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.


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).


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.



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.


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).

68d2bc715cb27aab92edd9d422c22f12  550ef2bf5c4ecdd6268b9d7dcadc9028 dbd2a7d4cc79afa1ace639bd45e1cd44 068c5d6ffb2c545fd1207c92ba9dcd65 vintage-new-years-6


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

(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.