Supervegan's stand-up fella Jason Das gives a glowing review of the Digestate anthology. He even manages to specifically mention a large portion of the 55 contributors (no small feat)! Read it here.

I should mention that if you are ever looking for a vegan/vegetarian or even just vegetarian-friendly restaurant in any of the five boroughs of NYC, SuperVegan has an invaluable searching tool. I've been using it for years, and it often turns me on to some great places I may not have found otherwise. 


Shout-out: Adam Hines


Portrait of The Artist as a Young Man

Adam Hines is the author of Duncan the Wonder Dog, a graphic novel series that is graciously published by AdHouse Books. He was born and raised in Illinois, and eats the same lunch every day.

Cover art for "Duncan The Wonder Dog"

Editor's note: Apparently Adam belongs to the James Kochalka School of Abbreviated Bio Blurb Writing as the above two sentences is all he gave me. So, allow me to expand a bit...

I remember Adam's book creating quite a buzz at the Small Press Expo a few years ago. The sheer heft of the book immediately caught my attention and looking inside I was immediately intrigued by the density and disparity of the artwork. Some pages featured lots of open space and simple clean lines while others had layer upon layer of collage, painting and drawing. Some characters were depicted with realism and others were cartoony, often on the same page. 

It wasn't until I brought the book home and started reading it that I realized that the content was right up my alley. Although the narrative veers away on tangents and subplots, the bulk of the story focuses on a world in which animals can communicate directly with humans. As could be expected, some animals react against the way they are often treated by humans by forming a terrorist group.

I won't pretend to understand much of what happens in this chapter (apparently this is the first book of a continuing narrative), but it was intriguing enough for me to finish the entire 400 pages in a couple of sittings. I liken Adam's work to William Faulkner or James Joyce in that it is often difficult to follow the story, but there are rewards in simply appreciating the beauty of the language (in Faulkner/Joyce's case) or interplay between art and language (in Hines' case). 

That said, it doesn't feel as if Hines' is attempting to be opaque or "show off", and there is plenty of humor inter dispersed throughout. I suspect he's just a naturally intelligent and prolific dude doing what he enjoys. I look forward to the next chapter of "Duncan the Wonder Dog"!


Cyber Monday Sale on comics & more (FREE SHIPPING)!

Birdcage Bottom Books is having a Cyber Monday sale now through midnight 11/26/12. FREE SHIPPING on orders over $15 (within the U.S.). Just use the coupon code: CYBERMONDAY12 at check out.

You can see more details here.

We're carrying lots of new comics in our shop from the likes of James Kochalka, Kevin Cannon, Josh Burggraf, Danny Hellman, Victor Kerlow & William Cardini as well as old classics from Ben Snakepit, J.T. Yost & Noah Van Sciver!


Another great review for Digestate!

Cameron Kunzelman reviews the Digestate anthology on This Cage Is Worms. Read it here!

I've gotta say that these reviews are making me really happy. Granted, there's only been three so far, but they've all been so overwhelmingly positive. It makes the hours and hours of work and the fact that I literally cashed in my change jar to help pay for shipping worth it.

Also, on a personal level, the response to my own comic has been better than I could've hoped. I really tried to learn from the criticism I received for the animal-welfare themed stories in my first book (on sale, btw!), and it looks like my current attempt has been very well received (so far all three reviewers have picked it out as their favorite of the 60 comics included!).

The criticism of my earlier work mostly centered on it being too didactic. This was an easy trap for me to fall into when discussing something that I'm so passionate about. I can attest that making your audience feel attacked is not usually an effective tool in bringing about a change of mind. In fact, one of my friends who credits me as the catalyst for becoming vegan (happy to report that he and his wife are raising two vegan kids) told me that it wasn't anything I told him verbally that caused him to change his diet but rather my cooking. It made him realize that vegan food was anything but tasteless or boring.

On this piece ("Slaughterhouse Stories") I tried to focus more on the human toll that is a result of high demand for inexpensive meat. My dad once asked me why I focus so much on animal suffering when there are so many humans suffering, and that has always stuck in my mind. I don't have an easy answer for his question, but I can say that I feel we have a responsibility to protect animals just as much as we do our fellow humans.

I should point out that the text in my comic is verbatim (although edited down into a more manageable length) from an actual slaughterhouse worker. At one time I was hoping to adapt Gail Eisnitz's excellent book "Slaughterhouse" into a graphic novel. I abandoned that project when I couldn't get a clear answer as to whether her publisher would allow me to publish my adaptation, but her story stuck in my mind. When putting together this food & eating themed anthology, I realized that I could make a shorter comic based on some of Gail's interviews with slaughterhouse workers.

She was kind enough to send me a (huge) stack of affidavits used to write her own book. There were so many horrific and compelling stories told in these interviews, that it was extremely difficult to pick just one (in fact, I hope to someday develop more of these transcripts, thus the pluralization of "Slaughterhouse Stories" in the title of my comic). Many of the interviews dealt with the cruelty animals suffered in multiple meat processing plants, but I sought out one that focused more on how the workers in these abattoirs suffered.

As one reviewer pointed out, I did try to avoid showing gore spattered hogs whenever possible (an impossible task, but I kept it to a minimum) in favor of being less explicit. My cartoony style of drawing is not ideal for horrific imagery anyway, but I also feel that the readers' imaginations would probably do a better job. We've all seen the undercover footage taken inside slaughterhouses by now, and there's no way I could compete with that.

Anyhow, I didn't intend to ramble on like that. I was just going to post the review link.

Oh, one last thing I should mention: Gail Eisnitz is the Chief Investigator at the Humane Farming Association. They try to affect change in the slaughterhouse industry through Congress and other means. Please support them in any way that you can!


Shout-out: Marek Bennett


Marek Bennettwww.MarekBennett.com ) is a longtime contributor to the terrestrial carbon cycle, both through exhalations and excretions. [photo redacted]  His best-loved works include several stacks of thermal carbon reserves

and an elaborate system of interspecies managed animal-vegetable symbiocommunes 

fueled by a potent yet playful combination of manures, grasses, isopods, annelids, and sweat.  His largest manure pile currently maxes out at over 110 degrees F on a rainy day in the shade! 

When at rest, Bennett stays sharp by drawing comics related to (but not limited to):
During certain seasons, the subject can be seen shuttling frantically between schools and libraries, assisting groups of young victims in dealing with the symptoms of Early-Onset Obsessive Original Comics Creation Disorder. 

His most recent full-size mini-comic was LIVES OF THE SAINTS [ http://marekcomics.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/lives-of-the-saints/ ], detailing the gruesome deaths (sic) of eight saints found on a 16th century gothic altar in Eastern Slovakia.  

His most recent book was NICARAGUA COMICS TRAVEL JOURNAL [ http://marekcomics.wordpress.com/2009/10/06/nicaragua-comics-travel-journal/ ].  

His current webcomic, COFFEE+DUMPLING+KOMIKS [ http://marekslovakia.wordpress.com/ ], publishes daily from now until it's finally collected in book form!

Subject seems to enjoy procrastinating by grilling small or chopped vegetables, fungi, and animals over open flames.

Editor's note: Marek won a Xeric grant for his book "Breakfast at Mimi's" in the same cycle as I received one for my first book. I emailed him to see if he was up for a trade, and he was. "Mimi's Doughnuts" (the comic strip collected in his Xeric book) instantly connected with me because of my own doughnut-related experiences. My dad ran a Dunkin' Donuts throughout most of my childhood, and I worked there from about 12 years old and on (longer if you count folding donut boxes or rolling quarters from the cigarette machine while my dad counted the cash drawers). 

I mentioned this to Marek, and it just so happened that his current storyline involved a Dunkin' Donut-like chain opening up near the mom-and-pop style doughnut shop central to "Mimi's Doughnuts". We made plans for me to bore him with donut-related anecdotes after the Small Press Expo that year, but unfortunately my ride came before we could chat. 

Anyhow, it is my personal opinion that Marek's current project "COFFEE+DUMPLING+KOMIKS" is  above and beyond anything he's done in the past (that's not to disparage his past work, I just REALLY love this comic). There's a nice size excerpt of it in Digestate, so check it out!


DIGESTATE reviews start rollin' in...

An incredibly thorough (considering the scope of this anthology) review by Matt Brady on Warren Peace.Click here to read it!
Poopsheet Foundation doesn't seem to have a logo, so here's a Justin Giampaoli avatar!
Not to be outdone, Justin Giampaoli gives an equally thorough review for Poopsheet Foundation. Click here to read it!


Admiral Ackbar

For all you Star Wars nerds out there (and can we really call Star Wars fans nerds anymore? I would guess that at least 75% of humanity admits to liking SW at this point), here's a little drawing I did for cartoonist extraordinaire Jeffrey Brown as a thank you for being an upright, upstanding kinda dude.


P.S. If you don't get it, you can rest easy that you are not, in fact, a Star Wars nerd. 


Birdcage Bottom Books at New York Comic Con!

BBB will be at the New York Comic Con on October 12 (Friday) & October 13 (Saturday) from 1 pm until 5 pm. We may also be there on October 14 (Sunday) from 1-5 pm depending on how much we have packed for our trip to Atlanta the following morning!
You can find us at the Kickstarter booth (Artist Alley at Booth N407) along with other artists hawking comics funded (in part) through Kickstarter. 
We've never been to a super-hero-centric comic convention (just indie/self-publisher-centric ones), so please come by and tell us everything will be alright. We admit that we're a little terrified. 


L. Nichols' "Flocks" memoir comics

Just wanted to clue you in to an opportunity to pre-order the next four issues of L. Nichols' excellent "Flocks" comic series. The first issue is available from Retrofit Comics, and the rest will be available through Grindstone Comics (you can get a subscription or order individual issues). They'll all be in full color!


Shout-out: Gary Fields


Gary Fields was born with a pencil in his hand and weaned on Hanna-Barbera cartoons, Mad magazine and Rat Finks.  He's been drawing professionally for over 25 years and is really old.  He is a member of the National Cartoonists' Society, SCBWI, and hopes to create a childrens' book.  He lives in the exotic state of New Jersey with his wife, three children, and one boxer.

Editor's note: I recently met up with Gary, and I am happy to report that he looks EXACTLY like his self-portrait up there. Even down to the single drop of sweat flying from the back of his head. 

I love Gary's aesthetic. It mashes together a clean & classic Hanna-Barbera style with elements of old Jazz album covers from the '50s & '60s (a touch of Jim Flora, maybe?). There's vibrancy to all of his drawings that show how much he enjoys drawing. Really wonderful character design. 

I'm still alive

Been a while since I rapped at ya, and for that I apologize. Between the Small Press Expo a few weeks ago, the Sisyphean task of shipping out all of the Digestate Kickstarter rewards and the upcoming New York Comic Con, I have been remiss.


I'm going to take a moment now to write up a Digestate contributor spotlight. So, keep an eye out.


DIGESTATE contributors at SPX 2012

Turns out 18 of the Digestate contributors will be at SPX this year, so we've put together this handy map in case you'd like to get your book signed by them.

Victor Kerlow, Josh Burggraf & J.T. Dockery will be at SPX, although they don't have a table this year. But, if you want them to sign your book, you're in luck! Victor & Josh will be signing at the Birdcage Bottom Books table (H13) from 1:30 until 2:30 on Sunday and J.T. Dockery will be signing from 3:00 until 4:00 on Sunday.

We'll be handing out copies of this map with each book, so don't worry about trying to print out this lo-res version!


Shout-out: Tod C. Parkhill


Tod C. Parkhill grew up on a non-functioning farm in South-western Virginia. He drew his first comic at age 5 about a 1/3 fish, 1/3 frog, ½ dragonfly that came to life in a pond full of toxic chemicals. It didn’t make any sense to anyone then either. He continued to make comics throughout high school and college that made just as much sense (read: none).

In 2001, he founded Young American Comics (http://www.youngamericancomics.com/), a small press publishing company that produced many collaborative projects and experimental comics including The BIZMAR (Bunny, Insect, Zombie, Monkey, Alien, Robot) Anthology, The Small Town/Big City Anthology, Captain Preposterous, The Mighty Offenders and 250 Crumpled Wads of Paper. He continued publishing books with his wife Corey Marie (http://coreymarie.com/) until the financial downturn of 2008 caused them to close shop in 2009. 

He has since worked as a writer and/or artist on several comics such as Star Wars Tales by Darkhorse Comics, The Yo Gabba Gabba: Comic Book Time by Oni Press and Aftershock, a book to benefit the relief efforts after the Japan earthquake by Big Ugly Robot.

He currently lives with his family in a small town in central Michigan and is working on a 366-day “page-a-day” comic challenge which can be found (among other things) at his blog todorrobot (http://www.todorrobot.com/). He is also contributing to as many comic anthologies as he can make time for and can be contacted at todparkhill@gmail.com. 

Editor's note: Tod has the dubious honor of being the first person I met at college in Richmond, VA. If I remember correctly, he approached me because I was wearing a TMBG shirt (if you don't know what that stands for, congratulations, you may not be a nerd). He introduced himself to me and my family as "Tod with one 'D'". This was apparently so memorable that my dad, to this day (20 years later), still says, "Tod with one'D'?" whenever Tod's name comes up. 

Anyhow, Tod also has the dubious honor of being the first person to publish my comics. He always came up with great ideas for anthologies. I sort of feel I'm carrying/relighting the torch for Young American Comics with both the Digestate anthology and by publishing some of our mutual friend Ben Snakepit's comics (Tod's publishing company published Snakepit comic diaries quarterly in the early part of this century). 

** Tod & his wife Corey are opening Riverside Art & Supply Co., an artist studio, boutique of handmade items (including comics & zines), classes, cupcakes & tea, etc. in their community in Michigan.


Shout-out: Kevin Cannon


Kevin Cannon is a cartoonist and illustrator from Minneapolis. He is best known for his Eisner nominated graphic novel "Far Arden" and he was picked by City Pages as the "best cartoonist in the Twin Cities" in 2011 (a title he doesn't agree with but he'll go ahead and use it for promotional purposes). Kevin runs Big Time Attic studio with not-brother Zander Cannon, and together they have illustrated several nonfiction graphic novels about evolution, genetics, paleontology, and the space race. Also, Cannon is a carnivore.

Editor's note: Judging from Kevin's inscription inside, I picked up "Far Arden" at MoCCA 2009. I'm pretty certain I picked it up solely based on the drawing style, but man was I in for a surprise. This was one of my favorite (if not my favorite) comics published in '09. It works on so many levels: compelling adventure story, humor that made me laugh out loud ("LOL" for you kids), intricately woven enigmatic characters, a surprisingly touching ending and, as I mentioned, great drawings. 

Cannon paid a lot of attention to some seemingly minor elements of the comic that really stood out to me. His use of tongue-in-cheek exposition cracks me up (the beginning of one scene has a character saying, "...so, to reiterate what I said on the walk over here, Sampson and Josh here are not naval officers, but cops of a special nature..."). Extremely specific written sound-effects are also consistently funny ("ANGRY ORPHAN PUNCH!", "MID-AIR GROIN GRINDER", etc.). The transitions between scenes are always well thought out. Often dialogue from the last scene carries over into a new scene, but has some significance to the new scene as well. Cannon even amuses himself with an in-joke deposited within the story (discussing a secret code, a character says, "Even a teenager with a genetics-themed graphic novel could have figured this out", referring to a nonfiction graphic novel Cannon co-illustrated.)

Oh, also, check out Kevin & Zander's Double Barrel for lots of new work.

A new Army Shanks adventure

Interior page from "Crater XV"

Lake Minnesota

Northeast Minneapolis


Where To Sell Your Mini Comics

The following is a guest post by Evelyn Tate, with subject matter & stores suggested by yours truly. Enjoy!

When Love For Art Prevails Over ˝Cash-In˝ Desire, Mini Comics Are Born
In every art form, there are two types of people: there are those who cash in, and then there are those who are broke! In the music world, pop and mainstream music are an example of those who cash in. Of course, there is also the jealous bunch who will tell you that there is no real artistry where the money is. They will come at you with pitchforks and torches yelling how these “mainstream” artists have sold out from the art. We all know that no one will say no to a few dollars, and we all wish to create the next big thing.

Kevin Cannon's "Beard Hero" mini comic

When You Expect ˝NO˝ When Asking for Shelf Space for Your Mini, You Are Probably Right
Our world of comics isn’t that different. Only thing is, instead of mix-tapes and self-published You Tube videos (where Justin Bieber was discovered) we have mini comics. Say what you will, but these comics represent the truest form of artistic expression that comics have. They form beautiful channels of expression and creativity. What is so great  about them is that you can find any sort of content and style you are looking for. From dark humor, mystery stories, simple sketching, complicated composite drawings, squiggles of almost incoherent lines and so many other artistic elements all within the pages of these free expression comics.

While some of us do this purely for the love of the art, there are those who want to share or cash in on their comics. Anyone who has ever tried to sell their own comic knows that it really is an uphill battle. The brutal truth is that there are not many people who will go out of their way to look through the piles of mini comics in their local comic store. Why should they anyway? Who knows if you even have content that is worth their hard earned two bucks? If you are trying to sell your mini comics, you should probably read what Alex Cox has to say about it. Although he closed the doors to Rocketship a few years ago, his advice remains valid. 

A comic shop is not like a soup kitchen; it needs to make sales to stay afloat! That is why they most likely won’t give you a second thought about giving up space on their shelves for your mini comics. What’s more, even those that honestly want to help you out have costs to think about, too. No matter how good hearted they are, at the end of the month when the landlord comes knocking, he doesn’t want excuses. His landlord insurance doesn’t cover broke comic stores with an affinity for helping mini comic artists! Accolades are due to comic shops that actually give space to this art form.

R.I.P., Rocketship - It was fun while it lasted!

When You Expect ˝NO˝ When Asking for Shelf Space for Your Mini, You Might Be in For a Huge Surprise
In a time when artists are turning to the web to provide greater publicity, giving up your shelf space is a real sacrifice. Some of these comic retailers that have taken their space to showcase mini comics in their stores, still stand proud, though.

If you live in New York City, Forbidden Planet (check out their new location!) and Jim Hanley’s Universe are great spots to check out mini comics. Across the bridge, Desert Island in Brooklyn also ensures that mini comics see the light of day. Owner, Gabe Fowler, is also one of the founders of the Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festival.

Forbidden Planet's new digs
JHU storefront (photo by Garrett Kling)
Desert Island (photo borrowed from an interview with Gabe Fowler in Readymade Magazine)

We all love the traditional brick and mortar comic stores; there’s just something authentic about them. What makes them even better is when they carry your favorite editions and a huge section of mini comics, like Quimby's and sister store, Chicago Comics, does. 

Quimby's - oh, how we love that logo by Chris Ware (photo by Wonkavision)
Chicago Comics storefront (photo from The Cool Kids Table blog)

In Baltimore, Atomic Books in Maryland has a section devoted to mini comics (and  zines). They are not a comic store in the strictest sense of the word, but they give plenty of space to DIY mini comics and even occasionally publish their own ("Mutant Funnies"). Owner, Benn Ray, encourages self-publishing through his The Revenge Of Print group 

Atomic Books storefront (photo from Atticus Books blog)

Jason Leivian’s Floating World in Portland, Oregon is also worth checking out if you are in that area. They have a stylish place with a lot of comics on offer. However, it is Jason’s love for the little guy of art that is especially inspiring. You can check out their collection ofmini comics and even pop in for their exhibitions when they are up.

Floating World (photo from here)

Laughing Ogre, which has locations in Columbus, Ohio and Virginia is also worth mentioning. The traditional image of a geeky, messy area is put to shame here with their large, ultra-organized shelving. They have a great array of comics, including local mini comics that you can look through.

The Laughing Ogre (photo from Flavorwire)

There are so many other shops across the country, and indeed across the world that could be mentioned. Austin BooksThe Secret HeadquartersHouse of Secrets and many other shops give mini comics even a small chance. Wherever your shop is, thank you for giving these artists a chance. You never know, you might be stocking the next big thing.

If you live near these comic shops, please go and support them. Take a few minutes to go through their mini comics instead of rushing for the latest edition of The Avengers. It won’t cost you a lot to buy an interesting mini comic, they are usually cheap anyway. Let’s support these unsung heroes in their labor of love. You can also attend mini comic events, such as the Mini Comics Day or any of the great mini-centric festivals where you can meet the artists face to face (MoCCASPXCAKESTAPLEAPESTUMPTOWNTCAFBC&GF, etc., etc.)

* If you know of a retailer that deserves recognition for carrying handmade comics, please give 'em a shout-out in the comments!