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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.
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.