Friday, August 26, 2011

scanner hiccup #2

Here's the other scanner hiccup I ran into scanning elements for the cover for the Plot #1.

On a more serious note, Dylan Williams is fighting cancer right now, and he needs support from folks.  "Who is Dylan Williams," you ask?!  To anyone who's spent more than five minutes with the guy, Dylan is a friend, and I've had the pleasure of hanging out with him on a few occasions, so I know from experience.  He's a cartoonist, an organizer for the Portland Zine Symposium, and he runs a gallery in Portland, Oregon, but he's probably best known as the main force behind Sparkplug Comic Books!  Sparkplug is one of the best small presses putting out comics today (and when I say "best" I really mean it...and when I say "small" I really mean that too). 

  Those who are "interested" by this "graphic novel thing," or those who mainly buy comics from Marvel or DC probably have never heard of Sparkplug (or its peers, Tugboat, Koyama, AdHouse, Picturebox, 2DCloud, LaMano, Grimalkin, Kilgore, or Chicago's own Shortpants), but to those who dig just beneath the surface of the world of comics know Sparkplug puts out some amazing comics, and support those artists who the bigger indie publishers (Fantagraphics, Drawn and Quarterly, Pantheon, Top Shelf) tend to ignore.  Actually, a lot of those who started off with Sparkplug have moved on to larger publishing houses, which -Dylan has stated- is part of Sparkplug's design.

  Dylan has spent most of the past two decades supporting comics that deserved attention, and now he needs some support from us who have benefited from his contributions.  If you've got some extra cash, go over to Sparkplug, and buy some comics, they're amazing!  You could probably pick them at random, and be blown away by the quality!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

scanner hiccup #1

This happened when we were scanning elements for the Plot's cover last night, it only happened twice, but both times it created great results:

Friday, August 19, 2011

support yer local businesses, friends

I just had a pretty terrible errand run.  It started off alright, as I made a huge leap in getting the cover for the Plot printed!  That got me really excited.  Then I got a flat tire as I pulled up to Paper Boy (seen below).
Paper Boy is my favorite paper store.  Full of fun objects related to making marks on paper.  They had some beautiful paper, and all of their staff was so friendly, down to earth and wicked knowledgeable!  As my bike limped up to the store, I could see through the windows that something was missing.  Everything.  They closed!

I went across the street to talk to the folks over at Paper Boy's sister store, the toy store, Uncle Fun.  Turns out Paper Boy closed about a month ago.  What a sad thing to learn.  They said if I needed paper, I'd have to go north on Southport to Paper Source.  So I did (after buying erasers shaped like a doughnut and a peanut).  I walked my half-inflated bike up to Paper Source which seems to be ground zero for wedding planning which was kind of the exact opposite of Paper Boy's MO.  I had a lot of questions for the store, and one employee was answering my questions adequately, but then apparently she had an appointment, and the manager took over helping me out in the following manner:

Quite loudly she asked me (as she did a pair of women before me) "What are we looking for today?"  She then was pretty fake and difficult to talk to in a normal volume.  When I was checking out, she tried to make small talk and asked if I was from New England.  I told her Western New York, and she stated that:

Western New York is upstate New York, and therefore:
Practically New England.

I then actually -sort of uncharacteristically- informed her I thought she was wrong on both counts.  New York is technically a Mid-Atlantic state, and I consider upstate New York as anything north of the southern shore of Lake Ontario (I know a lot of people will disagree and call "upstate" as anything north of New York City, but friends, THAT'S THE REST OF THE STATE (not counting Long Island)!  But still, how can an area that's an hour away from Ohio be more New England than NYC, which is an hour away from New England?!)  She grinned and agreed with me as she was walking away from me, loudly asking someone who had just walked through the door "And what are we looking for today?!" and pointing out the new academic calendars that they had just gotten in.


  Then I walked to the bus stop, and had my bus driver honk and yell at me several times as I put my bike in the bus's bike rack, telling me I was "reading the directions wrong" when he really should have just told me my back wheel wasn't in the groove it needed to be in.

But even that wasn't as bad as finding out your favorite paper store has closed, and your option is a cookie-cutter wedding center.  I work at a local business, and I feel invested in its success, so I recognize I'm pretty biased, but it tears me up that a high quality quirky paper store is gone, and a national chain store, devoid of a real personality stands strong.  One moment, as I place this soap box on a this high horse...please, friends, support your local businesses! 

Next time you walk up to a starbucks, look to see if there's an independent coffee shop around.  When you need to print your zine, don't go to Kinko's, go to a local copy shop, they're probably cheaper.  Don't buy your next book on amazon, go visit a bookstore.  You'll probably be interacting with someone more passionate about their store and its products, and you'll be keeping your money in your city's economy, which helps you!  I know situations present themselves in which national chains are unavoidable, but we've gotta keep the good stores thriving.

Jeesh enough rambling, sorry that I- oh, wait a minute...this isn't yelp.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

area cartoonist makes animals talk

  I've been a fan of the local publication, AREA Chicago for years, and I've contributed (lousy) illustrations to the biannual newspaper twice before.  AREA stands for Art Research Education and Activism, and each issue focuses on a particular topic related to the city, with the intention of creating a multi-faceted cultural and social map of the city.  The most recent issue of AREA came out on the issues of immigration and migration, and I have a comic in it! 

   If the description of AREA sounds a little dry, or pretty intellectual, there's a reason for that.  It kind of is.  Throughout its history, it's been run by kids who are pretty brilliant.  The type of people you kind of have to make an effort to keep up with in a conversation, so it's not a fun read.  It's a great read, but definitely not one I would describe as fun. (Recent things I've read that I would consider fun: Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin & Jill Thompson, the Convalescent by Jessica Anthony, Love and Rockets by Jaime Hernandez, Snarked #0 by Roger Langridge, several comics by Jason) 

  I was asked for this issue to document a community event at Mess Hall in Rogers Park for which participants were invited to bring a border-crossing tool to help build a border-crossing tool kit. It was a great casual gathering, which started with potluck snacks & socializing.  Later, each participant presented their tool, most of which were not physical.  I took notes through the whole thing, and then tried to figure out how to present it. 

  I finally landed on a fairly straight-forward presentation of each person presenting their tool, but instead of trying to remember what people looked like, or trying to imagine a group of people, I decided to use five migratory animals as their spokespeople.  Hopefully it added some goofiness into the discussion, and some levity into a fairly serious publication.

  AREA Chicago #11, IM/MIGRATIONS, a local reader about how borders are made, experienced and challenged through human movement is available for free at many locations throughout the city! Unfortunately the comic is not available on their website, though most of the rest of the issue is, including an essay about Garlic and Greens, a food histories project I've been volunteering for, and which you can participate in by sharing your soul food stories.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

in the mix

Woo Hoo!  I've just been confirmed as an exhibitor for MIX, the Minneapolis Indie Expo!  I'll be sharing a table with my pal Sam Sharpe.  We exhibited last year and had a lot of fun in Minneapolis, and hope to repeat the good times.  Check out the exhibitor page, there are tons of really exciting folks at this year's fest, so if you're anywhere near the twin cities (AKA North America!), you should totally stop by the Soap Factory November 5 & 6. 

  I've been cramming my days with inking my new minicomic, the Plot #1, a Monster in the Forbidden Forest!  (see sample above) I'm on track to having it done by SPX, which is happening EXACTLY one month from today in Bethesda, Maryland.  It should be tons of fun, as I'm exhibiting with my partner in crime, Kenan Rubenstein (who's been acting as an editor for the Plot), and Matthew Ocasio who edits the zine the Matter.  We'll be the sharp kids with the awesome comics there, look for us. 

  In other news, the two festivals I help organize are both announcing their dates for 2012.  The Chicago Zine Fest will be happening March 9 & 10, and the Chicago Alternative Comics Expo (CAKE) will be taking place June 16 & 17.  So mark your calendars, and buy your train tickets, both shows are gonna be HOT!

  OK, enough gabbing.  Back to work, jerk!