It’s our first-ever proper sale! Books by Gabrielle Bell, James Romberger, Crosby, Kevin Huizenga & Dan Zettwoch, Zak Sally, Jon Lewis, Derek Van Gieson & Tom Kaczynski. 20-50% OFF! Check it out!
Tag Archive for 'Jon Lewis'
By diverging from that traditional display of world-building, Lewis presents us with an organic world that’s still a work in progress. As opposed to the metaphorical glass castles of Tolkien or the beautifully intricate machine that is Larry Marder’s Beanworld, True Swamp feels like an expansive backyard to stomp through and build forts in. Reading through it, I want to turn over rocks and tear down branches, and I want to come back months later to see how the seasons affect it.
There much more, check it out.
During recent inventory we found a few unused covers for Jon (True Swamp) Lewis’ sold out mini-comic Klagen: A Horror. We decided to do a tiny edition of 23. This was an unusual production. It was printed on bright yellow paper to produce a strong contrast with the grayscale artwork. The cover is a mix of black-on-black laser printing, combined with a gold logo (designed by Dan Wieken of Gagged and Blood Folke) printed on the hard to find Print Gocco. If you missed this one before, now’s the time to get it. It’ll go fast!
The Brooklyn Book Festival is on Sunday (Sept. 22, 10-6 pm)! Uncivilized Books will be exhibiting at Booth 63 (along with publishing pals at Exterminating Angel Press & Owl Canyon Press). We’ll have all of our recent books & mini comics AND we’ll have James (Post York) Romberger and Jon (True Swamp) Lewis on hand to sign books and comics!
Additionally cartoonist & Uncivilized Books chief, Tom Kaczynski, will be participating in a panel called The Real: Comics Nonfiction:
3:00 P.M. The Real: Comics Nonfiction. Three artists represent the diverse spectrum of topics taken on by nonfiction comics-Ed Piskor’s Hip-Hop Family Tree offers an encyclopedic comics history of the formative years of hip hop; Lucy Knisley’s Relish: My Life in the Kitchen is a loving memoir of growing up gourmet and Tom Kaczynski’s Trans-Terra: Towards a Cartoon Philosophy is a mutant memoir that melds comics, politics, and philosophy. Moderated by Professor Jonathan W. Gray, John Jay College. Featuring screen projection. [at the BROOKLYN HISTORICAL SOCIETY AUDITORIUM (128 Pierrepont Street)]
Check out the panel, meet the artists, stop by and say hello! See you there!
I don’t think we linked to this review of our True Swamp mini-comics.
There’s a lot going on in True Swamp, all of which is pretty fun. From the marmot mad scientist, to the weird homunculus Nikolas who can speak to fungi, to the fascination with the sexual habits of various creatures, it’s a unique experience. My favorite bits include Wallace the bird, who is a secret magician and has a sidekick stick-bug wand. The bird from the future comes back to speak to his younger self, as True Swamp tries to impart glimpses of this secret knowledge that emphasizes an appreciation for naturalism. Also? The animals swear. And swearing animals is funny!
Read the entire review here.
Jon Lewis’ True Swamp has been getting some well deserved attention (like this great interview at CBR). While reading that interview, we stumbled on an older one, where Jon talked about a (then) recent bout of media exposure and the (then) new True Swamp comics that followed his well received run now collected in True Swamp: Choose Your Poison. Here’s a sample where Jon discussed some of his influences:
Of course, having intelligent and self-aware creatures roaming a swamp, mixing introspection in with their adventures brings Walt Kelly’s legendary “Pogo” comic strip to mind. While Lewis was aware of “Pogo,” it wasn’t the influence on him that other works, outside of comics and sequential art, were.
“It wasn’t something I really thought about since I was coming much more from the Beatrix Potter and ‘The Wind in the Willows’ end of things — these were huge early-childhood influences that predated and probably even influenced any real nature-experiences in my life. I know I took some visual riffs from ‘Pogo,’ but I think I got them second-generation from Pogo-loving cartoonists, because my own exposure to ‘Pogo’ has been extremely limited. The character of Hale looks fairly Pogo-esque and like everybody I’m always putting in those squat, wavery trees that Walt Kelly patented. Anyway, for some reason, even though Beatrix Potter, ‘The Wind in the Willows,’ ‘Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh,’ et al, always depicted animals as sort of miniature people with jackets and satchels and little houses in the underbrush, I felt certain that my characters should be plain animals, living in holes, eating beetles, having to use their mouths to pick things up ’cause they’ve got no thumbs. They’ve got culture for sure, but no appurtenances. The glaring exception is Hale, the swamp’s only inventor, who has trained his paws to be able to grasp things, and who has a laboratory under a tortoise shell. The story ostensibly takes place in North America, but if I feel like using a kiwi or a gibbon or an iguana I don’t let that stop me; and the cast isn’t confined to real animals — there’s fungus people and grotesque fairies and a ball of fire named Willie.”
Check out the rest of the interview here.
An amazing customer ‘Vine Voice’ review of True Swamp appeared on Amazon.com:
I came up with a number of potential headlines for this Amazon review of True Swamp:
“Classic from Seattle’s grunge comics scene”
“How can a comic about talking frogs and a foul-mouthed marmot be so moving and achingly human?”
But ultimately the one I chose above is the place I must start from. Reading True Swamp again close to 20 years after encountering it around 1994, I can reach no conclusion other than that True Swamp is a genuine classic of the medium, and readers familiar with the others — Sandman, Cerebus, Watchmen, take your pick — owe it to themselves to check it out.
On the surface, Lewis seems to follow few rules of “normal” storytelling. Situations meander into one another, running on pure, sometimes hallucinatory inspiration. Only later, at the end of the chapters, does the reader see how well thought-out the plotting often actually is, for instance issue #2, which floats along in its dreamy, organic, loose way, until suddenly you realize you’ve been reading a tightly structured pulp horror/detective story, complete with some clever plot twists.
There is a confidence to this material that is surprising for such a young man (Lewis began True Swamp at age 21) and someone whose drawing initially seemed so unpolished. The art evolves practically page to page, and by quantum leaps compared to his minicomic art for issue #1, included in this hardcover. Given Lewis’s age and apparent lack of experience, everything about True Swamp *should* have come out as amateur — the art, the writing, the world-building — but none of it does. The combination of confidence and raw talent is something we’ve seen before, but not usually in comics. We’ve seen it in places like rock and roll, punk, grunge.
I see True Swamp as a grunge comics classic. Lewis did create True Swamp in Seattle, in the early 90′s, among a vibrant scene of comic book artists who drew rough and scratchy artwork, and True Swamp is characterized by much of what’s considered the grunge ethos: concerned above all with authenticity (check), full of distortion, fueled by raw energy over technical skill (especially in the original #1, issue #2, and a certain commitment to raw artwork even when Lewis’s drawing had evolved by miles in the later issues), and apathetic, angsty, or depressive lyrics (three adjectives that describe most of True Swamp‘s denizens).
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! Read the rest of the review here, and order a copy while you’re there
There’s a great interview with Jon Lewis on Comic Book Resources. There’s a lot of new information that even we didn’t know… and we published the book!
Reading Ed Brubaker’s introduction to the book and your afterword, it sounds as if the ’90s comics scene in Seattle was a really exciting time for people who were interested in the medium. I don’t want to make you repeat anything you already wrote about, but what was it that you found so inspiring as a young cartoonist?
When I got there in 1990 I was an egg that thought it was already a moth. I wasn’t even a larva yet. The bunch of minicomics I had done were “interesting” at best, but often just indigestible. I got there and met heroes of mine like Jim Woodring and Pete Bagge who were very nice to me, very avuncular, for which I’m forever grateful. But it wasn’t until Tom Hart moved there too, and then Ed Brubaker pretty soon after that, that I got some of the harsher perspective I needed. Because we were more like peers, and they wanted to reach higher in what they were doing, and I had been too easy on myself with my dada little scribbly things and needed to be infected by that kind of ambition. And before that, it also never occurred to me that if I pushed myself towards something more coherent, more than a dozen people might care about the work. In other words, the water I was in and the water Jim Woodring and Pete Bagge and Chester Brown were in weren’t divided like a little pond and a great ocean with no connection between; there was a stream linking it all up and you could get down that stream by work. That was a mind-exploding notion.
It helped us, too, to have the older group of artists and Fantagraphics folks right there to sort of push ourselves against, you know. We wanted to show we had something to bring to the table and there’s always that spirit of revolt when you’re in your early 20s and the ethos that developed in our little clique was storytelling, storytelling, storytelling. Everything in service of the story. We were really zealots about that. By then it was me, Tom, Ed, Megan Kelso, David Lasky, Jason Lutes and James Sturm. We would get together at one of our houses every week and critique the shit out of each other’s work in progress. A couple of times some other cartoonist our age would come to those meetings, and afterward they’d be like, “This is not fun,” and never come again. But it was fun! It was harsh but it was fun.
Read the rest here, it’s great!
There are any number of clever ways of categorizing True Swamp, each of them more or less accurate; most recently, I’ve taken to referring to it as a profane post-punk Pogo. However, the single word that all of those descriptions must necessarily include is “brilliant.”
A reader coming upon this book unawares might not be immediately inclined to use that adjective. At first glance, Jon Lewis’s art seems too raw to serve its purpose, with final pages that can closely resemble extremely rough, even unfinished, layouts. But behind and beneath that loose, cartoony facade lurks a masterful grasp of both the conception and execution of the visual narrative, attributes that make True Swamp a comic of the highest order.