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Chicago Zine Fest 2012

29 Mar
by Kevin Czap

Chicago Zine Fest 2012

Aloha my dear friends. It’s convention season again, which as far as this year is looking, basically means from now until 2013 I will be going to comics shows. I did miss the excitement in the two months I had off. One of the goals I had made for myself last year was to expand the range of shows I exhibited at, with a focus on the more indie-aimed shows. So in this spirit, the first show of the year is the Chicago Zine Fest, an amazing exhibition celebrating the aspects of this game that mean the most to me – self publishing and Doing It Yourself.

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Lovefest: Teenage Mutants

15 Feb
by Kevin Czap

As I slowly get myself back into the habit of doing this Cube thing, I wanna talk about kids. I really love reading, watching and hearing about the life stories of teenagers. There’s something excruciatingly sentimental (in a good way) about this particular age where human beings are caught up with negotiating their place in this bizarre animal society we’ve constructed around ourselves. I have such a strong place in my heart for the bildungsroman – the truer the better. This all springs to mind because I’ve been in the process of collecting Bill Scienkiewicz’ mid-80s run on The New Mutants. These stories combine the wildness and beauty of The Sink’s drawing, his layouts, and his punky character designs with Chris Claremont’s melodramatic method acting and eagerness to expand the palette of representation in mainstream American comics. All to show us a bunch of kids trying to figure out who they are and what they’re supposed to do.

New Mutants
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What It Is – 2011

18 Jan
by Kevin Czap

While we’re talking about lists, perhaps it’s time to throw my own hat in this ring.

I had a really fabulous year in 2011, thanks in no small part to the amazing comics landscape I found myself increasingly mired in. It can be exhausting trying to keep up, to the point where it’s hard to breathe. That’s when you remind yourself that you don’t need to keep up with anything, this is your damn life and whatever happens in it is all she wrote. As I’ve said a few times before in this column, I’d like to champion the creation of one’s own personal canons, one’s own list of definitive works and so forth. So, in that spirit, here is a list of the works released in the past 12 months that made a significant impression on me.

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Reader Poll: Personal Best of 2011

23 Nov
by Kevin Czap

Hey gang. Not enough time for a proper blog post today, but for those worrying, I’ll have two heavy-hitting convention reports coming up in the following weeks, so stay tuned for those.

In the meantime, I wanted to maybe get some people involved with something that’s been on my mind. The end of the year is always a big whirlwind for me, and I am basically calling it a year by mid-November. So fittingly, my minds been going back over the past year and marveling at how momentous 2011 has been so far. Part of this recollection is thinking about all the great comics that have come out. What I propose is we use the comment thread here to list the comics that came out in 2011 that got you the most excited.

Now, end-of-year lists are nothing if not a dime-a-dozen, so I hope we can make this one a little different. We all there have been those huge releases that everyone lost their marbles over (Hark, A Vagrant, The Death Ray, yadda yadda). That’s all well and good. I think it’d be cool, though, if we could hear of some titles from off the beaten path. Tell me about the hidden gems that flew under the radar but still totally turned your world upside down.

My hopes with this is that if we all share the lesser-known comics we happened upon, other folks will get hip to them and check ‘em out. This way we can all help promote these deserving works that don’t already have a lot of hype behind them. Even if it’s just one! I’d love to hear from you guys.

See you next week (or earlier [wink]).

Wherefore art thou Comix?

16 Nov
by Kevin Czap

On Sunday evening, the venerable Jame Harvey (HARVEYJAMES™) generated a discussion across Twitter about, essentially, what are comics good for? Is the medium itself capable of producing work as moving or significant as literature, film, painting, sculpture, theater, etc? Us true-believers might be compelled to issue a knee-jerk dismissal to this charge, but I think it’s important we ask ourselves truthfully.
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A Tribute to Harvey Pekar – Cleveland Heights, 10/25/11

26 Oct
by Kevin Czap

Last night I spent the evening at the Dobama Theater, a part of the Cleveland Public Library, to join in a celebratory memorial service for Harvey Pekar. I hope all of you reading this know how significant a figure Harvey is, but if not, I wrote a bit about what him and his work means to me at my other blog shortly after he passed last July. For more information, there’s no shortage of writing about (and written by) him. Anyway, the purpose of this event Tuesday night was to get together with a portion of the community that knew and supported Harvey throughout his life. Some folks had come up through grade school with him, some had only known him tangentially as a part of the culture of Coventry Road. My big take away from the event is that one of the most important things Pekar’s work did was to highlight real people, real lives, and in that little community theater it was all right there.

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Where My Eyes Can See

19 Oct
by Kevin Czap

Frank Santoro

It was quite a coincidence that Darryl made the post he did on Friday about poster-sized one-pagers, since it’s in line with something I’ve been thinking about recently. One of my bigger concerns when I was at school was to try and figure out how comics could work in a gallery context. I was never satisfied with just sticking pages up on the wall – they’re designed to be held in your hands and engaged with on a personal level. My self-righteousness on this subject has cooled over the years, but I still hold to that basic concept. I stopped worrying about trying to fit comics into a gallery and just focused on making my books (or websites). Needless to say, I never figured out the answer, which left me unprepared for when I was asked to have my first solo show.

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Perfect Balance

28 Sep
by Kevin Czap

I was reading the new James Kochalka book, Fungus #1 (from Retrofit Comics) and it struck me how complete Kochalka’s drawings were. He’s developed his cartooning to a point where he’s able to strike that perfect balance between black and white on the page. The simple imagery, however, disguises just how hard it is to get black and white drawings look this good.

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An Excellent Host – A Pioneering Webcomic

24 Aug
by Kevin Czap

If you’re the kind of person who feels strongly about not having Homestuck spoiled for you, you might think twice about reading further. I’ll be addressing the most recent events of the comic, although probably not in any more detail than you’re sure to find surfing around on Tumblr. Either way, consider this a Spoiler Warning

Folks who’ve been following my opinions on comics are familiar with my feeling that Andrew Hussie is making some really clever, intelligent, daring and important work. His Problem Sleuth is one of my all time favorite comics for many reasons. Hussie’s current work in progress is the far more complex epic Homestuck. Aside from the top-notch comedy, engaging characters (maybe an understatement?) and labyrinthine plot, Homestuck has also given Hussie an excuse to pull off some really fascinating experiments in pushing the boundaries of what comics on the web are capable of. My intention is to take a look at one of the most recent.
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Chk chk chk

27 Jul
by Kevin Czap

Dave Sim

Maybe you’ve heard of that band called !!!. Like the title to Pootie’s new hit single, it’s a name that is sure to give radio disc jockeys the world over pause. Most of us (especially us, being comics afficianados and enthusiasts) are familiar with the concept that their name implies, but !!! is really not something that can transition into spoken language very smoothly. The accepted pronunciation is “chk chk chk” although I guess the official word is it’s open to interpretation.

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