Micro-Press Yearbook 2015

Earlier this month I (finally) published the Micro-Press Yearbook 2015. I had hoped to release it in early 2016. I’m doing my best, but it’s getting harder to carve out time to publish with a demanding day job (that I very much love).

But it’s here, And I’m offering it for the low cost of $4, free shipping. Which basically just covers my costs. Consider it my gift to you, dear reader.

Order your copies here.

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I published the Micro-Press Yearbook 2015 just in time to head down to Georgia for the Savannah College of Art and Design’s annual Minicomic Expo. SCAD is my alma mater, but I hadn’t been back in a long time. I first arrived there as a freshman TWENTY years ago. Hard to believe.

This is what I looked like back then. Note the Love and Rockets t-shirt and my roller skates, painted silver and stenciled with some of my favorite comic book characters.

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Still looking good,right?14733252_326108841091644_5319797121900085248_n

Needless to say, it was an emotionally trip. This place was so significant to my younger self. I had forgotten that.

SCAD has changed a lot in the last twenty years. I think the greatest improvement to the Sequential Art department (or Sequa, as it’s casually know there) is its greater focus on self-publishing. That’s largely due to David Allan Duncan, the professor who invited me down. Duncan (as he’s known) teaches the minicomics class (there’s a minicomics class now!) and he’s responsible for the annual Minicomics Expo. The Expo is tiny comics convention held in a number of classrooms. Only students and alumni exhibit, and it’s free and open to the public. Each year one special guest is invited (usually an alum), and this year it was me.

While I was there I gave FIVE lectures over three days,  so I was pretty drained. One of the lectures was called Robyn Chapman: a Career in Comics. I thought that one would break me. I’m not super comfortable talking about myself or my career. I naturally want to put quotation marks around that word: “career.” But that’s bull. For the first time, I have a real, grown-up, full-time career. I guess it’s time to own it.

Here’s a collection of photos of students and alums exhibiting at the Expo. (Please correct me if I got any names wrong.)

scad1 Eugene Park had a really nice set-up

scad-8Al Pullen makes Pokemon butt pins out of sculpy. Pretty cool

scad-7 Scuzz Comics (Warren Bond?). This was his first show, but the pizza box display was a smart idea

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Jordan Scribner and his partner at the Grad Lab podcast (sorry, I’m not sure of his name)
scad-3Sarah Myer, an MFA grad and a recent SCAD instructor

scad-2Fawn Prints has the Halloween vibe going on

SCAD treats its visiting artists very well. They put me up in the Magnolia House, a special bed and breakfast for visiting faculty. Here are some pics.

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I had a great time at SCAD, and I even sold some minis at the Minicomic Expo. Considering that I didn’t spend a dime, it might be my most profitable convention of all time.

 

 

News Roundup: Alvin Buenaventura, Sparkplug, Sick by Gabby Schulz

It’s been a while since I’ve done one these “news roundups.” But it’s been an eventful and heavy week, so I had to.

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Like so many in my community, I was shocked and saddened by the untimely death of Alvin Buenaventura. As far as I know, the only one to publically call his death a suicide is Tim Hensley, who Alvin was publishing in his last days. It’s the sad conclusion that many of us had already made. (I borrowed the above photo from Tim’s post.)

Alvin was a fine art publisher and a meticulous perfectionist. His press great right out of gate: Spaniel Rage by Vanessa Davis was the first graphic novel from Buenaventura Press, and one my favorites. Other cartoonists he publish include Souther Salazar, Matt Furie, and Lisa Hanawalt. Probably his most well-known publication was Kramers Ergot #7, a beautiful and immense (16″x 21″) anthology edited by Sammy Harkham. Buenaventura Press closed not long after for unspecified legal and financial problems (which I speculate may have been tied the the extreme expense of Kramers Ergot 7 and other high fidelity projects).

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Alvin reemerged with Pigeon Press, which focused on fine art production and even smaller print runs. The future of the press, its remaining stock, and the books in production is unknown.

Alvin published some of the most beautiful comics of the last decade, and he didn’t even consider himself an artist. He was only 39. I’m so sorry he’s gone. Here’s a great remembrance by Daniel Clowes.

 

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Virginia Paine at Sparkplug Comic Books announced that the press will be closing this year. Sparkplug has been around for fourteen years, making it one of the longest running micro-presses on my list. It was started in 2002 by Dylan Williams. Like Alvin Buenaventura, Dylan also died at age 39, but of cancer. It was the first time a peer from my comics community had died. Before that, this little world felt somewhat invincible to me.

After his death, Dylan’s wife Emily Nillson ran the press with Tom Neely. Virginia Paine took over publishing duties in 2013. I like how the press was developing, and you could discern a character in content and design that was her own. But running the press while holding down a job and creating her own artwork became too demanding for Virginia. The bright side is that Sparplug’s backstock will be absorbed by Alternative Comics, who is doing a great job of distributing work from all corners of the small press comics world.

Sick-CoverTo end on a high note, Gabby Schulz (aka Ken Dahl) just announced that we can expect a new graphic novel from him this spring. Secret Acres is publishing his latest work, Sick, and also bringing his previous work, Monsters, back into print. Both will be available in bookstores all over the country thanks to Secret Acres’ recent deal with Consortium Press. Consortium is really making a bid to be the bookstore distributor of small press comics publishers. I hope it pays off.

 

“Job Moves”

photo (13)Since I moved back to New York five years ago, I’ve been juggling numerous jobs: usually working two at a time, sometimes three or four. It’s rough! But I want to live in New York City and I want to have a career/life in comics, as much as possible. It was the best I could do, and it was hardscrabble.

I had finally whittled it down to two jobs: part-time paralegal work for corporate lawyers and part-time editorial/admin work at First Second. I’ve been hoping to go full-time at First Second, and what can I say? Monday it finally happened.

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I’m now an ASSOCIATE editor at First Second! That’s the highest level I’ve ever reached in the publishing hierarchy. If it’s not the big time, it’s definitely the medium time. I’ve spent over four years in trade publishing as a part-time employee, and always with “assistant” somewhere in my title. And this is the first time in eight years that First Second has added an additional editor to the staff. So this is no small thing!

So what does this mean for the Tiny Report? I’ve got to scale back, but I’m not calling it quits. I make no promise to blog regularly. (In fact, I can promise I won’t.) I want to make my online List a more robust table of information, and I want to publish the Micro-Press Yearbook. I think that’s what the Tiny Report will be.

Going forward, my day job is going to be primary creative endeavor. I’m still going to publish a bit, and I’m going to draw a bit. But my carreer as an editor is largely how I will contribute to the comics medium. (Or that’s the plan, at least–I feel like I’m jinxing it, just typing this.) There were certainly times in my life, especially when I was younger, when I wouldn’t have been satisfied with this bargain. I wanted to be a CARTOONIST, no ifs, ands, or buts. But now I’m ready. This is what I’m good at. I’m an editor. And, shit, it’s the best job in the world!

I don’t mean to carry on about me, me, me. But I’m really interested in what happens when a cartoonist takes on the role of editor or publisher. That’s one of the reasons I created the Tiny Report. There were financial and time-management challenges I expected, and social ones I didn’t. (See How to Talk to a Micro-Publisher Without Sounding Like a Jerk.) I’d be interested in what other people have experienced. Let me know.

2015 Micro-Press Survey

vintage-new-years-102015 is drawing to a close, and you know what that means! It’s time for the 2015 Micro-Press Survey. I use the data collected from this survey to create my annual report, the Micro-Press Yearbook.

Are you a micro-publisher? Please take my survey! It’s fun and it’s quick. Please submit your answers by January 22.

If you’ve taken the survey in years past, you can take the FAST TRACK Micro-Press Survey. This will save you time by skipping some of the questions you’ve already answered.

New to the Micro-Press Survey? GO HERE.

Did you fill out a survey for 2014 or 2013? GO HERE.

And with that, I’ll leave you with some more vintage New Years images of sexy girls with clocks (which I just discovered was a thing).

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New Micro-Press: Hollow Press

Hollow Press is an Italian based micro-press that started publishing a line of titles this year. It is run by publisher Michele Nitri, who previously published U.D.W.F.G., a “dark weird fantasy” anthology. Most of the Hollow Press line fits into this same genre, and they publish in English for a worldwide audience. One of their more ambitious projects, Largemouths by Gabriel Delmas, clocks in at 688 pages.

Michele is seeking help distributing his titles, so if you’re a shop owner, publisher, or distributor who is compelled by this work, reach out.

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Locust Moon Shop to Close

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(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.