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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TCAFtermath

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The Toronto Comic Arts Festival was, as expected, a beauteous beast, a many-headed hydra of pure comics wonder. It’s the greatest North American convention, bar none — the most efficiently run, thoughtfully curated, ambitiously imagined show that we’ve ever been to. Every second at TCAF is a teachable moment for us, an object lesson in how to create an event worth of the phrase “comics festival.”

We were lucky to share a table with the incomparable Laura Lee Gulledge, who was there promoting her beautifully sincere and personal YA graphic novels WILL & WHIT and PAGE BY PAIGE. We couldn’t imagine a better tablemate or partner in misadventures throughout the weekend. Go check out Laura Lee’s stuff.

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While our sales this year didn’t quite match the insane explosion of commerce that was last year’s TCAF, we still did very brisk business, turned a lot of Torontonians on to ONCE UPON A TIME MACHINE, 36 LESSONS IN SELF DESTRUCTION, and QUARTER MOON, and had ourselves a grand old time.

Seated to our left was the cartoonist and illustrator Renee Nault, whose stunning prints and gorgeous comics we had somehow never seen or heard of before. This is the beauty of TCAF — you’re constantly tripping over geniuses, pushing your way through a horde of visionaries. Renee’s table was constantly thronged by eager comic fans, and sometimes when she would go to the bathroom Andrew & I would sell her stuff, pretending we were the authors of these exquisite watercolor mermaids and comics about witches. Over the course of crappy afterparties at The Pilot House (TCAF! You can do better!) and failed 2 a.m. quests for karaoke, we strong-armed her into doing a little something with us in the very near future.

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Over the course of four days in Toronto we were treated to a mind-blowing lesson in comic shop entrepreneurialism from Alex Hoffman of The Beguiling and a terrifying demonstration of the purposes and iconography of the Australian aboriginal killing stick from Cody Pickrodt. We ate Korean barbeque and okonomiyaki, which is some kind of Japanese pancake that appears to have live fish swimming on top of it. We talked Liefeld with Ed Piskor and watched Tom Scioli scribble endlessly more insane layouts for his face-meltingly weird and original take on G.I. JOE VS TRANSFORMERS. (Tom seemed to be drawing at literally every moment of the weekend, over dinner, at bars, at his table, comics spilling from his mind faster that they could be sketched. Tom is the only person I know who can dominate a conversation with his face buried in a sketchpad. Electricity crackles off this dude like no one I’ve ever met — he seems less a cartoonist than a conduit for comic book revelation.) We caught up with our pals R. Sikoryak and Kriota Willberg, and Maria & Peter Hoey. (When I broke a pint glass in a bar called the Spotted Dick, Maria helped me hide the evidence.) Daryl Seitchik explained the difference between pink noise and brown noise and gave us a copy of her stunning new book 477 BRIGHT CIRCLE. We discovered that there is a place where the pizza is worse than West Philly, and it is called Toronto. We shared in the rare luxury of Porter Airlines with Maritsa Patrinos and Rebecca Mock one way and our hometown Dirty Diamonds crew on the other. We tipped drinks with cartoonists we’ve long admired but never met, like Luke Pearson, Gabrielle Bell and Jesse Jacobs. We shopped at The Beguiling and lusted after their DREAMS OF THE RAREBIT FIEND McCay original. We plotted world domination — pardon me, wider distribution — with Jared Smith of Big Planet Comics. We forgot to take photos. We ate between six and ten pounds of poutine. (Pic courtesy of Laura Lee.)

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Meanwhile, back at the actual show, we copped books from Taddle Creek Press and Andrea Tsurumi‘s gorgeous new HOW TO POOL mini (to be featured in QUARTER MOON 4), rediscovered Zac Gorman‘s hilarious and heartrending piece of video game-inspired cartoon poetry MAGICAL GAME TIME in physical form, met Christina Ellis (whom I wish we had known when we were putting together our erotica mag), and cracked jokes with illustrator extraordinaire and QUARTER MOON 4 cover artist Steve Mardo. We got really mad at Ben Marra for selling out of TERROR ASSAULTER before we could grab any, then realized that Ben could kick our asses and quickly apologized. We sold QUARTER MOONS and 36 LESSONS IN SELF DESTRUCTION to Peter Birkemoe from The Beguiling, because a comic that’s not in stock at The Beguiling cannot really be said, in the truest sense, to exist at all. We discovered a weird little handmade hardcover book of woodcut porn, and we’re kicking ourselves for (a) not buying it and (b) forgetting the name of it. A little help anybody?

All in all, it was what you expect from this greatest of all conventions: a weekend full of cartoon glory, alternatingly passionate and hysterical conversations, and an ever-widening sense of the constantly expanding breadth and depth of this beautiful, broken industry we call home.

Still, it feels like we were just skimming the surface. TCAF is too big, too beautiful — you’re always in the process of missing out on hundreds of remarkable things. Do we really have to wait another year?

-Josh O’Neill
(& Andrew Carl)

P.S. Whoever’s spreading rumors of the LOCUST MOON COMICS FESTIVAL’s incredible ice cream (Little Baby’s!), please don’t stop. But also, don’t forget the puppy truck.

P.P.S. This is what Andrew & I look like when we talk about farts.

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The Locust Moon Top 40: November 2013

40. DELUSIONAL

This art & sequential bits & bobs book from Farel Dalrymple & AdHouse made our Top 40 back when it was announced. Now that we’ve finally gotten our copies to pore over, we want to put it on ALL the Top 40s.
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39. The Fantagraphics Kickstarter

Because we all need our continued supply of Uncle Scrooge.

38. BOARDWALK EMPIRE

The hopeless glory of season 4 ended with no winners, only losers. Pretty appropriate for a show set in Atlantic City.

37. DISAPPEARANCE DIARY

Hideo Azuma’s autobiographical chronicle of a cartoonist dropping off the map and going on the lam from relationships, responsibilities, and sobriety is a fascinating and oddly adorable illustration of the kind of personality with which some of us can identify a little too much.
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36. Calvin & Hobbes Dancing

We’d usually say that Bill Watterson’s opus is hallowed ground upon which fan art must not tread, but this animation of Calvin & Hobbes dancing is delightful, touching, and utterly true to its origins.

35. This Mountain Man

I hope to one day also stand in court and declare, “I AM THE NATURAL MAN.”

34. THE ART OF RUBE GOLDBERG

This book about Rube Goldberg is also an ACTUAL FUNCTIONING PAPERCRAFT RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINE! How cool is that?
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good this week

black science #1 : rick remender seems re-energized in this killer 1st issue. and the art, from matteo scalera and color wizard dean white, is gorgeous and nuanced. this book goes straight to the top of the list of books i’ll look forward to each month.

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saga #16 : things are ratcheting up in this consistently entertaining, surprising series.

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hip hop family tree vol. #1 : ed piskor throws down an encyclopedic account of the early days of an american art form. the telling of the tale is as fresh as the old-school treasury format, which ed recreates in loving, meticulous detail. good stuff.

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pretty deadly #2 : emma rios is hitting a whole new level in her art, and kelly sue deconnick’s poetic, dreamy script works with her to build a book that’s carved out its own unique place in just two issues.

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the sandman overture #1 special edition : the criterion collection version of the new sandman series is a vehicle for celebrating jh williams’ remarkable art in mostly black and white, going so far as to render the lettering translucent to unveil as much of jh3’s virtuosic work. along with process talk from todd klein and script annotations by williams, this is a fine way to experience the return of the dream king.

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afterlife with archie #2 : in 30+years of reading comics, i’d never read an archie comic cover to cover. and i am not into the zombie genre at all. and y’know what? i loved the first two issues of this new series. it’s just flat-out good comics from francesco francavilla and roberto aguirre-sacasa. looking forward to more.

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mister x eviction & other stories : one of the best worlds ever built in comics.

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the maxx maxximized #1 : a remastered rolling out of the seminal sam kieth series. YES.

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–chris stevens

heroes con 2013

we were in north carolina last week for heroes con. the con has been running for over 30 years and has a reputation for being maybe the best east coast convention, with a family atmosphere and emphasis on comics and comic creators–none of the pop culture nonsense that so many other cons have made the focus of their shows. it’s fair to say we were looking forward to this one.

josh and i left early thursday morning, hopping on a train, where we met up with our roomie for the weekend, ulises farinas. ulises is a fantastic artist and an easy guy to spend 13 hours on a train with. here’s the cover to his book coming out in july…

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there’s not much to say about a 13 hour train ride. we traded comics biz stories (shame on some people out there, ha) and ate lousy train food and discussed the eternal subject, women. we got into charlotte around 9 pm and headed for the hotel. andrew had flown in earlier and scouted out the bbq options, which, by the time we unwound and ulises had donned his RATTICUS costume, were limited. who’s RATTICUS, you ask?

we wound up eating at QUEEN CITY Q, a middle of the road BBQ restaurant that had good ribs, terrible brisket, and weak drinks.

friday was set-up time, and we were in INDIE ISLAND, along with the pittsburgh boys (jim rugg, jasen lex, ed piskor, and tom scioli), chris pitzer of ADHOUSE BOOKS, rafer roberts, and some other folks i’m spacing on right now. we were tabled next to chad bowers, who was from the area and a real nice guy to be stuck next to for 3 days. chad did a bunch of ‘terrible sketches for $1’ over the course of the 3 days, and they were all worth a chuckle. the show got off to a slow start, sales-wise (more on that to come), so i decided to hit the floor, say hi to some folks, and try to get creators signed on to our LITTLE NEMO: DREAM ANOTHER DREAM project.

i saw neal adams with only 1 or 2 people around him and figured what the hell, i’d give it a shot. after listening to some hilarious off-color stories about roy thomas and stan lee from neal, i pitched him nemo. i was excited and a little abuzz when, without too much work, he said yes. this kicked off a pretty spectacular weekend of recruiting creators for the project. when i got back to the table to hear sales were slow but josh had talked to–and gotten a yes from–peter bagge, the tone and type of weekend it was going to be was set. before the end of the day, tom scioli, ed piskor, nick pitarra, shawn crystal, and ben marra had all joined in. we also got to meet drew moss, who illustrated one of the stories in ONCE UPON A TIME MACHINE and is doing stuff at IDW now. drew is a swell guy, great finally meeting in person. Continue reading