Thursday, July 31, 2008


Tom Neely and Shannon O'Leary
This picture of me and Shannon totally rules!
(photo by FOSPCB Sarah Oleksyk)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Comicon '08 report by Tom Neely

Me and Gonzo! (I'm the one on the right)

I survived another year of the San Diego Comic Con! I had a really great time while I was there. In many ways it was one of the most pleasant SDCCs of my career.
Me and Matt Groening (no badges)
Highlights included meeting both Gonzo and Matt Groening (who said he had The Blot and he bought my new comics!), hanging out with all my comic book friends, and introducing my fiancée to the strange world of comic conventions. And she LOVED it.
Elvis Stormtrooper likes The Blot
Deadpool likes my Melvins Comic
TV's Batman & Robin age 10
The convention has changed in the 10 years I've been going there. There's lots of talk about it being too Hollywood now... but I don't really know about that. Over half of the convention is taken over by movies, t.v. shows, toy companies and video games. And it does seem like that part of the convention overshadows the comics. But it doesn't seem like it really efects us that much. They seem to keep to their end of the convention center, and we've still got ours. That's fine with me. It's like me and my friends are all sitting at the nerd table in the high school lunchroom. The Jocks are encroaching on our territory, but they can't keep us from being who we are.

I love comic convention people. They fascinate me and entertain me and make me feel at home. There is something really wonderful about the freedom to express all of our geeky-weirdness in public.
I have no ideaawesome wizard shirt 2awesome suits made out of sheets view from my boothLasagna Cat and some dudes
the Sparkplug Comic Books/I Will Destroy You booth
HUGE thanks to my pals Sparkplug Comic Books and Teenage Dinosaur for letting us join them for our double booth setup. And Levon, Jeff, Shiga, Shannon, Alixopulos and David for hanging out and helping all week.
calm before the storm
I love going to cons with these guys - they help keep me grounded amidst the onslaught of interacting with thousands of people. Even though I'm completely exhausted, I'm already lookin' forward to hanging out with them at the next one.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Windy Corner at Quimby's report

Hey everyone-
Windy Corner touched down in Chicago on Friday and I couldn't have been more charmed with the city.

I came into town at noon and spent a lot of time sifting through books at Quimbys Books, where the Windy Corner signing was going to be. Everyone go read Mardou's Manhole #3 and Jason Overbys new mini Jessica! They were great---I hadnt spoken to anyone at all after getting off the plane and was spending the 7 hours from arriving till the signing quietly walking around chicago---so read those books felt pretty charged!

Jeremi Onsmith and John Hankiewicz showed up and we set up our little table. A nice cross section of the Chicago cartooning community dropped by, including Ivan Brunetti, Laura Park and Lilli Carre.

I have always thought of Chicago cartoonists as being both the most talented artists and the most humble. In Brooklyn, I must admit that you find is a lot of confidence, a lot of desire to conquer the world through comics...followed by a lot of procrastination. But I was positively inspired by Chicago---everyone is working very hard there.

At the signing we all talked about comics and it reminded me of how people used to talk about comics 10 years ago---all pure enthusiasm about the craft and joy of it and no talk about book deals and who got what agent.

Comics are changing, no? When I first started making mini comics in the late 90s, it seemed like people did it for the purest reasons. "I'm gonna work as hard as possible on this mini and send it to my favorite artist and maybe they'll see something in it." Now things are different---"gotta get this out ASAP so that first second will know I'm on the map." I like that we're making money now---or that money is at least within our reach---but I do miss that pure drive to just make good comics. It's still there of course, but Chicago reminded me how strong that purity can be if you really commit to it.

Consider this quote from Williams James:
"The moral flabbiness born of the exclusive worship of the bitch-goddess SUCCESS. That — with the squalid cash interpretation put on the word success — is our national disease." Soemtimes, I gotta say, it seems like comics are drifting into this trap while for years we were totally free from it. But we're better than this and I'm glad to be reminded of that.

On Saturday I went to see a Hairy Who exhibit with Jeremi Onsmith. Very Chicago! There was an incredible Jim Hot Salty Nutts colored pencil drawing---it must have taken him ages---using colored pencils as if they were paint. And there were some Gladys Nillson paintings that I couldnt get over--stylized figures, with arms reaching out over other figures shoulders.

Jeremi and I did some drawing---I love Jeremi's work. It has this quality to it---sometimes, people who draw in a very "cartoony" style seem resistant to adding more expressive elements to the work they do---but jeremi combines the two without even thinking about it.

The next day a bunch of us went to Lauara Parks.

Everyone in the world has been talking about Laura these days...and her work deserves even more talk. She is one of those people that seems to have arrived doing comics fully formed. Of course it jsut seems that reality Lauara has been refining her style for some time but we're all just getting a chance to see it now. She is one of those people though---just glancing at her work you can sense the full force of her talent. Also, her house is like a museum!

At Laura's, me, onsmith, jeremy tinder, laura and lilli all talked comics. What everyone in chicago kept saying is how rare it is to have all these cartoonists together under one roof. Compared to the Brooklyn cartooning world---where it's impossible to walk down the block without running into fellow artists---it was an interesting contrast. Perhaps that is why so much refined work comes out of Chicago...people stay inside, working on making the most elaborate, intricate work they can.

Before I left I got a chance to look through Lilli Carre's sketchbook.

I can't say enough about Lilli's work. She will be in Windy Corner #3 and a million other more high profile venues in the next year. Lilli, to me, is a true writer. Her recent minis ("The Thing about Madeline" and "Dorado Park") are just overflowing with ideas. So much happens in them---but they're not unfocused either. They are layered but their is a drive to them---a particular feeling that they get to. I think, in comics, there are countless people with unique visual ideas but far less people with unique literary ideas. There are plenty of people who can tell a story---but less people with a totally eccentric story to tell. Lilli's comics are that rarity. Her sketchbooks are incredible.

I was sad to leave town but Windy Corner is trudging along the east coast...I'll be in pittsburgh on Saturday with Juliacks at Brillobox bar.

Saturday, July 26 at 9:00pm to 12:00am Brillobox 4104 Penn Ave Pittsburgh, PA

See you there?

Oh and thanks to Grace Tran for talking me to see Dark Night (ooof---heavy handed!) and for showing me the California Clipper. That place is so cool!

And thanks a million to Quimbys books for hosting us! There's no where else like it---I could spend 5 more days there.


WINDY CORNER in Pittsburgh!

While half the Sparkplug Army is in San Diego sandwiched between Chewbacca and Romulans, the Windy Corner tour is blazing on to Pittsburgh! This saturday at 9pm, Austin and Juliacks will be at Brillobox bar. It will be pretty informal but really fun!

Saturday, July 26 at 9:00pm to 12:00am
4104 Penn Ave
Pittsburgh, PA

Stop By!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Oakland sacked, gaffled by comics thugs

Hi Friends, this is Alixopulos posting about a big weekend for comics in the Bay Area. On the eve of the big San Diego con the ranks of cartoonists in town swelled to outsize proportions. In addition to the SF Zinefest Saturday and Sunday (check this space for a forthcoming blog on that)there was an animation night hosted by Janelle Hessig at Gilman St, the big Horses Mouth reading at the Cartoon Art Museum and what amounted to a Sparkplug Showcase Reading at the Oakland Public Library last Thursday. Yours truly, Jason Shiga and Hellen Jo read comics out loud to people, like they're stupid or something! Since I was too busy getting ready for the SFZF to make it to those other events, here's the lowdown on the OPL reading.

(here's where i would put a break if i knew how and was a real blogger pro)

Billed as a "thriller night" of exciting stories, the event was as much a welcome-back-conquering-favorite-son for Jason Shiga, who is a former employee of the library. Jason has a pending major book deal and was reading from and signing copies of Bookhunter, his action packed library thriller:

(image courtey of Calvin Wong's flickr page)
Hellen Jo and I were accorded the star treatment that comes with being with Jason on his home turf. Besides hosting us in their beautiful vintage library, check out their nice display of Shiga, Jo and Alixopulos comix:

The library director totally brutally brutalized us with introductions, by using her reference librarian skills to pull information about us from the internet! Here I am flailing my arms helplessly in the onslaught of her intro:

Hellen Jo reads an excerpt from her upcoming graphic novel, Jin and Jam:

(image courtey of Calvin Wong's flickr page)

Jason quite effectively dramatized the breathless dialogue of Bookhunter:

Thanks again to the Oakland Public Library and its charming staff! And thanks to Calvin Wong for the photos of the event that I poached from his photostream.

Sparkplug at the San Diego Comic Con

This week Sparkplug will be setting up at the San Diego Comic Con. We'll be selling books for Tugboat Press, Secret Acres, Bodega Distribution, La Mano 21, Robin Snyder/Steve Ditko, Teenage Dinosaur and other wonderful artists/publishers. Shannon O'leary, Tim Goodyear and I will be at booth (1533&1535) during a lot of the show. La Mano head honcho Zak Sally and artist Jason T. Miles will also be at the booth. We will be sharing the location with Sparkplug best buddy Tom Neely's I Will Destroy You.

This Comic Con is a big deal for us for a lot of reasons including Jason Shiga's
Bookhunter nomination for an Eisner Award. We will have a bunch of artists and
surprise guests at the table, stop by and visit:
Trevor Alixopulos: Saturday and Sunday 1-3pm

David King: Thursday through Sunday 11-1pm

Jeff LeVine: Thursday through Sunday 4-5 pm

Jason Shiga: Thursday through Sunday 2-4pm and 2-3pm on Saturday

San Diego will also be your last chance to get a Nerd Burglar.

Monday, July 21, 2008

New Banner

Dylan asked me to design a new banner for Sparkplug.
If I can get it printed today, you will be able to find us underneath this banner at SDCC this week.

I'll be sharing some booth space with Sparkplug and Pals. I will have lots of new and old stuff.

Come by and check us out! It's gonna be a fun week.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Oakland Tribune on the Reading Tonight

The Oakland Tribune has a write up on this evening's reading at the Oakland Public Library. They talked to Hellen Jo, Jason Shiga, and Trevor Alixopulos. You can read it here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

SF Zine Fest July 19th - 20th

Tim Goodyear's Teenage Dinosaur and Sparkplug Comic Books will
be set up to sellzines and comics at the SF Zine Fest. July 19th and 20th, at the

SF County Fair Building
(formerly Hall of Flowers) 9th Ave.
at Lincoln Way
(in Golden Gate Park). One of our
favorite shows, in a new venue. Please please come by if you are
in the Bay Area, there is a ton of amazing and great stuff.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Oakland Library reading July 17

Jason Shiga, Trevor Alixopulos and Hellen Jo will be reading at the Oakland public library 125 14th Street, on Thursday July 17, 2008, from 6 to 8 PM. Go here for more info.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Windy Corner at Quimby's Next week.

Windy Corner contributors Austin English, Onsmith and John Hackewiecz will all be signing books and talking at Quimbys in Chicago on FRIDAY the 18th. Save the day.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Heroes Con Photos

I came back from Heroes Con in Charlotte NC with a lot of photos. I met a lot of great cartoonists including Derek Ballard and Dan Rhett. Tom Neely and I got to hang out with a lot of the NYC/NJ comics crowd. Tom blogs about it at IWILLDESTROYYOU All in all the trip was fun for me though it ended up being a really strange show.
BUT really the most important part of the trip was the flights there with Greg Means who was awesome and can confirm that that really was Richard Simmons on a flight from Detroit to Charlotte.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Affluenza, finally!

Since I first saw this documentary in 1997 I've been thinking about it over and over again. It sort of predated the whole current "anti-stuff" movement and was an awesome return to 70s liberal capitalist/materialist-bashing. So, it has taken me that long to find it again but I did, finally:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
It is an amazing piece, well worth your time.

Of course, there are a ton of things on simplifying, like the PBS show
Simple Living
and the book by two people who were in Affluenza:
Your Money or Your Life.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Daily Crosshatch interview with Dylan Williams

The Daily Crosshatch has part one of a rollicking interview with the esteemed Dylan Williams. Go read now.

"You like going to the post office?"

"Oh yeah."

"You like the bureaucratic aspects of publishing?"

"Yeah. I like the oldness of the system. Especially if you’re drawing all day, it’s fun to go out there and hang out in line."