Kickstart This: Smilin’ Ed Comics

It is very likely that I would not be working in comics now without the influence of Raoul Vezina, the creator of the classic four issue series of Smilin’ Ed Smiley comics that were released more than 30 years ago. Raoul was also the front counter guy at Albany, New York’s Fanta Co, and he introduced me to the very first Fantagraphics edition of Love And Rockets. His comics are still fresh all these years later, and this collection of his work needs your help to see print. Get on over to the Kickstarter and help make this project happen.

A Few Blurry Phone Photos From SPX 2014

I went to SPX 2014 and all I got were these seven crappy phone photos, a Hidden Fortress T-Shirt and the new Charles Burns book (signed, with the numbered bookplate and the paper mask). I picked up a ton of new books from various parts of the show for the Wow Cool shop. We expect them to successfully ship to us by next Wednesday, September 24th. Watch this space for details (yes we will have The Humans #0, stop asking).

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Derf Dackderf sold out of two big stacks of his True Stories #1 at SPX 2014. Never fear, there are many more in existence. It won’t be in stores until November, but you can pre-order the book from Wow Cool now.

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James Kochalka signed many books 

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Dean Haspiel explains the universe to Gary Groth

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Derf, Tom Tomorrow and Ruben Bolling hanging out with Jules Feiffer

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The Alternative Comics / Revival House Press / Hang Dai Editions area, with Malachi Ward, David Nuss and Josh Neufeld. Alternative Comics was well represented elsewhere at the show at individual artists’ tables for SPX Special Guest Derf and Nick Bertozzi. Much missed was Seth Kushner, who we are very confident will be with us at SPX next year.

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It’s Josh Neufeld again! With Gregory Benton.

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Tom Neely and Tom Kaczynski.

Kickstart This: Sparkplug Fall Books

Sparkplug Books needs your help to publish their next two books: Reich #12 by Elijah Brubaker and Vortex by William Cardini. That’s all you should need to know. Go on, get to it. Get over to Kickstarter and give Sparkplug lots of money!

Indie Comics Day – Two New From Alternative

We are making an attempt around here to designate Thursday as Indie Comic Book Day. Wednesday is the traditional new comic book day, but Thursday is the traditional ‘businesses stay open a little later day’, so it makes some sort of sense. Meanwhile, in music and books, Tuesday is new release day… I think. Pretty sure. Anyway. We have scads of new books in our Silicon Valley Store, several of which have yet to make it into the online shop… We do have two for you right now – from our in-house imprint Alternative Comics – that are in both places:

Death in Oaxaca

Death in Oaxaca #1 by Steve Lafler. Steve’s first new series since Bughouse. This surreal adventure serves up Lucha Libre wrestlers and an ancient vampire who prefers chicken. Two expats move to remote Oaxaca, the fabled highland city in southern Mexico. Rex, earnest yet duplicitous, flees from mid-life crisis and fear of death. Beautiful Gertie, cynical but honest, is just plain bored and craves adventure.

Night of the Living Vidiots

Night of the Living Vidiots by Andy Ristaino – The first full color collection of comics from the Emmy Award Winning Adventure Time artist. Sci-fi, horror, and comedy melted together and topped with a Twilight Zone twist. Darkly funny tales featuring mad science, gothic anime, TV zombies, kaiju, giant robots, monsters from the deep, and even a haunted sweatshirt.

Three Alternative Comics Titles Available for Pre-Order – Plus Self-Published Kevin Huizenga Books Now in The Shop

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Just like it says above the cover images… Three upcoming Alternative Comics titles are available for pre-order in the Wow Cool Shop: Death In Oaxaca #1 by Steve Lafler and Night of the Living Vidiots by Andy Ristaino will be available in early August; and, Derf Backderf’s first ever comic book series True Stories will debut with the first issue in early November (crafty travelers can get their’s from Derf at SPX in September).

UPDATE: The first printing of the Noah Van Sciver illustrated A City of Whiskey and Fire has now sold out of it’s first printing and has now been changed to pre-order for the October 2014 Alternative Comics edition.

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We also have a couple of recently fresh self-published books from Kevin Huizenga: The Half Men and The Pocket Guides. Many more books have shown up in the last couple of weeks and we are getting them up on the online shop as we can. You can get all those and many more in person at our Cupertino store.

Kickstart This – Root Hog or Die – The John Porcellino/King-Cat documentary

For twenty-five years, John Porcellino has been self publishing ‘King-Cat Comics & Stories’, a black & white (generally) 32 page comic/zine. His collected stories have been published by Drawn and Quarterly, and his work has appeared in McSweeney’s, The Best American Comics, Kramer’s Ergot, the Anthologies of Graphic Fiction, and in countless other anthologies and collections.

Our old pal Dan Stafford has spent the last five years shooting, assembling and editing video about John and his work, and now he’s ready to bring it to the world… but he needs your help. The film will debut at SPX this September.

Support Root Hog or Die – The John Porcellino/King-Cat documentary on Kickstarter.

Kickstart This – Kozmo-Knot

From the creator of the ultra-high production values, instant sell-out success comic book the Outliers comes the comic that never ends. Under the pen name Eero, the mysterious and reclusive artist (who’s real name is pretty damn easy to figure out…) has teemed up with Uncivilized Books LABS (not a kennel club) to produce an experiment in storytelling that will be the nicest damn looking comics thing ever.

Kozmo-Knot is the story of a spaceman and a caveman, a campfire and a blaster, a rocket ship, asteroid, a rocky off-world landscape. It’s a kinetic pantomime that takes a reader on a far away journey, then right back where they started … to begin again.

Kozmo-Knot is engineered to be a otherworldly specimen of paper engineering and storytelling: it is a star-shaped paper sculpture / art book / novelty item / narrative ellipse.

Go Kickstart Kozmo-Knot

Memorial Day Weekend Goods From Wow Cool

Howdy Pardner! It’s Memorial Day weekend. The start of Summer! We will be extending the hours at our Cupertino store on Thursdays… starting next week we will be open until 8pm. This will last until the end of summer, which, in comic book land, is SPX weekend. So, the last Thursday this year with late hours is September 11. It just works out that way… any unpleasant associations brought on by two comic book longboxes placed near each other is your own hangup. We will also be dragging out the quarter boxes onto our expansive patio space every Saturday all summer long – starting this weekend. In related news, we have added a previously exclusive to the Cupertino store item to our online shop, signed and sketched copies of Brandon Graham’s Escalator.

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Sequential Artists Workshop 2014-15 Applications Open

SAW — The Sequential Artists Worksop — in Gainesville, Florida is now accepting applications for the 2014-1015 school year for their single-year program. Full details here.

A Quarter Each or 25 for Five Dollars

In case you hadn’t heard, we are having a big sale on Saturday at our Cupertino, California store and on WowCool.com all weekend. You will have to make it to Cupertino to dig through the 17 longboxes of comics we are selling at a quarter a pop (or 25 for five dollars, as it says in the headline). I was curious what kind of gems were hidden in those thousands of books. So, I dug through a small section of a couple boxes and pulled out a few that looked interesting to me. This is hardly a representative core sample. There are all manner of books in there. If you are a frequent bargain bin digger you will probably be surprised at the high physical quality of most of the books. You should not be surprised that there are not a whole lot that are A-list titles for both quality and content or popularity. In other words, there are not many Avengers, but plenty of West Coast Avengers and those stacks of Wolfman/Perez New Teen Titans are not a high grade. Hey, it’s a quarter bin. That said, my random-ish sampling revealed some gems, most of which were completely unknown to me. Here’s a few of them.

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The Eternal #5 by Chuck Austen and Kev Walker, from Marvel’s Max imprint. December, 2003. This very strange take on Jack Kirby’s 1970s Eternals series is a 21-page bloodbath, rendered in Kev Walker and Simon Coleby’s very slick Mike Mignola meets Kevin O’Neill style. Dan Brown’s coloring is worth noting. It is rarely over-rendered, such effects generally being used to fine effect on subtle background details like the cloud and smoke-forms. His pallet is interesting, occasionally reminiscent of Farel Dalrymple’s. There is a sudden shift in hue towards the end of the book that some clever person in the production department chose to place an ad for the old Incredible Hulk TV show DVDs across from. I don’t think this series has been collected in graphic novel form.

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Strange Tales Volume 2, number 6, 7 & 15 — all with Kevin Nowlan covers. Each contains two short short stories starring rotating cover stars Cloak and Dagger (written by their creator Bill Mantlo for the first six issues) and Doctor Strange (all the ones here written by Peter B. Gillis). September 1987 — June 1988. There is much that could be talked about here. First off, these books came out mere months after I’d pretty much stopped buying any Marvel or DC comics. I am only vaguely aware of these and had never really looked at one before. Kevin Nowlan has very generously shared much of his work on his blog, including the pencils and inks (shown above, click to enlarge) for the cover of Strange Tales #6. Back in the early 1980s Peter B. Gillis was a writer to watch. He had done a couple of fill-in issues of Captain America and the last two issues of the original Supervillain Team-Up series that were strikingly unlike anything else at the time. He went on to write Warp, Shatter and Strikeforce: Morituri.

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Deadman Volume 3, number 5. Script by Steve Vance. Guest artists José Luis García-López and Josef Rubinstein. Cover art by Mike Mignola. June, 2002. Garcia-Lopez is an artist who has gotten a bit of attention lately. As ‘mainstream’ American superhero comics artists go, he is one of the masters. There are bits of brilliance on display here. It is all, well, what it is… superhero comics… much of it is merely at a very high level of ‘workmanlike’ cartooning, but, there are glimpses of gesture and movement that you will stop and look at. Rubinstein’s hand is surprisingly light compared to his 70s work with artists such as Michael Netzer. Also of note in the comic is a one-page ad for the Kirby-inspired video game Freedom Force. The art on that presumably by creator Robb Waters, not Tom Scioli who would do the comic book version a few years later at Image.

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The Incredible Hulk Annual #15. 1986. Cover art by Mike Zeck and Bob McLeod. Interior art by Sal Buscema. Just look at that cover. The Gil Kane-designed Abomination is up against it in this one. That’s some strong art with some crap-ass layout on the titles and what-not. The inside art is pure Sturdy Sal Buscema – pencils and inks. The younger Buscema is well regarded for being a very effective comic book storyteller. His work with Steve Gerber on the Defenders and Steve Englehart on the Avengers is still very affectionately remebered. Sal had drawn many Annual and Giant-sized editions for Marvel, and many such products from Marvel in the 70s and 80s betrayed the hurried nature of their production in the quality of the final product. Sal turns in a sturdy job here. If it was hurried, his line is still always strong and assured, although the ‘backgrounds’ are often very sparse or lacking any detail apart from ‘action lines’. I have to wonder what it would be like if some more time was allowed to be spent on it. There are details of the cover and interior that make me wonder if the artists were pushed to make it ‘more like Frank Miller’. There are a few pages inside that do look suspiciously like Klaus Janson’s inking as well. Hey, this was the Jim Shooter era. All kinds of wacky things were going on.

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Muties The Changeling #1. April 2002. Writer: Karl Bollers. Layouts: Salgood Sam. Painter: Peter Ferguson. OK. Last up in the roundup is one I have no point of reference for. I seem to find some new-to-me and relatively obscure comic from Marvel every few months that has crazy art that I can’t believe I’ve never heard of. This one is as far away from a typical Marvel comic as you can get. There is a crucial moment in the story towards the back of the book that is largely conveyed through changes in the style of art that is so striking that I don’t want to give anything away by trying to explain it more. This one may be a keeper. The rest will probably go back into the bins for the sale. I hope to see you there… OK, I need to get some sleep.

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