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Humble Beginnings

I drove to Kevin Huizenga’s house because I was going stir crazy in my own house. The fact that Kevin lives 10 hours away didn’t seem like that big of a deal. Lots of snow and ice in between our two houses. I saw two tractor trailer trucks jackknifed by the side of the road. It was worth it though. Hanging out with Kevin always warms my heart.

I dug through Kevin’s library and found these gems. I haven’t seen many of the comics pictured below in over ten years. They just disappeared off the face of the Earth into collections like Kevin’s. These are the types of original editions that I never see anywhere for sale ever. Except on eBay, I guess. Please enjoy.

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Big Questions number one by Anders Nilsen (below). It doesn’t say “number one” on it anywhere. There is also no date. I think it is from 1998.

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Big Questions number two (below). It has a date of 1999.

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Big Questions number three (below) from 2000. This issue is credited to Abel Brekhus.

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Big Questions number four (below) from 2001. This is the first issue that was “partially funded by a community arts assistance program grant from the city of Chicago Dept. of Cultural Affairs and the Illinois Arts Council”.

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I forgot how “abstract” the story gets at times.

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Big Questions number five (below) from 2002.

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Back cover of number five (below).

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Big Questions number six (below) from 2004. This is the first issue that says “Airplane Books” in the indicia. Issues four and five say “Airplane” after the author’s name but it isn’t clear that Nilsen is referring to the word as name of the publisher.

Nilsen

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Inside back cover of issue six (below).

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Back cover to issue six (below).

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Big Questions number seven (below) from 2005. This is the first issue published by Drawn and Quarterly.

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This is the soft cover collection of all fifteen issues (below). I like how the drawing of the back cover of issue six (shown above) was what eventually became the cover of the collection. I think I like the drawing from issue six better. Just sayin’.

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What’s really interesting is that the first page of the story in the collection is not the first page from the original self published edition of number one (shown above). Nilsen uses the second page from the original edition of number one as the first page of the collection. He also makes the most minor change to the first panel. Can you see how he fixed the vertical line on the right side of the first panel (below)? Collection version on left. Self published edition on right.

 

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Also, in the self published version of number four (shown on right below) is very different that the collection (on left). First, there is the black in between the panels–but more striking is the different sequencing of the action in the small panels. Look closely.

 

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Optic Nerve number one by Adrian Tomine (below) from 1991. Arguably one of the most important mini-comics of all time.

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Tomine

Tomine

Optic Nerve numbers four and five from 1992 and 1993 respectively (below).

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I really like seeing the contents pages for these issues. I tried to find Tomine’s collection 32 Stories in Kevin’s vast library to no avail (it ain’t in alphabetical order–and he’s married to a librarian!). I doubt that these contents pages were reproduced in the collection of these early mini-comics.

Tomine

Tomine

 

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Thanks for reading. Thanks to Kevin and his wife Katie for putting up with me. Apologies to the rest of the St. Louis crew for missing hangout nite. I gotta drive back to Pittsburgh! And then I’m off to Angoulême!!! Over and out!!


4 Responses to Humble Beginnings

  1. Bill says:

    Frank, I found copies of all of those early Big Questions issues at a local shop in Pittsburgh within the last year! I think someone had (foolishly) liquidated their collection. Would love to happen across some of those Optic Nerve issues…

    • Frank Santoro says:

      You wisely left out your last name on purpose so that I can’t look you up in the phone book didn’t you…?

      • Sophie Yanow says:

        I had a pile of old Optic Nerve and other Bay Area stuff gifted to me back when I was working at Comic Relief… also I think had a bunch of puppytoss associated acts… I should dig ‘em out next time I go home.

  2. afdumin says:

    Abel Brekhus!

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