Black Tea #1: “Deluxe Reissue”

I recently re-printed one of my old zines, and decided to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now: give it a color cover. I love the childhood photo on the front (which people think is of me, but I’m pretty sure is my oldest brother), and was always a little bummed with the way it came out in black and white. I also got rid of the white borders on the top and right edges, which was kind of a nightmare to figure out how to do.

Black Tea #1 is one of my favorite zines that I’ve done. If I remember right, I drew the issue in two weeks (shortly after Laterborn 5, which took 6 months to draw). At the time I thought I was clearing a bunch of “throwaway” ideas out of my head to make room for new ones, but in retrospect, these comics are strong, and a lot of them have a spontaneity and directness to them that I want to tap back into somehow.

This “deluxe reissue” is available now in the store.

New Zine: COVERS

My newest zine is now available in the store.

These comics are “covers” of my favorite stories about music: a secret Bob Dylan recording session in Minnesota, Kurt Cobain’s love of macaroni and cheese, John Lennon recording Plastic Ono Band after undergoing primal scream therapy, memories of John Coltrane and his acts of kindness, Mike Watt dressing as a scarecrow for a gig on Halloween, the Dinosaur Jr chapter of Michael Azerrad’s book Our Band Could Be Your Life, a teenage Kristin Hersh recording the first Throwing Muses album (while also pregnant with her first child), and my friend Jason Young’s story of a surprising house show.

This was a lot of fun to make, and if you’re into both music and comics it’s probably up your alley.



Alan’s Pet Peeve

Here’s a comic I drew at the start of the year, and just inked recently.
I think I’ve already drawn more in 2014 than in all of 2013… Besides this comic I’ve penciled 10 or 11 other pages, and written and thumbnailed about 12 more. Hope I keep it up.

Jason’s Zine Club: Gnomes

It’s only ten pages long and takes about two minutes to read, but somehow Sam Gaskin’s Gnomes is one of my favorite mini-comics to come out in years.

I’m curious what Sam’s process was like for Gnomes. The comics have such a spontaneous feel, you almost wonder if they were drawn off-the-cuff in a sudden burst of inspiration. But at the same time, each one is perfectly written and paced, and ends with a really satisfying last panel.

(Excerpt from “Pumpkin Bread”):

Besides the spontaneity, I love the unabashed innocence of these comics, and there’s a freshness to the sense of humor I haven’t felt since reading Joey Alison Sayers for the first time.

Gnomes is published by Oily Comics and available from their online store for $1, and you can also get it from Spit and a Half. And – hold the phone – it looks like there’s a new follow-up comic called Goblins that I need to check out.

Previous picks:
TABLEGEDDON and As You Were #1
Real Axe (#1) by Josh Frankel
Extra Time #2 by Jeff Levine
May 2013 – Is It The Future Yet? by Corinne Mucha
April 2013 – SMOO 4, 5, and 6 by Simon Moreton
March 2013 – Painful Vices by Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg
February 2013 – Ochre Ellipse #3 by Jonas Madden-Connor
January 2013 – Not My Small Diary #16
December 2012 – Ramble On #2 by Calvin Wong
November 2012 – Veggie Dog Saturn #6 by Jason Young

Jason’s Zine Club: TABLEGEDDON and As You Were #1

Both of these new anthologies are strong enough to deserve their own Jason’s Zine Club entry, but I thought it’d be interesting to pair them together: Not only do both collections pay tribute to a specific part of D.I.Y. culture (tabling at conventions and going to house shows), they’re also both haunted by the awkwardness and social anxiety that surround these things.

TABLEGEDDON is an anthology about selling comics at conventions, edited by Rob Kirby (and just so everyone knows, I have a 2-page comic in here). It’s a diverse collection that covers every aspect of tabling: shyness, self-doubt, feeling defeated (Carrie McNinch, Kelly Froh, Tony Breed, Aron Nels Steinke), but also those moments of inspiration, overcoming fears, and making new friends (Cara Bean and Sally Carson, Rob Kirby, Tony Breed again). The funniest stories for me were Rick Worley’s short-lived crush on a famous cartoonist, Max Clotfelter’s doomed first time tabling at age 17, Mark Campos’ high-concept mini-comic prank (which is hard to summarize without spoiling the ending), Gabrielle Gamboa’s priceless take on cartoonist gossip, and John Porcellino’s instant-classic strip about the excuses we all make when sales are slow. Justin Hall, Matt Moses, Jess Worby, and Zine Crush are in here too (come on, don’t make me describe every story — just know that they’re all good!).

As You Were is a new punk comics anthology, and the theme of the first issue is house shows. Probably self-explanatory, but just in case: a “house show” is a concert that’s held in someone’s house instead of a more traditional music venue. Having been to a lot of them in my day, I can vouch that they can be so much more powerful and intimate than a show at a bar or club, but also that being in someone’s house can bring up all kinds of awkward emotions and worries that you’re the odd one out. Liz Prince’s comic and the opening comic by Ramsey Everydaypants both explore these fears, before deciding they wouldn’t have it any other way. As Liz concludes, “Once the band starts playing your anxiety melts away / and afterwards you float home / not feeling so alone after all.”

Mitch Clem (who also edits this anthology) does a comic about how his shyness actually kept him from going to a house show, a decision that haunts him now that the band he missed is one of his favorites. Some of the other highlights include a spot-on “House-Show Bingo” game (with squares like “cops bust show” and “dog wearing a bandana”), an uplifting comic from Josh P.M. Frees about a house in Pennsylvania that put on shows and became a positive force for the local scene (“A place where our directionless post-adolescence found peace of mind in punk rock”), and a beautiful closing comic from Emilja Frances about the calm after the show:

I have to admit I’d only read one of these artists before (Liz Prince), so I’m grateful for getting introduced to a whole new world of talent, and I’ve already ordered other work from two of the contributors here.

Both anthologies are highly recommended celebrations of the beauty and awkwardness of indie culture. Even the comics about bad experiences cheered me up in that “I’m glad I’m not the only one” kind of way.

TABLEGEDDON is available for $4 from Rob Kirby’s website. (And while you’re at it, why not help kickstart his forthcoming QU33R anthology?).

As You Were #1 is published by Silver Sprocket and available from their online store. (They also just put out a second issue, which I picked up at APE but haven’t had a chance to read yet).

Previous picks:
Real Axe (#1) by Josh Frankel
Extra Time #2 by Jeff Levine
May 2013 – Is It The Future Yet? by Corinne Mucha
April 2013 – SMOO 4, 5, and 6 by Simon Moreton
March 2013 – Painful Vices by Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg
February 2013 – Ochre Ellipse #3 by Jonas Madden-Connor
January 2013 – Not My Small Diary #16
December 2012 – Ramble On #2 by Calvin Wong
November 2012 – Veggie Dog Saturn #6 by Jason Young

Jason’s Zine Club: Real Axe (#1)

Josh Frankel is one of the first local cartoonists I met when I started doing comics about a decade ago. He’d just put out Deadly Combo #3, which still stands as one of the funniest mini-comics I’ve ever read. Since then he’s also done more serious work, like his Water Column trilogy, and the heartbreakingly beautiful Twilight of the Sea Cow.

His most recent comic is Real Axe #1, which kicks off a hilarious new story set semi-sincerely in the fantasy genre. It’s the story of Wenduhl, a quixotic goon (and since I finally read Don Quixote last year, I can use that word with authority) who leaves his horde behind and sets off in search of a new life. His sidekick is a wise-cracking axe named Marrow Dowser, who frequently steals the show.

Reading this for the first time made me so happy, partly because it feels like a lost classic from an era of Bay Area comics that I miss, but also because it made me laugh at least once per page. Here’s hoping there’s a Real Axe #2 on the horizon. In the meantime you can order issue one from Josh’s online store.

Previous picks:
Extra Time #2 by Jeff Levine
May 2013 – Is It The Future Yet? by Corinne Mucha
April 2013 – SMOO 4, 5, and 6 by Simon Moreton
March 2013 – Painful Vices by Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg
February 2013 – Ochre Ellipse #3 by Jonas Madden-Connor
January 2013 – Not My Small Diary #16
December 2012 – Ramble On #2 by Calvin Wong
November 2012 – Veggie Dog Saturn #6 by Jason Young

Jason’s Zine Club: Extra Time #2

Jeff LeVine, best known for Sparkplug’s Watching Days Become Years, is back with a new, self-published series called Extra Time. The latest issue is a collection of 1-page diary comics that cover the first six weeks of 2012.

This was a pretty quiet time in Jeff’s life, with most of the comics centered around the books he’s reading, long walks in his neighborhood, and a general sense of solitary reflection.

Despite the lack of “drama,” these are deep comics with a contemplative mood you get immersed in over time. The artwork is detailed and beautiful, and Jeff has a way of pinning down those moments of daily life that are the hardest to capture.

Here are the first 3 panels of one of my favorite pages:

There are funny moments here too, and a pair of (genius) wordless comics that mix things up nicely. Both issues of Extra Time are available from Jeff’s website.

Note: Instead of posting these recommendations once a month, I’ll be posting them whenever I have the time and/or inspiration… I’m planning to do 4 this month, and then take another break while I catch up on my own comics.

Previous picks:

May 2013 – Is It The Future Yet? by Corinne Mucha
April 2013 – SMOO 4, 5, and 6 by Simon Moreton
March 2013 – Painful Vices by Lisa Rosalie Eisenberg
February 2013 – Ochre Ellipse #3 by Jonas Madden-Connor
January 2013 – Not My Small Diary #16
December 2012 – Ramble On #2 by Calvin Wong
November 2012 – Veggie Dog Saturn #6 by Jason Young

Coloring Driftwood City

I’ve been getting a lot of compliments on the cover of Driftwood City, so I wanted to do a “before and after” post showing what a huge difference Kane Lynch’s colors made to the book. Here’s the original drawing I sent to him:

I asked Kane to share his process of turning this into the final, color cover:

I printed out your original art on a 9 x 12 sheet of watercolor paper—I have a swanky inkjet printer with waterproof ink—and then I did washes over it in 3 shades.

The light brown is walnut ink, the more saturated orangey brown is J. Herbin’s Tea Brown. And the big bottle with the eye-dropper is Noodler’s Heart of Darkness black ink.

This shows what the actual inks look like before I brought it back into the computer. I’m pretty happy with it, but the ink smeared over some of your contour lines a bit. I mostly blame this on the cheap watercolor paper I was using—it’s nice because it runs through the printer well, but colors do bleed a little bit.

So I brought it into Photoshop and added some really dark blacks and other accents. I realized the log needed more of a shadow since it was directly facing the sunset, so I added some additional fake watercolor shading in Corel Painter.

This is basically the same process I use for Aerial Structures, but it was nice to shake it up a little bit and work with someone else’s art!
- Kane

If you’re not already, you really should be following Kane’s new serialized comic, Aerial Structures.

And Driftwood City is available now in the store and through John Porcellino’s Spit and a Half distro.