My publisher, was kind enough to help pay for a tour that took me to Toronto, Vermont and last but not least, New York. It was a pretty crazy trip with many great adventures and stories.
Day 1 – I flew to Toronto. I was doing an event with Dave Cooper the following day at the Beguiling, so I had a night to wander and enjoy. Because my cat is a bitch, I only slept for about an hour the night before, so Toronto got to meet a very sleep deprived Inkstud.
Cartooning patron and publisher extraordinaire, Anne Koyama took me out for crazy Chinese dinner in the restaurant that was in some basement at Spadina and Bathhurst. I was joined by some of my favorite folks in Toronto, Michael DeForge, his wonderful lady and the hilarious Keith Jones. Michael gave me a copy of Spotting Deer. His chops as a cartoonist, while starting out at the top of the game, have gotten even better and more exciting. He has a future of some great work ahead of him and I suggest buying everything you can find by him. You won’t be sorry. Michael kept talking about how he needed to have a new book ready for the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Fest even though he had Spotting Deer. More on that later. Keith was on the show earlier this year, for a pretty fun conversation about his latest book from Drawn and Quarterly. Keith used to live in Vancouver, but for some reason, I had never met him while he was here, but now he is my favorite person to hang with in Toronto. The night was pretty mellow, but did include some comic shopping at BMV on Bloor. I was trying to be careful and not buy too much on my first day.
Day 2 – I spent my day taking it relatively easy. I was a little stressed out about my event with Dave Cooper. I really love Dave. He is a very nice and generous guy, but I am still getting used to doing public interviews. I have only done a handful of panels. I went for breakfast with Alex Jensen, publisher of new Canadian publishing house, Pop Sandbox. Alex has a keen eye for marketing and has really done an amazing job getting people excited for his debut publication, Kenk. He mentioned that the Inkstuds book had a good little display at Chapters in their Graphic Novel section.
After that, I walked over to the Silver Snail, and they didn’t even have the Inkstuds book. A good reminder on why comic stores are failing to get new material and understand comics are more than tights, but the bookstore market has a better idea of what is new and has a broader interest base.
My comic shopping continued at BMV again, only this time, Keith Jones was working up a storm to the throngs of Sunday shoppers. Keith did this amazing drawing in my book that day and I got a mean stack of comix. After marking off some comics on my check list and picking up an amazing old Wally Wood comic. I jaunted off to the Beguiling for a little pretalk shopping and then prep.
The Beguiling is really dangerous for me. I always want lots but this time, I behaved myself. The selection of great foreign work doesn’t really have an equal in my experience. I was struck by a particularly amazing selection of Lorenzo Mattotti books. I have been on a big kick of his work lately and have really only scratched the surface of what he has produced. I ended up only getting a couple of early John Pham books. The selection at the Beguiling is a slippery slope of danger on my pocketbook.
My live interview with Dave Cooper went well. Dave’s work is really unparalelled, and he is constantly at the top of his game and only getting better. His work excites me. Many thanks to Christopher Butcher, Peter Birkemoe and Dave Cooper for allowing and making this happen. I saw lots of good friends, new and old that night, including Dave Cooper
Day 3 – I had another night of sleeplessness, only this time I couldn’t blame my cat. I had an early flight to Boston, where Jen Vaughn would be picking me up at an ungoddly hour. I have not met Jen before, but we had yaked online a plenty. We were going on a three hour drive to the middle of nowhere with just google-maps and an iPhone to plan our way. My insomniac self needed sustenance and Jen talked me into getting a McGriddle. Wow. that was gross but amazing.
Our target was lunch with Al Columbia, which was a success. I really like Al. I had previously met him when he was in Portland and had also interviewed him a number of years back. From there, we started the second leg of our epic journey, up to White River Junction in Vermont. I was pretty much a headcase by this point, and was on my second dose of those horrible energy shot drinks. Jen wasn’t impressed by them, but it was either the drinks or a sleepy dirtybird.
Jen was an amazing hostess. She gave me a grand tour of the Center for Cartoon Studies campus and then got a whole bunch of CCSer’s to come for beers at their lone bar in downtown WRJ. I wish I was more enthusiastic for them, but I was running on fumes at that point and slept like a log in the wonderful Muff Mansion thanks to the hospitality of Jen, Nomi Kane and Betsey Swardlick. They are the best hostesses I could of hoped for.
Day 4 – Another early start. Jen took my on quick round trip of visiting as many people as we could before I had to run off to the train to New York. First we went for a breakfast with Steve Bissette. One of my earliest memories in comics, is reading an issue of the great Alan Moore Swamp Thing run that featured the Justice League. I don’t know what it was about that issue in particular that stood out in my memory. When I was a teenager, I worked in a comic store for about 3 years, and Steve’s Taboo was a source of particular interest for me. He had this one issue which featured a huge story by Moebius on bright yellow paper. This is kind of thing that Free Radicals and Kramers Ergot would be trying 15 to 20 years later, but Taboo did it first.
After breakfast, we tracked down Jason Lutes in his studio, where he was hard at work on Berlin. He showed me his progress map that Alec Longstreth had gotten him into using. Jason’s work on Berlin looks really amazing and is a really excellent work. I am really happy that Jason agreed to be in the Inkstuds book. It was a fun interview with just the right dose of nerdyness. After my quick hello’s and good-byes, it was off to the train and seven hours of sitting.
To be continued in part 2.