I guess it’s a good sign when it takes an entire week to recover and compose a recap. In general, my week in New York was tight, except for a gnarly hangover on a weekday (whoops) and the noxious humidity-rain-heat combo that is summer in NYC.
I spent the entire BookExpo America weekend working my company’s booth, and it was exhausting, relentless and hard on the feet. But, as always, my downtime was all about comics, manga and free books.
One major highlight of the whole trip was a Saturday night karaoke party with Erin & Ed from Mangacast, Kit from Viz and Anne from Vertical (and her bf). I’m proud to report that Morning Musume, Danzig, Gackt, Smashing Pumpkins, Biz Markie and Pat Benatar renditions were in full force that night.
Having now been to my fair share of both comics events (New York Comic Con, Alternative Press Expo, Sand Diego Comic Con) and book publishing trade shows (BookExpo America, Frankfurt Book Fair), it’s become clear to me that meeting comics people is MUCH BETTER at book trade shows.
At comic events, everyone is there to see them, and you have to fight and volley for the attention of creators and publishers. At publishing trade shows, the main stars are the mainstream trade publishers like Penguin and Random House, and comics and indie publishers usually relegated to their own “GRAPHICS NOVELS" alley. This means that when a dork like me shows up all starry-eyed, the publishers we love are usually: i) not busy, ii) appreciative of the support, and iii) down with talking comics and hanging out. This year was no different! Here are some of the rumor mill tidbits, along with freebies I got my hands on:
We got to be friendly with Last Gasp this past year at their APE mixer, and the awesome staff was promoting both their own catalogue and the books they distribute at this year's BEA. One of the titles they were showing off is their recent, “The Art of Hideshi Hino" – a collection of paintings and drawings with a few previously untranslated stories in the back:
I got my copy of this a few weeks back, but forgot to blog about it. I had never seen many of the images before, and his nasty/fetal hellscapes benefit from the full-color treatment. My only gripe is that the resolution and printing of some of the images is sortof blurry and un-crisp. That said, it’s a pretty awesome book for Hino fans.
Not to name names yet, but they might be adding another book from an under-represented (in English) horror/ero-guro creator that you all know and love. I offered our help and support with that project, so we’ll let you know details as they develop. If you haven’t seen it, Last Gasp’s website is one of the few places to get a hold of experimental comics magazine AX, and other rarities. Click here for AX (akkusu) action.
DRAWN & QUARTERLY
As usual, Chris from D&Q was very generous and friendly. They were there to push upcoming books like their 2nd Moomin book, 365 Days by Julie Doucet, and Spent by Joe Matt. They also handed out their Free Comic Book Day sampler of Lynda Barry’s new book What It Is (coming out in Spring 2008), and it’s basically one of the best single issues of anything I’ve picked up in a while. Lynda Barry is one of my favorites, and the new book seems experimental and magical.
I asked Chris about the future of their Tatsumi series, which seems to have stalled out with the release last year of his amazing Abandon the Old in New Tokyo. Chris confirmed that they ARE definitely doing a third book (Unnamed 1971 collection), probably in the first half of 2008, and hoping to be able to continue the chronological series in the future.
Chris also confirmed that they are planning on publishing Tatsumi’s 800 page graphic autobiography, A Drifting Life in Gekiga, and that Adrian Tomine would likely be involved in that book as well. AWESOME! It sounds like they are extremely excited about this epic book, but that it is a few years away.
Also on the manga front, D&Q is looking to continue pushing the envelope with other experimental & gekiga titles. After the third Tatsumi book, but before his autobiography, they will be releasing the famous Red-Colored Elegy ( 赤色エレジー) by Seiichi Hayashi. Check out this blog for a review of this title, and here for Hayashi’s website. I'm not as familiar with Hayashi as I should be, but he is a contemporary of Tsuge, did covers for GARO and continues to produce all sorts of interesting visual work.
Man, you gotta love what D&Q (and Vertical) are doing to push high-end titles to English audience. This is great news for Same Hat readers looking for challenging reads.
ALSO: On Saturday, I got the chance to meet and chat with Mr. Adrian Tomine in person, who was at the booth to promote his fall collection, Shortcomings. I got a promo poster signed and heard about his book tour this fall; It sounds like he’ll be reading/signing at the Booksmith on Haight in SF in September or October.
I didn’t have a chance to chat as much with Eric and the rest of the Fantagraphics crew, but they were handing out copies of their FCBD sampler of lost Peanuts strips, along with their Fall catalog. Here are the best of the upcoming titles:
+ 2 NEW BOOKS by JASON: “I Killed Adolf Hitler" and “The Last Musketeer". Hot on the heels of his zombie-romance “The Living and The Dead," these short books about time traveling dictators and old-timey marauders fighting martians (respectively) both sound fun. PS, you can preview 'Hitler' here on Amazon!
The Last Musketeer preview from their fall catalog:
Release date: June 2007 and January 2008
+ A NEW T. OTT BOOK: Titled “The Number: 73304-23-4153-6-96-8" and tagged as “a horrific graphic, without words." The catalog describes the story of a prison guard who finds a small piece of paper with a combination on it while cleaning out the jail sell of a recently executed prisoner. Crazy exploits, turmoil and betrayal ensue.
Release date: November 2007
+ INTERESTING DEBUT GRAPHIC NOVEL: Funeral of the Heart by Leah Hayes. The entire book is hand-lettered, and illustrated with an Ott-style scratchboard sparseness. Sounds like promising tales of stark childhoold realities. Could be rad.
Release date: February 2008
+ NEW ANGRY YOUTH COMICS COLLECTION: I’ve read all these issues already, but Johnny Ryan’s XXX Scumbag Party collection is a must-have if you never managed to track the later AYCs down.
Release date: September 2009
Penguin didn’t have any comics news per se but I did note two pieces of info regarding illustrators we like designing covers for Penguin.
+ NEW PENGUIN GRAPHIC CLASSICS: This is the same series that’s released Shirley Jackson with a T. Ott cover, Sinclair with a Charles Burns cover, Akutagawa with a Tatsumi cover, and more. I think everyone knew that Daniel Clowes would be illustrating the Frankenstein cover, but did you know that Tom Gauld is doing Three Musketeers!? RAD.
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, Cover by Tom Gauld
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Cover by Julie Doucet
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Cover by Daniel Clowes
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, Cover by Joe Sacco(?)
+ FICTION COLLETION WITH BURNS COVER: Zadie Smith (author of On Beauty, White Teeth) is editing an interesting collection called The Book of Other People featuring Chris Ware, David Mitchell, Jonathan Lethem and others. Worth noting on Same Hat because Charles Burns has done a stark but striking series of illustrations for the cover. It looks a lot like the stuff he does for The Believer magazine.
Release date: Devember 2007
No major news here that hasn’t been covered by other blogs. I did see and advance copy of Drifting Classroom 6 (Spoiler = His mom sends medicine through time to cure the plague, encased in the corpse of a dude), and our buddy Kit hooked me up with a complimentary copy of Nana 6!
Vertical was promoting new prose fiction books, along with their awesome and successful Aranzi Aronzo craft line. I helped Anne at Vertical’s booth at Makers Faire in San Mateo a few weeks back, and got to see the first two Aranzi Machine Gun books then— the books are rad and featuring a hodgepodge of photographs, 4-panel gag strips and craft projects. They are a steal at around 10 bucks each.
In other news, the Vertical crew are gearing up for new Tezuka (Apollo’s Song, MW) and Takemiya (Andromeda Stories) in the coming months, along with work on their 2008 summer imprint. I also got to see a proof copy of Beat Takeshi’s short story collection Boy, coming out later this year.
MISC COOL STUFF
+ Kodansha is doing a FRUITS-esque photo book, called The Tokyo Look Book, by author Philomena Keet and photographer Yuri Manabe. This thing is sortof 3-4 years late to the Tokyo street fashion mag explosion in the US, but Kodansha’s books have really intensely high production and quality, so this could be a great coffee table book for arty hipsters/
+ Dark Horse were in effect, again focusing on their American horror and media tie-in comics, but editor Chris Warner was in attendance and was nice enough to talk manga with me. Sounds like they might send us a copy of MPD Psycho 2 to review. Very cool.
+ DC’s YA for girls imprint Minx was promoting their spring and summer books, and I got to see a preview copy of our buddy Derek Kirk Kim’s new book, Good As Lily. The art is not what I was expecting, but the story about future and past selves coming to confront you during tumultuous high school anxiety years sounds pretty great. The booth was handing out postcards and pins too.
SOME NON-COMICS STUFF
+ Small Beer Press’ Kelly Link and Gavin Grant are extremely awesome. Their books are beautiful, they are generous, and we plan to steal a bunch of layout ideas from their zine, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet!
+ Vice Books gave out samplers of their Misshapes photo book, and a new Dos & Donts book. They also gave away copies of the SKINEMA essay/rants book coming out this fall. Vice is pretty evil, but we still love the Dos & Donts as guilty pleasures!
+ The company that puts out Choose Your Own Adventure books was there, and gave me a free copy of Journey Under the Sea. I read this a bunch of times on the subway in New York. Getting eaten by sharks sucks though.
+ Grabbed various new YA novels from Bloomsbury, FSG, and Candlewick, a new vampire novel (13 Bullets) by David Wellington-- the dude that got his zombie novels published after originally serializing them over his blog, a fucking great post-apocalyptic Russian novel (The Slynx) from New York Review of Books, various bags, pens, flyers and stickers, etc. FREE BOOKS = YES, ALWAYS.
Hopefully, that wasn’t too painful to wade through. I’m most excited about the Last Gasp, D&Q, Fantagraphics and Vertical stuff coming up later this year. 2007 is looking excellent for fans like us!