John Porcellino

Comics Legend John Porcellino Brings King-Cat Tour to Handmade & Bound

September 9, 2014

As a featured event of Handmade & Bound Nashville (H&BN) on October 3-4, acclaimed comics and graphic novel author/publisher John Porcellino will bring his national tour to town in support of a documentary about his life and work, “Root Hog or Die,” a graphic memoir, The Hospital Suite, and the 25th anniversary of his influential King-Cat Comics & Stories.

Root Hog or Die posterPorcellino will appear at the H&BN book arts festival, hosted by Watkins College of Art, Design & Film, on Friday, October 3, at 7 p.m. in the Watkins Theater. A 25-minute presentation about his work will precede a 45-minute version of “Root Hog or Die,” with Q&A and book signing to follow. H&BN is the only Southern stop on the 17-city itinerary (which began September 13 in Bethesda, MD), and admission is free.

Currently living in South Beloit, Illinois, the Chicago native has been writing, drawing and publishing mini-comics, comics and graphic novels for more than 25 years. He is best known for his self-published, highly autobiographical series King-Cat Comics & Stories, a simply drawn, black & white comic/zine that investigates the essence of just being alive.

An artist committed to punk rock and DIY ethics – with a unique voice equal parts Thoreau and Hüsker Dü – Porcellino seeks to illustrate the “moments-between-moments” that make up the majority of our lives: looking at snow falling, watching a bird turn its head, looking at the moon with your parents. From its beginning in the zine revolution of the late eighties/early nineties, King-Cat has been an inspirational template for a generation of alternative comics creators.

Porcellino’s collected stories have been published by Drawn and Quarterly, and his work has appeared in McSweeney’s, The Best American Comics, Kramer’s Ergot, the Anthologies of Graphic Fiction, and countless other anthologies and collections.

Dan Stafford and John Porcellino

Dan Stafford and John Porcellino at Hollis Famous Ribs, Athens GA

“Root Hog or Die” is the culmination of a five-year project by director Dan Stafford, who also co-owns Kilgore Books & Comics. Following him on tour, on walks in the woods and through interviews with more than 20 friends and colleagues, “Root Hog or Die” illustrates how Porcellino manages, and occasionally struggles, to live and function as an uncompromising artist in 21st century America.

The film’s title comes from Porcellino’s personal motto in regards to creating King-Cat: the saying about self-reliance refers to the colonial practice of releasing hogs into the wild to fend for themselves or starve.



The Hospital Suite, to be published September 23 by Drawn and Quarterly, is a response to a series of life-threatening health concerns Porcellino experienced in the late 1990’s. Publishers Weekly praised the memoir, told through bare-bones drawings, as “a clear-eyed, penetrating book about the helplessness of illness which should bring Porcellino a wider audience beyond his cult following.”

On the second day of H&BN–Saturday, October 4–Porcellino will be a vendor in the book arts marketplace, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with King-Cat zines, books, tee shirts and DVDs plus selections from his Spit and a Half zine and comix distribution service. (For a complete vendor listing, click here.)

In conjunction with Porcellino’s visit, H&BN is bringing back Zine-O-Rama, a call for zines that has drawn donations from around the world. Submissions (with optional artist statement or bio) should be sent by September 22 to the Watkins Library, 2298 Rosa L. Parks Blvd., Nashville, TN 37228, Attn: Lisa Williams.


The fourth annual edition of Handmade & Bound Nashville (H&BN), a two-day celebration of print, paper and book, will unfold Friday, October 3, and Saturday, October 4, at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film. The free, family-friendly event–part book convention, part literary event and part art show–is presented by the Watkins Library and the Community Education department and features a gallery exhibition, documentary screening, zine collection, marketplace with dozens of vendors, and demos and hands-on activities.

10/3: Poetry and Prints exhibition opening reception • documentary and Q&A with zine legend John Porcellino • Zine-O-Rama

H&BN2012 Zine_o_rama readersOn Friday, October 3, the festival’s exhibition, Poetry and Prints, will open in the Brownlee O. Currey, Jr. Gallery on campus with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m.

The show (which takes its name from workshops presented by Watkins Community Education and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts) will showcase handmade books inspired by Wassily Kandinsky, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century and the subject of an upcoming retrospective at the Frist (Sept. 26-Jan. 4, 2015).

Handmade and Bound: Poetry and Prints is funded in part by an Arts Access grant from the Metro Nashville Arts Commission.

The appearance by author/illustrator John Porcellino of King-Cat Comix & Stories and the screening of the “Root Hog or Die” documentary begins immediately after the gallery reception, at 7 p.m. in the Watkins Theater.

10/4: Book arts marketplace

H&BN 2012 shopper On Saturday, October 4, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., artists, indie publishers and distributors, and book aficionados will come together to sell, trade and buy handmade and affordable publications, printed matter and book-themed creations at the H&BN marketplace. The festival will also feature demonstrations and hands-on activities for children and adults, as well as food trucks. Vendor registration is open through September 22.

Handmade & Bound Nashville, Vol. 4 is presented by the Library at Watkins and Watkins Community Education and is partially funded by the William N. Rollins Fund for the Arts through the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

Watkins is located at 2298 Rosa L. Parks Blvd. in Metro Center; free parking is available in the campus lot.

For information on registering for the marketplace, submissions to the Poetry and Prints gallery exhibition or Zine-O-Rama, visit handmadeboundnashville.com, HBN’s Facebook page or contact the Watkins Library at 615.277.7427.

Artober logo

The Handmade & Bound Nashville festival is an official, registered event of Artober, a broadly collaborative promotional initiative designed to highlight, inform and inspire the community’s participation in the wide range of arts activities offered in the Nashville area during the month of October (artobernashville.com).



“…perhaps no comics artist since Charles Schulz has rendered so much psychological detail with so few lines.”                                   ––Rain Taxi Review of Books

H&B2011 zine typewriter

(photo by Christina Young)




Link to “Root Hog or Die” trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=autzPcnndlc

The Hospital Suite

Excerpt and book info: https://www.drawnandquarterly.com/hospital-suite

Publishers Weekly review: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-77046-164-2


H&BN photos by Samantha Angel



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