Maidenhousefly Comics

Bless the Xeric Grant. Without it, what would have happened to Corinne Mucha‘s adorable travelogue? At 96 pages, it’s too long to be a self-published mini and it lacks a main thesis that would draw in a publisher. Still, the sweet, meandering drawings and stories are too good to lay forgotten in some sketchbook. With Mucha’s unique multimedia mode of design, cultivated illustration style and quirky storytelling voice, the Xeric seems to have been the perfect backer to print this lovely book.

My Alaskan Summer is the sort of book I always expect to see rolling from the Xeric-funded presses but rarely do. The Xeric Foundation is a great resource for cartoonists whose work deserves attention in the world of indie comics, those who don’t need the design assistance of a publishing house, and for projects that are too ambitious to meet hand-made mini standards. However, Xerics are often awarded to small potatoes productions and saddle-stitched operations as well as truly outstanding books, so in this case it’s important to make the distinction that here is a book truly in-line with the fund’s core vision and this is one artist in particular you should notice. The result of these combined efforts is something markedly indie and personal and funny and thick and hopefully en route to your local comic book store: Mucha’s My Alaskan Summer.

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