This year has felt as powerful with creative output as with violence and repression. I am glad we have colorful things to denounce and ignore this moment we're living in as much as we want. Starting the year was Mould Map 3, with a very on point theme: tans-future, as in "transcending the future". Title which, caused some negative interpretations from avid comic transreaders, and made sense considering Ceccaldi's cover. Mould Map perhaps doesn't have the most coherent outlook of the future or our current context, but it does provide and amazing, and beautiful design object. Moulp Map 3 is a fun, shiny book, with the best neon colors possible and little zine inserts with more little books. This is certainly a good book made by people with good intentions.
Another colorful object I really enjoyed is Naziosare. This is from last year, but as it came out almost at the end of it, I feel like I mostly enjoyed it this year. Looking at this book in the sunset is awesome, the neons really come out of the paper. Joc Doc has got their screenprinting technique in order. My favorite pages are Anna Haifisch and Abraham Díaz and the riso insert with that nasty Simpson comic from Mou.
I almost didn't buy comics in the mail this year. Every year the mail everywhere keeps getting worse and more expensive. I don't know what their deal is but mail should get their shit together. Now also that I travel so often I prefer to get my comics at festivals.
The first one I went this year was CAKE. I was a special guest and that felt fancy. I really liked going to Chicago, it has a very modern, industrial look and while I was there I couldn't stop thinking about those Sears catalogues from the beginning of the twentieth century. Also I was surprised at how real the mexican food is there.
One of the best things I got there was Memory Palaces from Edie Fake, an obsessive recreation of gay bars and other queer spaces through cheerfully psychotic grids of colour. I also enjoyed sharing a panel with Anya Davidson and Lizz Hickey at the festival, they're both very powerful and sensitive women and it was a pleasure to concoct such show with them. Anya's Needle Dick comic is one of those romantic ideas that really move my own disgusting feelings. A man turns himself miniature and wishes to live inside his lovers vagina. What a sweet romance.
Being in Chicago, I finally had the chance to visit Quimby's in person! I've browsed their overwhelming website inventory quite a few times and it was such a joy to be able to do it in person. After browsing zines for an hour(s?) and an obliged visit to the bathroom (great bathroom, funny shit there, four out of five stars), I spent all my book earnings (from the ones of mine they've sold there) in this mushroom book (no regrets)
It's funny to think Edie doesn't work at Quimby's anymore, since he felt like such an integral part of it. I'm excited to see what he comes up with now that he'll only be focusing on his own work. Someone else I saw in Chicago who works discreetly, but fiercely is Sua Yoo. It was very special for me to meet her in person finally, after being friends on the internet for so long. My last morning there, I was on the L train going to the airport, and Sua got into the same train car as I was sitting in. She walked into the train from the door that was right in front of me. It felt like one of those greater coincidences, and we both felt happy to be able to say good bye once more. In one of our hangouts (previous to the train encounter), she gave me a copy of Hiro, a zine she made in collaboration with other friends. The three of them created these characters, of which one of them did some sculptures, another wrote some poems and Sua did this "anime" versions of, plus an introductory comic to their world. It's a really weird and cool thing. Sua is one of the most multi-talented people I know. From this picture you might think she's devoted her whole life to draw manga, but I want you to know that's just one of the dozens of styles she can pull off perfectly.
One last thing I want to talk about I got in Chicago was Forming 2 from Jesse Moynihan. This is one of my favourite current comic series, and I'm dying with anticipation for volume 3. Forming was originally published as a webcomic (and you can still read it online at Moynihan's website) but nothing beats reading something like this in an oversized book format. Forming is a story about the origin of the universe and the human race, and is based on a collage of ideologies and mythologies, from ancient Greece to Christianity, to other things I probably don't know about. But the thing is, you don't have to know about any of this to read Forming. This story creates itself, and even if it is supposed to take place millions of years ago, the characters feel very real and contemporary. The dialogue is always witty and fresh, which makes it really fun to read. The story just flows, and the artwork is a joy to look at.
In July I organized a festival in Mexico City (a sort of throw back to Zin Amigos) where I got a copy of "La Ciencia Oculta de la Magia" (The Secret Science of Magic), edited by Libros Caballos. The idea behind these, which they call "libros pirata" or pirate books, is literally that, they scan expensive, hard to find books and re-publish them in photocopies and with hand made covers. The book I got is an amazing compilation of magic books from different centuries. It's a really interesting thing to flip through and just read random hexes from. It has it all: how to make a woman do your will, how to turn stuff into other stuff, how to make music appear (you know, for before they had ipods and stereos and computers...)
Something else I liked that was made in Mexico this year was Dibujos Rápidos from Paulina Morales / Conjuntivitis. It's a little zine screen printed with neon inks over semi-transparent, gridded paper. It looks like a weird little notebook that was drawn on with gel pen. The drawings are all portraits, and some are just hair without faces.
Another girl with neon colors that inspired me throughout the warmer (and rainiest) months of this year was Sarah McNeil, with her impeccable risograph prints. The "Plant Feelings" one has been on my wall cheering me up every day since I got it.
In August I went for the first time to Providence for the RIPE festival. It was pretty cool, Providence is nice and everyone is very chill. It was weird that they don't sell alcohol on Sunday after 6PM though. Probably the most alcoholic conservative place I've ever been in my life. Nonetheless, the festival had a good vibe and I got some nice stuff there. Something I didn't get and regretted immediately was Molly O'Connell's new comic, Stripp Mall. I'm glad I was able to get it afterwards at CAB. This mini comic is the first of a series, and introduces us to the whacky world of Stripp Mall, where pop stars, freaks, and retail come together in O'Connells colorful paintings. I love her style and I'm excited to see where this story goes.
At RIPE I also saw the Montréal band, Enormous Door and they ruled. I got their split cassette with Groke and it was really good. Another good punk casette I got this year was the demo from Mujercitos, from DF (Mexico City). Casettes are alright, although for the most part, I enjoy punk bands live the most!
In September I visited Europe. I found a handful of beautiful children's books in Latvia and Estonia, of which I wrote more about for Vice (in spanish). I'm still really excited about these, they're all so good. Here's a spread from "Kaķu Grāmata" (The Cat Book) by Edgars Folks.
David and Sanita (editors of my favourite current comics anthology, the colorful Kuš!) took me to the best garbage and book hunting places in Latvia, and thanks to them I found most of those gems, as well as these other ones
After visiting Latvia and Estonia, I went to the Helsinki Comics Festival in Finland, were I debuted my first hardcover graphic novel fancy book Lapsos (more on this later). One of my favourite acquisitions from there was Fanart by Night, by the Esselbrügge twins, Michel and Jannis, and their friends Julius and Liva. This is a group of very talented young german cartoonists and I can't wait to see what they come up with next. I particularly enjoy Michel's work, it is playful and also kind of gritty, his stories are always funny but also a little bit sad and violent. My favourite mix of things. Here is a page from his comic from Fanart by Night.
Another great comic I got there was Amanda Vähämäki's new comic, "Sisältää pieniä osia" (Contains small parts) about a middle aged, divorced mom in gloomy Finland. I love comics with seemingly uninteresting characters like this one. The cover itself says it all, this lady just doesn't give a fuck anymore, and that's really appealing to me. The story is very mundane, mom goes to work, kids go to school, mom and kids fight. But the way it's told reveals so much about all the characters and the context they live in. It's easy to empathize with all of them, even for me that I'm coming from a totally different place. But as soon as you start to understand their reality, Vähämäki makes a turn for the unexpected, introducing some surreal magical elements to the story, which gives for a great ending.
Something else that never fails from the finnish: Kuti Kuti. Their last issue was about german artists, so it was like a clash of the best with the best. You can't go wrong with something that has new comics by Paul Paetzel, Ana Albero, Aisha Franz, Michel Esselbrügge, Anna Haifisch, Mari Ahokoivu, Jyrki Heikkinen and Emmi Valve.
At the same time as I was in Finland in September, SPX was happening in some hotel in the middle of somwhere in the states. Debuting there was Megahex, from Simon Hanselmann, which is now, even before the year finishes, sold out. I was smart enough to preorder copies (one for me and others to distribute in Mexico). Megahex compiles most of the Megg, Mogg and Owl comics that Simon started posting on his girlmountain tumblr in 2012. I remember the first time I saw his work, it was a one-pager called "Megg's Depression", in which Megg lies in her bed and some creepy witch faces drool a black, dense goop on top of her until she is buried completely in it. It had already been reblogged a thousand times, but it was one of those few posts that are actually worthy of that attention. It is awesome to see Simon has come all the way from being known only by a handful australians, to have his comics released in a hardcover, full colour edition by Fantagraphics. I was very happy to read "Megg's depression" and all his other "tumblr classic" comics again in such a beautifully printed edition. Hanselmann's work dabbles inbetween the bleak and the comical, and also contains a shit ton of drug abuse. His tumblr and now mainstream popularity isn't suprising, I think he's making something deeply relatable for our generation. If you are "young adult of today", it is hard not to find a reflection of yourself or your friends in these characters. It is kind of scary and sad, but mostly really funny.
With SPX, Simon started a month long tour along with canadians Patrick Kyle and Michael DeForge. Patrick and Michael were debuting their new Koyama Press titles, Distance Mover and Lose 6 respectively. Distance Mover is one of my favourite comics from Patrick. It's a sort of all ages sci-fi story, infused with his unique geometric style and with a gentle story flow. The dialogue has a very serious tone but also has a very friendly feeling. The book is duotone, with blue and gold as the chosen colours, which makes it look like a more elegant adaption of the story, as opposed to the original single issues which were printed in an array of bright and neon colours. To be honest, I think I like this comic better in its original risograph inception. Through such format, Patrick explored the possibilites of riso, making each issue a unique and interesting piece, filled with colours and gradients. Although a positive side of Distance Mover being collected into a book, is that now more people can read all the story! And that's the best.
Lose 6 is probably one of my favorite issues from DeForge's comic series. DeForge's design sense is always perfect, in an almost mechanical sense, and here the storytelling feels also very meticulously calculated. His stories just keep getting darker and more convoluted, and it's great.
In November I traveled to Brooklyn in New York for CAB. If you were there, you will probably agree that the "book of the show" was Olivier Schrauwen's "Ársene Schrauwen", which sold out without me being able to get a copy. Regardless of that, Aisha Franz was kind enough to let me read hers, or well, at least the first part since Schrauwen divided the story in three parts, which you are supposed to wait a week before you are able to read the next part (I'm not joking, that's what it says in the book!). Little does Mr. Schrauwen know that I have to wait probably like a month until I get his book to read the next part. He's probably happy about this. Lala and me went to the talk he gave at Pratt, where he mentioned he thinks people read his comics way too fast and with this breaks he wanted to try to grasp some control on the reader's speed. All this preface is a good introduction to how particular Schrauwen's work is. "Ársene Schrauwen" is a made-up memoir of his grandfather's experience in "the colony" (which isn't named as such but I assume it's supposed to be Congo). The book uses all different sorts of visual analogies, which allow for a very complex reading. But it isn't dull or complicated in any way, on the contrary, it is all laid out in a way which makes it all part of a natural visual order. It's hard to describe how the flow of the story works, the story is slightly surreal, but it is narrated in a way which feels true and real. The drawing style is geometric but also organic. Schrauwen seems to be bouncing on and off two opposites, just like the colours he used for the book: red and blue. I think this book shows one of the most interesting approaches to the medium of comics.
Something else that sold out at CAB (and deservingly so) was Janus, Lala's new comic. Lala is a very good friend of mine and she has been kind enough to give me a place to crash all the years I've been to CAB/BCGF or whatever brings me to Brooklyn. Her artwork has been haunting me for years, and it's really exciting to see her taking on comics just as masterfully. Janus is an introspective comic that gives us a glimpse into the mind of a woman who lives inside a body suit. She is a woman, but also another woman, and also something else. The story telling transcends typical timelines and jumps on and off into the future, the past, the inside and the outside. It is very poetic, in the visual part as much as in the dialogue.
I mentioned Aisha Franz briefly above, but I didn't mention she's also an amazing cartoonist. I got her book "Alien" a few years ago in the mail when it was released in Germany (and when the mail wasn't so shitty). It was in german (obviously) so I couldn't quite read it when I got it (sadly), but now it has been finally published in english by Drawn & Quarterly (and also retitled Earthling). I was so excited to finally read all the dialouge I had been missing all along. The story has a slow, gentle pace and the pencil drawings that acompany it work perfectly to suit its peacefully odd mood. There are three main characters, all women in different stages of their life, but still struggling to find themselves. It is a beautiful comic about relationships, family, sex and, yeah, there's an alien there too!
A book I didn't know anything about and thus didn't expect anything of was Wendy, by Walter. I had the pleasure of meeting Walter one night we went out in Chinatown, and had a lot of fun hanging out with him. I saw him also at the festival, and we found out we have a mutual friend in Montréal, Lisa Czech. All of this happened, and I had no idea he was a cartoonist. After the festival, Lala told me she had got Walter's book and I was like "Wait, Walter's a cartoonist...?" Well, duh! Of course he was. And he's great! Wendy, his first graphic novel from Koyama Press is humorous and smart. A comic about a young artist, lost in the world of business and pleasure. The drawings are also funny and unpretentious. It's very REAL and honest.
I also want to talk about a few things that aren't comics, but were certain highlights of the year for me. Fun objects are a basic need for everyone, and I'm glad more cartoonists and artists are putting their talents into creating them.
Mickey Zacchilli's gone all out with her patches, and they're all great. Apparently, she's planning some sort of patch subscription for next year, which sounds super cool. I currently just pimped my backpack with her "Lord knows I've tried" one.
MilkBBi also keeps it real with his branding, which seems to grow bigger and better each season. I was particularly excited to get these "ultimate" socks by him, since I myself have a bit of a sock obsession.
Ginette Lapalme has also been churning out beautiful trinkets all year round, and I'm really looking forward for Conffetti, a full colour book collection of her jewlery and illustration work, which will be put out by Koyama Press next year. Ginette's work is always fun and beautiful and never fails to cheer me up, so this will definitely be a book I will have at hand whenever I'm feeling down and uninspired.
Something else that always gets me excited are stickers. Killer Acid's vynil stickers are always on point. The only sticker I have on my laptop is his "Official Troll" one.
I've been working on this post for a few days and I feel good about it. Not so much about the post itself (I mean, it's alright, whatever) but mostly about the fact that I've been working on it for so long. I miss the days when the internet was slower and blog posts were fewer and more thought out. My tumblr feels like a spam wasteland, which makes me want to revive this blog a bit. I also want to make a small recap of what I did this year, which intertwines with the things I mention above:
* In March, Traducciones was released by Ediciones Valientes in Valencia, Spain. It is a 44 page comic about a young woman who lives alone and works at home, doing translations of medical texts. She is also in a long distance relationship, and her life is filled with sexual frustration and crazy hangouts with her friends. I really like the drawings in this comic, but the story not so much. It is kind of cheesy.
* In May, CS was published by Sacred Prism and it debuted at CAKE. It was printed beautifully in risograph by Issue press, with neon pink and green inks. I really like how it turned out as an object. It's a 16 page mini comic about a miniature woman living in a man's body (much like Anya's Needle Dick... which also debuted at CAKE and of which I knew nothing about when I was writing this comic!). This bacteria(?) girl is in love with her host, but the other microscopic beings from the body distrust her and end up killing her. It's inbetween romantic and funny...
* In July I took part in Edición Instantánea and I went to Morelia, Michoacán to work with Fuck Zines (Paco and Paulina) in a silkscreened zine. The result was IRIS, a series of drawings depicting a strange, powerful substance that exists in women's body. Again, lots of neon colours in this one.
I also published Edwin Sandoval's Hate Soup. I'm really honoured to have published this comic by one of my favorite mexican cartoonists. The edition also came out quite nice, with an holographic, silkscreened cover made at Fuck Zine's workshop. Here's the little description I wrote about it: "Hate Soup compiles comics and illustrations about the mexican drug cartel’s horrific practices of torture and dismemberment. These atrocities, filmed in video by their perpetrators, have been documented as insanely detailed drawings by Edwin throughout the last three years. This zine also contains a comic about an alien dominatrix and a man who has psychotic fantasies, plus a couple of funny illustrations of narcocorridos."
* In August I was interviewed by Zainab Akhtar from Comics and Cola. Her blog is really good, and it's pretty much my favourite source for comics reviews, so it was a huge honour to have her interview me. Her questions were really thoughtful and I'm really happy with how it turned out.
* In September C'est Bon Kultur, from Malmö, Sweden, released my first hardcover, fancy graphic novel Lapsos. We debuted it at the Helsinki Comics Festival. It is over 140 pages long and it was printed in blue and neon red with some full colour inserts. This is a story I worked on for all of 2013, and I also added some 30 new pages for this edition. I'm really excited about this book and I think other people were excited also. I received 100 copies in the end of September and I already sold out all of them. Plans are in the making for a spanish version, which I'm really excited about... this comic HAS to be published in its original language!
* In November, Breakdown Press released my comic Sindicalismo 89, which debuted at CAB. This is a 36 pages "pachecomedia" (stoner comedy?) comic based on my experiences from living in a building with 50 other apartments in which all our windows face each other. It has it all: gossip, parties, destruction, dreams and masturbation. I'm pretty happy about this one. Also I drew it all while I was traveling through Europe, so that was pretty crazy.
It is a sort of companion title to Lala's Janus (since they were both published by Breakdown Press and debuted together at CAB) and even though they are almost opposite in mood and pace, there's an underlying relation with female friendship in both of them.
* Throughout the year I traveled a lot and also made some journals of South America (part 1 / part 2) and Europe (part 1 / part 2). I also wrote a lot of articles about anime and manga for Tebeo Tropical, my column for Vice Mexico (all in spanish, sorry).
This year I focused a lot more on distributing comics I liked from other people through Gatosaurio and it has been really fun and rewarding. Also this was the first year I've experienced being published by other people. It's been a good experience, and now I am finally able to weigh in the pros and cons of that. I definitely want to work again with publishers, but I also want to get back a bit more into self-publishing. This year I think my biggest self-published project was my calendar for 2015, which comes with stickers.
I'm really excited for next year. I have some big plans I don't really want to share right now, since they are totally unrelated to comics or my work... But I can tell you, good things are happening for me. Regarding my work, my plans for next year are still nebulous. I want to work on a long story and also some small ones. I want to paint more with watercolours again. I also want to do more fun objects! Like these leggings I made this year in collaboration with Petiti Suiz, and which sold out in a few days... (so there's definitely demand for more!)
Thank you for reading this lengthy post. I hope some of these comics I talked about piqued your interest. I also hope this year was good for you, and that the next one is even better. The world is going to shit, but let's keep it real, and try to do our best for ourselves and everyone else!