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Small Press Expo 2014: Erik Johnson’s Kozmo-Knot

Everyone Small Press Expo, there’s amazing comics and graphic novels that at times challenge what we think of when it comes to comics.

This show I got a chance to check out Erik Johnson‘s Kozmo-Knot, a never ending comic strip, a project he’s worked on for 10 years.

Kozmo-Knot is the story of a spaceman and a caveman, a campfire and a blaster, a rocket ship, asteroid, a rocky off-world landscape. It’s a kinetic pantomime that takes a reader on a far away journey, then right back where they started … to begin again.

With the explosion of digital comics, the idea of the never ending canvas and story has been thrown around, this shows you can achieve that with print as well.

Small Press Expo Comes to Amazon. Amazon Comes to Small Press Expo.

spx_amazonThe Small Press Expo is running this weekend just outside of Washington, DC in Bethesda, MD. The show is the premiere convention for independent comics, not just drawing big names, but also some amazing talent who don’t get the exposure deserved, and are overshadowed by the more known mainstream publishers at other conventions. Walking the floor of the convention, you can see that there’s truly something for everyone when it comes to comic books and graphic novels, and there’s fantastic independent and small press comics being produced. But, that’s on the show floor, and in previous years this knowledge and fact was confined to the hotel ballroom, social media, word of mouth, and the various blogs that covered it all.

In steps Amazon, who, in their comics and graphic novels section, is highlighting some of the amazing comics and graphic novels you’ll find at the show from the exhibitors and Ignatz nominees. Started in 1997, the Ignatz Awards is the show prize of the Small Press Expo recognizing outstanding achievements in comics and cartooning. For some of the offerings you can buy print copies, and others you can get it right away for the Kindle, all at the solid prices you’d expect from Amazon.

It’s wonderful to see this, not only is the giant in online sales promoting graphic novels, it also promotes the convention itself, putting it out there for many to see. Amazon has even gone so far as to promote it all through their email program, putting SPX and the graphic novels in front of a potential audience that many would kill to be shown to.

spx_amazon_2This promotion is on top of what comiXology is doing on their site. ComiXology, the leading digital comics platform, has been running a bundle deal where you can purchase 82 comics from folks exhibiting and attending the show for just $10. They’ve promoted it through their social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. That bundle deal ends later today, so get purchasing (and you can pay through Amazon payments)!

While comiXology has supported SPX, and the Ignatz before, this is a first for Amazon, who has previously supported the Eisners, the awards from San Diego Comic-Con. This is a huge boost for independent comics, and particularly the Small Press Expo, a gem of a convention.

ComiXology was purchased by Amazon earlier this year, and now you have two heavy weights (part of one family) showing much love for the indie comics scene. While some have been worried about the acquisition, moves like this show why it is a good thing, and overall, the purchase of comiXology by Amazon is a positive for the comics community as a whole.

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Fantagraphics says FU with New Imprint

FukitorFantagraphics Books is launching Fantagraphics Underground Press (FU Press), a new micro imprint that will publish books and print projects appealing to a smaller, more rarefied readership. The Fantagraphics mission has always been to publish comics and cartoons that take risks and reflect the uncompromising vision of the artist. It’s also crucial for them to put out books that will survive in an unforgiving mass market, but, what about work that doesn’t quite fit into their standard business model? Work by relatively unknown cartoonists that’s innovative, quirky, idiosyncratic, oddball, experimental, or downright crazy, work by established cartoonists that’s simply off-kilter or too obscure to sustain a mass market release, or archival work by significant cartoonists who have been overlooked and that might otherwise be short-shrifted due to the commercial demands of the traditional marketplace.

The FU Press imprint will inhabit a space between self-publishing and mass-market publishing. They’ll print limited editions (between 100 and 500 copies), market them on their website, help arrange signings and convention appearances, and sell them at comic festivals and to a select few comics shops across North America. New Jersey based independent printer, Jon Barli, will be supervising the printing and production of all the FU Press books. With such an ever-changing landscape, Fantagraphics has the opportunity to produce exciting and hand-crafted editions in short runs here in the United States utilizing a wide gamut of printing methods and formats: everything from a traditional digital-offset paperback to a hand sewn jacketed softcover to an epic accordion book; as projects demand, we can utilize silkscreen or letterpress, or any combination, and create truly artisanal books.

The Emperor's New Clothes The Tower of Babel in the Art WorldFantagraphics wants the cartoonist to be as involved in all of these areas as he or she wants to, but they’re willing to do the heavy lifting, allowing the cartoonists to focus on their creative work without worrying about every step of the commercial process – the logistics and financial hassles of printing, distribution, and promotion.

The first two FU books will debut at Small Press Expo (SPX) in Bethesda, MD and be available for purchase by mail in October of 2014. They are both violent responses to different aspects of pop culture, high and low. Jonah Kinigstein‘s The Emperor’s New Clothes: The Tower of Babel in the “Art” World is an 80-page oversized landscape-format softcover collecting Kinigstein’s political cartoons inveighing against the trends of abstract and modern art through the 20th century. Meticulously rendered in pen and ink in the tradition of George Townshend and James Gilray, the elaborate compositions skewer artists, curators, and critics. Jason KarnsFukitor is an attack of a different kind: reprinted from the artist’s self-published zine, the book is a 144 page compilation of full color comics that reside uneasily between a straight and satirical response to the violence, xenophobia, and sexual and racial stereotypes found in pop culture.

Future projects include portfolios of drawings by Richard Sala and Guy Colwell, and a reprint of seminal underground/alternative cartoonist George Metzger’s Beyond Time and Again.

It’s fitting that the name of the imprint is Fantagraphics Underground (FU Press) – since underground comics were a source of inspiration when Fantagraphics started publishing The Comics Journal in 1976; in 1981 Jack Jackson’s Los Tejanos was the first “graphic novel” we ever published. The underground comics movement was a guerilla model we looked up to: uncensored expression, author ownership, and work that could only be published outside of mainstream channels. FU Press is a return to our roots.

ComiXology Sponsors Ignatz at SPX & Offers $10 SPX Submit Bundle

comixology spxComiXology is celebrating their return to the Small Press Expo (SPX) this weekend by sponsoring the prestigious Ignatz Awards and by making a special SPX-themed comiXology Submit bundle available all weekend long with over 80 books for only $10.

For this weekend only, comiXology is making available a special SPX bundle that gathers a wide range of creators, cartoonists, and small press publishers exhibiting and attending SPX 2014 who have offered their works through the comiXology Submit self-publishing program, bringing a taste of the SPX experience to fans around the globe that could not otherwise attend.

The Small Press Expo brings together some of the best and brightest creators and cartoonists in independent comics. This year, SPX 2014 will be held at the Marriott Bethesda North Hotel, Saturday and Sunday September 13 – 14.

Started in 1997, the Ignatz Awards is the show prize of the Small Press Expo recognizing outstanding achievements in comics and cartooning. This year, the Ignatz will be held at SPX 2014 on Saturday September 13th at 9:30pm. The Ignatz Awards is open to the public.

Small Press Expo 2014: First Time Guests Brandon Graham, Emily Carroll, Jules Feiffer and Lynda Barry

spx-logo-240In this their 20th year, the Small Press Expo (SPX) has announced it is bigger and better than ever.  The Expo, running on Saturday and Sunday, September 13-14, will have over 650 creators, 280 tables and 22 programming slots to entertain, enlighten and introduce attendees to the amazing world of independent and small press comics.

For their 20th birthday, we are pleased to announce the first time appearances of Brandon Graham, Emily Carroll, Jules Feiffer and Lynda Barry as guests at the Small Press Expo.

From his beginnings as a graffiti artist in his hometown of Seattle to his recent run as writer on the Image comics series Prophet as well as creator of his own comic Multiple Warheads, King City, Elevator and Universe So Big, Brandon Graham has been a vocal and passionate proponent of independent comics. SPX is honored to host Mr. Graham in this rare East Coast appearance.

Emily Carroll was the recipient of this year’s Pigskin Peter Award, which is given to the best Canadian experimental or avant-garde artist. Her magical web-comic Out of Skin was awarded the 2014 Cartoonist Studio Prize given by The Slate Book Review and the Center for Cartoon Studies. Her first book, Through the Woods, is being released next month by Margaret K. McElderry Books.

Both Mr. Graham and Ms. Carroll will be signing their latest works at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund tables at SPX 2014.

In a career that has spanned nearly seventy years, Jules Feiffer has won acclaim as a cartoonist, playwright, novelist, children’s book author, screenwriter and professor. His works have garnered him an Academy Award, a Pulitzer Prize, membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters & the Comic Book Hall of Fame, as well as a lifetime achievement award from the National Cartoonists Society. Mr. Feiffer and his ground-breaking comic strip Feiffer, which ran weekly in the Village Voice for over forty years, are considered the godfather of the alt-weekly newspaper comic.

He will be at SPX 2014 to sign his latest graphic novel, Kill My Mother, from the Liveright Division of W.W. Norton.

In 1979, Lynda Barry’s seminal Ernie Pook’s Comeek began appearing in the alt-weekly The Chicago Reader. For nearly two decades, her comics, which appeared in over seventy newspapers nationwide, inspired several generations of independent cartoonists who saw themselves in her characters and recognized their struggles in her stories. Since retiring the strip in 2008, Ms. Barry has been active as a teacher running workshops for hundreds of students a year and doing her best to show people that everybody can be creative. She is now an assistant professor at the Department of Art at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Advance copies of her book, Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor about teaching art to all skill levels, due out in October of this year from Drawn & Quarterly, will be available at SPX 2014.

Small Press Expo Announces their Programming Slate for SPX 2014

spx-logo-240The Small Press Expo has announced the SPX 2014 Programming Schedule. SPX continuing the festival’s established tradition of rich, thought-provoking programming featuring leading comics artists and critics in conversation. As in previous years, the Programming Schedule will feature two simultaneous tracks on both Saturday and Sunday, September 13th and 14th.

SPX 2014 programming highlights include special Q&A sessions with headline guests Lynda Barry, Jules Feiffer, Charles Burns, Raina Telgemeier, Drew Friedman. Eleanor Davis, Mimi Pond and John Porcellino, many of whom will also join in other panel discussions.

Highlights of this year’s panel discussions will include:

  • James Sturm, former art/cartoon editor and contributor to Seattle’s The Stranger, leads Jules Feiffer, Tom Tomorrow, Charles Burns, Ben Katchor and Lynda Barry in a roundtable discussion about the impact of the diversity of comics that came out of the alt-weekly newspaper world.
  • Michael DeForge, Simon Hanselmann and Patrick Kyle kick off their book tour as guests of a special session of Inkstuds Live, hosted by Robin McConnell and guest host Brandon Graham.
  • Stories of Girlhood has Jillian Tamaki, Ellen Lindner, Aisha Franz and Mellissa Mendez discussing the distinction between comics for young girls and comics about girlhood.
  • Bob Mankoff, Cartoon Editor of The New Yorker, gives an overview of the history and future of the distinctive single panel cartoon strongly associated with that esteemed magazine.
  • Frémok artists Yvan Alagbé and Dominique Goblet, also exhibiting at SPX, will discuss their work and the roots of avant-garde comics within the Francophone world.
  • The debut screening of Root Hog or Die, a new documentary about iconic minicomics artist John Porcellino, with the artist and director Dan Stafford in attendance.
  • Spanish Language Comics has Columbian comics editor Daniel Jiménez Quiroz talking with Spanish comics critic Santiago Garcia, Colombian comics critic Pablo Guerra, and North American editor Scott Brown talks about the current state of Spanish and South American comics.
  • Their annual hands-on comics workshop, led this year by Josh Bayer and Sally Cantirino from the Sequential Artists Workshop.

You can find the complete SPX 2014 Programming Schedule with full descriptions and participants online.

Small Press Expo 2014: Lynda Barry, Raina Telgemeier and Charles Burns Lead Authors Debuting Books

spx-logo-240This year marks the 20th Anniversary of SPX, which will be held September 13 and 14, 2014 at the North Bethesda Marriott Hotel & Conference Center. SPX is honored that over 150 different graphic novels and comics will be making their publishing debut at this years show to start off the Fall book buying season. A complete list of debuts, including cover images and publishing information, can be found on the SPX web site.

Here are some highlights of the new releases and their creators that will be at SPX 2014:

Syllabus: Notes From An Accidental Professor is the latest from Lynda Barry and Drawn and Quarterly that reveals how Ms. Barry teaches the world of writing and comics in her own creative and humorous way.

Raina Telgemeier follows up the her best selling books Smile and Drama with the autobiographical Sisters from Scholastic/Graphix, explaining the long and complex relationship she has with her younger sibling.

Charles Burns Sugar Skull from Pantheon completes the nightmarish dream world trilogy that began with X’ed Out and continued in The Hive.

Ben Hatke’s heroine Zita returns in returns in Legends of  Zita the Space Girl from First Second.

Through the Woods is Emily Carroll’s first print book that collects her award winning web comics.

Roman Muradov’s (In a Sense) Lost and Found, published by Nobrow, is the first full length graphic novel from this Society of Illustrators Gold Medal winner.

Drew Friedman turns his caricaturing genius to the great comic book creators in the Fantagraphics release, Heroes of the Comics: Portraits of the Legends of Comic Books.

Michael DeForge debuts Lose #6, the latest installment of his award winning comic from Koyama Press.

Invincible Days is a collection of short stories by Patrick Atangan released by NBM.

Small Press Expo 2014: Keith Knight, Shannon Wheeler and Derf are Guests

spx-logo-240This year marks the 20th Anniversary of SPX, which will be held September 13 and 14, 2014 at the North Bethesda Marriott Hotel & Conference Center. For their 20th birthday, they have announced Keith Knight, Shannon Wheeler and Derf as special guests.

Keith, Shannon and Derf join the previously announced alt-weekly guests Jules Feiffer, Lynda Barry, James Sturm, Charles Burns, Jen Sorensen, Tom Tomorrow, and Ben Katchor, as well as SPX first-timers Brandon Graham, Emily Carroll, Drew Friedman and Mimi Pond.

Keith Knight is the creator behind the long running alt-weekly comics Th(ink) and The K Chronicles, the latter of which won the esteemed Harvey Kurtzman Award as well as multiple Glyph Awards. His syndicated strip, The Knight Life, runs in such esteemed newspapers as the Washington Post. Keith’s will debut his latest book, which is a collection of Knight Life strips titled Knight Takes Queen. He is currently working on a graphic novel about his days as a Michael Jackson impersonator.

Shannon Wheeler has posted comics online since 1995, amongst them the alt-weekly favorite, Too Much Coffee Man that he began drawing in 1990. He is a contributor to The New Yorker, leading Shannon to publish I Thought You Would Be Funnier, a collection of cartoons rejected by that magazine. His latest book, God Is Disappointed In You, is a collaboration with Mark Russell that is a humorous attempt to retell the Bible in modern terms that has just released an audiobook version read by Dr. Venture/James Urbaniak.

Derf is the author behind the autobiographical graphic novel best seller My Friend Dahmer. His alt-weekly series The City recently completed its over 20 year run. Derf will be at SPX to debut his latest compilation, True Stories Volume One. Derf has been nomi9nated for numerous Eisner and Kurtzman Awards, as well as being the recipient of the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards.

Small Press Expo 2014: International Guests Simon Hanselman, Aisha Franz, Yvan Alagbé, Dominique Goblet, Mana Neyestani, Daniel Jiménez Quiroz and More

spx-logo-240This year marks the 20th Anniversary of SPX, which will be held September 13 and 14, 2014 at the North Bethesda Marriott Hotel & Conference Center. For their 20th birthday, the convention has announced a robust slate of international comics artists, publishers and critics from Australia, Germany, France, Belgium, Iran, Colombia, Spain and more, contributing to SPX’s growing status as a global meeting place for the exchange of ideas, aesthetics, and points of view.

Simon Hanselmann will arrive from Australia to debut Megahex, his eagerly awaited new collection from Fantagraphics, collecting the darkly comedic and unexpectedly moving comics that have earned him an enormous following online. At SPX, Hanselmann will kick off a national book tour with Michael DeForge and Patrick Kyle; the trio will participate in a special live edition of the Inkstuds radio show at SPX, led by regular Inkstuds host Robin McConnell and special guest co-host Brandon Graham.

Aisha Franz is a German cartoonist whose SPX debut and first book for Drawn & Quarterly is Earthling, which has also been published in German, French, Italian, and Spanish. Franz lives in Berlin where she is a member of the Treasure Fleet comics collective. In addition to an active illustration career she has contributed comics to  Pitchfork Review, Kus!, Kuti Kuti, and many more publications. Her second graphic novel, Brigitte und der Perlen-hort, has been published in German and French.

Yvan Alagbé and Dominique Goblet will travel to SPX from France and Belgium, respectively, with a range of work from the avant-garde Brussels-based publishing house Frémok. Alagbé co-founded the influential French publishing house Éditions Amok, which later merged with the Belgian publisher Fréon to form Frémok and continues to champion poetic work at the borderline of comics and fine art. Alagbé’s new book École de la Misère, rendered in beautiful ink and wash, further expresses his clear-eyed, penetrating career-long investigation into mysterious desire and explosive cultural conflict.

Goblet, an early contributor to the Fréon flagship anthology Frigorevue, has produced a challenging and beautiful body of work that productively troubles the distinctions between fiction and autobiography, and between narrative and poetic image-making. At SPX she will debut the groundbreaking full-color graphic novel Plus si Entente, a book produced collaboratively with German cartoonist Kai Pfeiffer. Working internationally, the pair swapped pages and responded to ideas, images, compositions and colors proposed by the other to test the possibilities of narrative within the comics form.

Exhibiting as Frémok, Goblet and Alagbé will also bring with them many works from the publisher’s catalog, including the award-winning collection of Kamagurka and Herr Seele’s Cowboy Henk comic strips (an instant sell-out at MoCCA) and the American debut of Kamagurka and Seele’s brand new Cowboy Henk book, Histoire de la Belgique (pour tous).

Mana Neyestani is an Iranian cartoonist and illustrator for economic, intellectual, political, cultural, and professional magazines. He is particularly known for his work for the newspaper Zan and Persian language Radio Zamaneh. A 2006 political cartoon by Neyestani prompted riots among the oppressed Azeri minority in Iran; the paper in which the cartoon appeared was promptly closed and Neyestani was imprisoned. Upon his temporary release three months later he left the country and currently resides in France. He is the recipient of the Cartoonists Rights Network International award for courage in editorial cartooning, 2010. His graphic novel An Iranian Metamorphosis was originally published in French, and will debut in an English-language edition from Uncivilized Books at SPX.

Publisher, editor, critic and event organizer Daniel Jiménez Quiroz is the editor of  Revista Larva, the leading Colombian comics anthology, which publishes work by artists from throughout South America. Larva has spun off the comics publishing house Editorial Robot, which has published work by artists including Peter Kuper and Powerpaola. Quiroz also co-organizes the Entreviñetas comics festival which is now in its fifth year and has featured guests including Gabrielle Bell, Ruppert & Mulot, and Anders Nilsen. At SPX, Quiroz will exhibit work from Colombia and will participate in a special panel about Spanish-language comics, including Spanish critic Santiago García, Colombian critic Pablo Guerra, and American publisher Scott Brown. Quiroz’s visit to SPX is supported by the Ministerio de Cultura of Colombia.

Many other international publishers and artists will exhibit at this year’s event, including London-based New Zealander Roger Langridge and Australian cartoonists Frank Candiloro, Matt Emery, Luke Humphris, Matthew Hoddy, Caitlin Major, Nicholas McIvor and Lex Sugden. SPX’s 20th anniversary event will offer a unique opportunity to encounter the work and perspectives of international artists, and to more fully appreciate the truly global character of the comics form.

Small Press Expo 2014: Jeff Smith’s Cartoon Books Imprint Added to the Graphic Novel Gift Program

spx-logo-240The Small Press Expo (SPX), the preeminent showcase for the exhibition of independent comics, graphic novels, and alternative political cartoons, has announced that Jeff Smith’s Cartoon Books publishing company will be joining the publishers participating in the SPX Graphic Novel Gift Program.

SPX also has announced that the gift amount has been raised from $5000 to $6000, allowing the selected library system a larger budget to purchase graphic novels for their patrons.

The addition of Cartoon Books to the Graphic Novel Gift Program will allow the selected library system to choose from the entire catalog of Bone books popular with  young readers all over the world.

Cartoon Books join Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, Drawn & Quarterly, Adhouse Books and Koyama Press as publishers from which collections managers can order books for this program.

The Graphic Novel Gift Program is an outright gift of graphic novels to a local library. The books are chosen by the receiving library’s Collections Specialist. The targets of this program are public and academic library systems in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area as selected by the Small Press Expo Executive Committee.

The goals of the program are:

  • Facilitate the availability of graphic novels to readers of all ages utilizing public and school libraries.
  • Promote learning and literacy through the availability of graphic novels at local libraries.
  • Provide library systems with additional resources by which they can purchase graphic novels and comics.

The Graphic Novel Gift Program is the first of its kind to help put graphic novels onto the shelves of public libraries. It is an expansion of the philanthropic and charitable endeavors that are part of its corporate charter, and is in addition to SPX’s annual support to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and SPX’s support of the Library of Congress National Book Festival.

SPX will be held Saturday, September 13th from 11:00 am – 7:00 pm and Sunday, September 14th 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm at The North Bethesda Marriott Convention Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Admission is $15 for Saturday only, $10 for Sunday only, and $20 for both days.

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