Indie Comics Night at WORD

We’re having a book party! Tomorrow (Thursday)!

We’re taking over the infamous basement of Brooklyn’s beloved WORD bookstore, right here in Greenpoint, at 7:00 p.m. I’ll be walking you through the creation of a page of Old Town. And I’m like 65% confident I’ll finally have some books on hand to sign and sell.

[ Right: Word bookstore, Greenpoint, by me. Read all about it. ]

I’ll be joined by Andrea Tsurumi and Alexander Rothman, who’ll both be reading from their gorgeous, unusual comics. I am really so excited to be sharing the floor with these two. There’s more on their work in this post, but in short: if you’re not familiar with it, prepare to have your feeble little mind blown.

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Real actual mail
Wherein we examine some unusually delightful books that have lately arrived, bury an important announcement two-thirds of the way down, offer our gratitude to you, the reader, as sincerely as we can, and make a plaintive plea of the national postal service.

Mail Comic by Cara Bean

There’s been a lot of unusual post showing up around here.

I opened my mailbox a few days ago* to find the above envelope from Cara Bean. And while there was a photocopied form letter inside the envelope, in this case, the packaging itself was the parcel. That’s original art on there, one of fifty panels sent out to fifty different recipients around the country, and compiled on Cara’s Blog into “Mail Comic,” a free-form slice-of-life story about the author and an array of animate objects.

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Yock by Neil Brideau and Feresteh Toosi

A couple weeks ago, I got an oddly bulgy package from a sender calling itself Regional Relationships. Inside was the latest project from friends/inspirations Neil and Fereshteh, a multimedia exploration of a variable Southern noodle dish called “yock,” among other things. What emerges through an audio interview, a minicomic, and a dishtowel screen-printed with a map of yock’s home terrain is a kind of edible folk song, constructed differently and called by different names from town to town and region to region, boasting countless detailed histories, as sustaining to the cultures that produce it as the individuals that consume it.

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Ghosts I Have Seen

Just last night came an envelope from Displaced Snail Publications, a small press run by my buddy Joseph Carlough out of his home in Edison, New Jersey. “Silk Dress and Rumpus” is a republication of the first chapter of Ghosts I Have Seen, a collection of century-old personal essays concerning the occult phenomena that have befallen their author, Scottish socialite Violet Tweedale. Each issue will pair a chapter of the book with decorations by a currently active and alive artist; this first installment is playfully and prettily illustrated by Nicholas Beckett. (It’s probably too late for me to get in on this project, but I’m going to try, all the same.)

I love mail from Joseph, not only because his books are charming and delightful, but also because one can never predict with much confidence what’s to be found inside. Not long ago, I ordered his small, criminally underpriced zine collecting lovely personal writing about Cape May (where, it turns out, both the author and I have independently spent much of many of our summers), and received along with it a gorgeous, hand-bound journal constructed out of a disassembled hard-bound book called “Those Curious New Cults.” Needless to say, it is my favorite journal.

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Comics by Andrea Tsurumi, Alexander Rothman

And I’m particularly excited, dear reader, to tell you about the packages I’ve recently received from Andrea Tsurumi and Alexander Rothman, containing their newest masterpieces. Andrea’s, a lavishly watercolored picture-book called “Over Here,” follows three friends on a winter’s night as they explore the flash-frozen canals and fountains of their suddenly transformed city. It is so so pretty.

Alexander’s new collection of comics poetry, the slyly-named “Watching What You Say,” is its own kind of revelation. It came in an envelope hand-adorned with a fiercely-rendered amphibian, sounding his barbaric yawp over the roofs of Astoria (you’ll have to click the image to get a proper look at it). Alexander, too, is untranslatable; either his words or images, extracted from the other, would be noteworthy for their elegance and craftsmanship, but together, they are a good deal more than their sum.

Sadly, I don’t get to keep these handsome volumes, because I am delivering them to Greenpoint’s beloved WORD bookstore, where they will sit beside Last Train to Old Town’s first chapter on the upcoming events shelf! That’s right, I’ll be joining these two wunderkinds for a joint book-release party, complete with readings and signings and fun, at 7pm on November 29th, the Thursday after Thanksgiving. More details to come, but you’ll probably want to mark your calendars now.

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Outgoing

And then, of course, there’s all the outgoing mail. I can’t thank you all enough. Especially for your patience.

I am gradually catching up with the placed orders, even as they continue to trickle in. The first run (it was only 50 copies) has sold out, but a 1,000-copy (offset!) run is on the way in the next few days. The good news is that printing so many all at once (assuming I can sell them) will allow me to stop losing money on them (sorta). The bad news is that it costs a whole lot of money, all at once.

So. If you’ve been planning on purchasing a copy of the print edition, now would be a great time to do so. There will be a slight delay in shipping, but I will love you forever and call you “hero” right to your face.

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I know all your flaws, USPS. I love you despite some of them, and because of the rest. Don’t ever leave me.

*[ on my birthday, in fact, though I doubt if the sender knew or intended it ]

The books are here.*

stack02

As you can see, I’m so happy with them that I’ve made this terrible video, which I expect eventually to realize was an ill-advised and deeply regrettable decision:

Seriously, I at least could have shaved first.

This first batch of books was assembled with invaluable help from Neil Brideau and Cara Bean, deep into the night on Friday so they would be ready for MICE on Saturday. Cara documented some of the process on her blog. I just can’t thank them enough.

This book collects the first chapter of Last Train to Old Town. 24 full-color pages, 8.5″ x 11″, professionally printed but lovingly hand-bound between cardstock covers, with maps and goodies, signed and personalized. $10 plus $4.50 for the packaging and postage (regardless of quantity). Usually ships within a day or so*.

*except we’ve already sold out of the first batch. sorry! the next bunch is already on its way, and should be here within the week. we’ll bind them up and get them out to you just as fast as our little fingers can manage.

Start the presses

old_town-working

[photo: Knightlight]

Chapter One is really actually finished, and I’ve just sent it off to a printer who assures me she can have the various component parts (pages, maps, stickers, prints, bookmarks) of the first 25 copies waiting for me in Boston when I get there on Friday. I’ll be up with Neil at Cara‘s place collating and assembling into the wee hours so I can debut the book the next day at MICE, where, if all goes according to plan, I will sell them at a rather substantial loss, because yeesh you guys, printing is expensive. After this initial test run I am going to have to figure out a better way to make these things.

The Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo
Saturday, September 29th, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
University Hall, 1815 Mass Ave., Cambridge, MA
Neil Brideau, Jason Viola, Cara Bean, Matt Aucoin, Holly Foltz, Marek Bennet, kenan, and so many other brilliant cartoonists.
Super extra free.

Tomorrow I will call my print designer friends and start doing the offset math. I will scramble to catch up on all the web work I owe clients. I’ll buy bus tickets to Boston and back and wish I’d done it weeks ago. Hopefully, I will even scratch out some sketches for Chapter Two. But just now, everyone in this house needs a nap.

intern nap time

S.P.Execute

To be honest, you guys, I’m not feeling totally ready to launch this thing yet.

But S.P.X. waits for no man, and if it did, it certainly wouldn’t be me. So here we are, you and I both. We’ll start with the first few pages and add a new one every Wednesday.

This weekend I’ll be down in Bethesda, introducing Old Town to the greater comics universe. If you stop by, you’ll be able to read most (but not quite all) of the first chapter, to chastise me for not having the physical book ready yet*, and to generally geek out about comics with me and everybody else. I don’t want to tell you what to do, but seriously, come. It’s going to be epic.

Your helpful and courteous conductor,
kenan

*it debuts at MICE!