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Word circulated this morning via Tom Spurgeon of the sudden passing of acclaimed art comics publisher Alvin Buenaventura. Over the course of the new Millennium, the comics published by his Buenaventura Press and Pigeon Press labels left an indelible mark on the comics art form.
Just last week, Buenaventura was recalling his earliest connection to the comics industry – his time as a teenage Daniel Clowes fan chatting up the artist at San Diego Comic-Con in the late ’90s. From those humble beginnings, Buenaventura Press grew in the mid-2000s to be one of the most forward-thinking comics publishers of the decade with memorable titles like Johnny Ryan’s Comic Book Holocaust and Vanessa Davis’ Spaniel Rage.
But the Press’ best known contribution to the form will likely be the two volumes of Sammy Harkham’s Kramers Ergot anthology it shepherded into being. 2008’s Kramers 7 (pictured above) was literally a massive undertaking with a 16″ by 21″ page size that mimicked the newspaper comics of the early 20th century. The contributor list to the issue included the likes of Clowes, Matt Groening, Seth, Gabrielle Bell and Jaime Hernandez, and Buenaventura’s personal supervision of its overseas printing helped make the book a legitimate cultural event.
Due to a legal and financial emergency, Buenaventura Press was forced to close in 2010, but its publisher continued on undeterred by founding Pigeon Press. In that iteration, Buenaventura continued to publish new works by the likes of Charles Burns, Simon Hanselmann and others while also contribution comics sections to The Believer. The publisher had plans to release Nick Maandag’s The Oaf later this year.
Our thoughts go out to Buenaventura’s family, friends and collaborators. See a brief selection of online tributes below.
Comics College is a monthly feature where we provide an introductory guide to some of the comics medium’s most important auteurs and offer our best educated suggestions on how to become familiar with their body of work.
This month we’re looking at the career of a relative newcomer to the comics industry, Mr. Kevin Huizenga.
Or maybe that headline needs a question mark instead of an exclamation point — I’m not exactly sure, and publisher Alvin Buenaventura is letting the picture at right speak for him. But, yes, over on the Blog Flume group blog, Buenaventura posted the image, announcing the launch of Pigeon Press with the latest installment in two of the late, lamented Buenaventura Press’s comic series, Matt Furie’s Boy’s Club #4 and Lisa Hanawalt’s I Want You #2.
It was with heavy heart that we reported the closing of Buenaventura Press back in June after several months in limbo, owing to what Buenaventura described a single knockout financial-legal blow. In addition to comics by Furie, Hanawalt, Ted May, and Eric Haven, BP also released high-end prints, the acclaimed critical publication Comic Art, and recent volumes of Sammy Harkham’s hugely influential anthology series Kramers Ergot. It remains to be seen just how much of a continuation of that work Pigeon Press constitutes, but it’s certainly good to see Boy’s Club and I Want You back in the game at the very least.
Down to the wire here, so let’s do a round-robin of a few more cool items you can get at the San Diego Comic-Con this year …
• Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba are bringing a new limited signed giclée print, which you can see to the right.
• Buenaventura Press is having a going-out-of-business sale at booth #1734. Alvin Buenaventura will be there, selling the last copies he has of Kramers Ergot 7, Boy’s Club by Matt Furie, The Gigantic Robot by Tom Gauld, original art and more.
• Gene Luen Yang has a new T-shirt he’ll be selling at the show.
• Terry Moore is bringing The Complete Paradise TOO — “a 360 page softcover book filled with hundreds and hundreds of my comic strips and cartoons, from high school to SIP to all the Kixie strips and Plato and Lizzie the axe-murderer… all for just $30.”
With Comic-Con International looming, you can expect to see all sorts of announcements about future projects from comic companies over the next week. I reached out to the rest of the Robot 6 crew to see what announcements they were hoping to hear at the con; keep in mind this is strictly a “wish list,” based on what we’d love to hear vs. what we expect to hear.
1. Flex Mentallo and Rick Veitch Swamp Thing announcements for “Vertigo Resurrected”: With the announcement that the Warren Ellis/Phil Jimenez Hellblazer story “Shoot” will finally see print under the just announced “Vertigo Resurrected” banner, one can hope that plans are in the works for the DC imprint to finally print Rick Veitch’s aborted Swamp Thing meets Jesus story and collect the Flex Mentallo mini-series into a trade paperback. One can hope. (JK Parkin)
2. Wednesday Comics 2: We’ve already listed what we’d like to see in it a few months back, so it’s about time that DC Comics announced the follow-up to their successful Wednesday Comics series from last summer. With a ‘Mazing Man strip, of course… (suggested by Tom Bondurant)
On Friday, publisher Alvin Buenaventura announced he had shut down his imprint Buenaventura Press as of this past January, due to a single knockout legal/financial blow. Publicly available details are few, in keeping with the private way the move has been handled for the past six months. But comics creators and critics en masse are mourning BP’s demise and reading the tea leaves as to where its publisher, artists, and entire brand of comics will land.
Robot 6 reached out to several of the artists published by Buenaventura, as well as a few of his fellow publishers, for their reaction:
Working with Alvin over the years has been really amazing. He has introduced me to a lot of magical and influential artists and hooked me up with tons of inspiring and perverted books. His place has awesome shit scattered all over- mountains of crazy books, toys, memorabilia, gigantic figures, artwork- it’s like a bomb went off. Now that he’ll be taking a break from the business we’ll finally have more time to play Rock Band and trip out on weird TV shows.
–Matt Furie, writer/artist, Boy’s Club
“I was forced to let go of the dedicated employees who had worked so tirelessly for so little money in order to create art that we all believed in,” Buenaventura posted on Blog Flume earlier today. “This meant that I had to abandon all current and future projects and discontinue sales and distribution. I deeply regret having to take these actions, but the press experienced a devastating financial blow that made it impossible to continue. (I will release more details about this problem in the future.)”
Robot 6’s Sean T. Collins reached out to Buenaventura today, and he added that the situation comes down to a single problem that is legal in nature.
Buenaventura Press published many independent comics, high-end anthologies, graphic novels and prints by creators like Ron Rege Jr, Ted May, Kevin Huizenga, Eric Haven, Lisa Hanawalt and Matt Furie. Back in 2008 they received a lot of attention when they published the massive Kramers Ergot 7, an “olympic-sized” anthology that included contributions from Matt Groening, Daniel Clowes, Seth, Gabrielle Bell and many more. They also published Comic Art Magazine.
Over at Vice Magazine, there’s a brand-new Boy’s Club strip by Matt Furie. Since I pimp this comic so hard I might as well be its PR guy, I’m tempted to say “‘Nuff said.” But if you’ve never discovered the screamingly funny world of Furie’s furry friends before, this is a great opportunity.
Boy’s Club is an occasionally surreal stoner comedy starring a quartet of vaguely college-aged monsters, Brett, Landwolf, Pepe, and Andy — four chill bros who love pizza, weed, video games, catchphrases, and bathroom humor. If that rough description has ever fit you at any point in your life, then brother/sister, is Boy’s Club the comic for you. You can check out more strips at Vice and on Furie’s MySpace blog, and buy copies from Buenaventura Press at Last Gasp.
It’s old home week at What Are You Reading today, as our special guest is none other than Graeme McMillan, who, before he became a writer and editor for the sci-fi blog io9, used to pal around with us back when we were at that other blog that shall not be named for fear of … something, I dunno.
Anyway, to see what Graeme and everyone else is reading this week just click on the link below …
Unholster your credit cards, comics fans: Two publishers are currently holding nigh-irresistible sales in their webstores.
As we’ve reported, cartoonist Evan Dorkin notes that indie-comics stalwart SLG Publishing — home of comics by Dorkin, Jhonen Vasquez, Jim Rugg, James Turner and more — is slashing prices on its entire library by 40%. Meanwhile, art-comics trailblazer Buenaventura Press — the outfit behind books by Johnny Ryan, Jerry Moriarty, Lisa Hannawalt, and Matt Furie, not to mention Kramers Ergot — has announced that they’re offering an across-the-board 20% off sale. Both sales are designed to help their respective publishers weather these still-nightmarish financial times, so not only would taking advantage of them help score you some sweet deals, it’d be a mitzvah as well.
But these prices aren’t sticking around forever, so you’ve gotta act now. And if you’re ;ooking for a guide to help you do so, The Comics Reporter’s Tom Spurgeon has recommendations for both the SLG and Buenaventura sales, as well as a smidge of analysis as to what it all means. Beyond “great deals,” that is.
He’s the man who helped bring us the sublime Kramers Ergot 7 and the ridiculous Boys Club. Now publisher Alvin Buenaventura is lending his Midas touch to stalwart literary magazine The Believer for its annual Art Issue.
At his Blog Flume group blog, Buenaventura reveals that In addition to an Acme Novelty Library/Jack Surives “crossover cover” by regular cover artist Charles Burns, the issue features an interview between Acme‘s Chris Ware and Jack‘s Jerry Moriarty, other interviews with Aline Kominsky-Crumb and Peter Blegvad, and a poster by Moriarty.
Finally, the issue sees the launch of a new monthly feature: a comics spread featuring new strips from Burns, Al Columbia, Matt Furie, Tom Gauld, Lisa Hanawalt, Tim Hensley and more, edited by Buenaventura himself.
Click over to Buenaventura’s blog for sample art, click the individual links for the respective features, and get ready to gorge on some great comics content.
Wow — between this and issue #33 of The Believer‘s sister publication McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, dubbed The San Francisco Panorama and featuring comics by Art Spiegelman, Chris Ware, Dan Clowes, Erik Larsen (!) and more, it’s a good time to be a fan of comics in high-end literary periodicals.
Standing nearly two feet tall, boasting over 50 contributors (including Matt Groening, Chris Ware, Jaime Hernandez, Daniel Clowes, and Adrian Tomine), and costing $125, Kramers Ergot 7 — the latest installment of the avant-garde anthology series from editor Sammy Harkham and publisher Alvin Buenaventura — was a famously, even infamously, grand production. And now…it’s a minicomic?
Artist Hall Hassi has created what she calls a “ke7 zine“ — a 96-page, 8.5″ x 5.5″, black-and-white xeroxed version of the massive full-color hardcover. Pictures of the finished product can be found at the blog of artist Blaise Larmee, who notes that “sometimes the text is entirely legible. sometimes not at all.” God only knows what kind of Kinko’s kung fu had to be applied to even get the book to fit on a photocopier, so not being able to read some of it seems like a small price to pay.
Email Hassi if you’re interested in purchasing one — unless you’re Sammy Harkham himself, who’s still waiting to find out when he can expect a contributor copy.
(Via Kramers contributor James McShane.)
Welcome once again to What Are You Reading. Our guest this week is the esteemed critic and blogger Robert Clough. Rob is probably best known for his contributions to the seemingly now inert Sequart.com, though you can find most of his recent reviews on his blog, High-Low.
To see what Rob and the rest of us are reading, just click on the link below …
Buenaventura Press will be debuting a grand total of four new comics at the show this weekend, including Aviatrix #1 by Eric Haven, Boy’s Club #3 by Matt Furie, I Want You by Lisa Hanawalt and Injury #3 by Ted May and co.
Haven, Furie and Hanawalt will all be attending the show and signing copies at the Buenaventura booth (#1732).
In addition, copies of by Tom Gauld andThe Gigantic Robot The Complete Jack Survives by Jack Moriarty will also be available for purchase. Both books were available at the last MoCCA show, but they won’t be available in comic book stores until August, so if you can’t wait, this is your chance.
The company will also have a selection of minicomics and imported books from Sweden, Japan, Italy, France and the UK on hand.
Oh, and in case you were thinking of holding off on buying a copy of Kramer’s Ergot 7 until after the show, publisher Alvin Buenaventura has some news:
This will be the last major signing event for Kramers Ergot 7 as many of the contributors including the editor Sammy Harkham will be with us. We’re down to our last few hundred copies so if you’ve been holding out this is one of your last chances to get a copy and signed! We will not be reprinting this book.
Other artists who will be signing at the booth include Johnny Ryan, Xaime Hernandez, Seth, Tim Hensley and Leif Goldberg.