Lynn and I had a great time at the Pekar Park Comics Fest yesterday! We sold a lot of books, and met a lot of great people! The show was a great success, very heartening after the pandemic we’ve all been through. There must have been at least 30 exhibitors, and the crowd of hip passers-by on Coventry Road really kept them busy. As I’ve said elsewhere, the best part was that practically everybody knew who Harvey Pekar was!
With my new book, The Reign of Ash and Other Stories, and my 2020 book Emperor Tom and Other Stories, I haven’t had opportunities for person-to-person sales because of, you guessed it, COVID. That’s why I’m super-excited about some upcoming convention appearances that I have booked.
The first is the Pekar Park Comic Book Fest on Saturday, Sept. 18, 12-5 pm. It’s a friendly outdoor venue in Cleveland’s original hippie district in Conventry Village, Cleveland Heights.
[Note that the SPACE show was unfortunately cancelled due to the rise of Covid cases!]
The second is S.P.A.C.E. (Small Press Alternative Comics Expo) on Nov. 6 and 7 in the Northland Performing Arts Center in downtown Columbus, the oldest and one of the largest conventions in the country devoted to small-press comics.
Hope to see you at one or both of these fabulous events!
Folks– It took some doing, but I got a listing for Emperor Tom on Amazon! This includes the option of reading the book online via Kindle, or purchasing a print-on-demand version of the book. The Kindle version includes the Guided View feature, which I think is pretty cool! The print-on-demand book is a somewhat different format than the Mixam press run I did earlier this year, and a bit more expensive, unfortunately. But it was a good experience, and the listing is 100% free!
After the Kindle Select period expires in December, I will submit the book to Comixology; keeping my fingers crossed about that!
While driving home from the SPACE convention in 2019, I formulated a plan to create a new 32-page comic in full color. In doing so, I found myself entering a vast wonderful cavern of new shapes and dimensions, and especially of new colors. I became so totally absorbed in this project that I neglected all other creative work, including this website, which hasn’t seen an update in over a year.
The result is Emperor Tom and Other Stories, which was published in March by Known Associates Press.
The 32-page book consists of three full-color stories, based on unpublished works of flash fiction. It was printed by Mixam.com, and I think they did an excellent job of it. The book is available for order on the new Books for Sale page of this website. I hope to set it up for ordering on Amazon in the near future.
I’ve already begun work on the follow-up volume, The Reign of Ash and Other Stories, which will be published in 2021.
I may be one of the last ones to memorialize the 20th annual Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (SPACE) that took place in Columbus last weekend. I returned with a bad case of “convention throat”, and have been flat on my back for the better part of the week!
But what a fantastic event! I was at the first SPACE about 20 years ago, and this year the event is so much larger and with a fantastic amount of energy. It was really great to catch up with old friends Bruce Chrislip, Mike Neno, Max Ink and Matt Feazell (all of whom were at the first SPACE). It was also cool to catch up with many new creators, such as Flor De Canela, Brian Canini, Terence Hanley, Tim Fuller, Ian Shires, Daniel Miles, Caleb Thusat, Allison Richmond-Leeth, Jess Ann Artz and Craig Lindsley.
The biggest thrill of the show was a panel I took part in with Bruce. Part one of the panel was about the comix scene back in old Youngstown, and part two was about American Splendor and Harvey Pekar. I really enjoyed talking about American Splendor in the panel and for the rest of the show; the interest in Havey’s work is greater than ever, it seems.
Big thanks to Bob Corby for his great dedication in putting on this wonderful show!
Coming up next weekend, 4/27-28, is the Small Press and Alternative Comix Expo at the Northland Performing Arts Center in Columbus, Ohio, and I will be there with my paintings, comix, and publications! For more info, go to http://backporchcomics.com/space.htm.
For the show, Bruce Chrislip and I will hold a panel at 3 PM to discuss various historical Ohio comix phenomena, including the first comix convention (Ohiocon in Youngstown) and my experiences working for Harvey Pekar.
Speaking of Harvey, I created a one-page comic dramatizing the first time I met the man. This is my first b&w comix in quite some time, but more are soon to come, so stay tuned. I will be handing it out free at the show, so come and get it!
Just completed a new comix-related painting, “The Chess Match.”
This is one of a series of paintings, which started with “The Look”, in which I’m attempting to use the comix medium to capture a brief moment in time. Actually, I’m deviating from my vision of series, which is intended to embody a sense of randomness and immediacy; for some reason, in the dead of winter in February, my mind refused to think that way. Instead, for this composition, I developed a symmetrical and orderly layout with an identifiable theme, the struggle of a mature mind contrasted with the precociousness of youth.
My old comix label Known Associates Press has become active again with my first self-publication in over a decade.
“The Secret and Other Stories” is an anthology of my flash fiction originally on the web at the Every Day Fiction website and on Reddit. The stories are “The Secret”, “Bed of Glass”, and “The Kids”.
The cover is an unrelated recent painting, “The Red Wall”. Originally this subject was going to be a three-panel comix painting, but I decided that the first panel held up on its own and didn’t need any further elaboration.
I printed the book on a pair of inexpensive laser and inkjet printers at home. My approach is to print five books at a time and assemble them; this makes it easier to monitor the quality, and it’s a relaxing daily past-time with a lot of TLC for each book.
The book will premiere at the SPACE show in Columbus on April 27-28, 2019.
I’ve been too busy lately to keep up with my blog entries, so please pretend that this one was entered in January 2019–
Just completed “Believeland”, a 40X40″ depiction of the Cleveland skyline with one of the eight “Guardians of Traffic” statues from the Hope Memorial Bridge in the foreground.
I created this one for friends of ours who have a large wall and a high ceiling in their living room and needed something to fill it. I love doing large paintings, but this size is a little impractical for our house; in fact, it is so large we can’t load it into the car for taking to shows.
The subject matter was their choice. I’ve actually painted a lot of statues in my career, but I wouldn’t have picked the Guardians of Traffic because there are depictions of them everywhere in Cleveland; it’s our most popular landmark. But I definitely got sucked in on this one, especially after we went out one blustery but sunny day in November to do a photo shoot from the bridge. With the skyline in the background, I really felt like I was painting an embodiment of Cleveland itself.
Unintentionally, the face on the statue resembles another Cleveland icon, Harvey Pekar, who I have depicted hundreds of times in comix illustrations. I’d like to think that “Believeland” would have made a suitable cover for an issue of American Splendor.
This past Friday, my pal Gary Dumm took me to 78th Street Studios to introduce me around. Quite a fantastic trip!
The Studios are home to dozens of galleries and individual art studios (51 separate enterprises currently listed on their site.) I believe there are a few cozy, safe commercial ventures tucked away in the sprawling three-story complex, but the vast majority of creators represented here are edgy contemporary visual artists working at the top of their game. It’s a walking tour through a mine-field of color explosions, design detonations, and conceptual cataclysms. To put it another way, we didn’t even make it to the third floor, Gary had to drag his dazzled, muttering buddy out of there before it was too late.
Among the highlights:
Eileen Dorsey Studios — Dorsey excels in super-saturated nature renderings on large canvases; interestingly, she also has a number of incredible abstract paintings done in a similar pallet. Of everything I saw, these pieces are the ones I would most crave to take home and hang on my wall, if only I had the money and the wall space. I plan to bring Lynn to the studio sometime soon; browsing this gallery is like visiting heaven.
Jennifer Omaitz — Omaitz was exhibiting in a dual show with Arabella Proffer titled “Illustrious Decay” at the Cleveland West Art League studio. Both artists are extremely talented; Proffer (who was not on site) creates surrealistic mandala-like compositions, quite striking and unique. Omaitz’s current works are paradoxical paper assemblages that suggest suburban houses that have passed through a hyper-disruptive space warp. I felt so privileged to meet and converse with Omaitz, whose conversation was boiling over with energy, observations and ideas about young artists, architectural trends, Case University’s Think[Box] and the Cube Houses in Amsterdam.
Dott Von Schneider — Schneider show “Road Trip” was exhibiting at the Hedge Gallery. She’s such a genial, down-t0-earth person that I found myself immediately drawn into her world, a wacky twilight-zone where a giant-sized puzzle piece might be unearthed while hiking in the desert. Schneider relishes in the process of her creations, incorporating raw earth and expansive insulation materials into surfaces rich in texture and connotation. After chatting with us, she took questions from an inquisitive youngster, and it was lovely seeing the artist’s own inner child engaged.