Tag Archives: Clutter

Clutter Returns


If you’re an avid reader of All Things Holic (there might be someone out there who fits under this description…maybe? seriously, does anyone want to step up and be a Holic-aholic?), you might have noticed that my serialized graphic novel “Clutter” went on hiatus sometime last Fall.

It’s okay. Don’t worry. The project wasn’t abandoned. The publication, Smalldoggies Magazine, just underwent a major renovation (<—-that’s a metaphor that seems to fit within the world of “Clutter”). Actually, it might be more accurate to say that Smalldoggies Magazine was demolished so that a new building could take its place. Matty Byloos, the co-founder of the magazine, created a new online publication called Nailed Magazine; all of the content from the old magazine was transferred over, and now they’re starting to publish new material.

So anyway. “Clutter” has just resumed. It feels a little weird to pick up the pencil and pen again after so much time off, and it will likely feel weird to read this single new installment of the series (since it takes place within the very short time span of the overall series, and assumes that you just finished reading Part 13), but hopefully that weirdness doesn’t last.

Get set for more “Clutter” soon. Until then, maybe it’s time to get a refresher, and to reread some of those old installments, right? Just click on “Publications” on the menu bar up there, and then “Graphic Narratives,” and there are links to every single episode.

The Evolution of Clutter

The latest episode of my home decor catalogue/ graphic novel “Clutter” is now available at Small Doggies Magazine online. If you’ve been following along, this is Part #9, and the married couple is starting to get down to business in the remodel of their new home. If you haven’t been following along, I’ve pasted the full Table of Contents below…You don’t want to fall behind at all, do you? Better get to reading.


1. a new season, new options (Tuesday, October 4th, 2011)

2. apartment living (Tuesday, October 18, 2011)

3. downtown living (Tuesday, November 1, 2011)

4. neighborhoods of orlando (Tuesday, December 6, 2011)

5. bookshelves (Tuesday, January 3, 2012)

6. entertainment center (Tuesday, February 7, 2012)

7. outdoor living (Tuesday, March 6, 2012)

8. glassware (Tuesday, April 3, 2012)

9. planning your remodel (Tuesday, May 8, 2012)

As a side-note, I’ve been working on “Clutter” for several years now. While it’s now an online serialized graphic novel, it’s had a long and interesting history as a story. It actually started off as a short story, written back in 2008 (around the time that I first moved into my house and began working on my own remodels). But as a short story, it just wasn’t working. I experimented with the length of the piece, chopping it into a series of short-shorts, but even then, I wanted the story to have a sense of momentum, to build toward a satisfying end, and it’s tough to do that with a bunch of individual short-shorts without saying the same thing over and over again.

The next step in “Clutter’s” evolution was as a piece of mixed-media fiction. If it’s not working as a traditional short story, maybe I can turn it into an actual home decor catalogue with real photos of the various elements of the remodel, the tools and the furniture and all of that. But I’m no graphic designer or photographer, and I found myself constrained by the items to which I have access…I felt weird going into furniture stores to photograph their stuff, too…And is there any literary magazine that wants to run a 30-page story structured as a home decor catalogue? Awhile back, I managed to publish a mixed-media short story structured as a long Wikipedia page (it’s called “Gold Saturday,” and appears in the journal Rip-Rap), but it took a long time to find the right home for that piece; most journals weren’t sure what it was, and rejected it immediately.

I decided that “Clutter” could still work as a home decor catalogue, but that it needed to be a stand-alone project…if I wanted to try to build a catalogue, I couldn’t half-ass it and do just 30 pages. I needed to do a full catalogue, with individual sections dedicated to different items, different portions of the house, all of it working together to tell the story of a married couple’s conflict as they buy their first house. And I decided that it couldn’t work as just a catalogue, that it needed some humanity, it needed the characters and not just the objects. And that’s when I knew that “Clutter” was destined to become a comic, where the characters could be displayed side-by-side with the catalogue items, where I could show their possessions as well as their pasts, presents, and futures.

It’s been a long road, from 2008 until now, but hopefully you’ll dig the final result. “Clutter” still has a little ways to go, but follow the links above to read the first nine installments, and then check back on the first Tuesday of every month for the new chapter.

A Round-Up of Updates

Got a lot of cool links to share:

First, a fantastic review of 15 Views of Orlando at Saw Palm, the literary journal of the University of South Florida. The editor of the journal, John Fleming, is fantastic, and he’s working hard to cultivate literary community in the Tampa Bay area (much like Burrow Press in Orlando). It’s an extremely well-written and thoughtful review, so I would have been stoked no matter if it was positive or negative, but I’m extra-stoked that it’s positive!

(As a side-note, remember to order your copy of 15 Views from the Burrow Press web site. All proceeds go to support writing workshops for public school kids in Orlando.)

Next up: check out my story “Angela’s Baby” at Hobart online. I had the pleasure of meeting editor Aaron Burch at AWP this past weekend (and actually, we served on a graphic narrative panel together), and–though I didn’t know him when I submitted to his journal–our encounter made me even more proud to appear in Hobart. It’s an amazing publication, highly creative, and I bought several of the books from their innovative Short Flight/Long Drive book imprint (one is structured as a composition journal, and another as a passport). I also learned that their recent issue just had two stories selected for this year’s Best American Short Stories anthology. Two stories from the same issue. Unbelievable. The hype is high, and I’m excited to start reading all the material I scooped up from their bookfair table. To be completely honest, if I’d have known all of this before I submitted a story to Hobart, I probably would’ve been too intimidated to submit.

And hey: while I haven’t been posting new blog entries every month for new installments of “Clutter,” I figured now was as good a time as any. “Clutter” (my graphic narrative structured as a home decor catalog) just hit episode #7, and things are about to get pretty rough between the happily married couple who just purchased their first home together. If you haven’t been reading, then…well, I guess you’d better start!

And finally: I have a “Reading List” here on my blog site, just to remind myself of what I’m reading, and when, and any thoughts I decided to record about the books, but now I’ve also got a recurring essay series on my reading life at Burrow Press. It’s called “Reading Books While Burping My Baby,” and I take a look at how my own reading habits and preferences have changed since the birht of my son in early January. In the first installment, I discuss (among other things) Roxane Gay’s Ayiti, Ryan W. Bradley’s Prize Winners, Ben Tanzer’s Most Likely You Go Your Way And I’ll Go Mine, Artifice Magazine, and The Best American Non-Required Reading 2011. It’s an adorable premise, isn’t it? I mean, seriously. A man and his baby? You’d have to be heartless not to follow that link.


I’m excited to announce that my serialized graphic novel, “Clutter,” has officially gone live at Smalldoggies Magazine.  Click here to read the first installment…It’s a story told in the form of a home decor catalogue, and I’m eager to hear how I did. Make sure to leave comments on the site, and check back every two weeks for a new “chapter” in the catalogue.