Very Cool New Comics Site: Darling Sleeper


Bookmark! Bookmark! Bookmark! Darling Sleeper is a new comics magazine hosted on It’s run by cartoonist Jesse Lucas, who has put out books including Colloquial and works at Forest Giant when he isn’t cartooning. The site is billed as “a publication focusing on comics, art and other independent thought” and has already featured interviews with Box Brown, Aisha Taylor and Sam Alden, a comics excerpt from Whitney Taylor, new comics from J. Jonny and Keiler Roberts and Lucas’s own Guide to Self Publishing.

So it’s kind of a dream indie comics site. Got that.

Like I said, bookmark. Between this and The Nib, Medium has become a comics haven. Thanks Twitter!

Take the Micro Press Survey!

TRcov_400wRobyn Chapman’s excellent The Tiny Report blog is the Publishers Weekly for micro presses—defined as very small, often risographed publishers—and each year she does a publishing survey with information on sales and distrbution. The new one is ready to be taken

Please complete the survey by February 6. Your input will help me write my next annual report, the Micro-Press Yearbook 2014. (See the 2013 yearbook here.) Thanks!

The survey is here. Now what are you waiting for micro-publisher?

Micros are among the liveliest and most exciting publishers out there. Hats off to Robyn for chronicling this movement.

MICE is a go October 4-5 in Cambridge

MICE2014_Postcard.jpgHere’s another stop on the busy indie comics circuit: MICE the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo, will take place this October 4-5. It’s free and you get to buy great comics. Poster by Paul Hornschemeier . More info in the PR:

MICE is back! On October 4th and 5th independent graphic novelists and cartoonists will converge on University Hall at 1815 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge’s Porter Square. The event is free, family friendly, and offers a weekend of activities as the Boston area’s only show dedicated to independent and alternative comics.

MICE attendees are invited to discover their new favorite comic books from over 150 local comic creators. The exhibition area at MICE will present a wide range of art and books: hand-made mini-comics and zines, anthologies, graphic novels, art prints, and sketches. Panel discussions will provide insightful conversations about the world of contemporary comics and graphic novels. Artists will share techniques, tips, and tricks for creating your own comics in a variety of workshops for all ages and skill levels. Sunday’s “Kids Comics Day” workshops are especially geared toward younger readers and budding cartoonists.

This year’s show will also welcome a number of special guests — professionals from the world of independent comics and graphic novels — including James Kochalka, Dave Roman, Raina Telgemeier, Emily Carroll, Paul Hornschemeier, and Box Brown.

MICE will be held at Lesley University’s University Hall at 1815 Massachusetts Avenue in Porter Square. The hours of the show are Saturday, October 4th, 10 am – 6 pm, and Sunday, October 5th, 11 am – 4 pm. Admis­sion is free.

Sponsors for MICE 2014 include the Cambridge Arts Council, DigBoston, and the Million Year Picnic.


Small Press Spotlight: Breakdown Press and Mutiny Bay


When co-editor and former PictureBox publisher Dan Nadel goes on a rampage ANYTHING can happen but he had a pretty good one today, about cutting edge comics:

Here’s a report on the new London comics festival, Safari, hosted by my candidate for most-promising young publishing house, Breakdown Press. What makes an exciting young comic book publisher? Well, pull up a chair and listen to this bitter old failure preach it: Precise and adventurous taste; a sense of serving an actual community (not fake mascot- or brand- driven community); the discovery and nurturing of young avant garde talent; a strong editorial vision; a crystalized production/design aesthetic; an ambition to advance the art form. Besides Leon Sadler’s Famicon, I can’t think of another publisher that’s done this lately. Pretty much everyone else right now is struggling for an identity or aping someone else’s, which may be related to the profusion of festivals and avalanche of self-publishing concerns. There’s so much stuff being made, so few venues, and so few rewards that people are literally taking to the road to just get the shit out. Another beacon of hope for me is Happiness, Leah Wishnia’s enthusiastic anthology of comics and underground culture. I like the spirit of it, the focus on unique creative voices, and the ambitiousness of her editorial and graphic scope. I also really appreciate the low price point and sense of a localized community. Hey humans who read this, I sure would like some writing about all this on Send me your ideas! Boy, listening to this Grateful Dead channel on Sirius really got me going. Howard Stern is in repeats, so I’m on my other medicine. Phew. Ok, back to your daily links…

Part of the UK’s rapidly exploding and thrilling mini and micro-publisher scene, Breakdown Press hasn’t gotten too much “groundlevel” coverage, outside of our own Jessica Lee reviewing Antoine Cosse’s J.1137 (Oh Jessica where are you? Report to base!). But they put out a print edition of Conor Willumsen’s Treasure Island (above), so they are definitely on the side of the angels. They’ve just released Cosse’s Mutiny Bay which sounds intriguing as heck:

1519. A Spanish fleet leaves Seville, heading west. Portuguese Captain Magellan is convinced of the existence of a South American strait that will expedite trade with the Indonesian Spice Islands. Months later, in a deserted and inhospitable land, mutiny brews, two men are marooned and the world explodes in a riot of hallucinatory colour.

Antoine Cossé’s most substantial work to date is a fascinating drama, examining one of history’s most intriguing mysteries.

And here’s a preview….Comics! It’s a Golden Age!

BONUS: and here’s a report on Safari, a small press show that just wrapped in London.

mutiny bay cosse mutiny bay cosse mutiny bay cosse

Bookmark: Small Press Previews


Here’s a good idea: Small Press Previews, a new site that I was informed of by Jared Smith. They have 46 publishers signed up to create a single spot to see previews of small press comics coming out each month.
For instance I didn’t know there was a new Derf coming from Alternative Press! On sale at SPX! — whoopie!

While the idea is a sounds one, if you are of the demographic that watches a lot of CBS tv shows you may, as I did, have a bit oof trouble figuring out how to access the previews. They are loaded in a fancy schmancy “virtual riffle” where you must lift up each page and go to the next. It’s fun but I might tire of it in a busy month.

I’ve had a lot of talk here about previews, and whether readers like them in an embedded format, streaming or on an iPad. Or now “virtual riffling.”

Thoughts, readers?

The Aesthetic Hybridity of Fumio Obata’s ‘Just So Happens’

Just So Happens
By Fumio Obata
Published by Jonathan Cape
Buy This Book

Upon first impression of Fumio Obata’s new graphic novel, Just So Happens, I was struck with a lot of similar impressions that arose whilst reading a related, albeit a hastily associated work, Glyn Dillon’s Nao of Brown. Sure, both recount stories about a Japanese woman who now call London home and likewise are authored by men who have a history of working in animation, but these correlations are as redundant as clumping their narratives into the category of ‘graphic novels’, or even as mere examples of international comics. Where Just So Happens splits from its resemblance to The Nao of Brown is in how it emerges as an end product that investigates cultural identity within globalization in a way that fruitfully hones its roots in not only Japan but also as largely influenced by European visual history. Yumiko takes the lead in the story and upon returning home for her father’s abrupt funeral, finds herself immersed in a confrontation of personal cultural difference, manifesting in reality as well as in the mystic esthetics of Noh theatre. Just So Happens is a unique graphic undertaking in the concept of transcultural works. Obata visually and thematically blends Japanese and European visual culture to compose a tale that is dynamic in its hybridity, and thereby conceives a poignant graphic narrative that exposes cultural identity as a process of constant change. [Read more…]



Here’s a new website that anyone who care’s about the continuing evolution of comics should bookmark and heck regularly: The Tiny Report, a news site focusing on micropresses and other small publishers. It’s run by Robyn Chapman, herself the owner of a micropress, Paper Rocket, publisher of some truly excellent comics that shuoldnt’be thought of as small in any way. The latest Paper Rocket book is Characters, a book of portraits of cartoonists by Jess Ruliffson, which is being funded via a very modest Kickstarter campaign. Chapman wrote more about her use of Kickstarter here:

The thing is, I need to get my books to people. There are few distribution options available to me, so if I find one that works I stick by it. The other thing is, I need to make my publishing sustainable. My books (eventually) need to pay for themselves. I don’t have enough working capital to operate any other way. The last thing is, I pay my authors. Not a lot, but I pay as much as I’m able to while keeping my publishing sustainable. All this means that even if I am a little skeptical about Kickstarter (and I am) I can’t afford to ignore a way to sell my books that actually works. I can’t afford to be too proud to use Kickstarter.

There’s more of this kind of frank and fascinating talk at both Paper Rocket and the Tiny Report.

Finally, if all of this intrigues you, there’s a release party for Character on March 6th at Desert Island:

Paper Rocket and Friends Birthday Release Party
with Robyn Chapman, Jess Ruliffson, and Jeffrey Lewis
Desert Island, 540 Metropolitan Ave in Williamsburg
Thursday, March 6, 7-9pm

New Connor Willumsen & Reginald Péan from SHQ Publishing

Secret Headquarters, the much admired LA comics store, is one of several that has launched a micro-publishing arm, and they’ll have two new books out for the LA Art Book Fair which kicks off on the 31st.


Mover Shaper/Onus by Connor Willumsen

A new flip-sketchbook by Canadian artist Connor Willumsen. Trippy urban scenes on one side, inspiring figure drawing on the other. Two zines for the price of one.
20 pages, black & white


Smokin’ Bones: Grim Creeper & The Lust Bunnies by Reginald Péan

“Babes. Death. So sick.” Pean’s rt will be on display at SHQ in February.
30 pages, color

Uncivilized Books to publish Sam Alden’s “Hawaii 1997″

One of the “It” cartoonists at this year’s SPX was definitely Sam Alden, who took home the Most Promising New Talent Ignatz, and was generally mentioned by many people as a cartoonist to watch. While he’s yet to team-up with a “home” publisher, Uncivilized Books will be the first to put out an Alden collection. Tom Kaczynski announced that next year he’ll put out a book pairing Alden’s “Hawaii 1997″ with a new story in a “flipbook” format.



Originally released on the web, “Hawaii 1997″ is the story of a young boy’s beach encounter with a mysterious girl who introduces him to the wider joys and sorrows of life.

Pedigree Chum 13/09/13: Wonder Man Don’t Count

Heidi’s off at Congress, as per usual, meaning there’s just me here at Stately Beat Mansion right now. It would be very bad luck indeed to not have a roundup piece on a Friday the 13th, so here’s a selection of news, opinion pieces, artwork, and all kinds of other stuff. Here’s some of the things which’ve caught my eye over the last few days.

[Read more…]

Sparkplug announces Reich #10 and convention schedule

A few newsy notes from Sparkplug Books just entered our inbox. First off, issue #10 of Elijah Brubaker’s Reich is on its way—it’s a stylized biography of psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich. In this issue, “Reich’s paranoia is beginning to harm his personal and professional relationships, leading to the resignation of two of his closest associates. He carries on anyway, creating a machine with the potential for danger and harm. By the end of the issue, Reich’s former lawyer has filed an injunction against him, and someone close to him is dead.” Here’s a wee preview of the issue.




Sparkplug also announced their fall con schedule:

The The San Francisco Zine Fest, August 21-September 1. Emily Nilsson will be tabling with new and old books, including the brand new Reich #10. SF Zine Fest is the Bay Area’s premiere zine festival and will take place at the San Francisco County Fair Building on 1199 9th Ave. and Lincoln Way in Golden Gate Park. It is a free event and will be held from 11:00am to 5:00pm both days. .
Small Press Expo, September 14th and 15th, Bethesda, MD. Tom Neely will table for Sparkplug at table J1. This year’s SPX will be held at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center on 5701 Marinelli Rd., North Bethesda, Maryland. The cost for a one-day membership is $10.00, while the cost for a weekend pass is $15.00; passes can be purchased at the door.
Short Run, November 30, Seattle. Sparkplug will also be here. It will be held from 11:00am to 6:00pm, at Washington Hall on 153 14th Ave.

Paper Rocket launches Gretta Johnson’s Star Fruit

Paper Rocket is one of the thriving micropublishers now on the scene; it’s run by Robyn Chapman, herself a mighty fine cartoonist, and she’s set it up in what looks like a sustainable way: running very modest Kickstarters to fund printing and then selling at shows, via the Paper Rocket website and indie distributor Tony Shenton.

The newest Paper Rocket book is Star Fruit by Gretta Johnson. The Kickstarter is for a mere $400—nearly half already raised—and the book will debut at SPX.

Johnson is a RISD graduate with a background in animation, who uses multi media to tell “a surreal story in 32 technicolor pages. Star Fruit stars a nude woman and her cat, both on a strange journey in which they encounter a witch and a magical fruit.”

Witch, cat, fruit, nude woman—sounds like a crowd pleaser.

Previous Paper Rocket releases include books by Jesse Reklaw and Ariel Bordeaux. One of the perks gets you all the releases, if you’re so inclined.


While I’m plugging Robyn’s work, she also has an Etsy store where she sells cool jewelry made from comics. I have one and whenever I wear it I get compliments so check it out.

Overview: Should Writers Pay Artists Upfront?

This weekend saw a bit of discussion going on regarding the status of writers and artists. There’s already an ongoing debate about the way in which comic reviewers talk about the role of artists, and now the attention is moving more towards the relationship between a writer and an artist. When a new project starts off, should it fall on the writer to pay the artist – and does the artist being ‘work for hire’ as a result change the way they approach working on the comic?

After the jump I’m going to offer a basic (you could probably say ‘simplistic’) overview of what people have been saying, and how the discussion has moved around over the last few weeks.

[Read more…]