Lawdy, lawdy-- just realized it's been three months since I posted her on the ol' blog. Just been runnin' around the country selling comics, and sitting in front of this computer adding HUNDREDS OF THE BEST COMICS IN THE WORLD to the new, updated, 21st Century Approved SPIT AND A HALF website. Please check it out. I still have lots more stuff to add, and am working on it almost every day, so check back often!
Meanwhile, I thought I would post some photos from my recent visit to Minneapolis for the Autoptic Festival.
On the way up it was a beautiful day, so I finally stopped at Castle Rock, the rock formation located along the highway at Camp Douglas, WI, which I've whizzed past innumerable times in the past. There was a nice rest area, with a beautiful path running around and in between the rocks. I recharged and headed back on the road.
Minneapolis is one of my favorite places, and any excuse to come up there is good for me. Once again this time Autoptic played host to the Pierre Feuille Ciseaux comics workshop, where a pile of French speaking cartoonists join forces with a pile of English speaking cartoonists and make a mess of art in a one week period. (I was lucky enough to participate in PFC in 2013, more on that soon!) So besides the usual great artists that many American comic festivals attract, Autoptic '15 featured such special international guests as JC Menu, June Julien Misserey, Dominique Goblet, Nylso, Antoine Marchalot, Inès Estrada, Pascal Matthey, Pierre Ferrero, Rachel Deville, and more. So right off the bat, just the presence of these artists makes Autoptic special. Add to that the obvious care and heart the organizers put into the show, and you have something very exciting.
I arrived in Minneapolis late, but not too late to get to hang out at the opening reception where the absolute highlight was finally getting to meet, in person, Nylso, the great French cartoonist.
Crowd outside the opening reception
John P. and Nylso, together at last!
Nylso and I met through the mail in the early nineties, when Laurent Lolmède discovered my work and introduced it to Nylso and his partner Joelle Manix. Together they published a small comics revue called Le Simo, and soon began translating and publishing excerpts from King-Cat in their magazine. It was the first time anyone anywhere really started to take an interest in what I was doing in comics. Le Simo was simple, and beautiful, and being included in its pages was a true honor. It was through them that I was introduced to French cartooning, and discovered many of my favorites. Especially at the time, but even now, I felt such a kindred spirit between what I was doing in comics and many of the French artists. I drew a great deal of inspiration from them.
I stayed the night with old zine friend Yoonie, and woke in the morning for the show. Stepping outside in the morning light I was treated to her beautiful backyard, full of wildflowers, gorgeous weeds, and a lovely Catalpa.
The Catalpa tree in the courtyard
The show is held at a place called Aria, an old warehouse/factory converted into an event center. Surely one of the most unique venues for a comics festival I've ever experienced. I got to hang out all weekend with table neighbors Kevin Huizenga, Jonathan Baylis, and Dan Stafford of Kilgore Books, so you know I had a good time. I even bought some Cowboy Henk books off the Fremok table!
The Spit and a Half table
Before I knew it, the weekend was at an end, and it was time to go. I wanted to get back to Stephanie and the menagerie, so after a quick dinner I hit the road, arriving home in the wee small hours.
There are so many shows nowadays, and so many great ones, and it's become a kind of necessity that to survive as a cartoonist in this country you have to spend a lot of time on the road. That's a whole 'nother essay for another time. Suffice it to say, sometimes I come away from a comics show feeling exhausted, drained, and depressed. The travel, lack of sleep, sensory overload, financial risks involved, all can take their toll on your energy and mood. I have to say though, for the first time in a long time, when I got home from Autoptic I felt a surge of passion and energy for comics, my own and everyone elses, and I got right back to work. That's really saying something. Thanks Autoptic! See you next time.