Archive for the 'Comics' Category

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Beta Testing Cover Process Part 2

After the cover concept was approved it was time to pencil… this was the most complicated drawing I’ve done in a long time… maybe since architecture school? Click on the image for full-sized glory.

Beta Testing the Apocalypse Pancil

CAKE 2013

I’ll be at CAKE in Chicago this weekend. I’ll be there running the Uncivilized Books table and signing Beta Testing the Apocalypse at the Fantagraphics table. Uncivilized Books is debuting four (4) (!!) books at the show:

We’ll also have copies of our recent releases by Michael DeForge and Dash Shaw, as well as the  Eisner nominated Post York!!

I will also be showing previews of my upcoming Trans Terra and… Twin Cities Noir where I have an all new 10 page comic (more on that later). It’s going to be an intense weekend! See you all there!

Emergency Broadcast Cartoon

ebc_by_tomk_kaczynski

Found this while doing some cleaning. A trial comic done with different tools to see how well it’ll shrink. I think it’s from around the time I made Trans Atlantis.

Just Apes: Beta Testing The Apocalypse

An amazing review of Beta Testing the Apocalypse went live recently on Rob Clough’s HighLow blog. Rob really gets into it. Here are a couple of excerpts (warning there are some spoilers here!):

Kaczynski tops himself  with “Million Year Boom”, about a brand expert who winds up working for a bizarre “green” company, trying to come up with a corporate logo as it prepares to go public. This is, an insane stew of paranoia, devolution, corporate messiahs, and global capitalism fused with a tribal, scatological mindset. The final panel, where the protagonist’s blood spewing across a door gives him the inspiration for the logo, is a stunning moment.

[...]

Kaczynski really has his finger on the collective neuroses of the new millennium.  A recurring theme in this book is how Kaczynski taps into how various of our senses have been warped through modern living. In “Noise: A History”, Kaczynski boils down the history of the world in terms of random events and how many decibels they measured out to, from the big bang to the falling of rustling leaves. He links past to present through the use of that measure of sound, providing an interesting shorthand for understanding the world in its greatest, worst and most indifferent moments.

Read the whole review here.

Beta Testing on The Morton Report

A new interview, this time with the Bill Baker at Morton Report. We get into one of my favorite topics: architecture. Here’s a taste:

What prompted your decision to become a creator of comics, a builder of stories, if you will, rather than a creator of buildings?

I think there are a lot of similarities. As I mentioned, the part of architecture that really spoke to me was “paper architecture.” People like Lebbeus Woods, Le Corbusier, and Étienne-Louis Boullée used drawings to create buildings based on specific ideas. Some are real proposals, some are real but probably unbuildable, and some are completely impossible… they all work as concrete representations of ideas about humans, the world and the cosmos.

Chris Ware, among others, has proposed that comics are a way of thinking. He is also one of the few cartoonists that has taken that idea to its limits. That is analogous to architecture, I think. I also find it interesting that Chris Ware is very interested in architecture.

What do you get from creating comics, generally, and what did you get from creating Beta Testing the Apocalypse?

This is very difficult to answer. This is my medium and much of my creative output is bound up with it. At some point in your life, you grow into the medium that works the way you think. I think comics are that for me. But it works both ways, the more comics you make the more you think in those terms…

Read the rest here.

Is This The Future? Beta Testing Reviewed by Bookslut

Another nice review of Beta Testing The Apocalypse come in. This time it’s at Bookslut:

But what else are these bewildered men and women supposed to do but struggle to find appropriate metaphors? If Beta Testing is an instruction manual, it’s not one they can read. Those with jobs don’t know what those jobs entail. Those with apartments notice too late everything’s made of papier-mâché. The book quotes Freud’s axiom that anatomy is destiny — but DNA is untrustworthy, too. Subjectivities shift. Cities and their inhabitants collapse into one, if you’re lucky, or overwrite your existence altogether if not. Ballard wrote that the triple pillars of science fiction are time, space, and identity. Here it’s impossible to tell where one ends and another begins.

Is this the future? Does it have to be? The curse of the man in Kaczynski’s “10000 Years” is to dream he is a Martian. “I don’t have the right constitution for this world,” he thinks. “I’m on the wrong planet.” But for us, reading his story, his curse is a useful genetic mutation. Science fiction is notoriously unreliable when it comes to predicting Saturn dreams, laser beams, and 21st century sex machines. It’s fantastic, however, at taking our present reality and making it strange again. Beta Testing The Apocalypse makes us Martians to better let us see what’s happening all around us.

Read it and witness the disquieting Gernsback of Now.

The whole review can be found here.

Trans Sibérie on French Radio

Another item I missed posting. Looks like Trans Siberia (or Trans Sibérie in French) was featured on French radio!? Here’s a link to the podcast:

Nova Book Box 10 Octobre

I wish I knew what they are saying. My French speaking sister informed me that a long excerpt is read from the book… which sounds amazing!

Beta Testing Reviewed by Miami Herald

This one is a short capsule review, so I’ll post the whole thing here:

His functional and utilitarian art is often reminiscent of the insanely proper illustrations in Jack Chick’s religious tracts, but Kaczynski’s own wildly anarchic imagination fuels his insightful and unsettling narrative. He combines socioeconomic fact, fantasy and farce in this seriously paranoid criticism of modernity, and the result is a disturbing but hilarious tale of identity loss and consumerism run amok.

Democratizing Objects: A Discussion with Tom Kaczynski

Another fun interview, this time with Nick Hanover at The Comics Bulletin. We meander around a variety of topics: music, science-fiction, architecture, Quest for Fire, and much more. Here’s an exchange about the genesis of “100,000 Miles,” the lead story from Beta Testing The Apocalypse, and the story that was ultimately the genesis of the book itself:

CB: There’s a lot of flexibility in terms of perspective in your writing, too. For instance, “100,000 Miles” is mostly written from the perspective of a car.

TK: [laughs]

CB: It’s hard to describe to people, but that’s such a cool idea, it really worked. How do you get into the mind frame of something like that? How do you make yourself think like that? Because it worked perfectly, it had almost this semi-autistic bent, which made perfect sense to me for a vehicle.

TK: With that particular one, that story was based on the time I lived in DC. And I had this murderous commute, that was 45 minutes to an hour. I would just sit there in this commute and think about this stuff. It was kind of interesting, because you got to drive in the city, Washington D.C. itself, and then out into this corridor by Dulles International Airport, this sort of tech corridor that was out there. You’d drive through the suburbs and these communities and I wanted to create some kind of narrative about the city and its surroundings, just kind of an essay. So this journey in a car became the structure for that. The way it’s written, a lot of it is kind of not stolen, but influenced by a lot of architectural texts, and the way they write about these things. Some architects tend to be more imaginative than others and get metaphorical, or whatever. So that’s kind of the genesis for this thing.

It also has some process art, like this big splash page from “The New:”

 

Read the rest fo the interview here.

 

Beta Testing Reviewed by The Comics Journal

A new review of Beta Testing the Apocalypse, this time by The Comics Journal! As a reader of The Comics Journal since issue 148 (Charles Burns Interview. I miss the paper issues!), I’m pleased as punch. Here’s an excerpt:

[...] One of the pleasures of reading Beta Testing, as in other watershed collections like Caricature,Curses, or Everything Together, lies in watching a cartoonist become less mindful of his precursors, less rote in his treatment of subject matter, both freer and more assured. As the book progresses, Kaczynski sloughs off influence, just as his characters slip away from civilization. A breakthrough story like 2008’s “Million Year Boom” nearly brings the book to a halt halfway through with its impressive and authentic weirdness, yet still retains the stamp of millenarian systems novelists, still partakes of the old dead-eyed Clowesian aloofness. By the time we reach the concluding story, “The New”—at once an ode to modernist architecture and an allegory literalizing the decline of the west, created uniquely for this volume—Kaczynski’s layouts have exploded into space, cities and buildings splayed out on the page in startling and diagrammatic splashes.

Also, the review delves into the index, which is personally very satisfying. I’m always curious how people will react to it:

To his credit, Kaczynski acknowledges as much, duly footnoting his book’s debt to J.G. Ballard’s drowned worlds and concrete islands in an index that records other oblique references to Jane Jacobs and Slavoj Žižek—though entries for “Gibson, William,” or “DeLillo, Don” remain curiously absent. Kaczynski’s looming dread and sub/urban automata owe at least as much to White Noise as his vision of mechanized, entropic modernity does to The Atrocity Exhibition, not to mention his pontifications on gleaming consumerism: “Consider the modern bathroom. … How did this antiseptic room where excrement magically disappears come to be?” In such revelations of the science-fictional in the everyday—Kaczynski also invokes grain silos and utilitarian office buildings as totems of some alien race—the cartoonist conducts a kind of archaeology of the future from among our commonplace existence, in much the same way the Godard of Alphaville or the Tarkovsky of Stalkercalled forth the otherworldly moonscapes that have always been dormant in what our culture has erected or let fall into ruin.

William Gibson should’ve been there, but Don DeLillo I’ve never read. Here’s hoping there’s a second edition so I can tinker with the index some more!

The rest of the review is here.