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Category >> Megan Kelso

Daily OCD: 7/27/11
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Willie and JoeSteve DuinShimura TakakoShannon WheelerreviewsRaymond MacherotPeanutsOil and WaterMomeMegan KelsomangaLove and RocketsKevin Huizengajohn kerschbaumJaime HernandezDaily OCDCharles M SchulzCarol TylerBill Mauldin 27 Jul 2011 11:38 PM

Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:

Sibyl-Anne Vs. Ratticus

Review: "Macherot’s animals are cute and full of character, from the porcupine sheriff to the cigar-smoking, shop-keeping bird. Visually they resemble Walt Kelly’s Pogo, with backgrounds that will look familiar to anybody who ever watched The Smurfs cartoon.... There might be more slapstick than the average post-elementary school reader can appreciate, but the adorable art, amiable characters, and a thrilling late-story air battle will keep you interested until the end. Best of all are the brief glimpses at domestic country mouse mundanity, like Sibyl-Anne’s love for baking pies and the aside where she and Boomer talk about how nice a certain table and its parasol are." – Garrett Martin, Paste

Wandering Son Vol. 1

Review: "This series [Wandering Son] is beautiful, perfectly capturing that time at the age of 10 or 11 where naivety and confusion meet in the formative years of your young identity. Where androgyny is a fine thing, defined by its ambiguity and as distinct as any sex." – Tom Rosin, Page 45

Willie & Joe: The WWII Years

Review: "The Willie and Joe cartoons and characters are some of the most enduring and honest symbols of all military history.... Alternating trenchant cynicism, moral outrage, gallows humour, absurdist observation, shared miseries, staggering sentimentality and the total shock and awe of still being alive every morning, this cartoon catalogue of the Last Just War [Willie & Joe: The WWII Years] is a truly breathtaking collection that no fan, art-lover, historian or humanitarian can afford to miss. …And it will make you cry and laugh out loud too." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!

Willie & Joe: Back Home

Review: "...[Willie & Joe: Back Home] features some of the most powerful assaults on the appalling edifice of post-war America ever seen. The artist’s castigating observations on how a society treats returning soldiers are as pertinent now as they ever were; the pressures on families and children even more so; whilst his exposure of armchair strategists, politicians and businessmen seeking to exploit wars for gain and how quickly allies can become enemies are tragically more relevant than any rational person could wish. ...[W]e have here a magnificent example of passion and creativity used as a weapon of social change and a work of art every citizen should be exposed to, because these are aspects of humanity that we seem unable to outgrow." – Win Wiacek, Now Read This!

You'll Never Know Book 2: Collateral Damage [Pre-Order]

Review: "Visually, Tyler's style is unique in the comics world.... The scrapbook design of [You'll Never Know, Book 2: Collateral Damage] is just one of many remarkable decorative touches she adds. Color is tremendously important both in a narrative sense (identifying key times and characters) and an emotional sense (modulating feelings felt on a page in an expressive style). The complexity of her page design (changing formats on an almost page-to-page basis) is brought to earth by the simplicity of her character design. The result is what feels like an ornate, powerful and cohesive sketchbook/journal.... Most impressively, Tyler manages to bring a static kind of craft (a sketchbook) to life with panels that crackle with energy and movement. There are no easy outs or answers in Tyler's attempts to create, maintain and understand connections with her loved ones..." – Rob Clough, High-Low

Love and Rockets Library (Locas Book 2): The Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S.

Essay: The Comics Reporter's Tom Spurgeon on Jaime Hernandez's The Death of Speedy, written for Team Cul de Sac's Favorites zine: "Hernandez's evocation of that fragile period between school and adulthood, that extended moment where every single lustful entanglement, unwise friendship, afternoon spent drinking outside, nighttime spent cruising are acts of life-affirming rebellion, is as lovely and generous and kind as anything ever depicted in the comics form."

The Complete Peanuts 1950-1952 (Vol. 1) [NORTH AMERICA ONLY]

Commentary: "It could be seen as frustrating that I've still got five years to wait to complete the Peanuts collection, ...but in some ways it's nice. If they came out more quickly, there would be more of a feeling of urgency about ploughing through the strips, whereas I'm able to take a more leisurely approach, reading bits here and there. After all, they were only really meant to be read once a day. I don't buy many books these days, preferring to download them to my Kindle, but these books are definitely going to be a part of my life for as long as they'll last (or as long as I'll last, whichever comes first) and I do look forward to seeing 50 years of Schulz magic lined up on my shelves. I just need to work out where I'll put them all... Such is the life of a completist!" – James Ellaby, Lullabies from a Giant Golden Radio

Ganges #2

Analysis: At Robot 6, Matt Seneca examines a page from Ganges #2: "Kevin Huizenga is one of the cartoonists whose work addresses comics’ conflict between the abstract and the literal most frequently and interestingly.  Huizenga’s attempts at using comics to mimic the visual effect of video games are especially notable: rather than creating the simulacrum of reality that the vast majority of comics do, what is brought forth instead is a simulacrum of a simulacrum, a copy of a copy, something already abstract abstracted further, its ties to reality stressed and stretched about as close to the breaking point as they can go."

Mome Vol. 22

Interview: The Daily Cross Hatch's Brian Heater wraps up his 4-part conversation with Mome editor Eric Reynolds: "I think Mome actually got better as I actively stopped worrying about who the readership might be, and actively indulged my own interests.... I think that began to happen as early as the fifth or sixth issue. And I think, by the end of it — you can point to a lot of things that we probably would have leaned against publishing at the beginning."

Queen of the Black Black

Profiles: Following the news that the Xeric Foundation is discontinuing its publishing grants, the writers of Robot 6 spotlight some of their favorite past grant recipients, including Megan Kelso and John Kerschbaum

Oil & Water by Steve Duin & Shannon Wheeler

Awards: The Oregonian's Steve Duin congratulates his Oil & Water collaborator Shannon Wheeler on Wheeler's Eisner Award win last weekend

Daily OCD Extra: Publishers Weekly July reviews
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Willie and JoereviewsMegan KelsoJasonDave McKeanDaily OCDBill Mauldin 19 Jul 2011 2:38 AM

Publishers Weekly just posted their comics reviews for July and we thought they'd make a nice post all on their own. Excerpts follow:

Celluloid [Pre-Order]

Celluloid by Dave McKean: "McKean’s ability to master many artistic styles and use them to present an ever-changing surreal visual narrative is on full display.... The work has a dreamlike quality throughout, sometimes confusing, sometimes nightmarish, sometimes bizarre, as shapes and people meld and twist into one another. Nothing is ever really explained or resolved, putting the burden on reader to take their own meaning away from the night’s events."

Queen of the Black Black

Queen of the Black Black by Megan Kelso: "This long-out-of-print collection of short stories by Kelso is an intriguing and evocative look into her early work, quiet little tales filled with realistic emotion and more than a little narrative ambiguity.... Kelso’s art is simple and somewhat 'cartoony,' but the style meshes perfectly with the book’s thoughtful narrative qualities. Kelso’s strength is a gentle understanding of the various undercurrents of longing and memory that motivate us, and these stories show that in abundance."

Isle of 100,000 Graves

Isle of 100,000 Graves by Jason & Fabien Vehlmann: "Jason and Vehlmann’s story of a young girl seeking the help of pirates to track down her lost father mixes elements of grim family drama with light and dark comedy to create an engrossing story that keeps readers surprised with sudden twists in both plot and mood.... Jason’s characteristic style of animal people with minimal expressions conveys a surprisingly wide array of emotions, even when one wears a hangman’s hood showing only eye holes and a thin mouth. Short and yet complex, it’s a strong story with unexpected laughs."

Willie & Joe: Back Home

Willie & Joe: Back Home by Bill Mauldin: "This time capsule is the second collection of Mauldin’s cartoons from Fantagraphics, this time covering the post-World War II period of 1945-1946.... The linework and chiaroscuro are amazing... Editor Todd DePastino’s introduction, covering key events in Mauldin’s life during the creation of these cartoons, is essential to comprehending some of the content, but other cartoons — such as those featuring forgotten veterans, lying politicians, or creeping consumerism—are universal."

Diaflogue: Megan Kelso exclusive Q&A
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Megan KelsoDiaflogue 8 Jul 2011 2:50 AM

This interview with Megan Kelso was conducted via email by editorial intern Hans Anderson, and proofread by Kristy Valenti. Thanks to all! Megan Kelso appears at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery tomorrow (Saturday, July 9, 2011) for the opening of The Quiet Rrriot, an art exhibit featuring Kelso, Stella Marrs and Nikki McClure. – Ed.

Queen of the Black Black - Megan Kelso

Megan Kelso’s career spans the ’90s to the present. In that timespan she has grown into a highly adept artist and storyteller. Her Ignatz Award-winning Artichoke Tales tackles the themes of power, feminism and the relationships that define our daily lives. In the early 2000s, she also spent time in New York, publishing her serialized strip Watergate Sue in The New York Times Magazine.

Kelso’s latest release from Fantagraphics is a reprint of her Queen of the Black Black anthology, originally published in 1998. This book collects stories self-published from her zine Girlhero, which was written and drawn by Kelso between 1993 and 1998 in her hometown of Seattle. In this interview, which serves as a snapshot of early ’90s self-publishing, Kelso discusses her influences, her Xeric Award, and her development as a cartoonist. — Hans Anderson

Early Life

HANS ANDERSON: When and where were you born?

MEGAN KELSO: 1968: Seattle, Wash.

ANDERSON: Where did you spend most of your early life?

KELSO: Seattle, Wash.

ANDERSON: Did you have any siblings?

KELSO: One sister: two-and-a-half years older than me.

ANDERSON: What did your parents do?

KELSO: My father was an urban planner, and my mother was a college registrar. Both are retired.

ANDERSON: Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is an anthology of short strips, self-published as the serial minicomic (zine?) Girlhero?

Girlhero #1 by Megan Kelso
Girlhero #1 (July 1993)

KELSO: Yes, mostly. “Whistle and Queenie” was never in Girlhero. It was for an issue of Dark Horse Presents, and there are two stories that I did specifically for the book, “Queen of the Black Black” and “The Daddy Mask.”

ANDERSON: What years were you publishing Girlhero?

KELSO: 1992-1996.

ANDERSON: How old were you when you started drawing these strips?

KELSO: 23.

ANDERSON: How old were you when you stopped publishing Girlhero?

KELSO: 28.

ANDERSON: Where did you go to school?

KELSO: I went to public school here in Seattle with a couple years of private school in the middle. I started college at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, but dropped out and finished my BA at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.

Snapshots

ANDERSON: In many ways, this book is a snapshot of youth culture, in Seattle and elsewhere, in the mid-1990s. What were you drawing your subject matter from?

KELSO: I went to college in Olympia, Wash., which at the time was exploding with bands, zines and really amazing, ambitious art projects: people started galleries; organized music festivals; film festivals; elaborate art installations. People just went out and started these things, not really knowing how, but figuring it out along the way. Because it was a college town, a lot of this work was informed by what we were all studying in college: feminist theory, labor politics, postmodern theory. I started my comic Girlhero because I wanted to be a part of this explosion going on around me. The stories in Queen of the Black Black were not literally autobiographical, but I definitely drew from my life, my work, sex and relationship experiences, my dreams and memories. I was learning to draw comics in these stories, so many of them were kind of like challenges I set for myself — can I learn to draw a convincing bicycle? Can I pull off setting a story in the past?

ANDERSON: The book Queen of the Black Black takes its title from a short story in the middle of the book about a depraved old artist disillusioning a young one. Why did you choose to take your title from this comic?

KELSO: Depraved?! That seems a little strong! I think of her more as old, tired and a bit bitter and cynical. I have always been interested in power relationships: between women, mothers and daughters, teachers and students, babysitters and babysat, employers and employees. I think I’m fascinated by this because, while between women, the classic male/female power dynamic has been eliminated, other more mysterious power dynamics are still at work and are harder to pin down. The title, “Queen of the Black Black,” is from a poem written by the sculptor, Louise Nevelson, who is, in part, the inspiration for the Queen character in that story.

ANDERSON: Who were your artistic influences before and during the creation of these strips?

KELSO: I did not grow up reading comics very much, and when I did (Peanuts, Archie), I didn’t give them much thought. So as a drawer and a beginning cartoonist, I was much more influenced by book illustrators: Maurice Sendak, Doctor Seuss, Beatrix Potter, Tove Jansson, Ludwig Bemelmans, Arnold Lobel, Garth Williams.

I think the work of Julie Doucet’s is what really made me want to try making comics. Once I moved back to Seattle and started meeting other cartoonists, I learned a lot from my peers: Jason Lutes, James Sturm, Ed Brubaker, Jon Lewis, Tom Hart, Jennifer Daydreamer, David Lasky. We actually had a comics working group for a while and shared work, did critiques and helped each other problem solve. Later, I met more cartoonists who[se] work influenced me a lot — Ron Regé and Brian Ralph, who I mentioned earlier. Also, Marc Bell and Lauren Weinstein’s work had a big impact on me.

[Read more...]


The Quiet Rrriot: Spotlight on Nikki McClure
Written by janice headley | Filed under Megan KelsoFantagraphics Bookstoreevents 7 Jul 2011 11:13 AM

The Quiet Rrriot

On Saturday, July 9th, the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery debuts our exhibit The Quiet Rrriot: Visual Artists from the Riot Grrrl Movement.  We're celebrating the long-awaited reissue of Megan Kelso's incredible collection Queen of the Black Black, and we're also featuring two of her contemporaries from the '90s Olympia-scene, Nikki McClure and Stella Marrs. Yesterday, we took a closer look at Stella's art, and today, we're gonna talk about Nikki!

Nikki McClure

Nikki and Megan were in the same year at the infamous Evergreen State College, and you can see the Olympia-influence in both of their work.  Nikki's artwork graced the covers of releases from local labels K Records, Kill Rock Stars, and Yo Yo Recordings.  She even did set design for the rock opera "The Tranfused."  The program credits read like a Who's-Who of Oly artists:


Click here for a larger version on our Flickr page

By the way, look who played the role of "Corpse XY"!

The Transfused, cast
Click here for a larger version on our Flickr page

Why, yes, that would be the Zack Carlson, editor of Destroy All Movies!!!: The Complete Guide to Punks on Film!!!

Nikki also produced zines in the '90s, such as Super Secret and The Great Chicken Escape

The Great Chicken Escape

You can get a better sense of Nikki's signature style in The Great Chicken Escape: intricate scenes that she depicts using an X-acto knife and black and white paper. Her images capture the beauty of Northwest nature, in painstakingly-crafted silhouettes.

Nowadays, her work adorns journals and calendars, t-shirts and tote bags.  But you can see where it all began this Saturday at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery!  We'll have some of Nikki's originals on display, alongside originals from Megan and Stella.  Plus, Megan and Nikki will give a brief talk at 7:00 pm, discussing the lasting legacy of Riot Grrrls, before their signing!

The Quiet Rrriot: Visual Artists from the Riot Grrrl movement by Megan Kelso, Nikki McClure, Stella Marrs

Opening Saturday, July 9th from 6:00 to 9:00 PM
Artists talk with Megan Kelso and Nikki McClure at 7:00 PM, followed by a book signing.
Exhibition continues through August 31, 2011

Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery
1201 S. Vale Street (at Airport Way S.)
Seattle, WA 98108
206.658.0110
Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM
This event is free and all ages








Grrrl Heroes Megan Kelso, Nikki McClure & Stella Marrs at Fantagraphics Bookstore
Written by Larry Reid | Filed under Megan KelsoFantagraphics Bookstoreevents 7 Jul 2011 1:29 AM

The Quiet Rrriot

Join us this Saturday, July 9 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM for "The Quiet Rrriot," an examination of the Riot Grrrl zine scene featuring original art, prints, and products by Megan Kelso, Nikki McClure and Stella Marrs. This exhibition marks the debut of the new edition of Queen of the Black Black, short stories from Kelso’s seminal comix zine Girlhero.

Kelso and McClure will discuss their work in the context of Olympia’s Riot Grrrl movement at 7:00 PM, followed by a book signing and reception. Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located at 1201 S, Vale Street (at Airport Way S.) in the heart of Seattle’s historic Georgetown arts community. Phone 206.658.0110. The event on Saturday evening coincides with the colorful Georgetown Art Attack featuring visual and performing arts presentations throughout the neighborhood. Don’t miss it.

Stella Marrs image

Daily OCD: 7/6/11
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under Wilfred SantiagoTaking Punk to the MassesreviewsPeter BaggeMegan KelsoLou ReedLorenzo MattottiJohnny RyanGilbert HernandezDaily OCDBob Fingermanaudio21 6 Jul 2011 7:00 PM

Today's Online Commentary & Diversions:

21: The Story of Roberto Clemente

Review: "...Wilfred Santiago... has done something very extraordinary and that's create a graphic novel that will eventually stand the test of time. If there was ever a novel that every Latino/Latina (baseball fan or not), comic book fan, family or anyone who volunteers/works in nonprofit must own in their library, it's 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente. Am I exaggerating? No, being the comic book nerd that I am, I haven't been this moved from a novel since I read Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.... While Roberto Clemente was a fantastic baseball player, it was his humanity in this graphic novel that shone brightly. And I thank Wilfred Santiago for creating his masterpiece and Fantagraphics for publishing it. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" – Cesar Diaz, Latino Sports

Queen of the Black Black

Review: "[Megan Kelso's] interest in open-ended narrative is apparent and, while occasionally frustrating, important, and her gouache work in the title story [in Queen of the Black Black] is lovely and subtle..." – Hillary Brown, Paste

Yeah!

Reviews (Audio): The June 26 episode of Easy Rider, the radio show for "rock, punk rock, country, power pop, garage and comics" from Radio PFM out of Arras in northern France, features Johnny Ryan's Take a Joke among their Comics of the Week and Taking Punk to the Masses as their Book of the Week; on their July 3 episode, the Comics of the Week include Yeah! by Peter Bagge & Gilbert Hernandez and Gilbert's Love from the Shadows

The Raven

Scene: The New Yorker's Vanna Le reports from Lou Reed's reading of The Raven at the Strand bookstore in NYC last week: "Mattotti's illustrations, which were projected in a slide show, saturated the room with a kind of terror and despair. There was also something about the sound and sudden fits of fury in Reed's voice that seemed to mirror Poe's tormented vision." From the accompanying slideshow of images of the book: "Lorenzo Mattotti skillfully brings out the terror and elegance of Reed and Poe’s joint masterwork…. The book is an aesthetically stunning treat — but it isn’t only for the coffee table. Mattotti’s artwork is as enigmatic and suspenseful as the poetry itself."

Interview (Audio): Bob Fingerman is the guest on the new episode of The Comics Journal's TCJ Talkies podcast with host Mike Dawson

The Quiet Rrriot: Spotlight on Stella Marrs
Written by janice headley | Filed under Megan KelsoFantagraphics Bookstoreevents 6 Jul 2011 4:51 PM
The Quiet Rrriot

This coming Saturday, July 9th, the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery unveils our latest exhibit The Quiet Rrriot: Visual Artists from the Riot Grrrl Movement, celebrating the release of Megan Kelso's recently reissued Queen of the Black Black, and also spotlighting two other rad DIY ladies of the Northwest, Nikki McClure and Stella Marrs.  

Stella Marrs postcard 1

We all know how awesome Megan is, but lemme introduce you to how equally-cool Nikki and Stella are, starting with the mysterious Ms. Stella Marrs.

Anyone who's stepped into a bookstore in the last thirty years has surely seen her distinctive postcards in a rack near the registers: kitschy vintage images transposed with sharp, smart phrases. In a rare interview with Fanta-friend Everett True, Stella explains, "Why postcards?"

After college, I made hundreds of different paintings, products, and events. I never put my name on anything during that period. I preferred to think of it all as some sort of warm-up exercise for what I was really going to do. I finally settled on using my name on the back of postcards because I realized I better accept this medium by the default since I could afford to start manufacturing it. It could be educational, and I could travel and sell it on public transportation, because it was small and I didn't have a car.

Stella Marrs postcard 2  Stella Marrs postcard 3

Stella's work pre-dates the Riot Grrrl-era, but her bold feminist statements were echoed in the music, comics and zines coming out of her Olympia, WA neighborhood during the '90s.

In that aforementioned interview, Stella also states: If girls could just make things and see themselves reflected in what they made, and then trade it for money, that could be a window to empowerment about alternatives for economic survival. Because if you get to live outside the normal system, you just might have a chance for a different vision, which could mean ultimately an alternative voice.


An old Stella Marrs mail order catalog, from the Megan Kelso collection.

We celebrate that unique vision and alternative voice this Saturday at the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery with original artwork on display from Stella, as well as Megan and Nikki!

The Quiet Rrriot: Visual Artists from the Riot Grrrl movement by Megan Kelso, Nikki McClure, Stella Marrs

Opening Saturday, July 9th from 6:00 to 9:00 PM
Artists talk with Megan Kelso and Nikki McClure at 7:00 PM, followed by a book signing.
Exhibition continues through August 31, 2011

Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery
1201 S. Vale Street (at Airport Way S.)
Seattle, WA 98108
206.658.0110
Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM
This event is free and all ages








New Comics Day 7/6/11: Queen of the Black Black, Wandering Son
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under New Comics DayMegan Kelso 6 Jul 2011 2:00 AM

This week's comic shop shipment is slated to include the following new titles. Read on to see what comics-blog commentators and web-savvy comic shops are saying about them (more to be added as they appear), check out our previews at the links, and contact your local shop to confirm availability.

Queen of the Black Black - Megan Kelso

Queen of the Black Black
by Megan Kelso

168-page black & white 7" x 9.25" softcover • $19.99
ISBN: 978-1-60699-459-7

"A new edition of the long-out-of-print collection of Megan Kelso's early work, mostly from her self-published Girlhero series. I love Kelso's stuff — her book Artichoke Tales from last year is tremendous — and the neat thing about the short stories collected here is that you can watch the young Kelso surprising herself, testing out her power and interests, figuring out what kinds of stories she wants to tell and what her art looks like." – Douglas Wolk, Comics Alliance

Wandering Son Vol. 1 by Shimura Takako

Wandering Son Vol. 1
by Shimura Takako

208-page black & white/color 7" x 9.5" hardcover • $19.99
ISBN: 978-1-60699-416-0

"A sophisticated and literary manga, addressing an important subject with a delicate touch — pretty much a guaranteed winner for me. That this book--about two transgendered teens coming to accept their identities and their place in the world--is also popularly and critically acclaimed, a bestseller in Japan, and has already spawned anime adaptations? Icing on the cake. Really looking forward to this!" – Chris Butcher, The Beguiling

"While most manga about cross-dressing involve lots of shrieking and embarrassment, Wandering Son takes a quieter, more introspective approach.... It's a very sweet manga with realistic characters — no dead parents or crazy teachers, just ordinary, loving families and supportive friends. This manga is a beautifully produced, hardcover book, and... it's worth every penny." – Brigid Alverson, MTV Geek

"If I had $30, the world becomes a brighter place, because now I can afford the first volume of Wandering Son ($19.99), Shimura Takakao’s quiet, sensitive story of a boy who wishes he was a girl and a girl who has already started dressing like a boy. Fantagraphics has produced this in a beautiful hardbound edition as part of their lit-manga line, and it’s a must-have." – Brigid Alverson (again), Robot 6

"This literary/alternative manga is about two 5th graders with a secret: one is a boy who wants to be a girl, the other is a girl who wants to be a boy." – Benn Ray (Atomic Books), Largehearted Boy

And from TCJ.com's Joe McCulloch:

"CONFLICT OF INTEREST RESERVOIR: A new English-language hardcover release kicks off for artist Shimura Takako’s 11-books-and-counting chronicle of a boy that wants to be a girl and a girl that wants to be a boy with Wandering Son Vol. 1; $19.99. Also: a new edition of an early works collection for Megan Kelso with Queen of the Black Black; $19.99."



I Was a Teenage Riot Grrrl Wannabe
Written by janice headley | Filed under Megan KelsoFantagraphics Bookstoreevents 5 Jul 2011 11:13 AM

Riot Grrrls Not Dead
photo credit: vanigliavvelenata on Flickr

"Revolution Girl Style Now!!!"

Um... that's what I might've exclaimed when Fantagraphics Bookstore curator Larry Reid told me that we'd be doing an exhibit on the "Riot Grrrl" scene of the '90s to celebrate the reissue of Megan Kelso's incredibly-important (in my humble opinion) collection of early work, Queen of the Black Black.

Was I a riot grrrl? Er, not exactly. While the scene was emerging from Olympia, WA, I was a pre-teen, stuck in the boring suburbs of Fort Worth, TX. I had no scene, and I had nothing to rebel against, except maybe curfew and school dress codes. But I did happen to have a subscription to Sassy Magazine...

If you're too young to remember Sassy Magazine, I'm afraid I can't provide you with a current cultural comparison, because nowadays there isn't a publication like it around. (Hell, nowadays, magazines themselves hardly exist, but I digress...) But, let's just say it was the "alternative" to teen girl magazines at the time. The first issue I ever bought came with an R.E.M. flexi-disc attached to the front, a cover of Syd Barrett's "Dark Globe." Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth penned an advice column one month. Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love were cover stars another month. 

Bikini Kill zines

Anyway, Sassy Magazine had a column titled “Zine of the Month," and  I became absolutely mesmerized by zines and the concept of self-publishing. In a bold, ballsy act of naive confidence, I had somehow already landed myself a job writing about music for our local newspaper by the age of 14. But with zines, I can say anything I want? Hell yeah! Wait, I mean... fuck yeah! That's more like it! I started stuffing Hello Kitty envelopes with well-concealed cash, ordering zines every month.

Bikini Kill introduction

From the introduction of Bikini Kill issue two: "And sometimes this is all very hard cuz this world doesn't teach us how to be truly cool to each other and so we have to teach each other." What outcast adolescent girl wouldn't be drawn to the Riot Grrrl movement and its message of female empowerment? Even decades later, I still feel moved by those words.

In 1996, I had started my own zine, copacetic -- yes, intentionally lowercased, and yes, named after the first Velocity Girl album, released on Sub Pop Records in '93 (although not "grunge" nor "riot grrrl"-ish). Sadly, by the mid-'90s, it felt like the Riot Grrrl scene had quietly disappeared, even though its influence on me hadn't. 

So, as you might imagine, I'm really excited that we'll be celebrating the work of three artists from that scene this Saturday, July 9th: the girlish and commanding comics of Megan Kelso; the sly, stylized postcard art of Stella Marrs; and the beautiful and reflective silhouettes of Nikki McClure's work. See you there!

The Quiet Rrriot: Visual Artists from the Riot Grrrl movement by Megan Kelso, Nikki McClure, Stella Marrs

Opening Saturday, July 9th from 6:00 to 9:00 PM
Artists talk with Megan Kelso and Nikki McClure at 7:00 PM, followed by a book signing.
Exhibition continues through August 31, 2011

Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery
1201 S. Vale Street (at Airport Way S.)
Seattle, WA 98108
206.658.0110
Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM
This event is free and all ages







Now in stock: Queen of the Black Black by Megan Kelso
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under new releasesMegan Kelso 5 Jul 2011 1:05 AM

Just arrived in our warehouse and ready to ship:

Queen of the Black Black - Megan Kelso

Queen of the Black Black
by Megan Kelso

168-page black & white 7" x 9.25" softcover • $19.99
ISBN: 978-1-60699-459-7

See Previews / Order Now

Before her comics were serialized in the New York Times Sunday Magazine (“Watergate Sue,” 2007) or released by Fantagraphics Books (Artichoke Tales, 2010), Megan Kelso was a classic DIY cartoonist/publisher, who crafted and self-published her popular minicomic Girlhero from 1991 to 1996.

Queen of the Black Black, which collects these early Girlhero strips (as well as a few from other sources) and was originally published in a limited edition 12 years ago (now long out of print), provides an engrossing chronicle of an ambitious young cartoonist carefully developing her own unique style and approach.

In this volume, Kelso scrutinizes bicycle messengers, venereal diseases, infidelity, unwanted pregnancies, temporary work assignments, family reunions, and classroom daydreams in subtle and unexpected manners, setting herself technical challenges such as depicting music in comics (the virtuoso “The Daddy Mask,” with its sensuous gray swirls of sound on the page), integrating lettering into artwork in creative ways, and generally working her way toward what would become her mature style.

The title story, “Queen of the Black Black,” rendered in lush gray tones, explores the fraught relationship between the ageing, demanding queen of a fairy-tale realm and a hornblower whom she takes under her wing.

There is even a vintage “Artichoke Tale,” predating Kelso recently released graphic novel by a decade and a half. (“I am planning to do a whole book of artichoke tales in the future,” she wrote presciently in her original story notes.)

Queen of the Black Black shows the first flowering (or sprouting) of a major cartooning talent, and its return to print (fully redesigned) is welcome news for the many readers delighted by Kelso’s subsequent graphic novels.

The Squirrel Mother  Artichoke Tales

Exclusive Savings: For a limited time, order Queen of the Black Black and get Megan Kelso's The Squirrel Mother or Artichoke Tales for over 20% off — or add both books and save even more! Click here for details.