Casey Silver is an astute member of the comics industry. He is in a very good place these days with his coloring and lettering work gracing the pages of such notable titles as the limited series, Gunning For Hits and the ongoing series Rat Queens, both from Image Comics.
The now famous sold-out issue of RAT QUEENS #22.
In this conversation, we talk about comic book shops, working in the comics industry, and being co-owner of the comic book company, 80 Percent Studios, based here in Seattle. Casey managed the downtown Zanadu comics shop and we would often chat a bit about comics when I would stop by. Zanadu is now gone and part of history but it’s not forgotten.
Lately, Casey is knocking it out of the park. Fortunate to team up with the artist Moritat, Casey’s career has taken off with his first working on Gunning For Hits and then following Moritat on to the next project, a run at Rat Queens. Moritat is a true maverick of an artist. Look him up and you’ll find exceptional work. When the comics cognescenti learned that Moritat was jumping on board to Rat Queens, that opening issue immediately sold out. So, yeah, all of this is a very big deal for Casey and for those who follow comics closely.
Chickaloonies, by Dimi Macheras and Casey Silver, 80 Percent Studios.
The life of a freelance creative, whatever the medium, has its bumps in the road. There are no guarantees. You are always scrambling for gigs. Casey has a confident way about him that should inspire many interested in entering the world of comics. The big takeaway from this interview is that Casey is a great creative in the biz with a lot of insight to share. I find the Zoom video interview format to be very fascinating–and revealing for both the guest and the host. You are juggling far more information than just a text-centric interview, whether by email or phone. It’s not just the written or verbal content we’re dealing with. It’s not totally an in-person interview either and, at the same time, it’s more. It’s a myriad of visual and body language elements. One way or another, a video interview manages to cut through more than you might ever expect. But if you’re in the moment and sincere, then things tend to work out just fine. Here is another example of just that! We end up covering some good shop talk and, overall, as I say, it’s a great conversation, whatever your interest.
Visit the GUNNING FOR HITS site here. And keep up with RAT QUEENS right here.
Year of Zines! Publishing funded in part by Regional Arts & Culture Council and patrons of Pateron, 2020. 224 pages. $12.
What is a zine? Many people have never heard of one or only have a vague idea. A zine is not necessarily a work of comics, although it often includes some form of comics. A zine is often a personal work running for a certain amount of pages, typically a dozen or two dozen. And a zine is cool but it’s not meant to be cool. It just is. If you try too hard to make one, it will show. If you gravitate too quickly to the zine scene without any prior knowledge, it will show–but that’s okay. Zines are intended to be the opposite of the big glossy corporate magazines. Any original zine artwork is usually only at a functional or even crude level. Zines are often ironic and sarcastic and have a rough and gritty aesthetic. Zines tend to be small, modest, the size of a pamphlet or brochure. And they are usually self-published. If they are not, then they’re published by a co-op or non-profit. But zines are most often the work of one person, usually someone who finds themselves misunderstood by a general audience, actually enjoys working alone, and yet is also welcoming like-minded souls. You dig? Blogging and zine-making share a lot of overlap! Alrighty then. With that said, let’s take a look at a wonderful book all about zines, and a collection of zines to itself, Year of Zines! by Sarah Mirk.
Panel excerpt from YEAR OF ZINES!
Another thing you need to know about zines: the creator is often immersed in one particular subject or theme per zine. Zines take dedication. Zines can sometimes seem obsessive but that’s part of the charm. Think of the fanzine. Now, in case you haven’t heard of them, fanzines are one of the most celebrated forms of zines. These tend to be home-made dedications to a beloved pop or movie star or any cultural phenomenon. This tradition goes back to the dawn of fandom. The most common trait of fanzines is a collage of cut-up photos from various magazines that have been re-arranged within the curated pages of the zine. It’s so punk. It’s so DIY. Before the internet, if you were searching for a platform to express yourself, you most likely found your way over to zines. You figured out some basic layout techniques and made your way to your nearest Kinko’s. Okay, now Sarah Mirk is hip to all this and a whole lot more. Zines today are not dependent upon runs to the local print shop. Zines can be virtual but, at the end of the day, zines are zines and a printed copy stills exerts its own power and energy. Print is not dead, and don’t you forget it! You see this in what Sarah Mirk has done with her own work with zines. She gets it. Zines share a bit of the same vibe as spoken word with their direct and concise narrative. Mirk understands that a good zine requires focus and specificity. If you start a zine on the theme of “not caring,” then you stick with it and see it through to resolution, just like a masterful comedian sees through a precisely-timed bit of comedy.
Panel excerpt from YEAR OF ZINES!
Of course, zines can cover virtually any topic or subject. Literally, if there’s something you’d like to discuss, then a zine could be a viable platform for you. And, yes, it’s true: no prior experience in the creation of zines is required or expected. You don’t have to worry about prior writing experience or drawing experience or whatever. And the most serious of subjects are open for discussion. In my own experience with leading workshops, I have always stressed that the most important thing is to focus on what you need to say and the rest will fall into place. And so it is in this book. Sarah Mirk is basically talking about her life, all the things she’s dealing with, and the world-at-large. That provides a pretty broad canvas. In her book, she tackles such subjects as gender, privilege, boundaries, finances, the environment, and much more. Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that no one owns the zine scene. Zines are for everyone and Sarah certainly embraces that egalitarian spirit.
DRINK MORE WATER!
So, I hope you’re getting a sense of what a zine is and what a zine isn’t. And, in the process, you’re seeing that Sarah Mirk is a fine practitioner of the subtle art of zine-making. In fact, if you enjoy her collection of zines that she put together over the span of one year, then you’ll likely want to follow her other work and pursuits. One last thing, I’ll point out one more fine example. If you’re looking for a neat little collection of observations of growing up in your 20s, do check out Sarah’s zine, Drink More Water – Be More Honest: 30 Lessons from My 20s. In this zine, Sarah provides an irreverent look at everyone’s favorite decade, your glorious 20s! It’s a time when you might look your best without trying at all while also a time when you have a sinking feeling you don’t know if you’ll ever amount to anything. And then, enter your more sober and wiser 30s. Well, with that sobering thought, there’s so much more I could say about zines but I’ll save it for next time. I like what Sarah Mirk has done with this quirky and highly distinctive art form–and you will too. And I hope you will see how accessible and ubiquitous zines are. In a sense, this review, and certainly this blog, is a zine. See what I mean? You only need to go as far as the nearest desk and chair, or whatever is comparable, and try it out yourself.
It is a great honor to present to you an interview with Brett Warnock, the publisher/editor-in-chief of Kitchen Table Magazine. I’ve known Brett for many years going back to his time at Top Shelf Productions, the comics publisher that he co-founded with Chris Staros. Brett is one of the brightest, kindest, and most modest of people I’ve had the pleasure to know. When I say that Kitchen Table Magazine is something truly special it is based upon the fact that I’ve seen time and time again the results in the form of numerous award-winning titles from the meticulous attention to detail from Brett and his creative team.
“Minburi Chronicles” by Justin Dawes
The focus of this interview is the current second issue, The Market Issue, which tackles the subject of how and where you get your food. Whether you like to frequent upscale grocery stores or more affordable outlets, you can’t avoid dealing with the fact that there are numerous factors at play as to how your food ultimately reaches you. Some of the features in the magazine specifically look at how to shorten the path from farm to table. Other features look at the numerous venues available to us as we go about finding our food each day.
From Issue 1: “How to Eat a Lobster” by Jackie Maloney
This is a magazine that will be of interest not only to foodies but to anyone interested in community, the environment, and sustainability. Here you will find a magazine with more visual content, more in depth articles, and a certain quirky outlook, based out of Portland, thinking locally, acting globally.
During a recent visit to Portland, Oregon, I interviewed Jason Leivian, who runs Floating World Comics, one of the best comic book shops you could hope for. This is a comic book shop taken up to the level of a curatorial experience with everything neatly organized in different categories.
Floating World Comics holds the distinction of being one of few comic book shops that also functions as a publisher. During this interview, my goal was to bring out all that is special about Floating World Comics, and Jason Leivian proved to be a most excellent host. I hope you enjoy the video interview below:
I’ve come back with some choice titles published by FWC and we will be taking a look at them in the coming days.
When in Portland, or whenever you wish to find something exceptional in comics online, be sure to visit Floating World Comics.
I first encountered the Venus of Willendorf, that most iconic symbol of fertility, flickering on the screen from a tedious college slide lecture. Despite the less than inspired presentation, that overt and voluptuous figure won out. Up close, it was so imposing while, in fact, it was such a tiny, and quite vulnerable, statuette. Cartoonist Jason Fischer couldn’t help but want to play off that irony with his new comic focusing on two friends. One is in the spirit of the Venus of Willendorf. Her name is Vee, a 20-something fast food worker. And her best friend is Pony and she’s a demon. So, a whimsical and supernatural team-up.
Reading TERRA FLATS at Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Portland
This is an independent comic, published by Press Gang, out of Portland, Oregon. What it reminds me of most is the light-hearted humor of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, or Casper, The Ghost, where there is a menace, there’s a showdown, and then things float back down to normal. No one really gets hurt and you learn something about the characters. In this case, the showdown is between a brother and sister who are both toying with the affection of Vee. In the process, we learn about what Vee really wants.
There’s a winning upbeat style to Fischer’s artwork. And his balancing of humor and thoughts on the dynamics of relationships adds up to a fun read for readers of all ages. I picked up my copy of this comic at Floating World Comics in Portland. And, if you’re in PDX, or want to order from them online, you can find them here. I also saw this comic again, out of the corner of my eye, at the blur of activity that was this last weekend’s Short Run comic arts festival in Seattle.
Colorist Nathan Fairbairn, Drawing Assistant Jason Fischer, Bryan Lee O’Malley, and me
Now, a few more words on our cartoonist, Jason Fischer. I saw him a couple of years back when he did a presentation with Bryan Lee O’Malley for Bryan’s most recent graphic novel, “Seconds.” He was the drawing assistant. Jason drew backgrounds, food, monsters and did some design work. It was his introduction to the comic industry. He’s been steadily making progress and could use some more patrons. Visit his Patreon right here.
Press Gang is an imprint of Alternative Comics. Find Press Gang here. And find Jason Fischer right here.
South Park Block: Theodore Roosevelt guards the Portland Art Museum
One of my favorite strolls is walking down the South Park Blocks in downtown Portland and then making it over to the Portland Art Museum. I was recently in Portland and enjoyed such an outing. This was just prior to the new Andy Warhol show. So, I need to make another trip from Seattle in the near future. That said, I had a wonderful time spending most of my time taking in the permanent collections. Just for fun, here are some observations.
PAM 2016: Cymatic Modular Triangle
I was in a contemplative mood. I found myself focusing on the various juxtapositions of art I came across. There were so many pleasing combinations on view that I could not help documenting some of the most striking ones. So much to see and process. This is just a quick sampling. I also include one of the temporary exhibits that intrigued me, “Sound Beyond the Auditory,” on view until the first of the new year. I’ll say a few words and you can go to the video that showcases a really cool pulsating triangle. This exhibit is made up of experiments in cymatics, the process of making sound visible and tactile. People enjoyed each work on view and were compelled to linger over the Cymatic Modular Triangle. They would stomp, tap, click, whatever sound they could think of, to influence the colorful patterns it responded with. This exhibition was developed in partnership with CymaSpace. For more information on their programs or how to volunteer visit cymaspace.org.
Bourdelle and Monet
Getting back to my study in coupling of art works. In no specific order: we begin with Bourdelle and Monet. The massive yet pensive bust, “Head of a Figure Called Eloquence,” 1917, by Emilie-Antoine Bourdelle, takes in the scene and is a perfect counterbalance to a water lily painting by Monet.
Caro and Oldenberg
Anthony Caro’s quirky “Table Piece XXX,” 1967, fits right in with what looks like a study for a large scale Oldenberg, “Profile Airflow,” 1969.
Rauchenberg and Stella
Rauchenberg shares space with Stella.
Rodin and Monet
Rodin’s exuberance gives way to Monet’s calm.
Smith and Berman
David Smith’s spiky sculpture, “Portrait of Don Quixote,” 1952, wages a battle with Eugene Berman’s expansive “Time and the Monuments,” 1941.
Smith and Berman
Olin Levi Warner’s sculpture rides the ebb and flow of time with the paintings of Edward Lincoln Espey.
“Charrette de boeuf (The Ox Cart),” July, 1884
“The Thatched-Roof Cottages of Jorgus, Auvers-sur-Oise,” June 1890
By far, the most moving combination is of a painting early in Vincent van Gogh’s life coupled with a painting from the month of his suicide. The space between the paintings seems to stand for such a troubled life as Van Gogh’s. One painting seems perhaps serene and studios. The other painting we might read into it resignation. We can sense a mastery, a certainty within uncertainty.
Portland Art Museum
Portland Art Museum is located at 1219 SW Park Avenue. “Andy Warhol: Prints from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation” runs from October 8, 2016 to January 1, 2017. For more details, visit the PAM website right here.
Portland beckons. Perhaps you are heading out to the Oregon Convention Center or you’re just looking for a centrally-located hotel right next to the Max light rail. Hotel Eastlund is a great place to stay when visiting Portland. I made that discovery during a recent stay. It coincided with the annual 24-Hour Comics Day that I take part in along with countless cartoonists around the world. For me, the location, the atmosphere, and the hospitality all added up very nicely. I was able to easily get around town and rely upon a quiet and comfortable room to settle into a drawing marathon.
Hotel Eastlund in Portland, Oregon
It all began with my arrival at Union Station. I took the train from Seattle. In fact, I read and prepared my review for this year’s Best American Comics during my train trip. I then walked over a few steps to the Max light rail and hopped on. Moments later, I was at the hotel. An upbeat and peppy style welcomes each visitor. The eye follows low-key colors and a pleasing combination of white and orange.
Hotel Eastlund: An Adventure Awaits
Boutique hotels are all about an upbeat and hip environment and Hotel Eastlund definitely met and exceeded my expectations. You feel, as you enter the lobby, with hints of the futuristic and the urban, that anything is possible from your new home away from home. The surroundings are chic and yet practical. There is plenty of comfortable seating and lots of informative brochures. Walk down a bit and you’ll find a roomy business computer station. And past that you’ll find a welcoming and nicely stocked café. There is also a gym and a chic rooftop restaurant. The more you take in, the more you see that this is a boutique hotel with a grand hotel vision and scope.
The Magic of Hotel Eastlund
The room was quite pleasant. I fired up my laptop and set about planning my visit using the hotel’s free Wi-Fi. I looked out the window to observe the Oregon Convention Center and the Max light rail. Just beyond that, at walking distance, I would find a number of shops and restaurants including the Lloyd Center shopping mall. But, first things first, I jumped into the shower to help keep me alert for the long day of sightseeing followed by an extended drawing session. I’d already made a number of sketches but there was more that lay ahead, along with inking what I had started in pencils. And I also managed to fit in going to see Peahces at the Wonder Ballroom. I did not stay late but late enough. Before going out, I did make a quick trip up to the hotel’s rooftop restaurant and bar, Altabira City Tavern. The view is simply stunning. I had a delicious glass of house red wine. My only regret is that I did not stay longer and, with spacious seating and inviting fire pits, it was quite tempting not to leave.
Once back to my room to pursue my night of drawing, I settled in with some coffee. I wanted to tie in the quirky offbeat character of Portland with my own drawing sensibility so I focused on work from my ongoing graphic novel about the science fiction writer George Clayton Johnson. Among his accomplishments, he co-wrote, with William F. Nolan, the landmark sci-fi novel, Logan’s Run. Bill Nolan, by the way, was in Portland to celebrate with the Portland Film Festival, the 40th anniversary of the blockbuster movie, Logan’s Run. So, all that said, I felt like I was right where I needed to be. As daybreak emerged, I flipped on the TV and enjoyed Hotel Eastlund’s Channel 2 which focuses on Northwest filmmakers and storytellers, presented by Lower Boom. Among the programs, “The Benefits of Gusbandry,” starring Brooke Totman and Kurt Conroyd, is totally hilarious. Check out the video for more about my hotel stay and the drawings I did during my visit.
That morning, I was grateful to sit down with a hot breakfast. I could have called room service but I chose to throw on some flip flops and my jogging clothes and make my way down to the hotel café, Citizen Baker. I give the hotel high marks for a lively and upbeat atmosphere throughout my stay. Considering I had a pretty hectic schedule as I set about taking in Portland from various angles as well as being true to my drawing regime, it was most appreciated that I could rely upon Hotel Eastlund’s professionalism and thoughtful hospitality. The hotel is utterly gorgeous. We can sometimes take things for granted. I think Hotel Eastlund makes it all look carefree and easy. Hotel Eastlund is a refreshing and smart new addition to Portland’s Eastside making it a fun and exciting destination in its own right.
Citizen Baker at Hotel Eastlund
Another visit to Hotel Eastlund is on my agenda and the sooner the better. There is simply so much more to enjoy. So, if your next destination is Portland, keep in mind how easy it is to get here from the Westside on the Max light rail, just a brief trip across the Willamette River then you are literally just steps away from the hotel. And, if you have more involved needs, there are five stunning private dining and meeting rooms including the 3,400 square foot Cosmopolitan Grand Ballroom that features floor to ceiling windows and breathtaking views.
Find Hotel Eastlund at 1021 NE Grand Avenue. Their phone number is (503) 235-2100. And visit the Hotel Eastlund website right here.
If you’re looking for new talent on the rise that offers the next wave of sci-fi action movie adventure, then look to director Marco Kalantari’s short film, “The Shaman.” It is a pleasure to have at Comics Grinder an interview with Mr. Kalantari, which you can listen to here. And Comics Grinder has an exclusive manga adaptation to his short work as well as a review, which you can view here. This is a short film with promises of bigger things to come. It is definitely a look at what a visionary director can offer.
The dark year 2204, in a world that has seen 73 years of continuous war.
The face of conflict has changed. People kill people but they now rely on giant, intelligent battle machines to fight. Meanwhile, mankind has re-discovered the arts of magic and Shamanism and the Generals on both sides use well-trained spiritual warriors to face the threat of machines. Shamans have special senses; they are experts in all aspects of the “unseen” and the “beyond”. They believe that every person, animal, plant and object has a soul. When crossing the border to the Netherworld, the Shaman can find this soul and interact with it. That is what makes him such a deadly, highly effective weapon. They track and convert the souls of their enemies’ giant battle machines in a psychological soul-to-soul confrontation. But Shamans are not invulnerable. They are just people and can be killed like anyone else.
Shaman Joshua Van Kern and his squire Lene embark on a mission to convert a giant battle colossus and succeed where troops have failed.
And you can always visit the director’s website right here.
Do not go gentle into that good night. Why should you? And don’t just rage. Get yourself a whole new body like in Pete Toms‘s comic, “The Dupe,” in the latest (special 3D) issue of Study Group Magazine. This piece certainly sets the tone and then some for a magazine full of ebullient work featuring in-depth essays, interviews, and a variety of work by talented cartoonists who tend toward the underground. Come in and sample everything and be sure not to miss the 3D because it is out of this world.