We'd like to thank everyone involved in making 2012 a spectacular success at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery. Gifted artists, authors, musicians, and curators coalesced to create a stimulating cultural atmosphere at the space.
Thanks to artists Peter Bagge, Gabrielle Bell, Jeffrey Brown, Nathan Bulmer, Charles Burns, Art Chantry, Jack Davis, Michael Dougan, Ellen Forney, Camille Rose Garcia, Ruth Hayes, Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez, Tom Kaczynski, David Lasky, Tony Millionaire, Gary Panter, Joe Sacco, Noah Van Sciver, Chris Ware, and Jim Woodring; authors Jim Demonakos, Susan Kirtley, Mark Long, Pat Thomas,and Nico Vassilakos; musicians Geneviève Castrée, Zachary David, Dennis Driscoll, Lori Goldston, Kyle Hanson,and Molly Nilsson; guest curators J. Michael Catron, Max Clotfelter, Michel Gagne, Ben Horak, Cathy Hillenbrand, Tim Miller, Kristy Valenti,and Jen Vaughn; bookstore interns Lillian Beatty and Lillian Morloch; bookstore staff Janice Headley and Russ Battaglia, as well as our retail partners at Georgetown Records.
Most of all we want to thank you - our wonderful patrons - for your enthusiasm and support over the past six years. Cheers!
Visitors to the Real Comet Press Retrospective at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Galleryon Saturday will be among the first people on the planet to sample the latest Charles Burns-themed beer from Elysian Brewing. The 3rd installment of the 12 Beers of the Apocalypse, offically released on March 21, is a green cardamom ale called Fallout. That's appropriate becuase DJ Russ Fallout will be spinning art damaged punk platters from the 80s in honor of the heyday of Real Comet Press.
We have an amazing array of wonderful artworks, iconic graphics, rare books and long out-of-print comix by the many gifted authors, artists, critics, and cartoonists that helped lay the foundation for Seattle's later ascendence to the forefront of global pop culture. Real Comet Press publisher Cathy Hillenbrand is a goddam civic treasure. Join hosts Michale Dougan, Art Chantry, and Ruth Hayes as we show our appreciation for Cathy's countless contributions to the cultural climate of the region.
Among the many highlights of the Real Comet Press Retrospective opening Saturday, March 10 at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is a rare public appearance by Michael Dougan. This influential cartoonist helped attract an influx of young artists thoughout the 1980s, as Seattle became a beacon of the alternative comix movement. Real Comet Press published his masterful East Texas anthology and the companion poster "The Bigger the Hair, The Closer to God," which, along with Lynda Barry's "Poodle With a Mohawk," became one of the enduring images of the era.
Also appearing will be graphic artist Art Chantry. His early Real Comet Press book of Seattle punk posters, Instant Litter, will be featured in the exhibition. It was prescient of Chantry to appreciate the value of these fugitive artifacts of a music scene that within a decade would influence popular culture on a global scale.
One of the few Real Comet Press publications that will be offered for sale at the retrospective, albeit in limited quantities, is Lynda Barry's first book, Boys + Girls,in the original format designed by Mark Michaelson and Helene Silverman. Publisher Cathy Hillenbrand often employed the gifted art directors of Seattle's Rocket magazine as book designers. Mark and Helene later established stellar careers in New York. (Helene is slated to accompany husband Gary Panter to his appearance at Fantagraphics Boostore later this year upon our publication of Dal Tokyo. Stay tuned.)
Don't miss the amazing exhibition of original art, comix, book works and ephemera, as well as many of the artists, authors and personalitites associated with the seminal stages of Seattle's alternative culture on Saturday, March 10 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM. Should be quite a reunion.
“From Comix to Critiques” was the focus of seminal Seattle publisher Real Comet Press. Founded in 1981 by arts activist Cathy Hillenbrand, then owner the Comet Tavern, this prescient enterprise published an amazing array of books that foreshadowed Seattle’s ascendance to the forefront of international pop culture. Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery celebrates the legacy of Cathy Hillenbrand with “Real Comet Press: A Retrospective” opening Saturday, March 10, continuing through April 10, 2012. This exhibition features art, graphics and book works by regional artists nurtured by Real Comet Press including Lynda Barry, Michael Dougan, Art Chantry, and Ruth Hayes, among others.
As owner of the Comet Tavern in the late 70s, Hillenbrand became an advocate for Seattle’s avant garde artists. In 1980, Lynda Barry won a contest to design the Comet’s matchbook cover, beginning a long association with the young Capitol Hill cartoonist. A year later, Hillenbrand published the text to “Propagandists Lament,” a performance work by Seattle artist Annie Grosshans. She soon sold the tavern to devote full time to publishing. Real Comet Press went on to publish four books by Lynda Barry — Girls + Boys, Big Ideas, The Good Times Are Killing Me, and Naked Ladies, Naked Ladies, Naked Ladies — as well as East Texas by Michael Dougan, Instant Litter by Art Chantry, and a series of animated flipbooks by Ruth Hayes. In addition, Real Comet Press published catalogues, criticism, and feminist theory by artists, curators and critics such as Lucy Lippard, Jo Spence, Douglas Kahn, Rini Templeton, Ernst Friedrich, James Turrell, and countless others. Many of Hillenbrand’s books and memorable marketing materials were designed the brilliant graphic artists associated with The Rocket magazine.
Join us on Saturday, March 10 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM to fete the former publisher. Real Comet alumni Hayes, Dougan and Chantry will host the celebration, which includes an exhibition of art, books and ephemera from the Real Comet archives. A limited number of out-of-print Real Comet Press titles will be available for sale (including the iconic Lynda Barry poster “Poodle with a Mohawk”). This reception coincides with the colorful Georgetown Art Attack featuring arts presentations throughout the historic neighborhood.
On Saturday, March 24 at 6:00 PM Fantagraphics Bookstore presents Susan Kirtley, author of Lynda Barry: Girlhood Through the Looking Glass from University of Mississippi Press, in conversation with Cathy Hillenbrand. This enlightening discussion will be followed by an informal reception and book signing.
On Friday, March 30 at 6:00 PM, Hillenbrand joins cartoonists Ellen Forney and Jim Woodring, and Fantagraphics associate publisher Eric Reynolds on the panel discussion “Northwest Noir: Seattle’s Legacy of Counterculture Comix” moderated by Fantagraphics Bookstore curator Larry Reid at Emerald City Comicon at the Washington State Convention Center.
REAL COMET PRESS: A RETROSPECTIVE Art, comix, and books from the seminal Seattle publisher.
Opening reception Saturday, March 10, 6:00 to 9:00 PM Hosted by Art Chantry, Michael Dougan, and Ruth Hayes
Exhibition continues through April 10, 2012
Saturday, March 24, 6:00 PM Susan E. Kirtley, author of Lynda Barry: Girlhood Through the Looking Glass In conversation with Real Comet Press publisher Cathy Hillenbrand
Original paintings by celebrated Southern California artist SHAG.
A multimedia homage by Seattle artist (and frequent Fantagraphics printmaker) Art Garcia.
Plus awesome works by graphic design legend Art Chantry, ceramicist Charles Krafft, and cartoonists Tom Neely, Johnny Ryan, Roberta Gregory, Pat Moriarity, Peter Bagge (from the pages of MAD), and a dozen others, including the master himself, Jack Davis. Arrive at 6:30 to experience a virtual visit with Davis via Skype, hosted by Gary Groth.
The opening reception for the Taking Punk to the Masses exhibition on May 14 was a stellar affair - a reunion of misfits and miscreants from Seattle's grunge era together with a new generation of counterculture mavens. The show documents Seattle's grunge scene in its formative period from 1983 - 1985. I often equate Seattle's youth culture in the mid-80s to San Francisco's hippie movement in the mid-60s. Both had a singular music style, provocative graphics, and an anti-fashion sensibility. Beyond that, these movements benefited from a community of gifted cartoonists that disseminated unfiltered observations. Fitting, then, that Peter Bagge was the special guest at the event on the occasion of the release of Hate Annual # 9 and the Yeah! collection.
It's remarkable how Peterson's early works display sophisticated formal qualities while capturing the energy of the era. The halo of light in many of the candid concert shots is used to stunning effect. Also evident is the advent of his signature cinematic approach to still photography.
Comix enthusiast Bruce Pavitt's Sub Pop fanzine of the early-80s featured the work of cartoonists like Lynda Barry and Charles Burns. His commitment to the emerging "Seattle Sound' in this period led to the phenomenal success of bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney and others — all of whom released early recordings on his fledgling Sub Pop record label.
Notable horror writer Wilum Hopfrog Pugmire, editor of seminal Seattle zine Punk Lust, pictured here between low brow art collectors Marlow Harris and Jo David.
A rare public appearance by Art Chantry, perhaps the most influential graphic designer of his generation. He helped develop the aesthetics associated with grunge.
Look at this line up of kickass kuties: artist Lisa Petrucci, tattooist Sunny Buick visiting from Paris, and their art dealer extraordinaire Kirsten Anderson of Roq la Rue.
Graphic designer (and hero of our Art Director Jacob Covey) Art Chantry wrote an appreciation of rock stickers for the PictureBox website and featured this old one by Jaime Hernandez as the illustration. Our own Eric Reynolds comments: "I no longer recall the exact origin of that sticker. The Damachers were one of Hopey's more obscure bands from the pages of L&R. There was no real purpose for the sticker. It wasn't even promotional, exactly. Just something fun Jaime made up."
We still have a few of these floating around the office here. No, you can't have one.
I wish I had time to Flog all that I'd like to Flog but until I manage to write some decent design-related posts (as if anyone wanted my take on the history of the illuminated Bible up through the Wolverton Bible), here's a quick bit of editorializing promotion for a few talented people:
• There's a new interview with Andy Smith over on James Morrison's Caustic Cover Critic book cover blog (which is a good place to hang out if you care about such things). Andy is a UK illustrator who does a lot of distinctive book cover design work. He also makes silkscreened comics by way of a kids-book format (one illustration per page/spread). The work is lively and really satisfying to hold. Frequently his books use typography as a narrator's voice but also as a kind of character and setting. I'm always impressed with people who can pull off messy, loose drawing styles with total confidence and Andy manages to do it with deceptive sophistication. These are comics meant to be a joy and they are.
• Last weekend I had the chance to put up Mome artist T. Edward Bak in our guest room and I really enjoyed talking with him about the research for his in-progress graphic novel about the life of G. W. Steller. With all the self-indulgent Kickstarter projects that feel like sad panhandling, Bak's book is a standout for what makes that site a great resource. Anyone who wants to support comics as a legitimate form of reportage/biography should fund this project on principle alone. Bak is doing a remarkable amount of background study to make this book not just some accessible story of an easy-to-glorify character but one that presents a new perspective on a legendary naturalist explorer. Sign on here.
• Then there's Lizz Hickey. I love the artwork of Lizz Hickey so if she wants to make a comic book out of copperplate etchings, then I can get behind her need to raise money for such an expensive endeavor. I'm not going to try to describe her work. She's unique, very unique.
• T. Edward Bak and I were also talking about the Facebook posts of Art Chantry. Chantry is an icon of contemporary graphic design and a wealth of popular culture knowledge (especially of the blue collar variety) as it relates to design. He's had a big impact on me over the years and his lengthy and entertaining Facebook posts are well worth enduring whatever makes Facebook supposedly evil.
• And speaking of Chantry, Mikey Burton did this smart poster for one of Art's speaking engagements. Mikey does some great design work and I was excited to talk to him recently about xerox transfer process but all he did is tell me I should quit it because it gave him spontaneous nosebleeds. What a killjoy.