"Oh," I thought, "SPX registration opens at noon, but I won’t try to register right away, because everyone will be doing that and the server will probably crash."
"Right," I thought, "I’ll have some lunch first."
"SURELY NOTHING WILL GO WRONG," I thought.
Sid Hopkins was at SPX and took a picture of me that I actually like!
Also, I’m on Twitter now. (Well, I already was, but I never used it.) If you’re on Twitter too, say hi! It helps me feel a bit less alone, especially since I was abandoned by the jumping spider who used to live on my desk lamp. He didn’t even say goodbye.
Here I am, or was, last Sunday. I can’t believe how long I spent putting on makeup just to look like I’m not wearing any.
If junior flyweight John Heartfield could sell illegal magazines out of a rented hearse on the streets of Berlin while leftover army ordnance blew holes in proletarian neighborhoods and protofascist squads of demobbed soldiers went out to crack heads, surely I can find the fortitude to take some comic books to Bethesda. Right?
Table F6A. I will have these and these. And if you don’t have any money, or if you’ve already spent it all (‘cause I know that’s easy to do at SPX), you can still come by and ask me about John Heartfield, or the Kent State shooting, or the pros and cons of living in Ohio, or the strengths and weaknesses of famous painters, or who my favorite character from The Wire is (you will be surprised, I guarantee).
This is a post I am really unhappy to make, but I probably shouldn’t put it off any longer.
People who bought the preview of NERVENKRANK I released in May will remember that in the back I wrote, “To be continued September 2012.” I was planning to have a new, longer book printed for SPX, and I was right on schedule after the spring cons.
Then my father’s cancer came back. By June we knew he was dying. Plans changed.
I probably don’t need to say this, since I post about it all the time, but NERVENKRANK is not on any kind of hiatus and I haven’t abandoned the project. I love this book like a baby and it is basically my entire life. But I won’t be debuting anything at SPX; the new pages I wanted to have done aren’t done.
This is going to be my first SPX as an exhibitor, but it’s already a really special con to me. I’ve been to every SPX since 2008, driving down from Philadelphia or out from Ohio. It’s something I look forward to months in advance. But all the anticipatory excitement here on tumblr this year is a little bittersweet, because of the plans I made and couldn’t fulfill; because I wanted things to be different; because I never thought I’d spend my summer the way I did. We always thought my dad was going to live to be a hundred.
(It hasn’t all been awful. I got married. And for six weeks I was a proud pugsitter.)
So, what I’ll have at SPX will be the May preview of NERVENKRANK, pictured above, and the NO ONE IS SAFE posters. It’s good stuff and I’m proud of it, and I hope you’ll come see me. As for more NERVENKRANK, keep watching this blog.
He was one of several people at SPACE who asked for review copies, which I was happy to provide. Strangely enough, although Stumptown was 2-3 times bigger than SPACE, not one person at Stumptown asked me for a review copy. I can’t imagine why.
He brings up some questions I probably should’ve answered in the book itself, but since I didn’t, I’ll try to clarify them here.
- NERVENKRANK is going to be a graphic novel, probably a long one, possibly in two or more volumes. Exactly how long I don’t know, because I’m still working on the script, but my storytelling style leans toward the decompressed and I plan to cover the years 1915-1933, so… it’s likely to have a pretty fat spine.
- It’s about John Heartfield. Here’s the capsule biography I wrote for the back cover:
John Heartfield (1891-1968) was born Helmut Herzfeld in Berlin. After a childhood riven by trauma and an unhappy sojourn in the German army during World War I, he became a founding member of the influential Berlin Dada group, along with his close friend and collaborator George Grosz. Later he gained international fame as a designer of book covers, posters and stage sets, but his greatest achievements were his political photomontages of 1924-1945, which brutally satirized and railed against Adolf Hitler, the Nazi Party, German warmongering, and the injustices of capitalism.
- The May 2012 preview, which I sold at SPACE and Stumptown and which you can buy here (for the price of a latte!) contains the first 8 pages of the book, plus some sketches and background material.
- I’m going to debut a longer version of this preview (about 15 pages of story, plus extra stuff) at SPX in September. (I had hoped to have all 15 pages done for the April cons, but early 2012 was unfortunately eventful and it didn’t happen.)
- I am not planning to serialize the entire work. Of course, plans do change, but right now I’d like to find a publisher and go straight to GN. It seems less headachey.
- It’s not strictly a biography. I’m sticking to facts where I have facts, but there are a lot of gaps in the record of the life of a guy who was born 120 years ago. Lynda Barry calls ONE HUNDRED DEMONS autobifictionalography; I guess NERVENKRANK is bifictionalography.
- The word nervenkrank is German for mentally ill. Heartfield (who was still Herzfeld at the time) was drafted into the German infantry at the outbreak of WWI. He declared himself nervenkrank to his company commander in 1915, and was sent to a military mental hospital, where he spent several months. His brother Wieland visited him and found “a pale man, who spoke haltingly and attempted to scrape the leaves in the garden into a heap with a rake.” Nobody knows specifically what happened to Heartfield in there, but it can’t have been nice.
I’m going to be at Stumptown Comics Fest on April 28 & 29! I’ll be sharing a table with the divine Sarah Burns. I’ve never been to Portland before. I am expecting Carrie Brownstein to meet me at the airport.
And I’ll be at SPX—my very favorite small press con, and entirely coincidentally the only one I’ve ever been to—on September 15 & 16!
So if you are near Portland, OR in April or Bethesda, MD in September, come and say hello. I’ll have prints of NO ONE IS SAFE, and the minicomic that unfinished panel up there belongs to, and postcards, and I will be very nice, I promise. Or you can stand at a discreet distance and laugh at my hair.
All the cool kids are doing this, I guess. Apparently they call them lootshoots? Plus a glimpse of my filthy workspace! Everyone wins.
SPX was too crowded this year but still cool. Reviews and con report to (possibly) follow.