Locust Moon Shop to Close

(I took this photo during my only trip to Locust Moon, after exhibiting at the 2013 festival. It really was a great shop.)

Locust Moon just announced that it will be closing its west-Philly shop at the end of the year. This closure comes hot on the heels of the one at Bergen Street, and likewise Locust Moon plans to carry on as a publisher. As far as I know, Locust Moon Press’ publications to date are the over-sized Eisner-winning anthology Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream and the Quarter Moon anthology (which, by the way, is a great name for a quarterly publication). No news yet on the status of the festival.

If you want more details, check out Heidi MacDonald’s write-up on the Beat.

News Roundup: Kuš, Bug Boy, 2015 Convention Survey

Sorry about the scant updates. I’ve been  traveling: three shows in four weeks! Here’s my only pic from Short Run in Seattle. This was a Halloween show so I dressed as Frank and got a photo with Frank’s pa, Jim Woodring (his real pa, not his faux pa, as Calista Brill pointed out).frankcostume

I’m very happy that I have no shows planned until spring. I have no scene report for Short Run or CAB, because I was working solo, non-stop  for both shows (with one-day shows, you can’t really afford to take a break). I’ll say this much: Short Run is a friendly, good vibes show with pretty good sales and low table cost, BUT if you’re traveling from the Midwest or the East Coast, covering cost will be a real challenge. CAB is a lively and intense show, packed to the gills, but covering travel cost is very doable.

A lot has been happening while I was away. Here is some of it.

Kuš Announces Line of Solo Graphic Novels
Cover Roman Muradov The End of a Fence 640Read this announcement and preview over at Comics & Cola. End of A Fence by Roman Muradov, the first in the kuš mono series, will be release in a few weeks. You can pre-order it for just $14, including international shipping.

Czap releases Bug Boys by Laura KnetzgerBugBoys_Digital-1Bug Boy, a lovely and hefty (352-page) graphic novel for young readers by Laura Knetzger, is being released by Czap Books in early December. You can pre-order your copy now, and there are some pretty cute pre-order bonuses (tote bags, pins, etc.).

I haven’t dug into this book yet, but from the outside it looks great—as good as anything from a major trade publisher. Czap is a micro-press to watch, and their projects are becoming more ambitious.

Devastator/The Beat’s 2015 Convention Survey is LiveconsHere’s the link for the new survey! Seriously, take the time to fill this out. The Devastator and The Beat compile this data every year in order to paint a picture of what works (and what doesn’t) for the independent convention exhibitor. As the other micro-publisher that collects annual data to better understand the world of small publishing, I heartily endorse this effort.



MICE 2015 Recap and Thoughts on the Kid Friendly Show

(Sorry for the lack of updates here at the Tiny Report. The demands of my real jobs have been taking priority lately.)

mice15_6sMICE was, I think, the seventh show I tabled at this year (and I’ve got two more to go). That’s way too many shows! This year has been all about preparing for shows or being at shows, it seems. Shows are on my mind alot.

And MICE was a good show. It’s very exhibitor friendly: the tables are cheap, the staff is friendly, and volunteers fed us non-stop. The free food at the after-party was especially tasty, and mostly vegetarian. I don’t think I’ve been better tended to at  show.

Also worth noting: there’s a small food court of Korean and Japanese restaurants downstairs from the show. Delicious! MICE definitely wins the best food award.

The programming looked strong: tailored to the moderators and panelists, and not cookie-cutter subjects. It was really refreshing to see so much programming focused on black cartoonists across conventions this year, and MICE was no exception. I don’t know if ever saw a black cartoonist panel in a program schedule before 2015, and I think I’ve seen four or more this year. Black Lives Matter is making an impact in this community.

The hall where the panels were held was great: excellent AV and auditorium seating (one of the benefits of holding a show at a college). I sat on a minicomics panel, which I think went well. One irksome thing was that this panel, for reasons I don’t understand, was marked kid friendly. While none of our material was overly risque, I was told parents walked out. Irregardless of the material, this just wasn’t a topic that was really accessible to the young. It was technical, and focused on varsity-level printing and binding techniques.

It’s clear that MICE went out it’s way to make this a welcoming show for parents (tables were also marked kid friendly). I certainly don’t want show to be kid-unfriendly, but I wonder if it’s such a good idea to market so heavily to buyers who often have little to no interest in the majority of the work that’s there. MICE is a tiny show: it inhabits a number of small rooms and a few hallways, which isn’t ideal. The space was so cramped that customers could hardly make it to the tables. In a situation like this, I would expect sales to be brisker. From where I was standing, it seems like the things that were really selling were kids graphic novels published by major house: that is to say, books you could find in any Barnes and Nobles. It would benefit sellers like me, who have little to no content for children, who come from the tradition of underground and alternative comics, and who actually make small press comics, if this show catered more to buyers who are interested in that. I guess MICE has limited control over the audience it attracts, but I think perhaps RIPE and CAB strike a better balance.

If I sound cranky, I apologize. I’ve got no gripe against kid comics from major houses: that’s what I do for my day job, and I love it. I’m just trying to figure out how a indie comics show can be a cultural event that benefits the local community, that’s welcoming rather than insular, and still attracts the kind of people who are (or potentially could be) buyers of independent comics. Brooklyn Zine Fest is one of my favorite examples of this in action.

So sales were so-so, especially with strong SPX sales fresh on my mind. But when I did the math and took into consideration the low table cost ($80 for a half) I came out ahead at MICE. The high cost of lodging took a bite. (I stayed at an airbnb, as did many people I talked to, since it seems impossible to find even a private hostel room for less than $100). But all in all, MICE was an excellent show, one of the better run ones I’ve attended, and I’d be happy to do it again.

mice15_10sThe scene from the floor. MICE is a pretty cramped show.

mice15_14sGene Luen Yang and Tony Davis (of Million Year Picnic).

mice15_12s Ethan Rilly (talking to Sophie Goldstein).

mice15_11s Reilly Hadden and Stephanie Zuppo, two recent CCS grads putting out cool stuff.

mice15_8s The best table mates! Paul Lyons and Cheryl Kaminsky of Hidden Fortress.

Best table partner and BF: Mike Hunchback.

mice15_4s Jason Little.

mice15_2s Cara Bean.

mice15_1sMatt Moses of Hic and Hoc.

SPX 2015 Recap

I left this year’s SPX feeling good about the world of comics and my place in it. Can’t say that’s a common post-con experience. This might be the #1 good vibes show.

I haven’t slept much since Friday night, so I’ll jump right to the highlights.

1. Women sweep the Ignatz for the first time ever
Women won in every category. Can you believe it? I was actually a juror this year. Most of this year’s jury (four out of five) are women. I have to believe this contributed to the high number of women on the ballot. And no one on the jury was a white male. I wonder if that’s a first too?
And what’s kind of awesome is that during the ceremony it didn’t even occur to me that only women were winning. I had to be told the next day. It’s a pretty great moment for women in comics, when something like this happens and it doesn’t even register as being unique.

2. Kilgore Books
I met Dan Stafford and Luke Janes, co-owners of Kilgore Books, and dropped a good chunk of change at their table. I’ve never been to their shop, but I’m a fan of their books (especially anything Noah Van Sciver or John Porcellino). I just learned that they’re selling the store to an employee, will carry on publishing (not unlike Bergen Street).

3. Nostalgia
I did the math and I’ve been going to this show for fifteen years. Well fourteen I guess, because it was cancelled on 9/11. Heck, I’ve been going so long that I remember when I couldn’t go because of 9/11! Don’t believe me? Here’s proof. I was a baby! (Photo via Jeff Mason.)
This year my roommates and I carpooled down to the show with my friend/landlord Nick Bertozzi and friend/not landlord Jason Little. I’ve been hanging out with these guys at convention for well over a decade.
Sorry to get mushy, but it’s friendships fostered at conventions like SPX that’s kept in this crazy world of comics for so long. I’m getting older and I have to admit I’m looking back.

Not to suggest SPX is a lovefest for all involved. Communities like this are near-utopic when you’re on the inside, but watching from the outside is rough. (I’ve been there too.) I know there are people who don’t feel a sense of belonging at SPX. (I’d guess, those who are unable to get a table year after year). I’d be interested in hearing these voices too.

But let’s get to the fun part: pictures.

Chuck Forsman and Melissa Mendes of Oily. Lots of good stuff (Revenger, The Weight, the Lou book) on the horizon for both of them.

Dan Stafford and Luke Janes of Kilgore Books

spx15_6s2D Cloud gang: Melissa Carraher (publicist) in the back, author Sarah Ferrick, Raighne Hogan (publisher), and author Maggie Umber. 

One Percent Press: JP Coovert (publisher), Alexis Frederick-Frost (author), Stephen Floyd (publisher).

Week in Review: CAB, Nix Comics, Pyrite Press

CAB Poster Released
CAB2015Look at this sexy poster for CAB 2015. Special guest Dan Clowes! 

Nix Comics of Columbus, OH
By way of the Comics Reporter, I learned about a little publisher that looks like a micro-press to me. Nix Comics is run by Ken Eppstein out of Columbus. Tom Spurgeon describes him as am “ethical publisher” (he pays his authors, and could probably get away without doing so). Ken had Nix’s origin story drawn as a comic, which is a pretty great idea. (Though I could do without the panel where a man describing music to an ignorant girl.)

I’m interested in checking out Nix—I think the parallels between the small press and record store ownership is pretty interesting. But if I were to be 100% honest, the cover design on their books could use some work, and it’s a little hard to see past that.

Nix is currently doing a Kickstarter for its latest anthology. It’s a pretty fun concept: horror stories with garage and punk rock inspirations.

New Micro-Press: Pyrite Presspepperbreath

Bryce Gold just announced that he’s starting a new small publishing house called Pyrite Press. I’ve met Bryce through the New York community, but I don’t know much about him. It turns out he has worked in trade publishing and for a literary agency, and I’m curious how that experience will benefit a micro-press. His first project is a Digimon-themed anthology called Pepper Breath, which you can pre-order now. It looks pretty promising, though the $18 price might be a touch high for a 68-page book (even for full-color and perfect binding—perhaps it has art book qualities  that account for that).

I’m happy to have another small publisher in New York, and in my own neighborhood, even. If I remember correctly, Pyrite Press is the third micro-press in Ridgewood, Queens.


Week in Review: Dog City Press, Minicomic of the Month Club, Birdcage Bottom

Another Anthology from Dog City Presstumblr_nta5d1Lh6T1s64julo1_1280

Dog City Press is a collaborative of CCS graduates with a predilection for making exquisitely handcrafted comic anthologies. Their past three issues have consisted of screen printed box sets filled with minicomics. Dog City 4 will be a real-deal book, with a spine. And this is interesting: each story is a collaboration between two cartoonists. You can pre-order it here.

Monthly Minicomics from Australiatop

Smaller Comics is once again offering their Minicomic of the Month  Club. I subscribed last year, and I enjoyed the variety of material I received. They’re always a short read, but good. It’s $48 for the year if you live in the US—a bargain, if you ask me.

New Books from Birdcage Bottomunnamed
Birdcage Bottom Books is releasing three new books: Bangs and Beard Diary by  Melinda Tracy Boyce and Aaron Whitaker, Left Empty #1 by Jamie Vayda and Alan King, and Pyramid Scheme by Josh Burggraf and Victor Kerlow. Bangs and Beard Diary is on my list of SPX debuts to pick up. Looks cute!


Week in Review: Bergen Street, Tim Corrigan, Retrofit, and Domino

I’m trying something new: rather than write sporadic posts whenever I have a spare minute (which I have lass and lass of these days) I’m going to try to post a recap at the end of the week. This works better with my work schedule, and it’s more forgiving when I miss a news item by a day or two.

Bergen Street Comics Store to Close, Micro-Press Lives Onstore1Like many, I was surprised and bummed to hear that Bergen Street Comics is closing its doors. It’s one of the best comic shops in New York—in the country, really. It’s a classy shop with a great selection of work, big press and small. Bergen Street became the go-to New York shop for indie/arty comic events, and that’s what usually brought me to the neighborhood (Prospect Heights is not my usual stomping grounds).

Bergen Street also has a publishing arm, which thankfully is soldiering on. They’re part of a  trend among boutique shops—Desert Island, Floating World, and Secret Headquarters publish as well. Bergen Street’s signature title is Copra, and alternative type super hero comic that has garnered a lot of praise (I have to admit I’ve never read it, because alternative type super hero comics don’t float my boat). I’ll keep my eyes on Bergen Street Comics Press.

RIP Tim Corriganspce6I have to admit, I wasn’t aware of Tim Corrigan before hearing about his passing this week (Will Pfeifer did a nice write-up). But I want to learn more. Tim covered the small press in the early days of minicomics  through the pages of his zine Small Press Explosion. It seems like what he was doing in the 80s is similar to what I’m doing right now, and I’m surprised I’d never came across his zine before. I was able order an old issue on eBay (Mile High still has a few left.) I’ll share it here once it arrives.

New Releases from RetrofitCOVER_originalRetrofit announced that they will have four new debuts for SPX: Butter and Blood by Steven Weissman, Ikebana by Yumi Sakugawa, Big Planet Comics Blue (an anthology) and Bio-Whale by Ville Kallio (published by Peow! Studio). Butter and Blood and Ikebana are available for pre-order.

Domino Adds New Booksvanilla white interiorAustin English has added several new titles to the well-curated selection of unusual, hard-to-find, and beautiful books in his online store. Go take a look. Above is a spread from Vanilla White: Heat Rises by Jesi The Elder.