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Looks like the mother of all post-millennial art/alt-comix anthologies is about to get a makeover. Last Thursday, editor Sammy Harkham and publisher Dan Nadel of PictureBox Inc. announced the November 2011 release of Kramers Ergot 8, the latest installment in Harkham’s “this is why the word ‘seminal’ exists” anthology series. According to Harkham and Nadel, the new volume will mark a break from the four previous, sprawling, all but physically intimidating collections — a smaller, more focused effort, featuring longer 16-24-page stories from about a dozen creators, working with the same aesthetic end in mind instead of the potpourri of approaches evident in earlier volumes. The line-up includes Harkham, cover designer Robert Beatty, Gary Panter, Gabrielle Bell, C.F., Kevin Huizenga, Ben Jones, Jason T. Miles, Leon Sadler, Johnny Ryan, Frank Santoro & Dash Shaw, Anya Davidson, Ron Rege Jr., Ron Embleton & Frederic Mullally.
Beginning with 2003’s volume four, Kramers bestrode the alternative comics landscape like a colossus. It’s widely credited, certainly by me, with “breaking” the artists and aesthetic of the Providence underground (Fort Thunder, Paper Rad, Paper Rodeo, etc.) with the altcomix audience at large, and with drawing non-traditional approaches to comics and image-making into the comics conversation. (It’s hard to remember now, but back in 2003 the inclusion of pages of non-narrative collage was a controversy that lit up the Comics Journal message board.) At the same time, however, and as would befit an artist of Harkham’s restraint, Kramers has always contained a second strain of rigorous storytelling, as evidenced in strips ranging from Harkham’s early standout “Poor Sailor” to the short stories from heavy hitters Chris Ware, Adrian Tomine, Jaime Hernandez, and Daniel Clowes that appeared in the anthology’s last issue, the gigantic, expensive Little Nemo in Slumberland-sized #7 from now-defunct publisher Buenaventura Press. It ought to be fascinating to see where Volume Eight’s mission statement takes us.
For more information, watch Nadel’s interview with Harkham in the very Vestron Video-ish video embedded above.