Josh & Sari on Publishers Weekly podcast “More to Come”

Flashed-cover300pxSari and I recently had the honor of being guests on the Publishers Weekly podcast “More to Come,” hosted by PW editor Calvin Reid. We sat down with Calvin at the PW offices and talked about Flashed: Sudden Stories in Comics and Prose, as well as collaboration in general, and our own work.

Topics we cover in the podcast include my autobiographical travel comics collection A Few Perfect Hours (which includes a couple of collaboration with Sari), and my more recent work in comics journalism, including A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge. We talk about the online collective ACT-i-VATE and my long creative association with Dean Haspiel.

Talking about Dean, we discuss what it means to be a native New Yorker, which leads to Sari talking a bit about her debut novel Girl Through Glass. This broaches the very rich topic of New York City in the 1970s, and the contrast between that gritty period of urban blight and the rarified world of classical dance. I appreciated Sari’s point that “a novel works through contrasts,” which are really brought out in her book.

The second half of the podcast covers the concept behind Flashed: what is flash fiction, and how Sari & I, and our joint backgrounds in  the worlds of literary fiction and alternative comics, made this project come into focus. We break down a couple of section from the book to explore the connective tissue of such triptychs as “Night Games”—featuring Lynda Barry, Kellie Wells, and Box Brown—and “Mutable Architecture”—featuring Gabrielle Bell, Jedediah Berry, and Carol Lay. And we discuss the honor and pleasure of editing such a talented group of writers & cartoonists.

The podcast wraps up with a couple of shout-outs to some upcoming projects: the week-long comics memoir workshop Sari & I will be co-teaching at the Fine Arts Work Center this summer, and the still-burgeoning Comics & Graphic Narratives concentration I’m helping to develop at the Solstice Low-Residency MFA Program.

We really enjoyed our wide-ranging conversation with Calvin, and we think you will too. Give a listen here.

Seth Kushner’s HARVEY PEKAR Tribute

Today is the one-year anniversary of Harvey Pekar‘s death. One of the more extraordinary homages appearing today is Seth Kushner’s photo comic, "Harvey Pekar: Tribute to ‘Our Man.’" (It’s #25 of Seth’s CulturePop series on ACT-I-VATE.) Weaving wonderful photos of Harvey with Pekar’s own words, it takes the reader through his remarkable life and career. People like Harvey’s wife Joyce Brabner, the filmmakers behind the American Splendor movie, and collaborators like Dean ( ) Haspiel, Jeff () Newelt, and Joseph Remnant make appearances as well. (Oh, and I’m in there too.) It’s memoir, it’s photography, it’s comics — it’s Seth’s unique form of creative expression. Please check it out: http://act-i-vate.com/104-25-1.comic.

P.S. Another nice tribute is KCRW’s re-broadcast of a 2003 conversation between Harvey and Elvis Mitchell: http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/tt/tt030813harvey_pekar

“The Persisence of Memory…”

The Persistence of MemoryI just posted a new one-pager on ACT-I-VATE called "The Persistence of Memory…" It was "commissioned" by A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge character Leo McGovern, who recently published Feast, an anthology of comics by New Orleanians and a few invited others, including folks like Caesar Meadows, Happy Burbeck, and Jeff Pastorek; as well as out-of-towners like Josh Simmons and myself. You can buy a copy of Feast here.

As Leo wrote when he invited me to contribute, "the only thing we ask is that if you’re not currently living in the New Orleans area, your cartoon would be about New Orleans or something New Orleans-related." I welcomed the chance to revisit New Orleans in my comics — especially now that the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is looming.

After thinking it over a little bit, I decided to address the passage of time since Katrina, and the way that New Orleans is still dealing with the storm. I was inspired by a paper an A.D. reader shared with me. Sean Mallin is a PhD Student in the Dept. of Anthropology at UC Irvine, and his paper is called "Steps to Nowhere? Rebuilding Haunted Landscapes in New Orleans." I remembered being particularly struck by the lines (quoting Times-Picayune columnist Chris Rose) "Everywhere you go now, there’s some memory staring you in the face. What it used to look like;" as well as Mallin’s passage, “Memories of things they had or the way things were ‘before’ haunt [New Orleans residents] on a daily basis. Just like the ‘steps to nowhere,’ all the ‘stuff’ washed away by the floodwaters maintain a haunting presence in the lives of city residents."

I try to get at those feelings in "The Persistence of Memory…," which tracks one New Orleans house (or, rather, one piece of property) through the storm, the flooding, the aftermath, and subsequent stages of destruction and renewal. To make it extra fancy, I attempt to show all this one shot, broken up into five panels, each representing a different time in the life of the property.

It’s a subtle piece, requiring close reading; I hope it works for you.

ACT-I-VATE “The Tacky Tic”

The Tacky TicThroughout the last two years, while I was toiling away on A.D., sitting on the little cart next to my drawing table was a script for a story I wrote called "The Tacky Tic." All during these past two years, I never was able to get to the piece and actually draw it. But now that A.D. is finally done — huzzah! — I have finally been able to fulfill my true passion! And you are the lucky beneficiary. I think the piece is a powerful statement on the human condition, and I’m sure you’ll agree. Just click your mouse on over to ACT-I-VATE and check out "The Tacky Tic" in all its glory.

P.S. "The Tacky Tic" is a one-pager in the "real" world, but I cut it up into a whopping 16 pages for your Internet enjoyment. Just let me know if the lettering is too small…

Infinite Canvas show @ MoCCA, Thurs., Sept. 13, 7 p.m.

If you’re not doing anything on Rosh Hashana, I’ll see you at…

Infinite Canvas: The Art of Webcomics
September 14, 2007 – January 14, 2008

Infinite Canvas: The Art of Webcomics brings comics from the web page to the MoCCA stage. The exhibit explores three aspects of online comics: the unique format and design of webcomics, their appeal to niche audiences, and the transitions between web and print comics.

Curator Jennifer Babcock, who also draws the syndicated webcomic C’est La Vie, explains that webcomics are free of the space constraints and editorial censorship to which printed comics are often subjected. Webcomics also provide an outlet for a greater diversity of creators and audiences, she says, resulting in numerous niche-specific features.

This exhibit incorporates original artwork, prints of finished art, and digital displays. It features a new installment of MoCCA’s New York Artist Showcase, focusing on original artwork from the NYC members of the webcomics collective ACT-I-VATE. Also featured in the exhibit will be the immensely popular Penny Arcade, PhD, Sluggy Freelance, User Friendly, Diesel Sweeties, Mom’s Cancer, Finder, Supernatural Law, Questionable Content, Something Positive, Scary Go Round, Achewood, Narbonic, Goats, Checkerboard Nightmare, and many others.

The opening reception will be held Thursday, Sept. 13 at 7pm. Admission to the reception is $10. The exhibit will be on display until January 14, 2008.

tonight: “floodwall,” followed by ACT-I-VATE party

The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council is hosting a really cool exhibit by New Orleans artist Jana Napoli:

“Moved to action by the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, Napoli collected hundreds of drawers from the flooded and abandoned neighborhoods in the days and months that followed.

“In this site-specific installation, the drawers sit upright along a 230-foot-long platform, which spans the length of Liberty Street Bridge — standing like empty luggage without their passengers and flowing like a levee, broken in places. Beneath the drawers, placed in intervals along the platform, moving-message LED signs silently repeat the words of the people who have parted with these drawers. Their words reminisce and mourn:

“‘I thought New Orleans would be a good place to go for rain and history, and it was.’ . . . ‘Having to throw your furniture out in front of your house — your life is sort of taken from you and sort of dumped out in your front yard.’ . . . ‘New Orleans was here before America was here and we are a part of America.'”

The show will be up ’til Feb. 9. There’s a free reception and walk-through (with the artist) tonight, from 6:30-8:30 p.m (again, at the Liberty Street Bridge of the World Financial Center). I’ll be there, and then hit up the ACT-I-VATE party at the Village Pourhouse.

ACT-I-VATE 1-year anniversary party

This Thursday, Feb. 1:

Come celebrate one full year of free web comix at their best… with your favorite ACT-I-VATErs!

Village Pourhouse
64 Third Avenue (corner of East 11th Street)
NYC

open bar 6–7 p.m.

“Lionel’s Lament” appearing Monday-Friday on ACT-I-VATE

Starting today, man_size & I will begin serializing “Lionel’s Lament,” our unique two-man narrative corpse, on ACT-I-VATE. A new strip appears daily, Monday-Friday, as man-size & I trade episodes in the life of a frankly pathetic young man. Check it out now…

Recent Press

The Vagabonds #2 garners nice mentions in Rob Clough’s column on Sequart.com and in the Las Vegas Weekly, while I was an active participant in the ACT-I-VATE Thanksgiving party hosted by Indie Spinner Rack.

act-i-vate: bag of mice

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