Updated weakly.

John P. has a PATREON. / King-Cat 78 is OUT.



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the stories (click here to read them online) for my short-lived :( weekly strip in the Chicago Reader (including three unpublished strips), and Christmas Stories, collecting three short holiday-themed comics, due out by the end of the year.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.


Monday, September 17, 2018

ZINE NOT DEAD X


Oftentimes when people look at me sideways upon hearing that I live in a smallish town on the Wisconsin border, I half-jokingly explain that "I live as close to Chicago as I can afford to." Even though it drives me crazy, the City of Chicago is my hometown, where I grew up as a kid, and will always be a special place to me. So, I feel lucky that I get to live in an affordable, peaceful place, surrounded by nature and open space, yet am only a quick drive to "The City." A few weeks ago, I was invited to participate in the tenth iteration of ZINE NOT DEAD, a Chicago zine/comix reading organized by Matt Davis of Perfectly Acceptable and Brad Rohloff of Bred Press.



View from the back porch of the event space, Ballroom Projects.

Steph and I headed into the city, and Google Maps took us in on Ogden Avenue. So we got to drive through Lagrange ("They gotta lotta nice girls there"), Lyons, Brookfield, Stickney, and other mysterious suburbs that I never really go to. We arrived early and had dinner, then took seats at what we called "The Grown Ups' Table" in the kitchen area of the event space. We got to chat with a succession of the Most Awesomest™ Cartoonists in Chicago. Max Morris cuddled for a bit;  Nick Drnaso and his wife Sarah discussed house plants; Aaron Renier and Jessica Campbell went dog crazy; and Raighne Hogan, Maggie Umber, and Iona Fox all said hi. Presently the room filled with people. I was like "Where were all these folks when I was 24???"­


Genius poster from the World's Greatest Cartoonist, Anna Haifisch, hanging in the bathroom, Ballroom Projects.


Soon the show started. Brad and Matt had the crowd in stitches as they work through their usual "technical difficulties."

I spoke third (out of six) so Stephanie and I could make it back home to Beloit before midnight. (Our usual bedtime is about 9 pm.) I read from King-Cat 78, mostly comics about our cats and dogs, so it was fun. People seemed to dig it, and I felt overwhelmed by the warmth and support this community has for one another. It was very moving.

After I read I stuck around for the intermission, which featured a hilarious roast of the hosts by special guests  Gina Wynbrandt and Sarah Squirm. The crowd was howling. I felt kinda sad to have to split early, but I'm old.


Gina as Matt, Sarah as Brad, killing it.

There were, I would guess, well over 100 people in the audience. On the way home I was telling Steph how when I first started making King-Cat you could count the number of US cartoonists making artful, literary comics on two hands. WE'VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY!

Friday, August 24, 2018

AUTOPTIC REPORPTIC



Hey it's been a long time since I've posted regularly on Ye Olde Blogge®. Partially it's because now that I've achieved Total and Complete Domination of Social Media™ I spend most of my time posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Myspace. Also, I write a monthly recap for my Patreon supporters (hint hint) and that takes up a lot of what was once known as My Blogging Energy®.

That said, we all know how sinister Social Media is, and how inescapable Corporate Culture™ is nowadays... so I would like to focus more energy here going forward. I know Blooger is a wholly owned subsidiary of some Mega-Corp or another, but at least this is something with my name on it and there's no ads...

So without further ado, here's my report from the Autoptic Festival, which I attended this last weekend in Minneapolis.

- - -

I have to admit I'm burned out on shows. I'm burned out on a lot of things (watch for upcoming Blogge Posts on this subject), but I'm burned out on shows. It used to be that after a weekend of traveling, tabling, dehydration, not eating well, and not sleeping well, I felt awful, and it took me sometimes close to a week to recover. Nowadays I feel that way before I leave for a show. Also, after two decades of utter chaos and upheaval, I'm in love with my current domesticated, backyardish life, and I'm usually loathe to leave even for short trips of a few days.

Prior to leaving for Minneapolis, though, I'd been fried out by several months of six-and-a-half day workweeks at the distro and I was kinda looking forward to seeing friends. Plus, Minneapolis in the summertime is never a bad idea. So off I went.

View from atop the lookout.

Traffic was bad through the Dells, as usual, but then it opened up into some of the prettiest interstate driving in the Midwest. I stopped at a rest area I'd never visited before, that promised a "scenic overlook." Sure enough, across the parking lot was a nicely maintained path into the trees. It wound up a hillside, onto a meandering boardwalk that spanned some nice gullies, and out onto a platform. The view was beautiful, with hills and woodland green spreading out to the horizon. I took some deep breaths and headed back down. I had to be in Minneapolis that evening for a panel discussion.

I was hungry and tired, and looking for a Burger King (don't judge me), and finally found one across the river in Minnesota. I parked and went in. It was grimy and dark. A few lonely people milled about at tables, nursing coffees. At the counter, ordering problems ensued, and the guy couldn't get the register open to make change; they made my gluten free burger with a bun, then they gave me a burger with no vegetables or condiments. When the guy was unable to give me a receipt I felt so sad that I couldn't even broach the subject with him.* The staff was clearly unhappy with each other, the management was bugging people about extra shifts etc etc. As I ate, I thought "Is this the World's Saddest Burger King?" I had my phone out and was about to tweet that, when a young woman and three little kids came in, bought frozen Cokes and proceeded to run into the Indoor PlayGround, laughing and smiling. No way it could be the World's Saddest anything anymore. So I put my phone away.**

A few minutes later I was in town, pulling up at Moon Palace Books, where Autoptic events were being held. Lots of Comix-looking people milled about, and one of the panels was in progress when I arrived. Soon it was time for me to get up there. It was a panel on "Destigmatizing Vulnerability in Comics," hosted by Aaron King, with Sage Coffey, Alexis Cooke, and me. It went well. Afterwards people hung out in the bookstore café talking about comics, salami, and exhaustion.

Vulnerability panel. Photo by Melanie Gillman.

That night I stayed with Uncivilized publisher Jordan, his wife Jess, and Shoe the Cat. BFF Ben Sears was there too. We stayed up late talking about My Bloody Valentine and Gluyas Williams. Then off to Dreamland.

In the morning I drove Ben to the Autoptic venue. When we got there he realized he'd left a box of books back at Jordan's. He apologized profusely, but I assured him it was no big deal, and we headed back. On the way, he kept apologizing and beating himself up over it. Ironically, we had earlier been discussing whether Louisville (where he's from, and still lives) is the Midwest or not. I have to say, after his impressive display of self-deprecation and apologetics, even if it's not, I hereby ordain him an Honorary Midwesterner. (Sorry!)

Anyhow, we went in and did the show. Autoptic is in an amazing space, some kind of massive vaulted former warehouse. In that way alone it feels very different than most comics shows. It doesn't feel claustrophobic or oppressive. It also attracts a slightly different crowd than your average comics con. There were a lot of older people attending, as well as families and groups of friends. A number of people came to my table and told me they had just happened to be in town for the weekend and saw the show listed in the paper, and decided to check it out. So there was a kind of openness and curiosity to the attendees that I usually only feel at a zine show. (It should be noted, Autoptic has a somewhat larger scope that just a "comics show," featuring zines, printmaking, and other small press publications as well.)

Ye Olde Spit and a Half table.

I was located between my old buddies Kevin H. and Zak Sally, so it was nice to get to hang during the show and make fun of each other etc. I had a great time tabling, even though I had the usual con-related dehydration and blood sugar problems (nobody's fault but my own, folks!). In the afternoon I moseyed on over to a nearby Whole Foods and got something hot and non-sugary to eat and then it was smooth sailing through the end. All in all, sales were wonderful, I saw a bunch of old friends, met a bunch of new ones, and got to pick up some awesome comics.

Help! I'm trapped inside a comics festival with no protein!

Afterwards a group of us walked over the bridge to the official restaurant/afterparty location. I shared a table with Gabrielle Bell, Hannah and Anna from Philly, Jesse McManus, Zak, Ben, Iona Fox, and Kevin. Wow. I kinda hate comics sometimes, but I love cartoonists! God Bless 'Em All.

After having a lengthy discussion with Gabrielle about spontaneous kundalini awakening, and a mutual apology session with Nick Drnaso, and chatting with Ted Intorcio, and eating a few of Aaron Renier's gigantic Potato Chips, it was time to go.

Aaron Renier illustrates the Wisconsin Food Pyramid: Beer and something deep-fried.

Zak and I met up at his house where I was leapt upon by the bundle of nervous, unbridled energy known as Polly the Dog, or as I came to call her, Lynette. We stayed up til 2 AM talking about drugs, Buddhism, relationships, money, noise, dogs, and life. I had the choice of either the couch or Zak's son's bed. It was determined that if I chose the bed, Polly could join me. So I got in bed, slapped the sheets and exchanged slobbery dog kisses for belly-rubs all night long.

Miss Lynette "Da Lovebug" Sally.

And there you have it, kids: comics will break your heart, but they'll also lead to lifelong friendships, big laughs, and, possibly, tongue baths.

Next morning -- coffee, gas, and on the road. Through rain so intense outside of Madison that I ended up on an off-ramp because the roadsigns were unreadable. It was slow going, but I was home. Gibby gave me jazz hands and Iris snorked my arm... I took a shower to wash the road off of me, and got into bed. I turn fifty in three weeks.


*Cartoonists and Comics Industry Peeps: Always, ALWAYS, get your receipts and write this shit off your taxes. The less money you pay in taxes the less bombs they can drop on innocent brown people.

**I should mention that I would never hold it against a fast food worker for any seeming unruliness, exasperation, sadness, anger, or despair. That's a tough life, folks. Cut 'em some slack.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

KING-CAT 78 AVAILABLE NOW!!!


Hey everyone, King-Cat 78 is at the printer! Subscriber/Patreon copies will be going out ASAP. If you would otherwise like to (pre)order just one copy of this issue, the best way is to PayPal the money to me directly, as follows:

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.

Thank you!
John P.
- - - 

King-Cat 78 features lots of funny animal stories like “A Story About Ninny,” “Lady Tuff ‘n’ Tender,” and “Nighttime Encounter with the Void”; tons of Nature Notes featuring Monarch Butterfly Lifecycle and “Shrews Thru History”; an extensive letters section with notes from T.E. Bak, Megan Kelso, and more; plus poetry, Top 40, a Zen Story, and the Usual Gang of Schtuff. 40 digest pages in eye-catching black and white. (Spit and a Half)

(Click images to enlarge)






Saturday, March 31, 2018

FROM LONE MOUNTAIN Available Now!


Hey everyone, my latest KCat collection from D+Q is out now!

FROM LONE MOUNTAIN compiles issues 62-68 of King-Cat (2003-2007), along with a selection of previously unpublished strips and detailed commentary. It features such classic stories as “Trombones No. 1,” “Great Western Sky,” The Sound of the Birds,” “Like a Pigeon,” “Iowa City,” “Las Hojas/Football Weather,” “Freeman Kame,” and the first batch of Diogenes comics. Every page of the original zines is reproduced in order including front and back covers, letters columns, Snornose pages, and Top 40’s. Also includes the standalone zines 3 Poems About Fog and The Ones That Everybody Knows. 308 pages, 6″ x 9″, two color cover, black and white interiors.

You can purchase it from your favorite bookseller, Amazon, D+Q, or even directly from me at Spit and a Half. I'll also of course have copies with me at my upcoming festival appearances.

D+Q's Tom Devlin writes about FLM here and Charles Hatfield has an extensive review up at TCJ.

Thank you! And don't forget I'll be on the road a bit reading from the book. Full tour dates can be found here.

LOVE - John P.







Monday, February 5, 2018

FROM LONE MOUNTAIN Tour Dates

Hi all, I'm old and tired and will only be doing a small tour in support of my new D+Q book, From Lone Mountain (available March 20!). Please see below for dates. I would love to see you if you're able to come out and say hi!

LOVE, John P.


(Click to enlarge!)