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.
Charles Burns was among a trio of gifted cartoonists to emerge from The Evergreen State College in the mid-1970s. Together, Burns and fellow Evergreen alumni Matt Groening and Lynda Barry altered the course of contemporary comix and left an indelible mark on regional culture. Burns makes a rare return visit to his native Seattle on Saturday, October 30 to celebrate the publication of his amazing new graphic novel X'ED OUT with a slide talk, art exhibition, and book signing at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery. His idiosyncratic horror-story sensibility is perfect for the Halloween-eve occasion.
Burns began his career as a fine artist in Seattle while publishing illustrations and his "Big Baby" cartoon in The Rocket magazine, developing his signature stark-contrast rendering style. Burns also composed covers for Bruce Pavitt's seminal Sub Pop cassette fanzine, the forerunner to the celebrated record label. On a visit to New York, Burns came to the attention of cartoonist Art Spiegelman, who subsequently published his work in the influential anthology RAW. The rest, as they say, is history. Spiegelman published the collected BIG BABY on his RAW imprint, and Seattle-based publisher Fantagraphics Books produced his influential BLACK HOLE serial, as well as graphic albums SKIN DEEP and EL BORBAH (in addition to reprinting BIG BABY.)
X'ED OUT continues the artist's examination of the furtive insecurities of adolescence becoming manifested in bizarre and horrific consequences. In a departure from Burns' prior work, the current graphic novel is presented in full color.
The reception at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, located at 1201 S. Vale Street, will feature a brief slide talk and book signing. An exhibition of recent fine art prints will be complemented by Burns' original drawings and related Sub Pop ephemera courtesy of label co-founder Bruce Pavitt.
Please join us to celebrate the lasting legacy of Charles Burns on Seattle's civic culture and the debut of his graphic novel X'ED OUT on Saturday, October 30 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM. Spooky Halloween costumes are welcome but not required. All ages, free admission.
CHARLES BURNS: X'ED OUT Slide Talk, Print Exhibition and Book Signing Saturday, October 30, 6:00 to 9:00 PM
Dave Cooper and Johnny Ryan graced us with their presence at our Bookstore & Gallery last night to celebrate the release of their respective new books Bent and Prison Pit Book 2 and a fine time was had by all. Thanks to everybody who came out and made it a bustling crowd on a rainy Saturday night! For those who couldn't make it (or would like to relive the experience), browse our photoset, which includes shots of all of Dave's drawings on exhibit. We'll post pics of Johnny's visit to Floating World in Portland and from Dave's other book tour stops when they turn up.
Today's (and yesterday's — sorry for the interruption) Online Commentary & Diversions:
• Review: "Yes, [Special Exits] is a heartbreaking — even harrowing — tale, one made all the more moving and immediate by the creator’s nuanced gift for capturing the essence of her parents on the page. But it’s also a tale told with consummate skill, filled with mordant humor and real compassion, an almost embarrassing amount of candor, and a deep abiding love and respect for its subjects. [...] Ultimately, it’s these simple and true moments of mundane magic which marks Special Exits as more than just one of the best books released this year. It is, without a doubt, also one of the most significant contributions to the comics medium this side of the millennium, a modern masterpiece which celebrates the human condition." – Bill Baker, ForeWord Reviews
• Review: "Ultimately, ...the book churns itself into a seething sludge of psychic toxicity that’s less a shockfest and more a satire of existence itself. Mercilessly graphic and superbly unspooled, Prison Pit funnels the fantastic, violent notebook sketches of the middle-school miscreant into a funny, pulsing, disgustingly purgative eruption. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "Prison Pit Two is one of the most gruesome and beautiful new comics I've seen. It's the comics equivalent of Voivod's Rrröööaaarrr. Buy buy buy. Die die die." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "There have been plenty of comic-book memoirs, but few with the complex structure of You’ll Never Know, which seems at times to be rambling from topic to topic with no clear direction, until it unexpectedly circles back to an earlier point and makes the purpose of one tiny anecdote clear. Because this is still a work-in-progress — and an idiosyncratic one at that — it’s too early to tag it as a masterpiece. But damned if it isn’t well on its way. [Grade] A-" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "With each passing year, Bill Griffith’s venerable comic strip Zippy the Pinhead gets weirder, moving away from direct social commentary and toward a more abstract expression of Griffith’s worldview. The latest Zippy collection, Ding Dong Daddy from Dingburg, is dominated by a long tour through a town run by pinheads — an absurdist spin on consumer utopia that rivals Superman comics’ Bizarro World for its down-is-up jargon and attitudes. The joke? That this is more or less the America of the early 21st century... [Grade] B" – The A.V. Club
• Review: "The Hernandez Brothers have... been on a constant incline. They never treaded water or plateau'd. In fact this issue, the third issue of the third volume [of Love and Rockets], is one of the very best things they've ever done. [...] This is a perfect volume by guys who've been getting perfecter all the time. [...] At their worst the Hernandez Brothers make work that's merely good and entertaining. At their best they make this." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "Adele Blanc-Sec is a sort of actiony, science fictiony comic for people who aren't retarded. It's like a Europeaner Hellboy or Indiana Jones. [...] This isn't my absolute favorite Tardi book — there's slightly too much dialogue and slightly too many characters with mustaches to keep up with — but it's still a fucking masterpiece. Everything he draws and the moods he conveys are worth the price of admission alone." – Nick Gazin, Vice
• Review: "In [Mome] Vol. 19, [editor Eric] Reynolds shifted gears and used fewer but longer entries to put together perhaps the single best issue of the entire series (only Vol. 12 surpasses it in my estimation). Beyond its quality, Mome Vol. 19 also seems to be the issue that best reflects Reynolds’ taste as an editor. Reynolds has always been more on the underground side of the fence than in the literary fiction camp when it comes to comics. This issue’s mix of the transgressively funny, pulpish noir, surrealism, scatology and innovation was sequenced in such a way that every transition from story to story was nearly seamless. More importantly, the stories frequently complemented each other in a way that acted as a form of editorial storytelling on its own. [...] Secrets and mysteries are at the core of every story in this volume, and Reynolds expertly put together this jigsaw puzzle of styles and visual approaches to create a coherent, deeply affecting book. It’s certainly on my short list of best comics of the year." – Rob Clough, The Comics Journal
• Review: "Mome... is where the smart kids with the sharpest pencils, shiniest pens, biggest brushes and best software go to play before they blow your minds in great big award-winning graphic novels. It is intense, sometimes hard to read and crafted to the highest production standards. Considered by most to be the successor to Art Spiegelman’s Raw, it doesn’t come out nearly often enough. [...] This volume is perfect for newcomers to jump aboard... Whether you’re new to comics, currently searching beyond the mainstream or just want something fresh; these strips and this publication will always offer a decidedly different read. You may not like all of it but Mome will always have something you can’t help but respond to. Why haven’t you tried it yet?" – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!
• Review: "Jacques Tardi's masterful It Was the War of the Trenches was originally published in Europe in 1993, and thanks to Fantagraphics it has finally made it to the U.S. It was worth the wait. [...] I was nauseated. I was horrified. I was transfixed. Everyone should read this book and relearn the lesson that war is not diplomacy by other means, but the most hellish, useless and destructive tool at our disposal, and should be found somewhere past the last resort." – Andrew A. Smith, Scripps Howard News Service
• Review: "An effective biography and a great showcase of classic comics artwork, [Fire and Water: Bill Everett, the Sub-Mariner and the Birth of Marvel Comics] provides an intriguing look into the life of a man who played an important role in the shaping of the creative side of the comics industry. [...] Abetted by plentiful examples of Everett’s illustrative prowess (both at his peak and when in the depths of addiction), it’s a valuable tool for anybody interested in the history of the medium or the men behind their favorite stories and characters. And it’s fortunate that men like Blake Bell and publishers like Fantagraphics are committed to telling these stories so that we don’t lose sight of our roots." – Michael C. Lorah, Newsarama
• Review: "Do you ever stop to think that David Lynch's work doesn't make sense? No, not in that way — I don't mean in terms of story logic, I mean in terms of his aesthetic/generic approach. [...] Something about what Lynch does, the confidence with which he does it, makes it feel seamless, like 'of course' rather than 'what the?'. Looking at the cover for The Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S., I realized the same is true of Jaime Hernandez's comics. [...] He created his own kind of story." – Sean T. Collins, Attentiondeficitdisorderly
• Review: "To call it 'comic book as nightmare' would certainly sound too glib by half and too cliche by whole orders of magnitude, and yet nothing else provides so apt a model for the kind of experience Columbia has crafted here. [...] In short, Pim & Francie is a monumental achievement. Columbia's brilliance is on full display... to some of the most truly dreadful effect I've ever experienced." – Curt Purcell, The Groovy Age of Horror (via Sean T. Collins)
• Plug: "Stephen DeStefano and George Chieffet's new book Lucky in Love was recently released by Fantagraphics Books and I just received a copy courtesy of the artist so I want to plug one of my favorite artists working in comics and animation. As always Stephen's art is amazing. Pick up a copy today!" – Kevin Langley, Cartoons, Model Sheets, & Stuff
• Plug: "I escaped LA for a week and spent time relaxing in Seattle with some of my favorite people. On the way to the airport, we made a spontaneous stop at Fantagraphics Books, a place I never heard of before. They describe themselves as a publisher of 'comics for thinking readers – readers who like to put their minds to work, who have a sophisticated understanding of art and culture, and appreciate personal expression unfettered by uncritical use of cliché.' So, if you’re looking to read bland, mainstream superhero comics, you won’t find them there. [...] If you ever find yourself in Seattle, you won’t regret stopping at the store. A bonus is the record store that shares the same space with the bookstore." – What's Good With It
• Profile: "Jason is a Norwegian graphic novelist/comic book artist who makes the finest short stories. [...] It’s beautiful to see how Jason has refined everything; stripping away anything that could be considered filigree, cutting out any words that don’t need saying. He has mastered the barely story, telling imperceptible narratives vaguely inferred, and a crispness of drawing that ignores unnecessary fill. All that remains is a wry sociopathy you can’t help but fall in love with. Jason is the best thing I’ve come across in the last couple of years." – Gregory Povey, Mount Analogue
• Interview:Comics Comics' Dan Nadel, who says "As a [Mort] Meskin admirer (I put a Golden Lad story in Art in Time) I am thrilled to have a beautifully made book that showcases his thoughtful, vividly executed and highly influential work," talks to the author of that book, From Shadow to Light, Steven Brower: "There were two things that drew me to his story. The first was the mystery of why someone who began so strong, influencing his peers, faded so quickly from view. The second attraction: his personal story. Mort was someone who suffered greatly at times emotionally and overcame his struggles. I felt there was a larger story to tell than just someone who was a very good artist."
• Interview:Comic Book Resources' Kiel Phegley talks to Jean Schulz about the Peanuts 60th Anniversary: "I say I'm 'condemned' to keep learning more about the comic strip because I didn't take it seriously enough when Sparky was alive. That's sort of a joke, but it's true. You can go back over them again and again and look at them in different thematic settings."
• Commentary: At Trouble with Comics, Alan David Doane imagines a Peanuts spin-off strip called Shells, sort of a Rosenkranz & Guilderstern Are Dead to the Hamlet of Peanuts
Don't miss the festivities at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery this Saturday, October 9 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM as two extraordinary artists appear to celebrate the publication of exquisite new books.
Dave Cooper's BENT features twisted pictures that are simultaneously sensuous and grotesque. The event will feature an exhibition of alluring drawings offered at insanely affordable prices. His recent shows at Jonathan Levine in New York and Billy Shire Fine Arts in L. A. attracted celebrity art patrons. Here's your chance to join them. Also on hand will be Johnny Ryan touring behind the latest installment of his amazing PRISON PIT serial. There will be a display of colorful silkscreen prints by the mastermind behind ANGRY YOUTH COMIX.
This event coincides with the lively Georgetown Art Attack featuring challenging visual and performing art exhibitions throughout the historic industrial arts corridor. Please join us for complimentary beverages with these compelling contemporary artists.
And mark your calendars now for Saturday, October 30 when we welcome the incomparable Charles Burns back home to Seattle.
Fans of Seattle's grunge era remember poet Jesse Bernstein as the erudite voice of that movement. His larger-than-life persona and charismatic presence made him a frequent subject of cartoonists documenting the period. Bernstein's brilliance was accompanied by depression, substance abuse, and an untimely death by suicide in 1991 that tragically foreshadowed events that would plague many artists in the grunge milieu.
A new documentary film celebrating Jesse Bernstein's legacy premieres Wednesday, October 6 at the Moore Theater in Seattle. I Am Secretly an Important Man features archival footage of the poet/performance artist at his peak and interviews with friends of Fantagraphics including musician Steve Fisk, Sub Pop founder Bruce Pavitt, and Fantagraphics Bookstore curator Larry Reid. Look for the film at festivals and art houses around the country in the next few months. It shares many of the qualities that made Crumb such a compelling documentary. (Click here for more info & screening tickets.)
The Georgetown Art Attack returns to its old haunt on Saturday, October 9 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM with the diverse array of challenging visual and performing arts that have come to characterize this unique cultural outing since its inception in 2007. Please join us to celebrate the creativity of this singular Seattle arts community.
Among the highlights of the October 9 Art Attack: "Developing a Translation of Relation," prints and drawings by Jameson Hubbard at the Georgetown Arts and Cultural Center; the haunted Georgetown Trailer Park will be granting treats to visitors in costume and Comet Lodge Mercantile is featuring new work by artist Eric Edwards in the Rocket Trailer; the Nautilus studio will present a special installation in the Steam Room by Steve Roumas; a rare open studio at Matt Stiger's colorful neon facility at nearby 6321 Corgiat St.; a solo show of Kat Houseman 's oil paintings at Calamity Jane's; "Bent" drawings by Dave Cooper with "Prison Pit" prints by Johnny Ryan at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery; open studios including watercolors by Mark La Falce and works by Mark Tedin, Kyle Abernethy, Julie Baroh and Michael Hoppe at Krab Jab Studio in the historic Rainier Cold Storage complex; and much more.
The Georgetown Art Attack, held on the second Saturday each month, is a promotion of the Georgetown Merchants' Association. For more information contact Art Attack coordinator Larry Reid at numbers above. For map of participants visit www.georgetownartattack.com.
I recently had the pleasure of reading an advance copy of Charles Burns' amazing masterpiece X'ED OUT. As a fledgling art dealer 30 years ago, I mounted an exhibition of Burns' large-scale graphite drawings at my neo-Dada Rosco Louie gallery in Seattle. His imaginative portraits were strangely grotesque, yet sensuous and alluring. Burns' appeal has grown steadily from that point on, and he is rightfully considered a contemporary master of the comix medium.
I can hardly wait for his slide talk, art exhibition and book signing at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery on Saturday, October 30. His eerie iconography is perfect for the Halloween eve occasion. No costumes required! Simply come enjoy a beverage with one of the world's most revered alternative cartoonists.
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is pleased to present recent works by narrative artist Dave Cooper, with special guest Johnny Ryan on Saturday, October 9 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM. Both artists are celebrating the publication of new books with an art exhibition, reception and book signing.
Canadian artist Dave Cooper offers us a window into the wobbly dollhouse that is his mind's eye. The artist is touring the West Coast behind BENT, his latest monograph from Fantagraphics Books, which will debut at the event. The book gathers diverse imagery that is at once disturbing and alluring. Cooper has developed a passionate following with recent solo shows at Billy Shire Fine Arts in Los Angeles and Jonathan Levine Gallery in New York in June. The exhibition at Fantagraphics Bookstore will feature 10 original drawings. Cooper will sign copies of BENT as well as previous Fantagraphics publications, including his famously misanthropic comic serial WEASEL and his recent story in the anthology MOME VOLUME 18.
The evening of October 9 also marks the triumphant return of subversive cartoonist Johnny Ryan to sign copies of the second volume of his amazing PRISON PIT series. This cacophonous tale of intergalactic bedlam continues the prolific artist's examination of social pandemonium originated in his popular ANGRY YOUTH COMIX (collected in 3 volumes from Fantagraphics Books.) Ryan will display a new series of colorful silkscreen prints and sign books during the reception.
Please join us to welcome these extraordinary artists to Seattle. This event coincides with the lively Georgetown Second Saturday Art Attack featuring visual and performing arts presentations throughout the historic neighborhood. Fantagraphics Bookstore is located at 1201 S. Vale Street (at Airport Way S.) just minutes from downtown Seattle. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. Phone 206.658.0110.
DAVE COOPER: BENT JOHNNY RYAN: PRISON PIT
Saturday, October 9, 6:00 to 9:00 PM Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery 1201 S. Vale Street, Seattle, WA 206.658.0110 Open Daily 11:30 - 8:00 PM, Sunday until 5:00 PM