Walk into the former Reformed Episcopal Church of the Atonement in West Philadelphia, and you hear the unmistakable sounds of construction work… Inside, a spiral staircase leads to the office of Josh O’Neill, 37, co-founder of Beehive Books. For the past three years, the publishing company has made a name for itself with crowdfunded books with high production values, focusing particularly on comics and graphic art.
The hottest publication at recent comics conventions wasn’t a graphic novel or a mini-comic but a good old-fashioned tabloid-size newspaper publication—a throwback to the underground presses of decades past. In LAAB, Issue No. 0, “Dark Matter” (officially out next month), the cartoonist Ronald Wimberly examines race, gender, history, and the political and social implications of aesthetics through the media of comic strips, written discourse, and visual essays.
Profound, Frightening, Childlike, and Ancient: A Conversation with TEMPLE OF SILENCE author Justin Duerr
When I came across The Wiggle-Much I was awestruck. It really had the strangest sway over me — immediately. It was just so obviously magical... whatever the heck was going on in that comic strip, it was profound, it was frightening, it was silly, it was austere, it was childlike and ancient... all at the same time. It seemed to be up there with Krazy Kat, idiosyncratically dealing with cosmic themes on the comics page.
The Philadelphia Inquirer: The world’s ‘most forgotten’ cartoonist is being revived by this brand-new Philly publisher
Beehive’s mission is to produce beautiful books to die for, books heavily larded with graphics, drawings, and even gewgaws; books cradled in sumptuous slipcases and primped up on fine paper. Beehive is driven by an innovative business model that uses Kickstarter funding to support an entire publishing company dedicated to these luxe books — not just one-off titles. How hep is that?
As an aesthetic and commercial object, LAAB is one of the most conceptually intriguing and idiosyncratic comic publications of the year. A forty-four page, 23" x 32" broadsheet… comprised of a total of eight long-form essays and interviews illuminated by short-form comics and illustrations by Wimberly himself, LAAB reads like an immaculate alt-history artifact plucked from some adjacent pocket of the multiverse where Emory Douglas became the art director for the New York Times and W.E.B. DuBois pursued a career in science fiction.
His life and work is now the subject of a large and generously illustrated book, Herbert Crowley: The Temple of Silence by Justin Duerr. It is the kind of scholarly and research-driven deep dive that I wish for about... well, most everything. Duerr gathers every conceivable strand of Crowley's unusual and extremely complicated life and work and weaves them together into a coherent and quite moving whole.
Starred Review in Kirkus calls THE TEMPLE OF SILENCE "a surrealistic, sometimes unsettling pleasure"
This elegant, oversized volume… includes the run of the Wigglemuch series and much more, including some haunting sculptures that resemble the work of the classic Olmec artists by way of H.P. Lovecraft. The book makes a solid case for Crowley as a forerunner of the R. Crumb school of comix half a century later, and admirers of Crumb as well as nearer contemporaries such as George Herriman will find it a revelation.
In the clock tower of a converted church in West Philadelphia, two young book designers are quietly turning back the hands of time. Josh O’Neill and Maëlle Doliveux – publisher and art director, respectively, of Beehive Books – are updating a business model that was last common at the turn of the previous century to deliver gorgeous, limited edition art books using the 21st century tools of crowdfunding and social media.