Category Archives: Alternative Comics

Interview: Bill Kartalopoulos and THE BEST AMERICAN COMICS 2014

Bill-Kartalopoulos-Best-American-Comics

It is a pleasure to chat about comics, especially with someone as well-versed on the subject as Bill Kartalopoulos. For this interview, the occasion is the 2014 volume of “The Best American Comics,” which Bill takes over as the new series editor. I thought I’d take the opportunity to ask him about his thoughts on the term, “alternative comics,” since he led an interesting panel discussion on that topic at SPX back in 2012 entitled, “Life After Alternative Comics.” This was a way to frame the conversation.

Bill Kartalopoulos is a great observer of, and participant in, today’s comics scene. Part of his impressive resume includes being the program coordinator for the Small Press Expo as well as the program director for the MoCCA Arts Festival. Both of these events are essential barometers of prevailing trends. So, if Bill suggests that alternative comics are dead, I listen. Of course, he doesn’t really suggest that, at least not as you might think. But, let me continue…

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Art Spiegelman, Bill Kartalopoulos, Comics, Education, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Independent Comics, Indie, MoCCA Arts Festival, New York City, SPX, The Best American Comics

Review: DEBBIE’S INFERNO by Anne Emond

Anne-Emond-Debbies-Inferno

In her new mini-comic, “Debbie’s Inferno,” Anne Emond takes us deep into the nightmares and misgivings of a young woman and all we have to do is sit back and be amused. There’s plenty to be amused about since Emond is a crackerjack cartoonist in the vein of Lynda Barry. With a spare line and a whimsical touch, she distills angst down to wise and funny bits.

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Anne Emond, Big Planet Comics, Comics, Comixology, Comixology Submit, Independent Comics, Retrofit Comics, Small Press

SPX 2014 Interview: Farel Dalrymple and THE WRENCHIES

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Here is a quick conversation with Farel Dalrymple just as he was setting up to fly out to Bethesda, Maryland for the annual Small Press Expo.

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He will be there in support of his new graphic novel, “The Wrenchies.” We talk a bit about the dream logic and overall feeling of spontaneity and exuberance found throughout the pages of this most remarkable book.

I have followed many an artist’s career and this is clearly Farel Dalrymple’s time. With The Wrenchies, he has brought together elements he’s been working with over years into a masterful panorama.

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If you’re in or near Bethesda this weekend, you will definitely want to visit SPX. And, if you’re in the DC area, visit Politics and Prose Bookstore and Coffeehouse that Sunday, at 5 p.m., for a panel discussion discussing graphic novels with a crossover appeal between young adults and adults moderated by Heidi MacDonald. The featured cartoonists are Farel Dalrymple; Gareth Hinds (Romeo & Juliet); and Jim Rugg (Street Angel).

Click the link below to listen to the podcast interview:

You can find Farel Dalrymple right here.

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Comics, Farel Dalrymple, First Second, Heidi MacDonald, Small Press Expo, SPX, SPX 2014

Review: HOW I MADE THE WORLD #1 by Liz Plourde and Randy Michaels

How-I-Made-The-World-comics-Plourde-Michaels

“How I Made The World” is a Xeric Award-winning comic that follows the misadventures of Liz, a college student and aspiring writer. From her vantage point, just about everything in her life is epic. And so we begin in this first issue with not just a midterm art project deadline on the horizon. No, this is fodder for our first big story, “The Monster.”

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Autobio Comics, Comics, Comics Reviews, Xeric Grant

Comics in 2014: A NIGHT AT THE SORRENTO AND OTHER STORIES

Sorrento-Hotel-Seattle-Comics-Henry-Chamberlain-2014

“A Night at the Sorrento and Other Stories” collects the work of a longtime cartoonist of the Seattle School, yours truly, Henry Chamberlain. We cartoonists grew up in the Generation X ethos of DIY, small press, and a pride for a certain alternative comics aesthetic. Make no mistake, just like alternative rock from the 1990s, there is something specific that is meant by alternative comics. To the point, these are comics that favor the offbeat and idiosyncratic. This spirit rings true today as it embraces an independent vision. Stay tuned. This collection will rock your world, very alternatively, in 2014.

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Comics, Generation X, graphic novels, Henry Chamberlain, Independent Comics, Seattle, Seattle School of Comics, Small Press, Sorrento Hotel

Review: BOOBAGE by Monica Gallagher

Boobage-Monica-Gallagher-2013

“Boobage,” is a mini-comic by Monica Gallager that covers, or unveils, a very personal preoccupation with a lot of wit and humor. So, what do you instantly think of when you put such greats together as Kate Hudson, Clare Danes, Gwen Stefani, and Bridget Fonda? The one thing that Gallager used to have trouble with was their (and her own) relatively small breasts, or “tits.” It’s okay, she says “tits” a lot. Gallagher isn’t afraid to tackle the tit issue, large or small. This won’t really be of interest to those who objectify and sexualize but it may give them some pause. Hey Jimmy, or whoever, those hooters you salivate over belong to a real human being.

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Comics, Comics Reviews, Comix, Comixology, Comixology Submit, Independent Comics, Indie, mini-comics, Monica Gallagher, Self-Esteem, Sex, Sexuality, Women

SHORT RUN SMALL PRESS FEST IN SEATTLE: EVENTS SCHEDULE FOR NOVEMBER 1-30, 2013

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“Short Run” is a gathering of small press in Seattle with some added attractions this year. There’s the main event, the Short Run Small Press Festival at Washington Hall on Saturday, November 30, 2013. But, for those who want more, there’s plenty more starting with an event on November 1. Check out the Short Run website for details here.

Press release follows:

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Comics, Comics News, David Lasky, Eroyn Franklin, Independent Comics, Indie, Jim Woodring, Kelly Froh, Micropublishing, mini-comics, Minicomics, Seattle, Self-Published, Short Run Small Press Fest, Small Press, Underground Comics, Zines

Jim Woodring Debuts New Graphic Novel, FRAN, at Fantagraphics Bookstore, October 12, 2013

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If you’re in the Seattle area this Saturday, October 12, do yourself a favor and stop by the Fantagraphics Bookstore for a big Jim Woodring event. Jim Woodring debuts his latest graphic novel, “Fran.”

Press Release Follows:

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Comics, Comics News, Comix, Fantagraphics, Fantagraphics Books, graphic novels, Jim Woodring, Seattle

24-Hour Comics Day 2013: An Edith Macefield Theme

Macefiled-24-hour-comic-Henry-Chamberlain-Ballard-WA-2013

It is fascinating what can develop during a 24-hour comic. I knew, going in, that I was doing a comic that was going to take me to some interesting places. It ended up being a journey in search of the heart and soul of Ballard, Washington, once a mellow destination with a history of saloons and bordellos and coasting along as a blue collar hangout, it became a prime target for developers. The rest is history: a slew of trendy boutiques and restaurants that have brought a whole new dynamic to the area.

Is this a question of whether it is good or bad? Are their lessons to be learned? Well, one person, Edith Macefield, who defied the developers and would not sell her home, has become a symbol for independence and the theme for my 24-hour comic.

24-Hour Comics Day is celebrated around the world on the first weekend of October. This is when all cartoonists join together in the pursuit of a full comics narrative during a 24-hour marathon. The timing was just right this year to take on such a substantial and compelling subject as Ballard, Washington. It is a place that perhaps never thought it would go through dramatic change and yet it can’t come as a complete surprise given its location and demographics.

But, in the past, locals didn’t really have intense concerns over location or demographics. It’s a very laid-back culture. It is something you’re not supposed to be able to manufacture. But, oddly enough, marketers and developers have done their level best to tap into the Ballard experience. Fascinating stuff.

Hattie's Hat in Ballard, Washington

Hattie’s Hat in Ballard, Washington

A new friend made, at Conor Byrne pub, during my 24-hour comics journey in Ballard, Washington

A new friend made, at Conor Byrne pub, during my 24-hour comics journey in Ballard, Washington

First Annual Macefield Music Festival in Ballard, Washington

First Annual Macefield Music Festival in Ballard, Washington

Exploring the character of any place is such a fun thing to do. You don’t have to have any expectations. Or, if you do, see where that takes you too. As for Ballard, I know that area quite well. I can see it from various vantage points. No one is going to seriously argue against Edith Macefield, right? Another thing that is hard, or impossible, to argue against is comfort, good food, and fun items to buy now and then. It seems you can find just about anything in Ballard.

Ballard, old and new: Hattie's Hat bar and restaurant; the new Hotel Ballard

Ballard, old and new: Hattie’s Hat bar and restaurant; and the new Hotel Ballard

Stoneburner restaurant, part of Hotel Ballard

Stoneburner restaurant, part of Hotel Ballard

I will run the whole “Ballard” comic here at Comics Grinder in the coming days.

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Filed under 24 Hour Comics, 24 Hour Comics Day, Alternative Comics, Comics, Comix, Henry Chamberlain, mini-comics

Review: ‘Failure’ by Karl Stevens

Failure-Karl-Stevens-2013

I certainly hope that artist Karl Stevens never abandons what he’s accomplished in the pages of his latest collection, “Failure,” simply because he might feel compelled to rip apart what he’s done up until now and strike out fresh. He can do whatever he wants, for sure. But I hope he continues to build on what he’s accomplished so far. “Failure,” I dare say, is a success. This collection shows growth but it’s consistent growth. There isn’t a weak page in the whole lot. It’s more an evolving viewpoint: the angry young artist keeps pushing and pushing until he gets what he wants, a reaction; afterward, he finds he’s pushed his way into new terrain and he finds himself breaking new ground.

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There’s all that explaining for a couple of pages at the start of the book about how the Boston Phoenix yanked the comic strip in 2012, after an illustrious seven-year run. All because of a joke that maybe went too far. Well, does it really matter at this point? Nope. What matters is the artist and man, Karl Stevens, and his work. He’s had some success with critics with three previous books and, with “Failure,” we can observe an artist evolving with these final installments of his comic strip.

Failure-Batman-2013

It’s a process all of us artists most go through. There’s a time when you’re acutely sensitive to the fact only a few people will ever get you. They will never get art and so they will easily never get you. It’s a very real time that some artists never get over. This can lead to despair or, if all goes well, it can launch a career, likely to be mingled with despair too but you can’t have everything. Getting back to the point at hand, it is a time filled with one’s first overwhelming feeling of complete uncertainty that will stick with you (cause you never forget your first). You start to think that cats and dogs have a better shot at getting you than your fellow humans. Thus, we find a good share of eloquent cats and dogs in this strip.

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Then we get a little comfortable and settle into something but we don’t want it to become too easy, a phoned-in gimmick, something that has already been done in The New Yorker or observed by Douglas Coupland. The above strip is a good example of finding your way within the long history of social satire. The humor is broad and yet there’s a sense of the specific. The young woman claims she was “nerding out” to Chekov. This is an annoying, and perhaps disturbing, prospect to her older friend who wonders out loud about what has become to simply being “intellectual.” The artwork is a refined crosshatch that itself harks back a hundred years ago which just adds to the joke, the tension between the proper order of things and the brashly new.

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So, you do keep at it. Listen to your own special blend of neurosis. And it will come out. Stevens has mastered that play between the old and the new, the high and the low. “Failure” offers us a very funny look at an artist growing up. It’s a pleasure to see that evolution, that special blend of Karl Stevens come out.

Visit our friends at Alternative Comics. Visit Karl Stevens HERE. Purchase a print edition of “Failure” HERE. And, now, you can purchase a digital edition of “Failure” at ComiXology HERE.

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Filed under Alternative Comics, Art, Comics, Comixology, graphic novels, Humor, Karl Stevens, Satire