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CREATOR PROFILE:

JOHN PORCELLINO

Biography:

“John Porcellino’s comics distill, in just a few lines and words, the feeling of simply being alive.”
Chris Ware

“Beyond his appealingly simple cartooning style, what really makes Porcellino’s work endure is the sensibility that underlies all of his comics. Porcellino’s take on himself and the world around him is passionate, gentle and accepting, while not without moments of despair, and self-hatred. King-Cat Comics paints a picture of one person’s struggle for inner peace, as corny as that sounds in this world of irony and apathy.”
Matt Madden

“He is considered by many to be the soul of the small press. That may be true, but he’s also a damn fine cartoonist. The body of work he has created over that time defies classification: it’s funny, obscure, sweet, depressive, overjoyed, sad as hell, painfully honest and sublime. King-Cat is so unassuming it’s practically invisible. Taken as a whole, his work does not sit comfortably in any genre, be it zine or comic or memoir or journal; it exists entirely in its own territory; John has created his own deeply personal language to explore that territory. For those who are aware of it, it’s nothing short of an on-going look at a life on paper. Every six months that life gets a little richer. In a world filled with hype and hyperbole, King-Cat remains a quiet but dogged reminder that bigger isn’t always better. And while King-Cat isn’t big by any stretch of the imagination, you won’t find anything else like it, anywhere.”
Zak Sally

John Porcellino (1968- ) was born in Chicago and since 1989 he has been self-publishing his comic, King-Cat Comics & Stories.

Essential Reading:


Map Of My Heart
Drawn & Quarterly, 2009

Map Of My Heart celebrates the twentieth anniversary of John Porcellino’s seminal and influential comics zine, King-Cat Comics, which he started self-publishing in 1989 and which has been his predominant means of expression. In this collection, while Porcellino is living in isolation and experiencing the pain of divorce, he crafts amelancholic, tender graphic ballad of heartbreak and reflection. Known for his sad, quiet honesty rendered in his signature deceptively minimalist style, Porcellino has a command of graphic storytelling as sophisticated as the medium’s more visually intricate masters. Few other artists are able to so expertly contemplate the sadness, beauty, and wonder of life in so few lines.



King-Cat Classix
Drawn & Quarterly, 2007

John Porcellino has long been considered the greatest of all cartoonists coming from the self-publishing and zine movement of the early ‘90s. His spare approach with words and pictures focuses on the smallest of details, revealing a wealth of meaning and emotion in everyday events that most of us overlook in our daily hustle and bustle. Since 1989, he has released more than sixty-five issues of his self-published comic King-Cat Comics and Stories. This large collection focuses on the first fifty issues, with extensive endnotes and an index, along with selections of all the extra ephemera that makes an individual issue of King-Cat its own unique experience - essays, articles, stories, and letters from friends. Included are more than two hundred and fifty pages of comics, ranging from Porcellino’s earliest scrawls to his later, perfectly minimalist delineations. The comics range through all of his concerns - family, family pets, the natural world, work, music, romance. This book presents an artist who always knew what he wanted to do. King-Cat Classics shows Porcellino’s confidence and skill as it grows steadily through the past fifteen years.

John Porcellino says:
In May of 1989, when I was 20 years old, I had an idea for a new magazine. I wanted to publish something that I could make all my own, that could contain whatever I wanted, that could reflect my whole life. Something that would be a direct personal statement from me to the world.



Thoreau At Walden
Hyperion, 2008

“I am convinced, both by faith and experience, that to maintain one’s self on this earth is not a hardship, but a pastime, if we will live simply and wisely.” So said Henry David Thoreau in 1845 when he began his famous experiment in living on Walden Pond. In this graphic masterpiece, John Porcellino uses only the words of Thoreau himself to tell the story of those two years off the beaten track. The pared-down text focuses on Thoreau’s most profound ideas, and Porcellino’s fresh, simple pictures bring the philosopher’s sojourn at Walden to cinematic life. For readers who know Walden intimately, this graphic treatment will provide a vivid new interpretation of Thoreau’s story. For those who have never read (or never completed!) the original, it presents a contemporary look at a few brave words to live by.



Diary Of A Mosquito Abatement Man
La Mano, 2005

This sweet yet sad book is a memoir of John’s experiences as a professional mosquito killer and the effects it had on his life.

John Porcellino says:
During those years I worked as a mosquito man, in Chicago and Denver, I documented some of my on-the-job exploits and travails in comic book form and published them in my little magazine King-Cat Comics. The book you now hold collects all the mosquito related stories that appeared in King-Cat, from 1989 to 1999, as well as new material done specifically for this volume… Lastly, I wanted to say - I’m certainly not proud of what I did as a mosquito man; in fact I feel downright ashamed. I just wanted to share this story of mine, in the hopes that somebody out there might be able to get something positive out of it.



Perfect Example
Highwater Books, 2000

John Porcellino takes an uncompromising look back at the summer before college, a time when the pain and raw emotion of adolescence seem insurmountable. Perfect Example is a tale of girls, friends, girlfriends and guitars; summer nights at the beach and the darkness of depression. Ultimately, it’s the story of one kid’s search for meaning amidst the confusion and chaos of his suburban teenage world.

Chester Brown says:
What I immediately liked about Perfect Example was the spareness of the way it was drawn. After reading it, I was pleased to find out there’s much more to it than beautiful artwork. It’s sublime and profound and one of my favorite graphic novels.

 

Bibliography:

Books:
Map Of My Heart (2009)
Thoreau At Walden (2008)
King Cat Classix (2007)
Diary Of A Mosquito Abatement Man (2005)
Perfect Example (2000)

Comics:
King-Cat: Comics & Stories #1 - (1989 - )

Interviews:
The Comics Journal #241

Links:

Official Sites:
King Cat Comics
John Porcellino’s Blog
King Cat Comics Archive

Publishers:
Drawn & Quarterly
La Mano 21