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Here's to Tom Devlin, formerly the Highwater in Highwater Books

Perhaps you have seen this press release regarding Friday's opening of a Highwater Books retrospective in Boston at the Fourth Wall Project. It doesn't mention him by name, so when reading it, every time you see "Highwater Books" substitute "Tom Devlin" and "he" for "it" and "crazy lunatic" for "company" and you'll get a minibiography of ten years in the life of D+Q's Creative Director Tom Devlin after he sort-of managed the world famous Million Year Picnic comic shop and before he came to the Great White North. Since the press release for the show posted, and the oral history serialized on comicscomics, there will be many a great nerd debate on the company's legacy. Before it all dissolves into memories of crazy convention antics, superhero parodies, terrible business sense and Fort Thunder one-upsmanship and ridiculous arguments, I wanted to share a few words on why I thought Highwater was so singular before I met Tom in 2001.

In the year 2000, Highwater may have been the most sensitive comics company ever in existence. Of course, there were poignant art comics before then, but never had one company built its whole publishing platform around arty, experimental comics that emote more than they exclaim--in long form books to boot. I think the contemporary adjective would be "emo" and while that may sound like a pejorative, I mean it in the best way possible. Highwater books were different, from James Kochalka's (Tom first author) trio of books that basically read as a love letter to his wife, to Megan Kelso's short stories of straight forward honesty of dating and sex in Queen of the Black Black to the poetic teenage depression of Porcellino's Perfect Example (King-Cat had been a zine for 15 years and Tom was the first to collect it in North America). I would almost go so far as to say that Tom was publishing his comics version of the beat poets, because when you throw in Brian Ralph, Mat Brinkman, Ron Rege Jr, Marc Bell, business tactics like refusing to go through Diamond, and hedonistic tendencies like beach parties and retreats, hijacking The Comics Journal to produce one of its most beloved issues, an anti-establishment parallel does start to appear.

Tom acknowledges that he approached publishing the way twee rockers approached music (think Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian) but the existence of Highwater was probably more so an amalgamation of Tom's "delicate" sensibilities combined with support of friends--his partner-in-crime former Flyrabbit owner Brooke Corey who printed every poster with him and worked every convention, the early influence and support of Jessica Abel who urged him to start publishing, and Tony Davis of MYP who let him run wild ordering small press titles in the store. I think, however, what affected Highwater's sensibility most is that Tom was the first comics publisher to directly come out of the zine/minicomic/indie-rock generation, rather than before it, like Fantagraphics, or alongside it, like D+Q. With that DIY ethos in mind, during its existence, Highwater did more with less. Tom knew he could anything, because for Tom, he was always certain of the genius of his artists. Every single Highwater book was a paperback of normal to small size, the design tricks were kept to a minimum, every minicomic or silkscreened poster made by hand, yet so well designed that he warranted coverage in Publishers Weekly, Flaunt and Print Magazines. And while so much has been written on the business aspects of Highwater (basically an oxymoron) that it starts to overshadow the books, it's amusing to note that Highwater ironically ended business on an up note with its bestselling title ever -- 17,000 copies of Brian Ralph's Free Comic Day issue of Reggie 12 being distributed in comic shops stores across North America.

Some wrote Highwater off as cliquey, which isn't true. What Tom did was unheard of and hasn't been copied since, he assembled a small group of artists that may or may not have been friends beforehand, and they became peers, best friends and their worst, but most trusted, critics. Others wrote him off as snobby, which also couldn't be farther from the truth, as manager of MYP, Tom single-handedly supported every aspiring cartoonist with a minicomic in New England. Even today, Tom hasn't changed. He receives all the submissions, he stops by every small press table at any show, his D+Q projects that he has conceived or acquired including Moomin, Ernie Pook, Vanessa Davis, Gabrielle Bell, Keith Jones, Mimi Pond, the John Stanley Library still echo his editorial decisions of Highwater.

So what's Highwater's legacy? The obvious ones are the boutique presses like Picturebox and Secret Acres citing Tom as a direct influence and that his artists all are on to bigger and better things or that he now works for D+Q. Hopefully none of today's small publishers will end up with the same fate as Highwater, not only would conventions without Sparkplug or Bodega be a lot less fun, small publishers play a pivotal role in the shepherding of new talent. They always have, and always will.

If being a cartoonist means you're crazy, then wanting to be the one who publishes comics probably means you're crazier. Or, at the very least, a toss-up. So on Friday if you live in Boston go see the show, and if you don't, then revisit your favorite Highwater book, and give a toast to Tom!

Poster by Marc Bell!

Perfect Timing: New Vanessa Davis Comic on Tablet: New Book in Stores: Tablet event next week at the Strand

What better way to celebrate Vanessa's MAKE ME A WOMAN being in stores than to read a new strip in Tablet, the web magazine that originally serialized most of the stories in the book. And to top off this perfect fortuitous pairing, please join us a week from today, Wednesday the 6th 7 PM, for an event hosted by Tablet at the Strand in NYC where Vanessa will discuss the book with none other than fellow Tablet contributor Marjorie Ingall (as a former Sassy reader, this really tickles me pink!) If I had to guess, their conversation will be unlike all other perfunctory comic book event conversations ever, you know "do you listen to music while drawing?" "who is your favorite artist?". I am sure, or can only hope, that they wax adoringly about Crystal Renn for a good 20 minutes and if not that, then maybe Project Runway and their favorite Pucci patterns.

Sale Extended Until This Friday!

Due to last week's arrival of MAKE ME A WOMAN and PALOOKAVILLE 20 to our US warehouse, we extended our sale to this Friday. Both books are in stock and on sale by 30%.

Countdown to Creativity

So we're about six weeks away from PICTURE THIS being in stores across North America. If we haven't mentioned it before, Lynda finished the book on August 30th, and the chief worked his magic and turned the book straight around to the printer in order to make her October events. So for the next six weeks, I'll be doing blog post after blog post giving sneak peaks of the book, Lynda's studio, her APE appearance, and more.

So what is this next book about? Well, PICTURE THIS is the creative how to draw companion to the how to write WHAT IT IS. I read it a few weeks ago, and the message struck me on such a fundamental level that I started to read the book more slowly to make the experience last that much longer, the telltale sign of a great book. (I remember doing this for the first time in 4th grade with Judy Blume's Superfudge)

Today's blog post is a link to a GREAT, lengthy interview on Wisconsin Public Radio with Veronica Rueckert. Lynda goes into great detail about the new book. And gives some good gems such as Wisconsin is the most huggable state, her memories of Goofus and Gallant from Highlights and why she doesn't show in galleries anymore.

Toronto! This Sunday!

D+Q makes its annual pilgrimage to Toronto's Word On The Street festival this Sunday (Sept 26). Come visit us at booth 244 in Queen's Park, where we'll have numerous books not yet available in stores:

The "Lint" on the cover refers to Jordan Lint, whose entire life is documented, from birth to death, within the pages the 20th volume of Chris Ware's Acme Novelty Library. I have only 15 copies in my suitcase, get there early!

In the tradition of coyly not featuring either book title or author name on the cover, here we have the new volume of PV (that would be Palookaville, by Seth). The first hardcover edition in its two decade-long history, volume 20 features a new chapter of Clyde Fans, gorgeous sketchbook drawings (with gatefolds), an overview of Seth's manufactured, miniature city, Dominion, and a previously unpublished diary.

Nipper! I had to bring two copies home so that my sons could read it at the same time without "waiting" (ie: fighting) for their turn. They're already asking me when the next volume will be out. I must have looked through these strips and drawings over a hundred times and I still can't get enough of it.

This may turn out to be the most auspicious debut by a new author in years. "The book is big and beautiful, large and in charge, and totally funny," writes Julien on our 211 blog.

OK, this one is not quite a debut (it's been out for about two months), but I had to mention it here. Jillian Tamaki draws like nobody's business and I'm absolutely mesmerized by this book.

And finally, what would Word On The Street be without Chester Brown using our booth as a platform to recruit new members to the Libertarian Party? The glow of Louis Riel still shimmers now, but what will the reception for Chester be like at this time next year after his new book is published? Will he be run out of town?

If you're reading this and you're not anywhere near Toronto, then look for these new books in your local book or comic stores within the next few weeks.

Remember, Chris


D+Q at Word on the Street! Chester Brown!

It's the chief's annual outing to Toronto to spend some quality time with his Toronto pals. He'll arrive early enough on Saturday to take in the Lewis Trondheim event the Beguiling is putting on at Town Hall. And then bright and early on Sunday morning, he'll be at Word On The Street at Queen's Park starting at 11 AM to answer all of your where is the next issue of Peepshow, Sof Boy, and Berlin questions. Along with the chief is Chester Brown who last year signed over 50 copies of perennial LOUIS RIEL. Can he beat last year?!?! We shall find out....

James Sturm Signing In Burlington!

If you see this man tomorrow at the Performing Arts Center at the Burlington Book Festival from 1:00-2:00 PM, put down the hacky sack, put out the American Spirit, sit down to listen to his presentation on Market Day. After the show, buy his book, and also buy him a hemp beer and gluten free muffin. This man just keeps going and going, he needs to refuel!

More sale stuff, more great books!!

I had this sudden realization as I was unpacking books for SPX a couple of weeks ago that the last couple of years have been amazing artistically for D+Q. Just great book after great book. Sure, this is our personal blog and everything on here is kind of an ad but I really mean it. But don't worry, I'm also aware that there is so much great stuff coming out these days that it's hard to keep track of it all. Well, I have some suggestions for you!!

First off, we've just added Make Me a Woman and Palookaville 20 to our sale. Hell, add The Wild Kingdom and the total price is just $45.36 before shipping. $15 bucks a book! For these gems!!! Brand new too!!!

Here's another suggestion. you know who is publishing the best selection of manga in North America right now? Just good stories? None of that bullshit fetishistic gaze at the exotic other nonsense? D+Q. I'm not kidding. There have been some other great books published in recent years (Picturebox, Ponent Mon, Vertical) but nobody is publishing as much great literary gekiga as us. Our three non-Tatsumi titles, Red Snow, The Box Man, and Red-Colored Elegy are only $58.21, less than $20 a book. Throw the Tatsumis that we have in stock (Black Blizzard, A Drifitng Life, and Push Man) in there and you've got 6 titles for $104.12 (pre-shipping) or just $17.33 a book.

Finally, let's look at those Moomin books shall we? Get volumes 3, 4, and 5 plus The Book about Moomin, Mymble, and Little My for only $46.08 (pre-shipping). Just $11.50 a piece for cracking ice!

Get on this sale now folks!

"Actually, I don't think I look like him at all."

Whatever, Woody! Say, did you know this nifty new Nipper: 1963-1964 collection just-in-stores is now available as part of our 30% sale. Ya! It totally is!

Man I miss Amy Lockhart...

It's hard to forget how great it was having Amy Lockhart around in Montreal and Border Crossings' recent article about her certainly doesn't help!

Drawing comparisons between Lockhart and many of her peers like Marcel Dzama and Shary Boyle, this article acts as a kind of guide to her work through a series of recurring characters.

Author Lee Henderson makes some pretty dead-on observations about the nature of Amy's work and how, unlike a lot of contemporary feminist artists who work with the female form, there is a distinct lack of ironic references to historical objectification of women.

Henderson says that, instead, "[T]he canvas seems to be free of any self-conscious haze surrounding the semiotics of the A+-voided female form, but there is an immediate sense of a strong presence in the figures she paints. Lockhart's women are so strong you don't at first realize what she's accomplished, or how natural, interesting and questionable it all is."

This article is a well-deserved tribute to one of the most interesting young artists working in Canada today, and I would really recommend that everyone pick up a copy of this issue! For those American readers out there, this is a chance to become acquainted with one of the best arts publications coming out of Canada AND learn more Amy Lockhart all at once.

PS- Amy please come back to Montreal...

Sikoryak in GQ

Be sure to check out this Peanuts parody in GQ this month by R. Sikoryak. He apparently did 9 other parodies too, with NY Magazine's Scott Brown as this Washington Post article explains.

Brooklyn Book Festival (and Domy!)

Sorry for the lateness here! The week before last I was down in New York for the Brooklyn Book Festival, a one day, outdoor street festival featuring all kinds of wonderful publications. Unfortunately, this year was rained-out, which maybe affected my mood as it turns out I forgot to take a lot of photos. Still, there were a significant number of enthusiastic book browsers around again reminding me that Brooklyners LOVE reading!

Bodega publisher Randy Chang helped me out behind the booth, which was great, though it led me to come up with a new booth rule to be added to our litany of previously established ones: texting isn't selling.

How did I manage to forget to get photos of Adrian Tomine signing copies of his books at the booth (that we sold out of, despite the bad weather)? Or any photos of the amazing Jillian Tamaki who came by the booth to sign her beautiful new Petit Livre INDOOR VOICE?

Well, I don't know that I have an explanation other than that I spent most of the day trying to move books out of the way of the various leaks in the tent, catch Randy texting. So, instead, a couple of weather shots.

I know, I know. What's the point of doing a blog post if I'm not going to populate it with our beautiful cartoonists' faces? These blurry rain shots really don't make up for it. But maybe this will...

A week before BBF, I headed down to Texas to visit the Chinati Foundation in Marfa as well as the great city of Austin, home to the fantastic Domy Books.

I expected Domy to be pretty great considering that its reputation has made it all the way across the continent/to another country, but even my high expectations were blown away.

Its philosophy seems to be somewhat similar to our Librarie 211 in Montreal in that it has curated selection of art books, novels and a healthy dose of comics/mini comics, but it also stocks some pretty interesting looking Japanese books, and small press/zines. Considering that co-founder/store manager Russell Etchen doesn't get a chance to get out to the shows very often and that the store is based in the South West, the stock of handmade and small press books was doubly impressive.

Aside from the great book selection, Domy also has a gallery space on one side, where there was (when I was there) a show of works by Austin-based artists circa 1988.

Russell very kindly answered all of my annoying questions/let me take a photo of him. He also had tons of recommendations of things to do/see in Austin, which made me wish that I had stopped by Domy at the BEGINNING of my trip in lieu of the end. It could have saved me a lot of aimless wandering/believing that the only thing to do in Austin is ride mechanical bulls in empty bars (I regret nothing!).

No money for books? DON'T WORRY, DOMY'S GOT YOU COVERED! (next door to Domy)

All right, so, I know that I am slowly turning this post into a personal vacation blog, so I will cut this short, but while I was in Marfa I saw this little theatre (well, it's now a converted theatre) and it reminded me of Seth's Dominion, so I thought I would share it here.

So, while I DO feel a little bit jealous that Tom was at SPX doing chocolate fountain keg-stands, Brooklyn Book Fest was a pretty exciting place to be and Texas (save some offensive bumper stickers seen here and there) is awesome so there isn't much to complain about. Though I expect some Tom Devlin gossip from SPX. (Brian Ralph, I'm looking at you.)

HELL'S BELLS: Lynda Barry on Tour This Fall!

People, really, is there anything better than a new Lynda Barry book?!?!!? Well, just a new Lynda Barry book, and events to go with it! PICTURE THIS: THE NEARSIGHTED MONKEY book is amazing, it even has Marlys in it!!!!. Lynda turned it in this August, and the Chief worked his magic so that it is at the printer now as I type. A previewof the book is here.

Lynda will be in San Francisco, LA, Portland, Vancouver, Chicago and NYC. We will be adding events over the Fall and early into 2011. If you have never seen Lynda in person before, it may be one of the most exhilarating and inspirational experiences one can have at an author event. Get your tickets and preorder your books now!

12/02/10 NYC 92nd STREET Y WITH MAIRA KALMAN (Holy @#&$%&*?)

In Stock and On Sale.

Two books just arrived at our warehouses today that we have now put on sale and will ship anywhere in the world!

Kevin Huizenga's WILD KINGDOM was $19.95/$22.95 and now is $13.96/$16.06!!! 30% off!

John Stanley's TUBBY was $29.95/$34.95 and now is $20.95/$24.95!!!! 30% off!

A list of all new D+Q titles that are on sale can be found here.

John P and Noah Van Sciver at Kilgore tonight

Oh, you already know about this. But the latest leg of the King-Cat/Blammo tour winds up tonight in Denver. Two great cartoonists for the price of one.

Tonight in Denver

Kilgore Books and Comics
6 PM
624 E. 13th Ave.
Denver, CO 80203
ph. (303) 815-1979

Mat Brinkman / New York

NSFW: Go down a bit and you get to the Brinkman show. It's worth it. There are some great photos after the food blogging. The interminable insufferable food blogging.


Drawn & Quarterly will be publishing the all new original graphic memoir, PAYING FOR IT, by the legendary cartoonist Chester Brown in the Spring of 2011, it was announced today by Editor-In-Chief and Publisher Chris Oliveros. PAYING FOR IT chronicles Brown's break up with a long time girlfriend and his subsequent search and examination of the need for companionship, love, and sex and whether they are inescapably intertwined.

"To any follower of Chester Brown's career, PAYING FOR IT is classic Chester," said Oliveros. "It is unabashedly frank in his depiction of his sex life while coolly asserting his view of a controversial topic. It is safe to say that there has never been a graphic novel like PAYING FOR IT before and it will be the most talked about book of 2011."

Brown has never shied away from tackling controversial subjects in his work. In his 1992 book, THE PLAYBOY, he explored his personal history with pornography. His bestselling 2003 graphic novel, LOUIS RIEL, was a biographical examination of an extreme political figure. The book won wide acclaim and cemented Brown’s reputation as a true innovator. PAYING FOR IT is a natural progression for Brown as it combines the personal and the sexual aspects of his autobiographical work with the polemical drive of LOUIS RIEL. Brown calmly lays out the facts for us of how he became, not only a willing participant, but a vocal proponent of one of the world’s most hot button topics —prostitution. While this may appear overtly sensational and just plain implausible to some, Brown’s story stands for itself. PAYING FOR IT offers an entirely contemporary exploration of sex work from the timid john who rides his bike to his escorts, wonders how to tip so as not to offend, and reads Dan Savage for advice, to the modern day transactions complete with online reviews, seemingly willing participants, and clean apartments devoid of cliché depictions of street corners, drugs, or pimps.

PAYING FOR IT will be distributed in the U.S. by Farrar, Straus & Giroux and in Canada by Raincoast Books. International rights will be represented by Samantha Haywood of the Transatlantic Literary Agency.

Interns are awesome, so awesome!

Here we see new publicity intern Fiona holding the ACME 20 poster for the new Chris Ware at Adam Baumgold Gallery show. Here's a fun fact--Fiona's mom worked at Fantagraphics years and years ago (when it was still in LA!)

Yes, of course, we've asked if there are photos.

Chris Ware Opening at Adam Baumgold--Copies of Acme 20 Available!

Thursday night at the Adam Baumgold Gallery on the Upper East Side, will be an opening for Chris Ware and a NYC launch for the 20th volume of the Acme Novelty Library, in stores in October. If you have never seen Ware's originals and want to buy his new edition of Acme, be sure to go, as originals from his new comic will be on display, and everything is sure to go quickly.

SPX 2010 {"I think I was in Rockville?" or "You're a good person."}

I do like the SPX show very much. It has always been my favorite show because of its focus on mini-comics and you-can-only-find-it-here feel as well as the fact that you are stuck in that hotel together practically forcing you to get to know people you might not in other circumstances. Do you have practically unlimited drunken access to your favorite cartoonist legend or current mini-comics fave? Yes, you do. The show was run perfectly as far as I could tell. No glitches for me and when I did have a need for an extended hotel room all I had to do was ask the great Warren Bernard and he took care of it in about 30 seconds. Also, special thanks to Jeff, Karon, and Greg--all great folks.

I hadn't been to SPX in about 5 years so this was my first time at this particular space. I loved the one big room, the crazy mental carpeting, and the nearby Chinese/Japanese restaurant with the possibly sliding prices. The famous chocolate fountain looked gross.

I flew into DC, bumped into Kevin Huizenga at the airport, spent several hours trying to leave same airport, finally checked into our hotel and headed back out to Politics and Prose for a James Sturm presentation. It was a good crowd who asked a ton of questions.

Hey, comics pals Richard Thompson (I'm guessing you are reading Cul de Sac by now with Spurge's constant urging) and Mike Rhode came out for a second night in a row. These guys LOVE comics!!

The photos just get blurrier and darker from here on out. You are warned.

My only shot of Ignatz winner Kevin Huizenga. We bumped into Brian Ralph (Daybreak coming Fall 2011) and some of his SCAD students after dinner and then forced them into Brian's room and made them listen to us talk about "how it used to be" until 2am.

Set-up the table and take a photo of new books, please.

Well, it seems I had not met Jog. This guy reads a lot of comics and I love how much attention he'll pay to some old issue of Heavy Metal but he'll still pick up Palookaville 20 and ACME 20 when he drops by the booth. {I swear I had not read this post when I wrote this!}

The about-to-win-an-Ignatz James Sturm (for Market Day signs his should-be-in-your-library classic James Sturm's America for a passing fan. {Kevin (Ganges) and Bob Sikoryak (Masterpiece Comics) also won and that was very gratifying. I think SPX may have the highest ratio of "good" wins. There was not a clunker in the bunch this year.}

I apologize to you both for this picture. {I apologize to you, Vanessa. I apologize to you, Gabrielle.}

Brian Ralph gives Dan Nadel advice about how to properly wear a plaid shirt. Plaid shirts really made a comeback this early Fall fashion season at SPX.

Again, an apology for a bad picture. I really need to replace that camera. Here's my round the corner table mate Mark Burrier who is a swell guy and he had many swell items on his table and we hardly talked the whole time at the show because we were selling selling selling. {Downside of any con is how you end of not talking enough to people you would actually like to talk to. Did I ever get a chance to go over to Richard Thompson's table and paw through his stack of originals? No I did not.} Also, plaid.

Does this photo capture the craziness of a packed hall and people jockeying for position to look at the new Make Me a Woman (Vanessa Davis) or Wild Kingdom(Kevin Huizenga).

This gentleman was too shy to share these tats with me but Brian Ralph tracked him down and got these photos. This might be my last comics tattoo photo/post ever. You are warned!!

Okay. This one. Same guy. HARD CORE!!! I mean I love Moomin but this dude is serious.

You know who else I had not met? Tim Hodler. Centered, his wife, Lauren Weinstein and the cutest baby (with the best name) at the convention--Ramona! {Oh, Tim's not in this photo. Sorry if this is confusing.}

It is no secret that D+Q interns are the best. Here's Casey who worked for us last summer. She helped me out while I did the Fort Thunder panel or as I like to call it, three guys talking about how awesome they are--and Dan Nadel. Casey, is that top by Hermes? I believe it is.

Dinner: me, Tim Hodler. Beardos.

Frank Santoro, Brian Ralph. Dreamboats.

Post dinner. Paul Lyons, Cheryl Kaminsky. We got a little lost heading back to the Ignatz Awards so sadly I missed nearly the whole ceremony. Paul is a Fort Thunder alum and Cheryl is former employee of MYP and manager of the recently announced to be shuttered Giant Robot New York.

Ceremony missed. Beers being drunk. Bricks being set down and neglected while more beers are being drunk. On that table before the beer bottles crowded it off sat a sweet photo of a couple who just got married in the hotel that day. That means that comics people are pigs. We are filthy animals with no regard for the sanctity of matrimony. That's what it means.

Lucky for me Dino and James re-enacted the now blog famous award presentation. This is the 1am version.

Next day, super fan Nate Powell buys two copies of Make Me a Woman. Presumably one for his bookshelf and one to ebay for "mad dollahs."

I do not support this notion but Frank Santoro made such a fuss that I said I would post it. Please note that this is Frank's opinion and most certainly not that of this blogger. There I said it, I am a blogger. Frank, enemies made.

I'm about to leave for the airport here and these folks are about to descend on some poor unsuspecting restaurant. Starting left seated, Andrice Arp, Bill K., Sarah Glidden (standing), Tom Neely, Zack Soto. I hung out with these folks till the wee hours the night before and they were delightful party hopping companions all.

Look who was waiting for me when I got home. (Hey, you can get your own blog if you want.)


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