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.
But that's what made the talk so interesting and informative for me. Santiago sat down with local best-selling author Rob Neyer, national baseball editor for SBNation.com, and together, they introduced me to this inspirational athlete, whose accomplishments during his short life extended way beyond the dugout.
Wilfred Santiago talks with Rob Neyer.
Thanks to Rob and Wilfred for the engaging discussion at the store, and thanks to everyone for coming out on a rare sunny Seattle evening to participate and listen! If you live outside of Seattle, or just weren't able to make it for some reason, we've got video of their talk right here! (Please excuse the background noise... Not surprisingly, Steven Jesse Bernstein was talking about this neighborhood in his poem "More Noise Please.")
[On YouTube in two parts here and here, in case the embedded videos don't show above.]
After the talk, our curator Larry Reid turned the radio dial to the Mariners game (we're doing... bad?), and fans of baseball and comic arts lined up to get their books signed by Santiago.
There's more pics to see on the Fantagraphics Flickr page. Wilfred has some more events lined up, and I highly encourage everyone, sports fan or not, to go! We'll keep you posted with future signings and events right here on the Fantagraphics FLOG.
The Online Commentary & Diversions hamster wheel started spinning a little too fast, but I think I've got it back under control now:
• Feature: For Largehearted Boy's "Book Notes" feature, Wilfred Santiago creates a musical playlist for 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente: "Golden age animation has been a big influence on my work and the graphic novel itself is very musical. It would be interesting to see the shape that it would take as a feature film. So here is what the 21 soundtrack would sound like."
(The following links are via the Largehearted Boy link above:)
• Review: "The graphic novel  is a beautifully wrought Clemente collage, following the hitter from the impactful events of childhood through his career as a Pirate and up to his untimely death. While there were several poignant dramatic through lines, the book’s strength lies in its brilliant visuals, which far outweigh its strictly biographical content. In addition to his many other notable qualities, like his humanitarianism and his greatness as a player, Clemente was a beautiful man, with a striking physicality. Drawing on this aesthetic truth, Santiago stuns and heightens it, with an imaginative and dramatic illustrative style, with its palette of Pirates yellow, and orange and black. The oral tradition of myth-making is put into visual form here." – Ted Walker, Pitchers & Poets
• Review: "The comic book biography is alive and well in 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente... In 21, Wilfred Santiago, who was also born in Puerto Rico, uses the language of comic books to tell the story of Clemente’s life as something like the arc of the hero’s journey or as a heroic epic.... 21 captures what made Clemente unique. However, Santiago uses the medium of the comic book in a unique way to tell the story of man who represents the best of us. [Grade] A-" – Leroy Douresseaux, I Reads You
• Review: "...I love a good graphic novel biography. Well as those of you who are familiar with the great baseball player and humanitarian that Roberto Clemente was already know, it would be hard to tell his story in any media and for that story not to be powerful. ...21 ... is a handsome production... [and] an... EXCELLENT graphic novel." – Ralph Mathieu, Ich Liebe Comics!
• Plug: "21: The Story of Roberto Clementeby Wilfred Santiago, a graphic novel by an illustrator and writer from Puerto Rico, received a nice write up in a recent issue of Sports Illustrated (linked here)... If we could only have found it at the book store. Sports shelves? Graphic novels? You give it a shot." – Tom Hoffarth, Los Angeles Daily News
• Review: "...Mattotti is an artist who is equally concerned with complex imagery and sharp storytelling — attention to that combination leads us to what makes Mattotti so great. Claudio Piersanti wrote a very crisp script for Stigmata, and Mattotti illuminates the story deftly, probably because he has a real appreciation for well told stories.... If one’s standard for great cartooning is drawing that tells a story without a shred of vagueness, Mattotti’s work on the events described above is thrilling in its virtuosity. But this is a work of art far more potent than a simple story well-told. Mattotti’s two extremes — that of high level storytelling and drawing that suggests unique emotions — exist side by side without any fuss." – Austin English, The Comics Journal
• Review: "While the core timeline of Freeway is only a few hours of frustration spent in traffic, Alex’s mind wanders through past fiction and reality, present fact, and fantasy. Kalesniko, who himself worked at Disney as an animator, designed his main character as an anthropomorphic dog. The result is a wistful, innocent, and somewhat naive protagonist who is coming to the realization that his childhood dreams aren’t quite turning out as he planned.... It is definitely worth the challenge of meandering through the crammed vehicles to reach those poignant moments of Alex’s life, moments many of us share in our own versions of our adult selves." – Ashley Cook, Giant Fire Breathing Robot
• Review: "Less able graphic novelists might scare themselves silly with the scope of this book, but Mark Kalesniko’s attention to detail in all aspects of his craft — the backgrounds, the emotional ranges of the characters and the slow but steady-paced urbane drama — blends the components together masterfully.... [Freeway] is deeply sophisticated and literary. It deals with humanity’s big questions – love, death, life, and what we do with our time. It’s funny, touching, heart-warming, tragic and very engaging." – Andy Shaw, Grovel
• Review: "Gilbert’s sketches actually give an insight into how he feels about his characters, and as a reader, I found myself understanding the characters a bit more, just by looking at his drawings.... The work in the ‘Jaime’ section is quite beautiful and well drawn, however, it does not give further insights into the ways in which Jaime sees his characters, or what he has planned for them... To sum up, Love and Rockets Sketchbook Volume 2 is pretty awesome." – Lisa Polifroni, lisaloves2read
• Interview: At Inkstuds, a 2008 conversation with Johnny Ryan conducted and with illustations by Josh Bayer: "It’s interesting that you bring it up because people always demand that artists deliver some sort of meaning and truth, and when that truth’s hideous they throw up their arms and get upset and have hurt feelings and it’s 'you’re ruining people’s lives.' There’s conflict; you want the art to be true, but don’t want to be shown stuff that makes you feel bad, you can’t make people feel good all the time, it's not true, the object is to make people feel something. There’s no rule that it has to be something good."
• Interview:The Daily Cross Hatch wraps up their serialization of the transcript of Brian Heater's MoCCA panel conversation with Peter Bagge: "I used to worry about what my peers thought. That’s a big mistake. Never worry about what your peers think, because then you always find out that they would have done it in a heartbeat. [Laughter] If you take anything away from this conversation, it should be 'fuck Dan Clowes.'"
• Feature:The Seattle Times' Marian Liu previews our Charles Peterson: Taking Punk to the Masses exhibit at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery: "'I was wondering why this kid was bothering to take photos,' said Larry Reid, curator of the Fantagraphics show, of Peterson. Now, flipping through the photos, Reid remembers each scene as if it happened yesterday. Drawn to the energy of the music, Reid was a good decade older than many in the scene then. He shepherded the artists by promoting their shows and allowing them to play in his gallery's basement. 'I can recognize the artists by their shoes,' said Reid, looking through the photos."
• Plug: "For a reality check, I turned to a former Rolling Stone colleague and friend who always seemed to have a better line on all things cultural than anyone else around and a way of stating his position in a manner that set him apart, way apart, from other music writers — make that writers, period — of his time, and boy does he put today’s snarky music press to shame. This would be the late Paul Nelson... (Nelson’s life and work are getting their just due in September with the publication of a long-awaited, diligently researched biography by Kevin Avery, Everything Is An Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson. Full disclosure: Yours truly was among those Avery interviewed. But buy the book anyway.)" – David McGee, The Bluegrass Special
• Plug: "I’m in the process of reading an advance of Everything Is An Afterthought, Kevin Avery’s biography and selected works of the music critic Paul Nelson. Reading Nelson’s writing reminds me how of the role that he and other music critics of the time — our own John Swenson included — played in creating the myth of New York City for me." – Alex Rawls, OffBeat
• Plug: "Back in 2003, Lou Reed paid tribute to poet Edgar Allen Poe with his sprawling The Raven, which didn't exactly strike a positive chord with the many critics and fans at the time. Nevertheless, Reed will now be revisiting that album with a new illustrated book. The book, also titled The Raven, was made in collaboration with Italian illustrator Lorenzo Mattotti.... We originally called The Raven 'bizarre and thoroughly uneven.' We'll have to see if this new illustrated spin helps to make the entire album a bit more rewarding." – Alex Hudson, exclaim.ca
Our conjoined neighbors, Georgetown Records, will be transformed into a "mom-and-pop punk rock emporium circa 1988 Seattle," as our curator Larry Reid explains it. Beloved local icon Russ Fallout will be DJ'ing records from that era; just don't make any requests for Leonard & the Love Gods -- I think Kurt, Kurt and Kurt are still after royalties.
And then, later that night, join Fantagraphics just around the corner at The Mix -- uh, I mean, Buddy & Jay's Scrap Metal Emporium, as it'll be known for the occasion! We've got Can You Imagine? on the bill, the Seattle supergroup featuring Peter Bagge and Steve Fisk. The Capillaries are back, and cartoonist Matt Southworth and friends will take the stage.
And also on the bill, it's Wormburner, all the way from Buddy Bradley's hometown of New Jersey! You can even catch a live in-studio performance from Wormburner at 1:00 pm PT that Saturday on local radio station KEXP 90.3 FM (streaming worldwide at KEXP.ORG).
Among all the action this Saturday night at the Taking Punk to Georgetown party, gifted Seattle cartoonist Matthew Southworth will be signing copies of Stumptown. This new collection, written by Greg Rucka, is a hard boiled thriller set in Portland, focusing on a character named Dex — (short for Dexedrine). Southworth will trade pen for guitar at the after-concert where he's reformed the Capillaries, featuring similarly multi-talented Stranger art director Aaron Huffman with Aaron Brown. They'll be joined at Buddy & Jay's Scrap Metal Empiorium by Peter Bagge and Steve Fisk's Can You Imagine? and Wormburner, from Hoboken, New Jersey, appropriately enough.
Peterson will display 14 exceptional pieces from 1980s Seattle punk underground, the era that gave birth to grunge. This period also gave rise to Peterson's signature cinematic style of still photography. He'll be joined by legendary cartoonist Peter Bagge signing copies of the recently released Hate Annual #9 comic and Yeah! collection. Adding to the atmosphere, Georgetown Records hosts a related installation of vintage Seattle punk posters, records, and ephemera recreating a mom-and-pop punk rock emporium circa 1988 Seattle. Russ Battaglia of Fallout Records & Skateboards fame will play vintage vinyl of the grunge era. Spread the word. This'll be a fun one.
Following the opening, join us next door at Buddy & Jay's Scrap Metal Emporium (also known as the Mix) for pop supergroup Can You Imagine? (featuring Peter Bagge, Steve Fisk, et al.), Hoboken, NJ's Wormburner, and the recently reunited Capillaries (Matt Southworth, Aaron Huffman, and Aaron Brown) playing all your old favorites. See you there!
Join us in Georgetown this weekend for non-stop action. Friday is the boisterous Honk Fest West festival featuring dozens of eccentric marching bands from all over the country. Chaotic cacophony throughout the entire neighborhood. Note: South Vale Street will close Friday evening in front of Fantagraphics Bookstore for the festivities, but drop in for a sneak preview of Charles Peterson's Taking Punk to the Masses show and visit Martin, Tina and Russ while they transform Georgetown Records into a mom and pop punk rock emporium circa 1988 in preparation for the next night's blowout!
Don't miss a minute - get a room! Stay and play all weekend at the friendly and affordable Georgetown Inn, located one block from the action. The historic Georgetown neighborhood is only 5 minutes south of downtown Seattle and 15 minutes north of Seattle Tacoma International Airport.
Paul Hornschemeier hasn't even started his Life with Mr. Dangerous book tour and already he's hit a significant bump in the road, losing some key support at his other publisher. So now he's doing it DIY-style, raising funds via a sale in his online shop and just plain begging. He explains it all here. One of his tour stops is at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery on June 18, so we definitely appreciate anything you can do!
[Full disclosure: KEXP is my other home aside from Fantagraphics... and, uh, that other building... thingy... where our beds and TV... is.]
Tune in this Saturday, May 7th at 7:00 pm PT as Charles guest DJ's on KEXP's Audioasis, the longest-running local music show in Seattle. He'll be spinning some of his favorite local bands, and talking to host Hannah Levin about his upcoming exhibit "Charles Peterson: Taking Punk to the Masses."
"Charles Peterson: Taking Punk to the Masses" opens Saturday, May 14th at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery in the somewhat-noisy neighborhood of Georgetown. Join us from 6:00 to 9:00 pm for a reception with Charles, and a guest appearance from fellow grunge-era icon Peter Bagge.
After the reception, Pete's band Can You Imagine?(featuring another local icon, musician/producer Steve Fisk) will be playing a show around the corner at The Mix. Opening acts include the return of The Capillaries, fronted by cartoonist/musician Matthew Southworth, and Wormburner from Hoboken, New Jersey – who, incidentally, we'll be live on KEXP themselves, performing an in-studio session on May 14th at 1:00 pm PT.
And the great thing about all these KEXP sessions is that anyone can listen at any time, no matter where you live, thanks to the streaming audio at KEXP.ORG!
Pick up a copy of this and other goodies including Drawn & Quarterly's Free Comic Book Day offering John Stanley's Summer Fun, featuring the further adventures of Tubby, Nancy, Sluggo and other characters on Saturday from 11:30 to 8:00 PM at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery. Support local comic book stores everywhere. Buy comix!
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