Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Kickstarter Successful

I am pumped! My kickstarter fundraiser for the El Vocho graphic novel is a success. I raised $1,255 to help fund production and shipping of the book. It's a tough market for the indie graphic novel right now, to say the least, but with a hybrid sales picture including various and sundry distributors, retailers and events, this book is in the black and garnering interest.

The fundraiser runs through December 26 if anyone still wants to order El Vocho, or get some cool art from me.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Classic Dog Boy comics, Cat-Head Imprint

I've added a complete seven issue run of my classic Dog Boy comics as a reward to my Kickstarter fundraiser.
I was fresh off the truck and ready to take over the multiverse with this title! These first Dog Boy comics (there were ten more later from Fantagraphics) helped define the cutting edge of 80s alternative comics.
All seven issues are available for a $55 pledge, a real steal no matter how ya slice it.

I have four sets available, then I'll take Dog Boy off of my Kickstarter page.

Click here to go to my Kickstarter campaign.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I Wanna Be a Tough Guy Like Emil Zatopek

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

I ran cross country in high school, and there was a lyrical freedom to the sport--running distance races over hill and dale in the brisk fall air. But inevitably, every distance race has a painful moment of truth. Running fast over distance starts to hurt, a lot.
What to do? Stop running? Slow down? No, the runner searches for a rhythm and focus that allows them to continue to the finish.
So I gotta admit that right now, my Kickstarter fundraiser has hit the painful part of the race. Off to a fast start, adrenaline carried me halfway without consequence. Now in the middle stretch, I'm searching for the rhythm to carry me successfully to the end. The mind plays tricks on you, it doesn't seem possible. But, I know from experience that it is, so I collect my focus, impose a rhythm on my effort, and continue.
My favorite distance runner ever, Emil Zatopek, won the 5000, 10000 and marathon in the 1952 Olympics, the only runner ever to achieve this feat. He managed his pain in competition with an array of horrible grimaces that diverted attention from his perfect stride. The effect, comic, inspiring, riveting.

I note that the title above is a link to my Kickstarter fundraiser, and that you can order my new graphic novel El Vocho there. Also available are acrylic paintings and original comic art by me.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Facing Hard Time in Oaxaca

Why did I write a graphic novel where the main character is a VW Bug?

Part of the story is here.

Photo of my 'n my Vocho in Mitla, Oaxaca by Carrie McNinch

Friday, November 26, 2010

El Vocho Kickstarter Campaign

I'm doing a Kickstarter fundraiser to help offset printing and shipping costs for my El Vocho book. You can check out the project by clicking through the icon posted below. Basically, the book is available for a $15.00 pledge, and you can go hog wild and pledge more for other cool stuff like T-shirts, acrylic paintings and the like.
There's a video in there too, with me coming on like one of them NPR geeks, begging for cash. This is publishing in the cyber age, I guess!

Here's a link to the El Vocho Kickstarter page.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Mexico Painting

Painted this fall for my old friend George MacDonald. Acrylic, about 39" x 56".

Sunday, November 07, 2010

My Weekend Read: 99 Problems

Been reading 99 Problems: A Book About Running and Writing by Ben Tanzer over the weekend. Ben is the author of a couple novels and a stack of short stories. 99 Problems, available online, is comprised of ten essays on the subjects of running and writing. Tanzer describes the setting and experience of runs in ten different places. He ruminates on the cathartic benefits of the running life, but duly notes his sense of mission and compulsive focus on getting his run in. Once the endorphins kick in, the author moves onto his other obsession: His career as a writer. Ideas come to him, and problems solve themselves as he ticks off the miles.

I can relate to this book, both as a creative person, and as a fellow runner. I'm the target audience here! Plus, Ben and I have the same high school PR in the 880 yard run of 2:01, knocking on the door of the two minute barrier, always a worthy goal for a high school kid.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

More Dia De Muertos 2010

Here's a few more photos taken over the past weekend in Oaxaca. The previous post has some description of the festivities.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Dia De Muertos 2010

Having lived in Oaxaca for more than three years, I'm starting to get a handle on Dia De Muertos.
It all starts with slightly officious, yet gratifyingly down to earth celebrations at schools and places like the Biblioteca Infantil, the Children's Library, where we saw a kid's movie workshop project that my son acted in, and a tight brass band playing Oaxacan classics and some smooth, upbeat jazz.

By October 31, it was on to the Panteon Xoxochitlan for the annual parade of revelers through the graveyard, with an outstanding selection of artisan wares available outside, and best of all, street food from well stocked puestos.
We had mushroom embanadas, adorned with everything from squash flowers to quesillo. Super fresh, piping hot with insanely great hot salsa and tomatillo salsa, your choice. Um, the graveyard is interesting too.

After these few years, I've come to understand that November 1 is the night to indulge in Comparsas, a combo costume parade, neighborhood outdoor movable feast, dance party and more with brass bands. Think Fellini movie come to life, and your getting close.

My family was invited to the Comparsa in Nazareno Etla, a town about ten miles northwest of Oaxaca. These folks organize the best Comparsa I've been too, with residents setting up a route that winds through town, stopping here and there for music, food and revelry. The costumes, amazing. There are groups of 3 to 10 people in the same superb home made costumes who have clearly been working and thinking all year about it. They surely have little costume clubs! Lots of the macabre, but really anything goes. Peacock boys to Wild Man warriors in feathered head dresses and gold body paint, you name it. Of course, lots of attempts at being sexy, some successful, some outlandish and hilarious.

Just got back from a visit to the Panteon San Felipe on the last night of the holiday. A warm, intimate scene of families camping at the gravesites of their loved ones, adorned with orange marigolds and red Flores de Muertos. Candles, picnics and mezcal in abundance, with roving musicians. Folks inviting their dear departed to come and sit with them for the night, it's that simple, and that deep just the same.

Here's just a few pics. I'll try to remember to post more!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Have You Seen the Dog Lately

Serena Makofsky is doing a new "print edition" of her humor and culture zine, Have You Seen the Dog Lately. Serena and her sister Jenny began the zine while attending Mills College in the late 80s, helped by friend Megan Tucker who had access to unauthorized nocturnal (free) copying.
After a brief hiatus, they jump started the zine again in '93 and had a splendid run until 2004 when Jenny died in an auto accident.
Serena is doing a kickstarter fundraiser to get the project rolling, here is a link to her kickstarter page. There are lots of cool things you can get if you support the project, including a copy of the zine of course.
I really like the video on her project page, because she's really cute in it. Did I mention that I'm married to her???

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dick Nixon Experience Redux

More Dick Nixon Experience from the El Vocho party last July at the Mercury Cafe in San Francisco. Bean Song, Six Days on the Road, and You Got That Hair. Our drummer Jeff reports that his mom helped Dave Dudley write Six Days on the Road, no kidding!

Video by Norm Rosenberger

Sunday, October 17, 2010

El Vocho Party, July 2010, with The Dick Nixon Experience

I held a publishing event last July 22 in San Francisco at the Mercury Cafe for my El Vocho graphic novel. My pal Scotty Hoover helped put together a pick up band, the Dick Nixon Experience, for the party. Another friend, Norm Rosenberger, shot this video of us playing the blue grass standard John Hardy. Thanks for the video clip, Norm!

My new graphic novel El Vocho is currently in the Diamond Comics catalog: Page 290 of October Previews, order code OCT101061 EL VOCHO GN (MR). Diamond has listed El Vocho as “Certified Cool”.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Queens of the Underground

Here are a few more pics from the San Diego Comics Con of old. The spirit of the original Underground comics played forward and blossomed in some great indie/alt comics in the 80s and 90s. Other rich veins of comics history dove tailed with them as new forms and styles emerged.
As mentioned before, the parties were pretty good too. No, they were spectacular!

The Queens of the Underground, Dori Seda and Krystine Kryttre, 1987.

Bad Boy J.R. Williams laying it down on Dan O'Neill's banjo, 1987.

The brilliant original, J. Bradley Johnson in '95. I know it looks like he's about to shop for art supplies, but actually he is on his way to the Comic Con wedding of Rebecka Wright and Mario Hernandez!

Mary Fleener, the other Queen of the Underground, and Dave Scroggy. Look out Scroggy, she's about to play that old Beer/Portfolio trick on you! 1991?

Steve Lafler and J.R. Williams in 1989. Based on our poses, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say I'm two beers ahead of J.R.

Reed Waller and writer Ricard Von Busack, either '89 or '91.

I'm reposting this at my FB page in May, 2020. It's great to look at these old photos again. Needless to say, back in the late 80s, early 90s, us Alt/UG types went to San Diego looking for a VERY GOOD TIME! Yes, we'd be on the con floor by day hawking our books and making deals, but the NIGHT TIME WAS THE RIGHT TIME! Ha ha.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

San Diego Comic Con '91

Here's a few pics from San Diego in '91

Jamie Alder, Dennis Worden, Mary Fleener and Wayno. Mary posted stacks of great con photos a couple years back, at this link.

Leslie Sternberg ready to party

J.R. Williams and his friend the Liquor Store man

Kate Worley exhorts Gary Groth: With that pony tail, you can move mountains!

Reed Waller and Kate Worley

Hmmmm... I realize I left out a lot of over the top party shots. Probably for the best! I don't want to piss anyone off, or in my case, make a fool of myself!

Return of the Son of San Diego

More pics from the San Diego of old.

J.R. Williams, Carol Lay, Stephen Beaupre, David Wilson in '91

Steve Lafler and Stephen Beaupre in 1990, somehow alive on Sunday

Kate Kane and Jackie Estrada, maybe '89

Jim Valentino, Lisa, Steve Lafler, Larry Mardur in '89.

Carol Lay and Dan O'Neill in '87

I think I have a few more to post kickin around...

Son of San Diego

Back in the dawn of pre-history (in this case, 1987), the San Diego Comic Con was different. First of all, the long-gone Hotel San Diego was haunted, thus providing a perfect setting for late late night parties. I rooted through a few old photos and came up with these gems.

J.R. Williams, Dan O'Neill and Larry Welz jammin' late.

Ron Turner and Gary Groth on the floor of the old Convention Center

Art Spiegelman and Don Donahue signing stuff

Dori Seda all dolled up

Paul Mavrides and Bob Crabb are still awake!

I'm gonna post more, this is fun. A little bit of comix history.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Comics Journal Steve Lafler interview parts 2 & 3

Part two of the Comics Journal interview with me.

Part three of the Comics Journal interview with me.

El Vocho, my new graphic novel, is in the next Diamond Comics Previews (their monthly catalog). The order code is OCT101061  EL VOCHO GN (MR)
The listing is on page 290 of Previews.

So there you go!

Here we are, fine with me.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ripe Pineapple Drunk video

Just posted a Ripe Pineapple Drunk video to You Tube. The song is country punk. It's about the biodiversity of corn. And in an oblique way, it's about mezcal.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Don't Forget Dori Seda

Dori Seda was a really funny, unique cartoonist.

You can buy the wonderful collection of her work here from Last Gasp

I should probably mention that much of her work was joyfully filthy.

Much of her early work was published in Robert Crumb's infamous anthology Weirdo. I loved it when I saw it, and wanted to meet the artist who created this meticulous, madcap stuff!

I did get to meet Dori, and became her friend. This was an instance where it was great to meet a hero of mine, who lived up to my expectations. She was hilarious, genuine, intense, mischievous, preposterous, witty and had talent to burn.

Dori passed away in 1988. Here's to the one and only Dori Seda.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ballad of the Bug - The Video

I've posted a homemade video for Ballad of the Bug on you tube. Written by myself and Todd Spiehler, the tune is the official theme song for my new graphic novel El Vocho. The video captures the flavor of Oaxaca just enough to whet your appetite for a visit.

I'm not expecting to make it on to MTV, but I will say it's a lot of fun to put a little video together.

The one and only Mr. Todd Spiehler, with Bill Stair, another local musical genius, lurking in the background. Photo by Jeff Charles.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Enemies List

Hi, how's it going tonight? Me, I'm fine! I was just about to get busy composing my enemies list. But then something funny happened--I realized I don't aspire to have enemies. So no list.

As an undergraduate in the 70s, I read the books of Carlos Castaneda (along with everyone else that decade). Great stories they were, and by the way I always sidestepped the issue of whether they were true; I figured that was totally besides the point he was making with his extended narrative on Mexican Indian shamanism.

One of Castaneda's ideas that really stuck with me was the idea that a sorcerer needed a "worthy opponent" to boost his power. It still resonates with me. If someone cares to lock horns with me, it challenges me to figure out a solution to the problem at hand. Usually, a good starting point is to think like my opponent, look at the situation from their point of view. This enables me to understand the problem from a broader perspective. It also allows me a view to their potential moves in the conflict, and possible solutions.

The fact is, however, I really feel it is a waste of my time and energy to cultivate enemies. I prefer to solve problems and move on. Or, better yet, avoid creating problems out of situations that are really none too monumental to begin with.

This year, I was embroiled in a conflict with the committee that ran my daughter's preschool in Oaxaca. The solution was quite simple: A group of families, including mine, broke away to start our own preschool. We hired the wonderful teacher from the old one, and therein lies the root of the conflict. I am keenly aware that the members of the committee from the old preschool consider me an enemy. Honestly, I just don't have any energy to give them for their enemy project!

Note that I do not name these people or their school. That would be to cultivate them as enemies.

Finally, business conflicts such as this, with the hiring of the teacher, are just that: business. Nothing more, nothing less, certainly not cause for invective, name calling, insults and poison pen emails, along with outright lying and thieving, all of which I have been subject to at the hands of the old preschool committee.

Time to end this post, that last paragraph has me ready to start my enemies list!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Interview with Inkstuds

I did an interview with Robin McConnell / Inkstuds -- Robin is a broadcaster who specializes in interviewing indie and underground cartoonists.

Here is a link to the interview.

It is an honor to do an interviewer with a broadcaster of Robin's stature, and boy it's well timed too, as my new book El Vocho will be in the Diamond Comics catalog next month.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ladies & Gentlemen, the Dick Nixon Experience

Here is the audio of the Dick Nixon Experience from the El Vocho publishing party at San Francisco's Mercury Cafe last night. Recording compliments of Sir Dave Soule. Scotty on bass, Jeff on Drums, Jon on electric guitar, Jeff 2 on fiddle and alto sax, Steve on acoustic guitar and vocals.

Monday, July 19, 2010

This Thurs Night!

I'll be at the Mercury Cafe in San Francisco this Thurs night with my new book El Vocho. We made two posters for the event!

Scott Hoover, our bass player, made this one and dubbed our band "The Dick Nixon Experience".

Thursday, July 08, 2010


Today, the great web zine This Zine Will Change Your Life debuted my new tune, Jack Black Song.
I did a comic for the zine too, click here to hear JACK BLACK SONG and read the comic.

This version of Jack Black Song was produced and arranged by my friend Bill Stair, one of the guys I play with on Thursday nights in Oaxaca. Bill has worked professionally as a bass player and recording engineer -- this guy has actually stood on stage at the legendary CBGB's in New York and laid down the law in thundering tones with his bass guitar. Many thanks go to Bill for making me sound competent!

Thanks also to publisher Ben Tanzer for including me in TZWCYL, a maverick literary zine that I'm very proud to appear in.

Friday, June 11, 2010

New Waldorf Inspired School in Oaxaca

My wife Serena and I are on to a new adventure (as usual!). We are part of a group that is opening a Waldorf inspired school here in Oaxaca, starting in late August. Serena has posted a description of the school and curriculum on her blog, Have You Seen the Dog Lately.

We are looking to give our kids a crack at a fine education, without a lot of the toxic programming inherent in traditional models.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

El Vocho is Here

Finally, my new graphic novel El Vocho is available! You can order it from my lulu page via this link for $12.00 + postage.

It is not in stores yet, but I'll be hawking it on my summer tour, and Top Shelf Productions (publisher of my BugHouse trilogy of graphic novels) will have it available at their booth at comic conventions this summer.

I'm developing the whole publishing picture for this book on a DIY/grass roots basis, working with my contacts in the indy/alt comics world, and will be posting details as I put them together.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Improved Ballad of the Bug & west coast tour dates

I've been working with producer/arranger Bill Stair and we put together a tight, bright version of Ballad of the Bug. This is the theme song for my upcoming graphic novel El Vocho, written by myself and my pal Todd Spiehler.

Have a listen:

(My music posting program considers the file a video, thus the big blank box.)

I've confirmed publishing events for my graphic novel El Vocho as follows:

Reading Frenzy, Portland Oregon, July 15th (time TBA)

Mercury Cafe, San Francisco, July 22nd, 7:30 p.m.

I'll have copies of El Vocho for sale, and will be rocking with my guitar on both occasions. David Perkin will play percussion in Portland, and I'll be joined on bass by Scotty Hoover in San Francisco, along with a drummer and lead guitarist.

I think my four year old just woke up!!! Better post now...

Monday, May 31, 2010

Don't Forget About Lou

After all, he is Lou.

Here's a killer video of Sister Ray, with Robert Quine on guitar.

Lou Reed, New York, 1989.
This is an insanely great record. I like Dirty Boulevard, Busload of Faith, Straw Man and Romeo Had Juliet.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Cooperative Model

We human beings can do better. It is high time we release ourselves from the violence and ecological disaster of human history.
I propose an end to hierarchical, top down structural models. Yup, the stuff found at your job, government, school and other institutions we encounter in daily life. We need to share responsibility, with its burdens and rewards, in cooperative structures. Whenever and wherever power is concentrated in few hands, the natural outgrowth is greed and abuse.
Condescending, patronizing elites may argue that the masses can't shoulder responsibility. This argument underlines their fear of losing power and control.
It's noteworthy that Dutch and English settlers in the Northeast (of what is now the United States) marveled at the egalitarian cultures of the Iroquois and Algonquin Indian federations. It's generally acknowledged that the new country was influenced by their democratic models (native American societies in other areas were top down hierarchical).
In industrial and post industrial modern times, we have no functional large scale cooperative nation state models. With the Soviet Union, Lenin imposed a dictatorship out of a war situation, and Stalin took it to insane heights as history's bloodiest dictator. Not cooperative! Nor communist, really.
I am not a Marxist, but I have been a member of four successful co-ops, each of which delivered equal benefits to all members, while exacting labor or fees from them.
Co-ops are beautifully self regulating, like water finding its own level. If the members lose interest, they ultimately collapse like the Amherst Food Co-op I was once part of. No problem, it served its members well during its tenure. Another, Warehouse Artist Studios in Eugene, Oregon, provided great, inexpensive studio space to a dozen artists for several years, even surviving a manager/member who was embezzling funds!
Hierarchical, top down structures are outmoded, serving only the polities (okay, the swindlers, megalomaniacs and thieves) at the top.

Some other time I have to address the problem of power structures that use force and violence to gain and maintain power. That is a huge mess that dovetails with my subject here, but will need to be tackled separately.
I've been thinking like this for a long time. That is why I've taken part in several co-ops. They are messy, but I'm willing to take the risk and do the work to develop the co-op model.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Ballad of the Bug

Here is Ballad of the Bug, pretty much the theme song for my new graphic novel, El Vocho. I wrote the lyric and the music was composed by Todd Spiehler.

This summer I'll be in the states promoting El Vocho and performing my tunes. I'm setting up dates now, so far I'm confirmed at the Mercury Cafe in San Francisco for 7:30 p.m., Thursday July 22. It will be a fun night as I'll be joined by my old friend Scott Hoover on bass, and we'll be playing with two guitars, bass and drums.

You might ask, why is this here cartoon dude gettin' into guitar slinging?

It started when I moved to Oaxaca in southern Mexico close to three years ago with my wife and two kids, looking to enjoy this cultured city, and an easier pace of life.

Before long, I met the aforementioned Todd Spiehler, a great guy who extended an invitation to jam on Thursdays with a loose confederation of musicians known as the Bodega Boys.

Not only do the Bodega Boys have a heck of a lot of fun playing musical styles from country blues and bluegrass to rock & roll, but they embrace the Oaxacan tradition of enjoying fine mezcal, the local spirit distilled from the maguey cactus. This is smokey, smooth stuff with a real mystique -- the best mezcal is made at country stills in the villages and valleys of Oaxaca state.

Did I mention that the Thursday night host of the Bodega Boys, Tony Raab, is a master distiller who crafts the best Mezcal this side of Monte Alban about 60 meters from the Bodega where we jam? You get the picture, we never fail to have a good time when we tune up and howl out a few tunes.

I really caught the fever for playing live music, I've pretty much gone Oaxacabilly. So, as I've worked on my El Vocho book these last couple years, I simultaneously penned a stack of tunes. I've been beating them into performable shape (I hope) and I'm gonna put myself on the line with them when I hit the states this summer. Maybe I'll see you then.

You never know who is gonna turn up at the Bodega! I'm jammin' here with Kim Berly of the Stampeders, premier Canadian rockers, and on stand up bass is John Harlin, noted expert mountaineer. Photo by Tania Roman

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ripe Pineapple Drunk

Here's a rough version of Ripe Pineapple Drunk, a song I wrote about Corn, Biodiversity and the Monsanto Corporation. And about being a hippy and a punk.

I'm gonna polish up my tunes and get around the states this summer, caterwauling with my guitar and promoting my new book El Vocho. Also gonna get some decent recordings done.

I've been fumblin' around like a Caveman trying to figure out how to embed my tunes in this here blog. I done got sore thumbs bangin' away at Google, messing with code. Me sorta dumb about this stuff, and I could not get a handle on it.
So I went beggin' to Nate Beaty, world class cartoonist and webster supreme. It took Nate like 5 seconds to generate the info I needed (try DivShare). Hey Nate, I owe you a Mezcal. Or an ice cream cone, or something as good as your advice! Thanks!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A New Chapter in My Life as A Teenage Werewolf

Since I moved to Oaxaca almost 3 years ago, I've sort of been drafted into The Bodega Boys, a local "Oaxacabilly" band. Inspired by the thrill & fun of playing live music, I've penned a number of my own tunes and I'm gonna be performing in the U.S. this summer as I tour in support of my upcoming graphic novel, El Vocho.
I've begun experimenting with recording and I'm looking to issue an Ipad version of the book which will include the songs in it. That being the case, I'm trying to figure out how the hell to post music on the web in some functional way that is relatively easy for me, and accessible to anyone foolish enough to listen to my caterwauling.
So here it is, a link to my page over at lastFM. This is just a little trial to see how it all works.
Truth is, I'm gonna get myself in a decent recording studio and get down some reasonably tight, well recorded versions of my tunes before going much farther with posting music, but ya gotta start somewhere and assess how to proceed, so there it is!
There are two songs on the page, a cover of the traditional tune John Hardy, and my homage to the Cramps, You Got That Hair.
They are set up for free download.

You Got That Hair!