A.D. lands @ Idlewild


[Wherein I continue my rundown of the A.D. book tour, picking up back home in NYC on August 25, 2009. Will I ever catch up?]

A.D.‘s New York book launch and benefit was held at Idlewild Books on August 25. I had just gotten back from New Orleans the day before and barely had time to catch my breath before diving back into the fray. But I wouldn’t have had it any other way, given this chance to celebrate the book’s release with so many local friends and family. And so many of them did attend, including both sets of my parents, Sari’s folks, most of our brothers and their significant others, a cousin, and many, many friends, both new and old — far too many to list — including a generous helping of my compatriots from the cartooning community. I was truly touched by the outpouring of love and support for the book (and me!).

The party was also a benefit for Common Ground Relief, and was augmented by beer, wine, snacks, pralines flown in from NOLA, and best of all, the live music of Mary McBride! By all accounts, it was a smashing success, as the place was packed for the whole three hours. My only complaint — and it’s not a real one — is I didn’t get a chance to say more than the most cursory hello to anyone, as I was kept occupied pretty much the whole time signing people’s books. In that way, someone likened the event to a wedding, and it was like my wedding day in the sense that it is all now a happy blur.

I do know it actually happened, thanks to my wonderful ex-assistant Rachel, who videotaped my rambling incoherent (and ultimately teary) speech of thanks at the event, which if you insist on viewing can be seen here. Also, just as things were heating up, Jason Boog of GalleyCat did a video interview with me, which can be seen here. And my good pal (a.k.a. Heidi MacDonald) covered the event for Publishers Weekly’s "The Beat," which you can read here (even though, weirdly, I am not pictured!).

In the end, Idlewild sold out of all 75 copies of A.D. — and the benefit raised $1,200 for Common Ground! Big ups to the Big Apple!

Next Monday, March 23: "Slice" #4 release party


Sari has a new short story, "Patriotic Dead," which will be appearing in Slice #4!

Slice is a very cool Brooklyn-based literary journal whose aim is to spark a dialogue between emerging and established writers. They’ll be holding a party to celebrate the new issue next Monday at Dixon Place. The event includes Slice‘s "first annual Literary Trivia Showdown." Three teams of five authors, five editors, and five agents will go head-to-head to see who knows the most about the literary realm. Participants include Jonathan Lethem, Chip Kidd, Amy Einhorn, and Jim Rutman. Tickets are $25, which includes "Issue 4, Sixpoint’s delicious craft ale, an assortment of snacks, and a firsthand view of the trivia shenanigans." See you there?


Monday, March 23, 2009 6:30 – 9:30pm (trivia begins at 7:30pm)
Dixon Place
161 Chrystie Street (between Rivington and Delancey)
New York City

My 6-Word Memoir In Print


This seems to be the week for Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure, the new book from SMITH Magazine (yes, the same SMITH which publishes A.D.). The book’s been getting tons of press, including an excellent interview with co-editors Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser on NPR’s “Talk of The Nation.”

Not Quite What I Was Planning originated from a contest SMITH held with Twitter last year, inspired by a possibly heretical tale that Ernest Hemingway wrote a complete short story in six words: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Although Not Quite What I Was Planning‘s premise seems light, the pieces ultimately chosen for the book are a compelling, fascinating mix of personal stories: sad, funny, outrageous, wacky, and thought-provoking. Contributors include Sebastian Junger, Po Bronson, Deepak Chopra, Aimee Mann, Dave Eggers, Harold Ramis, Douglas Rushkoff, Nick Flynn, Paul Pope, Stephen Colbert, Arianna Huffington, Lemony Snicket, Neal Pollack, Jonathan Lethem, Richard Ford, Amy Sedaris, and hundreds of other more “obscure” memoirists. Oh, and yours truly: “When she proposed, I said yes” (p. 71). (Plus, I drew the pic of Harvey Pekar that graces his memoir, “Fight, work, persevere — gain slight notoriety,” p. 38.)

Sari (who’s also a contributor: “Suburban girl tries to make bad,” p. 152) and I (and little Phoebe) dropped by Housing Works this past Saturday night for the Not Quite What I Was Planningrelease party, where we saw fellow 6-word-ists man_size, bobfingerman, sazzabee, dangoldman, and jahfurry, as well as about a million other people. (I also had the pleasure of meeting, in person for the first time, SMITH co-editor Tim Barkow, who designed the amazing comics interface that makes A.D. real so well.) It was quite a scene! Phoebe, as usual, stole the show, and she even appears (twice) in a video shot at the party by Jason Boog from The Publishing Spot. Sari & Phoebe come off great in the video, but for some reason, my voice sounds exactly like Kermit the Frog’s. Ugh.

There’s also a funny riff on the book’s premise on PublishersWeekly.com today, imagining 6-word-memoirs by classic writers of the past & present. Some of them are quite amusing, even though some of the writers who are spoofed — like Joyce Carol Oates — actually have 6-word-memoirs in the book! And contributor Frank Gilroy is putting together a registry of Not Quite What I Was Planning memoirists and their websites.

So forgive my bias when I say the book isn’t just a quick novelty piece, but something real and trenchant and worth reading. After all, Vanity Fair says the little book “will thrill minimalists and inspire maximalists,” while Publisher’s Weekly finds that it makes for “compulsive reading and prove arguably as insightful as any 300+ page biography.” Go ahead and buy a copy or two. It’ll be the best $12 you ever spent to support a great online journal, and provide yourself with some fantastic bathroom reading.

Oh, and go ahead and submit your pithy memoir to sixwordmemoir.com — rumor is that a sequel is already in the works.

TONIGHT: Comic Book Legal Defense Fund-raiser

Comics, Publicity

Tonight, come celebrate comics and the First Amendment, while reveling alongside an all-star line up of creators! The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund‘s NYC Holiday Member party, co-hosted by JahFurry, begins promptly at 7pm and continues until 11pm, with plenty of fun in between, including a live comics jam, raffles and door prizes, live jazz-funk by Avi Bortnick, delicious vittles, and more comics stars than you can shake a sketchbook at. Location: Village Pourhouse, 64 3rd Ave @ 11th St., New York City.

As Douglas Rushkoff puts it so well, “These are tough times for the Bill of Rights, and comics are just one of many canaries in the mine shaft. But they are a great litmus test for free speech, a highly accessible and fertile forum for ideas that simply can’t be disseminated through other mainstream media, and—perhaps most importantly—a way to share important concepts and ways of thinking with young people…. Join [us] as we celebrate and support freedom of expression in the original bottom-up mass medium….”

Confirmed guest creators include: Kyle Baker, Paul Pope, Moby, Alex Maleev, Douglas Rushkoff, John Lucas, Rick Spears, man_size, 4-eyez, bertozzi, zegas, mollycrabapple, heartshapedkey, dangoldman, Anthony Lappé, Andy MacDonald, Arvid Nelson, jentong, bobo_dreams, hottenecolden, Alec Longstreth, incogvito, new_universe, and Paul Azaceta.

I’m donating a grab-bag of signed 4-eyez goodies, including the brand-new CD of The Civilians’ Gone Missing soundtrack, which includes a comix adaptation of one of the monologues from the show; the new PBS Nature comic; A Few Perfect Hours; The Vagabonds #1 and #2; Titans of Finance; and Katrina Came Calling.

tonight: "floodwall," followed by ACT-I-VATE party


The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council is hosting a really cool exhibit by New Orleans artist Jana Napoli:

“Moved to action by the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, Napoli collected hundreds of drawers from the flooded and abandoned neighborhoods in the days and months that followed.

“In this site-specific installation, the drawers sit upright along a 230-foot-long platform, which spans the length of Liberty Street Bridge — standing like empty luggage without their passengers and flowing like a levee, broken in places. Beneath the drawers, placed in intervals along the platform, moving-message LED signs silently repeat the words of the people who have parted with these drawers. Their words reminisce and mourn:

“‘I thought New Orleans would be a good place to go for rain and history, and it was.’ . . . ‘Having to throw your furniture out in front of your house — your life is sort of taken from you and sort of dumped out in your front yard.’ . . . ‘New Orleans was here before America was here and we are a part of America.'”

The show will be up ’til Feb. 9. There’s a free reception and walk-through (with the artist) tonight, from 6:30-8:30 p.m (again, at the Liberty Street Bridge of the World Financial Center). I’ll be there, and then hit up the ACT-I-VATE party at the Village Pourhouse.

Vagabonds #2 Release Party @ Sheep Station, Wed. Nov 8, 6:30-8 pm

Publicity, Work

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingPlease join me Wed., Nov. 8 in a collaborative celebration of the release of The Vagabonds #2: “Of Two Minds,” a collection of my comix collaborations — and my first new comic book in two years.

Sheep Station, a new Brooklyn-Australian pub, is hosting the event, where you can get a signed copy of the book (along with other Josh titles like Katrina Came Calling, A Few Perfect Hours, and of course The Vagabonds #1). Come by to get a copy, mingle with some of the contributors, and sample Sheep Station’s fine selection of Aussie beers and delicacies, like meat pie, the Shearer’s burger, fish & chips, and mussels & oysters.

Sheep Station is classy, cozy, has a fireplace, and is located just minutes away from the Atlantic Avenue train station/metro hub. (Nearest train stop: Union Street on the N and the R, or an 8-minute walk from the Atlantic Ave. stop.) All are welcome: I hope to see you there!

The Vagabonds #2 @ Sheep Station
149 4th Avenue (corner of Douglass)
Brooklyn, NY
Wed. Nov. 8, 6:30 – 8 pm

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Sin City’s Sins, Sans Regrets


The less said about the Sin City advance screening the better. I enjoyed the first half-hour or so (most of the Marv storyline) purely on aesthetic levels — they really did bring the comic’s script and art to cinematic life — but by the end I felt like I had been bludgeoned and tortured. It reminded me why I stopped reading, and eventually got rid of, my Sin City comics (except for the original GN).

Going back to the original series, I find so much more to like than its filmic transmutation. The themes and content still leave me yawning, but the art is truly transcendent, unique to itself and much more sophisticated than memory alone represents it. Unfortunately, what started out as a fairly original homage to pulp novels became a pastiche of itself, Miller endlessly repeating himself and his sick themes of male angst. So boring! And what’s the deal with all the repeated castrations? The little Catholic schoolboy hitting his wee-wee ’cause he whacked off too much the night before? Yeeesh.

My mood was blue about the state of our culture as I left the theatre and it wasn’t helped when I found myself walking next to a fallen light from the fairly recent past. I don’t want to name him here for fear of embarrassment, but suffice it to say that he was a well-respected if not particularly virtuosic inker who worked with everybody from Miller to Byrne, Romita Jr. to Infantino, Marshall Rogers to Klaus Janson. Like I said, he was a loyal worker, dutifully putting in his stint in the assembly line that was mainstream comics.

A Trip Down the Red Carpet


man_size and I (and our dates) went to the American Splendor NYC premiere on Wednesday night (August 12) and I had the time of my life. It was my second time seeing the film and I enjoyed it just as much this go-around. Dean and his girlfriend — a film editor — are old hands at movie premieres, but I ate it all up. The red carpet, the limos, the star treatment for Harvey & Joyce — it was exciting, thrilling and bizarre, all at once. I finally met Toby Radloff — someone I’ve drawn a number of times in the comic — in person, and he was just as strange as I’ve always imagined. I also met Judah Friedlander, the guy who plays Toby in the film, which was surreal.

The after-movie dinner was held in a giant studio in Chelsea, filled with kitschy set pieces from the movie: old 70s furniture, jazz records, cheesy diner tables, the works. To top it off, they served all manner of white trash junk food, from White Castle hamburgers to orange soda (Harvey’s favorite?). Totally ridiculous, but all in the service of the film, I guess.

Anyway, It was nice to catch up with Harvey, who I hadn’t seen in person in quite a while. He seemed dazed but unchanged by all the hype — the same old uncompromising, grouchy, needy, intense oddball. At the end of the evening, Dean & I found him slumped on a couch at the very darkest corner of the hall, zoned out and exhausted. I also gave a copy of The Vagabonds to Sean Astin (Sam from Lord of the Rings) who asked me to sign it for him and seemed genuinely thrilled to be getting a free comic book. Plus, I got lots of free trailer park grub and a pocket-full of jellybeans to take home with me. All in all, an evening of splendor in America.