Monday, September 19, 2011

Greetings from Comic Book Land!

whew, so it's been over 4 months since i last posted. i actually have been busy, and intermittently lazy, with art and writing and teaching and some travelling and such. but what i really want to talk about is my trip to Washington, D.C. last weekend where I visited my college friend Patty and attended the Small Press Expo (or SPX) nearby in Bethesda, Maryland. Patty and I both went to Pratt Institute where I majored in Fine Arts Printmaking and she ended with a degree in illustration. Patty helped introduce me to comics back when i was interested but didn't know where to start. ah, the good old days of "Johnny the Homocidal Maniac" and visiting Forbidden Planet at Union Square. i hadn't seen her for years, so it was really nice to hang out with her and her sister Sarah and discover some new comics talent.

patty (on the left) and me. an amazing savory potato-chive waffle and salad at a belgian place in D.C. where i discovered that i really like pinot gris. which is saying a lot since i don't usually enjoy alcohol.

i have to say that i admire all the freaks who call themselves comic book artists. i use the term affectionately, since i have made a few short comics in my time and i understand that it requires an obsessive and self-motivated personality to produce such things. you gotta believe in what you're doing because why else would you spend so much time drawing each and every tiny panel. also, i believe that comic book art is truly a democratic medium. anyone can put anything they want onto paper and call it art. sometimes it is terrible and sometimes some magical things spring from this uncensored and unique format. i myself love comics because they are a blend of art, writing, and cinema. they tell stories that might not normally be told. they are weird and beautiful and reading them brings me a pleasure that nothing else can.

so onto the show! it was totally packed and noisy and full of tablers. i probably missed out on some good stuff because after 4 hours i was overloaded and i know that i hadn't seen everything. i definitely want to go again next year. there were some awesome artists and it was cool to be able to talk with them and have them sign my comic books.

these were some of the gems i picked up at the show. i would've liked to get more, but at some point i had to be frugal. so i'll review what i got:

so Corinne Mucha is one of my comic book heroes. i love her simple, yet at the same time detailed, way of drawing and the fact that her comics are SO funny. i picked up her comic "My Every Single Thought: What I Think About Being Single" which she signed for me with a doodle of a sad cupid. this comic made me laugh and commiserate many times about the ups and downs of what media tells us is a pitiful state of existence. i almost didn't want to part with this comic, but ended up mailing it to someone who i thought would appreciate it more right now. Corinne also just published a young-adult graphic novel about high school life which looked pretty cool. wish i'd had something like that back in my awkward years. oh wait, i'm still awkward. oh well.

this chap came all the way over from Manchester, UK! His name is Joe List and he makes comics that are absurd yet at the same time heart-felt. this one is called "Skimpy Jim," about a hair-creature that materializes from a boy's unruly mop-top. Skimpy Jim wanders the streets trying to figure out the true nature of himself, good, and evil. heavy stuff. super-cute drawing style.

I was delighted to find a former Pratt-alumnus at the expo, Laura Terry! I had once taken a sculpture class with her back in the day. she attended the Center for Cartoon Studies in vermont (imagine - a school dedicated solely to comic book art!) and is now making comics and doing freelance illustration. this lovely comic called "Morning Song" was nominated for an Ignatz award for Outstanding Mini-Comic. laura has a very fluid drawing style and beautiful sense of color.

i picked up "Blammo #7" by Noah Van Sciver, who came all the way down from denver, CO with his publisher Kilgore Books. i'd never read his comics before, but i like the way he draws people and the ways that he tells stories. this collection was a bunch of seemingly unrelated narratives (actually, i suppose that death played a role in most, but i'm not sure how purposeful that was), including the one above about a grim young man who helps out a girl who gets lost on Halloween. the other stories in the collection include a couple of horror stories about near-scrapes with death, an unemployed dead-beat, and a historical account of the beginnings of Mormonism, the acceptance and rejection of which Van Sciver later reveals was a large part of his formative years. his comics are very self-aware and modelled after older alternative comics serials (including fake ads and a letters page), yet there is a sense of sincerity throughout.

David Mack had the most crafty-artistic display that i saw at SPX. he had many little books that showed a fine eye for detail and experimentation. one of his comics, Steak and Cake, used punch-outs on the cover to reveal said steak and cake characters. he also had cards, etchings, and originial drawings. the comic above was a tiny little story about a sheep in wolf's clothing, perfect for anyone who has felt out of place in their world (with a happy ending, too!)

okay, so that's the majority of it. i got my comic fix for sure. i wish the best of luck to all the aforementioned comic book artists and also ones that i didn't talk about. i do admire you guys, and you have inspired me to set aside time to make my own comics again! when that will happen, i'm not sure...

speaking of, i have done a couple of comic/zine collaborations with the amazing Katie Green that i am sheepish to say i have still not posted about. but i assure you they will be in an upcoming post real soon. and i have a few other things to report on as well. all in good time. for now, enjoy your day everyone and keep creating whatever it is you create!