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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Five Choice Books of Small Press Expo Book 2: Food/Fall

By Max Evry

It is fun to imagine the whir of hundreds of printing presses and, yes, Xerox machines working tirelessly in the days and hours before the Small Press Expo kicks off each year. The two-day celebration of independent comics in Bethesda, Maryland attracts the many brave souls who put their hearts, minds, and cold-hard cash into getting their cartoon visions out to attendees.

With so many titles to choose from, it can be difficult to tell the wheat from the chaff. Is it a beautifully drawn title, or merely one with a nice cover? This series will shine the spotlight on five authors who represent the most promising emerging talents on the indie comics scene, including exclusive interviews where they discuss their process, their inspiration, and their joy in creating these works.

“FOOD/FALL” by Joseph Lambert

“Food/Fall” is a charming entry by Lambert with remarkably vivid use of color. In fact, the second of two title stories conceptually revolves around color when a father and son encounter Fall itself, anthropomorphized as a giant mopey guy with a hat made out of a pumpkin. When Fall tries to put some new colors into his seasonal palette he is outdone by Spring, who turns all the trees into gaudy primary colored oddities. The other story, “Food”, features a strange brother-sister pair who steal food from people and then try to escape Earth with their loot in a spherical spaceship, only to be thwarted by a flying tentacled Space Whale straight out of Lovecraft.

As you can probably surmise, whimsy is the name of the game here, but Lambert’s renderings are so rich and lively they become magnetic. The art is pleasing to the eye in a way many indie comics aspire to but often fail to reach, and with as many as 12 to 17 panels per page the creator could almost be a benign twin brother of Chris Ware…the good twin.

You're part of the Sundays online comics collective. How does making your comics available online enable you to build readership and (hopefully) make money off your work?

JOSEPH LAMBERT: I don't know if it helps make any money other than helping build readership. The kinds of strips and stories we do aren't usually immediately marketable or even describable so it's nice to have people familiar with the kind of work we do so that they'll know what we're doing when they see us or our comics at conventions or in shops or whatever.

"Food/Fall" had some of the richest, most vivid colors of any book at SPX. What techniques do you use? Did it make your work stand out for a lot of attendees?

LAMBERT: Thanks. Yeah, I think the size and color make it accessible to most people. It's my most standard size, 7.5" by 10.25", as opposed to the rest of my books, which are all different, smaller sizes. It's also 20 pages of comics with two full stories in there. So hopefully people feel like they're getting a good deal. I color the book in Photoshop. And I really really try to keep my palette limited when coloring in Photoshop, since I can do pretty much whatever I want in there, as opposed to screen-printing or spot coloring where the options are limited to a few.

Where do you want to see yourself going in terms of your future career in this industry?

LAMBERT: I'm working on a biography of Helen Keller for The Center for Cartoon Studies biography series by Hyperion Books. And I'm putting together a collection of my mini-comic and anthology stories for Secret Acres. And after a while I'll have a few strips in Mome, the Fantagraphics anthology series. I would really like to do a few children's books. I feel like the kinds of mini-comics I make would translate just fine to the children's book format. And all the adjustments I would have to make in the areas that don't fit would be fun and excite me.

Check out Joseph Lambert HERE: http://submarinesubmarine.com/

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