This weekend: Brooklyn Book Festival


The Brooklyn Book Festival is this coming Sunday, September 12, and I’ll be on a panel starting at 2 pm on the International stage featuring Nick Abadzis and Jessica Abel, moderated by Matt Madden. So if you’re not out of town at SPX, try to come. Believe it or not, this is my first BKBF, and I’m really excited to take part!

Here’s the description from the program:

The International Graphic Novel: Drawing from Life: Three acclaimed cartoonists, whose work takes on social and political themes, talk about the on-the-ground research and background work they have all done in preparation for creating their books: Nick Abadzis (Laika), Josh Neufeld (AD: New Orleans After The Deluge) and Jessica Abel (La Perdida). Moderated by Matt Madden (99 Ways To Tell a Story).

There’ll be a group book signing afterward.

And at 4 pm be sure to catch the other comics talk on the program:

Comics and Form: Is the Medium Still the Message?: Do comics change when they are released from their traditional print medium? And how? Creators, publishers and developers will combine to discuss the expanding boundaries of the comics format. Robert Berry (Ulysses Seen), Ben Katchor (Julius Knipl: Real Estate Photographer), Jillian Tamaki (Skim). Moderated by Columbia University librarian Karen Green.

2010 Brooklyn Book Festival
Sunday, September 12, 10 am – 6 pm
Brooklyn Borough Hall
209 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201



One of my weekly rituals is my Tuesday night basketball game in Manhattan. I live in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, so to get to the game in the Lower East Side, I switch at Atlantic Avenue to either the B or the Q. The B takes me to Grand Street, where I walk to the game; or the Q takes me to Canal, where I switch to the M to Essex. But that’s neither here nor there. (Sorry, bad pun.)

Usually, during the B/Q leg, my head’s buried in a book or my iPod, but the other day, in the section of tunnel right before the train emerged from the Dekalb station into the open air of the Manhattan Bridge, I was idly glancing out the window… and I saw the coolest thing! Flickering by against a background of bright white was what I took to be a complex graffiti mural, something like you used to see in abandoned stations but rarely see in the subways any more. But as I watched the images unfold I realized this was much more than a long string of graffiti. The images moved, morphed, danced, and, at the end, took off in a rocketship! Here’s what it looked like:
(Don’t you love the running commentary?) I did a little Googling and quickly discovered this is a newly restored piece of urban art by Bill Brand called "Masstransiscope". It’s actually a zoetrope — individual paintings (in this case, 228 of them) separated by slits and "animated" by the moving train. Really ingenious — and a technique only over 100 years old, ya big dunce! (It also turns out the art was painted in an abandoned station, "Myrtle Avenue," no longer serviced by the MTA…)

So next time you’re on the Manhattan-bound B or Q, leaving the Dekalb station, keep looking out the right side of the train: you’re in a free Big Apple cartoon treat.

Co-op Convert


This year I finally joined the Park Slope Food Co-op and I’ve decided I actually like working there. For years I had avoided joining, while enjoying the fruits (literally) of Sari’s membership, but I was forced to sign up about six months ago.

I grew up in the lefty/hippie enclave of 1970s Southern California, and my mom even shopped at a co-op out there— called "People’s Food," naturally. Years later, when I went to Oberlin College, I wanted nothing to do with their strong co-op movement. I was turned off by the hairy, crunchy, unshowered ethos of those places, not to mention that I was too preoccupied with other aspects of college life to think about actually working for my food! Flash forward many years later, and those were the same reasons I didn’t join the Park Slope Food Co-op. Now that I’ve been a member for a while, I’ve certainly encountered my share of smug, ideologically driven co-oppers, but the vast majority of members are "regular folks" who enjoy being part of the community. Like Sari & me, they just want a place to buy cheap, fresh food, and don’t mind donating three hours of their time once a month to get it.

I’m in the shipping & receiving squad, and basically I unload trucks, stock shelves, and crush boxes. It brings back fond memories of my Red Cross deployment after Hurricane Katrina.So much of the life of a freelance cartoonist is about "selling yourself," "putting yourself out there," and "expressing your vision" — it’s a relief to let go of my ego, to just be a cog, as it were, working for the "greater good." I’m also grateful that my co-op duties involve physical labor, enabling me to get out from the desk and the drawing table. And the food really is good.

BPL "A.D." exhibit extension


Due to overwhelming demand … ;-> … the A.D. show at the Brooklyn Public Library has been extended until the end of the month. David Rees’s "Clip-Art Comics" show is also still up, so if you didn’t get to see the exhibits during their original Nov. 4–Jan. 10. run, now’s your chance. Whoopee!

A.D. : New Orleans After the Deluge & Clip-Art Comics

Brooklyn Public Library — Central Library
2nd floor balcony cases
Grand Army Plaza
Brooklyn, NY
BPL A.D. exhibit

Shooting "Kings" on Inauguration Day


Ironically, today, on Barack Obama’s ascension to the presidency, they’re shooting exteriors for the TV show Kings across the street from my apartment. It’s an upcoming NBC show (debuting in March) starring Deadwood‘s excellent Ian McShane: "Based on the King David story. The series is set in the modern day metropolis of Shiloh, a city under siege where the fighting has gone on for too long and cost far too many lives." Sound familiar?

This is the second time Kings has shot over here; they also filmed exteriors last April. In my role as paparazzo, here are some pics of both days’ set-ups. I like they way they dressed the Museum as some kind of grand palace.

From last April 29. A rainy day. I like the butterfly motif banners.

Bailey Fountain


There was a piece recently in the New York Times about Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza — and it never mentioned the bizarre and wonderful Bailey Fountain! The fountain is so wacky: nothing’s more fun than observing people’s slack-jawed reactions as they walk by it. For most of the time I’ve lived in the area, the fountain was a decrepit ruin, but in 2005–2006, it was renovated to its current orgiastic condition. (They’re talking about redesigning the park to make it more accessible — they better not touch ol’ Bailey!)

What with all the sultry days we’ve been having of late, I thought I’d share some photos of the thing. The main figures supposedly represent Neptune, Wisdom, and Felicity; but I think they represent Orgasm, Sex, and Groping. Check it out:

Stoopin' 2008 Report


2008 (June 21)

Brooklyn — The 8th Annual sale featured old-timers such as our hosts wjcohen & Alison (and daughters Lila & Ruby); about-ready-to-pop Kristen, her beau Kevin, and Kristen’s daughter Bella; and yours truly & Sari. And it was Phoebe’s first sale (though she seemed a bit subdued by the heat & humidity). We also were joined by Tim & Susan and their daughter Lily; and by a few boutique items from red_letter_days, though sadly not by her actual presence. Rob & Joy (and their new son Chance) are spending the summer in St. Louis, so they couldn’t join us; and Mark & Betsy are now officially retired from stooping, though Mark came by in his capacity as Stooper Emeritus to make sure things were running along smoothly.

The crowds were solid if not spectacular, with a steady stream of customers. I did well with my mix of old audio tapes (!), CDs, DVDs, comics & graphic novels, books, computer cables, and Sari’s clothes, pulling in a whopping $146, my best haul ever!

Word of the day: arbitrage. According to wjcohen, this is the practice of making more off your sale than what you originally paid. Though not true for the majority of my stuff, I do confess that I made a few bucks here and there from things I’ve “acquired” from my building’s basement. It shocks me the completely servicible things people throw away! To think I’ve been practicing stoop sale arbitrage all these years and didn’t even know it…

Stoopin' 2007 Report


The wares2007 (June 16)

Brooklyn — As in past years, the 7th Annual sale’s sellers include old-timers such as our hosts wjcohen & Alison (and daughters Lila & Ruby); Joy & Rob (and dog Piper); and yours truly.

The months leading up to sale were dominated by long-time stooper Stinky’s will-he, won’t-he retirement talk. But like Jordan and Clemens before him, Stinky left that small percentage of a chance open that he might reconsider. And coming down to the wire, prospects looked good for Stink’s return to business. But then, tragically, a death in the family took he & Betsy away for the weekend and absent from the sale. Also missed this year were stoop regulars Sari, Rebecca, and Kristen, but we were lucky to add lovely red_letter_days to the mix.

Stoopin' Part IV: 2006 report


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting2006 (June 17)

Brooklyn — As in past years, the 6th Annual sale features our hosts wjcohen & Alison, their cutey-pie daughters Lila & Ruby; as well as lovebirds Stinky & Betsy; newlyweds Joy & Rob; newcomers Kristen and Kevin; and of course Sari & yours truly. Though we all miss Stooper Supreme Rebecca (away in L.A. for the weekend), we trust she’ll join us next year at the new Carroll Park location (where wjcohen and his brood are relocating).

Overall, the sale is a resounding success, with everyone relieved to be rid of their unwanted junk and equally happy to have a couple more dollars in their pockets. I’m particularly pleased to unload a good chunk of my 1980s/90s superhero comics dreck. For 25 cents a book, or 5 for a $1, who can complain? I even sell 25 comics at one shot for a movie’s set dressing! My only true disappointment is not selling my old color TV, which I had held on to from last year’s sale. Pathetic as it sounds, I actually had an emotional attachment to that TV, as it was one of my first “grown-up” items, purchased shortly after I moved into my first post-college apartment. Sure, it’s almost 20 years old, but it still works fine, has all its parts, and I wanted to see it passed on to a worthy viewer. But, alas, it is not to be, and now the TV sits in the Atlantic Avenue Salvation Army Thrift Store…

Some sellers, however, do better than others: Proving the power of “perceived value,” Joy and Kristen price their clothes and sundries in the $5-10 range (instead of the typical $2-4) — and end up as the day’s biggest profiteers. (It may also have something to do with the quality of their merchandise, but I wouldn’t know…)