People gather in places?!

*They had some sort of Small Press Expo this past weekend. I think that’s one of those things where people leave their homes and talk to others outside of the Internet Connection Lines. And books are out early there. I hope you all had a good time, if you went, and some neat stuff went on judging from what I’ve read…

*Fantagraphics announced a whole lot of stuff coming up in 2005. The full list is here in the left sidebar, but I don’t know how long it’ll be around; here’s my highlights:

- Chris Ware has about 200 pages of “Rusty Brown” done; Fanta will be serializing it in 64-page bites, starting in late 2005, perhaps to give Ware a good head start on getting more stuff in the can so the delay between volumes won’t be too excruciating.

- Kim Deitch is readying the 52-page third (and I believe final) issue of the excellent “The Stuff of Dreams”. Here’s what I had to say about issue #2.

- No less than three books from Jason scheduled for the upcoming year, with a translation of “The Mummy’s Secret”, which I believe is a collection of short gag strips, and the final book in Jason’s back-catalogue awaiting English translation. Then it’s on to the new one, “Why Are You Doing This?” and a mystery third book! Oooooooooooooh!

- Paul Hornschemeier will be producing three original graphic novels for Fantagraphics in as many years, with the first 80-page volume due in 05.

- The anthology title “Blood Orange” will expand to 80-pages and will be joined in July by a second anthology title, a quarterly with a fixed roster of 11 cartoonists, including the aforementioned Mr. Hornschemeier, Jeffrey Brown, Sophie Crumb (a new issue of “Belly Button Comix“ is also coming soon), Sammy Harkham (not from Fanta, but the fifth installment of the mighty “Kramer’s Ergot” anthology, edited by Harkham, is coming very very soon), Marc Bell, and others.

- A collection of Jim Woodring illustrations, and maybe a big collection of his awesome 'Jim' stories!

- A collection of stuff from one of the least-visible “Zap” cartoonists, Victor Moscoso.

And a lot more. Man, that sounds like a big year. And don’t forget more “Peanuts” and “Krazy Kat”…

*Hey! They gave out the Ignatz awards! A full review of nominees and winners is here.

In short:

- “Blankets” got Outstanding GN/Collection, and Craig Thompson got Outstanding Artist.

- Kevin Huizenga’s awesome “Glen Ganges” story from “Drawn and Quarterly Showcase” Vol. 1 won a richly deserved Outstanding Story. I’m not kidding; this story is worth buying the whole book for. It’s a superb mix of myth and suburban sprawl and magical realism and longing. I can’t wait for Huizenga’s new solo title “Or Else” from D&Q. Let Christopher Butcher’s advance review whet the appetite.

- Promising Young Talent went to Lauren Weinstein, for her work in “Kramer’s Ergot” #4, which I will finally be reading soon.

- Everybody seems to love “Finder”, like the Ignatz jury who handed Outstanding Series to Carla Speed McNeil. I need to check this stuff out…

- Outstanding Comic. “Eightball” #23. No surprise, and a perfectly fine choice, though a portion of me was really pulling for “The Stuff of Dreams” #2 to pull off an upset.

- Gabrielle Bell got Outstanding Mini for “Lucky” #3. Interestingly, that recent issue of “Arthur” with the Grant Morrison interview happened to feature some “Lucky” material. From what I’ve seen it looks like pretty standard autobiography stuff, though attractively made. I have zero familiarity with the rest of the nominated books so I can’t really compare.

- And Outstanding Web Comic goes to “American Elf”.

- Plus, Outstanding Debut (that is, a book debuting at SPX itself) went to “Teen Boat #6: Vote Boat” by Dave Roman and John Green. I’ve never heard of it, but it beat out some big names.

All in all, some really deserving winners this year!