Cotner and Fitch are making Juice on YouTube!

My neighbor Jon Cotner just shared this video of his recent appearance, with his writing partner Andy Fitch, on Emily Gould’s Cooking the Books. In the vein of Adam Robinson’s rumored, but yet-to-be-aired, Culinary Genius, Gould’s show features writers in her kitchen. (She assures us the writers are famous, though, unlike Robinson.) Jon and Andy look to Basho as a literary model, and Jon also relies on his culinary advice: “Eat vegetable soup rather than duck stew.” After Jon and Andy discuss theories of skin degradation, Jon makes a vegetable juice (with lemon). Andy seems unimpressed, while Emily apparently enjoys it. The real highlight, though, is a montage-set-to-music of Jon shoving radiant vegetables into a food processor.

I’ve got a composition primer for you!

Three years ago the final issue of Todd Hignite’s COMIC ART Magazine, was published and shrink-wrapped along with it was a little book called Cartooning:Philosophy and Practice, by the venerable Ivan Brunetti. This book, a result of Brunetti’s own destruction and rebuilding of his life’s work and working method, is a deconstructive masterpiece of a narrative composition manual. It is, of course, described through the construction of comics (and passed through the metaphor of cooking pasta alio e olio), but when you read this pamphlet, it quickly becomes obvious that Brunetti’s observations are not limited to his preferred medium alone. The slim guide is a distillation of narrative. Brunetti isolates the parts and considers their arrangements and adjustments. (I’d go as far to say taht Scott McCloud and Will Eisner’s texts act as supporting works for Brunetti’s.)

I’ve wanted to distribute Brunetti’s book to my students (poetry workshops, composition 101s, comics seminars), but it’s never been available on it’s own. So, here’s why I’m talking about Cartooning today: Yale University Press has just announced that they will publish and sell the guide as a stand-alone book. This is big news in my world. Get one, read it, give it to someone else.

J.A. Tyler’s letting it ride

J.A. Tyler’s second novel was just published by Fugue State. And he’s making you, the reader, a deal. Read his book. If you don’t like it, send it back and he’ll write you a new one. (I wouldn’t trust this offer from anyone, but J.A. doesn’t require sleep, so I completely believe he’s good for it.)

Here’s the deal from JA:
“If you don’t like my book I’ll write you another book on the inside of that book. Order it, read it. If you don’t like it, ship it back to me & I’ll write a new book for you on the inside of that book. Yes. This is how much I believe in these words.” A MAN OF GLASS & ALL THE WAYS WE HAVE FAILED.

If you don’t like the second book he gives you, then you’re S.O.L.

Luca Dipierro’s DAS DING

Just got a note that Luca Dipierro has released the first issue of his art zine, DAS DING. This is very good news. I’ve already ordered a copy. Looks like there may be some letterpress involved. Easily worth the the eight bucks.

Here’s his description of it:

DAS DING is an object made of paper.

DAS DING contains drawings of acrobats, trees, heads on fire, buildings, flowers, birds, bones, words.

DAS DING 1 will be followed by DAS DING 2 and by DAS DING 3 and by DAS DING 4 and so on until DAS DING 100.”

Get it here.

Fix It Broken

Greg Dybec has launched a new online magazine called Fix It Broken. The first issue is up. It’s the place where fiction meets fashion. Why story-inspired t-shirt will be created for each issue.

Here’s Greg’s description of the project:

“Issue #1 of Fix it Broken is a successful first representation of the site’s main objective: an aesthetic mesh of fiction, fashion, and artwork. Issue #1 displays great writing by both new and established authors, crisp artwork by John Dermot Woods, and a fun yet haunting shirt design by Kristian Woodmansee. The idea of such a dynamic fiction magazine may be conceptually new, though the end product is something to be seen, showcasing the individual talents of so many creative individuals, coming together as something that ultimately would not exist without the enthusiasm and resourcefulness of each party involved. With fiction at its core, there are powerful stories to be read in Issue #1, which prove the quality of writing that exists out there.”

Go here for stories and a t-shirt.

A Reading … with Food

James Yeh, the hungry genius behind Gigantic, put these two ideas together. I don’t know why this doesn’t happen more often. Gigantic will be sponsoring one Brooklyn leg of this weekend’s nationwide Indie Lit Roadshow (check that link for all of the other cool stuff happening). I’ll be reading along with John Haskell and Anelise Chen, and cheap tacos will be served (beside cheap drinks). Black bean tacos from Bouwerie (James vouches for them). It happens Friday – taco start at 6, words at 7:30. Info after the jump:

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Expect Peninsulas Now

This book arrived came through my mail slot a few weeks ago.

It’s a hand-made book from Peninsulas Now Press, who tag themselves “No longer islands, we are connected somewhere on one side.” The idea of these Infinite Books of poetry are that readers will read the work, leave a mark, and then send the book on – seems to be in the spirit of the pot-latch. It’s a great idea. Go read more about Peninsulas Now. The edition of Serena Chopra’s poetry that I received has already been sent into the Infinite Beyond.

DEAR JULIA by Brian Biggs

The other day I found Brian Biggs’s Dear Julia on my shelf and realized that I had never read it before. (I believe I bought it a few summers ago at used book store in White River Junction, VT). This book is beautiful. It was published by Top Shelf 11 years ago. Biggs’s pacing is incredibly regular (four panel per pages), but his compositions are a constant revolution and surprise. His style is pen and ink wash (think a more graceful-and less lively-Ben Katchor), very skillfully rendered, almost decorative. Although the drawing is in no way minimalist, what really makes this story works in what he leaves out. There’s always something pulling your eye to strain beyond the confines of the panel; you continue to ask for the next bit of story that’s not given. Basically it’s an excellent mystery novella about a strange man who is plagued by a compulsion to fly, and has lost a woman-Julia-somewhere along the way.

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The Stranger features Jaded Ibis Press

Just wanted to point you all to this profile of Jaded Ibis Press and it’s founder Debra DiBlasi in The Stranger. Debra has an incredibly innovative approach to publishing that looks for new revenue (that’s right, REVENUE) models, and brings together music, visual art, and literature in each book project. She’s a print aficionado (in the true sense, in that she’s looking to heighten the object-ness of the book) who realizes that publishing houses need to be in on all levels of technology. She’s looking for alternatives not just to “big publishing” but to small publishing as well. She wants to approach audiences in a new way. I’d be interested in what people (publishers, creators, and readers) think about her ideas.

(Worth noting, she’s the publisher of three BO contribs, J.A. Tyler, Davis Schneiderman, and me.)

Janice Shapiro’s BUMMER

Janice Shapiro’s book of stories BUMMER was released by Soft Skull today. I’ve been waiting along time for this, so that I can tell people to go read this book (which I had the opportunity to read as a manuscript). It’s really excellent. These stories read like natural narratives, like looking at the knots in a piece of wood to figure out what you’re going to carve rather than nailing together  a bunch of blocks to make a sculpture. The women who narrate these stories, as the title suggests, are having a tough time. What really compels me in reading Janice’s stories is the autonomy that they tap into, the way these women assert control over seemingly desperate or numbing situations. Go here to learn more.

If you live in Brooklyn, be sure to come by the book launch for BUMMER at Word Books in Greenpoint on Thursday at 7:30.

What is this shit?

I bring in The New Yorker last week with this cover on it. I study it – think I’m missing something – then realize, “Nope. It’s a shitty iPhone drawing of bowl and a spoon without any fun extra-contextual jazz.” And I’ve been thinking that they’ve been giving Jorge Colombo a few too many covers, but at least the guy is a master with the Brushes app. But I’m thinking that it seems like he phoned this one in. So I flip to the table of contents. This is not a Colombo drawing. Cover by DAVID HOCKNEY. Now I get it. He’s famous. I know that Hockney has been working with Brushes over the past few months, but it seems like his use is still incredibly mundane. So complaining about The New Yorker pandering to fame seems a bit unnecessary. I realize this. This is why the poetry and fiction have been usually unreadable for some many years. But, Francoise Mouly’s art direction was always something I respected on another level. Her choices are almost impeccable. This one let me down, though. The famous guy has learned to play with an iPhone, so let’s give him the cover. C’mon, Francoise, I expect better.

Montevidayo

You read Big Other if you’re reading this – which means you like reading blogs – so here’s another one for you to read – and it’s pretty fascinating already – it’s Montevidayo.

It started when my friend Johannes Goransson felt he had hit a wall with his popular Exoskeleton blog; he wanted to bring in more voices. I’m writing for it (but don’t think that means it’s going to slow down my prolific Big Other output), as is Joyelle McSweeney and a whole bunch of other people. Joyelle just dropped a post asking whether the media can be possessed by a body.

It’s Time to Listen to Cory Doctorow

A story came out today that a guy in Japan was arrested for sharing some TV shows on BitTorrent. These stories of violations of civil rights in the name of copyright are becoming more frequent – and often in locales we see as fairly progressive (Sweden, France, Japan, etc.). I think a lot of us passively accept intellectual property laws as they are, but we may find that they will begin to affect our work and our art in devastating ways if we don’t question their purpose, and their history. This talk, posted at The Big Idea, by Cory Doctorow is a must-listen. It’s straightforward and addresses the dangers of unreasonable copyright. Doctorow’s thoughts on this issue are disseminated all over the internet, but I think his 45 minute address here is a good summation of the things we should be concerned about.

I rebel with a raised fist, can we get a witness?

Chuck D has been a clear and reasoned voice on the topic of intellectual property from way back. I listened to It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back while I was drawing this morning. I heard “Caught, Can I Get a Witness” for the first time in a long time. P.E. was telling people two decades ago that our laws don’t promote art. They don’t promote making it. They don’t promote sharing it. People still aren’t listening.

Caught, now in court ’cause I stole a beat
This is a sampling sport
But I’m giving it a new name
What you hear is mine
P.e. you know the time
Now, what in the heaven does a jury know about hell
If I took it, but but they just look at me

I found this mineral that I call a beat
I paid zero
I packed my load ’cause it’s better than gold
People don’t ask the price, but it’s sold
They say that I sample, but they should
Sample this my bit bull
We ain’t goin’ for this
They say that I stole this
Can I get a witness?

Understand where we’re goin
Then listen to this, plus my roland
Comin’ from way down below
Rebound c’mon boost up the stereo
Snakes in the morning
Wake up, scared afraid of my warning

Page 100 Comics

It seems that a few comics artists have set about adapting page 100 of particular prose novels. I really like this idea, especially the constraint that it includes. I just reached for my copy of At Swim Two Birds, only to find that I’ve lent out every copy I have (except for my Everyman’s complete novels of Flann O’Brien, but that doesn’t seem right for this project).

Click here to see Rebecca Dart present Richard Brautigan:

Click here for Jason Turner on Nicholson Baker:

What books would you be interested in seeing this meme played out on?

Blaise Larmee’s Trophy Economy

Blaise Larmee has a really compelling opinion piece up at The Comics Journal. He describes the world of book selling (and comic-art-object selling) as a “trophy economy.” He claims that the ease with which we can create and share digital media has separated content from medium, and as such the book has become “a hollow trophy, a signifier of cultural values, a rewarding/recording of its own existence, an indicator of class, taste, investment strategy, morality, etc.” While I agree, it surprises me that he would describe this trophy as “hollow.” He explains how many subcultures are subsidized by trophies, as trophies, unlike digital content, cost money. He says this encourages a further fetishization of the trophy within that subculture. This is particularly interesting, considering this article is in TCJ, which is largely read by indie comics artists and readers. At Big Other we often discuss our love of books and bookshelves and covers and things. But I’d say that the indie comics subculture takes this to another level with it’s focus on book making, respect for self-publishing, admiration for the rare and difficult (despite it being a medium of simplicity and reproduction). Larmee makes a good point.

(Coincidentally, Larmee’s own self-published, Xeric-grant funded debut, Young Lions, just showed up in my mailbox. Going to go read it now.)

Copyright? Why?

I’ve been meaning to get this discussion started for a while.  Most books I read, art I look at, music I listen to (independent, corporate, whatever-you-want-to-call-it, or otherwise) still bears that scarlet encircled ‘C.’ And, if doesn’t and no language to the contrary is included, the laws of America ensure that copyright applies by default. With my own book, I am lucky enough to have a publisher who very happily tucked a Creative Commons license among the opening ephemera (although, it is not the standard for the press). This choice seems like a no-brainer to me, and really the only humane way to go considering that state of the American legal system and the nature of art. My work (and your work) is a work of acquisition, collage, and community. I would like to see that idea furthered when I make it available to the public. (I’d also like to make it available – to the public – all of them.)

Also, with most of us (even those of us with agents and book deals) making little money off books sales, I can’t understand why someone would seek to limit the distribution of his or her book, unless, of course, the author aims to hit a limited audience. (This is actually, in a way, the case with my book, which includes drawings, that, so far, I have not decided to make available electronically, although, I know I will eventually to use it as a gateway drug.) By eschewing copyright on your work, you are opening up the channels through which it can be shared. Let’s face it, our problems with finding larger audiences are not based in impostors selling copies of our work under a different author’s name, it’s getting the word and the work out there.

I’ve talked with friends about this, and most seem to stick with copyright not by choice, but because it’s the default, it doesn’t take an active decision to do it. Others have publishers who insist on it, or other parties in their working agreement who demand its use. (I myself run into this problem with my own journal, Action,Yes, which includes no copyright language – hence, it’s copyrighted – because of editorial fears – perhaps, not my own – of displeasing contribs.)

So, I’d like to hear your thoughts on copyright. Why do you use it? Why don’t you? What do you expect of publishers – both of books and larger collections/journals in which you’re included in. I’m especially interested in hearing from publishers, and how they make their choices.

Go check out these sites to learn more about copyright. Electronic Frontier Foundation and Creative Commons.

You Can Help Give Birth to ADAM ROBISON AND OTHER POEMS

Narrow House, the name of the gang who’s publishing Adam Robinson’s debut poetry collection Adam Robison and Other Poems, needs YOU to pre-order so they can get this thing printed. The portrait on the book’s cover is worth the reasonable price of admission alone:

Here’s the story from Just Sirois:

Friends,

As the economy continues to tank and personal obligations are sucking funds away from Narrow House, Lauren, Jamie, and Justin are pleading you to help us out a bit.

If you are planning on purchasing Adam Robison and Other Poems, Poems by Adam Robinson, we would greatly appreciate it if you pre-ordered it today. We just can’t afford to print the book otherwise.
Which really stinks.
We love this book and want to print it before Adam’s book tour in March.
Please spread this email far and wide. I know some of you have already preordered and we love you.
Lauren and Jamie and Justin
Pay Pal link to preorder ARAOP: