Thursday, November 1, 2007

Etchings on the Wall

Prints drying on the wall. I'll try to scan or take a closer photo of one of them at some point. I should add that they are upside-down.

Friday, October 19, 2007

See also...

Just a note to point browsers to a recent post on my own blog about some non-comics work I've done recently...

Saturday, October 6, 2007


Toward the end of September I was in Denmark for several days for the opening of a show at Kunsthallen Brandts, a museum/cultural center in the small city of Odense. I had some drawings in the show--originals from Big Questions #9. The show was about one third cartooning (including David B., Anke Feuchtenberger (work from both below), R. Crumb, Phoebe Gloeckner and Killofer) and about two thirds other media: sculpture, painting, video etc. A highlight was an animation by David Shrigley called Who I Am and What I Want. Shrigley is great. His work is both brilliant and hilarious and his sense of play and fun is contagious. Some other stuff that's worth a look is Fredrik Raddum (the guy on the tree), Soren Behncke, and Jesper Dalgaard (colored drawing below). But that's an incomplete list. There was a lot of good stuff in the show.

The point of the exhibition was to locate comics within the general purview of contemporary art and show the increasing cross pollination of what are less and less separate fields. It did so without apology or qualification which seems to me pretty unusual and quite welcome. They did a really nice catalog as well. Matthias Wivel, in particular, wrote a great essay on the place of comics within (and outside) high culture which is very much worth reading. He doesn't have it up on his website yet, but you should go there and bug him because it really deserves an audience wider than the people who can go to Denmark and get the catalog. So bug him. He also recently posted a four part interview he did with me on the site.

Some other things I did on the trip include pay an obscene amount of money for everything (fifty dollar breakfast pictured below). The dollar is sucking pretty hard at the moment.
One day we stumbled on several amazing flea markets in both Odense and Copenhagen. We got engrossed and managed to miss the other official touristy type stuff we'd wanted to see. I got a few things including one of these little plates and a number of old postcards, also pictured below.

Another day we took the train an hour or so south to Egeskov Slot, A 16th century castle, which is still inhabited ( we actually got a glimpse of the owner a late thirties-ish guy in a leather motorcycle jacket and sunglasses coming out a door with two blond kids who might have been his sons). It's built in the middle of an actual moat, on a foundation of upright tree trunks embedded in the earth. It was filled with all sorts of amazing artifacts including several hundred animal skulls, heads and skins, daggers and shields, suits of armor (exhibited, surreally, along with the original superman costume Christopher Reeves wore in Superman), there were paintings, drawings and prints that spanned the life of the place, depicting most of the inhabitants and their entire family tree. As if that wasn't enough, also on the grounds was a huge museum crammed to bursting with antique cars and aircraft.

On the morning before we flew out we went to the Bibliotek National and saw a show of 16th and 17th century illustrated books, which were beautiful. They included a pop-up book of anatomy and fantastical illustrated first hand accounts of the recently discovered New World, among other things.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

World Book 1952

Late last month I was at my grandparents cabin in Western Minnesota. People were going through some old books that no one looked at anymore and throwing out things that were mildewy. Among these were a set of World Books that had belonged to my mother and her siblings, purchased, probably, from a traveling salesman in 1952. I spent an hour or two on the deck with a utility knife slicing out pages with interesting images. The images are great. For one thing they are all drawn and painted images, when the equivalents these days would be photographs or computer aided renderings. It also seems to me that technical drawing and illustration was a more highly valued skill in the past and that fact is reflected in the relatively richly rendered images in varied styles and gorgeous colors and compositions. The attraction here is partly nostalgia, too, I'm sure, but I think they are worth a look. Here is a very small selection. Note in particular the "Cossack" sword swallower.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

By the time you finish this post you'll have lost your queen

Just thought I'd post about a few things going on with me these days. Firstly, I'm doing a series of artprint/skateboard decks with Uprise, my local skateshop. They're great, the best shop in Chicago and super supportive of the skate scene here in a myriad of ways. The boards evolved out of the various anatomical covers I've done for the last few issues of Big Questions and some little still lifes I've done recently of objects on my desk and the found toys I collect. The green nerve arm will be familiar to readers as a close variation of one from the cover of BQ#9. I also did the boards' top graphic, a variation on Uprise's normal logo:

I'm going to be in Denmark for the COMIX exhibition at Kunsthallen Brandts in Odense. Some of the (25 or so) other artists in the show include Kevin Huizenga, David B., R. Crumb, Anke Feuchtenberger, Paperrad, and David Shrigley. So if you're in Northern Europe on September 21st you should come to the opening.
Big Questions #10 is done and drawn and should be out in November. It'll debut at SPX in Bethesda in October. I'm just getting started on #11 and 12, which will end the series, and which both look to be relatively short issues.

Lastly, two profiles on me came out over the weekend. The first is by Jessica Hopper in the Chicago Reader, focusing mainly on Don't Go Where I Can't Follow and the events surrounding that, including comments from a few friends and acquaintences. The second was by Julia Keller in the Tribune and is more general. It's got some pretty awesome lines in it including the opener: "Clarity is for wimps" and "he speaks if each sentence is a chess move". I'm glad someone finally noticed.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Print Zero Exchange on Display

Print Zero Studio's Exchange V, a small print exchange that I participated in, will be on display in Seattle, 8/11 - 9/2:

Sev Shoon
2862 NW Market Street
Seattle, WA 98107

A list of more display venues for this exchange of 290 prints can be found at (Maybe!)

My print, as well as some others, can be found here.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Monday, July 23, 2007

Mixed Martial Arts

I was reading the Chicago Tribune yesterday and there was an article about this new movie being made about mixed martial arts, you know, the Ultimate Fighting Championship and all that. As it happens, this film is being made by David Mamet, the esteemed playwright and essayist. So another notch in the belt of credibility for the UFC. I've actually started working on my mixed martial arts story "Deadly Awesome," which will include an 80 page fight scene. Here's a random page from the first 30 pages I've got finished so far.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

David Driesbach

This past spring, I had the happy fortune to take a printmaking class at College of DuPage with David Driesbach, who taught etching for several years at Northern Illinois before retiring recently. He signed up for the C.O.D. printmaking class as a student, just to keep printing--an inspiring gesture that reflects his devotion to the medium.

It was wonderful to see his prints, absorb his advice, and listen to him talk about his studies with master printmakers such Mauricio Lasansky and William Hayter. Prof. Driesbach's work is like a visual diary as sketched in a dream, dense with symbols but leavened with absurd humor. His use of color is extraordinary, and he helped bring Hayter's pioneering viscosity color technique to American print studios.

I hope Prof. Driesbach takes the class again, since there is much more to learn from him. You can see some of his work and read about his methods at

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Baltimore! Brooklyn! All Civilized, Destroyed!

Today I'll be joining forces with Tao Lin to read the shit out of some prose. Yeah, that's right. I'll be reading some words, not comics. Because reading comics aloud is like whistling a sun set. Or something like that.

Things will happen this way:

Atomic Pop
June 21st
7-9PM. Free
3620 Falls Rd. Hampden, Baltimore

Then, hang on! Tomorrow I'll be at Rocketship in Brooklyn, where I will not only sign books, but there will be some alcoholic beverages, and some of my bloated, swaggering original art for sale on the walls. The whole debacle is a prelude to MoCCA...

What the police report will say:

June 22nd
8PM. Free
(Beverages provided by Six Point Craft Ales and Smith and Vine)
208 Smith Street, Brooklyn, New York

And then I'll be at MoCCA, signing books, but primarily picking up a copy of what is sure to be one of the best books of comics ever wrangled into a single volume: "I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets: The Comics of Fletcher Hanks." I got a chance to flip through it while I was in Richmond, and I could hardly control my brain.

At the Fantagraphics Table
Saturday: 3 to 4
Sunday: 12 to 2
Puck Building (293 Lafayette at Houston), New York City

See you in a place, if I am there, and you are there, and no one is invisible or visually impaired.

Monday, June 18, 2007

This is the cover painting for a spanish language edition of Dogs and Water and Sisyphus and a few other short strips. It is one of several pieces of mine that are going to be hanging at two separate shows on opposite coasts. This piece is in 'Free Ice Cream Day' at Giant Robot NY, along with several other paintings, fragments of things, and three original pages from The End #1. I have two drawings in 'Panelists III' at GR2 in L.A. both landscapes of a sort. I also designed the card for the Ice Cream show (above) (Also, by the way, Jeff is in both these shows as well, I think).
On Saturday the 23rd, as part of MoCCA I'm also doing a slideshow/panel with (the fabulous) Gabrielle Bell. We're reprising the slide shows we put together for our West Coast book tour in February (those dates featured Kevin H as well...he couldn't make it to NY, which is too bad because his show about Starlings, adapted from his story in the D&Q showcase was awesome). The slide show I'm doing is comprised of a reading from Don't Go Where I Can't Follow and an adaptation of a strip I did as a limited edition print for a show at Cinder's in Brooklyn. It's more or less related to the material in The End #1--and will probably appear in adapted form later this year in The End #2.
Lastly, here is the most recent incarnation of the constantly evolving bugs bunny sculpture in my living room. The guitar, which is a piece of garbage that I was about to throw away and the concrete pedestal are new. Also of note: a full but weathered budweiser can that I found washed up on the beach in San Francisco in 1998, and the most nearly spherical rock I've ever seen (from a beach on Lake Superior in Northern Michigan).

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wholphin and the Necessity of McSweeney's

I've been meaning to post something about the DVD magazine Wholphin, produced by the fine people at McSweeney's, and now is as good a time as any. Actually, scratch that: now is a better time than any. McSweeney's needs your help.

Many small publishers have been hard hit due to recent bankruptcies in the distribution realm, and McSweeney's is among those publishers. And I do mean hard hit: to the tune of $130,000. For more information on the reality of this loss and its ramifications, please read more here.

McSweeney's is, in my opinion, one of the most important publishers of the past decade. They have help to found and promote writing centers across the country, they have given a publishing vehicle to the voice of prisoners, educators, young writers, the underprivileged, and other voices with so much to say, but so often without a way to be heard. Please help out. And helping out is as simple as buying amazing books and DVDs. Who loses there? Not you, and certainly not McSweeney's.

I bought the first issue of Wholphin based simply on the good taste and reputation of the people of McSweeney's. But they, as they so often do, only outdid themselves. I immediately bought a subscription to Wholphin. I heavily recommend you do the same. Great film. Great literature. Great design. Great comedy. Great people. Long live McSweeney's.

A Month Ago I Was In England

England looks very much like England looks in pictures. To prove this, I took this picture in London. Looks exactly like London.

I started my visit to England in London, signing at the excellent comic shop Gosh! on a lovely Saturday afternoon. Across the street from Gosh! is the British Museum, which houses the Rosetta Stone, as well as some old Japanese comics.

My partner Jennifer arrived along with our son Oscar the next day, after sorting out some passport issues(having to fly into England separately necessitated leaving the laptop at home, which will remain my excuse for not writing about the trip while we were there). They were just in time to head to dinner with cartoonist Tom Gauld. Tom's most recent book is 'Hunter & Painter' from Buenaventura Press. You should check it out, because Tom is not just a nice guy, he's also a great cartoonist.
From London we headed to Leeds for a signing at OK Comics. So far the infamous rainy English weather had yet to show up, and at this signing I was also fortunate to be given several CD's of music from readers. This also exposes one of the drawbacks of ipods...if you don't have your computer with you, it's really hard to play Cd's on ipods. Jared Myland, the owner of OK, hosted us for the night and treated us to fish and chips.

From Leeds we headed to Nottingham. We avoided the forest which is apparently more than a little touristy these days, and hung out with Page45 owner Stephen Holland, who had kindly made his house extra baby friendly. We finally got the rainy weather, but the signing went very well and a good time was had by all. Stephen also gave us a ride for the next leg of our trip, in Bristol. Despite the pouring rain, people were in good spirits at the signing at Travelling Man, and I was again treated to a number of Cd's. There was also this very nice window display from Jess Bradley.

Bristol was also home to the Comic Expo, which was the reason we decided to do this whole trip in the first place. It was two busy days, with a good turnout for the show. I was given some great cupcakes, and my nagging urge to diet and be healthy was easily overcome. After Bristol we actually headed back to Leeds, this time to sign at the Travelling Man store there. Here is Nabil and Lisa from Travelling Man, entertaining Oscar while I'm signing.

Nabil drove us from Leeds back to London for our final night before flying home the next day. All in all it was a great two weeks, and many thanks to everyone who helped out, hosted us, said hello, bought books, and kept us company. It turns out travelling with a six month old can be a lot of work, but we seem fortunate to have a pretty well behaved baby, even when alleged thunderstorms in Chicago added three hours to our flight home.