The Official SPACE blog

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.