Do you guys have any new books coming out? Seems like it's been a bit since you made any announcements.
Long answer: We do have a bunch of stuff we are working on. It’s one of those things where you spend a year working on a tightly planned and brutally effective schedule. And then god and publishers laugh at your schedules. I can say we are doing a lot of stuff in the second half of the year. More than that and I will be jeopardizing my life and yours.
We decided to not do the “best of 2013” list because 1) who cares what we think and 2) it is a very weird and arbitrary thing to do. Things that I loved in January now mean nothing to me. How one experiences and interacts with things should constantly change and evolve. A year end recap is just false sentimentality.
With that said I have seen the comics press make a lot of “talent to watch in 2014” lists that are complete bullshit. I am well aware that comics is a medium where even the people at the top only have a tenuous grip on either career or financial security. With that said, I think we can all agree that folks who are putting out 2-5 books a month at Marvel and/or DC are not “talent to watch”. They may be great comic creators but they pretty much have already “arrived” before now. With that in mind I made a short list of comic folks I think will be doing amazing things this year who you may not already be following. Every one of these creators is making the kind of books that will change and push the industry forward and they deserve to be household names. And if they get all the fame and credit they deserve then maybe comics press will put them on the “creators to watch in 2017” list.
I urge you to think about what new talent you are excited for in 2014 and try and spread the word about them. Comics is a small world and every little push helps keep the people you like in it. So, without further ado-
10. Gus Storms. Gus was one of our key artists on 12 REASONS TO DIE and is the artist on the new Image book EGOS. His work feels truly fresh while owing obviously to folks like Darrow and Moebius. It isn’t hard to imagine Gus as a very important artist in 2014 and beyond.
9. Curt Pires. Curt does what other writers either don’t bother to try or can’t do. He makes surreal and trippy books that read like real, human stories. His books THEREMIN and LP are both far better reads than they need to be.
8. Duffy Boudreau. BLACKACRE was a criminally under read book this year. Brimming with more heart, more smarts, and more story than most books ever even think about attempting. After you finish it you can just tell that the guy behind it has many more important stories to tell.
7. Sloane Leong. For a while I thought Sloane was the best kept secret in comics. Amazing artist, brilliant colorist, great mind for storytelling, and super funny and nice. Between her own prints, various mini-comics and shorts, and some high-profile coloring gigs I think she isn’t so much of a secret anymore. There are very few creators who continue to blow my mind and Sloane is definitely one of them.
6. Charles Forsman. This one may be a stretch. Charles Forsman has been doing some pretty awesome stuff in comics for a while now and should probably be in your library, but this year was unreal. As the head of OILY COMICS he obviously has my love for running one of the best publishers going right now. But his books THE END OF THE FUCKING WORLD and CELEBRATED SUMMER were amazingly good comics that manage to cut out all the bullshit and just tell great stories. TEEN CREEPS looks to be more of the same brilliance.
4. Michael Moreci. Mike may be the nicest guy in comics but that isn’t what puts him on this list. Even if he was a huge dick I would still have nothing but respect for his work. His book Hoax Hunters is one of those premises that you just fall in love with and he completely nails it, even with a brutally handsome bit of dead weight dragging him down in the co-writing department (what!? You got something to say, Seeley?). His name keeps popping up on exciting projects and he has some great stuff coming soon (CURSE from Boom! for one). If this guy isn’t brought in to reinvigorate a book at Marvel or DC this year then their editors are asleep at the wheel.
3. Jason Copland. Jason is the artist that every writer wants to make famous. Ask upcoming writers in comics and they probably have all approached Jason about doing a book. Landing firmly between Chris Samnee and Sean Phillips, Jason’s style is just classic enough to appeal to outsiders while stylized enough to make the savviest comic art snob drool. He gained some much needed attention by covering for Samnee on an issue of DAREDEVIL late last year. Here’s to hoping he doesn’t forget us little guys in 2014.
2. Ed Brisson. It is un-fucking-believable that Ed isn’t already a big shot in comics. His self published MURDER BOOK is one of the great crime comics OF ALL TIME! COMEBACK was brilliant sci-fi noir. SHELTERED is one of the most original comic ideas I have seen in years. He works with some of the best artists in the business, he comes up with amazing ideas and executes them even better, and he has a great Canadian accent. Stop sleeping on the dude and grab these books.
1. Frank Barbiere. Clearly one of the worst dudes in comics, so his meteoric rise to stardom in 2014 will only be that much more impressive. 2013 saw FIVE GHOSTS become a breakout hit that THE ONION and the NY TIMES named one of the best books of the year. 2014 will see his upcoming book THE WHITE SUITS make any respectable best of list. He has demonstrated that he is a master of smart, simple storytelling that does everything right. Add to that a plethora of really interesting looking Work For Hire projects and Frank is clearly going to be a creator to watch in 2014 despite being an awful person. Good for him. The world needs more good comics and Frank is on the forefront making that happen.
Other folks who have me really excited for comics in 2014- Chris Miskiewicz, Jeremy Holt, Johnnie Christmas, Ariela Kristantina, Ryan Lee, Chris Hunt, James Asmus, Ryan Ferrier, Barnaby Bagenda, Tyler Boss, Colin Lorimer, Ben Passmore, Nolan T. Jones, Matt Miner, Michel Fiffe, and Josh Bayer. GOOGLE THEM.
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.