Sunday, April 29, 2007

Rainbows & Split Beavers

Driving home from White River Junction at twilight, I see the dim, fading remnants of a rainbow over the southern edge of the village. As I continue south on I-91, it brightens and seems to move with me, until the rain begins to fall in earnest and the last of the colors dissolve.

As I pass the sign for the Windsor exit, there's something in the road, sprawled towards the shoulder. Matted deep brown fur, the raw red hollow of a shattered ribcage, a huge flat black tail -- a beaver, pulverized by a truck, no doubt. A short ways further, another, rolled like a bloodied floormat at the far edge of the passing lane, more recognizably a beaver, its distinctive broad tail partially flattened by tire treadmarks.

As the Windsor exit comes into view, I sigh -- another beaver smashed to a partial pulp in the right lane ahead. I look away, toward the northbound lane, and see yet another on that stretch of highway. Four adults, by the look of it, all quite, quite dead; an entire family, or colony, wiped out in an afternoon. There was nothing on these stretches of road this morning.

I flick my blinker on, and veer onto the exit, heading home, hoping to arrive.

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Sunday Morning Review of Books...

...and comics.

Well, at least an overview of some recent and upcoming publications that may be of interest to some of you.

An opening morning thought (compliments of HomeyM, thanks, Homey!):

"The creative process is a process of waiting, trusting, acting, it has a deep wisdom, if we will surrender to it. The power of the unconscious rises to the page. It can be frightening. It is difficult. But it is in the vitality of this struggle between the writer and the word that we can create transformative work. Each book I have written has transformed me in the process. I write myself to the other side of my question..."

- Terry Tempest Williams

This past Friday, Charlito and Mister Phil
  • of the popular podcast venue Indie Spinner Rack
  • visited the Center for Cartoon Studies and interviewed yours truly at great length; that'll be online soon. As CCS fellow faculty member Robyn Chapman points out, Indie Spinner Rack has been a great supporter of CCS -- "they are donating half of the profits from their upcoming anthology to CCS," Robyn says -- and they are excellent promoters. Charlito is also a fellow XQB (Kubert School graduate), and it so happens we first met and he was a student there when I visited the school and presented an early version of the ever-expanding Journeys Into Fear: A History of Horror Comics slide show lecture.

    Anyhoot, among the many things Charlito and Mister Phil grilled me about was "Why isn't there any new Bissette comics?," a question touched upon ad infinitum here from time to time. Which leads me to this morning's subject:

    My work appears in a number of new comics and books! Here's a quick review of those goodies, now out and/or about to hit the shelves:

    * Rick Veitch's King Hell Press is just releasing Rick's new anthology Shiny Beasts; for more relevant info, memories and details, and a peek at the story and artwork I had a hand in that appears in this anthology, check out
  • this previous blog posting,
  • and this one,
  • and then there's this, too! All worth visiting or revisiting.
  • Best of all, though, is Rick's own preview section he's posted online, here!

  • * The latest issue of Bob McLeod's magazine Rough Stuff #4 features an illustrated overview of some of my Swamp Thing pencils, with insights by yours truly, and best of all a lengthy illustrated interview with my venerable amigo and fellow Swamp Thing vet John Totleben. Pick it up, and pronto -- it's on the shelves now, or you can order your copy immediately
  • at the TwoMorrows publisher website.
  • I wrote about this issue on the blog
  • here
  • and here, including art, links, etc. of interest and delivering some immediate gratification and eye-candy delights.

  • * So much for vintage Bissette -- there's new stuff, too. here's the upcoming (shipping in May!) Accent UK Zombies anthology, for which I drew a cover, some interior spot illustrations, and completed a brand-new four-page Edward-Gorey like humor piece working with my son Daniel Bissette,
  • which I first announced here,
  • discussed at some length here,
  • blathered more about with this post,
  • and provided bios for the anthology's fellow contributors here.

  • That Zombies also features some stories and art by Center for Cartoon Studies students is a plus in my book, too!

    I'm not sure if this anthology is going to make it over to the US, so best you check out
  • the Accent UK site and see about ordering your copy online, just in case.

  • I'll be posting more info, links, and tidbits on Zombies -- and the planned US followup, featuring much all-new work (including new material by yours truly!) -- later this coming month and spring. Keep your eye on this blog!

    * In stores right now is the third (and, alas, final) issue of Mark Martin's most recent anthology Runaway Comics
  • which prints the complete version of "Blog Opera," the amazing story featuring me, Steve Bissette, trying to rescue my friend Mike Dobbs's severed head, which I previewed here
  • (lifting the images from Mark Martin's marvelous blog "Jabberous," which is forever linked on the menu at your immediate right), and which places me at last in the Brain That Wouldn't Die pantheon I secretly forever longed to belong to.

    Thanks, Mark! Do I give head as well as I take head? You'll have to buy Runaway Comics #3 to find out!

    I also have a teeny, tiny li'l drawing that's part of Mark's eye-popping back cover painting,
  • and you can find out the secrets of this back cover painting here, including my part in it -- scroll down the menu at the left Mark has created, and click on the contribution by everyone Mark invited to "come draw with me!" (which is also covered -- pun intended -- in the pages of Runaway Comics #3)!

  • So, don't hesitate, run right out today and pick up your copy of Runaway Comics #3! While you're at it, get Runaway Comics #1 and 2, too -- all great, fun reading -- and all available
  • here, where you can also preview every issue as well, right now.

  • Check 'em out, and tell Mark I sent you.

    * I've also written the introductions for two new graphic novel collections -- one a partial reprint extensively revised and expanded into a whole new graphic novel, the other reprinting for the first time a seminal body of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle work by Michael Zulli. Both, though, are well worth picking up, and pronto!

  • If you scroll down a bit, you'll find my writeup of Michael Zulli's excellent TMNT: Soul's Winter here,
  • and you can order a copy here (with Michael's exquisite & exclusive signed bookplate as a bonus)!

  • * The amazing new graphic novel I proudly scribed an intro for is Rob Walton's masterpiece Ragmop, which doesn't "just" collect the existing pair of Ragmop series from the mid-1990s -- don't believe those know-it-all online putzes and pundits who claim otherwise.
    , the book, is not a reprint edition -- Rob completely revised, revamped, redrew, rewrote, and expanded the whole into a complete, self-standing and mighty hilarious satiric epic that is hands-down one of my favorite graphic novels of all time!

  • Here's Rob's blog and site, always worth a visit (on a regular basis),
  • and here's where you must immediately go and purchase a copy of Ragmop with the limited edition signed color bookplate -- no, right now. No excuses.
  • You think I refer to something as "my favorite graphic novel of all time" lightly?

    So, there. Some new Bissette, some old Bissette -- all in print now, and in comics shops and bookstores now.

    Now, I personally know how many of you did (and most of all how many didn't) order my son Dan's zine Hot Chicks Take Huge Shits last year, with my first-ever all-new comic story of the Millennium. A vast yawn greeted Dan and I with that little wonder. There's a stack of 'em signed sitting here in the SpiderBaby backstock; Dan was so discouraged with the cosmic indifference to his first effort he damn near killed himself -- good thing I talked him down out of that tree. That's right -- and it would have been your fault!

    You don't really care whether I draw comics again, you just like to gripe about it, and expect me to post whatever I do online so you can dig it for free. Well, I'm on to your little game. I can just glance over at the huge stack remaining of Hot Chicks Take Huge Shits and I know what's what.

    So get out there, or just click your fucking mouses, and buy the books and comics above. They're all great! I'll know if you did or didn't, bunky. Quit whining about my not doing anything and go buy 'em all, or leave me alone!

    On another matter all together, which Ragmop creator Rob Walton and I talked about during his visit here, and which Clan Apis and The Sandwalk Adventure creator (and biologist) Jay Hosler had a lot to say about during his visit to CCS, check out the comments on yesterday's blog posting for a lengthy comeback from Luke Przybylski about
  • this Easter blog posting, which I still stand by (your writing still played to the prejudices I noted, Luke).
  • I've replied in kind in the same comment thread, so check that out, too, and feel free to weigh in
  • (and feel free to read the local article in this recent post, too -- scroll down past the Grindhouse writeup -- as followup; that goes for you, too, Luke!).

  • Happy to talk about it, if anyone wishes to.

  • And this just in, Naomi Wolf's sobering Guardian story about how we're currently perceived overseas, and justifiably so.
  • Thanks to Tim Lucas for the link -- and y'all have a good Sunday, now, y'here?

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