January 24th, 2009
Uh oh, what’d I do? I spent this month’s shipping budget on postage stamps. Why’d I do that? Because postage stamps are beautiful little print critters and I think the outgoing Parcell Press packages will look better wearing them than wearing a sticker from the post office counter.
January 9th, 2009
Not to brag or anything, but I get some really awesome mail. Always have. As an enterprising and epistolizing youth, I attempted to create a pen pal network so vast, I hoped, that I’d barely have time enough to attend elementary school with all of the letters I needed to write. I’ve gone through various mail-related obsessions, but for nearly two decades I’ve been a regular mailbox-checker, a post-office-line-stander, and generally, a postal enthusiast. Mail art? Love it! The Committee of Correspondence? One of my favorite nuggets of the history of the American Revolution! A long-standing obsession with philately? Check. (Thanks, Dad!) Dear Mr. Henshaw? You know, I didn’t really like that one so much, but mostly because you never got read Mr. Henshaw’s response. Oh, and there weren’t envelopes to open and stamps to collect.
In any case, I’ve had countless keys to countless Post Office boxes, and currently I’ve got two on my ring; one each for a box in both towns in which there exists a Parcell Press Bureau (that’s Philadelphia and Richmond if you weren’t aware). Sending packages out and bringing mail home every day is one of the pleasant little rhythms I abide by.
Thus begins the newest Parcell Press Blog Series, “Mail Call,” in which I feature photos of some of the pretty mail I bring home and send out, or even some other postal-related excitement.
The box photographed above contains copies of the brand new Bullshit Frank & Gorilla Joe by Michaela Colette Zacchilli! Check the new catalog additions on Tuesday, January 13 to see it first hand. Thanks for the great mail, Mickey!
December 26th, 2008
Obsolete and Restcure Revival are the latest zines to be added to the glorious ranks of the Parcell Press Special Collection. Not only have these zines been remarkably popular in the last few months, but they’ve impressed me in more than a few ways.
Katie Haegele has been writing zines since at least 2003 when I first met her at the Philly Zine Fest. I meet a lot of people at zine fests and often, unfortunately, I either forget a name-face combination or just never really hear again from someone who seems to emit a limitless amount of enthusiasm for writing, self-publishing, creating, and reading zines. Katie was showing off her zine Word Math, which surprised me as one of very few poetry zines that was both engaging and unique. This was the early zine work of a writer already very well practiced and very passionate. Katie has since produced such classics as Hallowing of a House, The La-La Theory, White Blackbirds, and many more. A truly talented storyteller who adores and perfects her craft, Katie is a particularly passionate and accessible poet. Her self-published book of poems, Obsolete, was released in March of 2008 and has turned quite a few heads since. Not only is it very well-conceived — a collection of 26 separate poems each inspired by an antiquated English word — but it is beautifully designed and masterfully printed (if I may say so myself). Leave it to Katie Haegele to push the envelope on self-publishing and to successfully package her very unique voice into something both rugged, professional, and independent.
I have to come clean: Travis Robertson and Max Hubenthal are my tight Virginia homies; they’re exceptionally talented printmakers with whom I continue to share a print studio in North Richmond, and so you can call me biased, but there’s no question that they’re really two of the most exciting illustrators and artists that I know. When we’re all fortunate enough that these two dudes are living in the same town, Travis and Max collaborate on illustrations, printing methods, and the construction of their books. Restcure Revival, a product of this collaboration, is a fun and complicated zine (or piece of book art, even) that combines printing methods and styles in such a way that three mini comic zines become a single book, and that one oversized poster screen print becomes its cover. As many print art enthusiasts have already, when you approach Restcure Revival, you’ll find something like a Russian doll that becomes bigger as it gets smaller, and the result of print artisans’ obsession.
October 24th, 2008
Last Known Address by Niku Arbabi and Adrift by JP Coovert are Parcell Press’s two most popular titles of the last two months. In fact, Last Known Address is at least a couple years old by now but has continued to be popular as Niku Arbabi (Austin, TX) has built quite a following for herself. A detailed, prolific, effusive, and enthusiastic zinester, mail artist, and crafter, Niku’s other titles include Postal Curiosities & Delights, the Ms. Films DIY Guide to Film & Video, Polaroid-Celluloid, Scrappy, and more. Niku is one of the most determined and ambitious zinesters I’ve met, and Last Known Address is a great example of her capabilities. Remaining a favorite of mine since its publication, LKA is a collection of stories surrounding the different spaces and places that Niku has called home. From the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Durham, NC, abroad, and Texas, Niku paints great portraits of each place and muses on the advantages and disadvantages of each. It’s sure to be captivating to anyone who’s ever moved or wants to move, which is probably why it seems to have such universal appeal.
JP Coovert (Minneapolis) attended the Center for Cartoon Studies and is the co-founder of One Percent Press, a mini-comic publisher and record label. Like Niku, he’s got a long list of published work from mini comics to compilations and larger books as well. Adrift is almost a year old but has been more popular at Parcell Press in the last month than ever. JP has a very clean and pleasant style to his energetic illustrations, and in particular, Adrift is a virtually text-free narrative examining adventure, loneliness, and friendship. And dang, is it one handsome little book. JP also does the Clutch-inspired journal comic Simple Routines, and has a new full-size comic called Press Start and Fight available which came off the press in March.
I’m proud to add these two as the first additions to the Special Collection. They’ve been very popular and they’re a couple of my favorites. Look for another couple of inductees within the next few weeks.
October 22nd, 2008
Through Parcell Press, I have a long history of offering a vast number of fascinating zines, comics, art pieces, and books to an equally vast and fascinating audience of readers and collectors with awesome taste in print art. Every one of these little constructions is special and exciting in one way and/or another. Over the years, though, a select bunch of titles have really hit a collective sweet spot with purveyors of fine zines. These are the ones that seem to be included in everyone’s order, the zines I can barely keep enough copies of in stock to match the demand. These are the ones I recommend to everyone who asks, the ones I place at the front of my zine fest table and point to first when someone casually asks, “What’s good?”
Longtime customers may remember a fantastic zine by the name of One Fine Mess, written by Erin & Dan, or Christoph Meyer’s timeless classic mini comic The Heart Star. Titles like these deserve the attention they receive. There are more, many more. And many more to come.
It is thus that I introduce you to the Parcell Press Special Collection. Henceforth, my discerning readers, I’ll be adding even more shine to the shimmer of these best-selling, much-loved, and wonderfully special titles. Do not confuse these titles with just any in my catalog, which is full of 100% quality. Neither should you confuse these with the Staff Picks, which are my way of suggesting to you which pieces in my catalog I personally find to be particularly charming. The Special Collection titles are a caliber unto themselves: pieces of print art that are remarkably popular among you and your kind, and deservedly so.
Tomorrow I add the first two titles to the Parcell Press Special Collection.
September 20th, 2008
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.
August 19th, 2008
Come to Virginia and see for yourself!
May 10th, 2008
First post. Welcome to the new Parcell Press. It’s prettier, obviously.