Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Comics Shelfie: Joe Keatinge

I'm not sure how to begin- apart from to tell you that today's installment of Comics Shelfie, which every fortnight sees a comic creator take us on a virtual trip of their bookshelves/collection, discussing favourite artists, influences, and more, is an absolute stonker. I've had to put half of it under a page break - and believe me, you're going to want to click through to gaze in envy and wonder at what lies beyond. It's my pleasure to welcome comic writer Joe Keatinge (Popgun, Marvel Knights; Hulk, Glory, Shutter) to the blog today. I'm not going to lie and pretend I'm hugely familiar with his work, but Keatinge (to me), along with creators like Brandon Graham, is indicative of the changing way in which interaction takes place between 'fans' and artists- being frank and open to discussion on social media platforms- most notably Tumblr, and engaging people's interest via the strength of personality and shared aesthetics. It's how I became aware of him, and what led me to pick up his great new Image series, Shutter, with Leila del Duca (despite my notorious serial comic aversion), the second issue of which I have just read and enjoyed immensely.

Joe and I both share a love for Herge and Otomo, so asking him to do a comics shelfie was a no-brainer. Without further ado, over to Joe:

'What you’re about to see here is culmination of around thirty years of buying comics and collecting them in the sense that I accumulate them without the interest in selling them off later. That being said, every three-to-five years or so I try to purge my collection down to just the stuff I absolutely love most at the time. 

At first I’d hand them off to folks I know, but lately I’ve been donating the excess books to an organization in Portland, called p:ear, a charity focused on creatively mentoring homeless or at-risk youth. They absolutely love getting comics, so if you’ve got cool stuff you’d like to find a better home for, I highly suggest them. Just don’t pawn off your run of DC Bloodlines or whatever. Give them the goods!

I recently did one of those purges to p:ear, so you’re seeing a pretty distilled version of what I like having around the house. It still manages to look like I should be on the next episode of Hoarders, but there you go.

Part 001 – Shelves

This is my primary bookshelf of trade paperbacks, non-limited edition hardcovers (for the most part), graphic novels, etc. 

1) This is my manga shelf, separated due to their smaller trim size more than anything else. Nihei kicks things off on the left, followed by Naoki Urasawa (there’s also a pile of Monster behind these and that green book on top is the Katsuhiro Otomo anthology Short Peace), followed by Osamu Tezuka (including my favorite manga series of all time and namesake of my dog, Black Jack), concluded by a short stack of stuff including but not limited to Battle Angel Alita, Gogo Monster and the Epic-published color TPBs of Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira.

2) This is one of my Moebius shelves. We’ll be getting to this in more detail later.

3) Most of my shelf is in alphabetical order by title, with some exceptions for certain authors who have a substantial amount of creator-owned/original work (so Frank Miller’s section doesn’t have Batman stuff in it, mostly Sin City, Big Guy & Rusty The Robot, Hard Boiled, etc.), a few characters and only one publisher is separated out, the most recent iteration of Humanoids, over in section 5.

4) This is a big shout out for my love of Marvel collections before Marvel really knew what they were doing for collections. These three-four are among my favorites, the 1970s Fireside-published collections of Origins of the Marvel Comics, Bring on the Bad Guys and the Silver Surfer OGN by Kirby and Lee. I think there’s one more but I’m not home now so I’m not positive.

5) The aforementioned Humanoids section. I absolutely love what these guys are doing for the most part, but I’m really disappointed there aren’t more affordable editions for the more casual reader. It’s great for weirdos like me who will obsess over a big ass, somewhat cost-prohibitive Technopriests collection, but I’d rather have editions I can pass off to someone who’s interested in checking out the work for the first time.

6) This is one of the few character sections, in this case Little Lulu. I haven’t done a count in a while, but I know a few years ago I determined I had more Little Lulu collections than any other single character. These Dark Horse-published tradepaperbacks are fantastic, some of the most hilarious comics you can find. 

7) These are the first two volumes of the Savage Dragon Archives. As a kid, a teenager and into my twenties this was my favorite comic book every single month, the one I’d break any plans to make sure I picked it up as soon as it was out. It’s still one I highly enjoy and these B&W archives are a great way to check it out for the first time. They collect around twenty-five issues a piece and there are three thus far.

8) This is where my dog hangs out.

This is my second big shelf of stuff. Most of this is limited edition hardcovers – stuff like Absolutes or signed editions or whatever, as well as sketchbooks, art books, etc.

1) This is a stack of books on comics. (and some oversized stuff that couldn’t fit anywhere else). I really suggest Eisner/Miller, the book-length interview between Will Eisner and Frank Miller, as well as those two volumes collecting the 1980s fanzie, Comics Interview, and Homeless Bound, Boody Rogers’ somewhat surreal autobiography. 

2) This is my growing library of Tintin comics, including a couple of international editions. For years I thought I should just have my absolute favorite stuff (namely Cigars of the Pharaoh, Blue Lotus, Shooting Star and the Moon books, as well as Alph-Art), but lately I’ve gotten the itch to expand what I’ve got to the full line. It’s slow going, but it’s going. 

3) A short stack of euroalbums collecting work by Jean-Pierre Gibrat. Mostly making sure to mention his work here, because he’s one of the most brilliant artists comics has ever seen and – I’m fairly certain here – none of its collected in English. Regardless, I urge you to check it out. Amongst other things, he’s the absolute master of the crowd scene, having a seemingly unique ability to draw a massive crowd, yet suggest unique emotion to each person in there, suggesting that we could follow anyone along on their own story. Someone publish these in English, please.

4) A hearty run of the Comics Journal. I mainly just focus on the nearly-issue-sized interviews of people I’m particularly fascinated by, but I have been buying all of these book-sized ones lately. I highly suggest the Kevin Eastman issue, where he discusses Tundra in detail. May be one of my favorite comics interviews ever done.

5) These actually aren’t comics. The shelves on either side of this are what remains of the vinyl collection I amassed when living in San Francisco, which got pretty unwieldy after working at a record store for store credit. Like my comics, this is pretty much distilled down to the 200 or so I enjoyed the most or have some big personal significance. 

Not a shelf, obviously, but the space between my last shelf and my TV where I stack stuff that is just too big to stack anywhere else. It’s mostly art books, like the Hugo Pratt exhibit catalog on the far left, the Moebius Transe Forme one in bright green, Bill Blackbeard’s seminal anthology, The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics, a version of Corto Maltese: The Ballad of Salt Sea done at above the original size, concluding with the Wally Wood EC Artist’s Edition and the first volume of Sunday Press’ Little Nemo in Slumberland. There are a couple of other Artist’s Edition behind these, including the general EC Artist’s Edition. I hope to soon acquire the Jack Kirby’s New Gods Artist’s Edition. 

These are two more general shelves located in another part of my place, because there’s nowhere else for them to go. Nothing much to say here, beyond, hey, here are some comics. I’m missing a few Cerebus volumes as I lent them to a buddy. I hope they return home someday. 

This is the top and middle of my filing cabinet of single issue comics I like to have accessible. The top consists of a lot of Treasury editions, my RAW magazine collection, some prints, a stack of comics I don’t know where else to put them and stuff like that. 

Each drawer of this filing cabinet holds the equivalent of about 2 ½ longboxes worth and I find them a bit better to deal with. It also keeps me on top of keeping me conscious of how many books I have and when there’s too much overflow, doing another purge of what I’ve got. A lot of these are bagged and boarded, but that was usually done before I ever got to them. I don’t really give a shit about the condition of my comics, as long as they’re readable. It’s why I amassed all this stuff, to have stuff to read or pass along to other people so they can read them. 

To send that last point home, here is my current to-read pile of single issues. 

Yeah, none of these are getting CGCed any time soon.

Part 002 – Spinner Rack

I also maintain a spinner rack consisting of all my current favorite stuff. It’s seen better days, but it’s holding together enough. I really want to invest in one of those vintage tall ones you’d see from back in the day that have Superman, Archie, Spider-Man and … somebody else, saying that comics are for everyone. Who was that last person? 

Anyway, each section has some sort of theme, although looking at it now I didn’t realize just how much Jack Kirby has taken over. I dunno what to say there. Jack Kirby single issues are amongst the best single issues to have. I think the one single issue I’m proudest of acquiring is that weird copy of Mickey Mouse and the Air Pirates Funnies #1 with a bunch of people scribbling on the cover. 

Part 003 – Moebius Collection Spotlight

Part of the assignment here from Zainab was to spotlight a few books I really love and I kinda over did it when I decided to spotlight my Moebius collection. It’s something I’ve been putting together for, well, just about forever and it’s pretty extensive, including a lot of extremely rare stuff. He’s the creator whose inspired me the most, not just in terms of his work, but how he’s easily one of the greatest artists any medium has ever known, yet never seemed to have an ego about it, always strove to do better, to always explore new things, to never repeat himself. 

As you can see in the above picture, I was just as startled meeting him the second time as I was the first. Should I have been lucky enough to meet him a third time before he passed, I don’t doubt I’d be as equally freaked out, even though he was one of the kindest people I’ve ever met.

The majority of this are the English editions of Jean Giraud’s Moebius work published by Marvel’s Epic line back in the day. They’re my favorite of the English editions available. I wish someone would compile around three at a time and put them in a big fat, yet affordable hardcover. Graphitti did a variation of these back in the day, but I never liked them as much as my experience with one of them that the spine fell apart. Also, they’re super out of print. It’s my dream that Diana Schutz could do this right, like she has with the Manara Library. I really wish Kim Thompson could be involved. 

A cross section of more oddball Moebius stuff, largely not collected in the US. In the upper left hand corner are all six volumes of his semi-autobiographical work, Inside Moebius. Thus far there are only French and Spanish editions (that I’m aware of). I know a lot of publishers have tried to get state-side rights to it, but there seems to be some resistance to the idea that I don’t understand. It’s a damn shame. It’s some of his best work, especially in the middle volumes. 

There are also a couple of English-language magazines featuring interviews with Moebius, including that Comics Interview mag I mentioned before and his extensive one with the Comics Journal.

This right here is the reason my Inside Moebius Volume One is one of my most prized possessions, as he drew and hand colored this self-portrait for me the first time I met him at Angoul√™me 2010. I can’t speak enough about how kind and generous a human being he was. I never knew him personally, but I still miss him tremendously.

Those four volumes on the bottom are the French-language (pretty sure they’re all French-language, I don’t have them at hand right now) art books of his, mostly published by his Aedena label. They’re all damn good, but Made in L.A., collecting a lot of the work he did when he was living in Los Angeles, was the first I’d ever seen and inspired me to track as many down as I can. Some of the same material are in the editions Epic published later on.

The upper left hand corner includes a couple of the Humanoids-published works he did with Jodorowsky and the right-hand side has the run of the Caliber-published Moebius Comics. 

More stuff tragically not translated yet. On the upper left is his final Arzak volume, followed by a coloring book published by the Cartier Foundation, which are above the Humanoids-published (in France only, as far as I know) of everything Moebius had published in Metal Hurlant under one cover, next to the Cartier Foundation’s Transe Forme, the catalog of the Moebius exhibition they had shortly before he died. It really bothers me that one’s not in print in any language currently. It’s such a great retrospective on an amazing body of work and no one can read that. I find it only tragic.

Speaking of tragedy, my friend and sometime-editor Xavier Fournier is very well aware of how much Moebius has effected my life (and saw it first hand at Angoul√™me) and made sure to keep a copy of the edition of Liberation published when Moebius died. It’s one of the kindest things anyone ever did for me. The cover portrait is drawn by Enki Bilal. 

That big black monolith above it is a set of the Teur le Monde prints published by Aedena back in the day. I traded Michael Allred a few super rare volumes for this and it means the world to me, it’s some of the best printing of Moebius’ , artwork I’ve ever seen, so it’s great to sit down with and just pour over the linework.

Here’s all the Blueberry stuff I have. I wish more of it was in print in English. I guess it’s all out of print now, which again, is a shame.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve found my love of these continually growing. Seeing the originals in person at that Cartier exhibit really showed me just how damn hard he worked on every line of these, getting every detail right. It’s an accuracy to time period on a level of obsession only paralleled in Eric Shanower’s brilliant Age of Bronze. I have Shanower’s Airtight Garage comics somewhere in the house, but I couldn’t find them at the time of this shoot.

A collection of the English-language Heavy Metal collections of Moebius stuff as well as a lot of original editions of Metal Hurlant. The four Metal Hurlants on the lower left are particularly special to me, as they collect a lot of the Incal in black & white and the one with the blue cover has a big article/gallery of the work on Jodorowsky’s Dune. 

A couple of promo posters done for when Epic was launching the Moebius library and the Incal in particular, as well as the original single issues of Silver Surfer. I have Silver Surfer in about three different formats and each one is completely different from the other, like they edited panels/page layouts/etc. I don’t get it.

Finally, ending on a really weird note. This is an original one-sheet poster for Jodorowsky’s film, Tusk, illustrated by Jean Giraud. I’ve never seen Tusk and I hear it’s not Jodorowsky’s best, but it’s a poster of Jean Giraud drawing a bunch of cool shit. I gotta get it framed sooner than later.

Part 004 – Desks

I figured while I was snapping pictures I’d take a couple of my work places, as they’re stacked with shit in both cases. This first one here is from my home office, featuring a printer, my laptop, some books and a bunch of trinkets from, well, life. 

This is the first of a set of two desks that Laura and Mike Allred gave me about four years ago. I love them as they’re glass desks with clear plastic tops, so I can insert a bunch of stuff that inspires me to work. Most of it are more trinkets from life, art I’m into, etc.

A closer look at my home office’s tribute to Doctor Doom, who I consider the greatest antagonist comics as ever seen. I consider Corto Maltese to be comics’ greatest protagonist, but my life is severely lacking in Corto Maltese statues. I consider them both two of the greatest characters in literature of any kind, from anywhere in the world of any time period.

I also maintain an office in another part of town that doesn’t have a bluray player so I can’t fuck around as much, at the Tranquility Base studio. It’s a great place to work, amongst a lot of people who inspire me. The desk is part of the set the Allreds gave me, with different art.. As you can see, more Moebius stuff, including a Festival of Animation poster and a complete set of Moebius trading cards strewn throughout a bunch of other cool stuff.

My last shelfie of this run, consisting of stuff I’ve worked on. I used to keep this stuff hidden away in boxes, but local comic shop Floating World Comics got rid of one of their old shelves so I figured it was a good excuse to stop hiding away all this stuff.

Finally, as a special bonus for Comics + Cola, I thought you might appreciate that I have the greatest shower curtain of all time. Big thanks for Zainab for having me. Comics + Cola has become one of my absolute favorite sites to read about comics, so it’s a huge honor to share this stuff with you all here.'

A massive thank you to Joe for his time and participation. You can view all the previous installments of Comics Shelfie here. Remember to stop by on the 28th of May for the next installment.