The Official SPACE blog

Monday, April 13, 2009

SPACE Panels

SPACE is, as you must know, in just five days. Besides a roomful of comics artists, there's a full weekend of panels and programming scheduled. Here's the line-up:


3:00-5:00 PM
The Ohio State University Cartoon Library and Museum (formerly the Cartoon Research Library)
Open House

Enjoy the Reading Room Gallery Exhibition, Light: A Forgotten 19th Century Humor Magazine, along with behind-the-scenes tours of the library stacks and a special display of treasures from our collection.

There will also be some special treasures out for viewing, including original Bone art by Jeff Smith, original Calvin and Hobbes art by Bill Watterson, and original art by P. Craig Russell.

SPACE Exhibitors will also be working on the annual jam panel.

The first 20 people in the door will receive a free single day pass to SPACE!

The Cartoon Library & Museum is located in the Northeast portion of the Wexner Center complex, north of the Mershon Auditorium. Entry doors are in the walkway underneath the large, white, steel grid that runs north-south, parallel to High Street. After entering the building, take the stairs or elevator down one floor. The Cartoon Library & Museum is next to the Fine Arts Library.

Public parking is available at the Ohio Union Garage South (, which is reserved for hourly visitor parking until 4 pm. After 4 pm, visitors can also park at the Ohio Union Garage North ( or Arps Garage ( ) just north of the Wexner Center complex.

Saturday April 18, 2009 Aladdin Shrine Center

Exhibit Area

All Day- C. Tyler’s "You’ll Never Know" Exhibit

An exhibition of original full-color pages from C. Tyler’s soon to be released graphic novel "You’ll Never Know, Book I: A Good and Decent Man", published by Fantagraphics Books. Book I is the first in a series regarding her father’s World War II experiences. See it here


Panel Room

12:30PM 1st Annual SPACE Prize Presentations Hosted by Matt Dembicki, Tim Corrigan and Bob Corby

2:00PM The adventures of a working class syndicated comic stripper" with John Kovaleski, cartoonist of "Bo Nanas"and contributor to Mad magazine and Jeff Stahler, cartoonist of "Moderately Confused" and editorial cartoonist for the Columbus Dispatch and Steve Boreman cartoonist of "Little Lost Dog".

3:00PM Cerebus LIVE! IV: With Jeff Tundis, Jeff Seiler, Lenny Cooper, Matt Dow, Margaret Liss, and Larry Hart. Excerpts from Cerebus, High Society, Church & State, Jaka's Story and Latter Days will be preformed live!

4:00PM "How to Write a Cool Fight Scene" or "How to Write Action" hosted by
Nik Havert, indycomic writer and martial artist. With panelists Tom Scioli, and Paul Schultz.

5:00 PM The road less traveled - contracts and money hosted by Tim Broderick

How a webcomic guy got his graphic novel published by a traditional, prose

publisher and how that graphic novel got optioned for television. This

session will focus on what you can expect from a standard book contract and

the kinds of things that "preditors" will try to pull! Looking to do more

than self-publish or work-for-hire? This session is for you.

Sunday April 19, 2009 Aladdin Shrine Center

Exhibit Area

All Day- Atomic Indy Artist Comix Show
An exhibition the Cartoon Art of Columbus’ Sunday Comix Goup
The participating Sunday Comix artists express their individuality through a wide range of styles and genres in comics and cartoon art. All have had their work featured in various local publications, including the Short North Gazette and Columbus Alive! Matt Wyatt's editorial cartoons have appeared in area weeklies since 2003. Sue Olcott's "Onion City" is featured every month in the e-magazine Naked Sunfish, and Ray Tomczak's "Wasted Potential" has been appearing weekly on-line for over two years. Columbus College of Art and Design graduate Jonathon Riddle is currently collaborating with Columbus State teacher Terry Eisel on a graphic novel set in World War II era Czechoslovakia. Rich Watson, whose webcomic "City Mouse Goes West" chronicles his move from New York City to Columbus, was recently profiled by the Columbus Dispatch, and Max Ink's comic, "Blink," has been declared both "charming" and "worth its weight in gold" by Rick Allen of The Other Paper.

Panel Room

12:00 Noon Comics in the future…
Comics, the final frontier, or a dying medium? DUN DUN DUN! In this panel hosts Mason Johnson and Kurt Dinse lead an open forum discussion with creators and audience members about the future of comics, from digital media, to changing standards in the industry and (hopefully) jetpacks. Anyone and everyone is welcome to show up and share their terrifying, exciting, or just plain bizarre visions of the future!

1:00PM TITLE: "I Stayed Up All Night Drawing, And So Can YOU!"
SUBTITLE: 24 Hour Comics: A Reading and Super-Fast Demo
with Marek Bennett
DESC.: Xeric-winning cartoonist and teacher Marek Bennett reads from his
recent book of 24 hour comics, "HOUR 72!", and reflects on the role of
creativity, inspiration, deadlines, surprise, and lack of sleep in both comics and education. Then, astound yourself with Marek's "24 Minute Comic" exercise!

2:00PM "Cartoon Ohio - A history of Ohio's place in the history of cartooning."
Russel Merritt will present information from his book about the history of comics in Ohio. Ohio has a strong place in the history of American cartooning. The number of well-known cartoonists who were born, educated and/or worked in the state is amazing.

3:00PM Dean LeCrone vs. The Mutants of Comic-Con Video
Written and starring Dean LeCrone, filmed on the fly, full improv, at the San Diego Comic-Con. Shot and edited by Allen Freeman. A full onslaught of crazy interviews, dancing, and cavorting comedy by Dean LeCrone, cartoonist and actor. Must be seen to be believed. Screenings have gotten rave reviews! Tons of laughter every single showing! Can't all be consumed in one sitting! Predicted to be a CULT CLASSIC! It's a comic blast that lasts 50 min.

Premiered at the History Mission Theater in Fallbrook, CA. at the Comics and Animation Film Festival 2007

Official Selection of the Fallbrook Film Festival 2008

Official Selection of Mid-Ohio-Con Film Fest 2008

4:00PM Ralph & Stu 20+ years in the independent market. What's the same and what's different? Ralph Griffith and Stu Kerr talk about their time in the comics biz with addition insight by Dustin Carson and Howie Noel

Sunday, March 22, 2009

10 Questions: Rickey Gonzales

This week's contestant is Rickey Gonzales.
Enter and sign in, please.

1) Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Rickey Gonzales I'm an artist and writer who eventually decided to join the two and make comics. I self-publish my stories under the imprint "Pretentious Comics Presents"

2) Tell us about your comics.
At their heart they're about relationships, but the most obvious themes are questioning faith and the state of existence.

3) How long have you been self-publishing?
Just over 5 years.

4) Why did you decide to start self-publishing your comics?
So people could read them.

5) Who are your main artistic influences--both in and out of comics?
Comics wise I'd say Adrian Tomine and Dan Clowes. But movies by indie filmmakers like Todd Solondz & PT Anderson are also an influence for focusing on characters that you don't always see as subjects in mainstream films.

6) What comics do you read?
I'm so broke anymore, the only comics I get to read nowadays are the ones I trade for at shows. I was a big fan of The Sandman series in highschool, and of course the collections of Optic Nerve and Eightball.

7) Do you have anything new for SPACE? Or are you working on anything new?
I'm working on a new book called The Death of Ginger Fierbusch and hope to have it ready for SPACE. It's about a drag queen who is killed in a spree murder and her two best friends after a memorial show discussing her death and the media circus (including protesting Christian groups) that her funeral was made into.

8) What do you like most about SPACE? What keeps you coming back?
I can get there by car! LOL. Seriously, the people there are great, and I love how the focus is on small indie creators. this is my 3rd year at the show, and I'm sure I'll keep coming back as long as Bob keeps hosting it.

9) How would you compare SPACE to other shows you've done?
SPACE is actually the only show I've done. I've been to Wizard World in Chicago as a patron and I would never even bother getting a table there because the focus is so NOT on the indie scene.

10) Which "Gilligan's Island" castaway are you most like?
The rest. You know the first season theme before they could even bother... "The movie star, and the rest... here on Gilligan's Isle."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

One Month Out

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, as I write this we exactly a mere one month away from the big show we lovingly call SPACE 2009. Which means I've got to get busy. Not only will I most likely be posting more frequently as the fateful weekend draws nearer, but I also have to get ready for the show itself. This includes putting together a new book of Wasted Potential strips to attempt to sell, and maybe reprinting last year's book, as I'm down to fewer than ten copies. As for this blog, I've got the promised interview with Nate Powell upcoming, as well as a couple more exhibitors who've tackled the dreaded 10 Questions, plus other news and developments as they pop up.
In the meantime, if you're reading this, you're probably already planning to attend SPACE, so why not get your tickets in advance. Until April 5, you can get discounted advance tickets through the SPACE web site. This link will take you directly to the page where you can order them.
You can get a single day pass for $3.50, as opposed to $5. if you just show up at the door, or a whole weekend pass for $5.00 versus $8.00 the weekend of the show. For even bigger savings, Bob is offering a package of ten single day passes for $25.00 or ten weekend passes for $40.00, which is half the day of show price. Why, with prices like that, you can buy tickets for everyone you know. Or even people you don't know. It's a great way to make new friends.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

10 Questions: Michael Neno

This week, the world famous Michael Neno tackles the infamous 10 Questions:

1) Tell us a little about yourself.
Publisher, cartoonist, writer, lover of art, especially the first half of the 20th century. Artists and historians will be trying for centuries to comprehend how work of that time period was created.

2) Tell us about your comics.
I've been publishing mini-comics and doing freelance comic book work for over 25 years, most notably freelancing for Cracked Magazine, Silver Comics, and lettering done for Paul Pope's Horse Press and Dark Horse.
In recent years, I've been concentrating on work taking place in my Signifiers Universe. My Xeric Grant-funded Reactionary Tales #1 takes place in that world, as does my upcoming The Signifiers #1.
I also have two ongoing online comic strips:
Freak Cave:
and The Mesh:
The Mesh is a serialized graphic novel which will be published in book form when finished. Sixty panels have been posted so far.

3) How long have you been self-publishing?
Since around 1985. The Moderns #1 and Pictures of Benevolence #1 were the first minis I published.

4) Why did you decide to start self-publishing your comics?
I was inspired by the quality, integrity, and range of subject matter in Rick Brooks' self-published Comics Digest, and the world of publishing I discovered through Tim Corrigan's Small Press Comics Explosion.

5) Who are your main artistic influences--both in and out of comics?
Jack Kirby. Frank Robbins. David Mamet (his plays and his movies). Hitchcock. David Lynch. Henry James. Bix Beiderbecke. Benny Goodman's small group recordings. Music shows conducted by John McGlinn. Edward Hopper. Alex Toth. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Sparks. Stanley Kubrick. The Thrills. The Beatles. Ayn Rand. Madeleine L'Engle. Brian Wilson. Pre-code movies. Preston Sturges. Anything that's unique, beautiful, subtle, complex and true, visionary, transcendent.

6) What comics do you read?
Too many to list here. Any comics written by Geoff Johns, Joe Casey, Ed Brubaker, Brian Michael Bendis. The late Steve Gerber. Anything by Tom Scioli, Frank Espinoza, Chris Ware, Darwyn Cooke, Kim Deitch, Peter Bagge, Seth, Jerry Smith, Don Rosa. As far as old comics go, Kirby, Kirby, Kirby, Frank Robbins, Caniff, Archie comics by Samm Schwartz, Herge, Ditko, Mort Meskin, romance comics, Joe Maneely, Charles Biro, Baby Huey, Sad Sack, Peanuts, Carl Barks, Floyd Gottfredson, Little Lulu, C.C. Beck, Severin, you name it.

7) Do you have anything new for SPACE? Or are you working on anything new?
I'm working every spare moment to get The Signifiers #1 published by SPACE. Barring that, I do have a new line of Signifiers coffee mugs and buttons for sale, and will have new Mesh and Freak Cave coffee mugs as well. I'm also hoping to have copies of Silver Comics #8 on hand; I wrote and drew the cover and lead story.

8) What do you like most about SPACE? What keeps you coming back?
The cameraderie, networking, trading stories, info and books with other self-publishers. I always wish there were more customers, but Bob and Co. do a great job getting the word out about the show, and those who do come to the show are enthusiastic about purchasing unique work.

9) How would you compare SPACE to other shows you've done?
The breadth and caliber of the talent showcased at SPACE is giving other similar cons who feature talent a run for their money.

10) Which "Gilligan's Island" castaway are you most like?
Thurston Howell III, down on his luck.


First graphic novel since 1992's MAUS to make the list-
Top Shelf Productions is bursting with pride to announce that Nate Powell's graphic novel SWALLOW ME WHOLE has been nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize!
SWALLOW ME WHOLE is one of five official finalists in the category of Young Adult Fiction, making it the first graphic novel to be nominated for this prize, in any category, since Art Spiegelman's MAUS won the Fiction category in 1992! "I'm honored just to be considered," says Powell, "and feel dizzy having my book even placed in the same sentence as MAUS."
Although SWALLOW ME WHOLE was not created exclusively for young adult readers, it is fundamentally a story about the dark, quiet corners of adolescence. The book follows two
teenage stepsiblings, Ruth and Perry, through the ups and downs of school, family, and suburban restlessness -- all complicated by the insect armies, swirling visions, and haunting voices that no one else can perceive.
"To be a young person is to be surrounded at all times by frightening transition and the terror of losing touch with a safe and familiar world," says Powell. "Sometimes the only salvation from that terror is in what a teenager can create for themselves."
The LA Times Book Prize nomination follows months of critical acclaim for SWALLOW ME WHOLE's rich storytelling and dazzling visuals, which have led some to call it "the best graphic
novel since Craig Thompson's BLANKETS." Douglas Wolk wrote in the New York Times that Powell's flowing, impressionistic artwork, with its ravenous expanses of negative space, swirls
the reader's perspective through his characters' perceptions and back out again." The Onion's AV Club agreed that the book "achieves some stunning effects with the art and the lettering"and admired how "SWALLOW ME WHOLE captures the desperation of the clinically obsessed, and how from the right angle, it can look like genius." The book also received an Ignatz Award from
the 2008 Small Press Expo.
"What makes this book so worthy of acclaim is the way it immerses the reader in the life and mindset of a gifted yet mentally ill teenager," proclaimed Walter M. Mayes, a middle school librarian and one of the members of the award committee. "To get a glimpse of what it must feel like to be inside such a head can be overpowering and disorienting upon first read, but when reread, the book offers such literary power that it is hard to deny, even if you don't totally 'get' what is happening. Teens will find this book compelling, weird, scary, and ultimately affirming."
Nate Powell will be attending Seattle's Emerald City ComiCon (April 4-5) and the SPACE Expo in Columbus, OH (April 18-19) before traveling to Los Angeles for the LA Times Book Prize ceremony on Friday, April 24. The ceremony serves as the kickoff for the LA Times Festival of Books (April 25-26), where Nate will be a special guest hosted by Hi De Ho Comics all weekend.
To celebrate Nate's achievement, Top Shelf is holding a mini-sale through April 26th: order SWALLOW ME WHOLE and get a free copy of Nate's autobiographical short story collection,
PLEASE RELEASE for free! To order, visit Top Shelf 2.0 is also hosting a new online comic by Nate Powell and Rachel Bormann, entitled Cakewalk," at

Bob sweet talked Nate into agreeing to an interview for this here blog, and was also gracious enough to provide me with a copy of the book so I'd know what the heck I'm talking about. I'll be working on that over the next couple of days, and have that interview up as soon as possible.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Atomic Indie Comix Show

The reception for the Atomic Indie Comix Show at Crimson Cup Coffee House in Clintonville is tomorrow night. One small change to the exhibit has been made, however. Due to space limitations, the six artists will display their work in two waves, with each group being on display for two weeks. The first group consists of Matt Wyatt, Rich Watson and Ray Tomczak, with Jonathon Riddle, Sue Olcott and Max Ink comprising the second wave. Works by all six will be on display for the reception.
Hope to see you there tomorrow.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

10 Questions: David Branstetter

Let's let David introduce himself before we get to the "interview":

Hi I'm David and I make comics. My comic books are enjoyable to read an are often thought provoking. Most follow the character "Straw Man". It's about a superhero with no super powers. He does superheroish things even though he has no real abilities.

I wish I had this awesome comic bio that details my emergence to super stardom. So until that time comes you'll have to put up with this.
I've got a website too but it's like half-way done so don't be disappointed if it doesn't meet your expectations.
There. Happy?

Obviously, I was not happy, and sent David the dreaded 10 questions. Here's how he responded:

1) Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is David Branstetter. I'm about 6 foot tall. Sometimes I have a beard, sometimes I don't (It gets itchy). I live in Evansville Indiana but I'm originally from Lawton Oklahoma. I was born on June 4th 1980 and my brother was born two years to the day after that. For years I assumed that all brothers shared birthdays. I've got a BFA in Graphic Design and I'm married to my beautiful wife, Larissa.

2) Tell us about your comics.
As a kid I made up a bunch of characters that were two ideas removed from actual comic book characters, all getting their powers from basically the same source. I told myself If I ever wanted to draw a comic book I needed to create a character that was completely original. I heard the term "Straw Man" from my logic class and thought it would be funny to combine three definitions of the term together to represent one idea. It occurred to me that their weren't any superheros who had very little training, no superpowers, or a horrible physique. So I decided that "Straw Man" would use my worst characteristics and amplify them. I used to wear a coat well into April during the year. When I was a kid I used to draw circles for hands -- thus the mittens he wears. The scarf is an homage to Dr. Who (something I never really watched but was aware of us a youngster.) I put all this together to form one quirky and neurotic character. I had a friend who used to
claim that he had superpowers and was constantly testing them. Straw Man believes he has powers -- it's just that they aren't cooperating with him now. Truth is I was stalling till I figured out his real powers... and boy are they cool.

3) How long have you been self-publishing?
Straw Man has been my obsession for five years.

4) Why did you decide to start self-publishing your comics?

I knew that was what I was going to do from a very early age. I'd seen my heroes form Image Comics and I thought that anyone could that with enough talent and intensity. I didn't take it seriously until I viewed some pages of "Sky Ape" in a gallery. I said to myself "I really need to do this." Since I've been drawing Straw Man my desire to work on the "Big Two's" characters has diminished. I like the idea of self-publishing because YOU can control the outcome of YOUR future -- not some corporation.

5) Who are your main artistic influences--both in and out of comics?
When I was doing research for Straw Man I wanted to see what other artists did that was in black and white. The only thing I had was a single issue from Cerebus of "Mothers & Daughters" by Dave Sim. I became obsessed with his work and have adopted many of his credos as my own.
I'm also a huge Erik Larsen fan. The way that guy can pull a rug out from underneath a story is amazing. Erik is both consistent and a hard worker with a genuine love for comics that pours onto the page.
From a personal stand point I really admire Harvey Pekar for his tenacity. He stuck to what he believed in and gave it his all, all while dealing with personal issues and a career that went nowhere.
As far as music goes I love the Smashing Pumpkins, The Beatles, Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, Beck, Wilco and the Shins.
Filmmakers are Wes Anderson and Micheal Gondry. Nobody makes movies like these guys.
I'd also like to list my dad. He started a business from nothing when I was 11 and now lives very comfortably.

6) What comics do you read?
Savage Dragon, Goon, Madman, Cerebus, RASL/Bone, independent stuff --
I liked "Blankets" and "Paul Moves Out" a lot.

7) Do you have anything new for SPACE? Or are you working on anything new?
Straw Man 7 & 8 should arrive in time for Space this year. I'm doing a number of smaller projects as well. Allen Freeman's Slambang # 4 features 5 pages of true life stories. I've also got a new 24 hour comic to debut called "The Winter of '89".

8) What do you like most about SPACE? What keeps you coming back?
I'd have to say all the creative buzz. The people are great-- the customers and the creators. It's about the size I can handle too!

9) How would you compare SPACE to other shows you've done?
It's definitely the best but that's kinda of a biased view. I've only been to two!

10) Which "Gilligan's Island" castaway are you most like?
Gilligan. Just when I think I'm doing something right I screw it up. Straw Man's moto is "Sometimes Life Just Sucks" and I think that just about sums it up.

10 Questions: Larned Justin

When I first met Larned Justin at SPACE a few years ago, my first thought was that based on the way he drew himself in his comics I thought he'd be taller. Seriously, though, he's a great guy and does some great and very funny comics. I highly recommend that you stop by his table when you're at SPACE next month.
Here's how he answered my ten silly questions:

1) Tell us a little about yourself.
Nothing special just an old guy who likes to draw small press comics.

2) Tell us about your comics.
Lately I have been on a kick to simplify my comics, get them back to the roots of small press.

3) How long have you been self-publishing?
over ten years

4) Why did you decide to start self-publishing your comics?
I found out through fact Sheet 5 that people all over the world where doing it

5) Who are your main artistic influences--both in and out of comics?
In comics would be all of the original Mad Magazine cartoonists.
Re fine art, it would be the Impressionists.

6) What comics do you read?
Actually only small press comics

7) Do you have anything new for SPACE? Or are you working on anything new?
Yes, issue one of "Homemade Komix"

8) What do you like most about SPACE? What keeps you coming back?
The people

9) How would you compare SPACE to other shows you've done?
I like SPACE the best

10) Which "Gilligan's Island" castaway are you most like?
The sand on the beach, because I am older than dirt.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Time To Get Serious

So, it appears people are actually reading this blog. Scroll down the page a bit and you'll see that Cosmo's Corner has two "followers". I guess that means I'd better at least attempt to write something worth reading.
Well, I've been promising to get info on some of this year's exhibitors at the big show, and I'm finally about to get around to that. In addition to the bios they themselves provided, I've sent out a list of questions to several exhibitors that I hope provide a little more insight into who they are and what they do. The questions I posed to these serious artists are:

1) Tell us a little about yourself.
2) Tell us about your comics.
3) How long have you been self-publishing?
4) Why did you decide to start self-publishing your comics?
5) Who are your main artistic influences--both in and out of comics?
6) What comics do you read?
7) Do you have anything new for SPACE? Or are you working on anything new?
8) What do you like most about SPACE? What keeps you coming back?
9) How would you compare SPACE to other shows you've done?
10) Which "Gilligan's Island" castaway are you most like?

I sent out the e-mails this morning and a few responses are starting to come back. I'll start posting them tomorrow. Just to tease you--Larned Justin's answer to question ten is very funny.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

'Book 'em

So, you're probably wondering what happened to that idea I had about updating this thing at least once a week. Well, about three weeks ago, I temporarily lost my ability to connect to the Interweb from my home computing device. Once that got cleared up, I spent a lot of time just pissing around on the nets.
Like today, fer instance. At the suggestion of several so-called "friends", I went and got myself signed up for the Facebooks. I've been spending the whole day working on my profile and finding people I know to beg them to be my virtual friend.
I had been somewhat reluctant to join the Facebooks, 'cause I did have a MySpace and really wasn't thrilled with it. First off, MySpace pages take forever to load even if you have a high-speed connection, which I do not. Facebook pages pop up a lot faster.
And it's easier to find potential friends on Facebook. I found several fellow cartoonists, as well as people from my high school and college days I hadn't seen in decades.
What, you may wonder, does any of this have to do with SPACE? Well, not much, really, though there is a SPACE group on Facebook that you can join to keep up on news about the show (in addition, that is, to this blog, of course.)
Next week, I'll try to have some info on a few of this year's exhibitors to post.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Columbus Comics News (via Sunday Comix)

I'd like to thank Rich Watson, writing on the Sunday Comix blog, (which I also occasionally contribute to) for calling to my attention a couple of comics related news item from the Columbus, Ohio area that I'd overlooked.
Dara Naraghi, local comics writer, charter member of the PANEL artists collective and perennial SPACE exhibitor, is profiled in this week's edition of Columbus Alive! The raison d'etre of the article is his work on a series of comics, published by IDW, based on the upcoming Terminator film. Dara also goes into his views on the comics industry and gives some insight into his early life. You can probably still find a copy lying around wherever these free papers are distributed, or you can just read the article here.
LinkNot being a big fan of anime and manga, it's really no surprise that I'd never heard of Ohayocon, the local con devoted to those areas that is going on at the Hyatt Regency hotel downtown even as I type these words, and continues through Sunday afternoon. I was a little curious about the show, and a quick Google search did turn up a brief Wikipedia entry.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Obligation Post

With a little less than three months left until this years SPACE show, I have set myself a goal of updating this blog at least once a week. I'm shooting for Sundays, but as you can see, I've already blown that.
Anyway, I have some bios of a few of this year's exhibitors that I'll be posting over the next few weeks. It has been suggested that I supplement the info provided by asking the subjects a few questions of my own. I'll try to have the first batch of those up next Sunday.
Meanwhile, I do have one update. The Sunday Comix exhibit at Crimson Cup that I wrote about last week has been re-christened "Atomic Indie Comix." (No, I have no idea what it means) The reception on March 6 will begin at the Laughing Ogre, from 4 to 6 pm, and move on to the Cup to continue on until 8 pm.
Finally, I would like to ask all SPACE exhibitors to let me know if they have any news, announcements or unfounded gossip they'd like me to spread. My e-mail address is
Talk to you next week, if not sooner.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Comix To Show At Crimson Cup In March

Sunday Comix, a group of local comics artist here in Columbus, Ohio, has another gallery showing coming up this spring. In the past, the group has displayed their work at Kafe Kerouac near the Ohio State University Campus and The Gallery Upstairs, above the Surly Girl Saloon in the Short North neighborhood. The latest exhibition of the groups work will be at the Crimson Cup coffee house at 4541 North High Street in the Clintonville area during the month of March.
Artists participating in the show are Max Ink, Matt Wyatt, Sue Olcott, Jonathon Riddle, Rich Watson, and Ray Tomczak (that's me, the guy writing this). All of the participating artists have had cartoons published in the Short North Gazette.
The exhibit, titled "Everyday Comix", opens with a reception at Crimson Cup on Friday March 6. There are prelimanary plans, not yet finalized, for a group appearance at the Laughing Ogre comics shop, just down the street from Crimson Cup, before the main reception at the coffee shop. As of this posting, plans are for the event to run through March 28.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bill Knapp Wins SPACE Prize

Bob Corby, organizer of SPACE, the Small Press And Alternative Comics Expo, is pleased to announce that the winner of the first annual SPACE Prize is Bill Knapp, who is honored for his graphic novel A Thorn In The Side: The Story of Johnny Hopper. The SPACE Prize, established to honor excellence in self-published small press comics, consists of a plaque and a check for $300 to be presented during an awards ceremony to be held at the 2009 SPACE show.
The SPACE Prize is the successor to the Howard Eugene Day Memorial Prize, popularly known as the Day Prize, which was awarded by Cerebus and Glamourpuss creator Dave Sim in honor of his late friend and mentor Gene Day, at SPACE annually from 2003 to 2008. Shortly after the 2008 SPACE show, Sim announced that he was curtailing all future convention appearances to concentrate on his new series Glamourpuss, thus ending the Day Prize. Shortly thereafter, Bob Corby announced the creation of the SPACE Prize to fill the void.
Entries for the SPACE Prize are submitted by the exhibitors at SPACE, then read by Bob Corby, who selects a short list of finalists. These were then voted on by the exhibitors at SPACE 2008, with 5 points awarded to the highest vote getter, 3 points for second and 1 point to the third place finisher. Next, a panel of judges selected their picks for first second and third place, with point values assigned in the same manner as the exhibitor vote.
Sixty-one entries were received from the artists and self-publishers exhibiting at SPACE 2008, which Bob Corby whittled down to a slate of nine finalists. This years judges were Matt & Carol Dembicki (acting as one judge) the winners of the 2007 Day Prize and Tim Corrigan, publisher of the pioneering Small Press review zine Small Press Comics Explosion and a past recipient of the SPACE Lifetime Achievement Award. Between the judges and the exhibitor vote, A Thorn In The Side received 10 points to become the first SPACE Prize winner.
A Thorn in The Side tells the story of Ian “Johnny” Hopper, a British born resident of France at the time of the German occupation during WWII. When the Nazis march into his village, he and his wife, Paulette become involved in the resistance efforts, which ultimately lead to his capture and detention in a German prison camp.
In the following interview, Bill discusses A Thorn In the Side, as well as his past work, which includes the Day Prize winner Faith: A Fable, and his philosophy of comics.

1) Tell us a bit about yourself: Where and when you were born, where you went to school, your family--that kind of stuff.

BK: I was born in 1962 in Cleveland, Ohio and grew up in rural Hinckley, Ohio. I am pretty much a self-taught artist. I’ve always believed that you become an artist by doing and observing, not by sitting in a classroom listening to someone else tell you what art is or is not. I’ve taken some live model drawing classes but that’s about it. I’ve been married since 1992 and have lived in Lafayette, Indiana since 2002.

2) Your bio in "A Thorn In The Side" says you've worked in comics for over 20 years. Other than "Thorn" and "Faith: A Fable", what have you done?

BK: My first professional work was working on stories for Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor back when he was self-publishing it. I drew a number of stories for him in the early/mid-80’s. I was involved in DC Comics New Talent Program in the late-80’s drawing a Flash-related story and production-type work for a few other projects. In the 90’s I did work for Now Comics on their Green Hornet title, art for a small, defunct publisher I’d rather not legitimize by naming, and a Firearm story and Hardcase story for Malibu Comics. In 1995 I first started self-publishing my take on a superhero comic called The Furies, publishing eight issues of that. From people I know in the self-publishing side of comics I’ve done a couple stories for Michael Cohen’s Mythography book, a short story for a Scott Mills book and a story for an anthology released by Brian Clopper.

3) How, and why, did you get into comics?

BK: Friends of mine in grade school were into comics which got me interested in them at a time when my interest in art was developing. So for me, comics were pretty much all I wanted to do. I love the combination of story and picture. Naturally for the late-70’s, the only real options for comics work was Marvel or DC and so for many years my goal was to work for one or the other. Today, I don’t see the material they are putting out to be good comics and what I’ve seen of comics editors these days is that they are more interested in office politics and promoting themselves as the ones responsible for the success of the books, than in knowing how to tell a good comics story, so my interest in being yet another X-book artist is non-existent.

4) Do you have a "day job" or are you lucky enough to support yourself doing this?

BK: Art is what I do. If I’m not doing comics-related work, I’m painting or writing.

5) What was behind the decision to self-publish "Faith" and "Thorn"?

BK: I decided back in the mid-90’s to self-publish. At that time, the industry was imploding and I figured that if an editor was looking for an artist and had a choice between me and someone who had worked for the company before, he would take the safe choice and choose the guy with a track record of work and Image-style artwork he could comprehend. Today if I could find someone to publish a book for me, I would go that route but publishers are antsy about material. What I do isn’t superheroes, it isn’t slice-of-life autobiography and it isn’t Fantagraphics-style “art” comics so the possible publishers are few.

6) You were also the first winner of the previous incarnation of this award, The Day Prize. How did winning the Day Prize affect your life and/or art?

BK: It was very nice to win it, but I can’t say it changed the way I live or work. Unfortunately, when that first Day Prize was announced, September 11 happened a few days later. SPX was cancelled and thus a great opportunity to promote the Prize. We take internet promotion for granted now, but even in 2001, it was harder to get press about something like the Day Prize than it is now. The instantaneousness of blogging wasn’t really being done and the old models for promotion were still being used. On the plus side, my wife and I had a terrific dinner with Dave and Gerhard before the 2002 SPACE show, I have a nice plaque and I received $500.

7)Besides winning the SP, how has "Thorn" been received critically and commercially?

BK: How is any self-published book being received these days? I have received some good reviews that really seem to understand what I’m trying to do with this story. It seems to me though, that my take on comics is difficult for some people to get a hold of. By that, I mean that the material I do doesn’t fit the catagories of what people now expect comics to be. As I noted in Question 5, it isn’t superheroes, it isn’t autobio, it isn’t expanding the boundaries of comics art. What interests me is telling a good story, regardless of genre, in a way that anyone reading the book could understand. My influences in comics are very old school with an emphasis on storytelling and clarity. Batton Lash, of Wolff & Byrd fame, has talked extensively about the true mainstream of comics, which are works that don’t fit the narrow ideas of the comics industry’s interpretation of mainstream. If A Thorn In the Side was a prose book, no one would question its theme or style. The only thing that would matter would be “Is it a good story”. In the comics field though, people seem to want material to fit the narrow definitions of what they define comics to be. Take people out of their comfort zone and there is a lot of resistance.

8)What exactly drew you to the story of Johnny Hopper?

BK: Quite simply, it’s a fascinating story. There isn’t much that has been written about Hopper and I wanted to try to do something that would keep his memory alive.

9) You say in the introduction that you first encountered Hopper's story in 1993, but didn't begin work on "Thorn" until 1999. Why, after the better part of a decade, did you feel that the time was right then to tell this story?

BK: At the time, it just wasn’t a story I was ready to do. I was still trying to get on the freelance merry-go-round. When I began self-publishing I had other stories I was trying to tell. After I finished Faith: A Fable I felt it was time to give it a go. I think it turned out to be a good thing I had to wait on it as it gave me experience writing and working on other types of stories before trying to tackle a true-to-life story.

10) A friend of mine is illustrating a Graphic Novel set during WWII, and another friend of ours asked him if he was afraid of comparisons to "Maus" Now, especially, given that approximately the entire second half of "Thorn" takes place in concentration camps, I put that same question to you.
BK: This isn’t a story about the Holocaust and concentration camps and Jewish persecution during the war. It’s a story of one man’s experiences during the war, part of which took place in a prison camp. I think if someone tries to compare the two stories, it’s really an apples and oranges thing. So many really fascinating stories came out of World War II, amazing experiences of survival, courage and fighting for what you believe, and many of them involve some stretch of time in a prison camp. If they didn’t shoot you outright, it was pretty much the Nazi response to problem individuals. You can tell your friend that on a historical accuracy level, there is also quite a difference between the extermination camps the Jews and Russians were dumped into purely so they could be killed out of sight and the prison camps people like Hopper and the group he was with went through. The end result was expected to be the same but the events leading to it were very different.

11) What's your next project, and when can we expect to see it?

BK: Since I finished A Thorn In the Side I’ve been doing a lot of painting and having a lot of fun with it. Working in color on single-image pictures isn’t something I’ve done much of over the years, so I want to see what I can do with it. I’m scheduled to have my first solo show at a gallery in Lafayette later this year, so I guess that would be my next project. I’ve been looking at a lot of work over the last few years by the great illustration artists of the 20th Century and like the idea of telling a story with one image. There are a couple comics-type projects I’ve been working on too, but I work so slowly and they are in such early stages that it’ll be some time before they would be finished.


Everybody involved in organizing SPACE, this years judges and Cosmo's Corner wish to congratulate Bill Knapp on winning the 2008 SPACE Prize. We proud to have Bill’s work set the standard for future awards.