Tuesday, June 26, 2007

East Coast Down, Mid Coast (?) Tomorrow

Baltimore and New York are behind me now. I look back on them with sleep deprived eyes and memories that are almost certainly inaccurate, but for the most part enjoyable. All I know is that during a demonstration in Columbus Circle at Central Park, where protesters garbed in military fatigues played out some obviously rehearsed performance art involving screaming and repeatedly dressing and undressing, I had a very nice conversation with a woman (after jumping behind a stone bench to retrieve her misplaced rollerblade strap) named Irene, who was apparently the mother of Jeremy Dawson, visual effects supervisor for The Life Aquatic. I almost wished she was faking her story, as her encyclopedic knowledge of that guy's career would then have been not only impressive by staggeringly creepy. Only in New York are faux militants stripping to their underwear while a movie magician's mom opens up about her sons shortcomings. I just sat back, drank my gatorade, and loved it all.

But that is the past! Now we are hurtling to the future! With every second, the meeting of Austin Grossman, Nick Bertozzi, and someone claiming to be me draws closer! The congregation can be hunted down here, but the details are thus:

Wednesday, June 27 8:00pm
Stop Smiling Storefront
1371 N. Milwaukee Avenue

I think I will be showing some sort of photographic slide show and reading a never printed article I wrote for the now re-defunct Life magazine. But nothing is certain! Except sweating. It's hot out there.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Three Paradoxes, Washington Post Express

The previously-posted-about Mr. Rosenberg's short Three Paradoxes article is out in the Washington Post's Express today. I think the Baltimore/DC area has been warned (perhaps untruthfully): tonight will not be boring! Or anyway, not as boring as I'm apparently predisposed to fear (and note to self: need to stop using the phrase "sort of").

See all warned parties at Atomic Pop tonight. Bring your dancing shoes. You never know.

Baltimore! Brooklyn! All Civilized, Destroyed!

Today I'll be joining forces with Tao Lin to read the shit out of some prose. Yeah, that's right. I'll be reading some words, not comics. Because reading comics aloud is like whistling a sun set. Or something like that.

Things will happen this way:

Atomic Pop
June 21st
7-9PM. Free
3620 Falls Rd. Hampden, Baltimore

Then, hang on! Tomorrow I'll be at Rocketship in Brooklyn, where I will not only sign books, but there will be some alcoholic beverages, and some of my bloated, swaggering original art for sale on the walls. The whole debacle is a prelude to MoCCA...

What the police report will say:

June 22nd
8PM. Free
(Beverages provided by Six Point Craft Ales and Smith and Vine)
208 Smith Street, Brooklyn, New York

And then I'll be at MoCCA, signing books, but primarily picking up a copy of what is sure to be one of the best books of comics ever wrangled into a single volume: "I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets: The Comics of Fletcher Hanks." I got a chance to flip through it while I was in Richmond, and I could hardly control my brain.

At the Fantagraphics Table
Saturday: 3 to 4
Sunday: 12 to 2
Puck Building (293 Lafayette at Houston), New York City

See you in a place, if I am there, and you are there, and no one is invisible or visually impaired.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Punk's Not Dead, Just Its Best Magazine

Dan Sinker, the publisher of Punk Planet, is one of my personal heroes, in addition to being one of the nicest guys in the city of Chicago. When I received the e-mail from him saying that Punk Planet magazine (for which I drew the cover of issue 56 (above)) would be closing up shop (due, in large part, to distribution collapses affecting many independent publishers (see the McSweeney's post below)), I couldn't help but be depressed. Punk Planet was one of the better publications out there, showcasing the best in punk art, music, and all around culture, and consistently debunking the falsity that punk is dead or that punk is some prepackaged three chord structure or clothespin through a jean jacket. Punk Planet was a good magazine, steered by good people, and it helped engaged individuals connect over the past thirteen years. I can't urge people enough to purchase books and magazines from them, because, though the magazine is gone for now (and will be sorely missed), Dan is one of my heroes for a reason: he will continue promoting the best elements of independent culture in any way he can. And that dedication will always have inspiring results.

Punk Planet is dead, long live Punk Planet.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I Never Meant For It To End This Way

Waiting for Dustin, one of the fine individuals working for HeroesCon, to finish his announcement in the public address system booth before he and I rode the escalators up a couple flights to our pending panel, I occupied myself with a nearby exhibitor's wares. This started the avalanche.

An original page from "Angel" was propped behind the proprietor, with the original pencil layouts attached by rusted paper clip. I asked to see it, was pained by how nice of an original it was and, seeing Dustin emerging from the booth, hurriedly asked how much the piece was, expecting something involving hundreds of dollars I didn't have. Just above a yawn, the man drawled, "Eh... fifty bucks?" To me this thing was an original on par with a Kirby page, or whatever else he was selling for a couple thousand dollars, so I threw the money and ran, practically sprinting and giggling to the panel. I should probably see someone about this response, it can't possibly be healthy.

Emboldened by this, I went shopping for oddities after the panel (which Dustin moderated and to which Chris Pitzer, Chris Staros, and Mahfood lent their wisdom on the indie comic world and its workings) had finished (and thanks to the overly indulgent Scott Rosenberg for manning my table while I thumbed through decaying newsprint). I came up with some prizes, the first among them this original:

And then, the assortment of comics made by those of questionable sanity:

Those beauties in hand, I talked with Scott through the remaining crumb of the convention, and, after a short exiting discussion with Kyle Baker regarding our mutual respect for the aesthetics of Filmation, another three day geek fest drew to a close. So long, HeroesCon. Thanks to everyone who made it a pleasant stay, especially the staff and Scott "Paul Ought to Be Paying Me Commission For This" Rosenberg.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Rosenberg and The Big Big Little Book Book

Yesterday, one of the major surprises – and a pleasant one at that – was a gift from one Mr. Scott Rosenberg of The Washington Post (who I was fortunate enough to meet in person after being interviewed by him last week). Scott stopped by my table and in the ensuing conversation I mentioned that one of the great positives of a convention like HeroesCon is the overlooked treasures that have fallen from "mint condition" favor. And among those treasures some of my favorites are Big Little Books, those always charming hardbound books from earlier in the century.

A short while after we ended our initial conversation, Scott dropped back by with his gift, culled from a bargain bin: The Big Big Little Book Book. This map to all things Big Little features full color shots of the spines, covers, and back covers of a good many of the books, spreads from Big Little pop up books, and a history of the publishing line. It's quite extensive and, in receiving it, it was difficult to keep my composure. A salute to Mr. Rosenberg!

If time allows, I'll have to post some of the oddities I picked up on my own, but for now, I'll leave you with the recommendation of The Big Big Little Book Book. It's a bibliophile's pornography.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The View from 603

O Charlotte! I sat among your concrete for nine hours! I ate of your meatloaf sandwich and butterscotch cake! I answered your questions and let you put your shit on top of my shit while looking at your program book to figure out where anybody with the decency to not be me was sitting! I steered table 603 straight and true! And what did you give me in return, Charlotte?

You gave me that prized booty: costumed adults.

In some cases you gave me booty in the ass sense, but I really didn't ask for that, Charlotte. Seriously.

The responses of convention-going children to these costumed adults was often less joy than fear and dismay, at best shock. No wonder I get along so well with kids. They know disturbingly strange when they see it. Sample the stunned dismay of this little girl when confronted with two (admittedly decently suited up) Spider People:
Like all humans pursuing some ideal, there were those that committed fully, and those that phoned it in. Who ya gonna call? Not the lady who just threw on a cape and called it a day. Come on lady, bring it!
But, then again, this lady brought it way too much... to the delight of eager photographers and the turned stomach of this documentarian who temporarily wished he hadn't just eaten a meatloaf sandwich.
To be completely honest, the meatloaf sandwich was amazing (I know it sounds revolting, but it was amazing, trust me), and graciously provided by the perpetually kind Rob Venditti of Top Shelf. The sandwiches and cake were made by Rob's mother and she is to be thanked. My thanks to her? She did not have to see that chain mail rump in person. Consider us even!

In Charlotte's Concrete Belly, In Chicago: Jonathan's Dreaming

Day One of HeroesCon 2007 started with two words: rectal exam. Or anyway, that's what I thought I overheard as I carried in the last of my soon to be not sold wares. Do I often mishear things? Yes. Do I purposely use my misinterpretations of reality as fodder for narratives, or paranoid delusions, often both? Absolutely. So I accepted the four syllable commencement speech, found my table in the sprawling basement that is the Charlotte Convention Center, and sat down for to color Wolverine.

Wolverine, a commission for Jason H. to be delivered today, was drawn and inked last night in the hotel, between marveling at the addictive properties of "Law and Order" and air conditioning. I was mildly satisfied with the rendering of the clawed hot head, but I thought his skull or mask a bit lopsided and he looked to be mid poop. Ride it out, Wolverine, it could be worse.
I dreamt nothing that I can remember, though apparently everybody's favorite Messinger dreamed of me. I woke, drank coffee (which I am only and oddly compelled to drink when in the crisp stagnancy of hotels), and hefted, sweated my way past the throngs of waiting collectors and costumed enthusiasts.

Costumed? Did I say costumed? Oh yes. Will there be pictures? God, let's hope so. I will try. My head was too busy dropping my mouth open today to think of working the camera. Tomorrow I will be desensitized, once again, back in convention form: camera poised.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wholphin and the Necessity of McSweeney's

I've been meaning to post something about the DVD magazine Wholphin, produced by the fine people at McSweeney's, and now is as good a time as any. Actually, scratch that: now is a better time than any. McSweeney's needs your help.

Many small publishers have been hard hit due to recent bankruptcies in the distribution realm, and McSweeney's is among those publishers. And I do mean hard hit: to the tune of $130,000. For more information on the reality of this loss and its ramifications, please read more here.

McSweeney's is, in my opinion, one of the most important publishers of the past decade. They have help to found and promote writing centers across the country, they have given a publishing vehicle to the voice of prisoners, educators, young writers, the underprivileged, and other voices with so much to say, but so often without a way to be heard. Please help out. And helping out is as simple as buying amazing books and DVDs. Who loses there? Not you, and certainly not McSweeney's.

I bought the first issue of Wholphin based simply on the good taste and reputation of the people of McSweeney's. But they, as they so often do, only outdid themselves. I immediately bought a subscription to Wholphin. I heavily recommend you do the same. Great film. Great literature. Great design. Great comedy. Great people. Long live McSweeney's.

Monday, June 11, 2007

New York Vultures Pick Up the Paradoxes

New York Magazine will be running excerpt's from The Three Paradoxes all this week. Free samples are always the best part of the grocery store.

Sad Sack Spidey Hits North Carolina

I also posted this on The Holy Consumption, but above is my willfully submissive, soon-to-be black costumed Spider-Man for the HeroesCon 2007 Program Book and subsequent art auction. The convention starts this Friday. I'll have copies of The Three Paradoxes and the new issue of Mome, as well as all the terrifically nonsensical Superman covers I can find. O God, the spoils! The riches!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

No Reason for This Rilke

I suppose there's a tangential reason: I'm currently illustrating a poem (to which I'll post a link when it's completed) for The Poetry Foundation, and while searching through their archives I recalled a sketch I had done in Germany of one Rainer Maria Rilke. Then I thought I'd perhaps fabricated that memory, decided to look it up, and found the black and white culprit housed opposite a sketch of a rather pacified bull mastiff. And there's your superfluous poet post for the day.

"Physics (and Smurf Stomping?) is My Business"

Julius Sumner Miller was my off-again on-again physics teacher growing up, and, while I have no proof of this and am not going to look it up for fear of being wrong (Mr. Miller would be ashamed), I hypothesize that he was the root of the character Gargamel on everyone's favorite Peyo import, The Smurfs. Okay, ever the empiricist, I looked it up. I can't find any evidence to support that hypothesis at all... but I've never seen the two in a room at the same time. A conspiracy theory is born.

Friday, June 8, 2007


Sadly I don't know to whom goes the credit for shoving my bulbous name in that dainty shoe, but good poster nonetheless. If you're in the Baltimore region June 21st, help Tao Lin and me bore you into submission. You are getting sleepy.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Sighting 3: April 28, 2007

An elderly man, possibly in his late seventies, was out walking with who I assumed to be his grandson. The old man was holding a bag. The little boy held on to the pouch as well, such that the two, instead of holding hands, were connected only by this plastic container.

The bag was gray and tablet shaped. It was without ornament, save its white cotton drawstring and blank ink lettering. The ink read simply "R. I. P."

Monday, June 4, 2007

"Today, Meet Mr. H"

The theme song for this show – which does little to warn of the subsequent psychedelia – has never left my head. When I'm some withering old poop, and names, birthdays, and basic geography have all evaporated from recall's jurisdiction, that damn song will still be hanging on, like cockroaches after a nuclear bomb.

Anyway, this show melted my mind. Meet all the letters, should time and mental fortitude permit.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Sighting 2: May 4, 2007

Two overweight, white, mid-forties men in matching dockers and pagers engage in a conversation in Wendy's, near Division and Ashland, Chicago. A third man, with an injured leg, and less aspiring in his eyes and slouch, sits next to his crutches and nods seemingly obligatory affirmation.

Guy 1: "They play hardball. When it comes to pricing, they play hardball."
Guy 2: "They go right for the jugular."
Guy 1: "They go right for the throat."

Nearby an woman conducts an expletive-spiked conversation with herself. She is insane and enjoying a salad.

Let Your Geek Flag Fly, Dad

Any site that recommends that Dads buy balsa wood airplanes and teach dance moves from Talking Heads videos is okay by me. "Geek Dad" is all kinds of okay.