Wine-Book Wednesdays: Kris Dresen

It’s no secret that I love Kris Dresen‘s comics. Her collaborations with writer Jen Benka on Manya are beautifully drawn, and echo Benka’s thoughful, introspective scripts. Dresen’s also a great writer herself, though, with her humor strip Max & Lily forever making me chuckle, and I adore her current project Grace that she’s serializing online.

She gets a lot of bonus points here for being the first person to not only go for the wine/whine pun, but also still tying it into wine. And as an added bonus, it’s Lily! He’s my favorite of her characters, probably because he’s utterly out of control. In a good way. Honest.

Wine-Book Wednesdays: Scott Mills

Going through these sketches lately, I’m starting to feel like this stretch of art was almost a curse—draw in my book, stop producing comics!

Scott Mills used to be super-prolific, turning out graphic novels on a regular basis like Big Clay Pot, Trenches, and My Own Little Empire. These days, we haven’t seen much from him, although his website does say that he’s working on a new book. I, for one, can’t wait to see it.

This sketch is great because it’s got a nice combination of whimsy and seriousness about it, to me.  In short, what I’d always liked about his comics. And who hasn’t felt like the character here during a night out on the town? Here’s to more Mills soon!

Getting Old(er)

Talking to Kris earlier today, I was sharing recent ailments (stomach issues, my shoulder still not being back to 100%, that sort of thing) and then ended it with, “Boy, getting older sure is fun.” And I was mostly joking… but I really would be happier if I was slightly more resilient like I was in my youth. All these little creaking joints and such are getting old. (I think I’d be ok with it all, right now, if the right shoulder was completely better. But alas, not the case. Still a bit sore, but nothing as bad as this time last week where turning my head hurt.)

And of course, it’s now a month until this year’s birthday and just like last year I haven’t the slightest idea what to do. (Quick summary: current apartment is too small to really host more than a couple of people comfortably, dinners beyond a very small handful of people usually result in not being able to really talk to anyone (which stinks), casual hang-out at a bar can work well but you need to pick a location carefully that can situation everyone but isn’t too crowded and/or crazy.)

Meanwhile, Mister I-Don’t-Do-Anything-For-My-Own-Birthday is all excited about the thought of doing something for my birthday. (Isn’t that the way things always go?) So I need to start thinking and planning. I might just do the bar thing again but with a slightly smaller crowd. It seemed to work well enough, but slightly less people could be a good thing, right? (I think the numbers topped out a little over 40 last year in terms of invitations. The hazards of having a lot of friends.) So it would stink to have to cut it back, but it would also be a lot more manageable.

Of course, looking at last year’s invitation, I also promised that because it’s the big 35 this year that things would be “more exciting.” Hmmmmmm. (How does that line go? “I lied. I do that sometimes.”)

Donations towards a new, non-tight shoulder muscle are happily accepted, by the way.

Wine-Book Wednesdays: Rachel Hartman

Rachel Hartman‘s sketch was the first one to grace my book at the MoCCA Arts Festival in the summer of 2002. Her book Amy Unbounded was a blast, the story of a young girl in a fantasy world who’s starting to learn that life can be a little more complicated than she thought.

I really miss her comics; they were funny and smart and just full of energy. Her sketch here shows that humor on display, perfectly.

(Rachel! We need more comic books! Please!)

Wine-Book Wednesdays: J.G. Jones

J.G. Jones is the kind of comic artist who is hitting it big and absolutely deserves it. Wanted, the comic he drew for writer Mark Millar, is hitting movie screens later this year and stars James McAvoy, Angelina Jolie, and Morgan Freeman. He’s also drawing Final Crisis, DC Comics’s huge 2008 comic book event.

When he drew this funny Incredible Hulk sketch for me, he was on tour to promote Wonder Woman: The Hikatea, written by the always-clever Greg Rucka. A great sketch from a great artist on a book tour for a great book.

What can I say? Great all around. (But who’s going to collect the juice after the grapes are stomped?)

Here’s To My Own Bed

It doesn’t matter how much I enjoy travelling to oher places and seeing new things or old friends, there is a lot to be said for sleeping in my own bed.

Between February 6th and 18th, I was actually at home for a whopping three evenings. What does this mean? Well, first, a mountain of laundry that which I will continue to chip away at (and hopefully finish up tonight). Second, it means that I’ve gone from two and a half weeks of banked reviews for Read About Comics to none at all, although I have one-and-a-half written in a notebook and in need of transcription and completion tonight. (At least the Wine-Book Wednesdays are already queued up through next week.) Third, there were a whopping 1200+ e-mails in my work account, with all but four being spam. (Yikes!)

And fourth and finally, my shoulders and neck are killing me. I’m hoping a soak in the tub tonight will loosen them up. But they’re painful enough that as soon as I finish one last task, I’m going home. Ugh. There’s a lot to be said for a good mattress and pillow that work well with your own body, and that’s something I’ve been truly missing.

Now if there was just a way for me to bring my own bed with me on trips, I think I would be set.

And for no reason whatsoever other than I think it’s really awesome (and let’s face it, Dolly Parton and Star Trek do go hand-in-hand):

Wine-Book Wednesdays: Steve Conley

Steve Conley is another friend from the area. He’s done all sorts of great science-fiction comics like Astounding Space Thrills, Star Trek: Year Four, and Michael Chabon’s The Escapist, and his current big project is the political comic strip Socks and Barney. He also co-founded, and ran SPX for three years. On the last one, I told him not to do that, but he didn’t listen.

One of the things I liked about Astounding Space Thrills was the larger-than-life, crazy pulp-styled science-fiction ideas. So when the head of a galactic corporation has extra brains implanted into his head (the rest of the board of directors, don’t you know), well… it just works perfectly.

Of course, it’s normally brain fluid, not merlot in the tank.

Wine-Book Wednesdays: Alex Robinson

I’ve been reading Alex Robinson‘s comics since, gosh, when did Box Office Poison first begin?

His comics have a great mix of humor and drama; Box Office Poison juggled its cast of characters adeptly over the years, and his graphic novel Tricked showed that he could boil a story down well into a single, non-serialized unit. When Alex drew this for me at Mid-Ohio-Con in 2001, I was standing off to one side talking with his wife Kristen Siebecker about how one would put on a comic book convention.

The next summer, she did just that with the MoCCA Arts Festival in New York City. (Which was a real joy to attend, I might add, and you’ll eventually see some sketches from that show here as well.) And Alex? Well, not only is this a great drawing, but his exaggerated self-portrait still makes me chuckle.

Wine-Book Wednesdays: Tom Mandrake

Tom Mandrake is probably best known for his run on The Spectre, which was nothing short of gorgeous. (The fact that almost all of the entire 62-issue series is uncollected is a royal shame.) When I met him at Mid-Ohio-Con in 2001, he was working on a mini-series called Creeps, which could probably best be described as if the X-Men really were hideous mutants.

This is one of the characters from that book—Booger was, needless to say, one of the more disgusting characters from it. It’s certainly a much more rough style than one is used to from Mandrake, but you get the idea.