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Canadian customs has long had a reputation for being quick to seize any comics they find potentially obscene, and Tom Neely learned that the hard way this morning, as Canadian customs officers reportedly confiscated the five copies of the Black Eye anthology that he was bringing with him to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. Ryan Standfest, editor/publisher of Rotland Press + Comic Works, which publishes Black Eye, emailed Neely’s account of the incident to The Comics Journal:
… They took ‘em. I tried to get them to just ship them back to me at home, but they said they were required to send it to Ottawa for review… if they found the material to be ‘obscene’ they would take ‘further action.’ I asked what ‘further action’ meant and he said they would just destroy them. Or there is a chance they might ship them back to me.
Black Eye is an anthology of dark humor, which was funded in part by a Kickstarter campaign; apparently a page by singly named artist Onsmith is what first caught the customs officer’s eye. The book also contains work by Ivan Brunetti, Lilli Carré, and Paul Hornschemeier, among others, and essays by Jeet Heer and other luminaries, and an interview with Al Feldstein … it’s hard to argue that this anthology wouldn’t have redeeming features. Nonetheless, the customs agent wouldn’t let it through, and kept talking about “further action,” which certainly sounds ominous.
Although Neely seems to have been taken by surprise, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund issued an advisory just two months ago about taking comics across international borders.
And this certainly isn’t the first time this has happened. Continue Reading »
Back around Halloween ’09, I whipped up a little list of “six deeply creepy alt-horror cartoonists,” a list of modern masters of the macabre that included The Blot‘s Tom Neely and Ectopiary‘s Hans Rickheit. Now both artists are dealing with something even scarier than their comics: the economy. And both are looking for financial help to keep their projects going.
First up is Hans Rickheit, whose latest graphic novel The Squirrel Machine was published by Fantagraphics, and whose webcomic Ectopiary has had its praises sung by my colleague Brigid Alverson (among many others). Rickheit announced the other day that the business where he worked has closed down, leaving him without a job or income and forcing him to suspend production of Ectopiary indefinitely. “If you’ve ever considered buying any artwork or books,” he writes, “this would really be a very helpful time to do so.” You can buy pages from his Xeric-winning erotic-horror graphic novel Chloe here, pages from his steampunk-by-way-of-David-Cronenberg book The Squirrel Machine here, many of his comics direct from Rickheit himself here, or simply donate what you will here.
How’s this for a Valentine’s Day treat? In the slash-eriffic vein of Tom Neely and Igloo Tornado’s Henry & Glenn Forever — the surprise-hit minicomic that reimagined musclebound hardcore-punk progenitors Henry Rollins (Black Flag) and Glenn Danzig (The Misfits) as a happily cohabitating couple — comes Prison Pit troublemaker Johnny Ryan’s latest strip for Vice magazine, “Mark + Gary Forever.” For the New Wave-impaired, that’s Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh and synthpop icon Gary Numan, united by their shared sense of futuristic weirdness — and now, in Ryan’s comic, L-O-V-E. In a story drawing heavily from their biggest hits, “Whip It” and “Cars” respectively, Mark and Gary have a lovers’ quarrel over Gary’s profligate spending. Will they patch things up? Are they not men? Are “friends” electric? The answers to these questions and more await you at the link — and at the big Henry & Glenn Gang-Bang group art show and book signing at Los Angeles’ La Luz de Jesus Gallery this coming Friday, featuring contributions (some old, some new!) by the whole Igloo Tornado gang, plus Ryan, Jordan Crane, COOP, Kaz, Steven Weissman, Bald Eagles and many more. It’s the only way to live!
Move over, Rudolph and Charlie Brown: There’s a new Christmas cartoon classic in town. Exploding from the pages of Henry & Glenn Forever — the very very funny romance/gag-strip comic chronicling the eternal love between musclebound, black-clad hardcore progenitors Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig — comes the Henry & Glenn Forever X-Mas Special, an animated short by cartoonist and animator Tom Neely. Neely, who co-created Henry & Glenn Forever with fellow Igloo Tornado art-collective members Gin Stevens, Scot Nobles, and Dino Fucker, serves up a heartwarming tale reminiscent of O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi” — if, that is, “Gift of the Magi” included a visit from Black Santa and Krampus, a jam session with notorious Satanists Darryl Hall and John Oates, and an exchange of thong underwear and a book about Nazi werewolves, all in honor of the birthday of H.P. Lovecraft. It’s the perfect reminder that the Henry & Glenn Forever comic makes a great fishnet-stocking stuffer. Season’s greetings, you goddamn son of a bitch!
Alt-horror visionary Tom Neely — he of the much acclaimed, mostly wordless graphic novel The Blot — is at it again with another psychologically troubling take on the cartoon icons of the early 20th century. This time he’s putting Popeye through the paces in Doppelgänger, an action-packed reinterpretation of E.C. Segar’s sailor man. The book pits Popeye against his greatest enemy of all: himself. Multiple copies, in fact. It’s not Neely’s most overtly horrific work, to be sure, but doubles have been a staple of the uncanny for centuries (as Freud himself noted), and the scenes of Popeye and his duplicates assaulting one another evoke everything from Dead Ringers to 28 Days Later, all with impeccable linework that recalls the great master cartoonists of yore. You can order it through Neely’s I Will Destroy You imprint. Tastier than spinach and twice as good for you, folks!
Welcome to What Are You Reading?, where we give a great big hug to all the comics, graphic novels and what have you we’ve been reading lately.
To see what Ben and the Robot 6 crew have been reading recently, hit the link …
Welcome once again to What Are You Reading?, where you’ll hopefully find something to add to your summer reading list. Our guest this week is Chris Arrant, who you may know from his comic book journalism work for Newsarama, Comic Book Resources and various print magazines for Marvel Comics, or from his comic book writing, which includes Female Force: Princess Diana, Tori Amos’ Comic Book Tattoo and 24Seven Vol. 2.
To see what Chris and the rest of the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click the link below …
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
The Blot author and and illustrator Tom Neely is no stranger to the metal or the macabre, and he combines the two — with sexy results! — in this NSFW painting of Robert E. Howard’s Conan commissioned for an upcoming issue of Dark Horse’s Conan comic.
If you’d like to see more of this kind of thing by Neely, I don’t blame you; fortunately, he’d like to do more of it. Says Neely: “I had a ton of fun drawing this and it kinda makes me wanna do more of this kind of illustration work… That’s a big hint to all you editors out there! Why hasn’t anyone asked me to do something for Marvel’s Strange Tales? Or a cover for the newly revived Creepy Comics? Or anything else… Hire me people!” Listen to the man, folks.
A pair of off-the-beaten-path comics have surfaced over the past few days that are perfect for readers who like their comics with a pop-cultural flair. First up, there’s Henry & Glenn Forever, a collection of romantic one-panel gags starring those famous star-crossed lovers, Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig. If you’ve ever wanted to know how the lead singers of Black Flag and the Misfits would maintain a relationship in the face of interference from their Satan-worshipping next-door neighbors Darryl Hall and John Oates, now’s your chance. Henry & Glenn Forever comes to us from Igloo Tornado, a collective consisting of The Blot‘s Tom Neely and his artistic compatriots Gin Stevens, Scott Nobles, and Levon Jihanian, and it’s available for $4 from Microcosm.
Sniff, sniff — is that bacon I smell? It’d better not be! The Blot cartoonist Tom Neely provided this Dragnet-inspired t-shirt design for The Vegan Police, a Canadian college/community radio show dedicated to veganism, animal rights, and music made by vegan and vegetarian artists.
The shirts are just $20 Canadian plus shipping. Best of all, $10 per shirt goes directly to the Ruby Ranch Pig Sanctuary, an Ontario home for pigs raised as pets or on petting zoos but discarded by their owners when they got too big or too old. Now that’s something to oink about!
T-shirts may be purchased by emailing, or sending the funds via PayPal, to theveganpoliceradio @ gmail dot com. Click the link for more info on sizing and such.
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.)
I’ll see your miniature Marvels by Zack Soto and raise you Tom Neely’s Corpse Paint Post-It Portraits, a series of tiny oil-paint pen pictures of metal musicians known for sporting pancake make-up. Like Soto’s series, these were created for Giant Robot’s 4th annual Post-It show, featuring sticky little art by Jeffrey Brown, Jaime Hernandez, Paul Hornschemeier, Johnny Ryan, Hellen Jo, Lilli Carre, Anders Nilsen, Eleanor Davis, Vanessa Davis, Matt Furie, Nicholas Gazin, Leif Goldberg, Tim Hensley, and dozens of other artists. (Hey, when they’re drawing that small, you can fit plenty!) I got a feeling we’ll be seeing plenty of post-it posts before all is said and done. (Via Neely’s blog)
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.
Tom Neely (The Blot) and Hellen Jo (Jin and Jam) have an exhibition of horror-themed work up at the Grass Hut Gallery in Portland. If you can’t go though, you can see some of the work on display by going here and here (note: some of these images are a tad gruesome and may be NSFW) (link: Sean Collins)