We're full of publication.

*(UPDATE 1:31 AM 6/16/06) All the answers are in this interview. All of them. (UPDATE #2 2:12 PM) The answers are gone now. You had your chance.

*Old Comics Alert Dept: Oh boy! Taschen’s big red Little Nemo: 1905-1914 is back in print, and quite a steal at under $35! It’s a 9.5 x 12.2, 432-page monster, collecting the entirety of Winsor McCay’s most popular work (excluding the 1924-26 revival). No, it’s not nearly as big as the more recent Little Nemo in Slumberland - So Many Splendid Sundays! collection (and McCay always benefits from added size), nor has the source material undergone as extensive a restoration as the latter book lavished upon it, but for those who want to see as much of Little Nemo as possible, this is far and away the easiest and most inexpensive option (your other choice being to hunt down Fantagraphics’ long-gone multi-volume reprint project from over a decade ago). Bud Plant has it, as does Last Gasp. Amazon in the US doesn’t seem to be listing it, though prices on used copies of the prior edition have dropped accordingly (from the $100+ they used to command). I have the prior edition, and it’s neat. (found at the Journal board)

Mineshaft #17

It’s good to know that we’re living in a comics world where unique publications like Mineshaft can make it for seven years and seventeen issues, still retaining all of the flavor of a homegrown zine while boasting a high-powered lineup of contributors and enjoying distribution to bookstores and the Direct Market via Fantagraphics - it’s still editors/publishers Everett Rand & Gioia Palmieri in charge, the contents of each issue apparently dictated by whatever they find to be interesting among their correspondents’ things. That said correspondents are in large part legends of the classic underground scene makes each issue a treat for those interested in such an area of comics focus, though the focus here is definitely not only on comics. A good sense of the pervading tone can be divined from an Inside the Mineshaft editorial by Palmieri, drifting over the course of three and a half pages from an account of a recent concert, to a visit by Kim Deitch & Pamela Butler, to the details behind printing the magazine; there’s a real ‘what we have been doing lately’ feel at work, a personal stamp that extends to what we get from the various storied names attached.

This issue (64 pages, $6.95) is particularly heavy on sketchbook material, the feature attraction being 15 pages of unseen Robert Crumb, many of them complete comics, stuffed with nervous angst and queasy humor, not to mention a level of accomplished, seemingly effortless detail that surpasses so much of what’s worked over by other artists for ‘formal’ presentation. The level of solidity and completeness in Crumb’s sketchbook pages surely must aid their popularity, a veritable shadow career compacted into bound, personal tomes - and Crumb’s non-sequential work from photos and live people is no less impressive, featuring visions of everything from Hugh Hefner to Abu Ghraib. Also included are six pages from Sophie Crumb, and two drawings by Aline Kominsky-Crumb, making it a Crumb family special. Three sketchbook pages from Spain Rodriguez and one from Peter Poplaski (the latter actually being a preview of next issue’s feature) hold up the non-Crumb side of things, though there’s also drawings from the aforementioned Deitch & Butler, as well as Carol Tyler and Robert Armstrong.

The cover is by Frank Stack, who also contributes (under his Foolbert Sturgeon pseudonym) a nine-page opening chapter to The Adventures of Dirty Diana, a parodic spicy jungle quest serial involving a girl explorer getting captured and stripped by wild natives. Intermittently amusing and dotted with possibly-intentional typographic and continuity errors, it works best as a vehicle for the artist’s unique visual approach, his use of shading and thick black jabbing lines and leaping detail suggestion unlike anything else one can readily conjure. Stack also provides a letter to the editor, as do several of the contributors - topics range from Robert Crumb’s feelings on the irrationality of God, to Stack’s favorite Classics Illustrated artists, to Armstrong’s account of the life of Leon Theremin, to a correspondence between Deitch and his father Gene regarding western movie serials. Whatever pops up. There’s also no surprise to run into an illustrated reminiscence by Bruce Simon on the days of 8mm and 16mm film clubs, or a series of 40 tips from Bill Griffith on comics creation (ranging from the nitty-gritty of which pen points and inks come recommended to permeating philosophy - “Cartoon characters have souls.”). Whatever pops up.

I always find myself interested in Mineshaft, though I’ll cop to being generally intrigued by (and familiar with) the artists in its orbit - the magazine, while friendly enough to newcomers, does not go out of its way to provide much context for its contents. It is generally presumed that you’ll find this rummage of words and drawings as interesting as Rand & Palmieri do, which is perhaps part of its charm; it all really does feel like something put together for no discernible reason other than to provide a vehicle for broadcasting good things from good people. I happen to agree that it’s good. Maybe you will too: copies of this and earlier issues can be had at the official site.