Cartoonist Anders Nilsen is taking on Amazon with two new projects

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Anders Nilsen—Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow, Big Questions, Rage of Poseidon—is surely one of the finest cartoonists of the last decade. Big Questions won lots of awards and helped further the cause of the graphic novel’s literary worth when it came out in 2011. The fold-out book Poseidon is an object d’art in addition to being a multi-leveled parable of humanity and divinity.

And now he’s taking on Amazon. In an email, he announced two new projects:

The first is that I just self-published a book called God and the Devil at War in the Garden (monologuist paper update IV) It’s 24 pages, 9″ x 12.25″, black and white, with a fold-out back cover. It has a story about the Devil that wasn’t quite ready for inclusion in Rage of Poseidon (it’s going to be in the German language edition of that book later this year). It’s in that format – the silhouettes. There’s also a short collaborative piece I did with a friend, novelist Kyle Beachy, and a piece about a vacant lot in my old neighborhood in Chicago. And there’s some drawings and things. It’s $15.

The first orders will also include a little 13 page minicomic about the other thing I’m writing you about. It’s called Conversation Gardeningand it’s both a comic and the beginning of a little experiment. It’ll be inserted into the binding of the big comic.

The mini and the experiment it launches were prompted by all the bullshit Amazon has been pulling lately. Maybe you’ve been following it.


This mini is perhaps the most metaphysical analysis of the Amazon Hegemony by an author released yet. I imagine the shelf of “Dialectic mini comics about the Amazon Hegemony” is slim, but Nilsen has it nailed.

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But Nilsen has also issued a call to action for those who would join him:

I’m asking people who buy one of my books (any of my books, not just this new one) at an independent bookseller (or from my online store) to send me 1) the receipt, (a formality to show it’s not from Amazon) and 2) a question or idea written on a piece of paper. I will then make a drawing in response on the piece of paper and send it back to them. I’m planning to do 100. Signed and numbered.

I have a few other cartoonists lined up to be guest artists on the project, to be announced over the next several months as they have new books coming out. The first will be Zak Sally, with the release of Recidivist #4 later this Summer.

The idea is to start a series of symbolic ‘conversations’ – questions and responses – in order to a) create an incentive for readers to buy my work from people who actually care enough about art and literature to make selling it their livelihood and b) encourage people to see their cultural exchanges as real, human level relationships. I wanted to do something that would amount to a positive response – creating something new. A boycott or an anti-trust case or vaguely shaming people for shopping on Amazon are all fine, too, but they are negative responses that try to keep something from happening. I wanted to make something new happen.


Considering the tone of Nilsen’s body of work—where the frailty and uncertainty of emotional interaction become a quest for meaning in a barren landscape—this seems like an intensely personal and cool thing to do. So let’s go buy some Anders Nilsen books and strike a blow for personal interaction.

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