Man, they made trading cards out of everything in the ’90s, didn’t they? Case in point: Written by Dennis Bernstein and Laura Slydell and illustrated by Elektra: Assassin genius Bill Sienkiewicz, the Friendly Dictators Trading Cards set from 1990 represented a rogues’ gallery of tyrants who were on good terms with the good ol’ U.S. of A. Okay, so Hitler’s a bit of a stretch. But from Papa Doc Duvalier in Haiti to Augusto Pinochet in Chile to Ngo Dinh Diem in South Vietnam, there’s no shortage of creeps, goons, and outright monsters with whom America traded the occasional Christmas card and/or oodles of military and monetary aid, and Sienkiewicz brings them all to ghoulish life. I particularly appreciate the “CANCELLED” stamp applied to the autocrats who eventually fell out of our favor. Poor Manuel Noriega, he never saw it coming.
(Via John Barber)
Legendary artist Bill Sienkiewicz will have both a limited edition lithograph and sketchbook at the San Diego Comic Con this week. Above is the lithograph, which costs $40 and can be found at booth 2449. The sketchbook will cost $20.
Nate Powell‘s Swallow Me Whole is a graphic novel that demands and warrants repeated readings. Released by Top Shelf last year, the publisher describes it as “a love story carried by rolling fog, terminal illness, hallucination, apophenia, insect armies, secrets held, unshakeable faith, and the search for a master pattern to make sense of one’s unraveling.” My thanks to Powell for this email interview and his level of candor.
Tim O’Shea: What motivated you to start self-publishing mini-comics at the age of 14?
Nate Powell: Well, I’d been drawing comics with a few friends for a couple of years already. We had many issues of a comic series mapped out, and a friend’s uncle suggested that we finish up each issue and self-publish it. We didn’t really know what that entailed, but soon discovered a few neglected copy machines around town and in my dad’s office. We made 100 copies of the first comic, and they all sold in about two months; we’d never anticipated recovering our expenses, or anyone actually BUYING the books, to be honest. We just wanted to have a comic too, and found the most accessible way to make them. At this time I was already into the punk subculture and had been exposed to people who made zines and released records in much the same manner, but it was not until a few years later when I started writing zines and putting out records that I saw the inherent connections between these two realms of DIY entrepreneurship.