Things We Love: Ken Eppstein’s picks

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From the March 6, 2014 edition

It's no surprise one of indie comics publisher Ken Eppstein's favorite things right now is crowdfunding. The popular service fits in well with Eppstein’s love for punk rock and his DIY approach to comics. His latest Kickstarter to fund two new comics ends Sunday, March 9. He's also preparing for this Saturday's increasingly popular Indie Comics Fair at Ace of Cups (it runs from 1-6 p.m.).

Kafe Kerouac

When I first moved here 25 years ago, the first places I went to were the Brasilia coffee shop, Larry’s, Crazy Mama’s and Monkey’s Retreat. I’ve always been an aficionado of that trash bohemian culture. A lot of that’s gone by the wayside. Kerouac’s one of the few places that reminds me of that prolific dive culture. It’s not Larry’s, but they have the chin-rubbing intellectuals. It’s not Crazy Mama’s, but they have outcasts. They’ve got the books that Monkey’s Retreat used to carry. I don’t come to Kerouac as much as I used to, which is kind of sad because that’s what killed a lot of places, but if I happen to be walking by, I always pop in.

Frostop Root Beer

I know it’s corn syrup, but it’s got that just-right syrupy taste and the just-right amount of frost. It tastes so good coming out of the tap. I really adore it. I’ve never had a Frostop root beer float, though. I love ice cream and Frostop, but it’s never happened to me. I’ve got a birthday coming up in March, so I’ll have to get on it.

Mentors

I’ve been really lucky to have a series of mentors in my life. The most recent for the comic stuff is Derf Backderf, from “My Friend Dahmer.” We met at the Genghis Con in Cleveland about three years ago, and he kind of immediately accepted me as a peer. Before that, in some ways, was Ron House with the records. They all have that element of being the older brother and teasing me and putting me in my place, which is good because I need it. You pick up those people, and you learn to appreciate them. The further you go, the more you realize you adore those people.

My record collection

My record collection is one of my favorite things. The one thing that puts me at ease is going crate digging. I have about 3,000 records these days, and if you pull out any one I can pretty much give you the basic gist of the story behind how I bought that or how I came across it. To me that record collection is my diary of the past 25 years. I’ve got the early New Bomb Turks records from when I first moved to town and they were a new band and they invited me to their shows. I’m thanked on the inside of !!Destroy-Oh-Boy!! and they gave me a copy. That’s very important to me. There’s a lot of stuff like that in there.

Crowdfunding

It’s amazing; bringing patronage to the masses is a pretty amazing thing. There was the Kickstarter glory days, and I did a bunch of that, and I’m doing one right now, and it’s kind of become the flagship one. But we have other ideas that are coming out, like Kiva Zip and Patronomy. These websites all have a structure to how they do things, and it makes it a little more formal than the Paypal buttons that used to be ubiquitous. To me this is kind of the promise of the internet in general. It still feels pretty strong and reliable. In some ways running any sort of crowdfunding campaign is a grind because it’s making you do exactly what most people who are artists aren’t good at, which is asking for money and asking for sponsorships. That gets old on the people you’re asking as well, if you go to the well too often.