Festival Focus: Comic Arts Los Angeles

Here’s another in a run of interviews with dedicated folks who put together independent comics shows in North America. Los Angeles’ CALA is about to hold their fifth annual event, and guest ‘stud Kit Brash talked to two of the team behind it, Jen Wang and Jake Mumm, a couple of weeks after last year’s show.

This year’s CALA will run on December 8th and 9th, from 10am til 5pm each day. Guests will include Taneka Stotts, Sophia Foster-Dimino, Marinaomi, Laura Lannes, Cathy G. Johnson, Landis Blair, Ezra Claytan Daniels, and Hartley Lin. The venue, a gymnasium at 3000 Dolores St in Glendale, has that common LA curse of being five times quicker by car than by public transport, but there’s parking onsite and in surrounding streets, with a food truck and tables to save precious table-browsing time. Entry is free, re-entry is probably because you had to hit the ATM and come back. All the details are at comicartsla.com.

 

 

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Live talk with Anna Haifisch, Marian Churchland and Olivier Schrauwen

Last year I joined the board of Directors for the Vancouver Comic Art Festival. It’s been really fun getting more involved in supporting local events and comics happening. The first event we did outside of the regular festival, was this talk with Anna Haifisch, Olivier Schrauwen and Marian Churchland. We did the event in the new theatre in the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library. Many thanks to Fantagraphics for facilitating the visit from Anna and Olivier and to the VPL for hosting.

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Leif Goldberg

Leif Goldberg joined me to talk about his new book from 2dcloud, Lost In The Fun Zone. We also cover a range of work including his time in Fort Thunder, recent mini comics, yearly calendars and animation. Leif makes some really great fun and inspiring work.

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My Reading Stack from the last couple of months November 20 2018

It’s been active couple of months with some family stuff throwing a quick wrench in, so I haven’t read as much I would have liked. Please enjoy.

If you want to send a book or comic for me to check out, you can mail to me at

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I got this lovely collection of comics by Hong Kong cartoonist Chihoi a bunch of years ago at tcaf. I slept on reading this and really should have gotten into it sooner. It’s a beautifully sentimental book that gets to some deep heart hits. You ca see some growth throughout the book with stories getting a little more teeth and taking in unexpected directions. I really enjoyed it.

I started reading Scott Snyder’s batman run over the summer and got sidelined by life stuff and forgot to write about it. I have a weird relationship with batman comics. They were really pivotal for me when growing up. The Breyfogle run will always be super import for me.

I stayed reading batman stuff for years, all the while also staying on top of weirdo Avant guarde comics. There was a point though that they got kind of completely unreadable. Like editorial direction and interference just made it into garbage. A friend of mine that stays on top of this stuff told me that he had been really enjoying it.

The is the first 3 books of the Snyder run, drawn for the most part by artist Greg Capullo. I think Scott and I are pretty close in age, so we probably think of similar story arcs when we think of batman.

I don’t think of this work as a guilty pleasure, and that term kind of bugs me. We shouldn’t feel bad for enjoying something. Taste is subjective. We can be critical about work and still find enjoyment.

I think of this stuff as if Snyder and Capullo are doing fan fiction. From what I understand, the sales are good enough on the title that they didn’t have to deal with too much editorial interference. It’s fun silly and a lot of shit blows up. It’s like watching a fast and furious movie in a comic with less corona.


Read Spinning by Tillie Walden on the flight home from Vegas. I brought it so I could have something grounding after all the madness. It’s been sitting on my shelf for far too long with lots of people asking me if I read it. Well I did read it. I liked it.

While I don’t necessarily feel like the intended audience, I found it compelling. There something I really appreciate the way that Tillie tells her story in such sparse open way. Giving ideas time and place, but not forcing anything.

And find myself getting sick of memoirs of exceptionalism. This book really works for me, in letting the mundane be present. Struggles don’t need to have perfect endings, life isn’t perfect. We want things to work out, but that’s not the case often and we find ways to move on and process.

I love this weird freaking book from uncivilized. The whistling factory by Jesse McManus is a great collection of his work. There’s no table of contents, or list of where things were originally printed, but I know Jesse has had his stuff everywhere. I think his first published comic was in a Kramers ergot.

Jesse is one of the great inkers, putting down layers of stuff everywhere, creating this surreal dynamism. It’s vibrant and full of life and energy, taking the characters through horrible joyous and hideous realities.

I think I picked this up in Bellingham earlier this year at a small little comic show. Night Time by Travis Rommerheim is a lovely surreal riso comic with a great bold blue colour. The cover kind of under sells the book. The art is really great. Nice full figures and a great sense of movement. It’s a short story taking place in one day of the life of performance artist that seems to just be weird enough to add interesting flourishea. There’s alao a great gag making fun of Johnny Ryan that made me laugh pretty hard.

I’ve been going through a bit of a nostalgia phase. I can’t release focus on deep interviews right now, so I have been reading oldies. This is a recent collection of prime batman comics of my youth.

I remember that time in the early 90s where DC was going through a phase of destroy the man characters after the success of the death of the mulleted superman. I remember how hokey those were and getting lost in how silly it all was. For batman, before the endless knightfall crossover that revolved around batmans fall and return, they did a storyline of just beating batman up. The premise was great, bane wants to destroy batman, but first has him dealing with an endless array of villains. It’s basically batman getting his butt beaten. The stories are pretty silly for most part. One writers work does not age well, with batman fighting “gang bangers”. It’s like the writer heard of NWA and made up his mind. Really bad writing by chvck d!xon. But their some weird art that sticks out to me, with this expressionist batman with ears that stick out from the side of his head.

The Doug moench stuff is much better. He has this one villain called metal head that swings a barb chain at people that comes out of his mask like a dude with a top bun. It’s amazing. An S&M leather dude mad at batman. The artwork on metal head is top notch end of career Jim Aparo. Love it.

There’s a lot of great covers included by Sam Kieth, Kelly Jones, Michael Golden and early Travis Charest.

Read hellboy in hell on my flight to Vegas. I read this originally when it came out as issues and it wasn’t a great way to keep track of what was going on. After deeply immersing myself into hellboy over the last couple of months, a lot of the references clicked on for me, but I don’t think enjoyment of this book is necessarily linked to that.

I guess I am saying read this book in one sitting. It’s very open with ideas passing through. I feel like all the hellboy books preceding this volume are Mignola working on building his story telling muscles, to know how to work trim the fat and step away from direct literal and linear ideas.

It really is Mignola at the top of his form, putting a career’s worth of cartooning development into one volume.

Rita Fürstenau sent me some of their minis published by Rotopol in Germany. Firstly, every thing I see from Rotopol has been great. Strong well produced art comics with a great attention to the print quality.

Rita’s mini, In Winter is quite lovely. Kind of perfect to read on this cold day at home. Winter isn’t quite here yet, but the cats are in deep hibernation mode at home.

The mini is about finding one another through times of loneliness and solitude. Quiet and impassioned, I very much enjoyed it.

She also included some fold out zines that again, are really beautiful and impeccably printed.

 

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John Harris Dunning

This week, I was joined by writer John Harris Dunning to discuss his latest book, Tumult, created with artist Michael Kennedy. Dunning has been really active in the UK comics scene, most notably, the Comics Unmasked exhibition in 2014 at the British Library. One of the largest shows of its kind in the UK at that point.

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Peter Bagge

I have been a fan of Peter Bagge’s for longer than I can remember, and he was also one of my earliest guests on the show, so it’s always great to catch up with him. Peter was in Vancouver last month for the big Fan Expo convention, I took advantage of that time to sneak an interview in. It was supposed to be spotlight panel at the convention, but we didn’t think anyone was there for it, so we recorded part of it with just us talking. The sound is a little rough because we are in a curtained off area in a giant convention hall.

Peter’s latest book is coming out in the spring from Drawn and Quarterly, Credo: The Rose Wilder Lane Story. As well, you can catch him in Reason magazine.

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Noah Van Sciver

I like catching up with Noah Van Sciver every couple of years. He’s constantly creating new work that gets better and better. His latest, like within the last 6 months, is the memoir, One Dirty Tree from Uncivilized, Fante Bukowski book 3 and Constant Companion from Fantagraphics and Blammo 10 from Kilgore books. All fantastic comics.

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Festival Focus: Short Run

Guest ‘stud Kit Brash is here with the first in a run of talks with some of the dedicated folks who organise independent comics shows in North America. Seattle’s Short Run Comix & Arts Festival is in its eighth year of free entry, and happening this week in its regular home underneath the Space Needle. Hundreds of exhibitors cram shoulder to shoulder into the Fisher Pavilion, with programming & panels across the grass in the Vera Project.

Co-founders Kelly Froh and Eroyn Franklin have been with the show since the start; Eroyn stepped down two months ago, but will be tabling with their own respective books at the show on Saturday November 3rd. Check out all the details, including satellite events before and after, at ShortRun.org.

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Sam Maggs and Jenn Woodall

Writer/Artist team of Sam Maggs and Jenn Woodall joined me to talk about their new book, Girl Squads. It’s a history book documenting different ways women have worked together in supporting each other through collective and supportive actions. It’s a fun read.

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Keren Katz

Keren Katz is my guest this week. She joins me to talk about her work in a wide variety of anthologies, including her collective in Israel and the recent Now series from Fantagraphics. Her graphic novel, The Academic Hour, published by Secret Acres, is an amazing playful journey, full colour and life. I quite enjoyed it.

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