Tag Archives: Nathan Holic

Some Thoughts on Comics and Mixed-Media Literature

As we enter the sauna that is summertime (in Florida, at least!), and as the world searches for great Beach Reads (if you live in Middle America, are they called “Beach Reads” still?), I figured I’d share some thoughts on a few recent books I’ve tackled. Because I’ve been immersed in comic creation over the last few months, I decided to write an essay round-up of all graphic novels and mixed-media books.

Check out the following link to get to “Reading Books While Burping My Baby,” my ongoing column at the Burrow Press Review. In this edition, I discuss Adam Mansbach’s Go the Fuck to Sleep, the old ’90s fantasy comic Warriors of Plasm, Nate Powell’s Swallow Me Whole, and The Best American Comics 2011. And if you still need graphic novel recommendations after all of that, I have a few suggestions for you (which aren’t mentioned in the essay, but should be!): check out Eddie Campbell’s The Playwright, a fantastic comic/novella that starts breezy and humorous and winds up becoming deeply affecting. It truly feels like something out of Best American Short Stories, but the artwork adds an extra layer of depth to the book, complementing and building upon the text perfectly. Also, I recently finished Charles Burns’ Black Hole. It was too massive to qualify as a beach read, but it’s definitely a great summer read, and especially works well on those stormy Florida afternoons when it feels like the world is coming to an end.

And if you want to see what I’ve been up to lately, in the world of comics and mixed-media literature (and really, you should want to see what I’m up to, right?), here are a few links for access on your Kindle or iPad or whatever other techno-device you probably shouldn’t be taking to the beach:

My second installment in the graphic narrative adaptation of Alex Kudera’s Fight For Your Long Day is up at Atticus Review. This has been a true pleasure to draw, and I hope it’s going well. Please leave a comment at the site to let me know how I did!

The latest edition of Palooka is finally out, which features my graphic narrative, “On Seeing Yourself…” (really long title…I won’t re-type it, thus forcing you to click the link and see what the full title is!). This is definitely a journal worth supporting, and worth subscribing to. Some great work by a lot of interesting and varied writers; if you’ve never seen Palooka, I’d compare it to Hobart or Annalemma in execution. Striking, and creative. There’s an excerpt of my comic at the following link, but you’ve got to pick up the magazine to get the full story!

You can also read my graphic essay, “My Life in Gadgets: MySpace, Blogger, Facebook,” in the new edition of Fiction Fix. This is a journal that’s been around for almost a decade now, but I really think that their conversion from print to online has helped them to carve out a true identity. The journal is based at the University of North Florida, and for this edition, they’ve created a graphic literature issue. Some great stuff, including a novel-in-woodcuts, and a comic by the always-entertaining Jonathan Bayliss (author of “So…Buttons,” which was featured on AMC’s Comic Book Men). Go here to download the issue, and read my strange essay on the evolution of my old “Diet Coke Chronicles” blog.

Also, an interesting project called “Story A Day” recently reviewed my short story “Peeling” at Necessary Fiction. It’s a cool project (title is self-explanatory), and for writers, the idea of one story a day (with discussion) is a pretty good goal. Too often, I have student-writers who don’t think that they need to read at all…they think that they’re just naturally good writers. Then: they learn that they need to read, because they really don’t understand what’s out there. If that’s you, you should check out Story A Day, and set that goal for yourself! (Start by reading my story, of course, right?)

That’s all for this morning. I’ll write another post soon, but wanted to make sure to share those links and wish everyone a happy post-Memorial Day Week!

15 Views of Orlando Continues

I’m not sure if I’ve posted about it here before, but now’s as good a time as any.

Our second sequence of “15 Views of Orlando” stories began a few weeks ago, and it’s going full-steam ahead.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of the “15 Views of Orlando” collection, it’s pretty simple: because Orlando, Florida, is so under-represented in film/ literature (and because the city is viewed through such a skewed Disney lens), we wanted to create a piece of literary fiction that would do the city justice. So we assembled 15 total writers and tasked them with writing a 15-part story (“loosely linked”), with each story focusing upon a different location within the metropolitan area of Orlando. (Hence, 15 “views.”) The first incarnation of this story sequence proved to be extremely successful, and you can order the book from Burrow Press (links are everywhere on this page). The book was released in January, and it’s doing very well so far.

So, in Spring 2012, we decided to find 15 new authors, who would focus on 15 new locations, and write a brand-new 15-part “loosely linked” story sequence. The expectation is that we’ll be able to create a new “15 Views of Orlando” book each year, with proceeds from sales benefiting local literacy groups. And man, have our new authors from the 2012 edition done a tremendous job so far.  It’s been absolutely exciting to read the first few stories.

The 2012 edition of “15 Views of Orlando” is currently unfolding at the Burrow Press Review, one story a week, and we’re now at Part 5, “Stay” by Ed Bull. So if you haven’t checked out “15 Views of Orlando” (the 2012 edition), now is the time to click the link and start reading. All five parts are available online, and it’s easy to catch up before part 6 is posted! (Other authors include Susan Hubbard, comic writer Robert Venditti, interviewer Jana Waring, and bartender-poet Teege Braune).

Ed Bull, by the way, is a great young writer, and you’ll be able to appreciate his stand-alone story even if you don’t have time to read through the other parts of the story. He’s also got a story called “Teeth” at Burrow Press Review, which you can check out at the provided link.

How to Write Orlando

The second part of my interview/ conversation with author Lavinia Ludlow is now up at Curbside Splendor Publishing.

Amongst other things, we discuss how the Florida humidity affects characterization, and how the tourism industry impacts Orlandoans on a daily basis. What’s it like to grow up in the shadow of the mouse, and to have the entire world in your backyard?  From the interview: “In Orlando, though, you’ve got the whole world coming here…you’ve got the whole world at Epcot, for crying out loud…but at the same time, it’s a warped vision of the world and the way it operates. To know Florida is to know that warped vision, and to write Floridian requires that you understand how strangely your characters view the world.”

Here’s the link.

Hope you check it out, and hope you check out Lavinia’s first novel alt.punk, or her upcoming book Single Stroke Seven. Also, Curbside Splendor’s got a great catalogue they’re building; I read Victor David Giron’s Sophomoric Philosophy (which I’d compare to Joe Meno’s Hairstyles of the Damned, except with a Mexican-American flair, if you can imagine that?), and I’ve read a few of the stories from Michael C.’s Chicago Stories when they were published elsewhere, but I’m eager to give the full collection a whirl.

Check out the interview. Support the small-press, also. They’re starting to take Chicago by storm.

Reading Books While Burping My Baby

I know that it seems that the majority of my postings lately have been about my baby, or about fatherhood, but you know what? When you have kids, you start to view the world through the lens of parenthood. Impossible to get away from that. I can guarantee I’ll never be one of those people who drives past Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights billboards and writes editorials in the Orlando Sentinel about how the billboards should be taken down because they’re too scary. I also won’t ever complain about prime-time TV, and will never say “How am I supposed to tell my kids about this?” when I see a politician having an affair or a pro baseball player on steroids or a Janet Jackson nipple. Rather than seeing the world as something to shield my child from, I promise that I’ll attempt to see the world as a series of learning opportunities: “You see that, Jackson? That’s what we call a ‘poor decision.'”

So I won’t stop talking about fatherhood, but I can guarantee that I won’t be annoying about it. Hopefully that’s a good deal, right?

All of this as a lead-in, so that I can say: I’ve got a new blog over at the Burrow Press Review called Reading Books While Burping My Baby.”

You might have noticed that I don’t write many book reviews on my own site these days (though I do still update my “Reading List” page). Well, I’ve been searching for a way to reach a wider audience with my reviews, and to find a way to talk about how I read, rather than just the quality of what I read.

This month, I talk about Three Ways of the Saw by Matt Mullins, and a bunch of stories from One Story, including a great one from David James Poissant. My first few installments touched on Best American Non-Required Reading, Roxane Gay’s Ayiti, Ryan W. Bradley’s Prize Winners, Ben Tanzer’s Most Likely You Go Your Way And I’ll Go Mine, and Artifice Magazine. Check it out at the link above. Hopefully it’ll give you your book review fix, along with your baby fix.


Today is my newborn son’s three-month birthday.

For anyone who has never been pregnant, or has never had a child, maybe this doesn’t sound impressive. But trust me: when you’re a father, every step of the journey is an important one, a memorable one.

Even the pregnancy itself is fraught with drama and tension, some of it very positive (boy or girl?), some of it nerve-racking (when are we going to get pregnant? will we have a healthy child?), and while it might seem very ordinary to outsiders, it can definitely put a strain on the individuals in a relationship.

On that note, I thought I’d share a quick writing update that coincides perfectly with my son’s three-month birthday. I’m grateful to Necessary Fiction for publishing this piece, a short story called “Peeling,” which is my best effort at capturing the real emotional strain on a couple who has difficulty getting pregnant.

It’s also about beer. Craft beer. Microbrews, from Cigar City in Tampa (my favorite) to Sweetwater in Atlanta.

Hope you enjoy the story. It’s the most honest I’ll probably ever get about the journey toward pregnancy and having a child.

The story is here.

New e-book collaboration with Lindsay Hunter!

The folks over at Artistically Declined Press have been doing some great things in print and online, including a full catalogue of short pdf e-books. All are free, and all can be easily downloaded and then added to your Goodreads shelf.

Recently, I was able to do a comic collaboration with the always-entertaining Lindsay Hunter (scroll down on my blog and you’ll find a “review” I wrote of her book Daddy’s). The story is called “Kitty,” and I tried to adapt it into a children’s book, with the main character looking almost like a Dr. Seuss creation. He’s not quite human, not quite dog, not quite bear…just sort of fuzzy and odd. But because Lindsay Hunter writes some gritty (and sometimes dirty) stuff, I thought I’d make the children’s book extra-dirty too. So it’s a one-of-a-kind collaboration and comic, a dirty twisted filthy children’s book that you would never want your children to read.

Check it out at Artistically Declined! Remember, it’s a free download, and you can add the book to Goodreads and write a review.


(If you’ve only stumbled across this site because I write about Eminem, do me a favor and support some of my other work. It’s just a quick click and download. Costs you nothing, and you’ll hopefully be entertained!)

The Gift, a comic adaptation

Check out my latest comic adaptation, over at LITnIMAGE. I worked with the mighty Ben Tanzer, a Chicago indie-lit god, on his short story “The Gift” (which was originally published at The2ndHand). Check it out at the link here, and let me know what you think. This is probably my favorite comic adaptation I’ve created so far, so hopefully you’ll dig it.

15 Views of Orlando – RELEASE PARTY!!!

The above subject heading uses three total exclamation points, which–in the words of my old mentor Jeanne Leiby–is the lifetime total allowed to a writer. And man, I used them all at once.

But the subject certainly calls for some exclamation points.

If you didn’t know (i.e. you don’t ever talk to me, or you don’t follow my facebook status updates, or you just randomly stumbled upon this blog), I’ve got a brand-new book coming out: it’s an anthology called 15 Views of Orlando, and it’s an attempt at finally offering an honest portrayal of the city of Orlando in literary fiction. I assembled 15 Orlando fiction writers to write one long loosely-linked story that wanders through our fair city, and the result is indeed impressive and surprising. (I love me some self-congratulation.) And because Orlando writers love our community, all proceeds from book sales will directly benefit Page 15, a literacy non-profit which conducts writing workshops for Orlando public school kids. If you don’t live in Orlando, buy a copy of the book and feel good about your purchase supporting a great cause. If you do live in Orlando, you need to get to our release party.

Details of the release party follow here, in a blog post from Burrow Press publisher Ryan Rivas:

Remember: we’ve got a huge book release happening in exactly one week.

That would be the 15 VIEWS OF ORLANDO book release:

Tuesday, JANUARY 31st
6pm to 9pm @ Urban ReThink
625 E. Central Blvd.
In addition to photography, booze, and music, there will be readings by: J. Bradley, Hunter Choate, Ashley Inguanta, John King, and J. Christopher Silvia, at 7:30pm.Folks who pre-order 15 Views for pick-up, or purchase 15 Viewsat the event, will be able to buy other BP books for $5.

15 Views editor Nathan Holic, and authors Hunter Choate and J. Christopher Silvia, were recently interviewed on WMFE’s Intersection. You can listen to that interview and excerpts from the book here. Pre-order the book while you’re at it. There’s no better way to support what we do; and, in this instance, the profits from the book are going to benefit Orlando kids.

 Whether you can make it to the party or not, please spread the word.

New Comic Adaptation

This past year, I’ve been privileged to work with a number of excellent small-press authors, crafting comic adaptations of their short stories (and excerpts of their novels). I’ve already posted links to my adaptation of a scene from Lavinia Ludlow’s Alt.Punk and Steve Himmer’s The Bee-Loud Glade.

So here is my adaptation of J. Bradley’s “Just Do It,” which translated very well to the comic format. The original story (which wasn’t so much a “story,” as it was a piece of “flash fiction,”  not really bound by traditional story concepts) was published in Bradley’s chapbook The Serial Rapist Standing Behind You is a Robot, which is also worth checking out (just visit his web site, and you can find copies).

This comic is available at Ham Literature online, as part of their debut issue.


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.