Sunday, April 24, 2005

The "Godfather" of Small Press

I'm not gong to attempt to tell you who first came up with small press comics. For me they date all the way back into the mid 70's with adds in the Comics Buyers Guide weekly newspaper. And the only one of those I ever ordered was a book by Tim Corrigan who could just as easily be called a "Great Uncle" of small press (more about Tim another day). For my money, the man who does the most for Small Press, is Matt Feazell.

Matt Feazell can easily be found by doing a web search (or as we like to say these days, you can Google Matt), but I'll gladly attach a link at the end of this "article" to his home page, which in turn is loaded with lots and lots of free pages of art, ordering information, and more that I can't tell you about at the moment because it's an AOL Homepage and, you guessed it, isn't working at the moment! (Hopefully it WILL work when you try it - worked just a few minutes ago!) When newspapers or radio want to do an article on small press, they go to Matt. When Disney or other publishers want some humor backup, they often go to Matt.

At first glance, Matt's work is possibly disappointing because most of it is stick figures. It's not long however that you figure out that Matt can actually draw very well, stick figures are just his "thing". Even if Matt weren't able to draw a lick, his work would still be heads and shoulders above most because it's funny. REALLY funny! Cynicalman is, well, cynical. Stupid boy is stupid, and Cute Girl is blonde (stereotypically blonde I should point out) and cute as well, in a stick figure kind of way...

Besides being a very talented guy, you're probably wondering why I give Matt the title "Godfather" of small press? It's because of his attitude. He is humble about his work. He is very generous - go to his table and offer a trade, he's more than happy to trade with other small pressers, in fact even if you don't have a trade you can draw Cynicalman on a stickynote for him, and he'll give you a free mini comic in trade. I think that he personally has done more to draw new talent into the small press pool than any other person. Many small pressers will tell you that it was Matt that got them started. They realized that small press wasn't about making a buck or that big break, it was about having fun. I suspect that's why Matt draws stick figures, to show folks how easy it can be to have fun!

Check out Matt and his work at:

and for more samples of his work:

Friday, April 22, 2005

So, back to the Raves and Rants...

This blogspot was originally for me to, well, rave or rant about stuff I like or dislike (Duh!). It kind of got hijacked for use as a "trip blog" when Deb and I went on vacation. Since we got back It seems like everything has piled up, but I'm slowly getting my head back above water and since last week I attended the SPACE Small Press convention in Columbus Ohio, I think that I mostly want to Rave about some of the comics and folks that I saw and met there.

There are varying degrees of Small Press folks. There are those that want to make the big break into professional comics but have been stymied so they are doing their own comics to hopefully compete with the big publishers on the comic book store racks. Few of these suceed for long, if they even make it past the first issue. These artists and writers hope to make the big break and would jump ship in a minute. Their publishers have some of the same hopes, often they hope to be the next "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" (a small press comic that led to merchandising so big it made the creators millionaires). Mostly they are businessmen with no conception of art or quality (much like Michael Eisner at Disney).

There are some who truely want to do something different, not at all in the mainstream. They are in it more for the "art" than the money (sadly, they'd better be!).

The third catagory are those who do comics because they love them, and they hope others will love them as well. Some are good artists, some are mediocre and have no illusions of creating the "great american comic book," or they just have their own vision and do comics for themselves hoping someone will like what they do, but caring little.

Sturgeon's law (90% of everything is crap) applies to all three of the above catagories. What I want to talk about in future columns are the other 10%. I must admit, I'm going to be harder on the first group. They are competing with the big boys, priced like (or often higher) the big boys, and I will compare them with the big boys. And quite frankly, I can't see myself wasting a lot of space on stuff I don't like. What's the point? They're not doing me any harm, and just because I don't like it doesn't make it bad (i.e. - I've seen Gone With The Wind and I don't get it. Sure it's a beautiful film, but the story? I don't think it's all that good but some folks rave about it. So be it. Who am I to say its bad, I just didn't like it much...)

So there... its going to be mostly Raves (I might slam the ocassional piece of drek, never know...) and mostly SMALL small press.

Oh, and unlike some of the other folks who do reviews, I will do my best to tell you where to get it, address, price, email, webpage, whatever I can find out about the book or publisher. Drives me crazy when I see reviews that don't include that info. Oh yeah, the editorial says that all that stuff must be included or they won't print it but what the hell good is a review with no information on how to get it? (This is actually a thinly disquised RANT! While at the convention I picked up a preview copy of a soon to be published review zine and flipped through it while no one was looking. Paging through it I was thrilled to see Dutchy Digest reviewed. I didn't mind that the reviewer called my artwork, "stiff at times." Heck, I'd have to agree! I didn't mind that he didn't understand the difference between our Pennsylvania Dutch characters and the Amish. That might be our fault... don't know... But what I did mind is that the review claimed that the mailing address was unknown and that there was no email or webpage, and yet this same publisher sends me emails announcing what he's up to every week. This same publisher hosts a chat that I attend almost every week. And when we gave him the review copy he said to just email the information, which Steve did. I'm sorry, I like the guy but I'm not going to buy a review magazine that doesn't bother to try to gather all the info they can, regardless if its their policly or not! That's what I buy the damn magazine for, not just his opinion! It may be policy but it's a godamn stupid policy!)

And I said that I'd mostly be doing Raves...