Help Get Skyliner in the Air

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An eighty-year-old man, after a humble but well-regarded career as a poster designer & illustrator in Poland and the United States, decides it’s time to try his hand at cartooning. Over the course of almost two years, between his regular dialysis treatments, he completes a 354 page graphic memoir detailing his experiences as a young artist in Poland — dodging the Communist draft, chasing beautiful women, yearning for a better life in an America that only exists in films, jazz songs, and his dreams.

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To save money, he draws it with off-brand SHOUPIE markers that come five-to-a-pack at the dollar store. He gives everything he has to this book. Near the end of his life, he becomes a full-fledged cartoonist. Comics have set his imagination on fire. His book is a singular artistic achievement, a beautifully illustrated story that surges with ardor and kindness and longing, a love letter to the folly of the American dream, a tribute to the music and culture of his adopted home. He calls it SKYLINER. It’s a remembrance. A powerful and unique legacy to leave behind.

Wouldn’t it break your heart if that book never saw print?

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I will admit to some bias here: I have a horse in this race. Ed Krayewski, Andre de Krayewski’s son, has been a friend of mine since he was sixteen. I’ve watched Ed grow from a somewhat annoying kid into a wonderful man with a flourishing career and a lovely wife and a majestic head of hair. I was with Ed through the death of his mother, and his father’s worsening illness. And I’ve watched with admiration for the last few years as Ed, whose greatest virtues are staunchness and devotion, has gently urged Andre on to complete the staggering achievement that is SKYLINER. Ed translated the text from Polish to English, and acted as a stringent editor, bringing a lifelong love of comics storytelling to bear on his father’s unique art style and highly personal story. Ed is single-handedly running this Kickstarter campaign. In the waning years of an exceptional artist’s life, his son became his greatest collaborator in a project that as much as it’s a memoir is a tribute to their bond, and to Ed’s desire to see his father’s memory properly stewarded.

And now, with only days left on the Kickstarter that Ed has flogged within an inch of his life, they still have an awfully long way to go. After two tough years, several hundred SHOUPIE markers that stained Andre’s hands black, small-run pressings of the first few issues, and three weeks of a well-run and well-designed crowdfunding campaign, the money’s still not there.

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If this campaign were to fail, it would be a sin against comics. This project speaks from an utterly authentic and uncompromising place, and is ultimately proof positive of the overwhelming power of this glorious medium: that an accomplished artist who by all rights should be pursuing not much more than bed rest could be so inspired by his first experiences with cartooning that he decides to create a giant graphic novel — that his imagination is so thoroughly captured that he immediately becomes a full-time cartoonist, and even upon completing his immense memoir project continues cranking out short stories and strips (some of which will be published by Locust Moon), exploring and glorying in the possibilities of sequential storytelling, in the power of the page.

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No one is ever going to make a penny off this book — they’re just raising enough money for a very small print run. The goal here is to take a truth that came directly from Andre Krayewski’s heart, press it into ink on paper, and put it in some people’s hands. If you become one of the people who make it happen, you’ll be the proud owner of an beautiful edition rich with story, alive with raw illustration energy, and glowing with love.

Andre and Ed will thank you from the bottom of their hearts. And then, once you receive this remarkable book, you can thank me later.

Link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/156390002/andre-krayewskis-skyliner-the-complete-series

SPXcellent

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SPX

SPX, it seems generally agreed, is the most fun weekend of convention season. So much more than a small press marketplace, it’s a celebration of comics with a quirky character all its own. Our time in Bethesda was filled with booze and belly laughs, as we caught up with old friends, sold a veritable buttload of comics, and even busted out some serious dance moves.

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Andrew Carl, Rafer Roberts, Dave Proch

Oh, and also, we debuted LITTLE NEMO: DREAM ANOTHER DREAM.

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Sean getting his Nemo signed by Andrea Tsurumi (right page)

After two years, we finally had books to sell. It felt almost surreal. Having spent so much time with these beautiful pieces, having bickered & bonded over every page placement, every design element, having written endlessly about McCay and Little Nemo, having given interviews to any & all who would interview us, having generally turned ourselves over the last eight months into single-minded Nemo-making-and-promoting machines, here we were for the very first time with copies of the book to put into people’s hands. DREAM ANOTHER DREAM has attained such a giant status in our minds, as a tribute and collective effort and crowd-funded passion project, that it’s easy to forget that in the end, it’s a book. You can buy it if you want it. It’s up to you.

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Alexis Ziritt admiring those insane colors on his Nemo page (right)

We didn’t have many copies — there are only 50 in the US at the moment, having been overnight shipped and smuggled across the border at great expense and vague legal peril. We’ll be parceling them out over the our hectic convention schedule (come see us at Rose City in Portland, MICE in Cambridge, APE in San Francisco, and NYCC in NYC!), a few at a time, to tide you all over until the LOCUST MOON COMICS FESTIVAL, when we should have our bulk shipment in stock and we can sell them freely and – even more importantly – begin fulfilling the rewards of our beloved Kickstarter backers.

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Jen Tong seeing her Nemo page for the first time in print

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. Here we were with 18 (quickly sold out) copies of this majestic creature, on the lushly-carpeted floor of one of the best and most exciting comics conventions in the world. We were tabling with our old pals & brothers-in-arms (and Nemo contributors) Farel Dalrymple and Jasen Lex, which gave our booth a grandeur and a comics firepower befitting the glorious book we were debuting. We thought we were making good sales, but Farel blew us away — there wasn’t a moment all weekend when he didn’t have a long line waiting for him to sign copies of THE WRENCHIES. The way our tables were combined, I think a fair amount of confused people thought that Locust Moon was THE WRENCHIES’ publisher. I sincerely wish we were. It’s one of the greatest comics of all time.

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Farel making his mark on a soon-to-be-epic copy of Nemo…

We discovered when inspecting the SPX floor plan that, including the two fine tablemates just to our left, 26 of the book’s 140 contributors were exhibiting at the show. So Andrew made heavily annotated maps marking each of their locations, and we sent the proud new owners of LITTLE NEMO: DREAM ANOTHER DREAM off on scavengers hunts to get as many signatures as they cared to or could. I jokingly offered a free prize to anyone who got all 26. A constant sight on the show floor throughout the weekend was people stalking from booth to booth with an unwieldily gargantuan book under one arm and a marked-up map held aloft with the other, like some kind of alt-comix version of The Amazing Race. When a number of people returned to the table with every contributor checked off, I had to figure out what the hell kind of free prize I could offer them.

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…Rawn Gandy adding to the now well-scavenged set of signatures

SPX has always been a youthful show. For all the incredible comics luminaries they always have on hand, it’s always been the show where people are most excited about handmade books and self-published minis. It’s a show that thrives on New Comics Energy, and we couldn’t have been happier to contribute to that influx of medium-sustaining novelty with an unusual and unlikely project of our own. (Many thanks to Warren Bernard for helping us make this magical weekend happen.)

As usual, half of the reason for the glory of SPX is due to the Bethesda Marriott Hotel, whose comfy confines are given over completely to the endless array of misfits that we call a comics industry. It’s more than just a con venue — it’s the eye of the storm, for one brief weekend this one building is the center of the comics universe. You exhibit there, you drink there, you draw there, you sleep there. (You eat elsewhere and abruptly realize there’s such a thing as outside.) By the end of the weekend it feels like home. I’m not sure Jesse Reklaw ever put on a pair of shoes. To the maids and bellhops it must be kind of like going to the zoo, if the animals were all inside of your house. Their hospitality was stunning, and can in no way be attributed to the eight bazillion dollars they generated in overpriced drink sales.

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Ben Sears, Andrew MacLean, Chris Stevens, Aaron Conley, Zack Soto

This SPX was heavy on the social events, from the Ignatz awards (whose many unfamiliar nominees were a welcome reminder that comics is bottomless, and we should all be reading more than we are) to the baffling spectacle of Simon Hanselmann’s wedding (we missed the vows, but walked in at the very end to see Simon making out with Gary Groth while a five piece brass band played All You Need is Love), to the SPX prom, facilitated and arranged by our own homegirls the Dirty Diamonds, which featured a jam-packed dance floor, an inspiring interpretive performance of Madonna’s Express Yourself by R. Sikoryak and Kriota Willberg, and this majestic photo, which should really be featured here at least twice and, even if the con were a total failure, completely justifies the weekend.

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SPromX

Fashion round-up: I wore a beautiful Nancy tie that Denis Kitchen gave me, a fact that I’m surprised hasn’t found its way into more post-con blogs and recaps. My own sartorial beauty was outstripped only by Tom Scioli, who was sporting french braids woven by the dirtiest of diamonds Claire Folkman, and Simon Hanselmann, who was wearing a wedding dress, which seems like cheating.

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Nancy

We scored a lot of amazing books and prints, including Dustin Harbin‘s NoBrow dinosaur leporello, Andrea Tsurumi‘s remarkable new YA sci-fi collab with Molly Brooks, Kelly Phillips‘ hilariously revealing Weird Al superfan autobio, and one lone copy of Ben Marra‘s storied, seemingly-always-sold-out TERROR ASSAULTER, which Dave, Andrew and I read aloud to each other while eating chicken nuggets in our hotel room. I’m pretty sure that’s how Ben intended the book to be enjoyed.

Oh SPX. I hope that thoughts of you will sustain us through the meat-grinder shit-show known as New York Comic-Con. You only get one chance to make a first impression. I’m glad that SPX was ours.

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Josh O’Neill, Andrew Carl

- Josh O’Neill

The Locust Moon Top 40: August 2014

40. FABLES vol. 20

Willingham & Buckingham’s seemingly-endless saga wends towards its conclusion, out of the darkness of its previous volume and back towards its heroic roots.

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39. REMAINDER by Farel Dalrymple

The tour-de-force cartooning in this WRENCHIES side story would make Moebius proud.

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38. KILL MY MOTHER

Jules Feiffer is one of the true architects of the comics medium — here, in his smoke-wreathed noir debut graphic novel, he shows that he’s still on top of his game.

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37. This D&D Audiobook

Let Ice-T and Dan Harmon (sadly, not doing his impression of Ice-T) and friends read Dungeons and Dragons to you. It’s…something special.

36. MEGAHEX

Simon Hanselmann’s weirdly sociopathic stoner gag strip MEGG, MOGG & OWL, collected here by Fantagraphics, is a stealth delivery system for some terrifyingly dark character studies.

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35. MULTIVERSITY #1

Bucking the shitty MOR trends of DC, shamanic comics mastermind Grant Morrison delivers a brain-blasting metacomic, with gorgeously detailed universes drawn by Ivan Reis. Surprising that the suits are letting the iconoclastic Morrison have this much fun with their precious continuity.

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THE MOTHER’S MOUTH by Dash Shaw

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I usually use this space to highlight new, or at least newly-in-print comics and collections. But I just read something great, and I want to tell you about it. THE MOTHER’S MOUTH by Dash Shaw is a deeply moving story and a stunningly original exploration the unique capacities of the comic medium. Everyone should read it. We have one copy at Locust Moon. Come and get it, lucky reader, and be enriched. It’s no longer in print, so everybody else is shit out of luck.

Much of Dash Shaw’s brilliance lies in the way be brings his ravenous appetite for innovation to tender, human narratives. Though he seems to be devising his approach in the moment, restlessly mining his inventiveness page by page, the stories are old and the characters familiar. His books are small, well-observed and subtle, but his themes are huge and unmanageable, the stuff of great literature — brotherhood, envy and crumpled desire in NEW SCHOOL, for instance, or loneliness, obligation and loss here in THE MOTHER’S MOUTH. These pure evocations of human longing are the emotional backbone of his work, powerful pulsing centers that guarantee that these stories, for all their obfuscating experimentalism, will never buckle under the weight of their own ambition.

The plot, slight as it is, concerns Virginia Miles, a children’s librarian who must return home to care for her elderly mother. She falls into a cautious, uncomfortably intimate relationship with Dick Lucido, a damaged, gentle musician. They blunder towards some kind of guarded love, fingers pushing through the bars of their shame, fear and isolation, as Virginia’s mother fades and dies. But somewhere over the course of all this you fall under this book’s weird spell, and start receiving Shaw’s urgent, befuddling transmissions.

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Virginia’s story is told in a clunky-clean traditional narrative style, with thick marker lines and brushstrokes, her mother’s face layered, shroud-like, with clean black wrinkles. But just as much space is given over to old photographs, scientific and psuedo-scientific schematics, diagrammed dance steps, newspaper articles, found objects. There are moments when it feels less like a story than a bundle of mementos and documents, wrapped in wax paper and bound up with string. Sometimes you read this book — other times you pluck your way through it, puzzling, turning it over in your hands, feeling for its gnomic meaning in the dark.

There’s a tangle of sex, grief and memory at the center of THE MOTHER’S MOUTH that you can never quite unravel — at least, I couldn’t. Virginia, wracked with sorrow over her mother’s illness and utterly vulnerable , alone in the world, falls in with the daydreamy, Michael Jackson-obsessed Dick and we see their weird, halting, awkward courtship (“Oh my god, I’m sorry did my breath smell?” “Oh, I don’t know, did my breath smell?”). But then there are lengthy detours into Virginia’s first (probably only) love affair, a preadolescent fling with a boy named Richard, who died when he was swallowed up into the depths of a sandbox. Near the end of the book, there’s a news article about a Louisiana therapist who accidentally kills a child named Richard, suffocating him during a controversial therapeutic technique in which patients re-experience their own births. What actually happened to Richard? What is his relation to the similarly-named Dick? What does this assemblage of stuff, connected with the thinnest strands of desire, nostalgia and fantasy, mean?

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Your guess is as good as mine. But answering those questions is not the purpose of this story. It’s the mystery, the haunting feeling of the accumulation of all these bits and pieces, the way they mirror one another, operating according to aesthetic as much as narrative logic. Shaw’s world here is a darkly funny fractal, and his vision zooms in on the tiniest memory, a crumpled snapshot, a child’s drawing, then out to the geologic scale of time. We watch Pangaea break apart then come back together again, see the moon swallowed in darkness, then shimmer through as a crescent now reversed, observe a mythical creature decompose into fossils in a series of cross-sections of sedimentary rock. His versatile, telescopic camera always discovers the same thing: that time marches on, that loss is inevitable, that life is fragile and beautiful.

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In one bravura four-page sequence, a sex scene between Dick and Virginia branches into the roots of a tree, the trunk of which flows into a river, which transforms into a topographical map, which, panning back, is revealed to be the sandbox in which Richard died. Everything is everything else — look at the sweep of history or a microbial organism and discover your own anxieties, grievances and hopes. The same messages are encoded into every sequence. When Virginia’s mother dies, her spirit just puffs our of a her chest as a little Pacman ghost, then floats off as a white silhouette against an empty black spread. Figuration, symbolism and narrative are jostling for page space, pulling against each other, as disjointed as they are unified.

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Like in the work of Chris Ware, the towering ambition of the formal approach plays brilliantly off the smallness and mundanity of the story. Virginia and Dick are stuck in prisons of their own device while the vast universe, impossibly beautiful and frightening, spins around them. THE MOTHER’S MOUTH explores huge and hopeful ideas about Dharmic interconnectedness, universal mirroring and infinite regression in a tale of badly damaged people, lost souls shrouded in scar tissue.

It ends with tentative hope, pillow talk, and Dick’s plans for a haircut. In THE MOTHER’S MOUTH, Dash Shaw summons an entire universe just to make two people feel a little less alone.

MM cover- Josh O’Neill

 

good this week

ok, we didn’t have a chance to read anything yet this week, but these are the books we really wanna read…

rocket raccoon #2

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nightworld #1

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she-hulk #7

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i was the cat

oni

trillium

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the complete elfquest vol. #1

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the ring of the nibelung

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jack davis drawing american pop culture

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food wars!

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The Locust Moon Top 40: July 2014

40. THE WICKED + THE DIVINE

The new Image series from McKelvie & Gillen, a sort of bottomless bonus track to their dark-magic rock opera PHONOGRAM, is one of the most promising series to debut in 2014.

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39. This NSFW Spider-Man Statue

This baffling statue, atop a South Korean shopping mall, gives new meaning to the phrase “web fluid.”

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38. CHARLES SCHULZ’S PEANUTS: ARTIST’S EDITION

This beautifully designed collection of unaltered original Peanuts artwork brings us Charles Schulz’s earliest strips just as he made them — raw, unfiltered, and a little bit mean.

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37. OUTCAST

The world-weary horror of Robert Kirkman’s story is brought to life by the atmospheric, choking tension of Paul Azaceta’s moody, worrisome artwork. A promising debut for what looks to be a truly frightening series.

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36. This Animated Lobster Sculpture

Very lifelike. Keep it far away from butter sauce.

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35. THE LEFTOVERS

This off-beat, darkly funny, sprawlingly intimate HBO series, based on Tom Perotta’s novel of the same title, follows life in a small town in the years following the Rapture.

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