Zine Scene & the Pony Express

Retrofit Comics started when Philly-based cartoonist Box Brown realized a lot of the independent comic publishers were cutting back on the production of floppy comics created by their curated pool of talent. It just would not do. Successfully funded by a Kickstarter campaign in the summer of 2011, Brown assembled a team of cartoonists known for their copious output of comics and unique storytelling ability. With a subscription, you receive a 32-page comic a month and there is no greater joy than opening up the mail to find well-crafted story by a cartoonist. Corinne Mucha‘s The Monkey in the Basement and Other Such Delusions and James Kochalka‘s The Fungus were exactly what I wanted: more of their particular brand of world-building.

Retrofit also works because you don’t just receive work by cartoonists you are familiar with, in this case Pocket Full of Coffee by Joe Decie arrived recently, full of small moments for new parents in expressive gray wash. Having recently read some of his previous work, I immediately flipped open 1999 by Noah Van Sciver.  With an easy hand, Van Sciver robustly catalogs a fast food worker’s foray into open relationships with no apologies. Experiment successful for Box Brown; Retrofit Comics produces and delivers quality comics by a variety of artists.  There are even a few CCS cartoonists in the mix (Colleen Frakes, Charles Forsman and Betsey Swardlick) who work  I look forward to reading.

Meanwhile, in Boston, a group of cartoonists meet up weekly to discuss, critique and create comics. The Boston Comics Roundtable has created many an anthology from their Massachusetts (maybe we should say New England) talent base for the Inbound series based on subjects like Boston history and the ever-popular food.

Cover image by Jesse Lonergan

Recently, the Schulz Library received the artist edition of Hellbound 2, a horror anthology, created by Roho and BCR members. The group returns to its zine roots for this collection, complete with beautifully handmade paper, rubber stamps and hand-bound box for the two books. The stories are short and sweet, the filler illustrations make you beg for a full story. Often the failing of a horror anthology is that you read WITH the intention of being scared and thus, thumb through the pages bravely. A well-written comic is not necessarily terrifying until at night, it twists itself in the dark of your room, and you can suddenly recall images.

A particular story that follows that logic is RobMeBlind.com, which is about thieves who utilize location-based smart phone apps to figure out when people are gone from their homes. The clever crafting by J.L. Bell and Andy Wong left me awake blinking at my ceiling (possibly at the easy ability people have of giving away information for temporary celebrity). And the dark woodcut panels of E.J. Barnes in Patrick Flaherty’s story The Plague exemplify a great use of comics to set the mood for the story. Hellbound 2 is perfect for the horror fan or lover of hand-made objects, especially if those objects are a skin suit made from their victims.

CCS ’08 alumnus, former Schulz Librarian AND Retrofit Comics artist, Charles Forsman, has created a new site that gives you the exact stores (brick-and-mortar or digital) where you can find your favorite mini-comic artists’ work. The Muster List is indeed a calling and a coming together of the troops. Forsman, in his unassuming way, apologizes for the incomplete list–it is updated every now and then–which adds to the sincerity of the project. The basic and brilliant layout of the site is completely usable and legible. Check it out today to find out where to purchase mini-comics of choice creators.

-Jen Vaughn

Schulz Librarian

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One Response to Zine Scene & the Pony Express

  1. Pingback: Convention Scene | Comic Book Conventions, Anime, Gaming, Science Fiction, Collectibles...from Comic-Con to Origins

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