Books

Where Cookbooks and Comic Books Collide

The Ambitious Variety of Exterminating Angel Press

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Tod Davies, founder of Exterminating Angel Press (EAP), takes a physicist's approach to social change. It's not that she's extraordinarily precise—it's that, like the minds behind a particle accelerator, her primary goal is to cause collisions. She founded EAP online in 2005 and publishes a bimonthly magazine on the website. The print arm of EAP is a recent development, having just this September released its first titles, Jam Today and The Supergirls.

As Davies puts it, EAP's line of work is in "questioning dominant culture and suggesting alternatives." Although the first entries in the EAP print catalog were penned by EAP staff members (Davies' Jam Today and EAP Pop Culture Editor Mike Madrid's The Supergirls), in the future EAP will use its online contributions—gathered from an open call for submissions—as the fertile soil for books.

The Supergirls is a history of American comic book heroines by Madrid. It tracks the ebb and flow of females' portrayals in comics since their primeval days in the 1930s. Throughout, Madrid draws parallels to women's changing roles in pop culture at large—Mary Marvel is "a flying, bulletproof Judy Garland, minus the diet pills."

The second inaugural EAP release is Davies' own Jam Today, a diary of recipes that she's created sans cookbook. Each one is a tale of food delight. It's impractical in the sense that the recipes are rough sketches, but useful in that it provides not only instructions, but also inspiration to cook. After describing a chicken liver omelet preparation she writes, "Eating that dinner restored me to myself, and told that technological alienation to get lost." She offers up her way of enjoying food without shoving it down the reader's throat.

Davies works from her home in rural Colestin Valley, Oregon, while Madrid is based in San Francisco. They arrived at EAP after careers in film and advertising, sick of relinquishing creative control and conceding their daily lives to work. The convenience of their current arrangement is an embodiment of the EAP mantra of practical alternatives.

One can criticize their exhortations to self-liberation as hopelessly bourgeois—after all, not everyone has the luxury to go out on their own. But why not save the reproving for all of the people who can, but refuse?

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