I am already prepared to be getting very sick at NYCC like I do every year. That’s the bad news. The good news is we will be at NYCC in Artist Alley table CC2. We will have issues of 12 REASONS TO DIE, THE URN, and even a new issue of MENU!
Also we are sharing the table with our good buddy Duffy Boudreau who writes the excellent book BLACKACRE from Image Comics. So if you have copies bring them buy for him to sign. And if you don’t, 1) What the fuck is wrong with you? 2) He will have copies so bring money.
“The book is brutal and honest in its violence, just like the music of Wu-Tang, but, what sets it apart from other music and comics with similar themes is the unabashed joy and love of the medium that goes into making it…Twelve Reasons to Die is a sorely needed respite for fans who just want to immerse themselves in a great comic book and forget about 3D variant covers and marketing departments for a little while.”—I like The Outhousers a lot. It’s a comics and pop culture site that really relishes the idea of thinking for themselves and giving very few fucks. It is a remarkably fun take on comics journalism. So the fact that they took the time to show our book TWELVE REASONS TO DIE some love means a great deal.
“If you’re the type of person who likes linear storytelling spoon fed to you, 12 REASONS TO DIE might not be the comic you want to check out. 12 REASONS TO DIE is one of those books that assumes you’ve read a million and one of those types of book and might be looking for something a little more intellectually stimulating in terms of story. The story mapped out in this book is expansive, across decades, involving various characters of various types. It’s a gangster story. And a revenge tale. And a quest. And a horror yarn. It’s all of those types of tales all wrapped up in one little package.
Oh yeah, it’s also one hell of a read.”—Ambush Bug from Ain’t It Cool News shows our book some love. When you make a book, or record, or film, or whatever you have to brace yourself for press and the public to destroy your work. That either means thicken your skin or distance yourself from anything resembling giving a fuck. Obviously we don’t make art for critics. What they do and what we do are very different things and should always remain as separate as possible. However it’s hard to not find the love the comics press has shown our little book to be quite flattering. Thanks AICN. Y’all are the best.
“"I like this series and you can pretty much count on it being a fun read each month. It’s one of those series that could only exist as a comic and so they experiment with it and are pushing the boundaries of the medium which is a good thing."-Comic Bastards
"Brilliantly conceived, “12 Reasons To Die” #3 continues to be a creative tour-de-force of gore, satire, and crime. Ghostface Killah’s first foray into comics presents hardcore tales about racism, diversity, and social ethics. The “12 Reasons To Die” series delivers its message with a no-holds-barred attitude.”
Last day of Baltimore Comic Con. We’re at table A361 with Frank Barbiere who writes a comic called Five Ghosts or something. Come by our table and grab issues of Twelve Reasons To Die, Menu, The Urn, and… well Five Ghosts I guess. At least come say hi.
With the heartbreaking potential for war with Syria looming larger everyday I am regularly finding myself struggling with my perspective on things. The lottery system we are born into that is nationality, ethnicity, gender, and sexual identity means that there is almost always someone who has it much rougher than you. What you choose to do with this fact is a good determination of who you are as a person.
Obviously all pain and sadness is relative and, as it pertains to each individual, valid. I was heartbroken when my dog died earlier this year. It still pains me. In the global scheme of things (fuck it, even in the extremely local scheme of things) the death of a long lived and well loved dog is literally inconsequential. But to me it isn’t at all. Caring deeply about things that don’t really matter is the human experience I guess.
I left my decent paying but time consuming job in 2011 so that I could focus much more on writing comics along with my friend and cohort Patrick. Now both Patrick and myself come from the punk and hardcore communities. To a large part our lives spent in basements, vans, VFW halls, and shitty clubs has informed a good deal of who we are and what we believe up to this point, for better and for worse. I tend not to speak for Patrick for fear he will end up speaking for me, but I will say that when I entered into making comics it was with a strong desire to be a part of the comics community. In many ways now I am, and I’m extremely thankful for that. Maybe it’s the fact that I didn’t grow up in this community, maybe it’s a bad time to be in comics, or maybe I just haven’t found the right fit, but I don’t see the culture and community of comics offering me the same things that punk and hardcore always have. I could go on about all that but I am not here to bash comics. I love comics and the people who make them and support them. I just sometimes have a hard time figuring out why they matter.
One of the great inspiring moments in comics for me since I have been making them came from Syria though. Ali Farzat is probably the Arab world’s most prominent political cartoonist, often criticizing governments, police forces, and armies who prey on their own citizens. He is the head of Arab Cartoonist’s Association. His work has been published in dozens of languages, in countless magazines and newspapers. He was the publisher of popular Arabic satire magazine al-Domari until it was closed down. He received the Sakharov Prize for peace in 2011. Basically, he is a badass example of the power and importance of comics and cartooning around the world. In 2011, during the “Arab Spring”, Mr. Farzat’s work was often printed out and held up at protests in Syria to condemn Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. On August 25, 2011, forces loyal to president Assad pulled Mr. Farzat from his car, badly beating him, breaking both his hands, telling him he should never draw again, and finally leaving him unconscious in a ditch to die. He didn’t die though. He was found by passersby and taken to a hospital. It was reported at the time (although later aspersions were cast on the claim) that Mr. Farzat woke in the hospital, demanded a mirror, pen and paper, and, in direct defiance of the men who just tried to murder him, drew his own self portrait so the world could see his defiance.
I am not sure if he made the drawing or not and I don’t really care because the idea remains the same. A person who draws comics is a threat to governments, is an inspiration to people around the world, and is part of something so much bigger than just a person who draws comics. When Mr. Farzat left the hospital he immediately began working on political cartoons with renewed focus and vitriol. This is where my perspective comes into play. I spend a lot of time stressing out because this publisher won’t respond to my email, or that publisher hired someone who is far worse than me, or this journalist shat on my book. But none of that matters. At all. And that’s not just because people are being dragged from their cars and almost killed over comics. It’s because people are making comics that are important enough to warrant dragging them from their cars and almost killing them. People are making comics that are helping change the world.
My rambling point is I spend a lot of time reading comics. Some are brilliant, some are awful, most fall somewhere between. But I respect all of them (almost all of them) because I know the work and passion that went into getting them born into this world. When I read folks like Einser, Otomo, Spiegelman, Clowes, Ellis, Tezuka, Barry, Moore, Byrne, Sim, Morrison, Tardi, Pekar, Bendis, Bechdel, Kirby, Gaiman, Vaughan, Seth, or Brubaker it is overwhelming. Their work is equal parts the inspiration to stay up later, work harder, and be better as it the is nagging voice telling me to give up, stop trying, and recognize that there are always going to be people who runs laps around their peers. Most days I just want to be better, I want to contribute to the medium and elevate it in some small way. A great comic is a personal challenge.
Hearing Mr. Farzat’s story was the first time I wanted more though. Not just from myself, but from everyone. I wanted more from this whole thing we call a community, a medium, a business, and an art form. People out there are living and dying for comics, but more than that, their comics are worth living and dying for. I am not saying every book should be about overthrowing dictators, or exposing dirty cops, or fomenting revolution, or whatever. Make your book about magical fairies who are just like us, or a crazy new kind of bear, or a super hero in trouble for tax fraud, or a rapper who comes back from the dead to kill people, that’s all fine. Just make it matter. Don’t tow the line. Don’t aspire to be mediocre. Don’t play it safe. There’s not enough people reading comics or enough money being paid to make comics to make it worth making “safe” comics. The world is full of safe art. All of it sucks.
Most main stream comic creators were blessed enough to be born or live in countries where criticizing things isn’t likely to get you killed. Maybe for some that means it is less important to speak up and criticize things, but I don’t think it should. We have the privilege and perspective to see what other people are going through. Just because it doesn’t involve us directly doesn’t absolve us of our need to speak out and use our voices to say things that matter.
So I went to Three Kings Tattoo Shop in Brooklyn the other day and I got Jason Monroe to tattoo his own take on Mr. Farzat’s “self portrait” on my arm. It reminds me why I do this, why I am beyond lucky to be able to do this, and why I need to get over all the petty bullshit and make things worth making. Also, it’s an old guy in a hospital bed giving the finger, and that’s a pretty neat thing to always have on your body.
When asked why he continues to make political cartoons after his life was threatened, Mr Farzat said “I was born to be a cartoonist, to oppose, to have differences with regimes that do these bad things. This is what I do.” If that quote doesn’t inspire you to make better comics then I have no interest in reading your fucking comics.
This is a weird fucking question. First of all there are 2 of us, so I don’t know if you mean me or Patrick. Second of all neither of us is married so we don’t really have “mother-in-laws”. Third of all, why would we?
I have been with my girlfriend for a really long time so I guess some would consider her mom my mother-in-law. But no, I don’t really credit my success to her. I also don’t think we really have success yet, but if we did I would credit it to 50% raw talent, 20% insane perseverance, 20% dumb luck, and 10% sister-in-laws.
Listen to DRUG CHURCH's new album for free and then buy it for money.
For those of you that don’t know, the fine folks behind team Ashcan Press also do other shit that is also worth your money. For example some of you know that Patrick sings for post hardcore/indie rock/internet troll band SELF DEFENSE FAMILY (aka END OF A YEAR aka END OF A YEAR SELF DEFENSE FAMILY). Well he also sings for the band DRUG CHURCH who have a new record called “Paul Walker” out this week from NO SLEEP RECORDS. 10 songs that speculate on what very handsome and moderately talented actor Paul Walker may be doing at any given moment, you can stream the whole thing for free by clicking on this word.
If you dig bands like Seaweed, Quicksand, or Snapcase you should give it a try. If none of that means anything to you this record will just feel like a dude yelling at you about the guy from Fast & The Furious so you probably shouldn’t bother. If you do listen to it and you like it then buy the record so Patrick can make some money and invest it in dumb stuff.
If you are in SDCC today we are speaking on the Hip-Hop & Comics Panel. Room 30CDE at 7PM. Come hang with me, Jim Mahfood, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, Dan The Automator, Kid Koala, Adam Wallenta, and more. Should be fun… or weird.
I’m speaking on the COMICS & HIP-HOP panel toady at 3PM at Wizard World NY. Adam Wallenta, Ron Wimberly, and Jean Grae will also be speaking. Maybe some special guests too. I am hoping for Ralph Macchio. I have a lot of unanswered questions about My Cousin Vinnie.
A lot of folks have been saying their local comic shops sold out or never got TWELVE REASONS TO DIE #1, OCCUPY COMICS #1 & #2, or LIBERATOR #1. I am a big supporter of local comic shops and urge you to preorder your books through them. If your comic shop is doing you wrong then look around and find another one to support. If that isn’t an option or of interest to you, our awesome publisher BLACK MASK STUDIOS will sell books, digital copies, variants, and even merch directly to you. We want you people reading our books and we will do what we can to get them to you.
There is nothing I can add to the chorus of voices speaking about the loss of Kim Thompson. The Comics Journal and Fantagraphics were and are a major influence on us and almost everyone who values comics as an art form or as an important medium. He will be missed.
We were interviewed for Roll 20/The Orr Group’s podcast. We talk a lot about playing music, putting out records, playing rpgs, and a little about comics. Go listen to us ramble. Also, if you have any interest in tabletop gaming you should check out Roll 20. Definitely a brilliant idea.
Interesting footnote: I recorded this podcast from deep within the Ashcan Press bunker, hence the awesome sound quality.
The lovely gentlemen collectively known as iFanboy were awesome enough to host a preview of our book Twelve Reasons To Die. If you were on the fence you can go read some of it on their always awesome site. They also said “Add it to your pull list!” about our book. This is extra nice considering when we got hired on the book their advice was “Don’t fuck up.” Thanks Josh, Conor, Ron, & Paul!
"The components of the story, even after just one issue, are already lining up in my head as I try to figure out whats going to happen next. It’s an ingenious way of telling a tale, hopping around in time while slowly dropping hints and haunts of whats to come or whats come before. This is a dark violent comic with artists who clearly have a tight grasp on exactly what that means."- Bleeding Cool
“In the end, Twelve Reasons to Die is an ambitious and gorgeous comic that tantalizes readers while making them yearn for more. With over twenty artists collaborating on the project, each issue is going to be a shotgun to the face of drama and violence.”
Our book TWELVE REASONS TO DIE #1 is one of the picks of the week over at IGN.com. Trust them. They are good at this. “Combine The Crow with hip-hop, and I imagine you’d wind up with something close to 12 Reasons to Die.”