Thursday, May 19, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
The Nouveau Poore: Funny. Being from the south, I always find southern accents written out both hilarious and peculiar. And there ain’t much better than the panel with the cat pulling the guy in the wheelbarrow while smoking a pipe.
That Jimmy Hendrix Biblical Thing: Nice art. I wish all your stuff had this much care put into it. So you don’t draw perfect? So what? I like the effort put into this. The different “camera” angles, the layout of the panels, all nice stuff.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Review by R. Krauss
If you read Shannon Smith's small press comic reviews on his blog File Under Other, it isn't long before you're struck with the notion he must be a pretty nice guy. The image is only reinforced through his latest mini comic.
The book is a collection of several different projects, so while there's no overall theme, the pieces still work together and provide a varied reading experience.
Laughing Sam's Dice is Smith's contribution to a chain story created for Narrative Corpse #2. It's only a segment, but it's fun to watch as Jimi Hendrix guides the unnamed main character (Laughing Sam perhaps?) through Electric Lady Land.
In a World of Savages presents a few pages of auto-bio comic strips in which Smith highlights real or imagined slices of life.
Smith turned Superbowl Sunday into Hourly Comic Day on February 1st cranking out over a dozen comics and gags to celebrate his team's participation and eventual win that day.
Inspired by the drawings fans can pick up from cartoonists at conventions, Smith created Mailcon, a project that extends the concept—without the convention. Just send him a drawing request along with an SASE and he'll send you a drawing. Distraction concludes with a nice sampling of drawings from Mailcon.
The cartooning in Distraction ranges from sketchy (Hourly Comic Day) to polished (Mailcon). Either way, they're full of energy and humor. I enjoyed Smith's writing too. His stories and gags are playful and warm-hearted with an occasional sarcastic aside.
Shannon Smith is Addicted to Distraction is 40 b&w pages, plus color cover. 7" x 8.5", handmade with saddle-stitch binding. It's available for $4 from his website (along with Mailcon directions). Mature readers.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Shannon Smith is Addicted to Distraction
Generally speaking I’m against throwing your own name in your comic title, but if you’re going to go all the way like Shannon did and also picture yourself bursting through the cover, I say more power to the man. This is a collection of odds and ends, so naturally some pieces are going to better than others. Things start off slow with a baffling story of a man who runs into an all-powerful Jimmy Hendrix and gets taken to heaven with a bunch of naked ladies who preach nothing but love. Oddly, the guy can’t wait to get out of there, but seems to have gotten something from the whole experience. Then there a few one page autobio pieces, at least a couple of which I’ve already seen in his other minis, but the piece sampled below was new to me and nicely reflects the struggle to ever find a copy of The Comic’s Journal. The heart of the book is up next, and 24 hour comics folk take note: Shannon has blasted you all out of the water. He decided to do a one page comic every hour of Super Bowl Sunday, starting at 8am and ending around midnight. It’s especially impressive because the guy is a Steeler’s fan and he still took time out of the day to make a comic. Granted, the art is about as simple as you can get, and I got a lot more out of reading this hourly strip that I just about ever have by reading most daily diary comics. The hourly format really gave him time to dig into the small details. There’s waking up, dealing with a nagging headache, cleaning up cat puke, picking up toys for his kids, making unhealthy food for the big day, playing with toys with his kids, and finally watching the game. If that sounds like too much detail for you, you’re clearly not a fan of autobio. You can’t get much more “day in the life” than this. Finally there’s a pile of sketches in the back of the comic, mostly stuff he’s sent to people who’ve mailed in over the years. I particularly enjoyed Ant Man fighting an ant over a twinkie, but maybe Wonder Woman using her lasso the make the Invisible confess her true love would be more your thing. It’s a pretty nice pile of comic any way you look at it, and well worth checking out. It’s $4, and if that’s too rich for your blood at the moment there are always all the cheap, cheap minis listed below this to convince you. $4
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
"I’m going to need to develop a new format specifically for Shannon’s books. A cover sample and one sample from inside the comic is fine for most things, but when the comic is only four pages long it almost feels like stealing. This is the story of an opossum who was born with eyes and ears of different sizes. Naturally, this causes resentment and anger in the locals, who immediately try to kill the poor thing. This leads to an elaborate revenge plan from the opossum, and yes this is a lot to pack into such a tiny comic, especially when you consider that the cover is one of the four pages. Shannon also manages to find the time to make fun of Republicans (or morons of all stripes, it depends on your perspective) and make a moral point or two. Good clean fun, probably not more than $.50, and, for whatever it’s worth, it’s a 12 hour comic."
A-Symmetrical O-Possum can be purchased here.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Monday, November 03, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Here is the complete letter:
Thanks so much for dropping me this note; your words are encouraging, and give me a lot to think about.
I wanted to also apologize for taking so long to sit down an read your mini-comics until now. I appreciated very much the fact that you took the time to send them to me. To be frank, the last several months -- oh heck, I would say ever since MoCCA Art Fest in the Spring -- have been really really crazy for me. I put too much on my plate, and I also was developing concerns and questions regarding my blog and my role in comics.
I had seen hostility to my blog radically increase -- though I still had a lot of readers and fans. But the hostility got to the point where I was receiving not only death threats but had people I hardly knew obsessively follow my blog and tear it apart on a regular basis on other forums. It got really tired, and took up too much of my time. Coupled with that was an increasing pressure to be more mainstream, to "network," to angle myself in a certain way. Marvel never asked me to do that, for which I am grateful. But the pressure was there from certain places, including simply myself.
And I just burned out from all of it.
I believe life is short -- even if you are relatively long-lived, life is still short. All we really have is our integrity, and our ability to touch other people's lives for the better. We touch other people's lives by being true. We can never touch lives by being fake, or using false sentiment. The problem I have with some mainstream comics is that the writers are either just mechanically providing want the readers want (or editorial dictate demands), or they are so overworked that even with the very best of intentions, some of their books by necessity get phoned in. What gets produced are books that don't make people think, that simply retread the same tropes over and over again.
What I think is so important about books like yours is that they *are* real. They come from a real place. And as such, they have more of the ability to touch other people's lives than a whole stack of the latest offerings from the Diamond catalog.
To an extent, I think the comic companies realize this whole thing about *realness*. They want to achieve again that rawness that Frank Miller had on Daredevil and Alan Moore had on Watchmen. But look what happened to these two artists, after 25+ years in this industry. They both ended up hating passionately mainstream comics. One continued to take their paychecks and piss all over their properties in spite, and one retreated in disgust. I think both endings are sad. I don't think they were necessary, but I understand where they came from.
It's only realness that will redeem and prolong this industry. Yes, the backlist provided by Miller and Moore is lucrative. But what are the new classics -- you know, *real* classics, not the "instant" classics that are proclaimed from comic book covers. "The Dark Knight," to an extent, was *real*. But the inevitable clones of "Dark Knight," both in the movies and on the comic stands, will probably not be. Will we see the stands clogged with this sort of stuff? Will this be another situation like in the 1990s, where there was so much prefab soulless stuff?
That's why it's important that you continue to create your comics. Not just for your own satisfaction and well-being, but because without that spark that comic creators like you provide -- hundreds of you, from your homes, from the hearth of your own deepest creative intentions -- this industry would become inbred, banal, and ultimately irrelevant.
Again, thanks so much for reading the blog, and for sending me the mini-comics. I read all of them during lunch, and enjoyed them very much
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Also new to the Indie Island list is mini-comicker and blogger Shannon Smith. While he might not be an editor at a big-time New York magazine, he's no less loved--Shannon has been a big supporter (and attendee!) of HeroesCon for years, and we're super-jazzed to be welcoming him to his first HeroesCon as a guest! Besides reviewing comics under his many blogs, including File Under Other, Shannon is also the man behind mini-comics including Small Bible, Brush & Pen, and Phillip Henry!
Shannon Smith will be a guest on Indie Island at HeroesCon June 20-22.
Sunday, May 04, 2008
This is a clever mini that's about points of view and description. Taking key portions of the Old Testament, Smith quotes extensively from Stephen's Defense in the Book of Acts, then quotes the original scripture, then provides an illustration--all in just 9 pages. It's a clever comic that's both a straightforward depiction of an event, and a commentary as an interpretation of an interpretation of an event that may or may not have happened--but has enormous importance. Joann Sfar's Rabbi character in THE RABBI'S CAT described Judaism as different from Western (Hegelian) thought, which is thesis, antithesis, synthesis. The history of Jewish thought, he explained, is thesis, antithesis, antithesis, antithesis, and so on. This mini is another step in the argument, providing a visual interpretation of the events that is action-oriented on nearly every page. An angel dramatically swoops in to prevent Abraham from sacrificing Isaac; Moses gets a magic glowing staff from god that cures snake bites; various epic battles are fought. Smith gets across the quite visceral experience of reading the Old Testament, a tact that is quite different from the purposes of either Stephen or the original Torah. It's quite a clever little project.
Small Bible is on sale here.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Who needs to read all 920 clunky pages of the Old Testament when you could just go and read 9 pages of highly condensed mini comic? As someone who had the bright idea to read the Bible over the last summer I really wasn't sure what to expect here, but Shannon does manage to nail the high points. A brief synopsis of the relevant passage, a quote and an image later and you get the idea of things. Best of all there's no axe to grind here, no moral viewpoint he's pushing, just good old Bible stories. Bits in here include Joseph (you know, the guy with the technicolor dreamcoat), Moses trying to convince people of his veracity, and God being a general dick to his followers who doubted even a little bit, which seemed to happen a lot back then. Oh, and there's also the bit about the ass, but I don't want to spoil it. It's a fun comic for everybody, nothing to offend the overly religious types and it's pretty informative for the rest of us pagans.
Small Bible on sale here.
Monday, March 31, 2008
Member Profile: Shannon Smith
January 12, 2008
You can find Shannon Smith at shannonsmith.net, where you’ll find links to his artwork, minicomics, web comics and his minicomics review site, File Under “Other”. A collection of his minicomics, Sleepwalker, is due out this Spring.
What attracts you to comics as an art form? I love the purity and freedom of it. Comics can be as beautiful or wretched as any other visual art, but its ability to communicate is stronger than any form of expression I can think of. One might argue that film can do more than comics, but one person can’t just sit down and make a movie in an afternoon. I can write, draw, print and distribute a comic in a day. From the reader’s point of view, comics are also much more personal than other mediums. The reader controls the pace and time. It’s up to the reader to decide what is going on between panels. The creator can try to force their intention on the reader, but each reader will read each comic in their own way. It is much more interpretive in that way than a film can be. Comics are also closer to how our minds work. The way we perceive the world is all relative to our mind’s warehouse of memories. We remember things in random, loosely connected images. Just like comics.
What is appealing/satisfying to you about self-publishing? Once again I’ll say freedom. Also the immediacy of if. I don’t need an editor or publisher to make a comic. I can just make it. These are exciting times to make comics. With web comics and online print-on-demand companies, the only obstacle I see as a creator trying to reach an audience is my own lack of time and skill. Even just making mini-comics, I can distribute them through the web and small conventions. I also meet a lot of nice people along the way. Plus, I just like making them. I like the printing and folding and stapling, etc. Making books is fun.
How would you define success as an artist, and have you achieved it? I look at each project as its own entity. My idea of success for each project is simply that the finished project that the reader holds in their hands (or reads online) is true to the original spark of inspiration. If I’ve brought the thing to life successfully, then I’m happy with it. I’ve achieved that a few times. My mini Brush and Pen came out exactly as I imagined it. Some of my three paged foldys have come out as planned. As far as success as an artist? Like a career or something? Just to have the time, tools and skills to tell the stories I want to tell and an audience to enjoy them. I guess most folks would say that to make any kind of living at it would be great. That would be nice.
What artists have inspired you the most? As a guitarist, it’s easy to see my influences as the people I sat down and learned to imitate. As a cartoonist, I would have to go all the way back to being a kid copying coloring books, Sunday funnies, and the Marvel, DC and Charlton comics of the 70’s and 80’s. I could name a hundred names from those days and they would probably be the same guys most people my age would name. The Chaykin and Infantino Star Wars comics were a big influence on me. When I was a kid, I had this one cartooning book that must have been printed in the 40’s or 50’s, because it had all these caricature instructions on how to draw people like Eisenhower and Roosevelt and the old Hollywood Stars. I probably don’t draw much differently today than I did when I was imitating that book. Since I started making comics again as an adult, I’ve been inspired by folks like R. Crumb, Julie Doucet, Paul Pope, David Mack, Gilbert Hernandez, Harvey Pekar, Chester Brown, David B., Daniel Clowes and Chris Ware… I could go on and on. The usual suspects. I came upon alternative comics pretty late in the game, so I’m still consuming the stuff as fast as I can. Just everything I guess. Whenever I’m stumped or need a spark, I often go back to my box of Archie comics and look to Dan DeCarlo for inspiration. At lot of my inspiration to make comics — or at least to make better comics — comes from reading stuff from people I know, like Brad McGinty and Josh Latta.
What artists do you most see being “the next big thing?” Speaking of… Brad McGinty and Josh Latta. Both are super smart and talented and just plain make good comics. Both are probably just one nice fat collection of comics away from getting a lot of notice and respect. Same with J. Chris Campbell. Josh Simmons is one of comics’ best kept secrets. His mini comic Jessica Farm is one of the best minis I’ve ever read. I saw that Fantagraphics will be publishing it this year. Drew Weing, Eleanor Davis, Patrick Dean… lots of great folks making comics in the south. I could go on and on.
What do you see as the most common theme in your work? My work so far has been pretty minimal. I have three or four longer projects I’ve been working on for years that have some strong themes, but as far as the comics I’ve actually finished and printed — it’s kind of all over the place. I wouldn’t call it a theme, but I’m very interested in the idea that almost everyone is an emotional mess when you get right down to it. I guess I’m interested in weirdos. They seem to be interested in me. I also find stereotypes and clichés interesting. At lot of my dialog is 100% cliché but people really do talk that way. I find it fascinating how people are completely comfortable falling into the mold of a stereotype and speaking in the same clichés they hear from their friends or on TV. I find it hilarious. We are all silly little animals with the same silly little animal problems. I’m fascinated by the economy and effectiveness of old TV sitcoms. Again, not a theme but I like playing with that formula.
What project(s) are you working on currently that we can expect to see next? I have a full-time job, I’m a full-time daddy and husband, and at the moment I’m a full time college student. I’m working on collecting all my mini comics into one book by the spring. It will be called Sleepwalker. I’m about a third of the way through with a mini comic called The Lucas Code. It is written by my friend Paul McDonald. It’s part satire and part philosophy primer disguised as a Star Wars/DiVinci Code parody. I’ve been working on a series of small three-paged foldy comics, and I’ll continue to do that as long as I have ideas for them. I also have a web comic I’m working on called The Next War but I won’t start posting until I have several months of strips in the bank. Maybe in the spring. Behind the scenes, in top secret, I’m doing my real work on some longer more ambitions graphic novels. Everything else up to this point has just been practice. I doubt any of the three projects see print before 2009, but I hope to start posting some art soon. Like pre-production teaser stills. The book I will most likely finish first is called It’s Never Easy But Sometimes It’s Hard. It’s about a vegetarian lion who wants to be a farmer but has to go to war against a Wolf Dragon, or… It’s about an alcoholic surgeon who wants to write children’s books but has to go to war against boogeymen and demons, or… It’s about a girl who wants to have a tea party but has to go to war…
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
"My favorite. I love how you cram in as much pop culture/comics references as you can. This is just plain fun. Acme Novelty Soduko. Brilliant. What do you ink with? I’d try something else, and slow down. Reading this, I get the feeling that you are so into drawing and writing this that you let small things like the art go to the wayside. This is good, but it could be great!"
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
"I can relate --Nice pages, Shannon. "
"So YOU killed rock-n-rol! These strips are great. I think the only stuff I've seen from you is your Crock 11 submission, and this is very different. I'd like to see them in color. And I have to be somewhat of a hypocrite here. I know in Hunter's review, I said I didn't like auto bio, but I have to admit that if it is kept in this short and sweet format, I could grow to like it. It's funny you reference Kochalka's work in the last one. I hate auto bio, but I buy everything he does. I really love his art style, but in his diary strips, it is the format that keeps me interested. These strips are like them in the fact that they know where to start, and where to end. They are perfectly paced and funny. Good job. "
"Nice Shannon, again another great indy set. I especially like Daddy Don't Know Nothin'. I think it would be a very nice regular strip, in print or on the web."
"No comments other than I liked this material plenty. "
Thursday, March 01, 2007
"Fantastic. Don't write off the low quality production as being related to the story. Funny, inane, semi-relevant. "
"This was thought provoking. That fact that it’s a 12-hour comic made it fun on its own, but add to it the edginess – socially unacceptable, politically incorrect and (usually) nonovert (okay that’s not a word, but that’s what I’m sticking with) ways of getting even….funny as shit…but sad. Got ya goin’ – made ya pissed. Whatever. I liked it. Funny as shit…now I’m just being redundant. "
"Retarded, but funny."