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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

D+Q at the Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festival.

Is there a nicer way to end the year than by going to NYC, doing a *one-day* show where you make practically as much money as a two-day show and seeing all of your friends? NO! THERE IS NOT! Ladies and gents, I present to you....

Come visit Drawn & Quarterly this weekend in Williamsburg Brooklyn at the Our Lady of Mt Carmel Church with Adrian Tomine, Brian Ralph, Jillian Tamaki, R. Sikoryak, John Porcellino, Matt Forsythe and Gabrielle Bell in attendance!

Signing Schedule at D+Q Tables 20-22:

Brian Ralph 1:00-3:00

R. Sikoryak 2:00- 3:00

Jillian Tamaki 3:00 - 4:00

Adrian Tomine 3:00 -5:00

Brian Ralph 5:00-7:00

John Porcellino, Matt Forsythe & Gabrielle Bell are signing at other tables, too!


The recent embrace of graphic novels by the publishing industry has led to misguided attempts to evaluate comics according to the standards and conventions of literary fiction. The writing in comics occupies a more peculiar place, with its own constraints and opportunities. John Porcellino, Gabrielle Bell, and David Sandlin will discuss the particular demands of writing within a visually-driven form in this conversation moderated by novelist Myla Goldberg.


C.F. and Brian Ralph both emerged from the revolutionary art and comics scene that flourished in New England throughout the 1990s, radiating outward from the Fort Thunder artists’ space in Providence, RI and incorporating a network of friendships, influences, and collaborations. Both artists are now producing the strongest work of their careers, engaging fantasy and adventure as modes for personal expression. The two will discuss their work with moderator Tom Spurgeon.

St. Petersburg (Bak-style)

T. Edward Bak recently went to Russia and I casually said to him "hey, take some pictures and write something and I'll blog it." Well, Tom Spurgeon was right on top of Bak and did a great interview so I figured that was that. Until TEBs (that's what those in the know call him) wrote me and said, "hey, I wrote a thing for you. It's terrible." Of course, it isn't terrible at all. So I present to you, Bak's ramblings about Russia and hiss ongoing Georg Steller project.

I'd been warned not to smile at people in Russia. I was warned about rampant crime and gangs of orphaned pre-adolescent thugs roaming the streets at night. I was told that the Russians don't appreciate fart jokes or crass humor, but they applaud wit and clever innuendo. Flying through Europe, it occurred to me that even the clouds over France and Germany looked old. How was I en route to St. Petersburg? How did this happen? Who in the hell do I think I am? What I learned while I was in Russia is that the Russians eat tomatoes and cucumbers for breakfast. They eat a lot of pastries and smoke a lot of cigarettes. I had lunch with the American consulate at a vegetarian restaurant in St. Petersburg one afternoon, we ate vegan borscht. Someone had told me that there were bagels somewhere in the city. I don't know, I never found any. I ate vitamin salad, pierogies and gnocchi and lots of potatoes and mushrooms and, once, tried the Russian version of Mexican food. There are no burritos in St Petersburg. Mostly I managed to get by on americanos and cakes and pizza. I drank vodka, and drank beer. I found an Elvis Presley café around the corner from my hotel with a gigantic Confederate flag hanging in a corner of the room, I felt right at home. When I ordered salmon, the Russians brought me trout. When was the last time I'd eaten trout? Did it matter? As long as I knew I could order a decent Czech beer or get vodka that had been made from potatoes, everything was Perestroika.

I gathered that there must be an ordinance in St. Petersburg requiring women under the age of 30 to wear only high heels. Probably there is another that exempts taxicab drivers from obeying traffic laws and speed limits. My exchanges with cabbies in St. Petersburg actually became fairly routine:
"Pushkin, da. Mark Twain, da. Bill Clinton, da. Monica Lewinsky, da!"
Be proud, America. One afternoon, I was walking down Nevsky Prospekt and a police van pulled up to the sidewalk. A group of uniformed men and women leapt out, seized a swarthy (will I get in trouble for 'swarthy'? The Russians I met were endlessly amused by English epithets which would make most North Americans squirm) businessman carrying a briefcase, threw him in the back of the van, and drove away. Nobody on the sidewalk around me flinched and I wondered if anyone had even noticed what had just transpired. Police and military units constantly patrol the city, it seems, and wherever I went, officials were checking someone's papers on the street corner, in front of monuments, at roadblocks, etc.

It was September and I was visiting St. Petersburg for 2 weeks as a guest of the International Comics Festival, Boomfest! My first time outside of North America, my first transatlantic flight, my first exposure to any kind of comics community outside of the usual angry nerd love-ins I'm accustomed to attending in the US. The coordinator of Boomfest, publisher Dmitry Yakovlev, warmly welcomed me and had arranged a swell room on the third floor of a hotel in a beautiful neighborhood downtown; when I tried to drunkenly heave the television through the window out on to the street below late one evening after my usual drug-ingestion and debauchery, the hypodermic needles I'd stolen from…oh, fuck it, never mind; I was in my room and ready for bed by 10 PM practically every night. Of course, the time difference meant that I wouldn't be asleep until dawn, but during the day walking about in St Petersburg was for me like inhabiting a dream, anyhow. So surreal and unfamiliar.

There were dozens of wonderfully talented people at Boomfest, all fantastically original artists: Julie Doucet, Dominik Heilig, Victoria Lomasko, Varvara Pomidor, Edik Katykhin, Polina Petrouchina, Joanna Hellgren, Juhyun Choi, Misteur Morvandiau, Stefano Ricci, Nele Bronner, Jeroen Funke, Boris Peeters, Sam Peeters, Jo Rdx, Xavier Lowenthal, Anastasia Voitenko (and, unexpectedly, Pacific NW cartoonist Eroyn Franklin, who happened to be traveling through Russia and visiting family in St. Petersburg during the event); Julie Doucet showed her new film, there was a Hugo Pratt exhibition, a Tove Janssen panel, there was something happening practically everyday, for an entire month. Insane.

I delivered a presentation that gave me the opportunity to discuss my work and my friendship with Dylan Williams and his company Sparkplug Comic Books, whom I also represented at the festival’s book fair. I had a dream about my recently departed dear friend while I was in Russia; he was seated at a drawing table, busily sketching away. As usual, I felt like I was interrupting or disturbing him. But Dylan always made time for me and this was no exception. We talked briefly and he advised me to respect and to pay attention to the Russian artist. I had a vague impression that Dylan had recently gone away, or that something had happened to him. But, no, here he was, attending to his work, same as always. And I had bothered him long enough, so I let him be.

Meanwhile, I was genuinely challenged by the questions from the audience at my presentation and impressed with their patience at my rambling. "Who are these attentive young Russians?" I thought. "Will they want to buy me drinks? Will they share their drugs with me? If I am kidnapped and turned out on the street as a male prostitute, will I earn enough rubles to afford decent krokodil?"
If you’ve ever seen me in front of an audience and managed to stay awake, you may be familiar with my nuanced style of incoherent blathering; somehow, these gracious Europeans and Russians made sense of what I was saying. Well, at least they were polite enough to smile and nod as I sputtered on. When the European artists I'd met at Boomfest departed for home, I wanted to travel with each of them to their countries. To understand what they were doing, to see what they were seeing. There is still so much to do, I thought. When the festival was finished I spent time during the day wandering through historic St. Petersburg; photographing the architecture along the Neva, and materials from the Russian State Cultural Museum, the Russian State Ethnographic Museum and the Kunstkamera.

After a couple of weeks of this foolishness I flew home via Frankfurt. The plane flew over Iceland, then southern Greenland just before sunset. Watching undisturbed and pristine towers of of ice and rock pass beneath the plane in that glow was like witnessing the beginning of time, the beginning of the world. And here I was, returning to the USA, back to where everything ends. Bak to the future.

And here are a bunch more photos, check it.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Vote for Kate! Vote for Kate!

Vote for Kate! Vote for Hark! Vote for Kate! Vote for Hark!

Nemesis Redux + Kate Beaton Tees

KateKateKate! A sequel to her sequence of pirate bromances.

Also, now that it's past American Thanksgiving, did you know Kate Beaton has new T-shirts up for sale on her site? Finally, a T-shirt that expresses exactly how I feel all the time (except sometimes I want more cat videos, or more capybara photos, or more ... y'know). All I'm sayin' is these might be a perfect Christmas gift:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Daniel Clowes Covers the NEW YORKER!

Just after I read this article in Salon about buying actual books from actual bookstores, I come across Dan's fantastic cover to this week's NEW YORKER.

A bunch of scores ago...

Mimi Pond gets out there and does the serious research on the Greatest of Wars at the LA Times. Seriously, how great was the Civil War. It really had everything.
Friday, November 25, 2011

Montreal! Get yer butts out of bed this weekend and head over to Expozine

Oh, that's right, mes freres, it's that time of year again. No, not "Black Friday," (which I take is some kind of American blood-pudding festival) but Montreal's favourite holiday, EXPOZINE. This is one of your rare chances to see "Mayor of Mile-End" Billy Mavreas south of Fairmount, so, please, don't let it go to waste! Seriously, though, this is a chance to see local (and non-local) zinesters and pierogies whose work you can't find elsewhere, so make sure to come check it out. I recommend heading down early since it gets CROWDED in that church basement. Here are the deets:

November 26-27, 12-6 p.m.
5035 St. Dominique, Montreal
free admission

(The mayor himself, Billy Mavreas!)

Oh, but that's not all! Tonight, Librairie D+Q is hosting an Expozine 10th Anniversary and FOUR MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT launch! It starts at 7 pm, and you can read all about it on good ol' facebook.

Adrian Tomine bags? Yes, it's true.

Check out what just rolled into the office. A brand new tote, designed by the handsome Adrian Tomine.

Here's Jess, working it:

We'll have bags available at Expozine this weekend, so make sure you come check it out. These beauties are gonna go fast.
Thursday, November 24, 2011

Jinchalo, you've stolen my heart.

Well, I haven't kept quiet about how eager (and impatient) I've been to read Matt Forsythe's new book, Jinchalo, and finally, my appetite has been sated. Earlier this week Matt sent in the book, and I've had the pleasure over the past few days of piecing it together. The above image is the final cover, minus a few colour tweaks. Beautiful, right?

A companion book to Ojingogo, Jinchalo follows the same young heroine through a Jack and the Bean Stalk inspired fairy tale that's woven with Korean folklore, taking the reader in and out of fantastical dream sequences, and leaving them feeling like they themselves have embarked on a strange and magical adventure through an incredible imaginary land. How does Matt accomplish so much in his stories without using any words? Beats me, but the world—or at least my bookshelf—is better for it. Take a look for yourself:

And lastly, here's Matt shoveling a VPP (non-Montrealers: veggie pulled pork) into his face when he stopped by the office yesterday for a celebratory lunch.

(Note new intern Robin on the bottom left. She's a gem!)

Congrats, Matt, on finishing the book, and doing an amazing job. It will be out early in the new year. And in the meantime, go visit Matt (and me + awesome intern/store staffer Jade) at Expozine this weekend.

A diversion on this Thanksgiving (Moomin edition)

For a little background on this video, here's excerpt from the forthcoming Tove and Lars Jansson Moomin comic strip biography, Moomin Every Day:

"In preparation of Moomin's two-year anniversary in 1956, Associated Newspapers contacted composer and conductor Robert Farnon. Farnon was one of the most famous light-music (a British term for mid-20th Century classical music compositions written with a broader appeal in mind) composers in England at the time. He was asked to compose a commemorative Moomin song. 'I was an enthusiastic Moomin fan by then, so I was delighted to agree, and for copyright reasons I distributed the piece under the pseudonym 'Ole Jensen,'' Farnon recalls. Robert Farnon's orchestra performed the piece for the first time on July 8, 1956, on BBC television. That evening, Farnon introduced the composition thus: 'Many of you know the Moomin comic strip, and Moomin, whose adventures range from silly to heroic. Moomin speaks strongly to my imagination and so I have composed this little musical frivolity to describe the happy, sad, jolly, and humorous character named Moomin.'"

Moomin Every Day is written by Moomin scholar and Finnish comics historian Juhani Tolvanen and translated by Jill G. Timbers and due out next Spring.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011

BIG QUESTIONS is a NY Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year

Congratulations to Anders Nilsen, who, after landing on the Amazon and Publishers Weekly best of 2011 lists, BIG QUESTIONS is the only graphic novel to have merited the distinction of being one of the 100 New York Times Notable Books of 2011 for adults. The grey lady's original review of BIG QUESTIONS by Douglas Wolk is here. 2011 was perhaps the most competitive year for high quality graphic novels since the graphic novel golden age started, and it is nothing short of rewarding to see a book as rich, layered and yes, complex, as BIG QUESTIONS get the attention is so rightly deserves. I think it's a definite sign of the maturation of the not just the medium, but of the critical attention the medium receives. It's a fascinating time to be in comics. Lastly, congrats Anders, BIG QUESTIONS is a true work of art on so many levels, thanks for letting D+Q publish it. It's amazing, and you're amazing!
Monday, November 21, 2011

Los Angeles report

I was in Los Angeles recently to accept on Daniel Clowes' behalf the Pen USA Award for Outstanding Body of Work in Graphic Literature, shown above. It sure is heartening to see guys like Dan and Seth (who recently was awarded with the Harbourfront prize) getting the recognition they deserve.

A few hours before the ceremony I paid a visit to Skylight Books, where I met Dan Kusunoki, their assistant manager who works primarily in their art & design (and comics) storefront next door. I don't know what it is about L.A., but along with Skylight, this city is teeming with some of the best independent book and comics stores around: Book Soup, Secret Headquarters, Golden Apple, Family, and Meltdown, to name a few.

While in town I was lucky enough to stay at the house of artists Mimi Pond and Wayne White. Here's Mimi in her studio, where she's been spending much of her available time writing and drawing a memoir (which will be published by D+Q) covering her early art school days while she was a waitress working in an Oakland diner.

Mimi has already drawn well over 100 pages. I was trying to figure out what her drawing process is; here's a few roughs drawn initially on vellum paper; she then takes this initial version and redraws it on white paper.

More Mimi. I've always been a fan of these cartoonist-sitting-at-drawing-table posed photos. Someone should publish a book just on this subject (OK, maybe a dedicated blog or Tumblr page or, for god's sake, whatever people are using these days).

A few steps over from Mimi's drawing table is Wayne's workspace, where the remnants of George Jones' eyeballs (part of a massive sculpture from a couple of years ago) are stored.

Somehow the walls of Mimi's and Wayne's otherwise idyllic studio setup can't contain their combined creativity, so while I was there Wayne was hard at work on an elaborate mural in their house upstairs; it will eventually wrap around their entire dining room.

Wayne is an artist with a long list of versatile accomplishments, from set and puppet design on Pee Wee's Playhouse (he even did some of the voices) to his current painting career. Go ahead and order Maybe Now I'll Get the Respect I So Richly Deserve, it's one of the best artist monographs published in recent years.

Here's the view just outside the door of their studio. Can it get any better than this?

The Rhythm Gets Seth, Dan & Adrian in Miami.

This past weekend, Dan, Adrian and Seth travelled to Miami for the Miami Book Fair. Words did not get in the way.

I asked Florida native Vanessa Davis for restaurant suggestions, and she said "Get a photo of Seth doing the conga on South Beach!" (I'm paraphrasing, perhaps)

1-2-3-4, this will have to do Vanessa!

Well, you know, it's D+Q, we don't exactly have a wild reputation. This is about as bad as our bad boys get, which for Seth, Dan and Adrian is pretty bad. (is that a onesie next to a thong?! yuck! there's no Gloria song for that!) Thanks to Adrian for sending along this important documentation of cartoonists out and about and getting some sunshine.
Saturday, November 19, 2011

They Grow Up So Fast Dept: When the intern who became an employee then becomes an art star.

Five years ago, we received a sweet and earnest letter from a Concordia student who had recently moved to Montreal from Victoria. (from the 'island') Due to her bookstore experience, we hired her as an intern, and then a paid intern, and then a PT employee, and now you know this person as our design manager Jessica Campbell, she with the quick wit. What you may not know about Jessica, is that she is a very talented painter. Last year she graduated from Concordia with a BFA, many accolades and awards and even admittance to the School of the Art Institute's MFA program! Luckily for us, she decided to stay in Montreal, and luckily for Montrealers she is working away in her studio when not in the office. Tonight at 427 at the Belgo building her new show, MAKING ROOM, opens, and it has already received press in the Gazette and the Mirror! Congrats, Jessica! Maybe one day, I'll be blogging about you appearing on your favorite television show.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Miami Book Fair Madness!

Oh yes, you lucky ducks in Miami. Not only do you get good weather all year ‘round, Art Basel Miami Beach, and the Miami Book Fair, but this year, you also get the ultimate D+Q team-up: Dan Clowes, Seth, and Adrian Tomine in conversation about their respective new books. We’re bringin' 'em over from all across the continent because we all know that the only thing that trumps a Dan and Seth tour is a Dan and Seth tour stop with a cameo appearance by Optic Nerve­ creator and New Yorker cover artist Adrian Tomine.

Okay okay, I’m sure you’re beating down the door (splash page?) of the Miami Book Fair site by now, so let me give you the deets:

Drawn & Quarterly presents a conversation: Seth on The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists; Adrian Tomine on Scenes from an Impending Marriage and Dan Clowes on The Death-Ray

Saturday November 19th at 12:30 PM
Promoteo Theatre (Building 1, 1st floor, Room 1101)
300 NE Second Ave., Miami

Psst, one last thing: this is a free event! So come on out! It promises to be a great time! All three authors will be signing after the talk. 

Kate's back in New York

The Hark! A Vagrant tour is over.

Let the updates commence! New Gorey covers, my friends!

Plus: Nancy is a bad influence.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Congrats, Dan Clowes! **UPDATED**

Last week, the Chief travelled to Los Angeles to accept the Pen USA Award for Outstanding Body of Work in Graphic Literature on behalf of Dan Clowes. He attended the ceremony with Mimi Pond who climbed on top of Dave Eggers and then sat in his lap to get this photo. Chris will turn in his blog report later this week on the full trip. (when hopefully we'll see photos of Katherine Keener who was also at the ceremony!!!) But for now, we have Dan's acceptance speech in full. Many bets in the office were made that Chief would not read the last line when on stage. I tried to get Mimi to make sure he would, but even she could not.

I’m very happy and honored to accept this award, and especially so to have a category all to myself. I’ve always felt like a fraud when referred to as a “writer” – I only use that description when talking to the other parents at my son’s school – but cannot deny my pride at being recognized by this esteemed institution, both as an individual and as a proud representative of my beloved medium. Comics are their own separate language, quite unique from prose and drama, and the form has long - and perhaps rightfully - been regarded with disdain by the guardians of artistic virtue and I can only be humbled, or perhaps horrified by our general cultural decline, to have slipped through the gates.

I’d like to thank The PEN center, of course, and Mr. Oliveros for speaking to you in my absence. In gratitude, I will mercifully refrain from making him talk in the third person about what a great guy he is. Thank you.

1) Chris, you are a great guy even if you won't say it yourself and 2) Dan, you are not a fraud in any medium. You deserve every accolade ever bestowed upon you. Those other parents are crying in their cubicles. Congrats.

Ok, so no disrepect to Mimi, but the Pen Awards sent along the official photo:
Monday, November 14, 2011

Tom Gauld, NYT Mag Magician

As if I needed something to make me love the NYT Magazine more. I mean, leaving aside the awesome cover stories, the great writing, &c.&c., you are left with what? Why yes, dear reader, the illustrations.

Tom Gauld has been doing a weekly illustration for the Riff section of the Magazine since March of this year. This week, Hugo Lindgren rewards us with an unabridged collection of the strips, which accompany articles that sound fascinating.

Click through for more Gauldian amazingness, or to read an article or something, if you're into that.
Friday, November 11, 2011

Walt & Skeezix 1929-1930

Out in stores by early December, our last book of 2011 will be the fifth volume of Frank King's understated masterpiece, Walt & Skeezix.

Did you know that if you place all five volumes side by side, you'll "see" Skeezix growing older? From the baby in a basket in the first book, to the nine year old shown here. One of the subtle design nuances we've come to expect from Chris Ware.

And speaking of Chris, I've always admired his design approach to the inside dustjacket, where he runs original art from a corresponding strip across the width of the entire jacket area.

And what's this at the back of the book? As a special bonus, we've included a DVD featuring over two hours of Frank King's silent home movies dating from the 1920s and 30s. Aside from their primary role as fascinating documents on the King family, these films also provide a rare glimpse of early 20th century Wisconsin, Illinois, Florida, British Columbia, California, and parts of Europe (the King family traveled widely at a time when journeys of this scope were rare).

We'll preview a couple of these films a little closer to the book's release date...

Herge: A comic strip biography

Arriving in stores this week and next!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Death-Ray Discussion Forum

Before The Death-Ray came out, everyone here in the office re-read it and we had a kind of round-table discussion about the themes and nuances of the book. This is something that we haven't really done formally for other books (though there is, of course, a lot of informal discussion that happens), and that we felt we needed to for this one is a testament to its complexity and depth. I think we all came out of that discussion thinking that The Death-Ray is one of Clowes' richest works to date (the richest?!), and it's certainly one of my favourites.

This is all to say that we aren't the only ones interested in dissecting this work, and that Ken Parille has started a discussion forum over at TCJ, where he offers some very astute and interesting insights as discussion prompts. Check it out, and get talking!

Guy Delisle Chronicles

Evidently, there is a documentary about the brilliant and hilarious Guy Delisle coming out, one that is going to focus primarily on his time in Jerusalem. (In other news, Guy now has a beard.)

Anyway, on the subject of Jerusalem, Guy's incredible travelogue about his time there (his longest work yet!) is going to coming out in April, and I've included an early excerpt for you below. Enjoy!


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