Monday, December 30, 2013

Sparkplug Highlights: Danny Dutch, by David King

A brilliantly absurd collection of strips, David King's Danny Dutch features the eponymous Danny and his gang of friends going about their lives and pondering the various vagaries and truths of existence. Let me just prepare you right off the bat: the pictures and words don't line up. That's the beauty of it. Without the text in the perfectly placed speech bubbles, most of these strips could be in a newspaper; the characters' chubby, highly detailed bodies recall classic cartoons of yesteryear, though the occasional landscape or city scene is so finely rendered it puts the average comic strip to shame. The text, though, is all dull malaise, contemplations on life, death, and sex, soul-crushing observations of relationship politics, reflections on art and childhood--and more. Soon enough, however, through some strange alchemy, the two disparate elements (visual and verbal) begin to line up and inform each other, until suddenly you're laughing at your own mortality or feeling melancholy over your favorite childhood memory. It's a weird ride, one that will leave your stomach feeling wobbly for a while after you get off, but you'll want to hop back on again nonetheless.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Support Sparkplug and get fantastic original art - here's how!

Hi folks, Emily Nilsson here.  I'm throwing lots of art on eBay for the benefit of Sparkplug's future endeavors.  We had a few pieces left over from the Indiegogo upper donation tier gifts, for which the artists have granted permission for us to sell.  I'm also adding a lot of stuff that my husband, Dylan Williams, and I collected over the years.  There are great originals and a number of high-quality prints that are being added to the mix.  Work by Sparkplug alums Jeff Levine, Elijah Brubaker, Chris Cilla, and Aron Steinke have been featured.  Be sure and at least check it out! 

Link here to the auctions currently in full swing!

If you have any questions feel free to email:  If you live in Portland, I'll waive shipping and work with you on a pick-up arrangement.

Thanks friends!  You're the best!

Active right now - "Crazy Legs" by Chris Cilla.  Start the insanity!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sparkplug Highlights: Zebadiah, by Asher Z. Craw

It's actually a little difficult to express in words how wonderful and affecting Asher's Zebadiah is. It's not just the art, though it is breathtaking. Asher's artistic style recalls rough-but-intricate woodblock etchings and works equally well at depicting the deep woods of Appalachia and modern-day Portland, Oregon. Every character's face, even (especially) the animals', is infinitely expressive and intimately human. The religious iconography, ethereal supernatural entities, and visually referential characters blend seamlessly into the narrative to create a world that feels both rooted in very specific, portentous periods and, paradoxically, timeless. It's this amazing art in conjunction with a truly brilliant story, though, that makes Zebadiah such an incredible creative achievement that has won the adoration of everyone I know who's read it. Asher takes two stories--that of Zebadiah and Eula-Lee, a reclusive couple living in the Appalachians in the 1970s, and that of (somewhat fictionalized versions of) Asher and, later, his wife Lillie in the present day--and weaves them together with an overarching narrative that explores the intersection between rural and urban lifestyles, separated souls, Asher's character's trans experience, damnation versus salvation, and (most importantly) eternal love.

On top of it all: ANTHROPOMORPHIC GUARDIAN POSSUMS (possibly some relative of the Grumplords?!).

To say too much more is to deprive you of your own experience with the story, but trust me: you will feel changed after you finish reading it. It is a perfect example of everything a great comic should be; it hurts your heart, it's so good. Read it today, and don't forget to pick up Asher's contribution to our upcoming Sparkplug Minis series, due out on February 16th at LA Zine Fest--his will be the inaugural issue, and it's a modern tale of Baba Yaga. You're going to love it.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sparkplug Highlights: Reich #1 and #2, by Elijah Brubaker

We hope that you've had a chance to see our awesome presale for Reich #11, which is the penultimate issue in Elijah Brubaker's comic biography of Wilhelm Reich. However, if you're just now coming to the series, you should definitely pick up the first issues! The biography does move chronologically and is much more powerful when read in order. To introduce our new readers to the series, we wanted to shine some light on the first two issues. Elijah writes in his intro,

"Most people who know of the man know him as a crazy character who battled the US government and paid the ultimate price. . . .Generally those that know or Reich seem to see him as nothing more than an accumulation of sound bites and weird ideas. Those privy to the minutia of Reich's life are dedicated to arguing the merit of Reich's science but often overlook him as a human being. All these conflicting viewpoints are equally intimidating to me and spur me to tell the story from my own point of view. I see Reich as human above all else. He was dedicated to the betterment of the human race and the advancement of his ideas. Reich the man was flawed and complex and that is what attracts me to him as a subject for biography."

Issues 1 and 2 cover Reich's early life at the tail end of his service in Italy during WWI and at the University of Vienna immediately after the war's end. In Vienna as a young medical student, he becomes swept up in the promise of psychoanalysis and sexology, leading him to take control of his academic seminars and become a protégé of Sigmund Freud. We see early on, though, behaviors that will continue to plague his relationships throughout his life: philandering, egomania, verbal abuse. For all his brilliance, Reich is a man filled with dark potential.

Elijah's series only gets better from here, we promise! Do yourself a favor and check out issues 1-10 before you grab a presale copy of issue 11, and then with bated breath for the explosive last issue!


Friday, December 13, 2013

New In the Store: Vantage!

Everyone, listen up, and listen like crazy: we have a new Eroyn Franklin book in the store! Vantage is an incredible addition to both her creative oeuvre and your personal comics collection. This fold-out book documents The Long Walk, a socially engaged project in which Susan Robb leads fifty people on a four-day, fourth-five-mile walk from Puget Sound to Snoqualmie Falls using the Regional Trails System. Franklin's art, of course, is as excellent as ever, but Vantage stands out as a totally unique work of art and narrative, simultaneously tiny and vast in size and scope. You see, Vantage is a 2.5" x 2.5" square -- little enough to fit in the palm of your hand. It's real impact comes when it is opened: a series of pages fold out into beautiful 10.5" landscapes that are absolutely breathtaking. See:

$5.00 is a small price for something so innovative and lovely. Get it today!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Reich #11 Preorders and a Year End Announcement

Hello friends of Sparkplug!

We hope you’ve had a good 2013. It’s been another year of big changes for us—the most significant, of course, being my coming into ownership of Sparkplug. This year has been a reflective one; though our publishing output was smaller than past seasons, we have made some great additions to our distro catalog, attended a lot of fantastic shows, and given a lot of thought to the future of Sparkplug.
As I am writing this in November, however, we are not in good shape financially. I’ve had to stop paying myself, and though I wasn’t paying myself much, that money did make a significant contribution to my income; it’s going to be more difficult to continue as a publisher when I’m relying solely on my minimum wage retail job.
But I’ll be fine—I’m more concerned about our publishing schedule for next year. We have some awesome books planned! We’re going to finish Elijah Brubaker’s Reich series, hopefully by fall 2014. I would like for Orchid 2 to (finally) be released by then as well.
In addition to completing two of Dylan’s projects, I am looking forward to starting some projects of my own. In February, we are planning to launch the Sparkplug Minis series, a collection of limited edition short-run minicomics by up-and-coming artists. The first book will be Portland artist Asher Craw’s Hungry Summer, which will finally answer the question of what happens when a bro-dude meets Baba Yoga. Hungry Summer will be ready in time to debut at LA Zine Fest in February. The second book, Ariyana Suvarnasuddhi’s Smoking Spaceships #1, will debut at CAKE in late May. Suvarnasuddhi sent me some preliminary sketches, and let me tell you, they are gorgeous!
I have two more issues in this series tentatively planned for summer and fall. Get them while you can, because once they run out, we won’t be reprinting them. If this series does well enough, I will likely add a subscription option in 2015.
Finally, if you’ve been following William Cardini’s Vortex series, you’ll be excited to know that we’ll be publishing a collection of all four minis in the summer of 2014. Cardini’s work is great—a weird mash-up of psychedelia and 8-bit sci-fi—and I’m so stoked to be doing this book.
So those are our plans, and I hope you’re as excited as I am. To make these books happen, though, we are going to need a lot of support from our fans and friends. As always, you can make a donation directly to us via the Donate button on the right-hand side of our blog ( These donations are so greatly appreciated and go directly toward producing our books. I’m also going to offer preorders for our books, which will be the best way for you to help us and add some great comics to your library simultaneously. Reich #11 preorders start today! Please, just look at that cover and tell me it’s not one of the most beautiful things you’ve ever seen. Visit to get your issue and contribute to a good cause: keeping us in business so we can continue to publish these amazing independent comics.

Thank you for standing by us, and happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

New in the Store: Other Worlds!

Portland's comics performance collective, Gridlords, has seen fit to grace us with a second anthology, and it's bigger, slicker, and weirder than we could have hoped for! Other Worlds explores the myriad other dimensions, other places, and other experiences that exist alongside us and within us. Where does your dog really go when he runs off, and would you be brave enough to go after him -- no matter what? What kind of effort does an imagination vacation take to sustain, and is the payoff worth it? Will you really die if you see your doppelgänger? How do you best help an elderly woman losing her memories? WHAT IS A GRUMPLORD?! All these questions and more are asked and answered. Featuring work by Rebecca Artemisa, Max Clotfelter, Dunja Jankovic, Darin Shuler, Sophie Franz, Anna Ehrlemark, Elizabeth Pusack, Fiona Avocado, Ryan Iverson, Kelly Froh, Joel Statz, Matt Lock, Marsuplala, Luke Forsyth, Jesse McManus, Graham Kahler, Nusha Ashjaee, Kevin Hooyman, Theo Ellsworth, Sean Christensen A.B.T., Daria Tessler, and Lillie & Asher Craw, you won't want to miss this incredible collection for anything.