Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Signs of the Apocalypse / Rapture in LA Times!

Click above to see our review in Los Angeles Times' "Favorite Books 2008" feature!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Support local handmade art at the Hook Pottery Paper Exhibition & Sale at Front Forty Press!

This Thursday-Friday (Dec 4-6)
10 am - 9 pm each day
at our studio:
437 N Wolcott #101 (corner of Wolcott + Hubbard)
Chicago, IL 60622

Artists Reception:
Friday December 5th, 2008
6 pm to 9 pm
Tea and beverages will be served

Please join Front Forty Press in celebrating new creative output from the artists of Hook Pottery Paper, the rural studio of husband and wife team Jon Hook and Andrea Peterson. Both artists moved to the country to realize a shared dream of capturing natural textures and shapes in their art while utilizing local and renewable resources in its creation. All of the pottery is wood fired, ranging in style from the traditional to highly conceptual. The paper and printed art is made from indigenous plants and fibers. Both artists combine a refined vision with unique processes in creating one of a kind pieces. As a result each artists' work is esteemed locally and internationally.

Hook and Peterson will visit Chicago from December 4th through 7th to display and demonstrate their products and processes at Front Forty Press. The exhibition/sale will include many fine pieces including a wide range of wood fired ceramic work by Jon Hook along with the handmade natural fiber papers, stationery, and paper / print art works by Andrea Peterson. Both artists will be present to discuss and demonstrate their techniques throughout the weekend.

Please join us for this special exhibition and sale! More detailed information on this event can be found on or call the artists directly at 219-362-9478.

Contact Front Forty Press at 312-492-6644 or for further information as well.

Front 40 books and products will be on sale during this event, with a holiday discount. Books make excellent gifts!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Newcity review of "Signs of the Apocalypse / Rapture"

Read the review by Jason Foumberg of Newcity Art below:

You can tell that we’re comfortable with the end of times when the subject gets its own coffee-table book. Front Forty Press has curated, designed and published a hardcover tome featuring artwork from over sixty artists and including two music CDs. The book is divided into the destruction of the world—Apocalypse—and the ethereal bliss that comes after—Rapture. Doomsday is depicted in horror vacui illustrations where debris swells into suffocating masses in work by Andrew Schoultz, Todd Arsenault, Mark Chariker and Joe Vaux, and dystopic landscapes pictured by Jean-Pierre Roy, David Opdyke, Lora Fosberg and Suzy Poling. Rapture, on the other hand, is characterized by Julie Mehretu’s ambient colorscapes, Bill Viola’s weightless dreams, and Doug & Mike Starn’s patchwork vision of Buddha. The Apocalypse CD contains tracks of sustained ambient noise, whereas Rapture is, by comparison, a harmonic savior.

The first essay in the book, by artist Christopher Bucklow, explains the apocalypse as a religious event, but it’s telling that in his introduction, the book’s publisher Doug Fogelson writes, “With the future ever upon us we are at a shameful state of affairs. There are so many real concerns facing humanity right now”—yet the exact date of “right now” is never given. The end of times is a fear adaptable to any time in human history; it is, in essence, timeless. Fogelson is hopeful, though. By getting acquainted with the “signs” of the end, he says, we’ll be able to tune in to the problems, and possibly the solutions.

Still, the broad array of artwork collected in the book is a feast for the eyes. I asked Fogelson if there’s anything odd about enjoying the look of such dark subject matter. “There’s a lot of beauty in the chaos,” he replied. With co-curator Ryanne Baynham, Fogelson created the collector’s edition for the end of times. Sonotheque will host a release party for the book on November 20, and a related exhibition is scheduled at the Hyde Park Art Center in July, 2009. $65 from Front Forty Press.

Published October 27 on

F40's recent activity

Front 40 has been keeping busy as we spread out our books at events around the country. In October, we were included in the Chicago Publishers Gallery at the Cultural Center. It was great to see and to discover new publications in our own backyard. There were about 1500 books from 50 area book publishers and 75 periodical publishers–Chicago is holding it down!

We also made it out to Champaign/Urbana for The Next Panel: Illinois Small Press Comic Expo, hosted by our good friends, John Jennings and Damian Duffy. Doug was there to represent for our graphic novel The Hole: Consumer Culture along with other Front Forty publications. The expo commemorated the opening of historic comic arts exhibition “Out of Sequence: Underrepresented Voices in American Comics,” co-curated by Jennings and Duffy. The show is on view at the Krannert Art Museum Oct. 24 through Jan. 4.

Next, Front 40 will be represented at FotoWeek DC 2008. It runs from November 15 to 22 in the nation's capital. Fellow participants include: National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, Epson, the Philips Collection and the Smithsonian Institution. We are very excited to be a part of the diverse group of professionals celebrating the photographic medium at this premier event.

Monday, October 13, 2008

"Signs of the Apocalypse/Rapture" Book Release!

Come help Front Forty Press celebrate the release of our latest title: Signs of the Apocalypse/Rapture with a listening event at "Chicago's most innovative lounge of sound," Sonotheque. Enjoy two live performances and a collection of apocalyptic and rapturous sounds from 21 bands on a world-class sound system, in an acoustically precise room. Mark your calendar for a stirring night of entertainment and socializing!

With live performances by:

DJ set by:
David Castillo

November 20th
, 2008/ 9PM-2AM
/ 1444 W Chicago Ave.
$5 (free before 10PM) / 21+

F40 Green Activism: Point of Contact

Have you seen these curious "points" around Chicago? They feature some of F40's favorite native local species and are a part of a larger effort to celebrate Chicago's native ecology. Visit our online interactive map to see all the Point of Contact locations and a great selection of nature spots in and around the city!

Caitlin Bauler Joins FFP

F40 is pleased to announce the addition of a new team member–Caitlin Bauler. Trained as a graphic artist, she also has the skill to touch her media be it screen printing, lumetype, watercolour, or tracing paper. Horray for Caitlin!!

Look out for more from this blonde bon.

Friday, August 22, 2008

up for a design challenge?

Threadless loves Drawing,

Front Forty loves Drawing,

Who do you love?

Some of the best designs begin as a simple hand-drawn sketch. It's incredible how random drawings in sketchbooks, on coffee table napkins, or doodled across sticky notes become sweet pieces of art once fleshed out onscreen. Your challenge is to create an amazing tee based on an original drawing. Feel free to explain your process with the submission or take some photos showing how you've created the design. If your design wows the community, it could be your ticket to a wealth of goodies, including a new Wacom Cintiq tablet and a full set of Front Forty Press book’s and CD’s!

Check out the challenge. It starts Aug. 15th and goes thru Sept. 15th, 2008.

Other sponsors include Wacom, Utrecht, Print magazine, and of course Threadless- all providing great prizes and cash to the winners.

Stay tuned- we will blog again when the challenge is over to see the results!
Thanks, hope to see you soon.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Early warning!

Front Forty Press will participate in the 4th Annual Printer's Ball, August 22nd at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). The Printers' Ball is an annual celebration of print literature in Chicago, hosted by Newcity, Poetry, and the MCA, in collaboration with CHIRP, MAKE: A Chicago Literary Magazine, Proximity Magazine, Stop Smiling, Venus Zine, and over 100 local literary organizations. The event showcases a diverse selection of print publications, available free of charge, including magazines, journals, weeklies, posters, and broadsides, plus a full night of live entertainment. The festivities begin at 5:30pm and go until 10:00pm... with some sort of post-ball Front Forty fun sure to be had. For more information, visit The Poetry Foundation's website.

This event will mark the end of a very full summer for Front Forty... which began with a feature at the City of Chicago's booth in Art Chicago in April as part of their "Chicago in Print" series.

We also had the pleasure of once again participating in the MCA's "Zines, Comics, and Other Hip Lit Fair" this May. Presented by the MCA and Quimby's Bookstore, the Hip Lit Fair is an annual celebration of independent press in all forms, including zines, comics, graphic novels, artist books, and much more.

Big ups to Caitlin Bahler, who represented Front Forty at this year's Printer's Row Book Fair, the Midwest's largest outdoor literary event which took place June 9th and 10th. Thank you to everyone who came out despite the torrential downpour!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Gutter Geek review of The Hole: Consumer Culture v.1 "Open"

From the June edition of Gutter Geek....

To say that
The Hole is ambitious is the understatement of the year. It strives to be nothing less than a Waste Land for the graphic novel renaissance, and it shares with Eliot’s modernist manifesto a decidedly bleak (but by no means entirely hopeless) view of the world we have inherited. It also shares with The Waste Land a serious level of difficulty, and most readers looking for a quick skim are going to be frustrated by what they find here: a narrative that plays with time like an accordion, an unresolved conclusion that is simultaneously hopeful and apocalyptic, allusions and references to religious and mythological figures that are at times opaque and even willfully obscure, and a deep disdain (one worthy of Eliot himself) for modern consumer culture that is likely to leave few readers feeling completely smug or innocent. But this is also, as they define the book, a scifi/horror comic, and Duffy and Jennings never lose sight of the generic pleasures and conventions of their chosen media. Like Eliot, or (a more satisfying example, since Eliot was ultimately a big prig) like a hip hop artist, it is what we choose to build (as artists, as readers) from the festering fragments of our modern world that matters.

As the allusion to
The Waste Land probably suggests, much won’t make sense the first time through, and Duffy and Jennings are clearly counting on readers patient and committed enough to work it through in steady loops. For example, early in the book, a still unnamed protagonist (Curtis) is confronted by an armed thug demanding his money. He fantasizes about beating the thief down but then flashes on a memory of another act of violence, which only later do we realize is a memory of him beating up a woman while stoned on heroin. He makes the decision not to fight back, and we see a woman beaming at him from behind, a woman we will only much later realize is the younger version of his mother. Confused? You will be, but most of the time you won’t mind, because the energy and smarts of the book will leave you confident that it all connects if only you are willing to do the work to put the pieces back together.

The book bounces back and forward in time--sometimes with clear markers, sometimes not. Early in the book, a narrator asks us if the “time stamps [are] helping, or have I lost you yet?” Making matters still more fraught, this narrator turns out to be a most unreliable manifestation of Legba, an already difficult and contradictory African deity who came to the New World through the horrors of the Middle Passage centuries ago. Legba is by definition a paradoxical deity--as Dana Rush tells us in the introductory essay, “simultaneously young and old, constructive and destructive, wise and wanton.” The problem here is that Legba’s contradictions seem to have splintered off from themselves, the wise Old Man at the crossroads no longer able to check and balance the wanton and voracious young man of appetite and ambition.

The reasons are spelled out (perhaps a bit heavy-handedly) in the subtitle: “Consumer Culture.” The very balance of nature is out of alignment in a world of instant gratification and the endless exploitation of African culture that must nourish Legba for future generations. Here Legba and black culture in general are emptied of meaning, tossed around as marketing devices or consumer products. And these conditions have allowed Legba’s appetitive manifestation not only to “outgrow” him, but to leave him entirely--to become something completely new: a sun-glass wearing whiteboy with a copyright symbol for a third eye. As Papa Legba warns, the very fate of the world is now a terrifying thing to behold.


The one ray of hope in the book is the hair salon and tattoo parlor, Faded Ink, owned by Curtis’s mother. Here we see a local black-owned business where craft is celebrated, where open political discourse runs free (and loud), and where people still talk to each other as human beings. Here in the tattoo parlor, instead of being consumed by popular culture, popular culture is itself consumed, reworked, remade in the fleshy, living art of tattoos. This is placed in direct opposition to Carla Bonté’s voodo emporium, where Afro-Caribbean culture is packaged and sold, and where the darkest most irrational manifestations of Legba are nourished on greed and jealousy. In fact, in this world old man Papa Legba is all-but homeless: the only interior space we see him settling down to a meal is the salon, a sign that it is spaces like this that we need if the Greed and Violence of Legba’s natures are to be balanced again by his wisdom and vision.

Aspects of this book reminded me of Gaiman’s
American Gods, especially the vision of the new gods of commerce and technology threatening to usurp the place of the neglected traditional gods of the Old World. And as with American Gods, some of the satire of consumer culture comes off a bit already-dated, as all such references do. It is, after all, part of the power of capitalism to have always already neutralized in apathy and irony any potential critique. As our narrator (who markets himself as an action figure named “White Peter”) says, “The revolution will be televised… It’ll be a low rated midseason replacement, cancelled after two episodes.” But even as the parodies of violent video games, reality TV, and animations designed to teach young girls how to become “super sparkly” shoppers seem at times a bit easy, Duffy and Jennings get them just right, touching on them just long enough to lighten the tone and underscore some larger arguments in a book that increasingly tends (again, like Eliot’s masterpiece) toward the abstract and metaphysical.

The second half of the book is where the going gets really weird. Our two wayward youth, Trina (daughter of voodoo entrepreneur, Carla) and Curtis come together, literally, as a hole in Curtis’s midriff opens up and devours her while she is in the act of, um, consuming him. Together the two forge some less-than-perfect union, and this is when things get especially hard to follow. As a monstrous superpowered freak, Carla/Curtis takes on the dark agent in an old-fashioned superhero battle…. And that is where our capacity for plot summary gives out. But I’m happy to go along for the psychedelic ride. Jennings’ dazzling layouts, which are mind-bending throughout, really take off in the book’s final pages, and it is a huge (and deliberate) letdown when our narrator takes over again with promises of a sequel whose preview is deliberately illustrated in a much more restrained style, santized for your easy consumption. But that is the story our far-from-trustworthy narrator would tell, and I am confident that the sequel we do get will resist him every step of the way.

Of course, there is a painful irony here.
The Hole: Consumer Culture leaves much unresolved and unanswered: how will Papa Legba defeat his evil former-twin? What will become of Curtis and Trina and the new creation they have melded into? What will become of Carla and the Fate of the World? Since a fair amount hangs in the balance, I am eager for the answers, but I know that the sequel depends in great measure on precisely the consumer culture the book decries at every turn. Published by a small boutique press and distributed by an academic publisher, this beautiful, challenging, mind-altering book is going to be a tough sell to comic stores and mainstream bookstores alike. And without sales, will we get our sequel? That is, without consumer culture, can we restore the balance to the world that consumer culture has shattered? The answer for Duffy and Jennings clearly lies in the model of Faded Ink, the family-owned, community-centered, craft-based space where exchange is inspired by art, love and politics. This is the kind of exchange of both capital and ideas that they wish to create with this book (and it is one that they have been carefully nourishing for some time at their small collective, Eye Trauma Comix).

So you heard it here first, folks. The Fate of the World hangs in the balance. Buy this book, read this book, and then read it again. You will be richer for it, as will all of us. Now, on with the crazy-ass show!


Friday, April 18, 2008

UVC Preview of The Hole: Consumer Culture

The Urban Voice in Comics magazine featured Front Forty Press' newest title The Hole: Consumer Culture in it's 2008 Preview Collection edition. Here's what they said:

Imagine waking up one day with a mouth on your stomach, and what it's saying is eating you alive? Welcome to the terrifying nightmare of a man named Curtis and a woman named Trina. lost in Eye Trauma Comix's THE HOLE.

THE HOLE: Consumer Culture, pt.1 "Open" is the first book of a two-part postmodern horror science-fiction satire about race and purchase power by artist/illustrator John Jennings and writer/letterer Damien Duffy, two comic virtuosos who have lectured extensively on international comics, art and philosophy, and visual literacy, popular culture and visual communication in hip-hop respectively.

The issue focuses on the clash between two voodoo spirits: White Peter, a newly created loa of capitalization, and Papa Legba, the loa of the crossroads, who is said to carry the fate of the world in a bag. It used to be a straw sack, now it's turned into a shopping bag. Welcome to the 21st century. The battleground is the Hypervoodoo network - mass media selling religion, will wonders never cease? To fight the new Legba makes something new, opening The Hole. And it bites. Enter Curtis and Trina - neither of them likes what their extra mouths have to say: something and something else about people for sale.

THE HOLE: Consumer Culture v. 1 "Open" will be out in early 2008 from Front Forty Press, appearing in the Spring 2008 catalog of University of Chicago Press. For more information, visit

So, what's eating you....

Monday, March 24, 2008

You Should Know... Doug Fogelson

Photographer + FFP Founder/Director, Doug Fogelson, is Chicago Magazines' Person to Know in their April 2008 issue. Read the article by Gina Bazer below:

It would be easy to say that Chicago photographer Doug Fogelson is having his moment: After ten years of shooting bread-and-butter commercial projects while doing art photography on the side, art has finally eclipsed commerce. His oeuvre has been featured at museums such as the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles; private collectors are adding Fogelsons to their Shermans and Struths; and he's consistently landing solo shows in galleries and small museums from coast to coast.

"I still haven't had a solo show at a major museum, though," jokes the 37-year-old, who lives in Ukranian Village with his wife and son. But, if Fogelson's "moment" is anything like the moments he photographs, then it might take a few more frames to get the full picture. Unlike many photographers who seek to capture time, Fogelson is obsessed with extending it, which he does by taking multiple shots of his subjects- be they leaves, waves, or people- from different perspectives or at different time intervals, without fully advancing the film between frames. The result is a collection of filmstrip-like tableaus composed of overlapping frames. They depict everything from people on a street corner to clouds in the sky, all bumping up against one another, all hyper-existing, all squeezing into a linear moment created by Fogelson himself.

"It's a simple mechanism of the camera that I'm exploiting," says Fogelson, who is committed to working with other artists. He has incorporated his photographs into large-scale light fixtures for Collaboraction theatre company and into a credenza for the local furniture designer Michael Koehler. Even Fogelson's day job, running Front Forty Press, a four-employee-strong art book publishing house, is rooted in the promotion of other artists. Last year, after publishing and distributing four titles, including Short Stories Illustrated by Artists (the title sums it up) and Graffitecture, featuring Fogelson's own architecture photography artfully "defaced" by graffiti artists whom he commissioned, the small house landed distribution through the University of Chicago Press. In April, Front Forty will release The Hole, by the artist John Jennings and writer Damian Duffy, a graphic novel that Fogelson describes as "a tome on race, voodoo, and consumer culture, written as much for the hight-level academician as it is for the comic book enthusiast. It's so radical, it takes a little while to wash through your consciousness." Just give it an (extended) moment.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Front Forty in Chicago Home + Garden Magazine

Front Forty Press' Green Dynamite gets a mention in the "buzz" section of the March/April 2008 edition of Chicago Home + Garden! Read the article by Taryn Bickley below.

Seed Money -
Turn over a new leaf this spring with local independent publisher Front Forty Press's Green Dynamite, $10. The biodegradable tubes contain seeds of more than 50 of the Chicago area's native wildflowers and grasses - enough to spread over an estimated 400 sqare feet. The seeds are easy to plant (sorry - there's no actual explosion) and satisfying in more ways than one: Proceeds from sales of the packets are donated to local green organizations.
Available at Sprout Home, 745 N. Damen Ave., 312-226-5950.

Green Dyamite is also available at the following locations: Grand Street Gardens, Hejfina, Healthy Green Goods, Ethical Planet, &

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Front Forty in URB Magazine

URB's January/February issue contains a lovely little article by Dani Deahl about Front Forty Press...

"Chicago's Front Forty Press is undoubtedly the dark horse of the art book world. Started just a few years ago as a virtual publishing house, Front Forty has gained steam in the past two years, jumpstarted by a feature at P.S.1 MoMA, and now boasts six acclaimed titles in circulation with several more planned for 2008.

Doug Fogelson, the man behind Front Forty, is just as much of a curiosity as the press itself. The straight-laced man in a pinstripe suit hardly seems like the person who would publish the racially charged graphic novel The Hole. Other books range from the ponderings over built environments in Sonneteer to Matt Volla's Unruly Drawings, a sketchbook chronicling the misadventures of tiny drawn creatures. However, the biggest success for Front Forty thus far has been Graffitecture, a visual thesis where Fogelson provided photographs of high end spaces to well known graffiti artists to do with as they pleased. Accompanied by four essays on graffiti, the book is as much about musing as it is markers and wound up winning best design 2007 at the Hollywood Book Festival.

A recent distribution deal with the University of Chicago Press mans that big box retailers will soon carry Front Forty releases, as well as the small independent shops and museum stores that Fogelson contacts directly. Despite the hard work, he admits the sudden success is a bit puzzling. "People have really responded to the books, which is suprising," he says. "Everyone's been trying to figure our who we are and what we're about. Our philosophy is [that] if we think something is interesting enough, we make a book out of it."