My longtime friend Bruce Pavitt has been contemplating purging himself of some material possessions for a few years now. (As an obsessive collector myself, I appreciate the impulse.) We recently concluded that the Charles Burns event on October 30 would provide an ideal opportunity to find new homes for a few of his amazing artifacts. As the founder of Seattle's storied Sub Pop record label, his collection is impressive, to say the least. You might want to shield your eyes to for protection from the brilliance that's below.
Many people are unaware that Bruce Pavitt created Subterranean Pop as a fanzine while an undergraduate at Evergreen State College in 1980. A year later he shortened the name to Sub Pop and released issue number 5 as a cassette and mini-zine so readers could hear the music being discussed. The dozen tracks included Steve Fisk, Pell Mell, Cool Rays (Calvin Johnson’s pre-Beat Happening project), and perhaps most interestingly, “Reagan Speaks for Himself” by Seattle sound artist Doug Kahn. Pavitt recruited Evergreen alum Charles Burns to do the cover. This issue of Sub Pop was the direct predecessor to the celebrated record label.
The original Charles Burns artwork for this cassette zine will be offered in a silent auction during the Burns exhibition with a reserve bid of $1,000. (The original Burns artwork for the Sub Pop 200 LP sold 8 years ago for several times this amount to EMP, the music museum founded by Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen.) Bids will be accepted through the run of the Burns exhibition, October 30 through December 6.
Pavitt is also offering his collection of pristine copies of Art Spiegelman’s RAW magazine. These coveted oversize issues included bound-in copies of Maus and other extras, including the aforementioned Doug Kahn recording from Sub Pop 5 as a bound-in sound sheet (almost never found intact in RAW #4.) It’s worth noting that RAW #4 was delayed because the conservative owners of Eva-Tone Soundsheets, the only domestic publisher of flexi-discs, refused to press Kahn’s piece, and Speigelman was forced to press the disc in Holland.
As Pavitt was showing me this sterling stash of RAWs, out fluttered a long-forgotten letter. In it, Spiegelman compliments Pavitt on Sub Pop 5, mentions a Burns story in forthcoming RAW #4 — but fails to mention Burns’ die-cut cover — and informs him of Doug Kahn’s inclusion.
I found it fairly astonishing that these two visionaries were collaborating on this level as far back as 1981. Who would’ve thought that a decade later, Spiegelman would be honored with a Pulitzer Prize for Maus, forever altering the comix idiom, and Pavitt would launch the alternative rock genre, penetrating pop culture globally? I was sort of stunned by this document. And in the midst of all this we find Charles Burns.
The letter was penned on the back of a proof of Spiegelman’s art for the German edition of DEAD MEN ALL HAVE THE SAME SKIN, which I’d never seen. I find it somehow unsettling to see German language on Spiegelman’s work from this era, given the content of the contemporaneous MAUS.
All 8 near mint copies of the RAW, the Pavitt-Spiegelman document, RAW one shots by Sue Coe and Burns' BIG BABY: Curse of the Molemen, and related ephemera will also be offered at silent auction with a reserve bid of $1,000 through December 6. They will be on display at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery for the run of Charles Burns X’ED OUT exhibition October 30 – December 6.
(Click image to enlarge.)
For more information or to register bids on the framed Charles Burns original Sub Pop 5 illustration or the RAW magazine lot, call Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery curator Larry Reid at 206.658.0110 during business hours.
Online Commentary & Diversions returns after a post-APE hiatus and subsequent sick day:
• Review: "Good Jaime Hernandez comics are always just about the most satisfying books that money can buy, and I was so impressed with how the pleasure of seeing contemporary Maggie again for the first time in far too long [in Love and Rockets: New Stories #3] gave way to the satisfaction of seeing another building block in her curious history, and then everything turned unpleasant in a way that was equally bleak and fascinating. Watching Jaime fit everything together the way he does is breathtaking. Recommended for adult readers." – Grant Goggans, The Hipster Dad's Bookshelf
• Review: It's still "Love and Rocktober" at Sean T. Collins's Attentiondeficitdisorderly: "If Ghost of Hoppers was Maggie's confrontation with adulthood, The Education of Hopey Glass serves up the equivalent for Hopey and Ray. It's fascinating to me to see where their lives have taken them versus where they were — and more importantly, what they represented to Maggie — when they were first juxtaposed. [...] What makes these two stories compelling and connects them to one another beyond the basic idea of the characters coming to terms with their age is how much the stories rely on the kinds of things only an artist of Jaime's caliber can pull off for their telling."
• Review: "Man’s oldest gynophobic horrors and most simplistic delight in sheer physical dominance are savagely delineated in this primitive, appalling, cathartic and blackly funny campaign of cartoon horror. Resplendent, triumphant juvenilia is adroitly shoved beyond all ethical limits into the darkest depths of absurdist comedy. Not for children, the faint-hearted or weak-stomached, [Prison Pit Book 2] is another non-stop rollercoaster of extreme violence, profanity and cartoon shock and awe at its most visceral and compelling. ...[T]his book is all-out over the top and flat out hilarious. Buy and see if you’re broad-minded, fundamentally honest and purely in need of ultra-adult silliness." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Bitter, haunting stories [by Zak Sally] like 'The Man Who Killed Wally Wood' and 'The War Back Home' show a striking willingness to ask uncomfortable questions about himself and the world around him. His account of Dostoyevsky’s time in prison is a real highlight and I think marks a turning point in his storytelling ability. And the fearless, self-lacerating essay he provides at the end brings the book to a near-perfect close. Really, [Like a Dog] is a tight little collection." – Chris Mautner, Robot 6
• Review: "There’s fourteen stories in all in this anthology, beautifully scanned, restored, and reproduced in all their four-color glory. [...] There’s a lot of fun to be had in these pages. [...] Boody properly showcases a sizeable enough collection of complete comics stories by the wildman inkslinger from Texas, finally elevating Rogers into the pantheon he’s always been part of — if only enough folks had been able to access his work. At last, they can!" – Steve Bissette, The Schulz Library Blog
• Review: "The publication of Rebel Visions was a vital riposte to [a] tide of apathy, a vast and authoritative work built for the clear purpose of documenting the entire history of the US underground revolution in a definitive fashion: a not inconsiderable task given the various tributaries that have spewed forth since the early 1960s. [...] Rosenkranz diligently weaves a number of divergent themes using the oral histories of most of the major participants." – Kevin McCaighy, Exquisite Things (via ¡Journalista!)
• Interview: Kat Engh of Geek Girl on the Street chatted with Megan Kelso at APE over the weekend: "I like writing and movies and music and art forms that are about more than one thing. I’m really fascinated by that, and I think that comics really lend themselves to that kind of layering and layers in conflict, because you’ve literally got two tracks of information with pictures and words, and because they’re so separate from each other, they lend themselves to doing different things at the same time. I’ve always thought that if a comic’s not doing more than one thing, it’s not taking advantage of what is, so yeah, I’d say I actively strive for that."
• Interview: At Comic Book Resources, Chris Mautner talks to Fire & Water author Blake Bell at length about Bill Everett — "I think Everett is as unique a stylist as Ditko is. When you see Everett's work, you automatically know who it is if you have any inkling about any of the Silver or Golden Age artists. Secondly, in his own way he's as influential as Ditko. Without question, Everett created the antihero in superhero comics back in 1939 when he introduced the Sub-Mariner. There was no other comic book character like him." — and upcoming volumes of The Steve Ditko Archives.
• Interview: It's the second part of Brian Heater's conversation with Drew Weing at The Daily Cross Hatch: "It’s such a weird time where so much stuff is available online, though I went out of my way to make the book a nice little object. And I feel like it does read better in book form, because it’s a format that you can more lovingly pore over the detail."
• Interview: At Gapers Block, Rose Lannin talks to Jeremy Tinder, who makes his Fantagraphics debut in Mome Vol. 20. This quote is relevant to the Mome story: "I grew up reading newspaper strips, like Garfield. I think it was around age 5 when I really started getting into Garfield and tracing it out of the paper every day. [...] Garfield was my focus in life for six years, I was so into it."
• Coming Attractions:Bleeding Cool's Rich Johnston reports here that "...[I]t seems that Fantagraphics, as part of their current attemp to to translate every French comic book in existence, has seized upon [David B.'s] book, Le Jardin armé et autres histoires or The Armed Garden and are to publish it in August next year," and here about our translation of Tardi & Manchette's Like a Sniper Lining Up His Shot, "...planned for August next year. Which, in terms of European-to-American translation is light speed."
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