Friday, April 28, 2006



I'm going to be watching the Daytime Emmys. On a Friday night. When I'm still young and beautiful. This is why people are attracted to religion: they waste their lives to such a degree they can only desparately pray for a second chance where they never ever have to watch the DAYTIME EMMYS.

Do they still have waiting periods on gun purchases?


...sometimes said that he went to work to get away from the wife and kids. He was joking, of course. But adages being adages... At work, I spend any free time I have surfing the web, reading, thinking or writing. When I leave work, that's where the fun should begin.

Except, I think I'm watching the Emmys tonight (a friend of a friend of Evelyn's is up for one—or someone she works for is, no one seems sure). We can't read about it on tomorrow, we have to watch it live. This is the sort of plan you make when you can't find the right size bullets for your suicide gun, "Looks like I'll have to do myself in in a far more painful way, but I need some ideas..."

And then we seem to be going to a jazz club to see a swing band (A friend of a friend of Evelyn's is in the band—or a boyfriend of a friend of a friend is). Now, I like "swing" just as much as the next guy, assuming the next guy can't dance and just likes it when a Benny Goodman track randomly pops up on his iTunes in between Biggie and Carcass, but going to some shmo's 3-HOUR gig? The next guy sure isn't going. Some Shmo (this is now his Christian name as far as I'm concerned) also plays guitar in the swing band. Thanks, Stray Cats. LOOK AT WHAT YOU'VE WROUGHT!!!

I wasn't asked about this. And I think I said the swing band was a good idea when I was under the impression that I wasn't going. Somebody better buy me lots of booze and/or dope. It might be time to start using dope.

If I'm really lucky, the group going will be all couples and somebody will get the brilliant idea to segregate the men and women so we can engage our separate interests. And then I'll get to take part in some local sports discussion. Better yet: soccer. 'Cause ain't NOTHING more interesting than talking about a sport with 8 thousand teams that do nothing for two hours.

So, what would I RATHER be doing than the above?

Reading BLDGBLOG, of course. This is my new favorite blog. Fascinating stuff I know little about. It's a whole new world of Micronations and links to Pruned which has a step-by-step progression of the Palm archipelago being built off the coast of Dubai. There's the Proposed library made from airplanes and asks question like "What other buildings are rockets waiting to happen?"

I'd also rather be working. I'd love to get into Kaiju Jugoruma a little bit more. There's something about doing the full load of pencils/inks/puter in one shot that has reinvigorated my spirit. I'm excited to be working, and I've got finished product mounting as I go. Right now, this is more fun than pages and pages of pencils, then pages and pages of inks and then (the worst) pages and pages of puter work. I'm using all my brain muscles at once, and the flexibility it gives me is liberating. Normally, I'd be stuck with the initial badly proportioned pencils with the wrong caption border and improper tracking in the text for months until I got around to inking it or even months later when I touched it up in Photoshop. Now, I got to see it through many stages and update it as I found my groovethang on progressive panels.

This is fun. Working, thinking about work. Away from the wife and kids.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Okay, here are the first three panels that occurred to me as my brain started to approach Kiaju Jugoruma. Click to see the glory. First, this is the fool-size panel 2:And this is the fool-size panel 3:
Combined with the first panel, this is the first row. I added the thick border and adjusted the text for the first panel. This is the print size.


Wonderfully mad

"Dubai is generating substantial income from property based on the occupation of its coastline. Dubai’s coastline is of a finite length. A way to maximise income is to construct artificial self-similar extensions of that coastline based on fractal geometries."

As I'm looking at Ballardian, I notice the previous post links to BLDG Blog which is a sort of furturist architecture blog. And pretty cool. I'll be adding to the links.

All this futurism. Note that I'm also getting science from Kenny, which is helping to keep me in that frame of mind. It's all Debbie.


June 27: We Jam Econo The Minutemen 2-disc dvd. Its existence alone would be worth the rent but all this:

"The original movie had interviews with all three Minutemen as well as Ian Mackaye, Thurston Moore, Henry Rollins, Jello Biafra, J Mascis, and Flea, among many others. But the folks over at Plexifilm are making the wait for the DVD worth it by including even more interviews, live performances (62 songs from three shows), music videos, and archival footage for a total of over five (!!) hours of special features."

Plus more(!) means it will belong to me.



I was over at Progressive Ruin and Mike Sterling there pointed THIS out. A plush Necrinomicon. From a company that apparently plushes all Lovecraft.

I like the Gugs, myself.


I did the pencils on the next two panels but screwed up the the lettering on panel 2. Well, I forgot the space between the top of the letters and the border. I got drunk and fixed it. No scans until I ink. Will be testing the new thick border on the caption.

I might make a lettering grid for myself, to make this a bit easier.

I can't wait to start really cooking on this, when I get into the meats.

I know it won't be the case with the whole project, and that first panel is the most simplified in the whole book, but I'm thrilled that the only computer work I had to do was scan, size, drop in the border and clean one tiny bit where the brush trailed (that probably wouldn't show at print size). No pencil, no erased ink, no smudges, no broken lines. Just clean like a fresh bikini wax. Or so I have read.


And the protoformative ideas about KJ chapter three are starting to swim in my head. It's the talk-show issue, and we'll be discussing a popular sitcom GHW Bush style. Might be fun...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Okay, here's the inked and clean fool-size first panel of the first page of Kaiju Jugoruma (actually, click on the image for fuller size).And here's the print size.I'm realizing that one of the main challenges I'm going to have is maintaining consistency throughout the entire project. Should be interesting.

I know that's not the most exciting image in the world to start with, but I see the first row of three pencils as the first "sentence,"and things really start heating up by the end of it.

Anyway, this should be how it will look on paper unless I decide to beef that caption outline. I'll see how that looks on panel 2. Still experimenting, especially this early into the game.

I might do a little more work tonight, but I'm dead-set on trying to get more than 5 hours of sleep tonight.


Downloaded Nukleuz Trance Sessions, Vol. 1&2, to drive me through the works. Really nice trance compilations from last year and this, complete with an hour+ live dj set mixing the already pretty great individual tracks on each. That's the super-sick part. You can just pop it in and break out the glowsticks (do the kids still use glowsticks?).

If I had the time, energy, drugs and anything even resembling a human figure anymore, I would be so inclined to go out and dance again (he says, pretending to have been more than a just a tourist those couple of times).

38 minutes into the second mix and I'm tempted to do it anyway 'cause it just got fuckin' superhot. Damn.


Tightened the pencils on that panel late last night. I might actually go all the way with it tonight, just to have that the dones. I also want to figure out just what I'm lettering with, so I can get my letterforms right. Laying ink is the only way Al B Sure.

Let me say that the greatest purchase I've made recently is a floppy, clear plastic ruler with a graph on it. It's absolutely brilliant. Better than a t-square or a triangle. I need a parallel line 1/8" away. Blammo! Now, do a quarter inch! Blau! One and 5/8"! Crackawindow and slam it home! I'm in love, I'm all shook up. I should buy a bulk, because there's no way this thing is going to be that durable versus me. But it's the wonderful.

Tonight I also want to make a dent in the leftover writing and put those #6 packages together. And maybe check my stock to see what needs be dunst for the MoCCA.

Tonight is about no more put-offs!

Except for those things on the permanent hold. They're in the crack.


I haven't watched House in a while, but last night was fun. Although having House and Wilson explain each other the same way they always do is getting a bit dull. I'm mostly mentioning the show because I have one major question:

Just how fast does herpes affect cancer? Is it an overnight deal?

with a sub question: Why aren't we giving herpes to everyone with terminal cancer?

Stop the chemo, just give me herpes. I should start a punk band just to release an album with that title.


Marcos has just started laying out his colosal carl (that should get the google hits), but now that I know it will be water-colored, I want it right now. I actually knew it would be, but forgot it. Now I know again, and I can see it. It's done Tear-Stained Makeup #4 cover style, but it's Carl in the world and I can totally see it in my head. The only thing I don't have are the jokes (or the story or all the things Marcos will do that I would never think of or all the things Marcos will steal from Kenny's head), and I really want the laughs to go with this great image in my head.

Get it done already! January my ass!


Okay. That was crap. I went ahead and did my full-size, printer-paper pencils for the very first panel. The text is a little too tracked in (hence the arrows at the end of each line). The heavy lines are the lines I'm using.

Check out my awesome proportions. I actually broke out How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, of all things, for the quick proprtions. I usually eyeball these things, but I want the first three panels to start almost abstract and become more realized as I go along. That book just has a really simple face proportion deally that I can crack fast.

Of course, I still screwed up a bit and need to lower the eyes a bit. The whole idea is a little Kilroy (no mouth!) and was the first image I had in my head that lead me down the road that's become this book. I should also simplify those eyebrows, before the whole project turns into John Buscema's Avengers. There's a bit of David Mazzuccheli's City of Glass thing I'm going for. Or, at least, my memory of it. I'm always surprised by how not-paired down the art is whenever I look at it.

I might goose the proportions a bit too. Get the head a bit rounder.

So, the plan is to really churn these muthers out and then transfer them to Bristol. Then ink them. Once I really get started, I should be doing these much faster.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Bettie Ballhaus. A german stripper/nude model. If that isn't the greatest name in the adult industry, then I don't know what is.

Just did a quick test with one of my panel templates. I picked a fairly dense panel and drew a real fast sketch with a Pilot G-2 07 pen on printer paper. No real line variation.

Don't worry, it's a crap image. It looks a lot better at 800 dpi, which is what I'll print at. This is 72 dpi, so there's a hella loss of information. But it's still there. And I figured I should put at least one image up once in a while. Or a sort-of image.

Drawn at 8" x 9" (the outside border measurements) which reduces to exactly 2" x 2.25". Perfection, thy name is computer. I basically wanted to make sure that my proportions were right (the Ballhaus Theorem) and I wanted to see just how thin I could go with the line (about standard pressure with that pen, which is just a little bit thinner than I can usually get with a #2 brush).

I also wanted to make sure that lines didn't close up too badly, which is why I picked a denser panel. I'm feeling pretty good about this.

I still have some more writing to do, but it looks like I'll be ready to go pretty soon.


Hanley's had no Planetes. None. They're now on order. Also, they didn't have Iron Wok Jan 1-3. I'm disheartened, but optimistic about the future. Jim Hanley's Universe is one of the best-stocked comic stores in the world (if not THE best-stocked) and they were just as surprised as I was by the omissions. As always, the employee I talked to went out of his way to look for the books and then order them.

Bought The Push Man and Other Stories and Ordinary Victories.

Saw the Cliff Face Comics near the top of the Minicomics shelves. My shelf talker was clearly too big, but I'm glad it's up there. The new one is smaller and includes all the books.

After I left, a teenage girl called out to me from an NYC taxi cab. I thought she asked me for directions to "Merlin," which I assumed was some kind of club. I said I didn't even know what that was. She was surprised and repeated, "Baltimore, Maryland."

"...The city?"


"Penn Station is just down the street, you can take a bus or a train."

"How do I get there by cab?"

"...Um, go down to the Holland Tunnel, take that to Jersey. Go straight until you see signs for the Turnpike. Take the Turnpike South all the way down. To Delaware. Stay on 95. It may change to 295 or 495, but there will be signs for Baltimore. Keep going until you get to a Baltimore exit. There might be a couple. You know it's like a five-hour drive? Through three states?"

"Yeah. (to the cabbie) You got that? Let's go down to the Holland Tunnel. Thank you!"

And they were off.


Think about the FUTURE!

Marcos is moving along with his big Carl book, and I know I need to start moving on KJ. I was just thinking about one thing that should aid me as I draw my 180 panels: no borbers. That's right, this is comics without borders!

Well, there will be borders, but I don't have to rule out a whole bunch on each original shape. There's just the 8x9 frame. Sweet. I think I might even do the initials on printer paper with the border already ruled out. Super sick. Then I'll light table it onto the bristol for clean lines. Then inks without pencil smudge. Super duper sweet ass sugar.

Tonight. I kill you all with my mad skillz!


About 20 pages into Everything and More Wallace has already accused me of a) having the mathematical capabilities of a special-ed student and b) thinking too abstractly for my own mental health in non-mathematical subjects. He then goes on to address my own near paralytic fear of automobiles.

And I thought this book would be a nice diversion while I work on Kaiju Jugoruma. A book that deals heavily with the above fear. A book that I want to debut at SPX, the convention from which the drive nearly caused me to have a nervous breakdown. While I also work on the geometrical designs for my MoCCA display, using a mathematical theorum I only understand when applied to actual shapes (a).

Chortle abyss, chortle away. We'll see who chortles last.


Jordan Crane's first issue of Uptight. And suddenly I'm reminded of those dreamy eyes of his. Nice guy, great designer, really looking forward to his first big project since The Clouds Above. Also, a good reminder to check out the Bodega blog.


Marcos! Yeast Hoist 12 did come out before 13, but in an edition of 50. The one that's not out yet is the New Edition (or Another Bad Creation).
The Awake Field (or Yeast Hoist 13)
As much as I like Regé's depictions of fauna (and ROCKS! ooh, the rocks!) and bedrooms, and his abstractions, the star of this piece may be "Finding Privacy in the Hypnotist's Ballroom." First of all, what a great title. What we have here is a series of panels depicting a dance routine. It's all motion and playfulness until the final page—which just stops. The characters have covered their heads in towels and Regé uses a subtle color hold in his monochrome palette to show their faces beneath the towels. The reader has to stop to see the effect and it creates a wonderful moment of stillness. You're even visually prepared for the moment from earlier in the first story, "The Awake Field" when Regé draws a translucent curtain blowing in front of a window.

It's what Regé does, and might do better than anyone else today: he captures still, quiet moments that seem very much alive and a part of life.


After hashing out my schedule for the next 6 fuckin' months, I decided to skip dinner and have a glass or five of Yellow Tail cabernet, a decent wine for times when you don't want to think about what you're drinking or going to drink. So, I'm a bit out of sorts this morning.


Finished Monster vol. 2. It's good. I'm not consumed with it like I was with Death Note, but maybe it will maintain itself longer. The art is actually more like what I expected, with a bit more cartooniness is the figurework (none of it like Dragon Ballsie or Naruto or anything like that) and some nice crowquill mark-making. It doesn't have the obsessive background work of Note, but it might be less distracting too. It's a quiter sort of mass murder thriller, and maybe a bit more Hollywood in its trappings. I'll get the next one, though, even if they killed my favorite character. At least they didn't lobotomize half the cast.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Getting back to what I was saying earlier...

173 days to SPX. Subtract 7 days for SPX prep and 7 days for MoCCA prep. And two for MoCCA proper. Down to 157 days. Subtract another week for finishing the writing and finally sending out comp copies of EMAW #6. 150 days.

20 pages with nine panels each is 180 panels (I have to think in terms of panels because each panel will be about the size of one of my old pages, making this a 180-page book, in a sense).

At a panel of pencils a day, I should be done with the pencils 30 days after SPX. That just won't do. At two a day, I'll have 60 days to ink, layout in the computer, clean up and print. At four per day, I'll have 45 days of pencilling, 45 days of inking and 45 days of computer work with a 15-day cushion. This is the only way I can do the project.

It's possible that I can work faster, but it's also likely that I won't be able to maintain that sort of schedule. Oy.

But we'll make that the schedule anyway, and see if I'm able to make SPX.

Finish pencils on June 22.
Finish inks on August 7.
Finish puter work on September 21.
And then two weeks to SPX.

This is an agressive schedule with no time off. Not even Evelyn Fridays or holidays or moving my parents. I have about a week's worth of vacation time I can take down that road, and we're off for Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. So that's another bit of cushion. And Evelyn goes to Puerto Rico in May, but I don't know the dates. That's at least one more weekend free though. I'll say 10 days all told.

The book is still going to be in black and white, so that's a bit of puter pressure off my back. But it's no reason to get cocky. And I hopefully won't change my mind. If I'm going at a page-a-day clip average by the time I hit inks—I may rethink this. Hopefully no more Dungeon collections come out in the next few months and make me start thinking about heavily saturated color (what a strange wish).


Blogged on the weekend, I wouldn't innundate blogger on Monday with my ramblings.

Crack a window! Interview with Gnarles Barkley! All your mystery is belong to us. Only weeks to go!

Throw it down! Floopie Spurge interviews the editor of Frist Second books! This is one of the best interviews Spurge has done since the Fort Thunder round-up, due in large part to the responses (no slight meant to Floopie!). There's some really interesting information to be gleaned from this one. Go glean!


I got the manga itch, and I got it bad.

I bought Death Note 1-3 at the comics shoppe on Thursday. Friday evening, Evelyn wanted to use me for my B&N discount and buy some books. While she tried to decide what bipolar memoir, feminist track and latina studies books she wanted (I told her she really needs to write a Feminist Manifiesta for latina women—an idea so brilliant and potentially offensive, I'm afraid to look at amazon to see if it's already been done), I wandered over to the comics section (I got to the store 45 minutes before she did and already looked at most everything else). I like to look at their comics section and see how it evolves, see how more and more alt comics customers are begining to join the manga fans with their rugburn asses.


When I was in San Francisco, I found myself getting obsessed with cartoonists I didn't know before (Ware, the Hernandez Bros.) who had been working with the comics form in ways I had never seen prior. I was also getting into pop science books on chaos math and superstrings and fooling around with chaos magic. And I was working on a complex comics narative incorporating ideas gleaned from those and other subjects.

Then I got sick. I lost about 40 lbs, slept only a few hours a week and developed a mysterious and debilitating muscle ailment. Until this past summer, it was the worst time of my life.

So, as I embark on another complex comics narative (complex for me, relative to EMAW #1-6), I find myself engaging in a whole new comics language in manga (well, it's really not as earth-shatteringly different as Jimmy Corrigan), fooling around with chaos magic and reading David Foster Wallace's Everything and More: A Compact History of ∞.

I'm staring into the abyss, and the abyss is chortling.


Standing in front of B&N's comics display, I noticed that they had Death Note vol. 4 and 5.

I couldn't help myself, and bought them both.

I finished #5 on Saturday. That's close enough to 1000 pages of comics in three days to make my head spin. I'm not a fast reader by any stretch of the imagination, but I was so engaged by Death Note ("A 92-rated Pinot Noir, some hard-core lesbian porn and then some sex, dear?" "Not now, reading Death Note") that I had a lot of trouble pulling myself away from it. Aside from being the best Batman story ever written, with Dave Sim art and Simonson Thor-like cliffhangers— there was something else going on here. I think Tsugumi Ohba (or whoever he or she really is) has a Death Note of her own. She wrote my and many other people's names in it and now we're forced to be obsessed with this book. Check and see if I'm still alive in 19 days.

Unfortunately, things change SO dramatically in book 5 that the whole thing is barely recognizable as itself. In a series with big twists and fun swerves, the biggest of twists almost stops the book dead. I still have hope that the next big swerve rights things out, but I don't have high hopes if what Jog has heard is any indication.

The book isn't out in comic book stores yet, so I'll avoid giving more away.

It's still an accomplished piece of craftsmenship, and I'm starting to fall for the art and appreciate its intricacies, and it's still better than most genre comics I've read.


that my math skillz are better than any grade I ever recieved in math classes. If so, we have 46 days until MoCCA. We have 173 days until SPX. I need to take a week away from new comics work before MoCCA to fully prepare for the show (printouts, display, etc). With less than six week to work, and my head in Kaiju Jugoruma, I don't think there's anything else I can wrap my head around and shift into that mindspace fast enough to get done in tim for the show.

That's fine. I had two (four, technically) new books for APE, and they'll still be very new at MoCCA. This way, I can devote all my energy towards completing chapter 1 in time for SPX. That is going to be a tough enough challenge in itself (like Maven!)

I just finished the main body of the second draft for the first chapter. There's some captioning to be done still, but I'm confident I can get that written within the week (fingers crossed). The good news is the body is done and the structure appears to be intact. There's still room for change, but I think it's pretty solid right now.

My original intention was to create a stand-alone first chapter, and I failed at that. But I think there's enough symetry throughout the chapter that it feels like a solid chunk. Also, I think there's enough within that chapter to make the read seem worthwhile. It'd going to be a dense experience, with a lot more text than I would have thought. And a lot of visual information too. I hope it's not too crowded. Should be interesting as it breaks my fucking back.

And that's why I'm working huge ups. About 10:1 scale. Each original panel about the size of my original pages on previous books. Give it all some room to breathe before it's all squeezed down to microcosmic proportions. The print size will be larger, as I'm planning to use legal paper.

It's great when something comes together like that. I was a madman yesterday, putting about a quarter of the pieces into play. I think my manga blaze helped things a lot. I was able to find many things I liked about the books I read, some things I could use and some things I know I didn't like. Mostly, the thing that helped me was seeing character-driven, plot-focussed storytelling laid bare. Usually, most stories are either plot-driven or character-driven, but something like Death Note integrates character and plot to an almost preposterous degree which makes them inseparatable. And also reveals the actual mechanics, like one of those faceless clocks, obliterating the line between form and function.

And that's going to lead me into my next few thoughts on Death Note. Next post!

Friday, April 21, 2006


The Common Bond went to Fluke in Athens this weekend. Lots of pictures. You can see where they went from serious comic bookers to some of the best drinking partners in the world. I want to make a flip book of these photos. They've changed their site into something very attractive since I last visited, but Scott and Frank remain the same.

It seems appropriate that, just after visiting their website, my ass should turn into Scooter Libby and start leaking like the cracked handle on a watergun. It must be biological memory...


SPEAKing of Common Bonds, I just realized that Watari (in Death Note) is Alfred Pennyworth. He reveals himself just as the art starts looking increasingly like Dave Sim's. Watari himself is a very Sim-ian character design, and he's right there when the chapter breaks (where the art usually shows more freedom) turns deCIDEDly Sim-ian with big, bold, fat, sloppy shadows.

I understand why most of the art is attractive but mostly functional and representational. It's because you're meant to blaze through the damn thing. No sit'n'stare! Blaze!

A note on the translation: it's very good. Feels very natural (even if it mst acknowlege Japanes tics: why do you need so many word balloons where no one speaks?). The lettering is usually fine, but it sometimes gets shunted off to the side of balloons for not reason. Weird.

Reproduction is generally very nice, even the zip-a-tone comes out clear.


I saw a plaid car while eating lunch. Why? WHY? WHY? WHY?


First, some notes on other things comics: I have the new Yeast Hoist, The Awake Field by Ron Rege Jr. It is thing of beauty. I hope to find the previous issue when it comes out (what's the sound you make when you notice your collar is getting too tight? ge-yuhhhh?). Also the new Action Philosophers: Eat the French. Or Kill Them. Or Hate Them.

I've read one brick in the Golden Treasury Big Box of Bricks of Minicomics (why do I try to write these things when I don't have the material in front of me?). I should have something to say about that and some of the other books I procured at APE this weekend.

Here's my best link sentence to date:
Floopie Spurge mentions that Scott McCloud is bringing some attention to the great Eleanor Davis, cartoonist and girlfriend of the equally great Drew Weing. Go look at beautiful mini/web comics. I hope to see them at either MoCCA or SPX so I can hand them one of my big wads. Of cash.


I picked up Death Note vol. 1-–3 yesterday (written by Tsugumi Ohba and drawn by Takeshi Obata). I was going to buy the first volumes of three different manga, but I decided that I'd go with the first three of one instead. This way, if I loved the first book, I could jump right into the next one—I gather that's the way this sort of thing is done. And if it turned out to be awful, I could shake my fist three times as loud.

I'm about halfway through the second volume. I doubt I have anything new to say about manga, as the internet treats manga like porn's cousin, and provides plenty of opinion on the topic. I will say that I get it now. When you get past the Narutos and Dragon Ballsies, and find that infamous bukkake of genre types, when you get past the backwards reading and the generic art, when you find something like Death Note——you get it. Or I get it, since everyone else in the world already has.

Death Note is exactly what American comics has been missing for decades. An accomplished, well-crafted, easy-to-understand, costume-free, mainstream work that has no real artistic aspirations beyond being a solid, enjoyable comic. And there's a lot of it.

While my tastes, in all things, leans more towards what lesser people would call pretentious (zzzzzzap!), my main criteria pf appreciation have always been is it well-made? B) does it not insult my inteligence? C) is it enjoyable? D) can I dance to it? —— ok, nothing fulfills the final category, but don't blame the art, blame the left feet.

The art, by Takeshi Obata (and probably others), is solid. Realistic backgrounds that only look off when the photocollaging/shopping doesn't get toned down (I love the fact that the characters use Macs running OS 9). Stock characters, but with attention to body language that makes up for generic design. The line is usually that lifeless rapidograph, but every now and then a brush (or brush pen) shows up as if to say, "Yes, mark-making isn't completely devalued." At one point, I was stunned to see Charles Burns hair.

It's possible that one of the reasons a lot of the book looks a bit generic is so that the one great visual design can stand out even more. Ryuk, the death god, is part Creeper, part Joker, part Demon (Jack Kirby's) and part leather-fetish sub. He is wonderful to look at and full of personality for a guy with a fairly unchanging face. He also gets some of the best lines.

What is this death god doing? Tsugumi Ohba (the book's real star) has crafted a story about a death god so bored, he gives up his killing book to a very intelligent human teen, just to see what he'll do with it (the Death Note is a notebook that kills when a person's name is entered into it). The teen, Light (I'm still not accepting that name), becomes the greatest serial killer of all time—even though he seems to have the best of intentions. The two of them are the main characters, but it's not too long before the world's greatest detective, the mysterious L, is hot on their trail.

Despite the fact that literally hundreds of people are murdered in the book (just in the first volume!), very little actually happens except an elaborate cat'n'mouse game between Light and L. Occaissionally, some of the 'clues' Light leaves behind seem open to more interpretaion than L's deductive leaps give them (although this is actually addressed), but if you can suspend disbelief enough to accept a death god and his notebook, it shouldn't be too hard to accept a mass murderer and a detective of such unparalelled genious.

And, if you've ever enjoyed a Batman comic, this is a lot like reading the greatest Joker and Riddler versus Batman and Commish Gordon story never written.

It's the good solids. Once I plow throught these, it will be on to Monster.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Actual conversation at deli for lunches:

ME: (to girl behind register) Where is your walkman today?
HER: (blank stare)
ME: You were singing along to your walkman the other day...?
HER: I don't have a walkman, I have an iPod!
ME: You kids!

Good thing I didn't ask her what albums she was listening to.

ME: iPOD? I make music bang stick on rock! You like! Run! Thunder lizard near talking water! Why gods yell when rain fall down?


Just sent out our biggest single order of Cliff Face Comics to the great Comic Relief in Berkeley, CA. This is pretty thrilling for me, as CR was the first MAJOR comic store I'd ever been to. I'd been to many New Jersey stores at that point, but I still hadn't been to the big New York stores or Lambiek or any of the stores in San Francisco or anywhere else. Stepping into that store was like being transported into another world or a scene in an occult noir film. The sort of place you might make veiled references to the shopkeep about the secret graphic novels made by Paul Revere and he'd usher you into the back room, looking over his shoulder the whole time.

Of course, it wasn't like that at all. In fact, the place was bustling with all sorts of people, from all walks of life, enjoying the seemingly endless comicbook options before them. But there was a palpable atmosphere. A feeling that I had stepped into some place special.


I made a concious decision to not buy any music last night until I had listened to some of the stuff I'd got in the past few months. I've lisened to all of it (well, not all of the 8 million things of Kenny's that invaded my harddrive like swarming Huns), but I felt like I should really listen to SOME of it again, before it fully enters the shuffling churn.

On King, T.I. is the closest thing we've got to Tupac, stylistically. In fact, on the ballad tracks (what do they call these in hip hop? the songs we called ballads on hair metal albums?) he sounds suspiciously like him. I don't think he's quite as smooth and he's not as good at the wordplay, and he doesn't have anywhere near the charisma, but there's something there. He can also do a mean doubletime. I think there's a reason he's mangaged to secure such furious production, and I think his similarity to Tupac is was it is.

I've clearly listened to more of Aphex Twin's Drukqs than I thought. I forgot how much it has dominated my 'wordless' playlists. You have to hear it to remember it and you have to listen or else the music just vanishes into whatever you're doing. I think it's MEANT to vanish into whatever you're doing. This is music to do other things to, not to sit and listen to while the world happens outside your parents' basement. It's all good, but it's all for the background.

I ruined my CD copy of Elf Power's A Dream in Sound a few years and a couple of jobs ago. It was only recently added to iTunes on one of those incredibly rare days I actually checked to see what had been recently added to iTunes. Leaving no dim glimmer of synchronicity unexplored, I quickly reacquired it. Then I didn't listen to it. Why should I? I had already listened to it about a hundred times before. There's something nice about listening to an album nostalgic for a time you can't remember (the height of psychedelia) after reading a book nostalgic for a time you can't remember (Jonathen Lethem's Men and Cartoons) and just before sending out a package to a place you remember but realize is no longer the same. It's especially nice when you then find yourself at the diner for the first time since the abyssmal smoking ban and all the textures, tastes and sensations seem wrong. And it's extra nice when the album activates your own nostalgia. It's super nice when the album is as good as this one.


I don't know where my aunt found the Hulk Rage Board Book. I don't know why my aunt bought the Hulk Rage Board Book. I don't know who a Hulk Rage Board Book would be be for. I can't even imagine why a Hulk Rage Board Book even exists!

I only know one thing:

I LOVE my Hulk Rage Board Book! It's the Hulk versus the Abomination! It's eight really thick pages of double-page spreads featuring the Hulk versus the Abomination! The Abomination steals a secret military weapon! It's a Yellow Cone! Luckily, the Hulk found out about the theft before the Abomination got it in his head to use the Yellow Cone! The Abomination attacks the Hulk! The Hulk uses JUDO IN THE NICK OF TIME to flip the Abomination! The dancing military police handcuff the abomination and take their Yellow Cone back! Hulk proves he is strongest one there is!!! Buy the three other Hulk Rage Board Books: Birth of the Hulk! Follow the Leader! and Here Come the Hulk!


Wednesday, April 19, 2006


DJ Wetmouse posted this in the comments to a previous post and I wanted to highlight it a bit (since he pulled a hit and run, gone till Saturdays):

What exactly are you looking for in manga?
Classic form, action forward, or drama in reverse?
For action forward I could lend you bleach volume 1-11. Marcos has much classic form, as for drama in reverse your on your own.
pleases note the terminology in this comment has no bearing in reality.

Thank goodness for that last statement, because none of the rest of it made any sense.

BobT had offered this a few weeks ago:

That's kind of a strange statement: "Supposedly 'Monster' and 'Death Note' are excellent. I won't be terribly surprised to learn that they actually aren't..." Regardless though, they are both pretty good from what I've seen of each. Death Note is cool because of its focus on strategy, and Monster is good suspense. Though I suppose if you don't like manga at all it wouldn't make a difference...

I didn't really call him on thinking my statement was strange. I'm not sure why I should be terribly surprised when someone's reccomendation fails to live up to expectations. Happens all the time.

He sort of says the same things about Monster and Death Note everybody says, and leaves out the thing everybody else leaves out: how is the cartooning? How are they drawn? Are they interesting visually? At all? Even remotely? I'm going to guess that they aren't, since I've never seen anyone say that they are, and that they're representative of the "more of the same" studio-driven art of most mainstream manga—I would love to be proven wrong. I'll bet I'm not.

I like Junko Mizuno. I'm intrigued by the above-listed books. I want to read Yoshihiro Tatsumi's Pushman and Other Stories. Also Jiro Taniguchi's Walking Man.

I've read the first vollume of Buddha, and the clash of Tezuka's style with the subject matter and the fact that almost nothing important happened in the entire thing really didn't work for me. I want to read Phoenix, just because I like his cartooning even if I don't think it always works with what he's doing.

I muddled my way through the AWFUL Tomie after being told how great it was. Terrible reproduction aside, the whole thing made no sense, had indistinguishable characters and was far more boring than horrifying.

I LOVE Hideshi Hino's art, but I found the stories a bit slight. His work is probably the closest I've seen to something really interesting to come out of translated manga.

I couldn't get into Lone Wolf & Cub, but I think I just don't like samurai or something.

Mostly, I haven't seen much manga that's impressed me, but I want to remain open to something that might. It's difficult when someone says: Just read up through volume six, and you'll see how good it is. Honestly, if you can't impress me within a few hundred fucking pages, I'm not going to stick around. Maybe I'll check some books out tomorrow.


They said it would happen, and then it did. AFX: Chosen Lords is the new Aphex Twin album, compiling his Analord singles. It made me realize that while I've listened to many songs from Drukqs, I don't know that I've listened to the whole thing straight. I should do that. Anyway, looking forward to this, even if it's not the playful Richard D. James I love.

I had some extra time before dinner on Friday, so I went to Virgin and listened to music. I listened to the new Bubba Sparxxx, because people who should know better kept telling me he was the goods. There's one or two tracks that sounded good (the one Big Boi produces sounds pretty awesome). I haven't picked it up, because the album of his that's supposed to be the biznaz is Deliverance. Got that last night.

Timbaland mixes future beats with with country! BS: better than you'd think! Super-underrated album! — eh. It's okay.

I give it more listen, but there's two things that stand out: in 2006, the mash of half-assed Tim beats and sampled cuntry ain't that revolutionary AND Bubba Sparxxxx is most remarkable as the least impressive rapper ever. I think he's gone so far out of his way to turn his flow into "just things things he happens to have said" that he's almost imperceptable on his own album. THAT is weird.
I THINK I've figured out how to move scenes in Kaiju Jugoruma. With so many overlapping pieces, it seemed like too daunting a task, but I THINK I did it. I see how it all moves along. I think it will work well. There's a scene or two missing that I need to fill in some upcoming space (for pacing and thematic reasons), but the whole thing is starting to really take shape. I'd like to have one more visual brain nuke in there, but we'll see what happens.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


It somewhat resembles a rumba.

I've actually reached a point in Kaiju Jugoruma where I need to do a real second draft in the thumb/writing stage. If you're just writing something and seeing where things take you, it can take a while before you see its true shape. I had a good idea of what the basic features were, but I needed to capture a few thoughts I didn't know were swimming around in the tidepool. As you work on the piece, you start seeing the details of it. Hopefully, your broad idea was accurate, and all the little bits fit into it as you get closer. It's what Alan Moore calls "high-altitude mapping". I had a feeling I was going to hve to go into a few drafts with this, especially as it is the first chapter, but my eternal fear is that I'll get bored with rewriting the same bit of nonsense over and over again.

Hopefully, I'm leaving enough OUT of each draft to keep it interesting in the next round. I'm IN FUCKING LOVE with my opening. I was afeared that I was SO in love with it that it would have to go once I figured out just what the first chapter was about—but then I found it and the opening stays for now. It's a polyrhythmic drumbeat of information and mystery that has been hitting the skins of my skull for months and months. Last night, I found the iambic pentameter rhyming couplets that just make the whole thing. I hope it doesn't come across too cute, but I think it will sort of help introduce the reader in the way the comic will have to be read. The visual cues have been there for the past couple of minor drafts, but I think they're pretty fleshed out now.

I think it's going to be pretty damn hot. The second half of page 2 and all of page three is almost a relief like a cool breeze and readjustment of the eyes after opening a baking oven on your face. It's all overlapping haikus and backgrounds of visual shorthands. Page four is moving. I don't know where. Towards the end of the chapter or to chapter two. Probably the latter. I think this will be good, that pulls the humor forward to page four... except now I have to see how the caption boxes and images interact. Here is where the challenge lies. CHALLENGE!

I've pretty much given up hope on having anything brand-spankin' for MoCCA, which is fine. The preface would have just eaten into time I should be spending on trying to push the actual story forward. I have this other thing cooking in my head, pulled from the preface, but I think it's just the sort of thing that can be incorporated into KJ. It's Suave Prospects in "Hapless Hoboes."

I'm close to finishing the main parts of the Comics Journal. Reading about David Bs thoughts on the formal aspects of cartooning and the organic way in which he writes. Then it will be back to my short story readings—a few more Ballard stories to go, more Borges and the rest of Lethem's Men and Cartoons. It's interesting what can be gained from each: Ballard's psychological future, Borges concision and humanity, Lethem's nostalgia. Then it's on to the manga readings.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Listening to Built to Spill's You in Reverse. It's not genious, but it rocks the goods. Leans heavy on the Neil Young & Crazy Horse.

Just listened to Murs & 9th Wonder's Murray's Revenge. It's like De La kept going and stopped having fun. Which is to say, it's like De La's been past few years. It's good, but not great.

I need some greatness in my new mu sacks. I like the good solids, but give me the greatness, somebody!


Really. What is that guy supposed to be? The fear of crosses and bunny acolytes suggest Vampire, his home turf is more mummy-lite than Transylvanian though, but the way he sucks brains leans heavily towards Zombie. I think he might be some kind of supernatural Frankenstein—a combination of all three, and therefore: the. greatest. monster. ever.

Documentality: Watched three docs this weekend. And they were like this: Awesome. Really interesting. And, OH MY GOD! I'M SO SORRY, EYES!

Awesome: WWE: 20 Years Too Soon: The Superstar Billy Graham Story I did not watch much wrestling as a kid. I thought it was just fat old guys pretending to hit each other. It took a long time for me to appreciate what was actually taking place in the squared circle. Along with my lack of knowledge, was a belief that Superstar Billy Graham was just a bad rip-off of Hulk Hogan dressed like Jesse Ventura. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. It couldn't have been a more opposite situation. The only person Superstar ripped off wasMohammedd Ali, but what he did and who he was was so fascinating. He was a Junior Mr. Universe, track & field Olympic hopeful who became an evangelical minister and pro-football player who re-defined pro wrestling before he tried to single-handedly tear down the biggest organization in the business. He was the best there was on the mic and just watching some of his matches, it's almost like watching Opposite Day in wrestling: it's almost impossible to believe that he was supposed to be the bad guy when facing Dusty Rhodes and Bob Backlund. Graham is probably more lucid than most wrestlers interviewed and he tells his story incredibly well. Just really enjoyable.

Debbie Does Dallas: Uncovered This was a shortBritishh tv documentary in the style of the Kurt & Courtney and Biggie & Tupac docs, but a lot less sensationalistic a lot lessfocusedd on the director and less likely to stretch its material for time. If anything, I wish there was a more in-depth look at mob ties to the porn industry in the seventies, but this acted as a pretty good primer. It was also interesting to see what people thought about their experiences and the ways they've put them to rest. Pairedwithh the movie was another short doc "Diary of a Porn Virgin," following a 38-year-old woman, a 21-year-old-woman and a 21-year-old man sticking their tentative toes into the British porn industry. Pretty revealing even if it was a bit predictable to someone who has read a thing or two about the ol' in-and-outs.

I remembered when Stripped came out to fairly unanimous panning, but I was curious to see just how bad it could be. Wow. WOW. Wow,wow,wow,wow,wow,wow,wow. Here's how it bills itself:

A strip club is a world unlike any other. Go behind the scenes in that world with some of the most controversial employees around: strippers. Director Jill Morley became a stripper, and, as only an insider can, obtained full access. She set out capture this life on film by profiling other dancers and revealing the inner workings of exotic dance, getting unexpected results and, unfortunately, documented the tragic fate of some of the girls.

Jill Morley was a one-woman-show performance artist you've never heard of (unless you make a point of following those sort of things) who wasn't doing that well, so she set about 'becoming' a stripper in order to make money on the side (actually, she set about making a name for herself by sixteenth-assing a 'documentary' about a topic guaranteed to generate some publicity). You could wander some of the most sordid strip clubs in the world and not find more superficiality and exploitation than you'd find here, but that's not where the problems begin.

First of all, Morley doesn't get anything close to full access. All the women she talks to are either retired strippers or straining on their last legs. She appears to work in a place with only four other women (none of whom are Eastern European, Asian, Hispanic or African American), one senile owner and a chafuer. I'm guessing that most of the women didn't do interviews out of fear for being outed or disinterest in Morley herself, or the club she worked at caters to men with a very specific and unusual taste in women.

There's absolutely no structure to the film. Morley just lets the camera run while her friends complain, offering little insight or self-awareness. Mostly, you're just subjected to 10-15 minute ramblings of women who know their looks and appeal is fading as theyrealizee they're lacking any other skills. The same things that appealed to them about the job is what is driving them away now, but they complain about outside factors the way drug addicts do. There's also an incredibly unenlightening interview with two guys standing outside the club added as a bonus feature (unless watching two blindingly drunk guys trying to pick up a woman they think is a news reporter is somehow revelatory).

The absolute low-point in the movie occupies about 1/3 of its length. Morley and her co-workers try to badger Morley's roommate into stripping, trying every means ofcoercionn (including getting her drunk) despite the fact that she has no interest in performing and her interest diminishes exponentially the more they push her. WHAT THE FUCK? Not only is their no documentary value in such shenanigans, but Morley includes the ceaseless documentation of her attempts in order to fill up time (or possibly to reveal and revel in her own demensia).

It's a sad, sad attempt at shedding light on a misunderstood world and an even sadder attempt at self-promotion.

Friday, April 14, 2006


Over on one of the V forums, I found myself in the position of having to defend Lost (the best show currently on network television—hands down) despite two episodes in a row that seemed a little lackluster. I actually disagree with Matt Zoeller that the recent Hurley episode was one of the best they've done, but I agree with him that Jorge Garcia is a fantastic actor (alongside Harold Perrineau (Michael) and Terry O'Quinn (Locke) on the show).

But the thing I wish I had read before getting into the message board fray was this:

"...this island is not exactly real and not exactly a fantasy or dream, but is instead a dramatic tabula rasa for the characters, a place where metaphors become tangible, real enough to see and touch and even converse with..."

And then Ian Brill expands on that a little bit more with "...I’m more interested in getting the characters into situations where their philosophies butt heads with each other..."

Basically I think the mistake people make with the show is thinking that this is a really long Twighlight Zone episode where we find out that the island is really in Hurley's head or it's really purgatory and everyone is dead or that the characters all wished they finally had time to read their books. A better way to approach the show is that it's NOT one big island mystery, but rather that the island is one big Twighlighty Zone on some Outer Limits where all the characters from Rod Serling's show get stranded together.

I love the overall mystery. I think it's fantastic and I love playing Thursday-Friday "what does it all mean?" But what I really love about the show is that it actually DOES answer the question none of us even knew we were asking: what would happen if William Shatner and Burgess Meredith and Jackie Gleason and whoever else were all forced to live together on an island after their respective Zone episodes? How would they behave together and what other shit would they continue to attract?

And that is actually where my problem with the last two episodes actually begins. I think, in some ways, the stories may have been a little too tied to the island. Hurley' plunge off the mental deep end would have had more resonance with me if we weren't asked to believe that the island was all in his head. Of course it isn't, or, if it is, they're not going to tell us that now. So it was no real surprise to find out that it wasn't all in his head after all. I liked the Rose/Bernard episode, but I think it may have been stronger if it hadn't just followed the Hurley one and then acted as the lead-in to yet another schedule break.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Kenny shows off the table. This guy is the style. look how good he cleans up. Sandeh said he intimidates Erik cause he's so buff. We should all have suits.Me and Kenny. The scariest thing about this picture? Black is slimming.
And, finally, Erik and Carey. Now we never have to see them again.
That's what they're saying!

So long APE! I hope to do the comics this weekend.

We were pretty happy to return home, just in time to find out our plumbing was broken. Oh well.

Tomorrow is doing my taxes. And then enjoying one of the last days of freedom in New Jersey. Smoking in bar! Do it! One time.


Behind the scenes. This is the veiw from behind our table. It looks like a refuge camp. All of our bags and packing material and trash and exposed butt cracks. The real grit and grime behind the rockstar façade. That might be Ian Brill in the yellow shirt wondering if I'll ever stop stalking him. It might not be, though, since I just took the picture on the fly.The high-octane life of a comics creator has us all constantly on the go. This is APE in action!
Carey takes my picture as I take hers. Marcos wants the madness to end.
The main floor, where Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterly, Top Shelf, Oni, Slave Labor, Buenaventura Press and other self-publishers congregate.
Melina Mena and dude. Mena seemed like a very nice, polite girl maybe too normal for a comic book convention. I later read some of her comics and went to her website. She's very talented and... possibly deranged. I'll talk about the book when I do my book recaps.

Yes! I'm almost done with A.P.E. blogging. After a day of not really thinking about the show, some serious thoughts about what we can do to make the next show better, reading about the Journal contributors' favorite comics of 2005 and having a nice dinner with beers and Stacia, I'm putting things into better perspective. Oh, and watching Lost has me thinking about story structure and story structure has got me thinking about Kaiju Jugoruma making the comics. And now Bitches Brew is playing and I'm happy and relaxed and energised again.

I've been flipping through some of my catch from APE, and that's got me excited too.


Here are some more shots of the show.

Johnso-Cola ClassicThe aisle next to ours. Look at those crowds! The peson with her back to the camera in the chair in the bottom right corner is Melody Shickley, doing portraits of lucky attendees.
Our aisle!
This is Carrie, trying to figure out why she spent so much money at our table and realising that she just drove up from San Diego to spend time with us. Joke's on her! Actually, it was pretty damn awesome to be able to hang out with her and Chris.
People didn't belive me last year when I told them we were right on top of the Ladies' Room. Well, this year, we're a table away from where we were (and a little further away because their were fewer exhibitors, I think). That's my less-than-impressive display in the foreground, and the ladies room in the back. Ladies.

More thinking about displays

Yes, I never stop.

I didn't go with my original idea for a huger display because I would have had to break it down into too many pieces for the flight to SF. The next show is in NY, which means I can do just about anything I want. Also, I have very little printing to do to prepare for the show (thanks APE!), so I have a little extra time on my hands. I want to work on something short and quick for MoCCA bookwise, but the display is mostly me thinking at work and actually doing very little labor at home. The comics stuff is the opposite as most of the thinking and labor have to take place at home.

So, thinking about lessons learned and the fact that the goal is to make the books as easy to look at for the shiest of customers.

First, I'm going with my original design of a 15" deep base and a 24" height. With the 28" hypotenuse. However, instead of pushing it back 15", I'm only setting it about 9" back. I thought about putting it all the way upfronts, but I want that flat edge for first eyes and flipping. 9" is deeper than I wanted, but it allows me to put #6 and #5 opens in that space.

On the slope, I have space for the first four issues, all displayed nicely down the left side with description at top and issue numbers, price and descriptions on the shelves.

On the right side, I'll put the more nicely displayed issues #5 and #6 with blown up arts, prices and descriptions.

Hanging off the front edge, I want a 12" banner stating EARTH MINDS ARE WEAK in bolds.

I think this will look really good. It will give people lots of space to move their eyes without looking at me. It will be clear and uncluttered. Also, I think it will allow me space for the next issues without creating a new display for each show.

One thing that worked out great this year was the foam core held together with straight pins. I plan on doing the same. Quick, easy assembly and sturdy.

Alos, I think I'll drink more alcohol and less coffee for edge removal.

BEST OF 2005

Just picked up the Comics Journal 275, featuring their picks for the best comics of 2005 and a big interview with David B. Two things alone that should make this one of the best issues of the Deppy regime.

Seven pages in is the big, full-page, full-color ad that Rob Sato took out for Burying Sandwiches. He pull-quoted me and made me seem like a real writer. I'm actually impressed with what I said. Of course, what I said is true, but the real ad is the ad itself. What a fantastic piece of work that is.

Please go to the above and buy his book. I don't say this as a friend, but for selfish reasons. The sooner he sells out of these, the sooner he'll be forced to make a new book, and that's what I want and need.

Since I hate to write a post without bitching a bit, I will. Why did no one write about minicomics for this issue? In fact, the whole "Best Of" format is a bit strange. Instead of single articles about twenty or so consensus pieces, we get twenty or so people doing their own lists. This creates several problems—one, you get lots of paragraphs and mentions of Black Hole (cough! cough!), obviously the greatest comic ever (eh-HEM!), and just the briefest of mentions of, oh I don't know, Burying Sandwiches.

Minicomics are just about completely ignored in the whole process. I'm not actually saying this out of selfish reasons, aside from a selfish desire to see what I might have (probably) missed. Also, I've met some of the people making these books, and some of them deserve serious credit. And I haven't met many others, and they deserve credit too.

Now I'm getting a badbadbabdbabdbad idea...


I just found out why it was taking me so long to post images to blogger on Monday. Just as Marcos suspected, my files are HUUUUGE!!!! Damn. I smallify tonight and finish me APE comics recap.


I stepped away from thinking about APE last night, just to clear my head a bit. I spent all night with my mind completely removed from comics—only to find myself lying awake for too many hours, thinking about table design for MoCCA.

I was planning on looking at some other tables at APE, and I did, but the best observations I made were at our own table.

Observation 1: while it is good to be alert, pleasant and available at your table, don't watch people until they make eye contact with you.

Observation 2: (related to above) I thought putting my new books up in a vertical position would help their visibility, but many people's eyes stay along the edge of the table—they are trying to avoid you until they've had a quick look at your books. They've just walked through an entire convention floor being harrassed by desperate people trying to make them feel guilty for not buying or looking at their books.

This means that the front edge of the table, maybe 4-6" deep, is your primary advertising space. It's not at eye level. It's not just below eye level. It's customer crotch level. This space essentially needs to be more interesting than the customer's own crotch, or they will pass it by. Kenny put his Fomori there and they drew attention like crizzy. He then moved them back four inches to display his mini and that attracted attention.

Observation 3: (also related) The table is 30" deep. The back 15 is dead space. As soon as I moved my display up from the back of the table, I noticed people starting to pick it up. I can only imagine what would have happened if I had put the new books right at the front of the table and the old issues on the display.

Observation 4: While that first 6" is your fastball target, you want to be able to cover the entire strikezone with eye-catchingness (this doesn't mean crowd the zone). From the middle of the chest to just above the knees should be all about showing off the books.

Challenge: Create a display that grabs the right attention in those first 6" and then moves the customer up through the other books. The books do sell when people look at them. The challenge, as ever, is to get them to make that first step.

Thoughts: The display I had at the show wasn't all that I'd hoped. I somehow forgot to apply the front pieces that would have made it look a bit better (and then left them in NJ). I quickly scribbled out descriptions and prices for the books, but I should have had that signage done beforehand (and it should have been typeset). Still, without understading the lessons above, it wouldn't have made that much of a difference.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


For our edifications.

Taking an APE break as my pictures are at home and I am at work.

Seems that a bunch of Brian Eno/Cluster rereleases happened while I was out. Nice review that has got me thinking about music again. Maybe APE was a salve to revitalize the Suave.

Listened to the new Flaming Lips. Don't know what to think. I remember needing time to let Yoshimi grow on me, but this sounds so disjointed. I think it will help to hear the songs out of order and mixed with something else, then come back to it as a whole. One thing that struck me is Coyne's anger. He seems really pissed off. I have a feeling this might be their incredibly long-delayed fall from grace, but I can't say for sure. Still, not-so-hot Lips is still better than none at all.

I got a bunch of stuff from Kenny that just sort of virally entered my system. I don't even know what a lot of it is, but I have a feeling that I wouldn't have tried to contract Akron on my own. I just know it's in there, and there's nothing I can do until I hear the symptoms.

One thing I got at APE was the "Naked Cosmos" dvd that Gilbert Hernandez made. Some of it's great and he creates some wonderful characters (surprise!), but some of it was either the worst thing to watch when your exhausted mind doesn't know what time it is or just the right thing. It's got some of the lowest production values possible, but I think if I caught this late at night on cable access with no idea who Gilbert Hernandez was, I would immediately be a huge fan. I don't know if it's just his interests merging or if it's secretly intentional, but "Naked Cosmos" seems to take place in the same world as Grip, a world that could use some filling out the way the Palomar world has.

Monday, April 10, 2006

100 APES

We arrived at the convention center ready to turn the weekend around. We remembered that Sunday was better for us last year and the clouds and drizzle in the air promised that no one would be out enjoying the park life. When you've only sold a tiny number of books after a cross-country flight, suffered through illness and accidents of preparation and then find yourself kicked out on the street (with some of your clean clothes still held hostage) you count on one thing: at least tomorrow can't be much worse.

And it wasn't. Aside from a twice-delayed flight and being forced to check our baggage becaue other passengers don't understand the principles behind carry-ons, the only thing that spoiled Sunday was an even lighter attendance and worse sales (except for those to friends and friends of friends—thank-you again, Erik, Carrie, Sandeh and Michelle!).

We did get a chance to spend some time with friends, including people we've met through comics and make new friends.

We met Rob and Ako last year at APE, saw them again at SPX and got to see them again this year. Rob Sato is the man behind Burying Sandwiches, a fantastic graphic novel. So impressed was I with the book, I put aside personal feelings and wrote one of my first reviews about it. Rob's is one of the Comics Journal's best books of 2005 (he took out an ad in the journal and quoted my review, which is awesome. Take THAT famous review gurus! Turns out, they're still awesome people, and I was very happy to hang with them again.We pretty much know Cheebcheebshkaa's Sakura Maku the same way, and I can't WAIT for my head to clear enough to start reading her new book, East Broadway.

Bill Roundy does The Amazing Adventures of Bill, which is like Sex in the City, but funny. And it's about a gay man, but Sex in the City pretty much was too. Met Bill at SPX, shared many drinks and was happy to see him again.

I also got to meet Leslie Bloomfield again, this time with each of us knowing who the other person was first. Leslie is one half (with Adele Moss) of the team behind the wonderful Hecter the Collecter. I don't have a photo because she came by before I finished my first coffee and I wasn't functioning even remotely like a human yet. She did trade with me for the new issue of Hecter the Collector—which is awesome and even crazier than the previous issues and can be enjoyed even by people who are unfamiliar with them.


On my way to the Staples, I saw this signand took a picture after the show. Prospects Delivered! AT&T owes the Suaveys a chance to sell out and provide music for that commercial. Seriously.

Saturday was very slow. It was the first nice, sunny day SF had had in weeks, and many people were probably out frolicing when they might have otherwise been at the nerd zoo. I think we each sold a couple of books, but the whole atmosphere was strange. Even the people who were there didn't seem to be buying much. Not just from us, but from anyone. There were very few people even passing us by with books in hand. There was also a lot less of the usual reactions to our books. Kenny got a lot of people to check out his Fomori stuffed toys, but Marcos and I both noticed a lot less people even commenting on our books' respective titles. I'd say that we and the tables around us had much less casual browsing as well. We're used to a lot of people passing us by, or looking without buying, but we were going significant stretches of time without even that.

We left the show Saturday evening with about one of each item sold. I don't usually harp on sales, but I thought this year would be either the same or better than last.

Exhaustion and foot pain set in and we joined up with some friends for dinner and chilling out. We didn't do many APE-related events, just the Last Gasp party for an hour or two on Friday (this was cool, as the party is in the warehouse, filled with all the items in their catalog to browse). We wanted to hang with our Bay friends, Johnso and Dot as well as new San Diegoians, Carrie and Chris (who are crazy and awesome for driving up to see us after only about a week in SD).

After a very pleasant evening and plans to have a great Sunday, Marcos and I returned to the motel to learn we'd been kicked out. Apparently, we weren't booked for Saturday night. Except we were, but they gave the room to someone else because we weren't. I suspect that some John was willing to cough up some under-the-table money to change our reservation into his name. This was really putting the stamp on the whole weekend. Most of the area hotels were booked (after midnight, most get booked for the hooking purposes). We finally found a room the loudest street in the world, complete with a crackhead who ranted for five hours straight.

In my anger with the original motel manager, I dropped my credit card in my bag and couldn't find it to book the new room. Marcos did, and I went back to the Days Inn to see if I left the card there. On the way, two wonderful business women wanted to know if they could do anything for Papi. I was so frustrated with the poor preparation on my part, the empty convention hall, the awful sales, the foot and leg pain and the motel situation that I came this close to bringing them both back.

I thought better of it, though. Here's the place we spent our last night:


Marcos went to adjust the table just as I snapped... for the first time!Friday, Kenny went to parks and museums in the rainy air. Marcos watched many Star Trek reruns on motel cable and I nursed a serious hangover. That night was more Johnso with laidback donuthingness. We rose at a decent time on Saturday and put our table together pretty quickly. We met some of our lovely and talented neighbors sitting at the table we were at yesterday:
and the lovely and talented neighbors on our other side.
Then we waited for the flood of crowds. And we waited some more. We knew that we didn't have the greatest location, sitting one table away from last year, so we expected a slow start as the Bay area made its way to our settup.

A woman looked at my Earth Minds Are Weak #1, and as she flipped through, something looked wrong. She walked away and I quickly grabbed the issue. Two of the spreads were stapled out of order!

I quickly flipped through a few more copies. ALL OUT OF ORDER! I panicked. We brought no book supplies, actually being prepared for the convention. What to do? What to do!?

The Art Box girls next to us were kind enough to lend me a mini-stapler and we began tearing the books apart and trying to put them back together again. I did a few, but quickly realised that there weren't enough staples and a new neighbor's goodwill can only be strained so much.

So, with a few fixed to stem the tides, I ran out of the convention center (located in the middle of nowhere) and tried to guess where I'd be if I were an art- or office-supply store. Dozens of bailbondsmen, warehouses and baffled locals later, my flabby, smoke-clouded eyes found an oasis: a Staples. I ran like I haven't run in a decade, got a long-arm stapler, some staples and a replacement mini-stapler and ran back from the SoMa Staples to the convention in time to find out I'd missed very little.


This guy
wasn't feeling so great, so me and this guy
went out with this guy on Thursday night
Johnso took us to a gay bar, an eighties bar, a reggae bar and a dive bar. He should work for the tourism board. I didn't bring my camera: drunk plus technology usually equals disaster for me.


I'm going to do several posts chronicling the Cliff Face APE Experience 06 on this blog and than we'll do something for the main site to commemorate. The first couple of images are from Jersey City, NJ.

C-Man and Kenneth Belasco arrive at casa de Marcos y Justin on Thursday, April 6. C-Man took us to the airport in style.

We flew into San Francisco and went to the wonderfull Days Inn on the corner of Larkin and Geary. I briefly lived on the border of the Tenderloin and the Civic Center and have a sick fascination with coming back whenever I'm in town to see how things have changed and how they've stayed the same. I didn't take many pictures, because the neighborhood seemed more depressed and depressing than last year. But here's a view from the window.

Obviously, I'm a terrible tourist.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Gnarles Barkley's Crazy is the first single to go to #1 on the British charts based on downloads alone. Brave new world.

Got the Soul Position album. The anti-mainstream songs are actually the strongest on the album. RJd2 seems a bit lackadasical. Blueprint can't really hold an album on his own. Some is good, some is just plain.

I also bought the new T.I. album, King. I knew his old singles, but never cared enough to put a name on the songs. I saw the video for "What You Know" and knew I'd at least get the single. Even if I'm not sure I care for T.I.'s delivery on it, I immediately LOVED the production. I'm SO becoming a production who-er. D.J. Toomp is someone I need to get to know better. There's two Just Blaze tracks. I haven't given it the full listen, but the sound is phenomenal.

Working out a way to maybe have the first part of Kaiju Jugoruma ready for MoCCA. I'm essentially making a forward. We'll see how it turns out.

Most of the feeling is back in my hands, strange tingling is coming less frequently. I'm terrified of how I'm going to injure myself this weekend at A.P.E.

Need to remember to get cover images of all our debuts for an email to Heidi MacDonald tonight.

It's supposed to rain all weekend in San Francisco. That really sucks. Fuckin' rain.

Flying out tomorrow, and we're away from the internet until Monday.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


With A.P.E. only days away, I know I'm going to have plenty of comics reading material real soon. Still, I'm thinking about what's next. I might dip my toe into manga waters again.

Supposedly "Monster" and "Death Note" are excellent. I won't be terribly surprised to learn that they actually aren't, but I'll try them anyway. I'm sure they're both printed in that crazy fashion all the kids like, because children are stupid. But I shall try them. Probably around the end of the month.

I'm thinking about the way Marcos is doing Tear-Stained Makeup, with each issue being as long as it needs to be, even though it's a serial. I'm thinking about the way I intend to do Kaiju Jugoruma and the fact that my means may result in distant ends. I don't want to go another year without producing an issue.

So, I'm thinking about maybe just publishing what's done when it's done. So, whatever I have done for SPX (finding a proper ending point within said work), that's what the first issue will be. It might be 12 pages or 20 or 40 or whatever. It might be one chapter or four. Whatever it is, that's what I'll publish.

So, SPX will have an EMAW issue. It will be Kaiju Jugoruma. And it will be however long it is at that point. Hopefully, I'll have some preview images ready for MoCCA.


I was well into this post when someone in my office actually needed me to work. And I accidently quit out of Safari. I'm so dum.


On Saturday night, I was watching The Bridge. They were doing classic underground hip hop anthem videos. As much fun as I had watching these (I had only seen Marley Marl's "The Symphony" before), I got very frustrated that many of these acts are still unavailable on itunes. What is up with that?

Despite the fact that these were "underground" videos, we're talking about Marley Marl, KMD, Organized Konfusion, Ultramagnetic MCs, Redman... it's a pretty loose definition of underground, by some standards. Certainly underheard. The two I most want to add to my collection are Organized Konfusion and Ultramagnetic MCs. Actually, I'd SO love to have those videos as well. They were the awesome. Itunes doesn't have them. The music, never mind the videos.

I've got my Pharoah Monche, my Prince Poe(try) and my Dr. Octagon on the cds, but I want my Organized Konfusion and Ultramagnetic MCs mp3s and I want them NOW! Also, Wu-Tang Forever. I'm tired of waiting.

I should see if they have Three Black Teenagers. They probably won't, but I've got too many friends that would love to have copies of "Tap the Bottle and Twist the Cap."

In other news, Soul Position has a new album out. I never got the first one, partially because that's a terrible name and partially because, I think, a negative review made me a little apathetic. If you ignore the first two paragraphs of this review, you'll be forgiven if you can't understand why it recieved such a low rating. The first two paragraphs are a pitchfork theme where they criticize rappers for criticizing the bling-bling crunk hoes money coke focus in mainstream hip hop. Whatever. I really like RjD2, and I think I owe it to myself to at least check it out... assuming I can find it.

Speaking of not finding, I forgot to ask Marcos for the new Flaming Lips. I hope it's goods.

New TEAR-STAINED MAKEUP pages. Check'im an' see.
Marcos has been keeping it real and gentle according to Silver Bullet Comicbooks.

Kenny be creezy updating
Awesome DVD news
Goldhander with paintings for APE
Paintings and stuffed toys for APE

Monday, April 03, 2006


I'm not sure what I ever did to deserve the sort of friends I've made over the years. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've done very little.

Just to prove that my friend Carrie is more thoughtful than I'll ever be, today I found out that she sent me a birthday present. Not only is it an AWESOME gift, not only does it demonstrate that she knows me all too well, it's also more thoughtful than I've ever been to myself.

It's something I've wanted, it's something I love... it's the GAMERA DELUXE BOX SET.

The Gamera movies in the nineties were the greatest Kaiju films ever made (better than the original Gamera films, better than Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters, better than Godzilla: Final Wars, better than the original Mothra, better than the original Godzilla, better than whatever you think was the best Japanese Monster movie) and each is better than the last, culminating in Gamera: The Revenge of Iris—one of the greatest movies of all time (best Kaiju, one of the best horror, one of the best science fiction, one of the best comedies...).

I'm far more speachless than it appears. More important than the gift itself, is where it came from. A sweet, generous, loving person. Someone I miss a great deal and hope to see again soon.


It appears that the Gordon Lee obscenity case was dropped the day the case was set to go to trial, because it turns out the comic in question was given to an even younger child.

Sounds like a little police entrapment gone awry... Hopefully, someone will stop this nonsense in time for greater obscenity nonsense to be forced up our asses later.


Crack a window! Throw it down! Slam it home! Bang your nutz out!

Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco. Table 225—where the magic happens. That Cliff Face Comics magic.

If, for no other reason, come see my sweet display. It's totally sweet. I'm almost done making it. Just need some cloth tape for hinging.

Injury report: First there was the ridiculous bruising, followed by a somewhat annoying piece of bitten-off skin. This week's injury is self-inflicted.

We have an old refrigerator in our apartment that should get defrosted every fou-six months or so. We never defrost it. After more than two and half years, the freezer space had been reduced to a 6" wide, 4" high area. The top and bottom of the freezers outside were covered in more than 4" of ice. The outside sides had ice all the way from freezer to fridge edge (it's one of those suspended freezers). You couldn't use the inside of the freezer and it was getting so you couldn't use the top shelf of the fridge for anything taller than a five-month expired quart of milk.

Yesterday, I emptied the fridge, tossed most of its interiors and began defrosting. The inside back could be scraped out like icy snow. The sides needed to be ripped out after melting the edges with matches. I inhaled a LOT of sulfer and my hands are covered in frost-bitten cuts and nicks. Hopefully it all heals before I need those hands for the seductive art of the sell. I look like I've got those damn mumps.

It took about 12 hours to do the fridge. I don't want to do that again. Ever. And now there's nothing to eat or drink!

I don't know where the remaining Deadwood disk is hiding. I tried looking for it in that hoopleheaded cocksucker's shit suite, but had no fucking luck, so I started watching the Wire again. Someday, I'll be sick of watching the Wire. That day is a long way off.
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