Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
I’ve still got plenty to say about the Alternative Press Expo, which wrapped up today, but for now I thought I’d share a few photos …
It was beautiful yet windy day in San Francisco yesterday as I headed to San Francisco for the Alternative Press Expo. I got there a bit later than I’d hoped, due to a quick pit stop in Mountain View that turned into a traffic nightmare. The lot behind the Concourse was already full by the time I arrived, a hint of the crowds that had gathered inside. And inside, everything was different. The layout of the floor was basically flipped, so what used to be the back of the building was now the front of the building. They also had part of their programming slate, the comic workshops, out in an open area up on one of the landings, which I thought worked nicely.
My first stop was the Writers Old Fashioned booth, where I said hello to Jason McNamara, Storm, Matt Silady, Stephenny Godfrey, Emily Stackhouse, Josh Richardson, Danger Bob and the rest of the crew. They were sporting some new eye-catching banners. I also met Greg Hinkle, who worked with several of the WOF crew on a new horror comic called Parasomnia, which they had at the show … and which you’ll be able to see right here on Robot 6 the week of Halloween. I picked up copies Storm’s second Princess Witch Boy and Godfrey’s award-winning Panorama, and Stackhouse showed me her artwork from her next comic, Miner’s Mutiny, which she should have soon.
AdHouse Books returned to APE this year, bringing Adam Hines and his book Duncan the Wonder Dog. I picked up a copy; it’s a huge and mammoth volume that I’m looking forward to reading. I also have to give props to the folks at the Devastator table, whose excitement was infectious. I picked up the first volume and bought a subscription for the next three.
After an engaging spotlight panel, Daniel Clowes was signing at the Drawn and Quarterly booth, drawing a huge line of folks with everything from issues of Lloyd Llewellyn to his latest, Wilson, for him to sign. Renee French was close by, signing her latest, H-Day; we talked briefly about blogging (check out her always interesting sketch blog here).
It looks like rain today, so I should probably start making my way to the Concourse to see if I can get a better parking space …
There’s a horrific beauty to the art of Renée French. With her most recent work, H Day (published by Picturebox and set to ship on October 15), the beauty is built on pain, given that the book’s creation was partially fueled by French’s struggles with migraines. The last graphic novel that both challenged and engaged me in such a manner as H Day did is likely Joshua Cotter‘s Driven by Lemons. I’ve been interviewing French for a number of years, and I never tire of discussing her craft with her. Back when I last interviewed her, we briefly discussed a (then upcoming) project, Towcester Lodge, and I was glad to find out the fate of that project (as well as how H Day grew out of that creative effort). French is one of the special guests at this weekend’s APE 2010. My thanks to French for her time, and to Robot6 6’s own Sean T. Collins as well as Picturebox’s Dan Nadel for helping make the interview happen.
Tim O’Shea: How early in the development of H Day did you realize the bed scenes would play such a pivotal part?
Renée French: I’d been doing line drawings and diagrams of the inside of heads, sort of diagrams of the pain that comes with a migraine, and once I decided to try to draw the stuff I visualize when I’ve got a headache, (the city drawings) the diagrams progressed into the sequence that is in the book (the bed drawings). How confusing is that?
Goodness gracious, look at all the terrific titles that are on sale for $3 over at Top Shelf Productions’ website. That’s some 70 in all, including books by Alan Moore, Jeffrey Brown, James Kochalka, Scott Morse, Liz Prince, and Renee French. Another 30-plus comics and graphic novels are also on sale for suitably impressive amounts — the complete Lost Girls from Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie and the complete Alec: The Years Have Pants by Eddie Campbell may be purchased for just $25 and $20 respectively, for pete’s sake. Top Shelf’s $3 Sale lasts through Friday, September 24th, so get ‘em while the gettin’s good!
Before Halloween I posted a list of “Six Deeply Creepy Alt-Horror Cartoonists” as part of Robot 666’s week-long reign of terror. Well, these avatars of alternative comics’ dark side have been up to some interesting things lately. Feast your eyes on the latest enterprises of our strange sextet:
The Squirrel Machine‘s Hans Rickheit is selling original pages from his darkly erotic, Xeric-winning graphic novel Chloe. If you’re in the original art market you can buy them straight from the artist himself here; if you’d just like to take a gander at the book itself, you can buy it here. (And I recommend you do so.)
What do you think of when you think of horror comics? Vintage EC shockers, black-clad Vertigo occult titles, weird and wild manga, modern-day success stories like 30 Days of Night and Hack/Slash, or the mother of all zombie comics The Walking Dead? For my money, the most reliably disturbing and disquieting work in the genre over recent years has come from artists who produce what you’d consider to be “alternative comics.” These alt-horror cartoonists may not even think of themselves as horror-comics creators at all, eschewing as most of them do the rhythms and staples of conventional horror fiction. But by deploying altcomix’ usual emphasis on tone and emotional effect in service of dark and macabre imagery, their comics haunt me all the more.
So for my contribution to Robot 666’s daily horror-centric lists this week, I’m singing the praises of six talented alt-horror cartoonists. I could have listed quite a few more, mind you–some real giants of the field, including Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez, Charles Burns, Jim Woodring, and Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell have done tremendous work in this area. But for me right now, these were the six who demanded the spotlight.