Johnson & Sir’s Campaign is Finished

johnson and sir fully funded kickstarter

Johnson & Sir is 100 pages and 2 years worth of silliness with elves, dinosaurs, mustaches, and anime cops. I had a blast making it, talking about it, and making prints and t-shirts for it.

I’m still blown away that the KickStarter to fund the book has not just reached the initial goal, but hit TWO stretch goals! Which means even more rewards for backers.

I want to say, thank you SO MUCH for reading the webcomic, and for all of your support. It’s readers like you that helped make Johnson & Sir be so popular and great.

So what’s next? Continue reading “Johnson & Sir’s Campaign is Finished”

Johnson & Sir’s First Book: An Update

johnson and sir webcomic

Johnson & Sir are getting their first book soon!

How soon?

Well, I originally said they would be printed and ready by January 31st. I’ve been talking to the folks who will print the book (who are the same folks that printed the book edition of Validation), and I have pretty much everything together.

However, I’m fixing some formatting errors before I send the book off to print. I want this book to look its best, darnit!

But that means the book won’t be available on January 31st.

The latest the book will hit the market is February 13th (and yes, that IS a Friday the 13th. No, I’m not superstitious about it).

You can still pre-order a copy, so I can reserve a book JUST FOR YOU from the printer (because I like you, reader, and you are awesome). It’s $10, and that price includes shipping.

I’ll be taking pre-orders up until February 13th. After that, the print run is going to be small, like less than 25 books, for conventions and online orders.Completely tangential, I remember working with an old editor and he threw out the suggestion of having me print 1000 copies of a book, because depending on the printers, printing large quantities like that actually makes the per-issue cost cheaper.

But I said to him, “What the frick am I going to do with 1000 copies of a book?!”

Because you don’t realize how large of a number 1000 is until you actually see it. I saw what 1000 books looked like (thanks to my time as a former librarian), and…I am still not ready for that kind of commitment.

Hence, why I’m keeping the print run small. Small quantities are much more manageable, and then I’m not overwhelmed by books.

Plus, it makes owning the books for you much more special, knowing that you have one book out of 25, rather than one book out of 1000. It’s a lot more personal.

And I like personal.

Ok, tangent over. Thank you for reading, and I hope you’ll support Johnson & Sir! I’ll see you tomorrow.

Books I Am Reading

I am a former libarian. I. LOVE. Books.

bookshelves full of books

Since I have moved back into Ohio, I have rediscovered some of the books I had left behind when I moved to Arizona. (Because, obviously, I can’t fit all of my books into my car along with my other belongings. I need clothes on my back, yo.)

Believe it or not, I used to have a larger book collection than what’s pictured above. What’s pictured was nearly one fourth of what I used to have. I have since sold books, donated them, or given them to friends and family.

The books I have now are the books I actually want, and that I enjoy reading.

I want to share my reading list with you because not only is it long, but it may have some books that you haven’t read yet.

Books like…

blacksad comic book

I’ve read this book countless times and I never get tired of it. The watercolor paintings and the character art is just gorgeous to look through, and it has engrossing mysteries. It’s like a Disney noir detective comic and it’s brilliant.

poison chris wooding young adult novel

“Poison” is a rather dark young adult fantasy, but I remember reading it and falling in love with it when I was younger. I’m re-reading it and rediscovering some of its brilliance, especially in its later chapters.

The story is about a girl named Poison (in her village the kids pick their own names), whose baby sister is whisked away to the faerie realm. So Poison goes out to rescue her. And on the way she encounters deadly faeries, a cannibal, a kingdom of spiders, and master storytellers.

If you haven’t read it yet, and you’re a fan of young adult literature, read it. It’s worth it.

We'll Always Have Paris by Ray Bradbury

“We’ll Always Have Paris” is actually a collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury which (if I have it right) had not been published before 2009 or thereabouts. I inherited it from my uncle who loved his work. I read and fell in love with Fahrenheit 451, so I was excited to read his short stories.

I’ve only read the first short story in it so far, called “Massinello Pietro,” which is tragically hilarious. It’s about a man who gives animals away as charity and sings and dances in the wee hours of the morning before he’s taken away by the police. And it’s based on a person Bradbury was neighbors with.

I’m excited to see what else he has written.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

I’m re-reading “American Gods” because I absolutely adore this book. It’s unlike anything else Neil Gaiman has written and it still has a special place in my heart.

I’m also a wee-bit jealous that he somehow managed to blend worldly mythologies, road trips, history, and American kitsch so well. There’s no other work like it, and I don’t think Gaiman himself would ever be able to replicate this kind of magic again.

Upon re-reading it, I’m seeing all of these elements that I never noticed before in the work. The smaller details that, in the end, are giveaways to what will happen in the end.

It’s just brilliant.

reading lolita in tehran

I am a sucker for books about books. (I want to re-read “The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop” by Lewis Buzzbee for that reason).

“Reading Lolita in Tehran” is fascinating and a great eye-opener to a culture with oppressive censorship laws. This was written at a time where the cultural police would hound you if a stray hair fell out of your scarf, it was that bad.

But in that time, a former university professor gathered some of her best students and they would gather in her living room. And they would read and discuss Western literature, like Nabokov’s “Lolita” (not for the faint of heart, but a very haunting look into a villain’s psyche), “The Great Gatsby,” the works of Jane Austen, among others that Iran had banned because of their scandalous-ness.

I haven’t made it far into the book, but it’s been great so far.

the flight of the falcon by daphne du maurier

“The Flight of the Falcon” was a book I tried to read when I was much, much younger and thought I was Matilda, but the book is definitely made more for adults.

Now that I’m two chapters into it, I can see why the book eluded me as a kid: it’s about a tour guide in Italy, haunted by his past, whose tour gets derailed when an old woman from his childhood is murdered.

This book is by the same author as “Rebecca” (I haven’t read it yet, but it was made into a brilliant Hitchcock film). One thing I will give to du Maurier is that she writes brilliant atmosphere. You can feel the tension in the air with her words. I don’t know what happened to her in her life that made her writing so dark and foreboding, but she channels it well into her work.

And here are some books I have finished rather recently:

re play by christy lijewski

I actually finished reading the entire “Re:PLAY” series, which is 3 volumes long. It’s great to see the artistic progression throughout the three volumes because C. Lijewski’s work does improve throughout.

What I never realized when I read this as a younger person is that one of the main characters is a trans person. At the time I never really thought twice about it. I just went, “Oh. He was a boy but now she’s a girl. Ok cool.”

Granted, the romances in this work can be problematic. However, the characters are nicely developed and the back-and-forth banter can be hilarious to read. Combine that with the (incredibly detailed) art and the series is worth a look.

fun home alison bechdel

I never read “Fun Home” before, except for a short excerpt that appeared in a Best American Comics Anthology.

I can relate very strongly to the themes of the book, because it does talk about Bechdel growing up in rural Pennsylvania with parents who may or may not like each other. The book is also a great bildungsroman – a coming-of-age story, in which Bechdel grows into her identity as an out lesbian woman.

The narration can be hard to follow at times. I wonder if Bechdel was a grad student at one point, because sometimes the vocabulary can be unnecessarily convoluted.

I do sympathize, however, when she talks about her English classes at college, and how the professors would see particular themes in works where there’s no real evidence to support their idea. That notion does circle back into Bechdel asking herself, “Am I like my professors? Am I reading too much into the life I have lived with my father? Am I seeing elements that are not actually present in my life?”

Plus, you know, the art is lovely.

The book was a great read, so if you haven’t read it yet, you should.

Next Wednesday I’ll talk about some of the mini-comics and zines I have gotten over the years. I’ll see you then!

Comics Are Literature. Period.

I was reading through my comics news feed and came across an article, called “But Where Are The Conservative Mangas and Graphic Novels?”

The gist is that the writer found an article about conservative folks catching on that comics can spread ideas for political gain. There are already plenty of comics out there by folks who would consider themselves liberal. I still remember shelving comic books about President Obama and John McCain when I worked at the Browne Popular Culture Library.

However, the article goes on to mention the comments. That’s what got to me.

There were comments essentially boiling down to, “Them there liberals don’t like it when their kids can read!” And worse, “Comic books are not literature, and it’s not elitist to think so.”

I’m going to ignore the politically charged comments right now to focus on comics as literature.

I won’t lie. When I grew up, I thought comics were sort of dumb.

I lived in a village of less than 200 people. The library was a ten mile drive away. The only comics they carried were collections of newspaper comic strips. I never read a Marvel or DC comic until I was twenty years old.

However, the pubilc library carried one anomaly in its comics collection. I don’t know how they got this book but I’m glad they did.

It was Gundam Wing: Episode 0.

That was my first exposure to longer and more serious comics. And it changed my life.

For the first time ever, I saw that comics were like any other book. They can tell complex stories. They can have high drama. They can have glorified violence.

Hell, comics can tell any story they wanted.

When my family and I moved out of the village, we moved to a town of around 20,000 people. To make up for the culture shock, I started working at the public library there.

That was around the time that libraries noticed graphic novels were really, really popular with readers. So the local library’s graphic novel collection was fantastic. And every week there was something new. Actually, three new graphic novels a week came in sometimes.

I devoured everything in their collection, from Blankets to Paradise Kiss. I read comics that told autobiographies. Science fiction. Romance. Comedy. Fantasy. War. Shakespeare. Anything and everything was encompassed in comics.

And I loved it.

Now, the stereotype is that people who read comics can’t read “normal books” (ugh, don’t get me started on “normal”). Or worse, people who read comics are lazy and are terrible students.

I am not ashamed to admit I was an overachiever in high school. 4.2 GPA, clubs, a part-time job to save money for college (it sort of worked).

I was not lazy. So that stereotype doesn’t apply.

The other stereotype is that comic book readers can’t read “works of literature.”

And my favorite non-comic books?

I have a long list that includes 1984 by George Orwell, BeowulfThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, and Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut.

I’m such a nerd for Slaughterhouse-Five that I want to make it a graphic novel.

You could argue that I know these books because I’m a former librarian, but no. That’s not the case at all.

You could argue that reading comics was a stepping stone to reading these literary classics.

That’s not the case, either.

I read comics, graphic novels, and books because they all satisfy my need to read and engage in the world.

Books, fiction or non-fiction, are gateways into the world. They are windows to show us life and how to grow as human beings. How to empathize. How to love. How NOT to love.

Comic books and graphic novels are just a way to tell those stories.

Some people are great with words. They can write the best novels and make great pieces of literature.

I argue that there are many comics that do the same thing.

Is there trash in comics?

Yes. There’s trash in novels, too (Twilight and The Pillars of the Earth included).

But just because some works are lackluster doesn’t mean the entire medium needs to be discounted.

Comics are a valuable medium. We need comics to tell us stories just as much as we need books.

And besides, who are we to say what’s trash? I know people that actually like Twilight and I still respect them as people. Those books are a treasure to them just as much as Maus or Koko Be Good are treasures to me.

My point is, it’s not the medium that counts. It’s the story it conveys and what that story means to its reader.

For me, though, comics will always win. For me, comics are the best and most entertaining way to tell a story.

That’s why I make them. That’s why I write about them.

So what about you? What are some of your favorite books, comics or otherwise? Let me know in comments!