Don’t be fooled by the time elapsed since my last inductions to the Parcell Press Special Collection. A great many hard-hitting, impressive, popular, and unique titles have come through the ranks in the last year or so. And, as always, each and every piece carried by Parcell Press has my personal stamp of approval. But to be honest, as the catalog grows and improves, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish the especially noteworthy from the rest of the selection. Imagine it as hunting for the shiniest piece of gold among a field of gold. Not a bad situation in which to find yourself, but a tricky thing to accomplish nonetheless.
Well, after careful observation over the last year, today’s two inductees — Lucia Gunzel’s Cranky Pants and Corinne Mucha’s My Every Single Thought — have proven themselves as glimmery and shiny beyond their peers.
I am proud to have been in charge of the production for Lucia Gunzel’s Cranky Pants. Lucia and her talented illustrator, Louis Forgione were both a pleasure to work with, and their passion for finally completing and self-publishing their collaborative project — which remained unpublished for some time before Summer 2010 — was contagious. I did my best to pour into the production of the book the same level of detail, fun, and enthusiasm as they injected into its creation. The finished product is a book that has broken established Parcell Press sales records and garnered much attention within the field of childrens literature. Is it a great book for any kid in your life? Yes. They’ll love the story and the pictures. Is it suited for a grown person? Of course. But the popularity alone has fashioned this to the Parcell Press Special Collection. There are rumors of a sequel. Let’s hope they’re true.
Corinne Mucha is a Chicago-based illustrator whose work can be seen in many forms, including her Xeric-funded book My Alaskan Summer, The Shortpants Observer #1, and more. I even happened to see a full-page piece by Corinne on the front cover of the Style section of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Uncanny! Her artwork is witty, charming, and her stories are funny and familiar, making for comics that are easy to recommend and fun to read.My Every Single Thought has continued to be wildly popular for all of these reasons. This book, Corinne writes in the introduction, “chronicles the author’s attempt to get over an old relationship, and come to terms with a saucy new label — single.” A common experience, Corinne presents her illustrated anecdotes as unique and lighthearted and yet they can be related to easily. As the comic has consistently done well in the Parcell Press catalog for so long and continues to attract attention from new and returning Parcell Press customers, it is a natural addition to the Special Collection. One glimpse at its pages will win you over.
Running a printing press is my favorite thing. The smells aren’t always so hot, but the sights and sounds can’t be beat. The cacophony of moving machine parts, belts, and springs seems unnaturally able to result in such precision and beauty. There’s something poetic and reckless about each print job. Every one of them at one point feels impossible; the intimidation of the challenge never truly acknowledged until the prints are dry and the press is cleaned. I’ve done it hundreds of times and still I’m thrilled and surprised when the job is not only done, but also looks great.
It’s a weird, ugly-sounding orchestra, and I’m the conductor. I like it so much.
Cranky Pants (L. Gunzel & L. Forgione) coming off the press. July 10-11. CVaMMS, Richmond, VA.
Cranky Pants (L. Gunzel & L. Forgione) coming off the press. July 10-11. CVaMMS, Richmond, VA.
This year’s zine and comic fest season is coming to a close, so I’m hunkering down a bit in my little studio office to sift through the piles of catalog addition submissions so I can continue to add even more great new items through the winter. I’ve gotten a ton of awesome new stuff in stock over the last month or so, and this year I’ll spare you my stump speech on how zines and comics make the best holiday gifts ever. I will say, though, that for all you newsletter subscribers, I am offering a shot of holiday savings this year.
FREE SHIPPING: All US orders are eligible for free Media Mail shipping with the coupon code freeshippingplease.
Oh, and hey, guess what: if you had registered with Parcell Press and signed up for the Newsletters, you’d have a whole grip of additional coupon codes to use this holiday season. But, since you’re just reading the blog, you only get the one.
But, who are you to need a list to guide you toward the best zine, comic, and indie book gift ideas? We’ve added loads of new titles in time for the holidays, so you’ve got plenty more to choose from. And, don’t forget the standby: a Parcell Press Gift Certificate, available in various amounts.
Hope everyone is well. Stay warm and drop me a line to say hi!
Rules are made to be broken, right? Well, good then, because I long ago promised myself I wouldn’t divulge all of the major monthly Parcell Press Newsletter secrets and treasures to just everyone. I promised myself, “Self, that kind of news is for people kin’ a’nuff to subscribe.” But from time to time, I can’t help but want to share all of the secrets and treasures with the whole world.
Also, about a year ago I invented “Two-New Tuesday,” a clever plan by which I’d add just two new titles to the Parcell Press catalog per week, so as not to overextend myself or my customers, and to get folks in the habit of checking in weekly. I mean, who can forget a phrase like “Two-New Tuesday”? Well, the more new things I pick up for the shop and the more excited I am to share them, I have slowly but surely broken that rule as well.
So, I’m here to just get this rule-breaking over with once and for all. First, I am just itching to share this Coupon Code with each and every one of you. Typing sweaterweather09 into the coupon code field when you checkout will take 15% off your order total! Fuh real. But be quick, because this coupon code won’t work after 10.30.09.
Second, I’ve added about a bagillion new titles to the catalog lately. They’re all great and I’m really excited to show them to you. Here’s a little breakdown:
17 Strangers by Katie Haegele
DIY or Don’t We #1
My Time Annihilator
Please Be Brave
Quotidian & Friends
Runx Tales #2
Things I’ve Lost / Things I’ve Found
Truck Face #13
You Idiot Book
Can you believe it? That’s a lot of new stuff. Feels good to get all this out of my system. Now maybe I won’t be hyping out so much when I’m packing up your orders.
If you happen to be near Los Angeles (I’m not), you should stop by Skylight Books at 1814 N. Vermont Avenue and take a gander at their nice selection of mini comics and comic zines, many of which are supplied direct from Parcell Press. It’s a great way to touch and feel some of the greatest little illustrated books available before buying, and you can feel good knowing you’re supporting independent artists, Parcell Press, and your neighborhood bookstore. Be sure to say thanks to Skylight for bringing the best in creative self publishing under their roof.
If you run an independent bookstore interested in stocking anything in the Parcell Press catalog, please visit our Wholesale Information page and get in touch to enjoy our personal support for wholesale accounts and handsome bulk discounts.
Philadelphia’s own Katie Haegele — who I’m happy to say is one of my great zine friends and one of the most talented writers I know — was recently invited to write a piece for the Philadelphia Inquirer about her experience crafting and publishing her book Obsolete, which, you may have heard, is a member of the Parcell Press Special Collection.
Of course I’d like you to go read the article because I’m proud and flattered that Katie gave Parcell Press a little shout out. But mostly, I think Katie’s depiction of the art of self-publishing does us all justice without giving too much away. And what’s more, she smartly addresses the somewhat exhausted question that every mega-media audience loves to ask: “Aren’t zines being murdered by the Internet?” or, basically, why the hell are you doing this when you can just write a blog.
I know I’ve got a strange way of living. It may not seem like it from the outside looking in, on account of there being loads of really normal things I shamelessly value about my lifestyle – going to the movies, pampering the living hell out of my dog, eating out, riffing on toilet-humor jokes, obsessing over my Netflix account, watching the news, indulging in a television series here and there; you know, those sorts of things. I make no excuses, I like what I like and most people around me know that there just ain’t no reason to go around the block to impress me. I mostly just think hanging out and tooting around are pretty good.
But from the inside looking in, this whole business of my existence is a risky and reckless mess. Sure, I consider myself fairly motivated, determined, persistent and so on, however, I have a tendency to over accumulate projects and goals, maybe even to scatter my energy and ideas across so much ethereal and real space that nothing appears to connect. These are tough moments for me. I like plans. I like blueprints and I like tangible, tactile things. I want to touch and see both the conception of and creation of projects.
This decision to move from Richmond to Philadelphia may have come as a surprise to some of you. After all, my return to Virginia in 2006 after just six months spent living out of state was a widely publicized relief. (Well, at least, it was widely publicized on this website and in letters, e-mails, and phone calls to friends). I’m a Virginian after all, born and raised in and enamored with the Old Dominion. Well, the short, simple, and honest explanation for the relocation is that Juliette needed to go to law school and Temple was the best place for her to go. Ensuring that she’s able to do fulfilling and important work with her life is crucial to both of us and our future together. Simple!
But I’ve got some natural insecurity about bouncing around, uprooting and re-rooting, only to bounce around a bit more. Oh there’s a romance to the freedom and excitement of relocations. But there’s a recklessness and an impracticality to it as well that wears out my cranium as I search for the logic, the blueprint, the tangible in the assembly and disassembly of home and work. You see, I’m trying to do something unique with my life: build some sort of art empire through which to publish and create, print and network, support and expand this sort of talent in the people around me. Don’t I need to sit still for that to effectively happen?
It may not seem strange, but I consider my strange way of living to be that I nearly always confuse living with building. After all, they’re both verbs but they’re both nouns as well. Make a living, make a building. Continue living, continue building. To me, the ideas are both synonymous and interchangeable.
The best advice I ever heard on writing was a simple maxim to combat inertia: stay in the room. If you want to finish a story and you want it to be good, stay in the room. Don’t walk the dog. Don’t make coffee. Don’t go out for a smoke. Don’t put it away until tomorrow. Stay in the room. And hell, if you’re not in the room to begin with, you’ve got bigger trouble.
In Richmond, I left behind a big idea that had only just begun to take root and grow. It was a full-service specialty print shop, run by artists and artisans, blending old standard commercial notions with a kind of higher-touch, something separate from Parcell Press but obviously connected, something that could withstand the advance of technology and be a strong foundation to the art empire. It was an idea that was fully equipped, fully housed, and came complete with friends as partners. It was agonizing to leave it and reinforces my feeling of recklessness. And though I am committed to retaining productive contact, the growth of this project is on pause at least for a while. So the blueprint is useless, the plan is intangible, and I have a touch of shame for having disobeyed the best creative advice I’ve ever heard. I got distracted and left the room.
In Philadelphia, I re-launched the Parcell Press website with the help of my brother. It was a kind of bittersweet advancement. An old idea finally coming to fruition mostly on account of having moved and being underemployed with an itch to build. Now that the site is live and functioning and I am back to the day-to-day of running the online shop and communicating with artists and customers, pursuing new projects to highlight, and feeling the pulse of independent publishing below my fingers, I’m realizing something else: in favor of building the print shop, I left the room a year ago on the Parcell Press distribution operation, the website, and to an extent, the zine world in general.
So now I find myself by default back in the Parcell Press “room.” And though I do think this bouncing around is reckless and it’s certainly not the most logical thing my mind has encountered, I’m actually beginning to feel like I’m building again. I’m starting to see the blueprint, and noticing that, for me, staying in the room means sticking to a project that I created. I have a lot of plans – a lot of rooms to stay in. That’s what my strange life is all about, right? Spending time working on all these different projects so that I can ultimately tie them together to build a kind of empire? Make a living, make a building, continue living, continue building.
I still love the simple advice stay in the room. It’s an unforgiving confrontation of the susceptibility everyone has to wander off, to get frustrated and distracted, to toss a piece of work in the trash rather than to finish it. It’s a notion that compels me to complete something when I didn’t expect I could, and completion is a triumph. The thing is, though, it’s just not a maxim that applies well to the types of projects that exist in more than one room. And hot damn, I am really looking forward to connecting all these rooms together – print shop, Parcell Press, law degree and all – to build an awesome house.