Sunday, August 31, 2008

Richmond Zine Fest and SPX in October!

In October Sparkplug will be at both the SPX comics fest AND the Richmond Zine Fest in Richmond, VA. I'll write more about it but mark the dates on your calendars:
RZF: Saturday October 11th
SPX: Saturday & Sunday October 4th and 5th
Be there!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mats!? and Jeff Royson art show in Oakland, CA

Come and submerge your retina in Mats!?&Jeff Roysdon's latest optical
compositions entitled: Horror Vacuuim!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Rober Kirkman's Mission Impossible

A friend of mine told me about this "mission statement" by Robert Kirkman. It is totally fascinating. I don't think I ever fully understand what those guys who go to Marvel/DC superheroes from doing their own stuff but this helps a little. It is actually kind of sad but if you are interested in the insanity that is the "comic book industry" then Kirkman's video offers a great laugh. A sad and depressing view into the world that I wake up each morning praying for the death of.

Katie Skelly interviewed on Sequart

The wonderfully talented Katie Skelly was just interviewed on Sequart by Rob Clough. She gives lots of insight to her work and history as well as saying some nice things about Sparkplug.

Publishing Panel informations

This is the handout from the Small Press Comics/Zine Publishing panel workshop that I ran with Greg Means, and Aron Nels Steinke at the Portland Zine Symposium.

How and why run small press / comic book publishing businesses, including the basics of printing, publishing, and distribution. Dylan: Sparkplug Comic Books, Greg: Tugboat Press, and Aron: self-publisher.

Publishing resources:
Jordan Crane on Reproduction:
The Independent Publishing Resource Center:
917 SW Oak St. #218 Portland, OR 503-827-0249
A Book Inside:
How to Green Your Book:

Pinball Publishing:
Brown Printing:
Stumptown Printers:
Eberhart Press:
Westcan Printers:

Tony Shenton:
Last Gasp:
Parcell Press:
AK Press:
Optical Sloth:
Bodega Distribution:
Global Hobo:
Diamond Comics:

General and Business Information:
Xeric Foundation:
Publishing your own comic:
Small Publishers of North America:
Small Business Association:
The Comics Reporter:
Book of Zines:
Self-Employment for Bohemians:
Stay Free Magazine articles:
Open Source Office Software:
Open Source Destop Publishing:
Websites we use: paypal, etsy, ebay, amazon, blogger
Programs we use: Indesign, Photoshop, Quark, Acrobat, Dreamweaver

Stolen Sharpie Revolution by Alex Wrekk
Getting It Right in Print by Mark Gatter
The Little Know-It-All, Common Sense for Designers by Die Gestalten Verlag
Design Basics Index and Layout Basics Index (2 separate books) by Jim Krause
The Self Publishing Manual by Dan Poynter (now in 16th edition)

There are Yahoo groups for zines, comics and small/self publishers that have lots of useful info.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Review of Stumblers by Jeff Levine

Tom Spurgeon reviews Jeff Levine's Stumblers over at The Comics Reporter.


The surprise hit of SDCC for me was the sale of my Moby Dick giclée prints. I only had 10 of them, and sold out in a couple of hours. Well, I've got 20 left and then they are gone. They are now available to order through the i will destroy you store for $250 (includes shipping). As they come closer to selling out, I will be raising the price.

It is 19 x 45 inches giclée print on good quality watercolor paper. Limited edition of 30 signed and numbered copies.

Please allow 2-3 weeks for the order to process.

Get 'em while you can!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

punk business

A obvious place to start. Ian Mackaye on business from

Does it take a shrewd entrepreneur to maintain a record label?

No. I was talking to a business guy once, an accountant, and he said, "They should invite you to come speak at Harvard Business School." And I said, "Well, I don't give a fuck about business." I reject the whole notion. American business at this point is really about developing an idea, making it profitable, selling it while it's profitable and then getting out or diversifying. It's just about sucking everything up. My idea was: Enjoy baking, sell your bread, people like it, sell more. Keep the bakery going because you're making good food and people are happy. Dischord really does exist as a result of hard work and the goodwill of the people.

So much of our culture is built on the idea that what one does for a living isn't life -- life happens on the weekends and after work. Do you ever get to clock out?

I think that in the last 20 years, there may have been maybe two days where I didn't think about music or something to do with music. Part of the way the work world works is not so much creating a separation between your work and your free time, but creating the illusion of a separation between your work and your free time. Every day is the weekend for me, which means I'm always busy.

I can't imagine working at some of the jobs people work in. On the other hand, people say to me, "Well, you live off your music." That is just not true -- I work all the time. I haven't played a lick of music today; I haven't even listened to music today. I've been working all day. I'm writing stuff, I'm on the phone, I'm in the office trying to figure out some computer problem. I work every day, and I'm happy to do it.

1-2-3 Go Records talks about DIY here. I don't know if I agree with everything they say but it is interesting:

What is the definition of DIY?

Do It Yourself to most people. Don't Involve Yourself to others...and to an even smaller degree it means the airport code for Diyarbakir, Turkey . Some people out there think that DIY (the Do It Yourself definition) is more of a communal thing. Like it's DIY to buy something from someone who is also in the DIY community...even though you didn't do anything but buy something like any other consumer. It's also still DIY if you're a band on what they term a DIY label. But it's the label that pays for the record to be made and distributes it. But that's still DIY to them. However if that same band then goes to a larger label they don't consider part of the DIY community and that label pays for the record to be made and distributed just like the other label is now not DIY. I think that's a bunch of hooey. Do It Yourself means exactly what it says it does. You do it for yourself. You record the record, you pay to put it out and you distribute it. You get another party or business involved then it's not really DIY anymore. It's a co-operative effort...which I think is just as valid if not better. Who wants to be the lone wolf on everything? The band makes music, the label makes that music available and all is right in the world to me.

They do have a point and the idea of Punk rock "brand" is totally fucking nerve-racking to me. Phrases like "Being different is a great way to differentiate." make me worry about everything I've tried to do with my business. There is still a lot to learn from the classic lemonade stand
like I used to run on the corner of Telegraph and Webster in Berkeley.

One of the most interesting developments in the record business is the idea of internet sale/giving away of music. Popularized by Radiohead and Neubauten the idea of pay what you will works really well but I haven't been able to come to terms with it. I think, as an artist it is easier to do that sort of thing. A lot of what the above talk by 1-2-3 Go talks about is artists selling their own work. I've always felt conflicted by the idea that I'm publishing and selling other people's work. But based on a recent discussion between Alvin Buenaventura, Dan Nadel and Sammy Harkham, I've seen that Sparkplug is not alone in doing really well through internet sales. It seems as if zines and mini comics have actually done better because of the internet in spite of early and ill-informed predictions of their death.

I'd love to hear more about running a punk business from anyone, esp. the printing kind. I'm going to add some more today.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Portland Zine Symposium August 23rd/24th

I was putting off posting in hopes of having a time for the workshop Greg Means (Tugboat Press), Aron Steinke and I would be giving but it is getting close to the show so. Here is the info.

Sparkplug Comic Books and Teenage Dinosaur will tabling at the Portland Zine Symposium this weekend. Well worth a trip to the Rose City. The Symposium is full of beautiful and interesting books and art as well as having some of the best baked goods, usually. It runs Saturday from 10:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M. and Sunday from 10:00 A.M. until 4:00 P.M. at Portland State University in the Smith Memorial Ballroom.

Sparkplug will be there with a ton of minis and all the usual Sparkplug books. Also friends Teenage Dinosaur, Guapo Comics & Books, Reading Frenzy, Global Hobo and Tugboat Press will be tabling. And artists like Jason T. Miles, Chris Cilla, Aron Nels Steinke, Katy Ellis O'brien, Jason Martin, Tom Lechner and TONS of other people will be exhibiting.

On Saturday (the 23rd) at 2 or 3pm Aron, Greg and I will be giving a workshop/panel on how and why they run small press book publishing businesses, including the basics of printing, publishing, and distro. Hopefully it'll be interesting. I'll update with the rest of the workshop schedule when it goes up.

And remember that Saturday is the Farmer's Market right outside the Symposium building so you are going to be able to find all kinds of great great local food. Come howngry leave happy.

Joseph hart Studio Visit

Mollie Goldstrom and I went to visit one of our favorite artists, Joseph Hart, in his greenpoint studio. Joseph will be doing the back cover for Windy Corner #3...anyway, here are photos I took of some of the work he showed us that he was working on. Oh and here is his website:

Friday, August 15, 2008

New Reviews of Sparkplug Comics at Sequart

The radical Rob Clough has put up a series of reviews of the new Sparkplug Comic Books and a friend:

Nurd Burglar
The Hot Breath of War
Windy Corner #2
Reich #3 & #4
Nurse Nurse #2

Katie Skelly who does Nurse Nurse does great comics and you should check her stuff out at:

Jennifer Parks!

So, this month is Parks month in Portland.
If you are in town, go by the Pony Club, she has a show up for all of August. In addition she has put out a new issue of the Lone Wolf (#2). I think you can get it from her directly. I'll have it (along with #1 at the Sparkplug tables soonish).
Take a look at her blog:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Jason T Miles’ Dead Ringer

here's a review of one of my favorite books of the last year...Jason T Miles' "Dead Ringer." it's available from La Mano books.

You can also pick it up from Sparkplug at shows as Dylan is distro-ing it.

Jason T Miles’ Dead Ringer

Dead Ringer is a substantial work of art. Yet, I’m afraid that, at first glance, readers will see the opposite: a book that’s sparse and unfinished.

Jason T. Miles is probably best known for his one page comics in Kramers Ergot 5. Those comics were quite skillful, but in comparison to Dead Ringer, they were crowd pleasers. In Kramers, Miles used a thick line and drew geometrically pleasing (and stylish) page designs.

Dead Ringer isn’t stylish, and Miles’ line seems like its disappearing in some panels. And yet, Dead Ringer is the piece that brings Miles’ to the forefront of art cartooning. In comics, there are a lot of people with visually innovative ideas to express but rarely do we find someone with innovative literary ideas. Comics has (and not without some struggle) produced many consummate writers (Lynda Barry, Phoebe Gloeckner, the Hernandez brothers) but you’d be hard pressed to deem their literature progressive or experimental. It’s naturalistic fiction, sometimes with some tasteful bells and whistles (see Clowes). With Dead Ringer, Miles draws a line in the sand from his kramers peers----for the past decade, we’ve pushed the drawing in comics in a myriad of directions. Now, Miles says with Dead Ringer, let’s push the writing.

The most prominent thing about Dead Ringer is its attempted break from the tradition of fine comics writing being forever linked with traditional story structure----and the success of this break. Again, let’s consider some of the good comics writers listed above (and their ilk): all of them write traditional fiction or autobiography. All of them basically employ 3 act structure and tell linear stories, light on symbolism and heavy on characterization. The people who don’t do this are often consummate artists with important things to say in terms of drawing---the narrative aspect of comics forces these people to generate interesting images that they couldn’t imagine if they were making stand alone images. And yet---it’s still a visual world they’re exploring, not one of letters. The world of letters in comics looks barren---no matter how closely words and pictures are linked in comics, we can still advocate for work to be done in one area or another. Dead Ringer begins the argument.

Dead ringer’s characters have no names and there isn’t a story (i.e. plot points, location). The book consists of someone encountering a near dead man on the road and talking with him in his final moments. As comics readers, we are so used to the idea of “characters” that it’s hard for us to approach a work like Dead Ringer (even if we’re comfortable with metaphor and poetry in other art forms). For a comic about a man encountering another man rotting on the road to be about anything other than exactly that is incomprehensible to the mind that has had a steady diet of comics. Comics are so predominantly about surface meaning and melo-drama that it’s ahrd to imagine a work like Dead Ringer finding an audience.

It should find one though---anyone who cares about comics should read it. Miles writes the dialogue between the near dead man and the living man with great feeling. The narrator states “He was sprawled out for all to see.” “Let me look inside your teeth” says the living man. “Humor me and look away” responds the sprawled out body. This passage stirs up so much---displaying your weakness, followed by a callous response (“let me look inside”) and then mock self-pity (“humor me”). And all that on one page in 3 sentences. It makes me wish other cartoonists were thinking as much about what they want to write. In film, we see every aspect of humanity tackled, every corner of the mind explored. In comics, we have formalism---how can I tell a story? Miles wants to explore and write about people instead of trying to figure out an innovative way to move plot points along.

There are inevitable feeble questions that will arise with readers who encounter this book. “Why is the main character drawn so much thicker than the background?” “Why does the background keep changing?” “Why do the drawings look unfinished?” I wish there was enough work like Dead ringer to render these questions irrelevant, but that’s not the case. Dead ringer is like a poem---although simply saying that brings more trouble. The last time I wrote about “poetic” comics (in the pages of The Comics Journal), most people assumed I was talking about work like Gary Sullivans “Elsewhere.” “Elsewhere” is essentially illustrated poems. I like Sullivans work a good deal, but Dead Ringer is close to what I’m advocating.

Here’s why: much fo the work in kramers breaks away from narrative with spectacular visual results. Dead Ringer breaks away from narrative with spectacular literary results---and that’s poetry. Poetry abandons the rules of fiction but doesn’t’ abandon the pursuit of literary sophistication and beauty. With poetry, anything goes except failure. If it’s mush, it’s not poetry.

There’s a moment in Dead ringer that I dound very sad, but Miles writing is such that he makes you wonder if he’s playing the scene for laughs:

Narration: I could tell from his face that he was a hideous man. I could tell from his skin that he knew darkness.
Dying man: I want to make people cry.
Other man: I sure hope you’ve written your will.

Saying “I want to make people cry” only to be met with “I sure hope you’ve written your will” is rather affecting---but there’s something about the flip nature of a line like “I sure hope you’ve written your will” that is undeniably funny. Normally, in a comic, it would have to be one or the other: comedy or tragedy. With Dead Ringer, Miles helps us grow up and remind us that true art has to focus on everything, even if we’re used to focusing on only one or two things at a time. Dead Ringer eases us into the complexity that we all have within us already.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Aron Steinke's new website update

Aron's linked to his blog through is site. There is some amazing new stuff up there. Take a look.

Reich #5 preview

Reich #5 is in the works, we are just fine tuning the bitter irony and touching up the sex-vibes. Here is a preview of the cover.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Neon Love Through the Fog of War

Sparkplug released The Hot Breath of War a couple of months ago and since then it has provoked some positive reviews, as well as a bit of puzzlement from readers. So, it was suggested to me that I go a bit into my process and execution of the book, for the benefit of the casual reader.

Unconventional Narrative

THBOW's storytelling is very straightforward and readable, but it lacks a conventional linear narrative. A reader might assume the book was scrawled out on bar napkins and thrown into a hat. In fact, the stories that make up THBOW's narrative were conceptualized more or less all at once, early on in the planning of the book. I'm probably not the only artist who experiences this planning stage as a strange time, when you constantly experience synchronicities in your daily life, in song lyrics, in the books you're reading. It seems like once I've settled on a theme for a book, everything in my life conspires to reinforce and elaborate on it. From there, I drew the individual strips, one at a time: (Photo: Press Democrat/Merlin Images)

Finally, they were deliberately arranged, much in the way a record album is sequenced. The order of the stories was not chronological, but for artistic reasons. As an example, the final story drawn, "There's a Monkey On My Back..." forms the centerpiece of the book.

The stories in THBOW relate to one another in thematic and incidental ways, but they don't seamlessly mesh in plot or tone. In some parts the transitions are jarring. It seems to me that many cartoonists attempt to create a smooth, immersive narrative, to make a movie basically, and in so doing unintentionally bleach all the nutrition out of their work. And what we can end up with are breezy graphic novels that look big on the shelf but are insubstantial.

War Stories

Beyond simply telling a story, what I tried to do with THBOW was approach war as something central to human experience, something within and among us, and not something outside that blows in like the weather. To that end, I broke the work up into stories of people actively in war, as either soldiers or victims, and also passively, as a member of society that supports wars. As people we do not fit completely comfortably into those imposed roles. For example, the soldiers in the book are often as much passive observers as active warriors.
I think comics as a medium deals well with that kind of fluidity. You can use its visual vocabulary to talk about big things in a light, offhand way.

Stealth Vocabulary

I wanted to use that stealth vocabulary of comics to take the metaphors that we use for love and violence, and they are by and large the same metaphors, and make them literal:

Since we use the same profanity to talk about loving someone as we do for hurting them, are we using it for the same reasons? To make both actions palatable? Much of the action in THBOW lives in the ambiguous realm between those two poles. It was not my intention to communicate "War is bad" to the reader (though obviously, if one needed that lesson and took it away from the book, I could hardly object). A more reasonable goal was to tell stories about people who live in times much like our own, and in the telling, explore the limits of language to make sense of, or to temper their irrational impulses.

addndum: Partial THBOW Bibliography

Monday, August 11, 2008

Open Studio in Los Angeles

If you're in Los Angeles this weekend, you can come to my open studio during the Atwater Village Art Walk. Lots of info on my blog.

I'm sorry.

This video is really funny to me(From this website)

Olga Volozova's website

This year should see the publication of Olga's book The Airy Tales from Sparkplug. In the meantime, here is her amazing website:

SF Zine Fest and Comic Con 2008

I got back from San Diego Comic Con and the San Francisco Zine Fest a couple weeks ago. It was a long and exhausting 2 weeks. Apparently I was really showing it on the last days at Comic Con but I had so much fun that I'm already looking forward to next year. I realize that people care a lot about how I'm doing, which is really nice. Jesse Reklaw, Tim Goodyear and I headed off to SF on Thursday night around midnight.

The Zine Fest was basically a perfect event for me. The people who put it on (Francois Vignault, Sarah Gion and friends) do an amazing job. This is the second year that Sparkplug has made the trek and it continued to be a great place to sell zines and comics as well as meeting tons of creative and interesting people. I don't usually get to go to a lot of events and all that but I did make it to the reading at the Cartoon Art Museum which was put on by Mari Naomi. It came off perfectly and it was really cool to see so many great cartoonists doing readings from their books. The artists were: Rina Ayuyang (, Peter Conrad (, Renee French (, Justin Hall (, Andy Hartzell (, Minty Lewis (, MariNaomi (, Lark Pien (, Joey Sayers ( and Calvin Wong (

The Zine Fest went well. The new location was airy and open and there were tons of people and their dogs. I picked up a zine on Night Terrors by Craven Rock and Kinoko. Sparkplug picked up more copies of books we already had and a new beautiful Estrus by Mari Naomi.

SF has such great vegan food that every night was basically amazing for me, fattening up wise.

Here are my pictures from the SF show.

Then on Monday Tim Goodyear and I drove to San Diego and met up with our flat mate Tom Neely. Getting there early was great and gave us a bunch of time to get our shit together for the big show on Wednesday. Wednesday was the preview night for San Diego Con and we discovered a usually crazy booth partner had been put next to us and we'd been put across from the Spike and Mike Yelling Festival as we were last year. 5 days of annoying yelling really ads to the experience of San Diego.

Luckily, this year, we were right near Picture Box and Drawn and Quarterly which is always a total blessing. Within a few hours the tables were set up and everything was ready to go. It was a quick and painless set up and there were tons of books and great Tom Neely and Levon Jihanian art up at the booth for the preview night. The next four days of the show were pretty mind blowing. 10 hours of non stop talking to people about comics and what we are up to. At our table the big hits of the show were Tom's Whale print, Renee French's new T-shirts, Bicycle Propaganda, Steve Ditko books, Gerald Jablonski's new Cryptic Wit #2, Hey Tim, and Inkweed. But, in general everything went swimmingly from a sales perspective. I'm always amazed at how receptive people are to hand made books at San Diego.

Lynda Barry and Rutu Modan showed up at the Drawn and Quarterly booth and had amazing lines which was really inspiring. Dan Nadel's Picture box table was a bastion of mental fortitude in a see of crazy and Alvin Buenaventura's set up basically was where I wanted to spend the whole show. We saw lots of costumed people and talked with loads and loads of Hollywooders and reporters. Basically awesome. And my favorite part of the show was having Liz Dunning stop by the table with a new mini called Marty Chronicles that she and Teppei Ando did. A really great book and we'll be selling it soon. I'm sure they both will be making a name for himself in comics really soon.

Sparkplug artists Trevor Alixopulos, Jeff LeVine and Jason Shiga all made it down for the show and spent a bunch of time at the table. Jeff even had a new mini out which is an event in and of itself. Trevor had amazing new prints he'd made and Shiga was there for the Eisner awards presentation (he was robbed by that evil Rutu Modan). Zak Sally, Jason Miles and Nate Denver from LaMano all stopped by. Carrie McNinch brought the new You Don't Get There From Here. And Sparkplug promo wiz Shannon O'Leary was there with Joan Reilly for the weekend too.

We all had a blast hanging out with David King and Michelle Borok from Giant Robot and going around town. I highly recommend not trying to park in the convention area and using the trolley to come into the show. The show was a total blast but it tired me out and all I heard about was how tired I looked. In the end I was invigorated by the whole thing, even the run in with the angry moving guy at the end. It made me want to get back to work on Reporter.

My pictures of San Diego Con aren't all that many or great because my battery ran out but David King took some great ones. And Tom Neely's report (a few posts ago) gives a better overview of the show.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Scott Teplin's DRAWING BLOG!

Go spend some time HERE

Friday, August 08, 2008

Molly O'Connell

Mollie Goldstrom and I got to hang out with Molly O'connell recently, who was visiting New York. You can check out Molly Oconnells work here:

Her work is really interesting---she'll be doing a small piece for Windy Corner #3. There's a lot of good stuff on that website.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Panel from Heroes Con with Nadel, Buenaventura and Harkham

This past month was so busy that I never had a chance to sit down and listen to this panel from the Heroes Con in Charlotte NC. I wish I had gone to the panel (I was stuck at the table) but I'm so so so glad it was recorded. I wish I could raise my hand to question these guys (or Spurgeon) but I love that they are saying what they do and how they say it. Well worth your time, if you are interested in artcomics. I don't know how much I agree with any of it.

Sparkplug At Last Gasp

Last Gasp has just posted a bunch of the new Sparkplug comic books on their website. Along with Tony Shenton, they are the best place to order our books. Take a look here for the Sparkplug books available from Last Gasp. We are currently trying to encourage a better direct relationship with comics and bookstores, especially through Tony and Gasp.

Monday, August 04, 2008

New Mats!? Website

Yes, oh yes. This new site is so fresh.


Book By Its Cover posted a feature on my sketchbooks. Check it out over here:

Fanboy Fables

Fanboy Fables is a group blog of comics professionals, retailers, and superfans about their experiences with certain issues of comics from their past which holds special importance to them.

My first entry is about the Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Comics.

Sparkplug cartoonist extaordinaire Elijah Brubaker is also blogging over there. Check out his first entry about The Fantastic Four.

Chris Wright at Partyka

Chris Wright is guest exhibiting at the Partyka website:
The Partyka guys have basically the most refined taste I've come across in comics and Chris fits in so well.
I'm always blown away by how much work Chris puts out while managing to maintain such a powerful combination of simple black and white marks on paper.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Windy Corner in Pittsburgh---vini vede vici

Windy Corner stopped into Pittsburgh to hang out with Juliacks! Thats me and her in the above picture, hanging out in front of Copacetic Comics (a great comics store).

Juliacks did the back cover for windy Corner #2 and you can find more of her amazing work here:She is one of my favorite artists in comics today--Juliacks work is so eccentric but has this huge amount of authority to it. its from out of left field but it looks as if it HAD to come out of left field. No affectation to it.

Windy Corner set up shop at Brillobox Bar. We had so much fun---everyone else in comics was stuck in San Diego, walking to Ralphs (or whatever) but Brillobox was like the anti-thesis of San Diego.

That's local Pittsburgh TALENT Sharon Needles who performed at the event! Ooof.

And this local Pittsburgh band, whose name I cant recall, was great! The whole event felt kind of crazy and erratic---sort of like Windy Corner Magazine! Ha!

The next day we had brunch at the house of a couple who work for the childrens museum in Pittsburgh. Their kid sitting next to me here loved mollie Goldstroms drawings in WCM #2.

Again, can i mention how great Copacetic is? I want to move to Pittsburgh and work there! Pittsburgh is really a treat---i wish i was still hanging out there. thanks to Juliacks amd Ben bigelow for putting me up and setting up the event!


Friday, August 01, 2008

Laural Winter talks with Jason Shiga

Photo of Jason by Eric Nakamura

Is He Your Cartoonist? Laural Winter asks cartoonist Jason Shiga about whether he solves puzzles in real life? Does he enjoy working in libraries? And would he be tough on crime?

LW: As the popular author of Fleep, Double Happiness and Bookhunter do you work at puzzles or mysteries in real life? If yes what kind?

JS:I enjoy reading collections of Google or Microsoft interview questions but as far as real life puzzles, they don't really seem to spring up naturally very often. However there was this one time I found myself trying to cross a river with a goose, a fox and a barrel of grain. No, just kidding.

LW:Writing could be considered a form of fantasizing about characters lives. Have you fantasized in being in the protagonist of FLEEP's shoes? If yes how so? did you do research in a phone booth?

JS:I'm a big fan of Cornell Woolrich and the amnesiac plotline. The one that begins with a man waking up with no identity and he slowly has to piece together how he got there and why there's a corpse next to him. I've often fantasize about being in such a situation myself. For my birthday last year I asked my three closest friends to slip me a roofie and then drag my body into the woods and leave me there. It could happen any day this year so it's very exciting every time I drink a glass of milk.

LW:Bookhunter is about a library police team that retrieves stolen books. Where did the idea for Bookhunter come from?

JS:I've been working for the Oakland Public Library for eight years. Often when I'm shelving or up at the circulation desk, my mind begins to wander. I'll think what if I were trying to track down a missing but I could only use library technology from the 70's. Eventually I just structured all these daydreams into a story and eventually a book.
an interior page from Bookhunter

LW:Do you think stealing from a library is like stealing from a church?

JS:I think it's worse in a way. A library book belongs to the community so you're stealing from everyone in your city. If you steal some jewel-encrusted idol from your church, the only person who's really affected is God who probably doesn't exist anyway.

LW:Further thought on this idea of stealing from revered public institutions, does some part of you feel as tough as Special Agent Bay? Do you wish library staff could be that tough on thieves? Or does this work with the idea if we didn't laugh we would cry? Because you have a wonderful way of blending humor or blasting a troubling human behavior with humor.

JS:Agent Bay in Bookhunter represents a more idealized version of myself. Maybe it's like how Robert E Howard saw himself as Conan the Barbarian when he closed his eyes at night.

LW:I saw you read twice in Portland for the Stumptown Comics Festival this year. You were fantastic! Especially when you did the voice for the character of Finch. How long have you been doing readings? And do you practice or have a routine for preparing for a reading?

JS: The reading in Portland was the second one I've done. I was dreading it at first but actually it was a lot of fun. The one tricky thing about comics readings is that one of the pleasures of comics is that you can linger on a panel if you like it or breeze through it to find out what happens next. In my selection, I usually try and pick very dialogue heavy scenes.

LW: How did you get into a library career? Deliberate choice or fell into it? I ask because mine was a bit of both like many librarians or library staff. I worked at the Portland State University library for work-study during my undergraduate degree. Decided the career of librarian looked pretty good and went for the master's degree a few years later. Though many don't go for the master's. I also heard you may have changed your place of employment recently?

JS: I started working for OPL right after college. I always enjoyed the library. So when I started looking for work after school, the library was first on my list. It's not really an interesting story I guess. Sorry. What can I say? I filled out an application form and six months later I was working for OPL. During the interview they asked me what was the latest book I read. I told them the truth that it was a copy of Knock 'Em Dead borrowed from the Piedmont Branch Library.

the downtown branch of the Oakland Public Library

LW:Card catalogs figure largely in Bookhunter. What do you love about card catalogs?

JS: Their subject headings are excellent. Every MARC subject search I've seen is practically useless.

LW: And like a few library staff I know do you own a card catalog?

JS:I own a couple drawers but the cards are long gone. One of my long term projects is to organize and catalogue my entire comic book collection.

LW: Have you seen Ann Chamberlain's installation of card catalog cards at the San Francisco Public Library?

JS: No. Tell me about it!

LW: She plastered several walls on several floors with the old cards from the SFPL card catalog. And I believe the public was allowed to write things on the cards before she used them. I guess like love letters to the books. Give me some time to read those!

What would be a perfect day in your favorite library branch? A well run computer lab, excellent reference service, quiet reading rooms, vibrant literacy programs, or the spirited mayhem of story-time? What are your favorite services that libraries provide in your favorite library branch?

JS: As a patron my perfect day would consist of finding a new book by my favorite author, finding a new author I liked, an interlibrary loan getting in and a hold being on the shelf for me.

LW: A new practice for library reference staff is to wear a badge that states what we are reading now. I am rereading Lobster Johnson by Mike Mignola and reading Let it Snow: Three Holiday Stories by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle. I just finished reading Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison. What you reading now?

JS: A Brief History of the Dead, Gangster for a Day, and "The World Without Us".

LW: Anything you would like to add?

JS: Return your books by the due date, kids. If you can't, ask your local librarian about the rules regarding renewals.

LW:Thanks for letting me interview you!

A recent review of Bookhunter.

A review of Bookhunter and Fleep.

More Shiga books available here and here.

Sparkplug friend Laural Winter is a writer, librarian, comics fan, crafter, organizer and all around amazing person. She has led the charge to bring zines to the Multnomah Library system in Portland. We'd like to thank her for this talk and hopefully we'll see more from her on the blog soon.