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19.06.2015
PEOPLE started talking shit the day before the flight out to LA because Winter Storm Leon’s (no kidding) baby brother was about to hit us hard and there was no way we were going anywhere. Then the flight home got bumped a couple days, so we went to Palm Springs and played mini-golf and had drinks on a freezing mountain top to cool off. We do at least expect Sar Shahar, of Sequential Vacation 2 fame, to be at the Secret Acres table. ANOTHER year on (our) comics circuit has pretty much come and gone with the passing of the first ever Comic Arts Brooklyn.
This wee Acre found herself at a bar in Bushwick (because, duh) on Friday night in excellent company. Saturday dawned pretty damn cold, and Ryan Cecil Smith and I managed to blunder into an AA meeting on the other side of the church on our way to the show. For the first time in our storied history, Secret Acres will be publishing a straight up in your dome art book, or livre d’art. There will be even more to come, but the ink’s not dry on all the contracts just yet.
REALLY, we thought we’d lost our best hometown show, the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. MAYBE we should be rushing this one out, for a couple reasons at least, but we have to beat Tom Spurgeon, the Comics Reporter, to the punch before he steals all our ideas.
First and foremost, we owe Bergen Street Comics a huge thank you for hosting our Iron Bound party.
The party was a good omen for us, what with it being Friday, the 13th and Yom Kippur all at once on packing day. During the day, we talked to Dan Nadel briefly about a feeling among publishers that sales were soft this year.
You may be familiar with Brendan’s Xeric Grant funded, Ignatz Award winning and Best American Comics selected Pterodactyl Hunters in the Gilded City. If you are one of the lucky dozen million or so in the greater metropolitan area of New York City, you don’t have to wait until the fall to party with the Newark Wanderers. 1)   Discovering that Aaron Cockle and I both booked the exact same flights to and from MPS. Sometime around midnight, we got word all flights were being cancelled, including ours, so we unpacked, cancelled the dogsitter and hit up Sar and Damien to let them know they’d be going solo. Maybe it was fitting that our big books didn’t make it, forcing us to go all mini all the time. As our pal, Nate Bulmer, pointed out, there were more than a few new faces and the familiar names included lots of folks you don’t see too often on our coast.
Sar, in addition to being ferociously talented, was lots of fun to hang out with at CAKE, where we debuted his mini. With all the talk about gender disparity in comics, we should maybe say something about that, especially since someone just asked one of our artists why we don’t publish any women.
If Robertello sounds familiar, that may be because it was the place Edie’s Memory Palaces project was first shown. CAB’s got its own energy, but like every year around this time, we moved a ton of books at the Mt. Not only did I get to hang for a sec with some dude who kept calling me “dawg,” but I also got some face time with Mack of Spaceface Books, resisting the urge to run my fingers through his hair. Speaking of which, more than a few people tried to get us going with our thoughts on the (by now fully funded) Fantagraphics Kickstarter campaign.
It’s kinda creepy how long we have waited and lurked for this moment, like Corinne just agreed to date her stalker. Meantime, you can see Sean Ford and Theo Ellsworth on their return trip to Short Run Seattle. Those guys can seriously throw down, and, sweet Big Baby Jesus, did they kick Brendan Leach‘s big, bad book off to a flying start.
Normally, we’re a hot mess getting our asses out the door, but we got our snacks and books fully loaded into our stolen, fully loaded Benz quite nicely and got our booze for the pre-Ignatz pizza party in time for dinner.
This is a strictly personal, Secret Acres related thing, because no one else had much to complain about from an organizational perspective.
If the room had hit the space max, with more exhibitors than ever before, the show was simply diffused. Every night, when they throw us all out of On the Rocks, the official(ly racist) bar of the show, there’s a logjam getting out the door because of the hugging. We are finally, finally ready to rumble with Iron Bound, the new graphic novel from Brendan Leach. That was the first of Brendan’s comics that we ever saw and it was love at first sight. This edition comes complete with a blood red, seven inch, flexi record with two songs, one for fighting and another for a slightly more cuddly kind of fighting. You kids won’t remember records or tapes or compact discs, but trust us, music is amazing even off a computer.
In addition to Brendan, we’ll have a Special Guest in the personage of Jon Allen at our table. We might even have some news, or a lot of news, or a lot of really big news if the lawyers tell us it’s cool to spill the beans. When I unpacked I discovered that I had been using an airplane barf bag as a bookmark during the flight. In terms of volume, meaning the number of comics sold, the LA Zine Fest ate everything we could serve. Secret Acres, as now legally constituted, is two gay guys and a woman, Casey Gonzalez, former Sheriff of the Acres and now an official Editor. As you know, there will be a Secret Acres book of Memory Palaces making its debut at MoCCA. Yeah, our latest, Iron Bound, led the way because people want the new stuff, but they want it all. On the people-whose-skin-I-will-steal-and-wear-as-a-mask front, Joe Kessler charmed me with his English accent and those peaches and cream. Way back in 2010, we had a crappy year and we wrote about it and it got a huge response from you guys. It  is a painstakingly researched book that features explicit dongs, cooters and hooters with healthy helpings of sociopolitical commentary and philosophy. For the first time ever, you can legally download one of our books, none other than Mike Dawson’s Troop 142.


Last year’s SPX was commonly thrown out there as the greatest SPX that was or would ever be. All our big news will be in the wrap up post for that show, because, well, we’re exhausted. It is ingenious. Without any hesitation, we can tell you that Iron Bound completely kicks its ass.
Both are written by Lucas Gutkowksi (and recorded with Brendan himself) for the Newark Wanderers, the official Iron Bound band.
You fellow New Yorkers just need to get yourselves to Brooklyn’s own Bergen Street Comics this Friday. Now, I know that millennials are the only demographic worth targeting these days, and I understand that millennials like two things (other than having personalized food  experiences): Buzzfeed and Snapchat. And by discovered, I mean I had no idea I was reading anything to begin with until I saw twist ties sticking out from my book. And yes, I deserved the mortification I endured of having someone walk in the bathroom and catch me taking a picture of the urinals. I’ve never received as much attention from local comics folks and show organizers as I did at Autoptic.
There were only a handful of comics folks missing that I generally expect to see at conventions: Sundays, AdHouse, CCS and Closed Caption Comics all come to mind, but many of the usual small publishers, self-publishers and collectives were represented in one form or another.
Lamb belly tacos is a thing and it’s on a truck in Minneapolis for you to buy and devour when you go to A 11 New York Secrets: the less well known must see sights of New York City!
So we packed again and lugged everything through the blizzard to JFK in hardcore snow gear only to land on a beach, in flip flops and shorts, in February. Shorthanded on big ticket items, we couldn’t have broken any dollar records, but even in dollars, we came pretty close to our CAKE total in a single day.
There will be a Special Guest at the show with us, none other than Damien Jay, he of the Natural World and lots of other stuff.
The majority of our customers are women, going by all the data we could gather, and even counting customers as best we could at shows. BCGF made the most of the comics and art community here in our little borough, and it just reeked of Brooklyn.
I quietly wiped some drool from my chin as Michael DeForge and CAB Prom King Sam Alden talked Adventure Time, texted my mom about it, headed home. I didn’t make it to any panels because ha ha ha, but I did get to hug Annie Koyama and Leigh Walton across the table. Among the many shockers in this book is the fact that it takes place in the Mike Dawson universe, or least the Mike Dawson Tri-State Area.
It’s baby stepping, for sure, but we really like the Panel 9 guys who make the awesome Sequential app.
Anyhow, we’ll get to our semi-collective major observations of the Small Press Expo landscape in a minute, important as they might to anyone who cares about comics. Last year, our very own Theo Ellsworth drew some stuff for the show and was listed as a Special Guest. The soft quality could have been the result of this show following an inarguably hard SPX 2012.
They even show up in the comic! On the way is a full album of Iron Bound inspired music, available online on September 6th (or so we are told) and on non-flexible vinyl (Dude!) in November. Between the digital and physical releases, the Newark Wanderers will be out on tour with Brendan.
You might, if you are very wise, remember music videos, so here’s this ludicrously awesome thing for your viewing and listening pleasures. Starting at 8PM and going until the Bergen folks pass out, Brendan will be signing copies of Iron Bound just for you. Special guests included Jaime Hernandez, Lisa Hanawalt, John P., Marc Bell, Kevin Huizenga and many other greats. Wearing shorts and flip flops in February is kind of like being a dog in a handbag; you can feel yourself getting softer by the minute.
We picked up great stuff from the new(ish)-to-us Nick Thorburn,Emily Joy, Kid Clampdown, Jason Martin (coming soon to our Emporium), Kevin Uehlein and Sandra Markarian, and from folks who are rarely in the room with us, like the debonair David King, the mysterious Malachi Ward (with a new comic!) and that bastard Tim Hensley. Of course, Sar Shahar, one of our gang and favorite people was his usual lovely self, and we got to have dinner with him and Nate and their lovelier boos, while they pitched Lesbocop on our way to catch Robocop.
If you’re wondering why, exactly, we would fly across the country with a bunch of books meeting us there, well, blame Tom Neely. Not only do we adore his comics, he just so happens to be the babydaddy (and husband) of Minty Lewis, the goddess behind our very own PS Comics, and, of course, one of the gang running that Regular Show.
Those efforts were part of helping out a friend, Janelle Asselin, also a woman, who is writing a book about women and comics, and who pops up in the documentary, She Makes Comics. Does this sound like we’re making excuses? CAB steps right into that vacated slot, bringing that Brooklyntricity, filling the room with what Tom Spurgeon, Comics Reporter, once called the products of the Brooklyn Cliche Factory. Secret Acres was never on the ropes in 2013 the way it was back then, but when our books are late and we show up without them, we’re screwed. Mucha will going over every last piece of her busted ticker for Get Over It, her new graphic novel. Gaskin, who will have the freshly reprinted 2012 looking nicer than it ever has before, if you ask us. The last time any of us had seen actual Bethesda was during ye olde SPX days before it moved into the Marriott.
So here is a list of things masquerading as a blog post about the recent independent culture festival in Minneapolis called Autoptic. It’s huge and it was packed to the brim, with a kind of energy in line with the likes of CAB.
We even met Eric Nakamura the night before, which, for folks like us, is a real honor (plus he likes us!). Are we going to get killed, Image-style, when we post our Secret Acres family photos? We have tried and failed to publish no less than eight women, by our count, all of whom found homes elsewhere (though we have not given up just yet).
It’s a long show and I would have died of exhaustion but for a well-placed boston cream donut, shared with Victor Kerlow.
Just like 2010, we were strapped for cash, relying on our back list and freaking out about money for reprinting books. So here it is: it was really nice out, and weird to be outside with our books and stuff, but it was really nice out. The big fish, the Fantagraphics and the Drawn and Quarterlies and the Top Shelves, suddenly didn’t seem that big in such a big pond. It is our church, and Iron Bound is our big, fat and only Small Press Expo debut this year.


Meanwhile, we can say that the tour plans to get as far out as our beloved Windy City of Chicago, at least.
Of course, records will be spun, but, even better, the Newark Wanderers will be performing live in the store. Even fellow Secret Acres gang members, Sean Ford and Joseph Lambert have threatened to wander by. One could easily even hose down the ARIA building at the end of the day to remove the exhibitor-stink, if necessary. We were sucking up the Michelin starriness of it all, wandering around in a consumerist trance, until we went to pick up books. Another big carryover from the ghost of shows past is that cartoonists can’t keep their mouths shut. It sounds dumb, and it is (and it also kind of sounds like the reasoning for the Fanta Kickstarter, doesn’t it?), but one thing we really need to do as publishers is publish books. Except, you know, for a while, so we can do the winter hibernation thing and clean up this website a bit and get everything off to the printers and work on MoCCA 2.1 and maybe take a vacation or something. It’s a free show, with killer programming and the best of the best of the best in comics will all be gathering for your enjoyment, and for some killer hot dogs and pizza.
Oh, and Eamon Espey has curated a show entitled Wild Life Refuge at the Current Gallery in his hometown of Baltimore. It was the biggest party of our careers, and one of the biggest Bergen has seen (up there with Xaime, Jeff Smith and Wonder Woman, we were told, but how many people got lucky at those?). Mike Dawson, whose Troop 142 was up for the Outstanding Graphic Novel Ignatz Award, didn’t get a balloon that all the other nominees got.
Usually, we get to the floor late and freak out, scrambling to get our books on the tables while a line of folks waits sort of patiently for us. You could spend an entire weekend and thousands of dollars at SPX and not feel like you got to it all. Becca Lambert brought her husband, Joe, the bellwether of good men’s hairstyles for indie comics. I ended my night on the early side like the sad old hag I am, but not before getting weepy over Melissa Mendes‘ Bruce the Cat tattoo and spotting Joe Lambert through the crowd, elusive as the famed Bigfoot.
If you’re wondering why now and why this way, this was the first thing we saw that looked great all the time and that put us next to comics we actually read. Having gotten set up before the doors opened, for once, we jumped behind the table and waited for the opening rush, which didn’t happen.
Above the crowds and craziness of Times Square, the hidden cocktail bars (our favourite is the R Lounge in the Renaissance Hotel) offer incredible views of the bright lights and yellow cabs the city is so famous for!The best view of Times Square! The other one, which we took to calling Brokebook Mountain, was some recycling in an official USPS bag.
Our five year comics publishing sausage party is finally coming to an end: everyone say hi to Corinne Mucha, the new woman in town, now with her very own page on this site.
From where we’re sitting, Fantagraphics is the greatest and most important publisher in the history of comics. We even managed to get up and set up on Saturday before the doors opened for the first time at any show in 2013.
Upon investigation, there was a long line of people waiting to get in, coming in two at a time or so.
In any case, there seemed to be a great, almost corporately smooth, synergy between the show and gallery things like this and the stuff at the Society of Illustrators and the Spiegelman exhibit. Whatever the reason for it, crowd funding Fanta makes us very nervous about the state of comics publishing and it makes for another round of talking about what publishers do.
Standing next to Sean will be our very own Joseph Lambert, who just won an Eisner Award for his stunning Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller. Like the move to the Marriott back in the day, this is a transitional year for Comics Camp, both in quality and in content. Unlike his I Will Bite You! it’s not one of ours, but we can still be proud of him, dammit.
And this year, after a going without an official SPX tweet leading up to the show, Secret Acres wasn’t even in the program. It was the aforementioned Beat, celebrating her 75th year of SPX attendance, who started off our Friday night at the bar, crunching numbers.
Maybe it was just the new kids, but the cuteness index was up a whopping 38% year over year. In fact, you can see Joe on a panel called the New Generation: What We Like, with slackers like Michael DeForge, Lisa Hanawalt and Katie Skelly. With all the new tables, she reasoned, there had to be at least 750 individual artists and exhibitors sitting at 280 tables.
It was probably closer to a thousand. As Heidi mentioned, you could walk the back wall, or Webcomics Alley, and find a major book at every table.
Anyhow, we will be at tables U5-6 and they will be at table D32 and the panel will be all the way over at the nearby Knitting Factory.
Our whole gang, Rob Sergel, Eamon Espey, Special Guest Jon Allen and SPX table neighbor Secret Acres artists, Sean Ford (with a new comic!) and Joe Lambert all sold lots of books while Brendan sketched out scores of Iron Bound. We were stunned by its elegance from the moment we walked through the entry tunnel filled with poignant quotes and the journey through the memorial is serene and peaceful.Over 1 million people died as a result of the Famine in Ireland between 1845 and 1852 and around 1 million more emigrated. We’ll be back again, corrupting the children (who are unfortunately drawn to the pretty colors in Wayward Girls). That was until I heard the husband’s voice, clear as day, apparently travelling through the ceiling. The colourful Tudor style buildings seem like a miniature movie set in contrast to the high rises that surround the tiny complex. Paley Park, with its 20 foot waterfall, is situated close by as is the glass waterfall tunnel. Reply Elaine - April 16th, 2016 at 7:10 pm none Comment author #18865 on 11 New York Secrets: the less well known must see sights of New York City!
After so many visits and living there we wanted to find some new places to take our visitors and that’s how the list came about!



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