Tag Archives: Top Shelf Productions

Kickstarter: KITCHEN TABLE MAGAZINE: Stories/Art/Ideas about Food + Place

KITCHEN TABLE MAGAZINE

Top Shelf Productions, founded in 1997, was there early on to contribute to the rise of graphic novels in the United States with such trailblazing titles as Blankets by Craig Thompson and From Hell by Eddie Campbell. When you think of Top Shelf, you think of quality, style, and reliability. Top Shelf was started by Brett Warnock and Chris Staros. When Top Shelf joined IDW as an imprint, Staros stayed on and Warnock retired. Well, Mr. Warnock is back with Kitchen Table Magazine, a food and wellness magazine, that taps into his extensive background as a publisher and art director. To learn more, check out the Kickstarter campaign, active until December 26, 2018, in support of a subscription drive right here.

Kitchen Table illustration by Jim Mahfood

Here’s a few words from Kitchen Table to best describe this new print and digital magazine:

KITCHEN TABLE MAGAZINE is a new print and digital publication that connects adventurous souls, curious cooks, and enthusiastic eaters with talented writers, artists, cartoonists, and photographers who explore not only the how-to’s of cooking, but the whys of eating. We’re at the trailhead of adventure, and would love to have you along every step of the way.

Brett Warnock indulging his passion at a local food truck in Portland, Oregon

We all eat. We all have our particular tastes and interests. Follow Kitchen Table to get a crisp, quirky, and unique perspective. Kitchen  Table will share with you a lifelong passion, cultivated in the Pacific Northwest, to keep it fresh, sustainable, and just a little bit weird for good measure. Given Warnock’s special connection to comics, you’ll definitely find a good dose of illustrations here along with excellent writing, photography and design. Visit the Kickstarter campaign in support of a most welcome addition in helping you choose items related to food and overall wellness.

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Filed under Brett Warnock, Comics, Food, Lifestyle, Magazines, Media, Top Shelf Productions

Review: THE FUN FAMILY by Benjamin Frisch

Fun Family

“The Fun Family” is the debut graphic novel by Benjamin Frisch. It is a satire of wholesome family comic strips with a decided focus on Bil Keane’s “Family Circus.” I think Frisch is a decent cartoonist but this work does not make me want to poke fun at family-oriented comic strips that are supposedly shallow and trite. No, instead, it makes me want to defend all comic strips, especially the masterful work of Bil Keane! That said, I do appreciate what Frisch is after here. He has set up an ongoing gag where he has the anti-Family Circus family crumble before our eyes. Meet the Fun family, they are not what they seem.

Frisch goes about his task with a good deal of precision. We are swept right into the family dynamics as each member recites what they are thankful for before dinner. We observe a hearty and classic nuclear family, all Ozzie and Harriet pleasantries intact. And then little junior picks up the phone and is given the news, via an automated message from the hospital, that grandma has passed away. This event triggers a downward spiral that just keeps going downward. This hits Robert Fun, the patriarch, especially hard. How can he continue to draw his world-famous circle-shaped newspaper comic strip celebrating the wholesome American family?

Perfectionist Robert Fun reveals his secret porcelain doll family to his son.

Perfectionist Robert Fun reveals his secret porcelain doll family to his son.

Everyone in this comic within a comic is drawn in the old-fashioned spit polish style of a family comic strip except all vibrancy has been replaced with a certain strangeness. The artwork is keyed down, all the characters either look lifeless or ugly compared to the original Family Circus characters. You think that family fun is the norm? Frisch tells you to think again. It’s an undeniably intriguing concept for a graphic novel. The narrative weaves its way through showing up how families are not perfect and how quack counseling can make matters worse. We also have an interesting mirroring of events going on as little Robby follows in his dad’s footsteps and creates his own successful family comic strip.

This is a well-constructed graphic novel. No real argument there. And the humor may hold up for some folks. As for me, if feels like Frisch is hammering away at something that is not exactly all that subversive as that is clearly his goal. The Simpsons series, reveling in family dysfunction, has been on TV for nearly 30 years. It is common to ridicule a tepid and disingenuous slogan like, “family values.” So, I can’t back down on feeling compelled to support Bil Keane’s life work, now continued by his son, Jeff Keane. What’s next? Are we going to bash Hank Ketcham and Charles M. Schulz? Surely, I ask this with tongue in cheek. It’s not that I can’t take a joke and I do believe that Frisch is capable of telling a joke.

Great satire is great satire. You just know when it comes together. All you need to do is read Mad magazine and read how it has cleverly satirized family comic strips over the years. In the case of “The Fun Family,” the point is made about family dysfunction in a didactic fashion that may prove to be too much of a good thing. That said, you may be alright with the tone to this book. I definitely look forward to more of Frisch’s work. How about a satire on this satire? Now, that could prove to be very interesting and Frisch could prove to be just the right cartoonist to take that on.

“The Fun Family” is a 240-page full-color softcover graphic novel. For more details, visit Top Shelf Productions right here.

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Filed under Bil Keane, Comic Strips, Comics, Humor, Satire, Top Shelf Productions

Review: NEMO: RIVER OF GHOSTS by Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill

Nemo-River-of-Ghosts-Alan-Moore

“Nemo: River of Ghosts” comes to you from the universe of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, written by Alan Moore and drawn by Kevin O’Neill. This is the last in a trilogy of Nemo adventures featuring Captain Nemo’s daughter, Janni Dakkar. Here, you’ll find Janni, the grand matriarch nearing the end of her life, on a most urgent quest. With all her resolve, she knows she has no choice but to find and kill Princess Ayesha before it’s too late. Ayesha is a great threat to Nemo and, after all, Janni already beheaded her thirty years ago! Of course, most people find this quest rather absurd. However, this is a world of gods and magic, so it’s not out of the question.

Everything revolves around this elusive Princess Ayesha. But, whatever the prey, we’re off on one mad adventure. And you can’t have a good adventure without colorful characters. Stealing the show is one Hugo Coghlan. With Janni in a vulnerable state, 80 years-old and in bad health, Coghlan proves to be her most valued assistant. It would be difficult for him to do otherwise as he intimately knows the Amazon jungle they are heading out for and he can easily lift a 1952 Buick with his pinkie finger and simply sigh, “Just as easy.” Hugo also happens to greatly admire Janni despite her chilly rudeness.

Once Janni has her crew on the mighty Nautilus, she has to deal with such classic nautical obstacles as mutiny and stowawys. But when the submersible’s token stoaway turns out to be her own ten-year-old grandson, Jack, Janni is forced to rein in her temper just a bit. In the end, the boy gets a pat on the head and a front row seat, so to speak, to what is about to unfold. Jack provides some useful added perspective. In the bargain, Jack also holds the link to possible further Nemo adventures.

This last installment of Moore and O’Neill’s Nemo adventures is one spot on adventure. There’s some mature content so I would place this as appropriate for teens and above. Overall, it’s quite a ripping yarn. When was the last time you had an 80-year-old as your main character in an action adventure? I think we all know the answer to that one. Brilliant. Simply, brilliant.

“Nemo: River of Ghosts” is a 56-page full color hardcover, priced at $14.95, and available now. For more details, visit our friends at Top Shelf Productions right here.

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Filed under Alan Moore, Comics, Comics Reviews, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, Jules Verne, Steampunk, Top Shelf Productions

ECCC 2015: Top Shelf Productions and Shannon Wheeler & Mark Russell

IDW Publishing at Emerald City Comicon this year brings a wide variety of comics goodness. I wanted to point out that Top Shelf Productions, now an imprint of IDW Publishing, will be at booth #1225, where you can meet the creative team behind the hit satire “God Is Disappointed in You,” Mark Russell and Shannon Wheeler! The book is very funny and informative. Read my review right here.

"God Is Disappointed in You," by Mark Russell and Shannon Wheeler

“God Is Disappointed in You,” by Mark Russell and Shannon Wheeler

Shannon Wheeler is a cartoonist best known for creating the satirical superhero Too Much Coffee Man, and as a cartoonist for The New Yorker. Find him here. Mark Russell is a writer and a cartoonist. His writing has been featured in McSweeney’s, The Nib, and Funny Times, among other places, and his cartoons are featured regularly at Nailed. Find him here. And, of course, you can definitely purchase “God Is Disappointed in You,” from Top Shelf Productions, right here.

Top Shelf Productions

I have a soft spot in my heart for the ebullient quality of Shannon’s cartoons. I include above a video interview I did with him at last year’s Comic-Con International: San Diego. Seems like the perfect blast from the past to share with all of you. Below are the details on the panel with Shannon Wheeler and Mark Russell:

Saturday, 2:00 – 3:00 Room Hall C (TCC 301)
God is Disappointed in You (The Sequel), with Mark Russell & Shannon Wheeler—Last year’s standing-room-only hot ticket returns — now with even more Biblical bewilderment! God Is Disappointed in You, published by Top Shelf, is the tongue-in-cheek “condensed” version of the Bible you never knew you needed — hilariously modern, but surprisingly authentic — packed with cartoons by Eisner-award-winner Shannon Wheeler (The New Yorker, Too Much Coffee Man). Join him and author Mark Russell (writer of DC Comics’ upcoming Prez) for an hour of unforgettable irreverence, including Q&A, audience sketches, and the hilarious-yet-accurate “ten-minute Bible.” PLUS: a taste of the Audie-nominated audiobook, read by Dr. Venture himself, James Urbaniak (The Venture Bros), and an exclusive announcement about the upcoming sequel!

For more details on the IDW schedule at ECCC, go right here.

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Filed under Cartoonists, Cartoons, Comics, Emerald City Comicon, God, Humor, IDW Publishing, Religion, Satire, Shannon Wheeler, The New Yorker, Top Shelf Productions

Review: STAR TREK: NEW ADVENTURES VOL. 1

Star-Trek-New-Adventures-IDW-Vol-1

IDW Publishing has got the comics industry in quite a buzz regarding its acquisition of Top Shelf Productions, a relatively smaller comics publisher. So, what makes IDW special? Well, they do seem to have a geeky love for comics. And that leads to stuff like this collection of Star Trek stories. This is an IDW speciality so let that tell you something about IDW.

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Filed under Comics, Graphic Novel Reviews, graphic novels, IDW Publishing, Star Trek, Top Shelf Productions

Comics in 2014: NEMO: THE ROSES OF BERLIN

Nemo-The-Roses-of-Berlin-Alan-Moore

Alan Moore in 2014! When Moore and Kevin O’Neill followed up their League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century trilogy with 2013’s spinoff Nemo: Heart of Ice, it won critical praise. Now, it’s time for another masterwork, The Roses of Berlin. This one follows four charismatic women in the midst of the intrigue and danger of 1941 Berlin.

Co-Published by Top Shelf Productions & Knockabout, this 56-page full-color hardcover graphic novel is priced at $14.95 (US) and ships in March 2014. Check out our friends at Top Shelf Productions here.

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Filed under Alan Moore, Comics, Comics News, news, Top Shelf Productions