Tuesday, October 21, 2014

So, you'd like to watch 'Root Hog or Die'?

Well it's super easy to do, and you have two options:

1. THE DVD - $15 and you can buy it at the Kilgore Shop. This comes with about 100 minutes of 'extra's only available on the DVD, and an 8-page comic done by John P. just for the DVD release.

2. STREAM/DOWNLOAD - for $5 you can stream or download it here. Doesn't come with the extra stuff, but hey, it's still a 104 minute movie. That's a lot of John P. for $5.

And, if you want to read up on the movie a bit, The Comics Journal did a review here. Thanks The Comics Journal!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New John P. Stuff

Ok, if you haven't checked out the preview for 'The Hospital Suite', then I don't know what's wrong with you. It's so so good. Secondly, John's posted dates for the fall tour and here they are:

Dates with an * are where he'll be screening the film as well. Unless I screw everything up, we'll also have DVDs for sale online and at all dates. Oh, and hopefully I'll be joining him for parts of the tour. We'll see!

TUES 9/16: TORONTO, ON, Beguiling @ Bloor Theatre* 
WEDS 9/17: MONTREAL, QC, Librairie D+Q*
TH-F 9/18-19: WRJ, VT, Center for Cartoon Studies*
SAT 9/20: PROV., RI, Ada Books @ Cable Car Cinema*
SUN 9/21: BROOKLYN Book Festival @ Spectacle Theatre*
T-W 9/23-24: ROCHESTER NY, Monroe Community College*
THURS 9/25 PITTSBURGH, PA, Copacetic @ Harris Theatre*
FRI 9/26: COLUMBUS OH, Billy Ireland Library, OSU*
SAT 9/27: CHICAGO, IL, Quimby’s*

FRI 10/3: NASHVILLE, TN, Watkins College of Art and Design*
SAT 10/4: NASHVILLE, TN, Handmade and Bound Festival
SUN 10/5: BLOOMINGTON, IN, Boxcar Books*
10/17-19: CHICAGO, IL, Multiples Festival  

SAT 11/8: MILWAUKEE, WI, Milwaukee Zine Fest
SAT-SUN 11/15-16: SEATTLE, WA, Short Run Festival, Seattle @ Central Cinema*
MON 11/17: PORTLAND, OR, Reading Frenzy @ Hollywood Theatre*
WEDS 11/19 SAN FRANCISCO, CA, Cartoon Art Museum*
MON 11/24: LAWRENCE, KS: Wonder Fair*
TUES 11/25: ST. LOUIS, MO, Enamel Gallery*

Friday, July 18, 2014

Quick update

1. Still trying to get 'Kids Don't Follow' cuz I love that scene of John singing along to it.

2. Can use some Galaxie 500, but it's not cheap -- well, I'm sure it IS cheap, but compared to my micro budget -- it'll cost almost as much to use one song as it did for the camera and mice I bought. Yeeesh! (pronounces 'yes-sh' with a long 'e' like in 'she' or 'he', not 'yesh' as in 'yes')

3. Heard back from Bruce Loose! Pretty wild in and off itself. Said if it were up to him he'd be fine for free, but there's lawyers and bandmates, so.....I'm waiting to hear back on that.

4. I told John I'd have a workable 50 minute thing by next week. So, I will. Up at five again!

5. Going to launch a Kickstarter shortly. One of the awards will be original artwork from people 'covering' a King-Cat cover. Check out this beaut Jeffrey Brown put together on the same day I asked him to do it. It's a cover of K-C #58, and I think it looks fantastic.

We should be getting similar entires from Zak Sally, Noah Van Sciver and Sam Spina. I have a couple other artists I'm going to ask, but I'll wait until they say 'yay' or 'nay' to name them. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Really nice shot

I'm editing down 'The Beloit Interview'. This was a six-hour interview spread over March 9-10, 2010 which I conducted while John was living in what was basically a poorly insulated concrete bunker in South Beloit, Illinois.

It was the late winter of 2010, I believe -- early March? -- and John was nearing the end of his rope. He left Denver the previous fall for Florida, which didn't pan out too well, and he was back in the confines of the northwest suburbs. I remember he said he didn't want to live in Beloit proper, as Beloit is Wisconsin -- i.e. Packers country -- and he's a Bears' man. I don't believe there was much sarcasm in his statement at the time.

His apartment was pretty sad. I can't remember if it was a converted car garage or what, but it was just made of cinder blocks, with giant openings for the winter wind to whip into, and the landlord wasn't too responsive.

John was furiously wrapping up edits on 'The Next Day', a book he'd been commissioned to illustrate, and was in the beginning stages of revamping Spit and a Half to its former glory. This meant every square inch of the place was filled with stacks and boxes and bags of zines, comics, and books.

Anyway, as I was editing I realized how beautifully I shot the second day of the interview. John is here, pensively eating his breakfast as we discuss Walden, getting it right as a cartoonist, and how much work goes into drawing what appear to be very 'simple' comics.

I think it looks nice.

What's that song from RENT?

You know, the one they redid in the Office when Michael Scott left? Some large number of hours? Well, here's the progress report:

1:19:42 - length of the current 'rough cut' of the film
1:22:40 - length of edited interviews with John P. - that is, usable footage I'd love to include
4:42:41 - length of the edited interviews with the ~20 people in the film - again, 100% usable footage I'd love to include
0:29:12 - length of T.A.C. DVD, edited for use
0:31:06 - length of random extras I'd like to include

6:15:19 - length of the marathon interview I did with John which will be edited down into usable footage this week
4:48:12 - length of footage of John doing his talks which I'd love to use, but needs to be edited

0:10:00- King-Cat readings set to their images by KC readers

So, I've got just about a nine hour movie, with about eleven hours left to edit. No biggie.

Tomorrow I'm interviewing Jason Heller, and hopefully, Doug M. Also need to do a Skype interview with Patrick Porter and this morning I wrote to Robert Schneider asking if he'd like to add a short video or reading. So add in a bit more for that all. Crikes!

Got two and half weeks to whittle that all down into a 75-80 minute piece. Yowza! Oh, and somewhere in here I need to get the kickstarter set up.

Wish me luck team!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Hey team -- here's the trailer -- I think it came out pretty good. Only did fourteen versions. The first was about seven minutes, to which one kind reviewer said, 'isn't this just a short movie?'. Thank you. 

Well, check it out. Let me know what you think if you feel like it. Full thing coming September 2014.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Smooth sailing, right?

Spent the weekend in Denver, where I got the pleasure of interviewing Misun Oh and Jon Pinnow. Misun, as many of you know, was married to JP for a number of years, and Jon was a kindred spirit from John's first run at Denver in the early 90's.

One of the things that's been really amazing about doing this project is meeting all these people in John's orbit. I've yet to meet someone who wasn't kind, gracious, and really really interesting.

Jon Pinnow, for example, started up a newsprint zine in Denver in the early 90's called 'Newshole'. When asked why, he seemed surprised at the question. Why wouldn't you start a newspaper?

Anyway, we're sailing along pretty well. I'm easing into my 'up at 5/530 to edit' routine, and am -- as we speak -- exporting the 4.5 minute trailer for the film. I'm going to run it by a few amigos to get some feedback, and then toss that bad boy up. Honestly, watching it, I got pretty excited about seeing this movie! I suppose that's a good sign.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Pants Crapping

John got in touch a while back because some folks want to screen Root Hog or Die in Minneapolis at a real theater, and they're asking for a '50-minute edit' to make sure it'll be up to snuff. Crapped pants #1.

#2 was when Kelly Froh (whose comics I love) got in touch about screening it at the Short Run Festival in Seattle in November. This was fine -- THEN SHE ASKED FOR A POSTER. That's when everything hit home, hard.

Anyway, I have to get back to actually editing, but here are two posters I made yesterday. I'd love some feedback!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Gonna make, gonna make it, gonna make it......

I'm still pouring through tape -- and there are three more interviews I need to conduct -- but I'm getting there. As of yesterday, I'm up to 50+ minutes of basically edited content for the movie, most of which is John P., and I have about three hours of non-John P. interviews edited down.

Chatting with Crystal about it last night, I made the claim that if, given a full weekend, I could come out of it with a 70-90 minute movie that would be pretty good.

My plan from here is to:

- finish the interviews - it'd be tempting to skip them, but I need to interview John's second wife, Misun Oh, John's artistic blood brother Patrick Porter, and Felt Pilotes bandmate Doug Miducki, so not insignificant content there. This will require a trip to Denver and a trip to Albany, NY. Fun!

- finish editing - by June 30, I want to have ~200 minutes of usable good film. If you're keeping track, I'm currently at 230, but I need to add to that pile (the interviews mentioned above), plus I haven't really touched on any of John's illness', which I need to do -- I presume that'll be 20 minutes or so. This means that by the end of June I need to get up around 350 minutes, and whittle it back to 200.

- final editing and sequencing - this is taking those 200 minutes and cutting them down to 70-100. This is July. In July, I also need to finish editing the bonus materials.

- August will be spent doing the final mastering to make sure everything looks good, the sound is as good as can be, and then producing this in whatever way it's going to be produced -- do people still use DVDs?

Then we premier at SPX, and move into a fall tour. Exciting!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Music and John

I had the pleasure of chatting with Doug from Built to Spill at his show in Wilmington, DE recently. Doug's a comics guy, and we always have a nice chat about that. I told him about the documentary and -- without missing a beat he said -- 'I love that guy! We played a show with him back on our first tour!'

Doug went on to say that he remembers John as being super friendly and that he sold comics at the show which were really good. Anyway, kind of neat the way the universe works. I looked it up and, yes indeedy, on Built to Spill's first tour in '94, they played the Club 156 on the CU Boulder campus for $5 with Felt Pilotes opening up.

I then remembered this gem. I love Luna, and when I lived in Denver in the 90's, I'd see this poster for sale from a '95 show at the Fox. I didn't know John P. of King Cat was in Felt Pilotes, I just liked that the opener was seemingly named after a pen (not true).  I really regret not buying it now.

I also dug up an article about FP opening up for Guided by Voices on their swing through CO in 1995 as well. Kind of neat!

I bring this up because dealing with John P. and King-Cat is one thing, but man, the music thing is another. He was in many great and legitimate bands. Smile, FP, T.A.C. -- bands that played lots of shows, toured, put out records -- the whole deal. It's a little hard figuring out incorporating some of that into the doc, outside of peripherally.

But I'll get there!

In the meantime, here's a clip I'm trying to get Paul Westerberg's manager to let me use for free. I think I can post it here without pissing anyone off, but Darren, let me know if you want me to pull it for now.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Black Squirrel

While driving around the Moon Lake subdivision in Hoffman Estates with John, we created this gem of a clip. 

We were driving by the house he grew up in from 1979-86, so if you love Perfect Example, October, or any of his other middle/high school stories, this is the neighborhood for you. 

This clip sums up many of my favorite things about John. In pointing out the deck his dad built (which I'm sure both father and son have some pride about), he gets super excited upon seeing a black squirrel. After the squirrel interlude, he answers a question asked an hour earlier. The line that gets me is, 'I can't think I've ever seen a black squirrel….'. It's hard to describe, so I'll just let you watch what I think is a really funny and touching clip which won't make it into the final project. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A King Cat review thirteen years later

I've been obsessively reading and re-reading King-Cat related stuff of late, and I just have to share my opinion about the 'best' issue of King Cat. Let's not say best. Let's say, the issue that I've read the most times, and the issue which always brings tears to my eyes and a smile to my face.

Back in January of 2001, ole John P. put out the incredible King Cat Comics and Stories #58 for the extremely fair price of $2. It was the middle of winter in Elgin. John was living at 212 N. Melrose in the Sears model home he'd purchased in 1998 (and which he would leave in 2002). Maisie K. indubitably curled up nearby while John wrote and drew the stories that would make up this issue.

King Cat #58 is a strange one, by KC standards. No Catcalls. No Snornose. No Top 40. There's nothing cute about this issue. This one is all heart. 100%. The issue is comprised of five simple (and nearly perfect) elements:

- the cover drawing of a tall bare tree on a sparsely populated hill
- 'An open letter to Dough Mioducki' - John thanks Doug for a letter and check and then describes being sad in one short paragraph
- 'Forgiveness' - a 31-page story about John as a boy getting a sling-shot, killing a bird, and that fact eating him up inside, until he emotionally explodes after accidentally sending the dog into the basement after a ball. This story grips me every time. The secret shame you have as a child when you do something wrong. Without an adult's ability to rationalize, justify, or simply not care, a child can be so susceptible to agony over wrong-doing. This story is gut wrenching every time I read it, and when I asked John about it one time, he told me it was one of the hardest stories he'd ever written, because he still felt that shame about the bird. I believe he said he'd been trying to put out that story for years before he actually did.
- 'Rockford Station' - a 2-page JP classic. This story feels like John closing the door on his first marriage, in a sweet, nostalgic way. The story starts with 'We….' and you expect it to be one person remembering something fondly to another. Then, in panel 6, he says, 'One day I was hungover and I laid my head in her lap'. Not 'your' lap, but 'hers'. The final panel of this story would make up most of the cover to 'Map of My Heart' & on his book tour, John always included this comic. It's really a classic.
- Back page gag panel - two rich ladies walking tiny dogs past a diamond store - one says to the other 'So I said, 'No- You listen to me!'" Just a perfect knee-slapping palate cleanser.

This issue, for me, sums up pretty perfectly why single issue comics exist and are critical. The five elements of King Cat #58 work in a way that they simply don't in a collection. In 'Map of My Heart', 'Forgiveness stands out, because it's such a singular work. But the way it's juxtaposed with the letter to Doug and 'Rockford Station' get lost in the collection, unfortunately.

Unfortunately, this issue is out of print, and while I could find two copies on Amazon, they're priced at $20. Who knew that investing $2 in John P. thirteen years ago would give you a tenfold profit!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Aren't you working on a documentary?

Some neat stuff I've scanned recently for the doc.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Vonnegut & Martsch

A handful of years back -- around 2006 -- I sent off a handwritten interview request to Doug Martsch, of Built to Spill. These are interviews I do where I send 10-11 questions to an artist, cartoonist, musician, author, etc. and ask them to respond in their own handwriting, because I'm a nut for handwriting.

I had met Doug outside the Fox Theater in Boulder and asked about doing one, he was game, and gave me his address to send the questions to, so I did. When I do these, I try to include a 'thank you gift' to the person doing it. I sent Joe Matt $5, I sent Seth the uncollected Salinger, and so forth.

I sent Doug an orange shirt with Kurt Vonnegut's face screened on it, with a bunch of questions & return postage, but never heard anything back. A couple years went by and a buddy of mine emailed to say she had just seen Built to Spill in Portland, and Doug was wearing a Vonnegut shirt. She didn't know I made the shirt, just that I was a Vonnegut freak. So I did some Google image searching and found a bunch of pics of Dough wearing my shirt. Neat-o!

Here's a nice video of the band, with my shirt heavily featured, six years after I sent it to him. I did a decent printing job -- it's holding up pretty well!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Plan

I've been up since five, ostensibly to 'get stuff done', but that only counts if 'getting stuff done' is the same as 'farting around on time wasting websites'. 

Today I may have a baby swap with a friend of mine. She's a writer with an nine month old, and I'm trying to finish a documentary with a fourteen month old. We set it up this week to start doing a swap. One day I watch both babies, and she writes, and another she watches them so I can edit. Today's my day -- we'll see how it goes. Going to hole up in a Starbucks and see what I can get done. 

I scared the shit out of John P. the other day when I told him, excitedly, "I've got like six minutes edited!" I think I heard him swallow his own tongue. Then I explained that that's like having six pages inked, and it made a bit more sense. 

I'm trucking to get this damn thing done so that I can then go back and do actual post production work. Making sure the sound is good, lighting is balanced out, all that stuff. I'm planning on a debut at SPX in September, so my hope is to be done editing by the end of May. That gives a few summer months to tidy things up. 

I think today I'm going to focus on getting a couple outsider interviews in there, and then this afternoon when Oscar's down, get to scanning some stuff. If this comes off like it looks in my head, it'll be at least watchable. 

As Doug sings, 'The plan won't accomplish anything if it's not implemented'. Speaking of Doug, Built to Spill is coming back east -- nine shows in ten days. I'm in the works to catch two of them, and just this AM realized that 'Wilmington, DE' is a mere 100 miles away. Totally doable. 

This has been a pretty strange and challenging year in many ways, and I feel like I'm just getting my head together/screwed on right, and frankly, a few Built to Spill shows is just what the doctor ordered, so we'll see. 

It's funny, when I was 15-18, I'd drive hundreds of miles with my friends for a show. I remember driving three hours each way to see Tracy Chapman -- someone I only sort of liked. By the time I was in my mid-20's, I wouldn't catch a bus to Slim's if it was going take more than twenty minutes to get there. 

As I get older, I'm content seeing Built to Spill, Yo La Tengo over and over again with the random one-off special show thrown in for good measure (Neutral Milk Hotel, for example).

Wish me luck. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Neil Young 1968 -> mid 1972

Ok, I've spent a month or so with the first eight Neil Young albums, and have some thoughts.

Neil Young (December 1968) - C+
Meh. If you love Neil Young, this is a tough record. It's long-time complaint has been that it's over produced (which is true), but it's also just clearly an album written by a twenty-two year old. By a YOUNG twenty-two year old. Compare it to 'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan' which came out in 1963, when Dylan was 22 and you'll see what I mean.

It's chock full of teenage pseudo poetry stuff. Even the titles of the songs point to a guy trying way too hard. There's not much subtlety in 'The Loner', 'If I Could Have Her Tonight', 'I've Been Waiting for You', or 'I've Loved Her So Long'.

There are a couple tracks I dug. 'The Old Laughing Lady', 'Here We Are In the Years', and even 'The Last Trip to Tulsa' -- but mostly I wished I could hear them as done solo on piano, or with Crazy Horse, around 1970-71.

This album IS notable, however, because it brought Neil together with Jack Nitzsche, the incredible (and tragic) keyboardist, and the man who would become synonymous with Neil Young albums, producing basically every Neil Young album until his death in 1995, David Briggs.

Everybody Knows This is Nowhere (May 1969) - A+
Released a scant six months after his solo debut, this album is to its predecessor what Neil Armstrong was to Orville Wright. Talk about one giant step for Neil Young. From the crunchy guitar and hand clap opening of 'Cinnamon Girl' to the winding down guitar solo of 'Cowgirl in the Sand', the seven songs in 40.5 minutes that make up this album are damn close to perfection.

This was Young's first album with Crazy Horse (formerly 'The Rockets', hence the title of 'Running Dry (Requiem for the Rockets)'), and you can tell the band really set up the sonic space they needed to let their sound hit the tape exactly right. Young's vocals are much more open, his guitar work is both more focused and more relaxed at the same time, and the addition of the incredibly Crazy Horse gives his song the direction they needed.

As a lyricist, Young seems to improve quite a bit on this album over his predecessor. 'Down By The River' a song where the singer kills his lover, and seems to relish in it, is amazingly counterbalanced by the plaintive almost-sobbing of 'Running Dry's' "I left my love with ribbons on, and water in her eyes. I took from her the love I'd won, and turned it to the sky'.

This is my most-listened to Neil Young album. If you don't have it, get it. It's really good. I think it's perhaps the perfect album to listen to when it's really hot, kind of dusty, and you've got a can of beer in your hand.

After the Gold Rush (August 1970) - A+
Two home runs in a row? Seems unlikely, but it's true. This is Young's first stab at the acoustic/ballad-y side that would gain him worldwide fame with 'Harvest' (released eighteen months after this LP), but is counterbalanced with plenty of 'Everybody Knows'-era fuzz guitar tunes. Of course, the album goes much deeper than 'it's half electric and half acoustic'.

At thirty-five minutes, ten seconds, the elven songs on this record pack a real punch. Kicking off with the the heartbreak trinity of 'Tell Me Why', 'After the Gold Rush' & 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart', side one takes a sharp left into the overtly political 'Southern Man' -- a rocker calling out racism in the south -- and lands on the jaunty piano ditty, 'Till the Morning Comes'.

Side two kicks off with the harmonica wail of Neil's incredible cover of the country tune 'Oh, Lonesome Me' and continues in the heartbreak vein right on through. This album may be the best break up album of all time, but it ends with the raucous sing-along of 'Cripple Creek Ferry'.

This album flows so wonderfully, that as soon as the first track starts, you know you're going to listen to it all the way through. And, somehow, this album which is full of heartbreak, loss, sorrow and anger leaves you at the end…..smiling? It's crazy. Great work Neil. Allegedly the project started as the soundtrack to an unmade movie written by the great Dean Stockwell, but even the script has been lost.

This album features an incredible line up of players. Nils Lofgren in his first released recording at the age of 19, the incredible (and incredible messed up) Jack Nitzsche, Stephen Stills, and then the folks from Crazy Horse are all here as well -- Bill Talbot, Ralph Molina, and in what I think is the last released studio work with Young, Danny Whitten, who would die of a heroin overdose in 1972, and send Neil on a strange three year musical journey.

Fun aside: Lynard Skynard famously sang 'I hope Neil Young will remember, southern man don't need him around anyhow' in 1974. Warren Zevon responded in 1980 (in 'Play it All Night Long') with 'Sweet Home Alabama, play that dead band's song, turn the speakers up full blast, play it all night long'.

Harvest (February 1972) B+ 
In the eighteen months between records, Neil had hooked himself up with the folks over at Crosby, Stills & Nash and put out one studio album (Deja Vu) and one live album (4 Way Street) and while there are many folks who love CSNY (myself being one of them), I wonder if it wasn't too much of a distraction for him, at (arguably) the height of his powers.

I think Harvest is a great album, but it's all over the place. While on Gold Rush, he was able to mix styles, themes and sounds seamlessly, 'Harvest' feels like a compilation album -- in fact, I'd argue it's the  logical predecessor to the next two NY releases which are SO all over the place, he's never bothered to released them on CD or digitally (Journey Through the Past & Time Fades Away).

Harvest has some great tunes, and was the best selling album of 1972 in the U.S. Obviously, 'Heart of Gold' and 'Old Man' are the two insanely popular songs from this record, but the other cuts are just as good -- however, the albums lacks cohesion.

He's got a couple tunes with the London Symphony backing him up -- 'A Man Needs a Maid' and 'There's a World' - which I can't stand at all. He's got the live acoustic 'The Needle and the Damage Done', his classic song about heroin abuse, which is great, but sonically is very out of place on this album.

Then there's the folk-country James Taylor blueprint 'Harvest' a pretty song, and his continuing battle with the south in fuzz rocker 'Alabama' (which I believe is the inspiration for 'Sweet Home Alabama'), and the piano rocker 'Are You Ready for the Country?'.

Personally, my two favorites are the opener 'Out on the Weekend', which kicks off the country/folk theme of the album, but is a great song of resignation, and the molasses dirge of the album's closer, 'Words', which I've always blown off until I dug into the 16-minute version that shows up in '72's 'Journey through the Past'.

The tunes are great on here, but as Neil said himself (paraphrased by me) 'With Harvest I was in the middle of the road. I can't stay there, and I can't go back'. It's his most popular album and the one I think he feels furthest from.

Next installment:
Journey through the Past (November 1972)
Time Fades Away (October 1973)
On the Beach (July 1974)
Tonight's the Night (Recorded Sept-Oct 1973/Released June 75)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Song Without a Home

I've been working pretty good on the discography. The 'Ditch Trilogy', as it's called -- (Time Fades Away, On the Beach, Tonight's the Night) are pretty intense, so I've let myself drift up to Zuma a little. Not that Cortez the Killer is a 'light' number, but it takes the edge of the previous three off.

I'll do a longer write up in a few days, but I wanted to share this song. It's called 'Journey through the Past'. It didn't show up on the album or in the film of the same name, but rather on 'Time Fades Away', the live album Neil put out but really didn't like. I don't disagree with him -- Time Fades Away is pretty disjointed, not that inviting and all-in-all a difficult record to get into, BUT every time I've played it, this sad gem has jumped out at me.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Working my way through the Neil Young discography. I've got the 48 albums he put out between 1968 and 2007 (when I finish I'll pick up the ones that have come out since 2007). One goal in 2014 is to give each album 10-15 listens and get a sense of what he's going for, artistically. I'm going to go, roughly chronologically.

I've been very familiar with Harvest, Everybody Knows this is Nowhere, After the Gold Rush, Rust Never Sleeps, On the Beach, and Decade for many many years.  Given how much I love those albums, I've actually been pretty antsy to give too much else a listen, which is shitty of me. Also, I keep hearing about Tonight's the Night, Zuma and a few other 'classics' which are missing from my vocabulary. So, I'm going to rectify this.

I really respect Neil Young as an artist, and so want to give him his due.

I'm kicking off with:
Neil Young (1968)
Everybody Knows this is Nowhere (1969)
After the Gold Rush (1970)
Harvest (1972)
Journey Through the Past (1972) -- soundtrack to film of the same name, directed by NY, never released on CD
Time Fades Away (1973) -- first live album, never released on CD
On the Beach (1974)
Tonight's the Night (1975 - recorded 1973)

So far, I can say the following:
-- his first solo album is much better than I ever would have guessed -- not sure why
-- I've always disliked the tunes on Harvest with the London Symphony -- that hasn't changed
-- Journey Through the Past has a couple INCREDIBLE live cuts from a CSNY show in 1970. Southern Man and Ohio are frightening in their intensity.
-- Tonight's the Night is as good, if not better, than everyone has always said -- why did I wait this long to get into it?!?

If I created eight objects like these eight albums in just six years, well, I'd be pretty amazed with myself. Really excited about this project.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Time to make the donuts

Not a lot of updates -- have been working a lot the last couple weeks, but here it is, 5:32am on a Sunday and I'm gonna get cracking' on the film a bit more. Slowly but surely, I'll get there.

In the meantime, I've completely re-fallen in love with The Who. When I was a kid, they were one of my all time faves. I remember watching a documentary on them, then practicing the windmill and promptly breaking the light fixture in our low ceilinged living room. In 1989, my brothers came home from a road trip and said they almost bought me tickets to see them in Glens Falls but didn't. I was fourteen and I'm not sure if I've forgiven them yet for passing up the ticket line…..

Anyway, go here to check out their 1970 set at the Isle of Wight festival. So ridiculously good. It's not Leeds, but damn, it's incredible. Tthese four guys were something amazing and special. I saw an interview with Townshend where he talked about how they all viewed their instruments as means of releasing their aggression and rage.

It really seems they put every ounce into every show, which is what I love about 'em. Anyway, back to editing.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Support SAW

The Sequential Artist Workshop is doing their 2014 fundraising drive right now, and you should help 'em out. SAW is a pretty great institution down in Gainesville, FL which helps further comics in great ways. Classes, visiting artists, workshops, etc. These folks are on the ground getting their hands dirty, and are true angels.

While I may have mixed feelings about the term 'sequential art', and  some mixed feelings about comics 'classes', the folks at SAW are legit. And let's face it, donating to folks trying to make things and teaching folks how to make things is a better use of your money than any of the other 500 ways you'll piss it away today.

So, head over to the SAW funding campaign via Indiegogo. They're trying to raise a mere $7000 and have some nice giveaways as thank you's. They're at $4500 with two weeks to go, so, go ahead, make it happen.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

You know who's incredible?

Poster for Blammo #8 Release Party
Noah Van Sciver. That's who.

Luke and I were roommates for a year or so, and realized we were both book nerds/collectors. He got me a little more into collecting books of value, and I got him a little more into comics. We bought and saved up books for a year or more, boxes filling every corner of our rented house.

On May 1, we finally convinced the folks at Wax Trax records to rent us the 'in-between' space. That is, the 1000 sf shopfront in- between their vinyl and cd shops. It was left in disarray after a failed attempt to use it as a bike-repair/third hand record shop by one of the owner's wife's family members.

We had no time to waste, so we set a June 1, 2008 opening date, Luke quit his job, I took vacation from mine, and we spent each of the next thirty days cleaning & pricing books, deciding on the layout of the shop, buying and placing shelves, and yes, cleaning out the refuse of thousands of records and hundreds upon hundreds of scattered bike parts. We worked from seven am til midnight most days, seven days  week. We enlisted the help of friends, and generally had a blast. I'd rank May of 2008 as one of the best months of my life.

Blammo #2 Release Party at Kilgore
It was sometime in there that a scrawny kid walked into the shop, looked around, saw the books and
 comics, but was too scared to talk to either of us, so promptly ran back out. I don't think either Luke or I noticed him, as we were likely in the alley hauling old bike parts.

After we were open a couple of days, he came back and spoke with Luke. He asked if we'd sell his comic  book, Blammo #1. Luke said yes and bought three copies for $7.20. The next time we worked together, Luke told me all about this local cartoonists who had brought his stuff in. I read through a copy of Blammo #1 and loved it.

It was rough. It was raw. It clearly ripped off Crumb to a point were royalties may have been due. The writing was decent, but not great. Either way though, we were ecstatic. Our goal had been to help promote comics locally, and part of that would be to promote local comics. So, as out first customers trickled in, we'd say, 'hey check out Blammo, it's by a LOCAL kid -- it's really good'.

Kilgore Bookmark
We sold out of the first three copies within a week or so, and when Noah came back in I got to tell him how much I enjoyed his comic.

Over time he and I became good friends, Kilgore began publishing Blammo for him (which allowed us to become comic publishers, and allowed him to stop worrying about printing up five digital copies every time someone wanted one).

The thing we loved about Noah right away was how much he wanted it. How truly hard he was willing to work to become a great cartoonist. I remember saying to Luke early on that Noah had no other choice in life. This was the thing he could do, and I certainly meant it as a compliment.

The second thing we loved is that he WORKED for it. This guy - like Crumb - always has a sketchbook he's drawing in while you're chatting with him. He works crummy jobs then draws til 3am. He sends out stuff to everybody. He networks, and put stuff into so many anthologies it's crazy.

How hard does this guy work? I just added it up -- since 2008, he's put out 28 solo books -- chapbooks, minis, pamphlets, softcover and hardcover books -- for a total of nearly 900 pages.

This means that since 2008, he's done, on average, 150 pages a year for publication. That's a realized page every 2.4 days, a level impossible to most folks, including many working cartoonists.

But outside of his hunger, he has gotten better over time. Each new issue of Blammo is his best. Every time he puts out a one-shot like 1999 or The Death of Elijah Lovejoy, both the writing and the artwork have improved over the last issue.

The Hypo outtake - Noah decided to leave
much of the political parts of the story out
And his Lincoln book, The Hypo? When he was working on it, he'd come in and show me chapters or section which I'd never see again. He probably wrote & inked over 500 pages to get to the 192 that make up that excellent graphic novel. At one point, he realized he'd drawn modern door knobs, so went back and re-drew all the doorknobs as they were in the 1830's.

He's careful to mix things up. A little auto-bio -- some screamingly funny, some heartbreakingly sad (an early story about his first pair of long pants was the turning point for me, in terms of really seeing him as a high quality artist, and a fella I just wanted to hug), incredible history comics like The Hypo, Elijah Lovejoy, The Denver Spiderman, humor like Chicken Strips (still a fave of mine), fairytales like the Fox and the Hound, and just plain old stories about regular stiffs in stories like Abbey's Road, St. Cole, Julio' Day.

Mixing it up like this has really helped Noah become a great story teller, in addition to a fine artist. His work ethic and commitment to comics will one day make him a master story teller.

As of right now, I know he's nearly finished with St. Cole (a ~100 page story being serialized online), Blammo #9, The Lizard Laughed, I'm guessing his Joseph Smith book, and likely a few record covers, one-shots, and random commission work, all of which I can't wait to see.

I have nothing but respect for his level of work and the quality of that work. It's really a treat to get to call him a friend, because it turns out, he's also a really nice guy. I recently bought a couple copies of his October 2013 diary comic, 'More Mundane', and he threw in the artwork for his Built to Spill t-shirt design. He knows I'm a huge BTS fan, and this meant the world to me.

He loves comics like nobody else I know, and he learns from them in a way that I'm in awe of. Getting to watch this guy grow and learn as a cartoonist, in addition to getting to spend countless hours chatting about comics with him, has been one of the greatest highlights of opening up Kilgore.

The Hypo (Fantagraphics): 192 pps, $24.99 (if you order from FB, you get the free mini, 'Who's Dead in the White House')
Blammo 6-8 (Kilgore): 32-40 pps, $5 each
The Death of Elijah Lovejoy (2D Cloud): 28 pages, $5
St. Cole (serialized at 'The Expositor') soon to be in book form (we hope): FREE for now
1999 (Retrofit): out of print, but Noah might still have some bootleg copies -- check his site for contact info.

Until next time, read more comics.