This Saturday is the first inaugural Jet City Comic Show here in our own backyard of Seattle, and we will be there. Come by and say hi to Larry Reid and Jacq Cohen, and in the afternoon, look for Peter Bagge and newly-crowned GENIUSJim Woodring, who will be signing books for an hour or two. Stop by an pick up a coupon for 20% off at our bookstore and gallery!
Right Thing the Wrong Way: The Story of Highwater Books
October 1st-October 24th
Opening Reception October 1st 6-9pm
Fourth Wall Project 132 Brookline Ave Boston, MA 02215
For seven years (and one miscounted eighth anniversary party) Highwater Books was snobby, high-concept, iconoclastic, poorly-business modeled publishing company that ran itself into the ground. Highwater published books late, promised them and never published them at all and even withheld its books from distributors on principle. The company asked its artists to fold mini-comics and stand behind convention tables and sell their wares to a public that did not know what to make of them. It hatched plans, plots and schemes, and it may have been the most important comic publisher of the early part of the century. Over those seven or so years, Highwater elevated the concept of design in the comics world; It emphasized independent and DIY attitudes in an increasingly corporate society, and it published some of the most important artists in comics. In October, Fourth Wall Project celebrates Highwater and a selection of its artists with a group art exhibition: Right Thing the Wrong Way: The Story of Highwater Books.
Starting with the opening party on October 1st and on view for three weeks, Right Thing the Wrong Way will display new and archival works by the artists central to Highwater Books: Brian Ralph, Greg Cook, Jef Czekaj, Jordan Crane, Kurt Wolfgang, Marc Bell, Megan Kelso, and Ron Rege. Along with the artists work, there will be an installation celebrating the strange history of the company. The organizers (TD Sidell, Emily Arkin, Brooke Corey, Jef Czekaj, and Greg Cook) will construct a mini-museum within the gallery, displaying ephemera (both finished and unfinished), half formed concept pieces, and plain old junk that made Highwater special. In lieu of a traditional catalog the organizers, in conjunction with Bodega Distribution, have put together an oral history of the company that will manifest in a short-run publication (natch!) for the show. Compiled and edited by Highwater artist and Phoenix art critic Greg Cook, the oral history will act as a companion to the show with the artists and "employees" of Highwater telling the story themselves.
Esther Pearl Watson is participating in a number of events in the coming weeks, beginning with a discussion of her graphic novel Unlovable along with a slideshow of process, inspiration and oddities at the Houston Public Library on Saturday, September 18th at 2:30 PM as part of Graphic Novel Day. Looks like a fun event:
FANTAGRAPHICS ACQUIRES LOST ‘GRAPHIC NOVEL' BY WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS & ARTIST MALCOLM McNEILL
SEATTLE, WA, SEPT. 9, 2010 --- Fantagraphics Books is proud to announce the acquisition of the only graphic novel written by — and possibly the last unseen work of his to be published — the innovative Beat writer and Naked Lunch author, William S. Burroughs. This lost masterpiece, Ah Pook Is Here, created in collaboration with artist Malcolm McNeill in the 1970s, will be published in the summer of 2011 as a spectacularly packaged two-volume, hinged set, along with Observed While Falling, McNeill's memoir documenting his collaboration with one of America's most iconic authors.
Ah Pook Is Here first appeared in 1970 under the title The Unspeakable Mr. Hart as a monthly comic strip written by Burroughs and drawn by the British cartoonist and painter Malcolm McNeil in the English magazine Cyclops. When the publication folded, Burroughs and McNeill decided to develop the project into a full-length, Word/Image novel (the term "graphic novel" had not yet been coined). Burroughs was 56 at the time, McNeill 23.
The book was conceived as a single painting in which text and images were combined in whatever form seemed appropriate to the narrative. It was conceived as 120 continuous pages that would "fold out." Such a book was, at the time, unprecedented, and no publisher was willing to take a chance and publish a "graphic novel." Burroughs and McNeill finally abandoned the project after collaborating on it for 7 years.
"It is singularly appropriate that after championing literate comics and the graphic novel form for over 30 years, Fantagraphics Books should bring a literary collaboration between one of America's most distinctive writers and his exemplary hand-chosen artist to light," says Fantagraphics Publisher and acquiring editor Gary Groth.
Ah Pook Is Here is a consideration of time with respect to the differing perceptions of the ancient Maya and that of the current Western mindset. It was Burroughs' contention that both of these views result in systems of control in which the elite perpetuate its agendas at the expense of the people. They make time for themselves and through increasing measures of Control attempt to prolong the process indefinitely.
John Stanley Hart is the "Ugly American" or "Instrument of Control" - a billionaire newspaper tycoon obsessed with discovering the means for achieving immortality. Based on the formulae contained in rediscovered Mayan books he attempts to create a Media Control Machine using the images of Fear and Death. By increasing Control, however, he devalues time and invokes an implacable enemy: Ah Pook, the Mayan Death God. Young mutant heroes using the same Mayan formulae travel through time bringing biologic plagues from the remote past to destroy Hart and his Judeo/Christian temporal reality.
Ah Pook Is Here was an experiment, not just in terms of the form in which the idea was expressed but the possible effects the form might produce. Burroughs was preoccupied throughout his career with the fundamental nature of words and images, particularly with regard to their ability to transcend time. In the case of Ah Pook Is Here, the rapport between artist and writer produced results that confirmed that contention. Ah Pook is the kind of extrapolative, futuristic feat of imagination that a reader would expect from the author of Nova Express and The Ticket That Exploded — a mind-boggling tour de force, dramatizing outré theories with a science fiction patina.
The second book in the set is Observed While Falling, written by Malcolm McNeill, an account of the personal and creative interaction that defined the collaboration between the writer and the artist, the events surrounding it, and the reasons for its ultimate demise. McNeill describes his growing friendship with Burroughs and how their personal relationship affected their creative partnership. The book is written with insight and humor, and liberally sprinkled with the kind of the hilarious anecdotes one would expect working with a writer as original and eccentric as William S. Burroughs. It confirms the prescience of Ah Pook Is Here with respect to the contemporary graphic novel; Burroughs' exploration of the artistic potential of combining words and images was a revelation to the artist. The book offers new insights into Burroughs' working methods as well as how the two explored the possibilities of words and images working together to form the ambitious literary hybrid that they didn't know, at the time, was a harbinger of the 21st century's "graphic novel."
"Fantagraphics is honored to bring this major work into print and to publish what is quite possibly the last great work from one of America's most original prose stylists," added Groth. "Burroughs once said that 'The purpose of writing is to make it happen.' We are proud to make Ah Pook Is Here finally happen."
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