Thursday, January 23, 2014

Tony Solomun's The Quarterly with Kennedy Professor of Latin, Stephen Oakley

Hello,and thank you for reading my article,
This time around I chose for the subject at hand,The Roman historian,
Titus Livy, (59BC-17AD)
A strange and yet peculiar individual,who devoted his whole creative life on  transcribing the history of the great
Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire, in his series 'The History of Rome'.
Such an in depth and insightful history of his nation,throughout the ages has,was and is still unparalleled in its vast scope,though even so many of the volumes are lost to history itself,and only about 35 remain out of more than a 100,
I first found out about Livy through my treasured many Penguin Classics,
Therein I read the contributors list and found the name of Professor Stephen Oakley,
Immediately I researched his work and bought numerous books of his,
including A Commentary on Livy in its many volumes and Archaeological monograph of the early Roman state,I was immediately enthralled,

I was able to contact the Professor directly and asked him,as he has devoted a lot of time on Livy,indeed,I asked him what led him to begin his study on the man's work,to which he graciously replied with  

"I was first attracted to Livy because I was both interested in the history of the Roman Republic and in his narrative style. The more of him that I read, the more I enjoyed him.

And Indeed if he will return to the subject matter,

"I do hope to get back to writing commentaries on Livy in about 3 years."

I wholeheartedly thank the dear Professor for collaborating on this article,Mr Oakley is currently in the Cambridge University Faculty of Classics and the current Kennedy Professor of Latin,

you can find his books on amazon in its various iterations and directly from Oxford University Press,

Thank you and I will be writing more The Quarterly when time allows,

Tony Solomun

Friday, January 10, 2014

Tony Solomun's The Quarterly with Scott Mignola

Hello all,
My latest article of The Quarterly is with trailblazing new boutique publisher, Scott Mignola,
for the uninitiated, Scott is a brother of Hellboy Creator Mike Mignola,
Scott is charting new territory as a digital only small boutique publisher,
which is named 'Dog Boy Productions'. started in 2013,
To date he has published 3 books,including 'Carlo Collodi's The Adventures of Pinocchio',
along with his own effort
'Pinocchio's Forgotten Land'. which he has superbly written.
The latest he has released is a reprint of 'Ghosts I Have Met and Some Others'
by John Kendrick Bangs.
I was instantly impressed by Scott Mignola's  foray into digital publishing,and having at first been very apprehensive about the digital evolution of e-books,I was won over gradually by quality books in the digital format,and now simply cannot get enough of them,
I will always love print,though I understand and applaud the ongoing evolution of literature in whatever forms it may take,

I asked Scott Mignola if he would be willing to answer a few questions I had
about Dog Boy Productions and he was happy to, here is the interview,

1. Scott, you've done something different in not going for print publishing and heading straight to digital publishing. What are the pros, in your opinion, of doing that, and do you think the future is indeed digital?

The decision to go digital was purely financial. Dog Boy Productions started up as a means of publishing deserving work that traditional publishers won't touch because they don't smell a profit in it. By doing away with traditional publishing costs like paper and bookbinding and distribution, we can take chances on books we feel strongly about that might only sell a limited number of copies. A lot of exceptional work falls through the cracks that way. There needs to be a place for the square pegs, so we made a place. Maybe we should have called ourselves Square Holes Publishing.

Same goes for older works that were maybe popular a hundred years ago but have lapsed into relative obscurity, like John Kendrick Bangs' Ghosts I Have Met, which we put out in October with illustrations scanned from a 1898 first edition we were lucky enough to get our hands on.  We want to dust that stuff off and make it available to a new audience, inexpensively, packaged as nicely as the digital format allows with fun extras.

As for digital being the future of publishing, I think in a lot of ways it is. You could read a great book off a roll of toilet paper and it would still be great because, ultimately, it's just words. Your mind is the theater. Kids who are born into this technology, with smartphones and Kindles and iPads, they aren't going to have the same biases about reading on a screen as opposed to paper; it's second nature to them. And digital technology is evolving, it'll become more elegant and will continue to attract converts. So I'd say that digital wins, at least for convenience—I've got a dozen novels in my pocket right now—but there will always be a place for printed books. They have a soul to them and a history.

2. I read and quite enjoyed your first two publications, The Adventures of Pinocchio, and even moreso your own take on the classic character in Pinocchio's Forgotten Land, a truly distinct breath of fresh air. What are your plans for future publications? And do you envision writing more public domain characters in the future yourself?

Thanks. I love Pinocchio. The Carlo Collodi book has been bastardized and screwed with in so many different ways in movies and literature, I just wanted to do something that honored the original, and follows Pinocchio through the trials of being a real boy. I've toyed with the idea of writing another in the series, because the family dynamic you're left with at the end of Pinocchio's Forgotten Land is a really strange one and begs a lot of questions, but I can't say yet whether or not that'll ever happen.

There's another classic I'd like to expand on, but that's also on a back burner right now. I have the essence of it down, but it's missing something, that spark that'll make me need to write it and justify tampering with a literary masterpiece.

Right now we're just looking for more peculiar stuff to publish, new and old. Late winter or early spring we'll have another of our Digital Paperback Classics coming out, a truly bizarre children's book I didn't know existed until recently. The more books like that we can find, the better, so send us your ideas.


Again,I thank you for participating in this article,Scott,all the best,and I look forward to all future releases of Dog Boy Productions,

And I thank you,the reader for reading this article,

Tony Solomun

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fare Thee Well 2013,and Hello to 2014,

Hello all,sorry about the delay in posting a new blog,I've had a well earned break since Sept,since I wrote more than 1000 poems and prose,but in the meantime my mind has been buzzing with new ideas for new books and prose and art,

I've also lined up 3 new issues and articles of The Quarterly which you will see starting from January,I'm very blessed and proud of the creators I've gotten to collaborate for them,and of course there is no better compliment than to have collaborated with 3 Penguin Classics writers and contributors for The Quarterly,

My creative life goal was always to have done something for or with  Penguin Classics related in any way whatsoever,and I have done so 3 times over,There is no better feeling than that for me anyway,I 'm  in the meantime taking down notes for my 2nd novel,will be set in times of Antiquity which will require much research though I'm game for that,

Thank you for following my work,

see you all in 2014,

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Quarterly featuring Professor of Linguistics David Crystal OBE

Hello all,my latest article is a collaboration with Professor of Linguistics David Crystal OBE,
A master of the English Language, Mr Crystal has published over 100 books on various subjects, a lot of them on the english language,its origins and lexicon,
David Crystal has also published a number of books on William Shakespeare and has edited
Penguin Classics recent Dictionary of the English Language which was composed by the legendary writer and lexicographer Samuel Johnson,as well as host shows on BBC radio and tv,and so many other achievements I think it is worthwhile to visit his website to learn even more,at

I asked Mr Crystal him to do an interview with me and he gladly obliged,

 What first drew you to the work of Samuel Johnson and what effect has it had on your career?

I remember being fascinated by Johnson as a conversationalist long before I began to take a serious interest in his lexicography. But as I developed my interests in the history of English it became apparent that here we have a major figure, not only for his dictionary, but for his views on language, some of which were surprisingly modern, such as his expressed sorrow about dying languages because languages are 'the pedigree of nations'. The dictionary, of course, is extraordinary by any standards. For a book coming out later this month ('Wordsmiths and Warriors: the English Language Tourist's Guide to Britain') Hilary and I visited the garret in London where Johnson compiled the dictionary, and photographed it. Amazing that such a vast work could have come from such a small space! As for the effect on my career? Well, he has provided me with content for several publications. And he's enabled me to meet some wonderful enthusiasts. I was President of the Johnson Society a few years ago, and laid the wreath on his tomb in Westminster Abbey last year. Splendid occasions.

 and William Shakespeare has contributed countless words to the English lexicon and language,which word(s) do you find the most endearing?  

As for the Shakespeare question, well, I don't do 'endearing'. As a linguist, I find all words equally fascinating, in that each has an individual history and a unique range of usage, so I haven't got a 'favourite'. On the other hand, I do find certain aspects of Shakespeare's use of langauge especially apperaling, such as his readiness to engage in functional shift - the use of a noun as a verb, and auchlike. When York says 'Grace me no grace, nor uncle me no uncle', I see a linguistic creativity which is at the heart of English, and which acts as a role model for contemporary users. 

Thank you very much Sir,I really appreciate that,David, many good wishes to you,

Tony Solomun

Monday, September 9, 2013

Tony Solomun's The Quarterly featuring Jeffrey Brown,

Tony Solomun's
The Quarterly

typeset in Sabon,the main font used in many Penguin Classics books,

Hello and thank you for reading my book,I have been writing The Quarterly for a number of years now,
This series of books is dedicated to various writers and artists,of any format,
In most cases the creator who the issue is dedicated to collaborates in a way with myself for the book,
In the first volume,Chris Ware,personally approved and gave me the go ahead to publish the book,
the second volume included an interview with 3 time Emmy Award winner Gary Panter,
whilst following volumes had a cover by King-Cat creator, John Porcellino,essays by Alan Moore's
daughter and son-in-law Leah Moore and John Reppion,as well as interviews with Shannon Wheeler, who is the creator of Too Much Coffee Man and a New Yorker cartoonist.

For this volume I contacted good friend and versatile creator Jeffrey Brown,the writer and artist of
Clumsy,Unlikely and AEIOU as well as many many other graphic novels,Mr Brown was very gracious and kind enough to collaborate on an interview and open to any questions I had for before I proceed,I would like to say a massive thank you to Jeffrey Brown.

To say Jeffrey Brown is a diverse and versatile creator is a large understatement,Mr Brown has proven himself in so many mediums its difficult to list them all,Though he has done it all,and continues to do so at a prolific rate,
Jeffrey Brown is a fairly young creator who has published quite an in depth and large body of work,moreso than the majority of creators have done who are 20-30 years older than him, with this behind him he surely has an even more fruitful career ahead of him,
He has written on many subjects,ranging from love,relationships,toys,autobiographical,antedates,even cats and as of recent times Star Wars books,
His work transcends all mediums,genres and norms,when one is truly enmeshed and into his work,one fully understands the breadth and versatility of one Jeffrey Brown,
I only found out about his work in 2010,with Clumsy,at first I wasn't fully into his artwork style to be honest,though after time it grew on me,and ever since I have liked its evolution,now I cannot imagine Mr Brown having any other art style,though he mixes it up very well and when a project calls for a change,Jeffrey moves with the flow,
He can do black and white, as he has done with a majority of his autobiographical books with top shelf productions,
yet he can also illustrate in colour very fluidly as well,with his Incredible Change-Bots series of books along with his recent Star Wars books and most recent release of 'A Matter of Life'.
Simply put, Jeffrey Brown is in a league of his own truly,he constantly entertains and provokes thought,
I look forward to what he does next.

Brief Book Review

Darth Vader and Son

Darth Vader and Son is the first of a series of all-ages Star Wars books published by Chronicle Books that Jeffrey Brown has done,
Within this book are an array of jokes,gags,one-liners of a young jedi Luke Skywalker and his interactions with his
father,Anakin Skywalker or in other words…Darth Vader,set somewhere in between Star Wars Episode III and IV,
I found myself laughing out loud on countless occasions with the humour presented,in a professional and hilarious way,
the art style fits in perfectly with the scripting,and the jokes are not crass,obscene in any way,and any Star Wars fan would find quite a number of the in-jokes and references very humorous.
All in all,an enjoyable book,I can see myself coming back to it when in need of a laugh,


A run down of many of the books Jeffrey Brown has written and illustrated and where you can find them,

Clumsy-Top Shelf Productions
Unlikely-Top Shelf Productions
AEIOU or Any Easy Intimacy-Top Shelf Productions
Sulk Vol 1,2 and 3- Top Shelf Productions
Funny Misshapen Body - Top Shelf Productions
Feeble Attempts- Top Shelf Productions
I am going to be small- Top Shelf Productions
Incredible Change Bots Vol 1,2, - Top Shelf Productions
Undeleted Scenes - Top Shelf Productions
Every Girl is the end of world for me- Top Shelf Productions
Little Things-A Memoir in Slices- Simon and Schuster
A Matter of Life - Top Shelf Productions
Star Wars:Darth Vader and Son- Chronicle Books
Star Wars:Darth Vader's Little Princess- Chronicle Books
Star Wars:Jedi Academy-Scholastic

As you can see there are a sizeable amount of books that Mr Brown has completed,and many entries in countless anthologies as well,
Jeffrey Brown has also wrote the 2012 film starring Allison Brie,Save The Date,which was nominated for the
Grand Jury Prize at  The Sundance Film Festival,and illustrated various music albums,even contributing art to a music video as well as being the illustrator of the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of Edith Wharton's 'Ethan Frome'.

I asked Jeffrey Brown the following questions about his work and he was happy enough to collaborate,here are his answers,

Tony Solomun:

You've proven yourself adept at many genres of creativity,doing deeply personal graphic novels(Clumsy,Unlikely)etc.
which are insightful to the human condition,as well as books about cats,and gaming culture,(Incredible Change Bots,)
to doing Star Wars related books, do you find the transition seamless or hard to change genres with such ease?

Jeffrey Brown:

I find the transition to be pretty seamless, actually. I tend to just follow my interests, and growing up as a sci-fi and superhero fan, that's always been something I wanted to do - draw X-Men and Star Wars and whatnot. I feel like even when I am drawing those more fantastical bits, I'm still putting a lot of my own emotional self into it. So whatever I'm working on still ends up reflecting my own personality and feelings, even when it's widely different genres or subjects. I also actually enjoy switching genres - when I'm getting too bogged down drawing a mopey autobiographical story, I can spend some time writing some Incredible Change-Bots stories, and when I feel like I've spent too much time drawing nonsense, I can go back to more serious or meaningful work with the autobiographical material.

Thank you very much Jeffrey Brown for participating and thank you dear reader,for reading The Quarterly.



Best Book Designers

1. Chip Kidd
2. Chris Ware
3. Seth
4. Coralie Bickford-Smith
5. Leanne Shapton
6. Jillian Tamaki
7. Jessica Hische

1000 Poems and Short Stories-I've done it,and achieved my grand goal.

Hello all,and thank you for reading my blog,

As of last week,I reached my grand goal of writing 1000 poems and short stories,I placed this goal on myself in 2009 to hopefully reach in 10 years or less,
well,4 years later I've done it,the clear majority of the writing has been done since 2009,and 500 since August 2011,
I would like to thank my mentor first and foremost,David Mack,for helping and inspiring and influencing me along the way,as well as Mike Allred,Chris Ware,Seth,Gary Panter and so many more,my many thanks,

I will not rest on my laurels,In the meantime I finished the 6th volume of The Quarterly tonight,and will post that right away,

Thank you again my friends.

Tony Solomun

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Quarterly w/ New Yorker Cartoonist Shannon Wheeler,

Tony Solomun's The Quarterly Volume V
This Book is typeset in Janson SSK, the same font used for Herman Melville's Moby Dick,and published as a Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition,

Thank you for reading this,my fifth volume of The Quarterly,a Literary anthology I started a few years ago,
each volume is a nod to McSweeney's Quarterly,and to one of my artistic heroes who are profiled forthwith,

volume 1 was dedicated and approved by Chris Ware,whilst the next volumes were respectfully dedicated to and had contributions such as essays,interviews,art by Gary Panter,John Porcellino, Alan Moore's daughter Leah Moore and son in law John Reppion,this volume is of course dedicated to Shannon Wheeler who is a good friend for a number of years now and who I had the opportunity to meet in 2011,
I will do to the best of my ability to describe the absolute treasure Mr Wheeler is to the comic book and Illustration worlds,

Shannon Wheeler is not one to rest on his laurels, Indeed he has shown prowess in more than one
artistic field,and was always destined to be awarded as such,
If you grew up in the 1990s as I did,you would've heard of the now famous character with the memorable name, Too Much Coffee Man,which he began incidentally enough in 1990,I was only about 5 years old at that time, though when I began reading comics at 1998 I was soon to discover Shannon's comic,
Born and growing up in Berkeley, California and studying at UC Berkeley, he started to hone his skills as a cartoonist early on in University, and published various comic strips,when he moved to Texas,is when he would begin to write and draw a satirical comic character that still brings laughter on a weekly basis to this day,Too Much Coffee Man is a versatile,many faceted comic strip, and its longevity and success is that it has kept up to pace with modern times and adjusted when needed,

Too Much Coffee Man has as I mentioned tread waters not only on one format or genre,but on many,Indeed,with an Opera based on the character and with much input by Shannon Wheeler himself,writing the libretto,which was so successful that it garnered critical acclaim and which therefore translated into a sequel,
Shannon's character also had incarnations as a comic book by Dark Horse Comics as well as a tabloid magazine self published by Mr Wheeler under his Adhesive Comics banner,which ran for more than 20 issues and had numerous contributors within,as well as contributed to the funniest news known to man,The Onion Newspaper and website for a number of years,

He is without a doubt one of the truly funniest and humorous cartoonists going around,
Not to be considered a one off creator,whereas today many creators try to carry the weight of their career and any given success off of one creation,Shannon has branched out and done personal and autobiographic works such as Oil and Water,which he illustrated about the US Gulf BP Oil spill which affected many denizens and caused irreparable damage to the coastline and sea life,Shannon Wheeler gave a moving and insightful look at the aftermath of an unfortunate event,with a sombre yet electric new art style,
Not only that, Mr Wheeler has for the past few years reinvented himself as a New Yorker cartoonist, a tough if not nearly impossible undertaking for nearly any cartoonist to succeed in,because of the competition and wide range of talent needed to garner any success, Shannon has sold many cartoons to the New Yorker magazine,which is one might argue, is the pinnacle of American Literary magazines and journalism along with humour,

He is also an Eisner Award winner for his humour cartoons, in a number of books both released and forthcoming from Top Shelf Productions,The Eisner Award,indeed is the highest award any
comic book creator can aspire to win,

Shannon Wheeler has left an indelible mark on American Comic Book Culture with many creations behind him and beyond,He is still young and has many more years left in him for his audience to enjoy.

I contacted him for a short interview and I'm grateful he was more than happy to contribute to, The questions asked were regarding the successful Opera and Too Much Coffee Man himself,
Here is Shannon's answers: On the TMCM Opera-

"The opera came together slowly. Daniel Stephen Crafts wrote the music and I worked on the libretto. I pulled in Damian Wilcox - a friend who's really good at rhymes. At first we had an option to do it in Austin but the venue burned down. Later I met the director of the Portland Center of the Performing Arts at a friend's art opening. I got her card and started sending her music samples, set designs, costume ideas. About 6 months later we had an opera. "

On Too Much Coffee Man and it's endurance as a pop culture phenomenon,
"I started TMCM because I wanted something that would be remembered. He's become a convenient place for me to hang my ideas about relationships, life, and politics."
Thank you Shannon,and thank you for reading this volume of The Quarterly,

Books by Shannon Wheeler
TMCM Omnibus - Dark Horse Comics,
a terrific primer and as the title professes,
contains all TMCM comics and various books released over the years by Shannon,

TMCM : Cutie Island-Boom Studios,
The latest book by Shannon,a superlative stream of consciousness graphic novel and full of laugh out

loud moments of humour
Oil and Water- Top Shelf,
a touching graphic novel and a moral question on the practises of giant corporations, Written by Steve Duin and Illustrated by Shannon Wheeler,

I Thought You Would Be Funnier- Top Shelf,
The collection of cartoons submitted to The New Yorker which unfortunately were not bought,though on the other hand ,fortunately won the Eisner award.

Postage Stamp Funnies- Dark Horse
A hilarious collection of one page cartoons with so much humour you will find it hard not to laugh,miniaturely sized yet funny in every way.

Tony Solomun's The Quarterly Lists Best Publishers
1. Penguin
2. McSweeney's
3. Folio Society
4. Cambridge University Press 5. Random House

6. Oxford University Press
7. Writers Workshop Kolkata