Chicago is known as a city rife with comic creators and small-press publishers. One of the city’s rising stars is C. Spike Trotman, whose experimentations with online publishing have netted her an ongoing science fiction series called “Templar, AZ” and the acclaimed graphic novel “Poorcraft.” This fall saw the release of her highly anticipated anthology of women-and-queer friendly erotic comics, “Smut Peddler.” On the same day she opened submissions for an upcoming horror comic anthology to be called “The Sleep of Reason,” Ms. Trotman took the time to talk about her recent small-press success.
So Spike, you’re a pornographer.
I sure am, I am a proud and happy pornographer.
How’s that treating you?
Great! I currently have about 400 books in my house that are waiting for pickup. That has been the hardest part of getting those pledge rewards fulfilled. It has just made me so happy to have an entire wall of my living room taken up by giant stacks of books. Of dirty filthy porn. (laughs) Read the rest of this entry »
A Long Strange Trip: Chicago Author David David Katzman follows his “Psychedelic Fairytale for the Modern Age” Through the Wonderland of Self-PublishingAuthor Profiles, Chicago Authors, Chicago Publishers No Comments »
While David David Katzman was finishing his second novel, “A Greater Monster,” he was also performing a one-man improv show. Taking a single cue from the audience, he hopped around the stage playing multiple characters, an experience he now describes as “nutty.”
“The audience, I think, was supportive because they were like, ‘Wow, this kid is working without a parachute here,’” says Katzman.
The author doesn’t do improv anymore, but in many ways he’s still a one-man show. Surpassing the standard protocol of self-publishing, Katzman established his own independent press, Bedhead Books, in order to print, promote and manually distribute both of his experimental novels, “Death by Zamboni” (1999) and “A Greater Monster” (2011). (The latter is also distributed by Last Gasp, which specializes in the subversive and underground.) He launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the printing of “A Greater Monster,” offering personalized, stream-of-consciousness style letters as prizes—a collection of which will be published by the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography. Read the rest of this entry »
Women are 5.3 times more likely to appear naked in a book than be paid to work on one, according to research by comics scholar and author Anne Elizabeth Moore.
Moore wants to improve the depiction of women in comics, and to create more opportunities for women in comics. For the two weeks leading up to the first Chicago Alternative Comics Convention (CAKE), she put on the second year of the Adventure School for Ladies comics intensive, a small collaborative program open to applicants of all genders that hosted eight individuals this year. Read the rest of this entry »
Joshua Young’s second book, published as part of Mud Luscious Press’ Nephew imprint series, is a screenplay-in-verse. Young is no stranger to blending poetry, prose and playwriting; his first book was “When the Wolves Quit: A Play-in-Verse” (Gold Wake Press, 2012). Divided into three acts, “To the Chapel of Light,” is obsessed with storytelling and portrays a surrealistic, almost dystopian version of the southern United States. Nephew specializes in “linguistically jagged, pocket-sized titles that redefine language” and boy, this book delivers outstandingly on that principle. Read the rest of this entry »
Chicago is a relative whippersnapper among the great cities of the world, but its persisting roll-up-the-sleeves attitude toward life and work may be why it has produced so many high achievers in all fields of human endeavor, including politics and crime (in which many have proved ambidextrous).
So it was no small mission June Skinner Sawyers set for herself in winnowing that list to about 300 and creating trenchant but sufficiently thorough biographies of each. The result has been spectacularly successful. In her “Chicago Portraits” she has crafted an indispensable resource for anyone who loves Chicago history. The grace of her writing also makes it a pure pleasure for browsing; her volume will make you smarter just by being in your home.
In his foreword, Rick Kogan—whose father, the late journalist, historian and author Herman is justifiably among those included here—is right on the money in applying to Chicago the Southerner William Faulkner’s observation, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Read the rest of this entry »
The result: Michael Czyzniejewski’s “Chicago Stories,” forty fictional monologues riffing on the common culture of the Windy City’s shared history, projected forward into a possible future. Not quite historical fiction—more like historical jazz.
With each monologue accompanied by free-form sketches by Rob Funderburk, it is easy to picture the pieces staged as a series of one-person, one-act plays. Individually, the stories are often audacious, even poetically musical; taken together they are simply great fun, stirring up the reader’s imagination. Read the rest of this entry »
Fiction Review: “Men Undressed: Women Writers on the Male Sexual Experience” edited by Stacy Bierlein, Gina Frangello, Cris Mazza, and Kat MeadsBook Reviews, Chicago Authors, Chicago Publishers, Story Collections 2 Comments »
Finally! We lady folk get to see men without any clothes on, metaphorically. Naked and exposed, with all their weaknesses, desires, fears and insecurities finally out in the open. Reading “Men Undressed: Women Writers on the Male Sexual Experience,” a compilation of short stories by women about men and their sexuality, you realize that men are just as complex and screwed up as us, but even more so because they try so hard to hide it. With a foreword by Steve Almond and edited by Stacy Bierlein, Gina Frangello, Cris Mazza and Kat Meads, this juicy volume is an eye-opener. As Mazza notes in her introductory essay, “Literature should allow us to imagine people who are unlike ourselves—to slip into their lives, their minds, their perspectives, not for the sake of parodying alleged deficiencies, but to discover both our innate similarities and our enigmatic differences, and thereby appreciate them more.” Read the rest of this entry »
In 2009, after Martha Bayne’s attempt to write a book about an experiment in sustainable agriculture and its effect on a tiny island community didn’t work out as planned, she returned to Chicago from Wisconsin. Lucky for Chicago, Bayne returned to her food roots. She wasn’t returning to her previous work, however, penning restaurant critiques for the Chicago Reader; instead, she wanted to create a thriving soup community, from the bottom up. It was winter, and Bayne was bored and lonely while tending bar at the Hideout. To combat the cold, isolation and even desperation, she started inviting folks from the food community to “Soup and Bread” nights on Wednesdays. The Hideout soon became the epicenter of potluck and mixed talents, as DJs, actors, writers, families, a Michelin chef and other personalities gathered to break bread and dine on various pots of donated soup.
Thanks to Bayne’s networks and socializing skills, for three winters running, the Hideout has hosted a weekly Soup & Bread feast, gathering an eclectic assortment of artists and parents, writers, professional and amateur cooks, all of whom donate homemade soup to crowds of one hundred or more. And the “Soup and Bread” cookbook is just as cozy and comforting as the soup gatherings that inspired it. Compact and red, and packed with recipes from local food writers like Mike Sula (Kimchi Chigae) and Chuck Sudo (Gumbo—Bridgeport Style), “Soup and Bread” is packed with no-frills, hearty, DIY flavor. Just like Chicago. Read the rest of this entry »
The notion that “the medium is the message” is attributed to Marshall McLuhan, but the folks at Rose Metal Press seek to marry the media to the message with their individually designed, beautifully custom-printed editions of what they describe as “hybrid genres.” The result is books that could seem pricey and precious were it not for the fact that they offer a perfect match to the right readers. The Brookline, Massachusetts-based (with a strong Chicago presence due to its co-founder’s local residence) publisher’s books aren’t for everyone, and that’s the point: they don’t need to be, considering each so gloriously fits its own highly personal niche.
Consider the appropriately retro fifties packaging of Tiff Holland’s linked short-short stories, at the center of which is a judgmental, far-from-perfect working-class mom dubbed Betty Superman, whose chief “super” virtue may be honesty to the point of bluntness. Read the rest of this entry »