Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sailing takes me away

Right? I mean, who doesn't love Christopher Cross? Ok, quick update and some thoughts. The first is, I completed my interview with Jeffrey Brown and it was really good. Jeff's a super nice guy, who really works his butt off and believes in his work. I did a second interview with Joe Chiappetta, and that was ALSO great. Joe's a super nice guy who's been doing comics as long as John P. (they were old college buddies).

One of the big things that has been circling my brain, vis-a-vis this whole project, is the notion of quality. All of the cartoonists I've been talking to are really focused on putting out the highest quality work. I know this seems to be a no brainer, but if you consider that we're talking about zines and/or minicomics -- a field where someone can draw, copy, and staple an issue in a day if so inclined -- then quality really does matter.

Not to mention that we're talking about a small small market. I'm really starting to think I need to talk to some of the business insiders. Obviously, the Drawn and Quarterly folks who put out John's books (hopefully going to rock a Montreal trip this summer), but also would be good to meet with some folks from bigger publishing houses.

I got some good feedback on directions for the film/villains/etc. both from emails and comments. All of it's super helpful. One of the neat parts of this whole thing is sort of unwinding the story I'm going to tell about John P. and King Cat, and which corners we'll duck down and which we'll walk by. So keep the suggestions coming! Click on the profile section to contact me.

We (Crystal and I) are in Michigan right now, taking a short break for a Casiotone show, and headed back to Chicago today, where I'll have more time to do some editing/transferring of tapes, and I'll have some neat Jeffrey Brown and Joe C. clips to put up by Monday.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

There's a Lot on the Plate

Was a productive weekend, with a lot of time spent learning how to utilize Final Cut Pro. Ultimately, the best part of the weekend was just the realization that this whole project CAN be done, and I can do it, though it will take some time. As with anything good, it's a learning process.

Beyond that, I'm getting some interview set up with Laura Mars & Don Ogilvie, two folks that used to play in bands with John. I'm really excited about getting into that stuff a little more, as I want this project to really reach out beyond King Cat.

My interview with Jeffrey Brown has been pushed back to Thursday of THIS week, which I'm still pretty excited about. Beyond that I need to do some more work with Joe Chiappetta, which I'm hoping to set up today.

In the 'big news' category, I sent off a request to Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang of Damon & Naomi and Galaxie 500, and requested the use of both D/N and G500 songs in the project. I got a lovely note back from Damon saying it sounded like a good project, he was excited about it, and would be happy to have D/N music in there, and pointed out that G500 stuff might be too expensive (when I explained our shockingly limited budget).

I was really psyched on that tidbit. Today, I'm going after some of the other big guns -- Husker Du, Flipper, Minor Threat/Fugazi, and Yo La Tengo. As I've (I think) said before, the goal is to have music that a) was in some way influential to John/King Cat but also b) music that is in keeping with the independent spirit of the zine/minicomic scene. For instance, the Husker Du stuff I'm going to be asking about will I think, be the pre-Warner's stuff they put out on SST.

I am getting very excited for the trip. This film needs motion -- right now it's a bunch of 40 year old dudes sitting around going, 'yah, John P rules' which, while I agree with the sentiment, can't be the WHOLE movie, or well, we'll be the only ones who watch it. I also need to get some WOMEN in the project.

So far I've asked seven women to participate, and sadly four have turned me down -- all saying it was a good project, but no time/dislike of cameras/etc. etc. It's an interesting thing because a subtlety of this project would be to show the egalitarian-nesss of whole minicomic/zine community, but, well, so far it's more white and male than Congress.

As for my 'need for a villian' there's a good comment about using John's illness -- which is basically the plan at this point. We'll see!

What else? I believe that's it. In terms of 'other projects', Kilgore Books and Comics is still working to figure out entering the publishing world by putting out Blammo # 5 by Noah Van Sciver, and I've started putting together issue two of the KBC zine. After getting some rather... intense... feedback from a comic master, I really want to make sure that one comes out right.

I know that this is a blog about the making of Root Hog, but that other stuff will slip in occasionally -- hope y'all don't mind.

As for clips -- I spent the weekend working on actually putting various clips together, and as I MAY end up using some of them for the opening and closing credits, I don't want to spill too much by posting them here. Once I get some more 'b-roll' or throwaway footage, I'll put it up.

People have said they're (again) unable to load the clips, which is frustrating, so I may upload them to YouTube and then embed them here -- assuming I find the time somewhere.

Oh, yah, the other big thing I've been working on is hand lettering the credit sequences. Duh. To the left is the first one, penciled.

Below is the copy of the NY'er I ever so fanboyishly asked Chris Ware to sign for me at Francoise's talk last week:

I do believe that's it for now folks. More to come over the next couple of days.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Casting Call: Need a Bad Guy

No clip today sorry gang. I did get to attend the Francoise Mouly talk at CCC last night, and it was pretty cool to sit two rows behind Chris Ware and Ivan Brunetti. I wanted to post a couple interesting thoughts.

A. Ms. Mouly talked quite a bit about 'making objects' and how the intention with RAW was to have an OBJECT vs. the Crumb ethic of 'print a million shitty copies and get 'em into people's hands'. What's interesting to me vis-a-vis King Cat is how John makes beautiful objects that actually ARE disposable. I've always liked that in his self published comics, he foregoes printing histories.

B. Chris Ware likes to cuss. I heard him say 'shit' 'douche' and 'fuck'. Pretty funny. I introduced myself to him, and said, 'yeah I'm the guy doing the John P. doc who's been harassing you'. He was friendly and polite about it, though I doubt I'll be getting an email from him any time soon inviting me out to the Acme HQ.

C. When I chatted with Francoise, I mentioned John P. and the documentary and she was at least familiar with it, which is a good start. We'll see where it goes.

In other news, I've started worrying that I don't have enough of a villain/conflict. What I mean is, John's a good person who makes great comics. Sure, there's some weird stuff about him, but as he himself will point out, he's not a scumbag.

Remember Crumb (movie, not guy)? There were people talking about what a supreme jerk Crumb is. Then you meet his family and go, 'well, he's not assaulting women on the street, sooooo....'.

At the same time, that's a bit of my point. Here's a guy making honest, accessible, beautiful art, yet who is known to a couple thousand people.

Anyway, that's enough of that for now. Hopefully going to do some good editing this weekend --- therefore not likely to post til Monday, but hopefully then with something interesting. We'll see.

In the mean time, I picked up Zak's 'Like a Dog' from Fantagraphics. It's great.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Changing Notions of Quality

Things keep moving along, that's for sure. Heard back from Francoise Mouly's assistant who said she won't have time for an interview while in Chicago. Not exactly surprising, but a bit of a bummer. It is interesting to start to see (and feel) the different stratification within the cartooning world. There's the populists, the socialists, the brahmans, and on and on.

I've finished importing all the interviews, which is good. It will be exciting to really get a chance to start playing around with editing John P. clips with interviewee's thoughts and so on, though it might have to wait until this weekend or Monday to really get into it.

The interview with Jeffrey Brown got bumped into next week again -- not surprising, as he really is one of the hardest working guys in the field with non-stop projects. Add to that a sick kid, and it's a recipe for interview postponement. He's always been super friendly and nice though, so I do look forward to sitting down with him.

In the 'wicked exciting news' category, I went to the bookstore yesterday to get some postcards to send to people who've done interviews so far, and guess who works there? Lilli Carre! Yah, it was a really great, funny, and slightly awkward meeting (awkward on my part because at first I didn't recognize her name). I told her about the film project, and she seemed excited, so I was going to go back today and see if she'd do an interview.

Lastly, today's clip is Ivan Brunetti talking a little bit about obscurity/popularity and the great equalizer of the internets. I've mostly been posting funny little outtakes, but this was a thought provoking piece of commentary, and I thought good to include it too so people don't just think I'm doing a comedy here.

In the 'funny news' category, this clip also marks Chris Ware's appearance in the film. Sort of. Chris, as you can imagine, has a tremendously busy schedule, and isn't available for an interview while I'm in Chicago. (ed. note -- I have the impression he has become -- whether he wants it or not -- the national poster boy for independent cartooning for folks not super into comics.As such, I'm sure he's deluged with requests every day, and I can certainly understand not being able to take each and every one on.)

But, he and Ivan are friends, and you'll see on the wall behind Ivan the original artwork for one of Mr. Ware's Rusty Brown strips. I should add, Ivan's office was really a dream for nerds like me. Julie Doucet drawing, Archer Pruitt s/n poster, not to mention scads of his own random doodles on loose pages across his desk. Anyway, enough with the fanboy crap, on to the clip:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

If nobody hears us, then how will they know who to blame?

For the last three days I've been listening almost non stop to Zak Sally's Fear of Song. If you don't have a copy, you should get one. For you collector weirdos out there, it's all handmade, signed, numbered (edition of 900). For those of you who just like amazing music, it's, well, fantastic. It sounds like Fugazi, if you weren't cowering just a little bit out of fear that Ian and/or Guy were going to yell at you and pay you to leave. Like they were your friends. Your noisy, slightly vulnerable friends.

Ok, second plug. Francoise Mouly is giving a (I think/hope) free lecture Thursday night at Columbia College Chicago. From their website:
When: Thursday, February 18, 6:30 pm
Location: Hokin Auditorium, Rm. 109, 623 S. Wabash Ave

A reception will take place immediately after the event in the A+D Gallery.
Fran├žoise Mouly (born 1955) is a Paris-born French artist and designer best known for her work with RAW, a showcase publication for cutting edge comic art (edited by Mouly and her husband, Art Spiegelman), and as art editor of The New Yorker, a position she has held since 1993. In 2008, she launched Toon Books, a series of hardcover comics for children.
I'm going to be there. Ivan B. will be there. Should be a blast, but more importantly, I'm going to try to do a short (5-10m) interview with her about John P., and of course, in my fantasy of fantasies, we'll see a King Cat NY'er cover before year's end. Highly unlikely, but without dreams and fantasies.......

The interview with Ivan yesterday was a real treat. I've been a fan of his work for years, and it was great to see a) what a fan he is himself, and then at the same time b) how lucky he believes he is to be able to do the work that he does. Hopefully I'll post clips tomorrow of that one.

Today's clip is from the chat with Zak in the La Mano HQ. We were talking about how John has gotten back into doing some distro stuff via Spit and a Half, and how I was ordering some King Cats for the shop from him, when he kind of casually mentioned distributing for La Mano. I pointed out that as a comics shop, we'd love to carry it, which elicited the following response from Zak:

What's happening the rest of this week. First off, there's the Jeffrey Brown interview. I've been friendly with Jeff since I met him at the 2002 or 2003 SPX in San Francisco, and over the years we've traded a few letters/emails, etc. He designed a couple of bookmarks for Kilgore -- which we turned into shirts -- and has generally just been a great guy. I'm pretty excited to interview him to get the perspective of someone younger than John who's more directly influenced by him. Zak/Mr. Mike/Joe C. are all friends/contemporaries of Johns, and Ivan is in the colleague/friend category, whereas I think Jeff will be more straight up fan.

Then there's the Francoise Mouly lecture tomorrow which should be fun, and then there's the ongoing battle of transferring tape -- WHICH I'VE STARTED WINNING!!!!

That's right, after two grueling weeks of trying to figure out this god damn tape transfer problem -- where the audio would jump out of sync with the video during transfer, rendering footage unusable -- I feel I've gotten at least a patch job figured out.

Oh, and I had a dream two nights ago that Los Bros Hernandez were making fun of me for not getting interns. We were hanging out in the 'Hernandez Bros Compound' on all these weird 60's lounge chairs and couches -- really LOUNGING, splayed across the furniture -- when they kept repeating, 'you don't have ANY interns?!? You need like three or four, at LEAST!'

Til tomorrow, or the day after. Or the one after that....

PS -- Couldn't help but use one of Zak's lyrics (from the song 'Corpsegrinder') as the title. All rights reserved or something.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Life of an Unrepentant Fanboy

All right, I've got a little more time, and a silly clip, and thought I should update on progress.

First of all, I had the pleasure of driving down to Mt. Holly, Minnesota to interview Mr. Mike. Mt. Holly is a small town nestled into Shokopee MN. That is, Mr. Mike actually started a town. There are currently four residents -- Mr. Mike, his very friendly wife Tammy, and two children. Also two cats, Simon & Simon. I asked, and yes, they're named after the 80's brothers-as-private-eyes-and-womanizer TV show. Hot Damn!

I was nervous to do this interview, and literally had no idea what to expect. In my head, for some reason, I pictured a lumber-jack looking guy. Six or so feet tall, huge beard, wild mannerisms, crazy eyes, etc. When I came in I discovered a pleasant man eating cereal, Nikki McClure prints on the wall, and the most tastefully decorated, 1950/60's vintage house I've seen since Leave it to Beaver. I relaxed, and had a great ninety-some minute conversation with Mr. Mike about many things under the sun, with a heavy focus on John P.

One part I found really interesting was how Mr. Mike seemed to find it a little strange to be talking ABOUT John. A few times he would describe John's work/lifestyle in perfectly succinct ways, only to stop himself and remark, 'yeah, but we're old friends, I'm not an expert or anything'. Think about doing an interview about one of your 20-year friendships -- it'd be a little strange, right?

The stuff I loved about Mr. Mike was when I asked what he did. He went on to explain that he tried to simply incorporate the values he, John, Zak, and hundreds of others internalized as youth -- do right by yourself, do right by others, don't fuck anybody over. So his house (Mt. Holly) was a work of art. The icehouse in his driveway was a work of art. The Mt. Holly paper (put out by La Mano) is a work of art.

The thing I love about this whole damn generation of guys is the belief that your life and work and your beliefs are all intertwined.

After chatting with Mr. Mike -- who filled me up with my first pot of delicious french press coffee since leaving Denver in January -- I headed back up to Minneapolis, picked up Crystal, then on to the La Mano HQ on the north side of town to meet up with Zak.

I was pretty nervous about hooking up with Zak. This guy runs his own press. He puts out amazingly beautiful and fucked up comics. He's played in multiple amazing bands. The talent and creative energy in this guy, well, let's just say I was a little fumbly at first. Zak put me right at ease as soon as he demonstrated his respect and love for John P. I quickly realized, 'hey wait, this guy's just like me! we're both fanboys!'

The Le Mano HQ was like a weirdo's fantasy world. Printing press (Maisie), stacks of comics and books all over the place, the aforementioned bass guitar, a work table, and a back room where two whole walls were filled, top to bottom, with the original artwork for Sammy the Mouse 3, which Zak had finished the night before. There were weird lights, empty boxes, Kim Deitch artwork, just anything you could want.

I can't describe how beautiful it was.

Again I spent a good ninety minutes talking with Zak about John P., zine and music culture, Mr. Mike, and most things under the sun. It was really great, and in the end I realized how lucky these three guys were to have not just found each other, but stayed in touch through the years, and how in may ways they're living out three different versions of the same life, which is truly interesting.

As I drove away from the cities, I kept saying to Crystal, 'we've got to come back and do a documentary on THEM!'. Which, kidding aside, would be pretty interesting.

I need to get to (other) work right now, so I'll post my little Mr. Mike clip (with one of Zak coming tomorrow) and try to write up more later on the actual 'log' aspect of filming. Really fun techie stuff.

Oh, and in two hours I'm interviewing Ivan, so I'll try to get some stuff up on that soon too. Also, my thoughts from the Joe Chippetta interview last week. Busy busy busy.

PS -- If I haven't mentioned this, you should go to and buy a bunch of stuff. Zak's press really puts out amazingly beautiful books -- at the most ridiculously fair prices you can imagine -- really, great stuff, and supporting a wonderful guy.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mt. Holly or Die!

Just got back from the weekend in the cities where I had the incredibly wonderful pleasure of interviewing both Mr. Mike and Zak Sally. As we speak, I'm transferring footage of the interviews (so no clips just yet) which means I can't really write up full thoughts on the weekend (sadly, the ole MacBook pro can't do TOO much at once).

I will say one of the brilliant parts of the weekend was getting to see/hang out in the Le Mano HQ in Minneapolis and right off the bat kicking over Zak's bass with my big old clod hoppers. D'oh! That's it for now -- though as a teaser, I'll definitely be posting a couple tidbits from the interviews tomorrow, along with some classic old John P. photos the great Mr. Mike loaned me for the project.

Sorry I'm too tired/busy to write up full thoughts, but head is swimming, and I'm hungry so y'all will have to wait until tomorrow. Afternoon, at that, as I'm meeting up with Ivan Brunetti in the am. Rough life, right?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Just a Wee One Today

Half way from Chicago to Minneapolis to interview Zak and Mr. Mike. Stopped over at Wisconsin Dells. That's right, indoor water slide in Wisconsin, in February. What a country!

Did interview with Joe Chiappetta today -- truly a sweet and gracious man whose input will certainly add to the project. I hope to have a clip up tomorrow or the next day from him. In the meantime, a couple pics of my 'travelin rig' will have to suffice -- thanks to my lady friend for providing the bright strap and guitar bag. Thanks hon!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

In Which an Homage is Made to Hitchcock, and our Subject Takes the Pause that Refreshes

Have a handful of thoughts running around my head today. Finally picked up a copy of 'Ho!', the new Ivan Brunetti collection so that if he asks in our interview whether I've read his new book I can honestly say 'yes', though a lot of it is stuff I've seen before.

A little more amazing is this week's New Yorker cover set which includes one from Clowes, one from Ware, one from Tomine, and one from Brunetti -- and it's the anniversary cover, so, you know, good work Francoise.

In prepping some notes for the interview with Ivan, I keep having to stop myself from writing down questions like, "How did you end up a professor doing NY'er covers while John toils away in (relative) obscrurity?" Obviously I mean no offense to Ivan, whose work I adore, it's just a hard question to ignore -- sadly it's also hard to ask without sounding like a dick, which I'm trying to avoid.

Anyway, I'm excited to go pick up the issue, and keep prepping notes. I'm also set up to interview Joe Chiappetta (Silly-Daddy) tomorrow, which I'm excited about. I dig his silly comics about being a daddy, and he's known John for a while.

I heard from Britta, of Dean & Britta and Luna who said we could license some stuff if we want. This should be fun, as I've never licensed anything! I want the soundtrack of the film to be largely independent music, wherein the artists and I can come to an easy agreement, and not have to deal with larger entities, like Elektra Records. So, we'll see where that gets us.....

Today's clip comes from a signing John P. and Noah VS went to at 'I Want More Comics' in Westminster, CO awhile back. In it, I make an appearance, something I'm unlikely to do in the finished project. Noah is selling two copies of one of his comics, and need to make change for a $10. He's got two ones on him, and needs a third. Watch John deftly avoid the 'do you have a dollar question' and our director make a heroic save.

Then it caps off with John enjoying a Coke -- something he rarely does given his very specific diet, the result of severe illness a few years back. I'm showing this clip to demonstrate the abject poverty cartoonist endure (Noah) along with John's excellent sense of humor, which I think most people may not realize exists given that he often does high-falutin' comics about monks. Enjoy:

On a final note, I'd like to say that the quality of these clips is lower than what we'll see in the finished project, which is why I'm sharing a lot of them here -- it's pretty likely this stuff would only end up on a bonus disc, but there's some neat stuff I thought folks would like to see.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

It Won't Be Painful

I'm not going to guarantee a clip every day, but I gotta hook you folks in somehow, so here's a teaser. It's John hanging out in Dailey Park in Denver with cartoonist friend Noah Van Sciver (Blammo, Four Questions, etc.) talking a little bit about his OCD and the lost artwork from King-Cat Comics & Stories #60:

A lot of the little clips I'll be posting will be footage that doesn't end up in the film, as I've upped the production value so we won't have the background noise like geese, cars, and children.

So far this week is shaping up pretty well. Interviews lined up with loads of folks, but in the 'exciting news' category, I spoke with Jeffrey Brown yesterday, and we're going to get together next week to chat, and Owen Ashworth -- the fellow behind Casiotone for the Painfully Alone -- said that he's be happy to help out with music in the project.

Ever onward and upward!

BTW: I'm not sure why the video from yesterday isn't appearing -- maybe it's just me. Who knows?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Here Goes Somethin'

Hello world. It's getting to the point where enough people know about this, and I've spent enough money, that it's time to be a little more frank, a little more public. I'm making a documentary. About John Porcellino, creator of King-Cat Comics and Stories. Tentatively, I'm going with 'Root Hog' or 'Root Hog or Die: Ballad of the King Cat

I'll intend this blog to be a place to post random clips to tantalize you, as well as a place to keep a journal of the project's progress, for those of you who care enough to tune in. Today I'm including a great clip of John filmed at Ruby Hill in Denver a couple weeks ago, when he was feeling a wee bit sassy.

Right now, I'm about ready with everything I need to really get the job done. I've got about 10 hours in the can of basic stuff -- interviews with John and such. The other day I picked up a decent shotgun mic to use as a boom, and got FIFTY mini dv tapes. With the camera (the trusty Canon XL1) and my clamp light, I'm an unstoppable filming machine.

In a couple days (Friday) I'll be interviewing Joe Chiappetta (Silly Daddy) Then, this weekend I'll be heading up to Minneapolis with my lady friend to interview the great Zak Sally and the great Mr. Mike. Then next week I've got Ivan Brunetti lined up, and later today I'm (hopefully) setting up my interview with Jeffrey Brown.

So that's that, for now. Hit me up if you've got ideas, thoughts, or comments. Definitely hit me up if you've got any footage or info on the great John P.