Monday, January 26, 2015

The Hillbilly Philosopher

The Hillbilly Philosopher is an independently produced animated short, written and illustrated by Justin Buschardt and Jonathan Hubbell, animated by Tad Catalano, narrated by Danu Uribe, and made entirely in Austin, Texas. The pilot episode, completed in September of 2014, will be screened on Sunday, March 8 at STAPLE! followed by a Q and A session with the creators.

What follows below (after the trailer) is an in depth write-up by their friend Michele Cummins, and then the rather lengthy and bizarre bios they sent me instead of something normal like normal people would do. Weirdos.

Full disclosure: I am good friends with Jonathan, know Justin less well but like him just fine, and have never met Tad. I have a very small but I daresay pivotal voice role in the film.

- Chris "Uncle Staple" Nicholas, January 2015

Watch the official trailer  below and then come see the whole thing at STAPLE!

Hillbilly Philosopher Preview from Hillbilly Philosopher on Vimeo.

Hillbilly Philosopher
By Michele Cummins
January 11th, 2015

"All comic novels that are any good must be about matters of life and death." 
- a note from Flannery O'Conner in the opening of her novel "Wise Blood" 

One terribly dark night in 2002 (the year of the horse) Jonathan Hubbell found himself where no man (or even horse) should ever be - on a bridged section of a railroad track hearing none other than the burgeoning roar of an oncoming train.  

He didn't die. But reflecting on that experience, Hubbell decided a good cartoon scenario could start with a character on those railroad tracks. But this character never before had a reason to think too deeply about anything due to his small-town surroundings. The character would suddenly be forced to confront the possibility of his own death, making him more acutely aware of his existence and allowing him to cultivate an overwhelming desire to understand life. 

The Train of Fate
That is the premise of the Hillbilly Philosopher cartoon. Floyd, a small-town southern hillbilly stereotype, has a near-death experience, and after he must confront his existential thoughts and questions. He goes through a coming-of-age journey, but consider age replaced by intellectual maturity.

In the first episode, we find Floyd having a nervous breakdown on a railroad track because he sees two men kissing for the first time in his life. The amorous act shakes up his entire insular worldview. He soon, however, recognizes the reason the ground under him is literally shaking is that an oncoming train is close behind him. 

After the collision of these two events, Floyd's escape from death becomes his launching point for character development. We watch Floyd continue to confront new people and situations as his journey progresses. The story is about transcendence of race, sexuality, differences, and a multitude of social issues. He grows and learns while we get to laugh at him because we've already figured out how to transcend all that stuff, right?!

Butts & Floyd
Floyd's questions (Kantian questions) are confounding enough that he leaves his hometown to travel across the globe in search of answers. He embarks on this journey with his best friend Butts. "I mean you gotta have two stupid dudes," Hubbell assures me. "It's the formula. Butts… he's the sweetie. He's a big dude and he's also a kindergarten art teacher." The characters may start out ignorant but they are multi-layered and strive to become better people, which makes them both relatable and lovable.

Immanuel Kant
Jonathan Hubbell and his writing partner Justin Buschardt have now logged somewhere around five years flinging their pencils, souls, and bodily fluids (blood, sweat, & tears, that is) into the production of Hillbilly Philosopher. The final component to their current team is animator Tad Catalano of Mighty Coconut, who was hired two years ago (after a successful Kickstarter campaign - ed.). 
A Diamond in the rough.
"We had to get Tad drunk to work with us." Hubbell explains. "Tad's skill level is just so high that it was better when he was drunk because Hillbilly Philosopher is meant to have a simplicity to it." There have been voice-acting contributions from talented friends as well and Hubbell is slowly expanding the team as the project grows. 

Now that the cartoon is finally ready for the world, Hubbell stays busy sharing the pilot with networks and other such avenues to see where it can land a future as a regular series. There are open screening parties in the works for this Spring around the Austin area and a few outside, including one at the Original House of Blues in New Orleans on May 21st.
And now the bios!

'sup dawg?
Justin Buschardt – Co-Creator of Hillbilly Philosopher 
Birthed through “unknown” means via the tire of a double-wide trailer, his uncle blankly watched as he chewed his way through the hot, semi-malleable rubber until Justin’s beautiful tarred face emerged victoriously into the scorching desert life.
A swan then swooped down with transcendence to snip Justin’s umbilical chord, nearly killing his tiny body (along with tiny penis) in the gesture.  The graceful bird was shot almost immediately by the nearby uncle’s 20 gauge coach gun & the two relatives—one recently brought to planet’s existence—ate pieces of the elegant glider for “dinner.”
Justin’s portion was put in a blender, of course, so as to make it bottle-friendly and more digestible to his new baby belly.
27 years later, Justin Buschardt was found in Texas “celebrating America” by lavishly firing-off gluten-free pepper-spray in a county courthouse restroom.
Upon his forcible (yet homoerotic, at times) escorting from the institution—by men desperate for the perceived social structure of their authority—and out to the streets, Justin’s overalls then “lost they main buttons” (according to his statement), thus quickly & publicly collapsing his already-undignified trousers down to his bare feet.  This left only the tips of his tropically painted toenails protruding from beneath the crumpled denim bottom-wear he mama had bought him.   
During this time, an animal-rights parade was stampeding violently down the road—crushing small-businesses and emergency clinics—in front of both Justin and his accompanying police officers as several previously-hidden fish flapped berserk-style haplessly to ground from Justin’s ill-kempt pantalones, flailing wildly on the sidewalk.   
The fish were shot excessively to death using violent force by nearby officers on duty and even some of the animal-rights activists and one priest who admits to being high.  This seems to have occurred both out of confusion and, as of late, the public statement by Texas law enforcement representatives has simply been that the act was warranted granting the specific manner of “non-free speech” gesturing exhibited that afternoon by the land-trapped sea life.  The particular clauses utilized as legal leverage in this case have only been alluded to as part of a soon-to-be “law rule” in south Texas and thus remain shrouded from the public’s total knowledge until a future election year, if then.


These here'n funny toons t'ain't gonna
draw theyself! Git, now! Shoo!
Jonathan Hubbell – Co-Creator of Hillbilly Philosopher 
Found in a swamp during the Reagan years by Ronald Reagan on a routine presidential swamp stay and getaway, Jonathan was fished out of the murky depths with a .22 caliber rifle and petrified-wood cane. 
His body covered in barnacles and several colonies of shrimp (even his special bathing-suit region), experts later determined that it was these very shrimp that had kept him somehow “alive” all of his years spent submerged—though, there’s really no time to get into all of that now. 
Jonathan was used as an example of “Trickle-Down” economics by universities for years following the incident until it was widely acknowledged that this made no sense.  At such point, Hubbell was sent on donkey (using government funding) to work at an auto shop outside of Abilene. 
He became quick friends with Buschardt—who had been working there at the time as a “person to keep quiet, often”—but their friendship solidified one evening when Justin observed Jonathan spraying his donkey in the face with gluten-free pepper-spray to settle an argument that had apparently been festering for months.
Good morning, my dear.
I trust you slept well?
Tad Catalano – Blind Animator of Hillbilly Philosopher 
“On those cold, moonless nights, you will hear his sorrowful wailings before you notice the mystical melodies he creates with his flutes,” Justin Buschardt relayed to Jonathan Hubbell one evening at the auto shop, after hours. 
At the time, Justin was sleeping in a rusty bunk bed with Jonathan and the idea that the two should make an animated short (that would one day, hopefully, lead to an animated series) had just begun to poke its seedling out of the soil, as the French say.  However, after several attempts to “animate” the story on their own, using pieces of foil, drills and antiquated figurines they’d find at pawn shops in west Texas, Justin began rambling about a man he’d heard about named Tad Catalano—a man who could possibly bring their dreams into reality without any of said supplies.
“But, he’s blind?” Jonathan inquired during twilight after Justin dismissively uttered this fact somewhere midway through a string of 1,000 other facts, as though it were irrelevant.  Justin replied, “Yes, he is the first blind animator in history—or will be—but I think it would be smart to work with him. “  There was a pause:  “I mean, anybody can do anything, right?” Justin asked.  Jonathan replied, “No, probably not.  In fact, not at all:  quite clearly.  However, something deeply irrational inside of my brain-heart knows how you mean when you say what you’re expressing this to me when you’re saying that how you did that just a recent ago.”  Hubbell continued:  “We have no choice then but to discover the first blind animator in history and we will fucking work with him.  It will be our mission.  It’s what God would’ve wanted.”
During the course of accommodating Tad’s disability—which had stunningly little to do with gluten (to Jonathan’s surprise and Justin’s disappointment)—both a friendship and newfound respect for our disabled human came to fruition.  Since Tad was unable to see the images to which he was applying motion, much of production involved his “caning” the two creators on their backs (and sometimes in the face or mouth) with his exotic wooden flutes, as he screamed wildly at them: “figure out how to make your ‘Looney Looney Mahoney Tunes’ move, and fast!!”
The motivation was needed.
Somewhere in between (1) grappling to understand the confusing, abusive, artistic (?) process, (2) searching around Tad’s house and yard at his behest for his “lost medication,” and (3) driving the “animator” to Taco Bell, Hillbilly Philosopher was completed, already making its mark as the best art ever created (in history and future).

THE END?!?!?!?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

An Interview with Evan Dahm

Evan Dahm is an incredibly productive dude. He embodies the DYI ethos of Staple!  His epic project, set in the world of Overside, includes three books so far.  Rice BoyOrder of TalesVattu, and some gorgeous short stories, almost two thousand pages and counting.  He has also completed an illustrated edition of the Wizard of Oz, several art books, and co-founded the Benign Kingdom publishing company. He generously took time from his crazy busy schedule to answers some of my questions.

What do you think are the most important things to keep in mind when crafting and sustaining an epic narratives like yours?

This is a very good question and I've come up with different answers for it myself over and over. The planning issue is key, and I've oscillated between an almost stream-of-consciousness approach, and something super-densely mapped out. My current comic Vattu is pretty densely plotted, but I've given myself room to move and I'm always changing and elaborating on scenes once I get to the point of actually drawing them. Sustaining is another thing altogether... I lose interest sometimes; there's nothing I've ever been consistently invested in drawing or writing. But having it serialized online helps, and treating it as a commitment and working on it even on the days when I don't feel like it is important.   
Along with self-publishing on-line, you self distribute physical editions of your books. What have been the design and aesthetic advantages of maintaining that level of creative control?  

It's kind of spoiled me by now! I love having control of every aspect of how the work is presented, and I love designing books that appeal to a classy, book-fetishist kind of aesthetic. The fact that comics are inherently visual seems to implicate the entire design of the book or the website or whatever in the reading experience, so I appreciate being able to work with all of that as well.  I also just published an illustrated edition of the Wizard of Oz, which was fun: bringing that specific kind of approach to somebody else's work.  

Were there any big mistakes or learning moments self-distributing?

I shouldn't have even tried to do print-on-demand books. Technology has probably changed in that area a little since I was getting books printed that way five or so years ago, but it's a really inefficient way to get books made, and the quality is way below what any offset printer can do. There are tons of other mistakes but I'm figuring stuff out more and more I hope.  

Going from Rice Boy to Order of Tales, how has your relationship to color changed?

A big part of the reason I wanted to do Order of Tales in black and white was that I felt I was relying too much on color in Rice Boy, to the detriment of the quality of the drawing. So I learned a lot about texture and value doing Order of Tales, but I love color and I'm glad I can work with it again in Vattu, and other projects here and there. Hopefully I'm smarter in my use of color than I was back then!    Do you have any suggestions about the use of color to aspiring comic book makers?   Be mindful of how color

translates to print, if print is a goal for you... It might be worth working in CMYK from the start, so you're only using print-friendly colors. And more broadly, I still don't feel like I really Understand color, but I definitely think it's good to err on the side of limited palettes!  

Who do you think of as having really good Fantasy work in comics?

I haven't read many comics lately. I just read a bunch of Kory Bing's Skin Deep and I liked it a lot-- modern and grounded fantasy but with a strong folklore/mythology undercurrent: . Bryan Lee O'Malley's new book is fantasy, right? That's a beautiful book.  

Are there any guests or exhibitors your looking forward to meeting at Staple?

Hmm Sammus rules   

Are you going to be bringing anything new to Staple?

Yes! I have new art books that have some series of landscape illustrations I've made, called Aftermath & Lacunae. It's meditative, black-and-white stuff that's different from a lot of what I've published before.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

An Interview with M. Austin Bedell

M. Austin Bedell is treasure of the local cartooning scene. He is a regular member of sketch group, a contributor to Rocksalt  Magazine, an accomplished web cartoonist and longtime staple exhibitor.  He took some time out this summer to do this interview with us. He is most noted for his Skweegie Kolache stories but has a side project called Vidyagame Libary,  as well as GROG with cartoonist Chris Sweet of Effing Decaf. My personal  favorite is a pantomime story he did called Warm Fuzzy.

When did you start cartooning?
Bedell:  I was very young and childlike. Like, a very young child, I was.
Who were your early influences?
Bedell:   I drew a lot of Super Mario, Ninja Turtles, and Simpsons as a kid--not because I was special, but because that's what was popular back then (Weird that all three of those things are still pretty popular today...). Matt Groening's name was the first I really clung to and mispronounced--my dad gave me a copy of Childhood is Hell and it was my favorite book. Then I got into the Far Side, and always had to wear one of those shirts. I was the coolest awkwardly-developing kid in the world in those one-size-too-big Far Side shirts!

Whose work do you admire now and how has it changed?
Bedell:  I went through a Crumb phase right after college and started branching off of that. Basil Wolverton, Jim Woodring. I like cartoonists who seem to put a lot of work and detail into such simple designs. Then I steal their techniques and try to pass them off as my own. I found this book of Drew Friedman's black and white stuff a few years ago with all the Tor Johnson comics. Man, what a stippler!

How long have you been doing Skweegie Kolache?

Bedell:  I started drawing the characters 20 years ago, did a few comic strips in high school 15 years ago, threw together my first book called "Skweegie Island" 5 years ago, and, uh... To answer your question, I don't know.

In addition to Skweegie Island and Vidyagame Libary, how many projects are you juggling right now?

Bedell:  I started drawing a new Skweegie Kolache story recently, but besides that, I'm in the planning stages on a bunch of stuff that may or may not ever happen.  Chris Sweet and I are talking about doing another colab. And there's always my super-epic magnum opus bullcrap I'll never get started on. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Free eBook Download This Weekend

Hello Fellow Staple enthusiasts!

I am offering free downloads of my A CAPPELLA book 1 this weekend, through midnight on Sunday 28th Sept. 2014.

Direct link --> A Cappella eBook 1

Author page -->


Cheers :)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Interview with Dan Price


Dan Price is the writer and co-creator of Masters of the Obvious he also created the Latex Avenger. Recently, he started a web strip called Excelsi-ish! You can find his work at and buy his stuff at the Hound Comics Store.

Was Latex Avenger your first Comic Book project?
It was the first thing I did that saw fruition. I did the first issue in 2007, but really got into it in 2010.
Who are your biggest influences?
Keith Giffen, Bob Burden, Lee/Kirby, Mike Allred, Don Simpson, Harold Ramis, Alex Toth Cartoons (Space Ghost/Herculoids), Dave Chappelle, Kurt Vonnegut, Groucho Marx, Woody Allen, Norman Lear. Huge fan of comics back in the nineties, so I blame the Image founders for me wanting to make original comics. met your collaborator Bonn Adame at a 24 hour comic day and you have been involved in the monthly sketch bomb. What would say role of community has been on your work? It's been huge! When I first got into this, I didn't know anyone or what I was doing. In 2010, when I really started making a go of Latex Avenger and doing shows, I met a lot of people in and out of Austin.  By 2011-12, it seemed like Austin's comic scene became a family of sorts. People getting together and talking turned into collaborations and new ideas.
Artist Alley is a strange sales environment, you selling work that is very personal while surround by dozens of other creators attempting to do the same. What have you found works and why?
The battle for an independent comic creator is that no one knows you or what you do, so you have to stand out. I have an elevator pitch for both Latex Avenger and Masters of the Obvious that I say to everyone who walks by (much to the chagrin of the people tabling next to me) and gauge their attention level. In the case of Latex Avenger: 
"Latex Avenger and Spermicidal Foam Lad! Repelling crime 99.9% of the time!" If they laugh, I hand them a comic and start blathering. 
Do you have any production or distribution advise you learned from putting out Latex Avenger and Masters of the Obvious?
I lettered my first comic in Photoshop and then flattened the pages, causing my vector fonts to raster and never look right.  Don't do that. 
How far ahead do you plan convention appearances and what do you do to get ready?
Depending on the show and the goals of that convention, prep can take a while, but it's not usually a grueling experience unless I have a book coming out for a certain show. When that is the case, I usually spend the week before watching UPS's tracking website like a hawk. Until the book arrives, it's four small heart attacks a day and constant anxiety.

What has been your best experience after taking Latex Avenger and Masters of the Obvious to conventions all over the state?

I am so passionate about the characters and stories I am creating, it's really exciting when you meet people who really get what it is I've been doing for the last 4 years and are just as passionate. Latex Avenger and Masters of the Obvious are not the typical fair seen at the shows and it takes a certain, special, beautiful person to gravitate to it. So, to those people, thank you for supporting the cause!

Monday, February 17, 2014

2014 Table Assignments

Hit "CTRL-F" to search and find your name. Tables 1-47 are in the Hall, 48-83 are in the Annex.

1 After Midnight  
2 EC Printing  
3 Daily Texan  
4A Del Wieding  
4A Vanessa Gelvin  
4B Mark Nasso The Underground Forest
5 J. Micheal Stovall Stovepipe Curiosities
6 Jessica Grundy  
7 Emily Rose Romano Death's Pale Horse
8 Molly Black Rather Dodgy
9 Henry Melton Wire Rim Books
10 Fabian Rangel Jr. , Ryan Cody Believe In Comics
11 Jamie Kinosian, Robert Kinosian  
12 James Ferry, Sasha Blaschka Ambergris Productions
13 Isaiah Broussard, Zach Q Brass Comics
14 Grant Sutherland Greetings From Wonderland
14 Nate Bramble Bramble Vine Comics
15 Andy Hirsch, Natalie Khan  
16A Amanda Kluck Amanda Michael Design
16B Kim Scoulios Nancy Nebula
17 Anissa Bryant Anissa Art
17 Diana Steig All Switched Up
18 Dennis Last  
18 Monica Gallagher  
19 Bram Meehan, Monica Meehan 7000 BC
20 Shane Walker Rotten Pumpkin Studios
21A Richard Alexander  
21B Chad Hopper  PALFLOAT
22A Andy Warner,Olivia Warner  
22B Trent Kollodge Sinister Merriment
23A Chelsea Hostetter Koumori Comics
23A Katie Bauer  
23A Sarah Abraham  
23B Shannon McCormick Presidential Losers
24 Kris Kidd, Gary Orosco, Nasser Rodriguez Texas Comicon
25 J Hause Studio Ghosthause
26, 27 Chris Sweet Effing Decaf
26, 27 Jason Poland Robbie + Bobbie
26, 27 M. Austin Bedell Skweegie Island
26, 27 Zach Taylor Gnourg Press
28 Kennon James  
29 Cornace Davis Ghostwerks Commics
29 Samax Amen GhettoManga
30 Toni Shelton Art by Toni Shelton
31 Kris Kramer The 4th Realm
32 Jose Esquivel, Ferddy Fred  
33 Jeanie Bryan, Mike McCubbins Big List of Dead People
33 Matt Bryan  
34 Ben Butler The Art of Benstigation
34 Mary Golding Hellmouse Studios
35A Bruce McCandless III, Pati McCandless Ninth Planet Press
35B Justin Schaffer, Robert Garza  Terra Nova Games
36A Matthew Wolf The Ronin Saga
36B Leo McGovern Crescent City Comics
37A David Lamplugh Bivage Salvage LTD
37B Jeanne Thornton Rocksalt Magazine
38, 39 Tim Doyle Nakatomi
40 Paul Hanley  
41 Robert Wilson IV  
42 Stoic Studio  
43, 44 Rob Harrell, Wayne Beamer Top Shelf Productions
45 Chip Zdarsky  
46 Francesco Francavilla  
47A Paul Benjamin  
47B Chris Cox
48A Amber Terrell  
48A Will Terrell Will Terrell Illustration
48B Brandon Adkins Cartoonist
49 Jessi Jordan, Matt Gordon  
50A Sarah Becan  
50B Steve Statham Statham Communications, LLC
51 Jason Salas Fine Line, LLC
52 Kevin T. Chin  
53 Calvin Johns Anthropos Games
54 Austin Tinius, Robert Salinas Bogus Publishing
55 Gabriel Dieter Ghostfish Publishing
56A Drew Edwards, Jamie Bahr Halloween Man
56B Alyssa Laraine Steele Comic San Seraph
56B Derek Kampa  
57 Dexter Wood, Logan Ganshirt  
58 Miguel Aguilar Miguel Aguilar
59A John Myers Typo'd Mary
59B Tony Franklin Jr. , Michelle Millette, Regina Franklin, William Penson Chantilly Mace
60 Diana Nock Jinxville/The Intrepid Girlbot
60 Josh Lesnick You Suck/Slipshine
61A David McGuire Gastrophobia
61B Greg Means Tugboat Press
62 Lillian Butler by Lillian
63 Nathan Limon Nathan Limon Arts
64A Jamie Hernandez Crayonblood Studio
64B Alex Teich  
65A Jeff Hernandez Sensational Adventure Club
65A Brad McEntire, Ruth Engel-McEntire Dribble Funk Comics
65B Nathan Rice The Daily Compulsion
66 Mike Moreno  
66 Will Rodriguez Mangeld Sudios
67 Devin Kraft Cheshire Cat Art
68 Cody Schibi, Lance Schibi  
69A Brian Parker Brian Parker, Independent Author
69B Matt E. Patterson Digimonkey Studios
70 Jamel Jones  
70 Jessica Madorran  
71A Morgan McBride Muggs Clay Studio
71B Ben Humeniuk  
72 Ben Snakepit Snakepit Comics
72 Mitch Clem Turnstyle Comics
72 Nation of Amanda Nation of Amanda
73, 74 McLain McGuire, Sam Lofti, J. Anthony Hernandez CCP Comics
75A Abby Vassallo  
75A Shauna Hawkins  
75B Maria Mealla Sad Clown Productions
75B Robert McGee Check This Out, Babe
76 Tim Wheeler Microcosm Publishing
77 Morgan Thomas, Jordan Gurley, Nathan Woeber, Monica Garcia, Madeline Collins Texas State Graphic Novel Students
78 Robert Bienvenu, Erik Van Buren Baton Rouge Cartoonist Society
79 Chad Townsend, Paul Rigg  
80A Nathan Cheatham, Thomas Robinett  
80B Ashley Davis  
80B Victoria Elliott  
81 Jeremy The Artist  
81 Taffeta Darling  
82 Gabrielle Faust Nightshade Vampire Boutique
83A Gillian Rhodes, William Cardini, Brendan Kiefer Rough House Comics + William Cardini
83B Jennifer Zehler, Alisha Ashley, Victoria Goodman Line by Line Beta Reader