06
Feb
10

Retrospecticus: STAPLEGENIUS #6 (June 2001)

Staplegenius #6--cover by myself, Nels, and Mike Toft. And yes, copies of STAPLEGENIUS did actually manage to make their way into an actual work-house, and were extremely popular among the cons

    Like I said in the Retrospecticus for issue #5, two big but despairing events were occurring at the time of creation and publication: 1) Nels, the last hold-out STAPLEGENIUS collaborator, was focusing on his band END TRANSMISSION and effectively leaving STAPLEGENIUS as Pat and Matt had before him, and 2) I was creating a universe in which to play and tell longer, connected stories of a regular cast of characters.  With the exception of STAPLEGENIUS #9 and #11 (which still seem more like flukes than anything), issue #6 would mark the last ‘old school’ style STAPLEGENIUS–meaning lots of gags with a couple shorter stories made by multiple creators. 

MIKE TOFT:

   MIKE TOFT was a godsend.  Just as the STAPLEGENIUS team was breaking apart, Mike contacted me out of the blue (via actual Snail Mail) by sending me copies of his mini-comic BRAIN FOOD and a nice letter about how much he like STAPLEGENIUS.  He asked if I’d like to meet and discuss making mini-comics.  He, like I, knew there were other creators in town, he just didn’t know how to contact any of them.  I agreed, and shortly after we met at SPYHOUSE coffee shop.  Both meeting Mike and this specific location would become very significant to me (and the Minneapolis/St Paul cartooning scene in general) about a year, but that was still off in the future.  In the present of early summer 2001 what this meant was that Mike contributed to STAPLEGENIUS #6 a few shorts that were to be a part of his upcoming BRAIN FOOD #7.  I have to give Mike a lot of credit in helping keep the STAPLEGENIUS dream alive.  I was pretty bummed about the STAPLEGENIUS family falling apart, so it was wonderful having someone new in my corner cheering me on to keep doing more.

NELS:

    Even though NELS was busy with his band and touring and all that, he still did find some time to do some doodlin’:

 Oh Nels and those damn cats….Then, like now, I really wished Nels would do a page-a-day calendar of this stuff:

   And while Nels may have never delivered on the continued “ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF MONSTER PIG-FACE BOY”, he did make this gem:

   As for myself, I was still on the Mullet Clown and company jag.  What started as a one panel gag months earlier now transformed into the longest comic I’d made in about 10 years at that point (I was 25), and it clocks in at only a whopping eight pages:

   As you can see by how that ended, what started off being a lame excuse for an auto-bio comic was quickly becoming something weirder with storyline larger in scope than “Why don’t girl like me”.  I had lots if ideas I wanted to get out there.  My only problem as I see it (and as you can probably see by the above tale), is that I had no sense of “pacing” or “storytelling”.  I wasn’t scripting then drawing.  I was just doing–making scripts with pictures.  In my mind I was consciously choosing “telling” over “showing” (kind of the opposite of what comics are supposed to be doing…right?), but looking back it was laziness.  For example:

  So yeah…I’m not the proudest poppa in the world when it comes to this issues content, but I see now how it was all a learning process, and this issue was just another step in my still-evolving and highly questionable talents. 

  Next time:  I try a full-length story, and drag Nels kicking and screaming along with to do so.


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