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Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly rundown of what comics and other stuff we’ve been checking out recently. Today our special guest is cartoonist Austin English, creator of the graphic novel Christina and Charles and publisher of Domino Books.
To see what Austin and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Austin English has been one of the more unique cartoonists on the indie comic scene over the past decade, someone with a definitive ideas of what comics should be and how best to achieve those goals. You can see it in the childlike grace and artfulness that’s captured in his graphic novel Christina and Charles, as well as in the three issues of Windy Corner Magazine, which he edited. After being a mainstay in the Sparkplug line-up for many years, English is now trying his hand at being a publisher with his new company, Domino Books. The line’s debut comic, Dark Tomato by Sakura Maku, is a surreal tale about an MTA subway driver who has a supernatural encounter of sorts down in the bowels of New York City. It’s available now via the Internet and finer retail outlets.
I talked to Austin over email about his new business venture, the challenges of being a small press publisher and the wisdom he gained from the late Sparkplug owner, Dylan Williams.
So let me start by asking what made you decide to become a publisher. Was this something you were always interested in doing?
I wrote about it when I started Domino and it bears repeating down, given the circumstances: Dylan Williams is the main inspiration for Domino, and not just because he was a publisher too. Dylan advocated for art that he believed in and he thought advocating for art that you liked was important — I think, for him, it was essential to do what you could for artists that moved you.
I share this feeling with Dylan. Art is very important to me — I believe in the work an artist like Sakura Maku does very strongly. I feel this intense obligation to do something with her work so that its shown with the proper dignity and intensity that it deserves.
Of course, the really great thing about this weekend’s MoCCA Festival is the huge flock of individual creators who go there to show off their work. Here’s the full list, and here are a few of the highlights that jumped out at me. Feel free to point out the good stuff I missed in the comments section.
Neil Kleid will happily sign copies of his comics, mini-comics, and graphic novels (The Big Kahn, Brownsville), and anything else he has work in (including the Fraggle Rock anthology), but if you really want to make his day, bring him an obscure soda.
Stephanie Yue, who illustrates the Guinea Pig: Pet Shop Private Eye graphic novels (not just adorable, but funny for both adults and kids) will be there, as will her editor Carol Burrell, who draws SPQR Blues under the nickname Klio.
Rica Takashima will have a special doujinshi just for MoCCA. Rica is a yuri (lesbian) manga creator and the author of the much-acclaimed Rica ‘tte Kanji?, which Shaenon Garrity described, approvingly, as “as cute as a blender full of kittens.”
If your tastes tend more toward the retro-bizzare, check out Coin Op Studio, which will be debuting the charmingly titled Coin Op No. 3: Municipal Parking and Waterfall at the show.