Review in Brick

My old pal Tod Parkhill (first guy I met at college, first guy to publish my comics) was kind enough to send me a copy of 'Brick', a weekly alternative newspaper in Richmond, VA that has a review of my comic in it. The review is written by Patrick Godfrey, the owner of Velocity Comics in Richmond. Since it's not posted on their website, I've transcribed it here (P.S. the cover is not from the pertinent issue, but it was all they had up on the website, plus Rob Ullman drew it, so...bonus!)

Patrick Godfrey - Brick

Seriously, gang, is there anything more hilarious than animal cruelty?

Woah, lynch mob – kidding! But I bet I got your attention. Very few topics invite as passionate a response as animal cruelty, a major topic in newcomer JT Yost’s collection of short stories. It’s nice to see a rising cartoonist comfortable wearing his heart on his sleeve yet backing it up with some smarts; It happens less often than one would hope. But Yost succeeds, particularly in brief gut-wrenchers ‘All Is Forgiven…’ and ‘Roadtrip.’ These two punched me in the gut and kept me thinking well beyond my time reading them.

Overall, this one’s a handsome little sampler of an artist clearly on the incline. The cartooniness of Yost’s line is in distinct oppostion to the horrors depicted, and dang if it doesn’t work. I look forward to watching this guy continue to find his voice with a longer format.

One minor quibble: cover’s a little ugly. It’s not a deal-breaker or anything, but the cover copy’s a bit tough to suss out and the stark palette choice of black, white and pink is a bit of a puzzler. Don’t let that stop you from checking it out, though.

Man, now I feel like a dick.

Nah, don't feel like a dick...most people hate the cover.


Wilfredo portrait on the internets!

I did a pet portrait of my old friend Clay's lady-friend Lisa's chihuahua, Wilfredo, a while back. A virtual tour of their apartment is featured on the Apartment Therapy website this week. You can see my painting along with several photos of the real Wilfredo gallivanting about (seemingly levitating into the sunlight in one) here.

Their apartment is chock-full of interesting artwork (Barry McGee!) and bric-a-brac. I love homes that are flooded with information...paintings & photos crammed in every available inch of wall space. I guess it makes some people feel anxious, but I like constantly finding new stuff to look at. Clay favors a more pristine environment, but they've managed to strike a compromise that works surprisingly well.

In other art-related news, I've finished the layout & sketches for my new comic (tentatively titled "Losers, Weepers"), and I've started transferring them to bristol. I freehanded the lettering, and I've noticed that my type grew in size as the story progressed. Now I'll have to go back and re-letter it using my trusty Ames Lettering guide, I guess. I usually use a Prismacolor Col-Erase non-repro blue pencil to transfer the sketches, and then ink on top of that. The Col-Erase pencils are extremely soft, so I end up having to sharpen them constantly, and use one up about every two pages. I just went out and bought some blue mechanical pencil leads to try out as a replacement. They're not non-repro blue, but maybe if I use them lightly it will work well enough. If anyone has any better suggestions, I'm all ears!


Interview in Vegan Voice magazine

Sienna Blake of the Australian quarterly magazine Vegan Voice was kind enough to foot the bill for a long-distance interview over the telephone last month. I just received the issue in the mail today, and I'm impressed with the format she chose for the article. Most interviews are basically transcripts with a question and then an answer, but Sienna went the extra mile and wrote it up in a conversational style that is closer to what actually transpired.

The magazine is chock-full of other great articles and interviews as well. I highly recommend ordering this issue as well as some back issues if you're interested in vegan/vegetarian issues. Now that Herbivore Magazine is no longer in regular production, it's your best bet for a replacement!

In other vegan news, I found two vegetarian friendly restaurants in my neighborhood. They are tucked away on some side-streets that I hadn't explored. I've been seriously lamenting my lack of good vegan Mexican options here in Carroll Gardens/Brooklyn Heights, so I'm delighted to report that Calexico at 122 Union Street is phenomenal. The marinated tofu burrito has a wonderful "crack sauce" as well as non-dairy avacado sauce.

The other place is a homemade dumpling shop called Eton (205 Sackett Street). The menu is pretty simple, only about five choices (one for me - Tofu & Veggie Dumplings), but it reminds me of The Dumpling Man in the East Village, where I spent many a day and dollar.


Review in Comic Book Brain

I think this is the first review in which the reviewer breaks the comic down into each short story and reviews each separately, and then notes how they are connected as a whole. I have to admit that every story was done for a different purpose or publication and were not meant to be connected together. However, there does seem to be a common theme of unintentional (or sometimes intentional) cruelty running throughout. You can read Erik Weem's review on Comic Book Brain blog here.

I don't want to color any one's reading of my comics, but I am surprised that two conscious themes have yet to be mentioned in any of the twenty-something reviews "Old Man Winter & Other Sordid Tales" has received thus far.

SPOILER ALERT (don't read if you don't want to spoil the ending of the title story): I purposely left the circumstances of the old man's death ambiguous so that it could be interpreted as a suicide or as simply dying of loneliness after his partner's death. Nobody has yet interpreted his death as a suicide, so either it was TOO ambiguous or people have a more hopeful outlook on life than I do! Please don't take that as a cry for help or anything...I'm actually a very content person, and I can honestly say I've never thought of taking my own life! There's a lot of cruelty in this world, though, and for some reason that's what I tend to focus on in my artwork (in my comics, at least).

The second theme that hasn't been commented on is the cycle of abuse I tried to hint at in the "Circus" comic at the end of the book. The boy is beat by his father, runs away from home and becomes a caretaker for the elephant in the circus. The elephant's back story involves being domesticated through a traditional ritual of being separated from its mother at an early age, caged and beaten for days on end and dragged through the village until it shows no signs of rebellion before being worked to exhaustion. The combination of cruel trainers (or mahouts) and their powerful but spiritually broken subjects is a perfect storm for disaster. How many zoo or circus animals have to freak out and kill people before it is concluded that this is simply not the way to treat animals?

Barnum and Bailey's circus consistently claim that they do not use intimidation or beatings to train their animals even when countless undercover footage repudiates these claims. Jumping through hoops of fire goes against every instinct of a tiger, walking on two legs is unnatural and undoubtedly uncomfortable for an elephant, and they are not going to do these types of "tricks" without being intimidated.

In contrast, the diminutive Thai woman who runs Elephant Nature Park is able to gain her elephants trust through loving behavior, even when they have been previously abused and neglected. She doesn't ask them to perform for guests, but visitors are no less impressed. They each display a unique personality and consistently show compassion for one another.

I didn't start this post intending to sermonize. I tend to work myself up. Sorry!!


Edward Gorey House!

A friend of ours was working in Cape Cod, so she graciously invited us to share her (comped) hotel room. Another friend in D.C. drove up and picked us up from Brooklyn. We've been talking about taking a last child-free vacation before the little lady makes her triumphant appearance, so this was the perfect opportunity.

I figured it would be a nice few days hanging out on the beach, but upon browsing through the free tourist-bureau pamphlets littering the hotel lobby I was thrilled to find illustrator-extraordinaire Edward Gorey's house a stone's throw away! After he passed away in 2002, his house was converted into a museum displaying his sketches, original drawings, nick-nacks, cat graveyard, etc.

I can't tell you how much I love Gorey's work, but suffice it to say, I was stoked. Karen gave me a book collecting Gorey interviews on my birthday, so I'm once again steeped in admiration and awe for the man. Viva Edward Gorey!


Review in Arborcide

This has to be my favorite introduction to a review of my "Old Man Winter" comic yet:

"I was torn about whether or not to write about this title, as I always am with Xeric books. I find myself habitually weary of kicking up-and-comers in the proverbial unsuspecting balls, particular since I'm afraid they'll hold a grudge and seek revenge for any slighting I may dish out on them."

That sounds like a warm up to a bad review, but the review by "Mister V" on his Arborcides blog is actually quite flattering. He doesn't like the bleak didactic nature of the animal-welfare themed stories (he's not alone in that!), but he's very complimentary about the artwork. I assume he would probably enjoy my Snoop Dogg mini since it is light-hearted and has no morality tales.

Anyhow, you can read the review for yourself if you'd like (click here to read it).

Reviews in Comics And...Other Imaginary Tales & Poopsheet Foundation

We just got back from our last child-free vacation, and there was a few nice reviews waiting for me. The first is a review of "Old Man Winter" by Jim Martin & Lee (don't know his last name) of Comics And...Other Imaginary Tales blog (click here to read it). Their focus seems to be more toward superhero comics rather than indie (although Lee does like slice-of-life comics). I always like to get an outsiders perspective, and I'm glad that they both seemed to enjoy my comics.

The other review was for my "Tales of Good Ol' Snoop Doggy Dogg" mini comic. I didn't send these out for review since sending out review copies of "Old Man Winter" nearly bankrupted me, but I did send one to Poopsheet Foundation since they specialize in minis. Robert Newsome gave it a great review, so thanks Robert (click here to read it) !


It's a Monkey!

Karen is excited that we're having a girl, but I'm excited that we're having a MONKEY! The proof is right there in the sonogram. I don't know how she snuck a banana into the womb, but she did. I've provided my interpretation to show some of the finer details since ultrasounds can be kind of murky.

We went immediately to the hardware store after the doctor appointment to pick up some paint. We're going to paint the baby's room mint green and pink, and I'm going to do a pigeon mural on this one weird slanted wall. It's a known fact that monkeys love pigeons.

In other news, my new comic is coming along nicely. I've got over ten pages sketched out.