Maybe I’m not cult, but one of my comics, ‘Vague Cities,’ was selected to be part of the Mammoth Book of Cult Comics, edited by Ilya. The book is a pretty interesting collection of comics. I haven’t had a chance to read it all yet, but I’m excited to see pieces by Gregory Benton, Jeff Nicholson, Amir Idrizovic, Chris Hogg, and many more! I was especially excited to see Simon Gane’s ‘Les Peintres Maudits’ which I tried and failed to find in my unruly mini comics collection a while ago. Amazon says the book will be available in early December. You can pre-order it from them, or from Powells or Barnes and Noble… or better yet request it from your local indie book or comic-book store!
While digging through my originals (available for sale here: batch 1 and batch 2, more soon!) I found a bunch of original unused letterpress covers for Cartoon Dialectics Vol. 1! That means I can bring a small edition of these back into print! It’s been sold out for close to two years. I don’t know how many times people have asked me about it at shows. I’m happy to make more! I should be able to get about 40-50 copies made from these. Did I already mention they’re letterpress? It’s the fourth ever comic published on Uncivilized Books! Go get ’em!
Ho ho ho! I recently released a new mini-comic: Skyway Sleepless. It originally appeared in Twin Cities Noir. You can buy it on the Uncivilized Books site… OR if you’ve always wanted a signed copy of Beta Testing The Apocalypse but couldn’t get one, I’m offering them now for a limited time here. All copies will come with a free copy of Skyway Sleepless! Order now!
I’ll be manning the Uncivilized Books table (table i8) at SPX all weekend! I’ll be there with Kevin Huizenga, Dan Zettwoch, Zak Sally & Peter Wartman. Stop by to say hi!
Meanwhile, look what I got in the mail!
The French version of Beta Testing the Apocalypse is a reality! The book is in stores in France now!
The French book is a bit larger than the Fantagraphics version.
It wouldn’t be French without French flaps! I had to extend the cover drawing by more than 50%! More on that in a future post!
The table of contents.
French title card.
Sample pages in French. Thanks to Dalton Webb for creating a great font from my hand writing!
The French edition has an afterword written by novelist & journalist Christophe Tison. I’ll have a translation of it in a future post.
The back cover! I’ll have copies in both languages at SPX. See you there!
It was my pleasure and an honor to have been interviewed by James Romberger for the Hooded Utilitarian. I already wrote that his work was very important to me in my formative years. Getting the chance to publish his new work and getting to know him has been a blast! Here’s a little excerpt where we splice Jack Kirby with J.G. Ballard:
James: I just read another interview with you that Kent Worcester did, where you cited a specific Jack Kirby image from his 2001 comic, a panel of a man walking up to a building that is just a huge wall of windows—it freaked me out because that is one of my favorites of Kirby’s and it is part of a passage that I had actually thought of mentioning to you! The Earth Jack depicts is so polluted and crowded, a world where pure air can only be breathed out of bottles that one must purchase as we do water, an existence so dehumanized that the protagonist feels he must join the space program, to escape in order to realize any sort of life for himself.
Jack Kirby, from “Norton of New York, 2040 A.D.”, 2001 #5, Marvel Comics, 1977
Your work gives me a similar feeling, as if you are dealing with expressing what it is like to live in a world that has gone beyond the point of no return, but with no escape possible, as if all we can do is construct semblances of sanity for ourselves, that work within the insane structures that we must fit into.
Tom: I love that Kirby image! I believe that was from 2001 #5? I agree with what you’re saying here. One of my favorite J.G. Ballard stories is “Billenium” about an overcrowded world where everyone basically lives on top of everyone else. The protagonists in that story find a hidden room and all that new space is an almost unimaginable luxury. They proceed to share the new space with some friends and family until it fills up and becomes indistinguishable from the rest of the world. We need to find these spaces (whether real or imagined) and inhabit them; to create germs of possible and impossible new worlds… hopefully better ones. There’s a danger in that. Things could get worse… but sometimes not doing anything at all, is worst of all. One thing I hesitate doing in my stories is to destroy the world. If “Billenium” was an Italo Calvino story, that room could be a germ of a new city; an invisible city growing in the midst of the old one… and eventually it would grow to replace it. I think we need a better imagination, one that goes beyond wishing for the apocalypse.
Of course the interview was primarily about Beta Testing the Apocalypse. Here’s a little exchange on the index of the book (yes, I love talking about the index!):
James: I’ve never seen an index that alphabetically listed every sound effect in a comic before. And Ballard’s entry leads to a highway sign in a panel for “Ballard Golf Heaven”, and I liked how the table of contents is figured on a greater timeline, but isn’t much help in locating the stories. Such details play with the new climate in comics where we should try to accommodate future scholarship, by ensuring that page numbers are included, etc.—-you certainly left a lot of room for examining this thing through different “lenses”….we’ve come a long way!
Tom: Ha! Well, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do with comics. Indices, notes, and glossaries are some of my favorite things in books and I didn’t want my book to be left out! This all comes out of lots of conversations I’ve had with cartoonists and writers over the last few years. In the end I wanted the index to be another story in the book. One that comments and explicates the other stories. Some entries are in there for fun. Like the sound effects, or cars. Others alert the reader to concepts or phrases that have been quoted, mutated or just plain stolen. One thing that is often left out of comics criticism are the images. They are often examined in terms of plot or composition, but rarely do writers get into the complex visual references that often show up in comics. One of my favorites pieces of writing on comics is a Ken Parille piece on Clowes’ David Boring that excavated the connections to Hitchcock’sVertigo among many other things. I hope in some future edition, the book can be published with an index. Other cartoonists have played with this kind of material. Kevin Huizenga comes to mind with fake indices & glossaries. In fact I was just working with Kevin (& Dan Zettwoch) on the index to their next book, Amazing Facts & Beyond. It’s amazing and goes way beyond my index! In fact they called it the beyondex! Maybe we can start a trend! Index wars!
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.