This is a partial and rough English version of my blog Just Indie Comics (Banner by Pat Aulisio)

giovedì 21 novembre 2013

Comics People: Pat Aulisio

Today I inaugurate a new section on my blog, Comics People, where I'll talk about a different cartoonist each time, without necessarily reviewing a work in particular and without pretending to make an exhaustive profile. I think some of these cartoonists are not well-known in Italy but renowned in other countries (especially in the United States), so if you already know all about them... please read anyway.
Unnecessary clarifications aside, the first guy on Comics People is Pat Aulisio. Pat is a cartoonist from Philadelphia who publishes with his imprint Yeah Dude Comics an endless series of comic books, plays drums in homemade videoclips, participates in many conventions, organizes barbecues with sale of self-produced comics and so on. In short, Pat is a true force of nature and its projects, often bizarre, include a variety of parodies of Marvel and DC superheroes, an hilarious version of Diabolik slave to Eva Kant, a 2001 Space Odyssey adaptation, an 8-page mini-comic with transparent cover and squared paper reproducing the framework of a time distortion modulator and much more. And all of this with his brand well impressed above: you have just to open any of his publications to understand it is by Pat Aulisio.

Time Distortion Modulator Schematics Manual

One of his latest releases, realized in collaboration with the publishing house Hic and Hoc, is Xeno Kaiju, a 16 pages tabloid without words, printed in white, black and red, about a Godzilla's twin destroying a whole city. Among the numerous Pat's projects I liked above all the F'real Real anthology, published by Drippy Bone Books in April of 2012, because it shows an Aulisio drawing very accurate but without betraying himself. The 40 pages comic book is full of very funny gags with the usual variety of massacres, sex, drugs and excrement, but next to parodies of Garfield and Bart Simpson there are also nice panels with  detailed inks and a couple of notable splash-pages.

Two pages from F'real Real

Finally I want to remember some of the latest releases of Yeah Dude Comics and in particular the recent Thinking About Afterwards by Josh Burggraf, presented at the Comic Arts Brooklyn festival, 3 Fates by Emma Louthan and two porn-books, Alluring Pictorials for Lovers by Raul Cuntcrust and Seva Torntaint and Naked Sex: The Ultimate Truth by the only Cuntcrust, which enlarge Pat's range of interests. If you want to find out what means doing underground comics today, without compromise and without caring too much about audience reactions, you have to enter the world of Pat Aulisio.

Xeno Kaiju cover

lunedì 18 novembre 2013

The Comic Arts Brooklyn Experience - part 2

Photo by Chris Pitzer

Second installment of our CAB special, featuring a lot of wonderful guests (here you find the first part). Today we begin with Chris Pitzer, publisher at Adhouse Books from Richmond, Virginia. Chris kindly provided some of the photos of this post. Thanks Chris!
"I love Comic Arts Brooklyn. I loved Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Fest. I think the location has a lot going for it. People love NY/Brooklyn, and with so many creators living in the area, the quality of people who shows up is pretty damn good. This year AdHouse was debuting B+F by Gregory Benton. It was nice because I got to spend a fair amount of time with Gregory, which I greatly enjoyed. He and Florence were quite the hosts, too. 
I had hoped to get out and shop a bit before the doors opened up, but I found myself still behind the table once customers started coming in. I think I snuck away around 11 or noon to acquire a few things I had heard about, or my friends asked me to pick up for them. Probably the number one item was Epoxy #4 by John Pham. Such a great talent and one of my favorite series. I tried to get Ant Colony by Michael DeForge, but they were sold out by the time I got over there. I got the new issue of Operation Margarine by Katie Skelly, Softcore by Box Brown, the Heather Benjamin porn book, Iron Bound by Brendan Leach, Fata Morgana by Jon Vermilyea, S.F. #3 by Ryan Cecil Smith… and a few other things. I enjoyed talking to Larry Marder and Chip Kidd to name a few. Always great catching up with such talented people. 
It was a pretty quick trip for me, so I didn't get to do too much outside of the show. I did get to take in one event at the Society of Illustrators. I had never been in the same room as Steven Heller, so that was nice". 

Gregory Benton draws and signs on B+F. Photo by Chris Pitzer

Leslie Stein, cartoonist, best-known for her books Eye of the Majestic Creature published by Fantagraphics Books:
"I had a great show at CAB this year. I think I sold more books than at any other convention I've been to so far. The atmosphere was very friendly, and the cartoonists exhibiting were exciting. It was a little overwhelming and exhausting, but I have postive feelings about it and am excited that it exists and hope to be included again".

Dave Nuss of Revival House Press, publisher of books by Malachi Ward, Ted May, Rusty Jordan and others: 
"I had a very positive CAB experience. Sales-wise, it was on par with the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Fest from last year and the year before. I was fortunate enough to be placed at a table towards the center of the room, thus ensuring a viable amount of foot traffic.
-It felt efficiently organized with clear and concise exhibitor packages as well as a helpful amount of volunteers who were on hand to dispense amenities like water.
-The show seemed more commercially-inclined than years past. In particular, I'm speaking about the inclusion of First Second books who publish graphic novels that appeal to a broader audience, specifically the children's market.  
-Also, a friend of mine mused on the absence of a larger European contingent. In the past, BCGF catered to publishers such as the French company, Fremok.
-This same friend also pointed out the diminished amount of satellite events, with a sparser offering of programming and animation screenings.

-I went to the after-party at the venue, Union Pool. Previously, the Cartoon House (a residence inhabited by a few comic artist and publishers) served as the site for post-show merriment, thus side-stepping the trappings of a bar tab.  But an abundance of free drink tickets appeared to offset a large portion of this inconvenience.  
-People from outside of New York who I had the pleasure of spending some time with included Veronica Graham (from the art duo, Most Ancient), Todd Bak (fresh off a book tour for Islands of Memory), Derek Ballard, Simon Hansellman, Edie Fake, Francois Vigneault, Ben Catmul, Lala Albert and Jason Levian.
-I picked up the Comic Workbook from Frank Santoro, the new Battling Boy by Paul Pope, some new minis by the Close Captioned posee, and Islands of Memory by my good pal, T. Edward Bak.
-Don't have too much gossip, but Alvin Buenaventura was heard to be wandering around, apparently making claims about returning to publishing". 

Ritual #2 by Malachi Ward

Ed Kanerva of Canadian Koyama Press:
“Comic Arts Brooklyn was a wonderful celebration of comics in city that really understands them. For me, the highlight of the show was tabling with Jon Vermilyea, Alex Schubert and Ryan Cecil Smith (all the way from Japan!) who were all debuting books. Email and chat are great, but sometimes it is nice to interact outside of the internet!”

Koyama Press at CAB. Photo by Chris Pitzer

Mack Pauly of Space Face Books:
"CAB was great. Space Face debuted Life Zone by Simon Hanselmann, Baboom! by John F. Malta and Misliving Amended by Adam Buttrick. One of the highlights was Simon signing Life Zone at the table. There was a long line and he was meticulously drawing Megg, Mogg, Owl, and Werewolf Jones in every single book. His hands were aching, but he persevered. All Space Face’s books sold really well and we had an amazing time.
Space Face’s favorite acquisitions were all of the Breakdown Press debuts: Windowpane 2 by Joe Kessler, J.1137 by Antoine Cossé and Treasure Island #1 by Connor Willumsen. I would’ve bought the new Klaus book by Richard Short, but I ordered it online a few weeks ago. Too impatient. I also got the new Ant Colony book out from Drawn & Quarterly and Michael DeForge. It’s giant and colorful. The new Alien Invasion book by Lala Albert is amazing, too. Plus lots of beer and pizza. NYC is always fun".

We close this post with two links suggested by Conundrum Press to reports by publisher Andy Brown and by Joe Ollmann, author of Science Fiction book. Enjoy! And thanks again to anyone who contributed to this report, I'm very grateful.

Conundrum Press at Comic Arts Brooklyn

venerdì 15 novembre 2013

The Comic Arts Brooklyn Experience - part 1

Some days ago I asked to cartoonists, publishers and retailers to talk about their experience at Comic Arts Brooklyn, the comics festival organized by Desert Island in New York on November 9th. These are the answers I received and I truly want to thank everyone for their contribution. I really really really appreciate it. 

We begin with Gabe Fowler of Desert Island comic shop, who organized the event: 
"We're feeling triumphant and exhausted after a brief but amazing show! Seeing so many favorite artists and publishers together is always a mind-blowing experience, and we're still recovering a few days later. A sincere thanks to all of the individuals who made this the most fun day of the year!"

Pat Aulisio, cartoonist (BowmanXeno KaijuF'real Realand the mind behind Yeah Dude Comics:
"I've been to the former Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival every year since its inception and it is consistently the best show for weird artist driven comics. This year was no exception. The level of craft is at its peak, everyone has a risograph or is an excellent screenprinter. I came to debut Josh Burggraf's Thinking About the Afterwards, Justice Cop (my 24-hour comic) and Josh Bayer and I's collaborative comic The Greater Good.

Thinking About the Afterwords by Josh Burggraf
John Pham's Epoxy and Conor Stechschulte's The Dormitory were both examples of taking printing process to the utmost artist craft extreme and to me stuck out as my two best purchases of the show. Another busy year where the body heat/smell increased as the day went on. Crowds were insane, I didn't get to talk to about half the people I wanted to, since the few times I walked around most tables had four people crowding them at all day long.
There was actually an instance where a younger college age looking guy took five comics off my table, i told him how much they were, he told me would love to pay but he doesn't have money and he turned around quickly and shuffled off between people, the crowd was to big for me to rush around the table to try grab him and to make a scene. There was a girl that witnessed this whole thing and was shocked about what just happened, she then bought stuff off me which I assumed was a pity-buy. I still have never been to an afterparty, me and my Philly crew of Ian Harker and Box Brown went home right after the show with a car ride full of conversations about tumblr, pro-wrestling, drugs, and of course comics. 
This is a pic of stuff I got".

Box Brown of Retrofit Comics, author of Beach Girls, Killman (mini kuš! #6) and Inside the Box, an Italian anthology published by Lokzine:
"It was a really amazing show. Unbelievable really. We were busy non-stop from the moment it opened. There was something great at every table. In the few moments I was able to get away from my table I picked up the new issue of Epoxy by John Pham, a multi-colored risograph printed comic with a mini-comic inside and other cool extras. Retrofit debuted Zejian Shen's Keep Fresh and Roman Muradov's Picnic Ruined was selling well too. The best show of the year for me".

Picnic Ruined by Roman Muradov
Heather Benjamin, artist and author of last Monster anthology covers (here you can find my review). She had also an exhibition at Mishka during the festival:
"I thought it was fantastic this year - its previous incarnation, the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics fest, had been amazing too, but i thought this year topped any previous one by far. The turnout was amazing and the programming was great, there were so many amazing special guests, and the overall vibe was just really high levels of enthusiasm and excitement on everyone's part, which felt really great. There was such a high volume of amazing work in just one building that it was really hard to get around and make sure you spent enough time at every table to see all the incredible work everyone had to show. There's really nothing else like it. I also personally did pretty well this year. I debuted a new broadsheet newsprint zine, called Delinquent, which was published by Floating World out of Portland, Oregon, and sold out of my copies at the fest. From what I can tell, a lot of my peers who were tabling also were selling out of their work by the end of the day. It was amazing". 

Matt Moses of Hic & Hoc Publications:
"CAB was a smashing success. Gabe did an amazing job on all ends. The day ran seamlessly with a steady stream of attendees. Hic & Hoc debuted Amy Jean Porter's Spider (Comma) Man, a nice thick comic booklet about a spider and a man with fantastic letterpress covers. I wrote this scene report here: 

Spider, Man by Amy Jean Porter

So now you can check Matt's report and then come back here in a few days for the second part of this CAB special!

giovedì 14 novembre 2013


Various Authors, Hidden Fortress Press, Providence (Rhode Island, USA), September 2013, 196 pages, $ 30.

During the late '90s Providence, best-known as the birthplace of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, became the center of a lively movement called "Fort Thunder Scene", named after a former warehouse occupied by young local creatives. That experience attracted musicians and artists from all over the United States and was particularly significant in the comics world, since many of its players were from the Rhode Island School of Design. Fort Thunder rebuilded the alternative comics of the '90s and beyond, reintroducing some raw and underground elements, mixed up with a fascination for fantasy, horror features and a lot of nonsense.
Paul Lyons, one of the main authors of this scene, after the experience of Paper Rodeo anthology, dedicated himself to a new publication, Monster, which from time to time is available at some comic shows and in some stores in very limited editions. The latest release, after the one published in 2010, came out the last September in only 400 copies and right now is the most ambitious project of Lyons and Roby Newton, the authors representing Hidden Fortress Press. Monster 2013 is a beautiful silkscreen volume by Heather Benjamin made of 196 pages of comics regarding the horror in its various looks and shapes, divided in three stapled books with embossed covers and brown and blue interiors.

While many anthologies bring often some kind of pleasure and pain to the reader, since they often mix up some great things and some not very interesting ones, this doesn't happen in Monster, because it keeps a very high level on every page. The first volume is a good example: it starts with Thomas Toye's bloody Intimidation Rite, goes on with an hyperrealistic representation of sadism by Edie Fake and then it explodes with Monsters or Teenage Girls Around 1989. Brittany Hague shows female bullying in American colleges and turns it into a social horror, where the images slowly fade to make room for a distressing text reminding Bret Easton Ellis or Brian Yuzna's Society. The book goes on with Jon Vermilyea's powerful drawings of a burning house and then with Leif Goldberg's surrealist pages, before the grand finale offered by Mike Taylor: Twelve Visits is a paranoid tale close to the early work of H.P. Lovecraft himself.
The whole anthology is not on this very same high level, but there are many remarkable things in the other pages as well, starting with the second book, opened by Sam Dollenmayer's Mirror, a teenage horror applied to the potential of the medium, enhanced by amazing arts. The work of the omnipresent Michael DeForge is good as usual and very effective in its simplicity, even if the Canadian cartoonist isn't one of the best authors of this anthology. I liked also Molly O'Connell's comic, three impressionist pages about sexual violence and fetishism. Perhaps the second book is the weaker one, but we can't complain about that.
The third volume is full of amazing cartoonists. Jordan Crane with its elegant and defined drawings provides a well-structured and dreamlike comic at the same time. Then Brian Ralph's Cosmic Poseidon, in which a robot manga version of Poseidon emerges from the sea to destroy New York by throwing tridents and sharks, is aesthetically charming: a must-see. You can also find wonderful arts in the contributions of Paul Lyons, who unleashes his satanic mood, and of the excellent Mat Brinkman, who recalls the not-so-original topic of the curse in a stylishly and charming way (as you can see in the sample below). Roby Newton offers a beautifully painted work about the war and its horrors, while Kevin Hooyman closes the anthology with a nonsense gem about two weird guys trying to detonate a bomb.

The only small imperfection of this Monster is about the printing, which sometimes is a bit out of focus and doesn't mix well both colors, looking like a 3D movie without the proper glasses. Luckily only few pages are affected by this problem, but for instance Keith Jones' amusing portrait of a group of fools going around in a car and getting drunk is spoiled by this kind of printing trouble, so that in a couple of balloons the text is hard to read. Anyway this is just a detail, because Monster remains a highly successful mix of visual art, storytelling, pure entertainment, social issues and creativity. In a few words, one of the best comics anthologies I've ever read.