Archive for the 'Mike Toft' Category


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 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.


    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.



pg 6-- art: Mike Toft, words: Brian Bastian

pg 6-- art: Mike Toft, words: Brian Bastian

BRIAN BASTIAN— A Writer? I thought McFarlane and Liefeld proved writers were passe 18 years ago?!  Who let him in?

MIKE TOFT— Ah, the sturdy wrist of Mike Toft.  As I’ve noted before, I owe a debt of gratitude to Mike Toft.  He’s a fabulous guy and a fabulous cartoonists.  Not  has he done his cracker-jack mini-comic BRAIN FOOD well over a decade (I think it qualifies for “Respected Institution” status now!), but he’s a founding member of the Minneapolis Cell of the International Cartoonists Conspiracy, a good chap to sit next to at a convention, and always there contributing strong for local comics projects like BIG FUNNY, MUSCLES AND FIGHTSALLEY CAT, and LUTEFISK SUSHI.  Now if we can just get him to do a 24 HOUR COMIC…a twelve hour comic?….eight?!…Come on, Mike!   Anyway…rumor has it Mike will not only have some fresh BRAIN FOOD for FALLCON, but he will also be lauching his own website SOON, SOON, SOON!!!  Stay tuned.

  Also:  A Moment of Silence, if you please…



MANLY TALES OF COWARDICE–issue three–pg 9(of 16), also: ‘zinefest’ jam and recap

pg 9

pg 9

   …To Be Continued…

   There she is–JOAN OF ARCHEOLOGY! A year or so before creating MANLY TALES OF COWARDICE, I had come up with Joan.  I had originally based Joan on my stepdaughter’s 7 to 10 year old idea of what an archaeologist is(Indiana Jones), and thought she would make a great lead character for a comic or young readers series.  I even at one point did a few pages of a first issue where Joan was to match wits with an elder and dastardly archaeologist over the ancient treasure known as THE BUDDHA SQUIRREL!  This however was at the tail-end of my “BY THE SEAT OF YOUR PANTS” comics-making approach and philosophy–basically, I’d come up with an idea, mull it over for awhile until a story was basically formed, and instead of writing a script I’d just dive right page-by-page and hope it all came together by the end.  Often times this way of going about making my comics worked out well enough, but this is one of those times where a few pages in I hit a brick wall and called it quits until I figured out where to go next. 

     I never figured out where to go next.

     Instead I did a couple other things “PANTS” style, and by the end of the last one I realized I NEEDED to start writing scripts.  Long form stories and series’ were never going to work out the way I wanted them to unless I had a much more concrete idea of what I was doing and where I was going before I ever started drawing panel one of page one.  And so, 24 HOUR and jam comics aside, I have yet to look back on this decision and am happier for it.

    So some time after that I started MANLY TALES, and one of my first ideas was to bring back the dorment JOAN as that I thought she’d make a great foil for Fleming.  I then quickly realized that giving Fleming a 10-year-old nemesis was a great pretext with which to flashback to his own childhood and help explain his casual disregard for life, especially if that life was the life of a child(Atlantis Lad). And so with those factors in mind, issue three was born. Why didn’t I reuse the BUDDHA SQUIRREL here as well? I dunno. I think its that subconscious “LAST CRUSADE” residue I mentioned on the post for page one.  But fear not, for the BUDDHA SQUIRREL does make his way into the MANLY TALES OF COWARDICE pages….you’ll just have to wait until issue five.



     This very special ZINEFEST jam was done by myself, RYAN DOW (, DANIEL J OLSON ( and MIKE TOFT (

    Ryan also did a pretty great ZINEFEST themed comic you can read at:

   So, yeah…ZINEFEST….

    I had such high hopes for ZINEFEST. I guess I figured a 2-day celebration of zines and indy comics (which was pretty well attended) would be a lot more….financially worthwhile.  Not to poo-poo the work SARAH MOREAN( is doing in organizing ZINEFEST, because she has really made ZINEFEST great (believe me, I did ZINEFEST its first year back in 2004 and vowed to never do it again, but Sarah has really turned it around and its become so well known and attended by both fans and vendors  that it’ll probably be moving into a bigger space next year), its just people seemed to treat it more as a place to go and see stuff, not so much with the buying.  As Ryan points out on the link above, there was a strangely high amount of people who would walk up, READ AN ENTIRE COMIC which they seemed to enjoy, put it down and either walk away in silence, or say “I’ll be back to buy something” and then…ya know…never come back. 

    I wonder if the problem is systemic–a depressive economy and all that.  It certainly couldn’t be because my stuff sucks….right?

    Either way, I’m really glad I’m posting my work online now.  At least I know people are reading it every day.  If I had spent all this weekend at ZINEFEST and come home to an internet-less world, I would be crushed and probably give up making comics for many months.  Instead, I’m going to go back to work–on FALSE WITNESS #2, TOMMY CHICAGO #3, MANLY TALES OF COWARDICE #’s 6 and 7, and the couple new projects me and some of my co-Conspirators came up with this weekend–and plowing ahead content in the knowledge that even though I do this to scratch my own itch, at least someone somewhere is having their itch scratched virtually as well.

   Not that it was all bad…There were some fantastic highlights, like the 6 year-old boy who really wanted his mom to buy him one of Dan’s SUPER MAXI-PAD GIRL dolls(, seeing Ryan’s adrenaline ker-splode after his open-mike reading of JACK AND ZACK MAKE A COMIC(, the great sales for FALSE WITNESS(, all the great trades, and all the great Conspirators who came out to support us and the indy comic/zine scene(Thanks all. You know who you are, and you ROCK!).  And most importantly, if it wasn’t for ZINEFEST I would never have come up with a great idea for my City Pages submission( which, if all goes according to plan, will never, ever see the light of day(as far as the actual CITY PAGES goes. It’ll be posted here though when the CITY PAGES “Comix Issue” come out next month).

    Now onto FALLCON!!!! (…kill me please….)




      The second pin-up from issue two is from MIKE TOFT ( who does a great mini-comic called BRAIN FOOD, and is an old tried and true friend of the STAPLEGENIUS empire.

     Back in 2000(or 2001, it’s kinda fuzzy) when the mini-comics I was putting out were in fact just called STAPLEGENIUS, Mike was the first(only) person to send me both a letter of praise, and his BRAIN FOOD  comics as a “trade”(I was just leaving STAPLEGENIUS at stores around town for free).  Mike suggested in his letter(yes, an actual letter! Remember those?) that even though there were appearantly some other zinester and mini-comic people in town, no one really knew anyone and perhaps we should meet up and talk shop.

     And so we did! In fact, we met up at SPYHOUSE COFFEE in Uptown–a place we’d continue to meet up at occasionally for the next year and a half or so until it went on to be the first official home of the INTERNATIONAL CARTOONIST CONSPIRACY. In fact, it was Mike who gave me the heads-up that the Conspiracy was forming to begin with and who I have to thank for insuring that I’ve been a proud Conspirator since day one.  

    Mike and I also always seem to end up sitting next to each other at every MN comic convention–and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    And while there is a link above for some of his work at the Conspiracy site, Mike is working on prepping his stuff for a BRAIN FOOD website all of his own, and I can’t wait!   When its up and running I’ll let you know it’s address



    Wow, Mike…look at us: from actual hand-written letters and photocopied mini-comics done on our own to the giant and wonderful comraderie of the Cartoonist Conspiracy and the magical world wide web.  My how we’ve grown.

   Thanks Mike!



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