Updated weakly.

John P. has a PATREON. / King-Cat 80 is OUT.



Sunday, November 28, 2021

THE BEATLES - GET BACK (dir. Peter Jackson, 2021)

In the fall of 1979, either for my birthday or for Christmas, I asked my mom for some Beatles albums. This is one of the great mysteries of my life, because up to that point, my personal record collection consisted of A) the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, and B) The Stranger, by Billy Joel. My mom had a copy of If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears by the Mamas and the Papas that we played as kids, and my dad had his collection of scratchy Sinatra albums that came out on Saturday mornings, but the Beatles were a non-entity in our house growing up. So I have no idea what prompted me to ask my mom for those records.

In any case, one morning I was presented with the Red Album and the Blue Album. Those two records changed my life in ways that I may never fully realize. They were like receiving a treasure map for some alien land, a land that was mysterious, and wonderful, and even a little bit scary sometimes. 

I used to listen to them over and over, standing at the side of the couch and pretending to play piano. I loved how they told a story. How they started so simple, yet so clever, and got progressively deeper and weirder as you went on. And then at the end they just started rocking again... "Revolution" and "Old Brown Shoe." I don't even think I knew what "Rock n Roll" was, but I was unknowingly receiving a crash course.

Then there was Rarities, with "There's a Place" and "Misery," and "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)," and that bizarre reflective double album, Rock n Roll Music -- with raunch like "Bad Boy" and "Hey Bulldog" on it.

Meanwhile I was checking every Beatles book I could out of the library. I obsessively memorized each detail, learned all the trivia, went to the School Of Cosmic Beatles Fandom. 

The hot lunches at school were $1.90, so each morning my mom would press two dollar bills into my hand on the way out the door. I saved the dimes I got in change and every twelve weeks, when I had $6.00 saved up, I made the pilgrimage to the Flip Side to buy my next Beatles album.

I pored over my Beatles books, learning every tiny detail about albums I'd not yet heard, and ranked them based on how crucial they seemed, creating a long-term Purchasing Strategy... One after the other, they became mine: Revolver, Sgt. Peppers, Rubber Soul. (The White Album was a double so I asked for it for Christmas 1980.)

And then John got shot. I was in the bathroom getting ready for school. My mom knocked on the door and told me, "It was just on the news... one of the Beatles got shot last night..." That day at school was one of the strangest days ever. Beatles music poured from every room in the building. The teachers all had radios on in the classroom that played Fabs tracks nonstop. And they were crying. I was a little too young to understand, in all but the most abstract way, what had happened.

The arrival of the White Album that Christmas was the arrival of a kind of Rosetta Stone, a tool for me to use to understand the universe. Those photo inserts, the crazy poster, the lyrics. John Paul George and Ringo. Dear Prudence. Back in the USSR. Happiness is a Warm Gun. Yer Blues. Revolution 9. I was cosmically proud to learn that Paul McCartney wrote, and the Beatles recorded, the song "Birthday," ON THE ACTUAL DAY I WAS BORN, September 18, 1968.

In High School, my Freshman year art teacher, learning of my Beatles obsession, came prepared with a trivia question for me every morning. I almost can't believe it, but she never stumped me once. I remember one day, almost blowing it, my mind a blank, digging painfully deep in frustration, until finally I blurted out, correctly, "RORY STORM AND THE HURRICANES!!!"

For three or four years, from 1979-1982, all I listened to was the Beatles, all I read about was the Beatles, and all I thought about was the Beatles.

Eventually I started listening to New Wave music, and, oddly, Yes (they reminded me of childhood, and as I entered puberty with its attendant hormonal insanity, my childhood took on a kind of peaceful, hopeful resonance for me). Then of course, punk, and Hüsker Dü, the Replacements, Flipper, and REM; Neil Young, and Bob Dylan, the Byrds, Robyn Hitchcock. But I always loved the Beatles.

Nowadays, once or twice a decade, I fall back into my Beatles hole. I listen to all the records again, read a few new books, and as time goes on, my understanding of them continues to grow and evolve. With each new phase of my life, I see their work in a different light.

Peter Jackson has taken the old, buried film shot to make their 1970 movie, Let It Be, notorious for its depiction of a once inseparable band on its last legs, cleaned it up and re-edited it with modern technology, and gifted Fabs Obsessives with over 7 hours of incredible footage. If nothing else, the story has grown exponentially richer. We all know how it ends, but we now see firsthand how it happened day by day. All the little asides noted in books and bootlegs have been made clear for everyone to see, with their own eyes.

The movie is not perfect. It's boring at times (when the sessions were boring, you really feel it), but if you make it through the dismal early sections, you see the band gradually come back to life, and for a brief moment in time, rekindle enough of the spark to get the job done. The constant quick cutting, and unfortunate slicing and dicing of songs into three second snippets, made my brain hurt after awhile, but that only seemed to make the transcendent moments come even more vividly to life. The scene of McCartney realizing his band, his life, was this close to just disappearing one day, brought tears to both his eyes and mine. As Lennon re-energizes after a heart to heart with ol' Paul, his ferociously smart and cutting brain-tongue steals scene after scene. George settles in and smiles, and Ringo seems relieved at last to be finally playing music.

The famous rooftop concert, now extended to include the full set, is stunning. In contrast to the uncertainty and lack of resolve of even a few days prior, once the lads finally climb the stairs and plug in, they instantly return to being an unstoppable force of nature.

Clearly this movie is not for everyone. But for anyone who loves the Fabs, or loves the sixties, or loves old vintage music/recording gear, it's a stunner. It'll turn your brain inside out for a few days.

(This essay originally appeared in Criterion Diary #9, my online movie review column for Patreon supporters. For information on joining, please visit my site at www.patreon.com/johnporcellino Thank you!)

Monday, December 28, 2020

KING-CAT 80 ORDERING INSTRUCTIONS!


Hey folks, King-Cat #80 will arrive from the printer on Thursday Dec. 31, 2020! Wow.

This daring issue features: Married, Young Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Dogs, Cats, Birds, Feeding the Birds, Squirrels, Dreams, Letters, Top 40, Mom, Childhood Neighbor, Flowers, and a Chimpanzee. YES A CHIMPANZEE. 44 digest pages in glorious black and white. 

If you would like to order a copy as part of a larger Spit and a Half order, you can do so here.

If you would prefer to order a single, standalone copy, prices are as follows:

--ORDER a SINGLE COPY directly...

USA: $6.50
CANADA: $7.25 USD
REST OF WORLD: $8.90 USD


Payable via PayPal to: kingcat_paypal AT Hotmail DOT com
If you want to order KC 78 along with other books, please visit www.spitandahalf.com.

If you're in the US, you can also send a check for $6.50 payable to:

John Porcellino
PO Box 142
South Beloit, IL 61080

--GET a SUBSCRIPTION...

Subscriptions get you FOUR issues of King-Cat delivered to you as they become available.

USA: $20.00
CANADA: $23.00 USD
REST OF WORLD: $31.00 USD


Payable via PayPal to: kingcat_paypal AT Hotmail DOT com
If you want to order a subscription along with other books, please visit www.spitandahalf.com.

--JOIN my PATREON...

For a pledge of $5/month (US) or $6/month (INT'L) you will receive copies of all physical, self-published zines I produce (King-Cat plus other titles, such as the upcoming Prairie Pothole zine), PLUS a laminated, signed/numbered OFFICIAL® King-Cat Fan Club Membership Card, and exclusive online content like my monthly newsletter THE BONEY ISLAND OBSERVER.

[You can also pledge at lower rates to receive web-only premiums (PLUS a physical Membership Card).]

Patreon info is at www.patreon.com/johnporcellino


THANK YOU!!!
John P.
---BETTER PHOTOS COMING SOON---




Tuesday, October 20, 2020

NEW PRINTS AVAILABLE!

Hi Folks, I don't often collaborate with other artists, but recently the poet Stefan Lorenzutti and I worked together on this letterpress comic print, where I illustrated a poem of his.

(Click to enlarge!)

Prints are 5.5" x 9" on beautiful thick paper, signed and numbered by the artists, and will be shipped protected in a rigid photo mailer.




Prices below include shipping and handling:

USA: $17.70
CANADA: $25.50 USD
REST OF WORLD: $27.85 USD

Payable via PayPal to johnp_kingcat AT Hotmail DOT com

Please be sure to include your correct mailing address.

THANK YOU!
John P.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

KING-CAT 79 ORDER INFO!!!



Hey folks, King-Cat 79 is being shipped from the printer as we speak, and will be available shortly after Christmas 2019. There are several ways to go about getting a copy!

--ORDER a SINGLE COPY directly...

USA: $6.50
CANADA: $7.20 USD
REST OF WORLD: $8.75 USD


Payable via PayPal to: kingcat_paypal AT Hotmail DOT com
If you want to order KC 78 along with other books, please visit www.spitandahalf.com.

If you're in the US, you can also send a check for $6.50 payable to:

John Porcellino
PO Box 142
South Beloit, IL 61080

--GET a SUBSCRIPTION...

Subscriptions get you FOUR issues of King-Cat delivered to you as they become available.

USA: $20.00
CANADA: $23.00 USD
REST OF WORLD: $31.00 USD

Payable via PayPal to: kingcat_paypal AT Hotmail DOT com
If you want to order a subscription along with other books, please visit www.spitandahalf.com.

--JOIN my PATREON...

For a pledge of $5/month (US) or $6/month (INT'L) you will receive copies of all physical, self-published zines I produce (King-Cat plus other titles, such as the upcoming Christmas Stories zine), PLUS a laminated, signed/numbered OFFICIAL® King-Cat Fan Club Membership Card, and exclusive online content like my monthly newsletter THE BONEY ISLAND OBSERVER.

[You can also pledge at lower rates to receive web-only premiums (PLUS a physical Membership Card).]

Patreon info is at www.patreon.com/johnporcellino

THANK YOU!!!
John P.

- - -

KING-CAT 79 features: High School Memories, Backyard Dog Comix, A Visit to the Mystery Spot & Dickeyville Grotto, Grandpa John, Beer Bottle Poem, Top 40, Letters, a SPECIAL SURPRISE GUEST ARTIST, and more! 36 digest pages, black and white throughout.





Thursday, November 14, 2019

TOM SPURGEON, 1968-2019



Yesterday one of my best friends in comics, Tom Spurgeon, passed away suddenly. Tom was one of those people in comics who was everywhere, involved in everything, connected to everyone. It's impossible to gauge what a huge loss this is to our community. For all the things Tom did in public to encourage and support artists and comics in general, there were all the things he did in private. There was no one like him.

Like he did for so many others, he showed me incalculable support throughout my time in comics. Since his passing I've heard from many people whose story was, "I was nobody and published a crappy minicomic, and Tom got hundreds of them for review, and yet he took the time to write a few encouraging words."

The photo at the top of this post was taken by Robin McConnell at the 2012 Brooklyn Comics Festival. I love the photo because Tom and I are both pretty cynical, depressed dudes, and yet here you can see our genuine joy at being together at a comics show in a school gymnasium in Brooklyn. 



The photo above (by Jared Gardner) is Spurge and I at CXC 2018. Was this the last time we saw each other? Every time I was in his presence I felt so lucky, like I had to savor every word that came out of his mouth. He was a font of knowledge, wisdom, support, and yet he could be deeply critical of the failings of our comics community, especially what he saw as his own failings within that sphere. People have sometimes (lovingly) described him as salty, and curmudgeonly. He was those things, beautifully so, but only because he loved comics and cartoonists so much. He worked very, very hard to improve his world. And he succeeded to an amazing degree.

God bless him.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

UPCOMING STUFFS

Hey, it's been a long, hard winter and a nearly-as-long, hard spring. But I'm whackin' away at King-Cat 79, and still hoping to have it out in time for CAKE in a few weeks! Maybe it will happen, maybe it won't. I'm getting too old and tired to really worry about it anymore.



Might as well post about some upcoming stuff.

Foist of all, this weekend is Chicago Zine Fest. Tomorrow, Friday May 17 (which is also King-Cat's 30th Birthday!), I'll be participating in ZINE JEOPARDY at Cards Against Humanity Theatre, 1551 W. Homer St. in Bucktown, 9 PM.



Then Saturday May 18th is tabling from 11-6 at the Plumber's Union Hall, 1340 W Washington Blvd.

CAKE is June 1-2 this year, at the usual spot. If I manage it I'll have KC79 on hand. If not, it'll be out shortly thereafter, sometime in June.


Other stuff coming out in 2019 includes two standalone zines, The Collected Prairie Pothole, gathering all the stories (click here to read them online) for my short-lived :( weekly strip in the Chicago Reader (including three unpublished strips), and Christmas Stories, collecting three short holiday-themed comics, due out by the end of the year.

You can get all this and more delivered directly to your door by signing up for my Patreon at the $5/+ level ($6/+ International). Info here: www.patreon.com/johnporcellino

ROCK ON and GO BUCKS!
John P.

Monday, January 7, 2019

HEJIRA


Another year in the bucket. Around here, things are cuspy. I mean, they're on the cusp of change. It's not always fun or exciting. It's that period when the old way has passed its time but the new way hasn't yet started. Limbo. Waiting, wondering.

In my case I'm talking about my future on this planet. As an artist, and as a person. The big news is I'm in the process of slowly backing away from the Spit and a Half distro.

When I restarted Spit and a Half, in 2009 or so, it was with the hope I could grow it into a part-time job... something to do a few days a week to bring in some extra income and lift the financial burden off trying to survive as an artist alone (which is tough, everybody knows). Then there was a point when things kept growing where I thought, "Wow. This is really filling a need in the comics community… this is a real business." It became a full-time job (but it didn't really pay like a full-time job). And then it became a six-and-a-half days a week job that paid like a full-time job. (Thank you!)

Now if you're working a six-and-a-half days a week job, packing comics in boxes, answering the endless parade of emails, texts, Facebook messages, Instagram messages, twitter messages, dealing with problems, headaches, setbacks, mistakes, first of all, one thing is clear -- you sure as hell aren't gonna be drawing your own comics. Second -- every tiny lapse compounds upon itself. Wait, you have a doctor's appointment? The pile of work grows higher. You have to take your dog to the vet? Higher. You're just so depressed and tired you can't get out of bed? Higher.

It was a case of bad timing. If only this had happened when I was 25... When I had a community around me (ie in the same town as me) to help out, hell, to hire... And when I had energy and nerve and youthful idealism. But I'm fifty years old now and I have none of those things.

So now I'm fucking up. Maybe not super bad, but the writing's on the wall. I'm hundreds of books behind on updating the website. I've got 1000 titles scattered throughout our house (and a storage unit!), spilling everywhere and messing with the Feng Shui. I'm misplacing people's books... which one of a dozen stacks of boxes are those twelve missing minicomics in? I DON'T KNOW.

Like Cometbus said, "I wish there was something I could quit." So I just kept getting deeper and deeper behind, and feeling worse and worse. And then I was listening to Joni Mitchell's Hejira album. I've listened to it many times and never wondered about the title. Turns out hejira is an Arabic word meaning "a journey, especially when undertaken to escape from a dangerous or undesirable situation." (Good ol' Merriam-Webster.) And it clicked. I need my hejira. My tactical retreat.

Like all of us I'm sure, I grow more and more alienated from the modern world with each new day. I'm broken down by the constant cycle of bad news, horror, stupidity, greed, anger. In the pre-Distro days, if I was overwhelmed like that, I'd be able to retreat for a while, hide for a bit, regroup. Draw, think, walk in the woods, heal. But with the Distro that's an impossibility. There's always another email, always another order. PLEASE don't get me wrong, I'm incredibly humbled by and grateful for the support the Distro has gotten from the community. It's an honor to serve you all! But the time has come for me to pass on this mantle to the next generation. It's just not a job one old dude can do on his own anymore.

As a survival instinct, I've started drawing more (from life), and playing music again... and in those acts I've begun to touch parts of my spirit that have been neglected for a long time. It feels like the start of a rebirth. I'm fifty, and I hate to talk about it, but men in my family don't live very long. Early sixties maybe. My Dad made it to 64 by a few weeks. I have a lot of work still to do in this life... personal work. Comics to draw, letters to write, birds to feed. So I'm beginning to break down the distro... culling old titles, returning books to publishers... in an effort to restore some balance. Knowing me, it will be a long slow process, but over the last few months I've begun taking the first steps.

More soon.

I love you all! Thank you,
John P.

PS: Thanks everyone for the well wishes I've received in response to this blogpost. To clarify, I'll (likely) continue to run the distro going forward, but it will be at a drastically reduced level, with a small, highly specific and rotating selection of books. Something that I really can take care of easily on a one or two day per week schedule.