This weekend is Seattle's BUMBERSHOOT festival ("bumbershoot" is old-timey for "umbrella" -- get it? it rains a lot here!), one of the biggest cultural events of the year in the great Pacific Northwest, and Fantagraphics will have a presence at the show in a few different ways, most notably a massive art exhibit curated by our own Larry Reid. Here's the skinny on all FBI goings-on:
NORTHWEST COMIX: A 30-YEAR SURVEY OF SEATTLE ALTERNATIVE CARTOONISTS Curated by Larry Reid in Association with Fantagraphics Books
Venue: Northwest Rooms
Open free to the public September 4-6 with admission to Bumbershoot 2010
This retrospective examines the Northwest's legacy as the birthplace of alternative comics (aka comix). Beginning with the work of Lynda Barry circa 1980, and running through today, the emphasis is on the role of comix in Seattle's youth movement of the '90s that went on to influence global popular culture. Curated by Larry Reid in conjunction with Fantagraphics Books, this exhibit features original artwork on display together with demonstrations by Friends of the Nib and Bureau of Drawers, as well as screenings of Hooked on Comix. Artists include Lynda Barry, Charles Burns, Peter Bagge, Jim Woodring, Ellen Forney, Patrick Moriarity, Mark Zingarelli, Roberta Gregory, Megan Kelso, Jim Blanchard, David Lasky, Justin Hampton, Ted Jouflas, and others.
AN EVENING WITH TONY MILLIONAIRE
Venue: Leo K. Theatre
Monday, September 6, 2010 • 5:30 pm- 6:30 pm
Tony Millionaire is the multiple award-winning creator of the self-syndicated comic strip, Maakies, which appears in weekly newspapers across the country. Maakies has been adapted to the small screen in 1998 for Saturday Night Live and in 2008 as The Drinky Crow Show for Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. Moderated by Eric Reynolds of Fantagraphics Books.
LISTEN WHITEY: A HISTORY OF BLACK POWER RECORDINGS Hosted by Pat Thomas
Venue: Words & Ideas Stage
Saturday September 4, 2010 • 3:45PM - 4:45PM
Pat Thomas' forthcoming Fantagraphics book, Listen Whitey: The Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975, chronicles his huge collection of rare and out-of-print Black Power poetry, speeches, interviews, jazz, soul, rock, and pop recordings. He will be speaking about this exhaustive collection and providing unique insight into the historical movement, while playing tons of music and recordings.
Also, if you live in Seattle, you might want to get in on this contest asap to win a few thousand dollars worth of killer swag, including a bunch of Fantagraphics books!
I just learned that there is a "Zippy the Pinhead: The Musical" opening Nov. 12 (and running thru Nov. 21) in Baltimore, MD. Hello?!?! It's written by Baltimore composer Lorraine Whittlesey and tells the story of the Zipster's return to Baltimore to attend his high school reunion, and includes numbers such as "Pinhead Love," "The Condiments" and "Type 'Z' Personality."
Okay, you've already heard about our contest for this, and been informed about the Onion's recent interview with its director, but I just wanna testify and tell anyone who might be curious that they should go buy the new Criterion release of Terry Zwigoff's Crumb film already. I bought the Blu-Ray edition yesterday even though I think it's now the third iteration of the film that I've purchased; well worth it, though, because Criterion is the first to get it right. It's a handsome and thoughtful package, which includes a fascimile reproduction of Charles Crumb's (In)Famous Artists Test booklet, as well another booklet of 'liner notes'. And the DVD extras look fantastic: almost an hour of previously-unseen footage shot for the film, two Zwigoff commentaries (one new one conducted for this edition as well as the 2006 commentary he did with Roger Ebert for previous DVD editions), a new digital transfer of the film, etc. I'm already looking forward to picking up the Criterion edition of Zwigoff's first film, Louie Bluie, next.
Now if Criterion would just bring us Ghost World and Art School Confidential, we'd be in business...
Here is a picture of Daniel Clowes, who took his son to the Alameda County Fair a couple weekends back, only to discover an unlikely act on one of the stages. Dan reports, "Unfortunately, we missed their set."
My name is Eric, and I'm a recovering Comicon attendee.
Okay, that's a loaded opener and implies that I had an unhappy experience this year. I didn't; I just couldn't resist. But my way of navigating the show and finding ways to make it more enjoyable have definitely evolved over the years. I've been to every Comic-Con but one since sometime in the early-to-mid-1980s (and I'm only 39 -- you do the math), long before the current convention center was built. I've gone as a child, an adult, a fan, a retailer representative, a journalist, a publicist, and a publisher. I know my way around the show. And the way that I've found I can make the best of it anymore is, frankly, by making the least of it. I've given up on trying to soak in as much as I can and find I'm happier if I let go and try to soak in as little as I can. Work the booth, talk to fans, enjoy a few quiet dinners, go to the Eisners. That's about the extent of it. Forget walking the floor, forget hitting the best parties, forget cramming as much into as little time as possible. It's madness, and my body can't take it anymore.
So, Mike Baehr has already chronicled the Fanta goings on at Comicon far better than I ever could -- I still can't figure out how Mike had time to take pictures and tweet all day, every day, while he was also constantly helping customers and our authors and barely had any breaks for about six days straight. Mike rules.
But here's what I can tell you: On behalf of all of the Fantagraphics staff, I really want to thank everyone who came all the way down to our end of the hall with a little bit of money left in their wallets and bought some books from us. When you think about it, what with all of the hundreds of thousands if not millions of items that are for sale at Comic-Con, to know that enough people find what you're doing worthwhile enough to cover our significant expense of exhibiting is really kind of incredible. I say that as someone who knows our books are great; I just don't necessarily expect anyone else to agree with me. So when you do, well, it makes us feel good, and I know I can speak for everyone we had down there that we honestly enjoy talking to the people that read our books. We have a lot of really nice customers. My biggest fear about Comic-Con is that it is getting so big that casual comics readers unwilling to make plans a year in advance are getting squeezed out by hardcore fans who only want to see Twilight panels or whatever. That's not to sound anti-Hollywood; it's just the reality of the logistics of Comic-Con anymore.
That said, I kept telling folks all weekend that even though it's in my nature to complain, I had almost nothing to complain about in regard to this year's show (which I realize makes for a boring con postmortem). Yes, I find it weirdly condescending and annoying that every retail worker in downtown San Diego now seems to wear some generic comics-related t-shirts or capes for five days straight (especially when you know they're being forced to do it and probably resent it every bit as much). But so be it. When I go to a nice restaurant downtown, I can promise you that I'm not so hungry to relive my day on the floor that I need Green Lantern-themed cocktails or steaks named after the wild creatures of Pandora. But I will be famished enough to forgive it.
Oh, sure, I could complain about "Hollywood," I suppose. At the Eisner Awards, I was sitting with two nominees in one of the categories that the cast of Scott Pilgrim presented. Given that one of the other nominees actually was a Scott Pilgrim book, I guess I could complain that the presenters effectively eliminated any element of surprise over who was going to win. But really, we just thought it was funny. If you can't laugh during the Eisners, you're in for a long night.
So, I can dig it. My 13-year-old con-going self would have stabbed somebody in the eye to see a panel about an Avengers movie. Nowadays, I'm fairly ignorant to the pervasiveness of the cult of celebrity of Comic-Con. I'm good at tuning things out. This year, I noticed the creeping influence of tinseltown less within the show than I did outside. As soon as I stepped outside the convention, that's where I felt the constant, sensory assault of shameless hucksterism, with sidewalk salesmen shoving video game and movie-related hype left-and-right into my face and hands whether I wanted it or not (I didn't). The con itself is a breeze compared to walking up First Ave. on Saturday night at 7PM.
Within the con, I keep to the comics end of the floor and rarely set foot more than a row or two past our own aisle towards the "popular" end of the show. It's civil and peaceful; everybody likes each other. And if you get bored, there's a lot of good books to read, and a ton of really great cartoonists who will do free drawings for you. If you come next year, see for yourself. And if you came this year, thank you.
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