Photo by Emilia Kaczynski
I wrote a bit about Handle With Care already. A little while ago, I was able to dispatch a reporter to the exhibition to document the exhibition before it closed. The intrepid reporter was my little sister, Emilia. She just happened to be in Paris studying all things French and she volunteered to go on a fact finding mission to Montauban. Undeterred by the six hour train ride (one way!) she brought back volumes of photographs of the exhibition. After seeing this virtual walk through I’m even more impressed by the breadth and depth of the exhibition. Bravo Laurent! Take a look.
On Saturday (Oct. 24th) John Porcellino arrived in Minneapolis to promote his new King Cat collection, Map of My Heart. He rode in on a weird wind charged with spectral energies. The evening started out at Big Brain Comics, where John Porcellino & Zak Sally held a joint signing. Perhaps the ectoplasmic currents were stirred by the eerie juxtaposition of two old friends publishing work from roughly the same time period. Sally’s Like a Dog and Porcellino’s Map of My Heart exhume old material, reopen old wounds and release the ghosts of the past… ghosts which still haunt both authors… ghosts which haunted the small gathering that convened at the West Bank Social Center to see John speak about his life and work.
Zak Sally roused the poltergeist by a spirited reading of an epic letter (penned by Mr. Mike) from John’s book. As if ordained by malicious spirits, the overpowering sound of a brass band emanated from the floor the moment John took the stage to speak. Undeterred he pressed on struggling against the powerful oompa rhythms which permeated the air. I detected a presence in the room… was it the absence of Maisie Kukoc? As he read from the book and illuminated the comics with stories of his health struggles and divorce a change started taking place in the general mood. John no longer labored against the brass cacophony, just the opposite, it became the soundtrack to an exorcism. The painful memories of past struggle transformed via the alchemy of King Cat into a personal lapis philosophorum.
I took only a few pictures. They can be seen in my Flickr stream. Ghosts are difficult enough to capture on film. Are digital pixels a better medium? But the presence of ghosts can be detected by the eerie juxtapositions they leave behind.
At the end of the event, we learned that the artists who run the West Bank Social Center were about to embark on a ghost finding experiment by constructing a giant cardboard Ouija Board. I think their efforts were successful.
L.A. Diary by Gabrielle Bell
A confluence of events almost as portentous as the alignment of the sun and the galactic center heralding the uncertain events of 2012 have caused the Rain Taxi Book Festival and Fallcon to share the same moment in time if not the same space. Both events will compete for your attention between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday, Oct 10th) and I will attempt to have a table at both. At the Rain Taxi event, I (as Uncivilized Books) will be sandwiched between Big Brain Comics and Zak Sally’s La Mano Books. Several great authors are scheduled to appear (Nicholson Baker, Lorrie Moore, Andrzej Zagajewski, etc.) but the main event as far as I’m concerned will be cartoonist Gabrielle Bell. In addition to gracing the Book Festival, Gabrielle teamed up with Uncivilized Books to produce a special mini-comic: L.A. Diary. The comic is a collection of diary strips published on her blog. It also contains sketches and an unfiltered glimpse at her real sketchbook diary. We also teamed up on a small Gocco print (pictured below). They will both be available for sale at the Rain Taxi festival and eventually next week copies will be made available online. Of course my comics will be available for sale as well, including the recently released Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009.
Meanwhile, I will also be tabling at Fallcon (Peter Bagge will be there!). On Saturday my presence will be limited, but on Sunday I will be joined by Gabrielle Bell and we will have her above mentioned mini-comic (and print) for sale in addition to my usual junk. Stop by and say hi!
Silver Gocco print by Gabrielle Bell
I came to the United States From Poland in 1987. I’ve traveled back to the home country a few times over the last couple of decades. A few days ago I had a different kind of homecoming. I was interviewed for the first time by the Polish comics community. The brief interview is now posted, along with a few pages of my comics, on the Aleja Komiksu site.
If you read Polish the rest of the Aleja Komiksu site is well worth checking. I especially recommend the extensive interview with Andrzej Klimowski, one of the most interesting figures in British comics. English speakers aren’t completely left out. The site posted a survey of recent comics by young British cartoonists. Take a look.
To celebrate this virtual homecoming, I’m posting one of my first ever comic-books. It may not be THE first comic, but it’s certainly the first total package: a stapled pamphlet, complete with a logo and print run number (it was customary for the print run to be listed on books in Poland at the time – in this case the print run was 1). I was 11 when I made this.
Click to enlarge
Sometime in the late 90’s, only a few years after I started self-publishing mini-comics, I got my first order from France from someone named Laurent Parson. Over the next decade he would keep ordering the odd mini-comic that I’d happened to be selling on my site. Then a few weeks ago he asked me to participate in a “DIY” comics exhibition that was going to take place at the library where he lived. How could I say no? After a few weeks of emails and idea exchanges I finally sent my artwork to Montauban, the location of the exhibition. Now the show is up and open to the public. It’s called Handle With Care and features the work of several American cartoonists & zinesters: Ron Rege Jr., Jordan Crane, Mark Burrier, Aaron Cometbus, John Porcellino, Minnesota’s own Vincent “King Mini” Stall, JP Coovert and many others.
A still from video about the exhibiton.
The exhibition will be on display for the next seven weeks at the Biblioth√©que de Montauban. From what I can tell it looks fantastic. Take a look at this video. It’s a dizzying array of art and objects. It simply looks amazing. I wish I could go see it for myself. The video has the added benefit of featuring Laurent talking about the show. I don’t understand a word of it, but I can finally put see the face behind all the emails and letters he’s sent over the last decade.
More about the exhibition here and here (PDF 1.8 MB).