As we were preparing for the art show, I thought it'd be fun to chat with the organizers of Short Run -- that would be, Martine Workman , Kelly Froh, Jenny Gialenes, Eroyn Franklin -- about the inaugural event:
So, how did the idea of Short Run come together?
Martine: I've been going to comics events since 2004, even though I don't really make comics. I always wanted to attend an event that welcomed all sorts of makers and small publishers of comics, writing, poetry, zines, and artist books. Last year Eroyn saw my work and contacted me out of the blue since we were both publishing our own books in Seattle. Our friendship grew out of conversations about self publishing, art, craftsmanship, and wanting to create a community for ourselves. Around this time, Profanity Hill was up and running for a bit, and it was exciting and surprising to see so much local work being made. After talking to my pal Jenny, who works in literary event promotion and moonlights as a zinester, it seemed possible to bring the self publishers of our region together by organizing a small press fest! She came up with the name -- which I love! -- and agreed to help coordinate the event. Kelly, a true blue mini-comix maker and fantastic organizer, joined us soon after and rounded out the group. We've had a lot of fun and I feel really lucky we work so well together as a team.
Jenny: The first night Martine and I spoke about Short Run, we were talking about the need for this kind of event - I had just come back from SF Zine Fest and felt like I found my mission in life. There was this sense of community there that I had only seen small glimpses of in Seattle.
What do you see as the main focus of Short Run?
Eroyn: Short Run hopes to extend Seattle's exposure to the small press world that exists within and around it. We want to expand the audience for small press work and let artists engage directly with the people who like what they do. Short Run will build on the small press community that we do have and foster communication between artists who work in different mediums and styles. As a group we don't commit to any particular medium or aesthetic -- we are not a comic-con or a craft fair or a zine festival but we encompass aspects of all of these because we think they can all be engaging.
How do you define what is "small press" to you?
Kelly: Small press, in regards to what you will see at Short Run, are hand-made, self-published, “short run” art books, comics, zines, and literary works. You’re going to see a lot of work that has been photocopied, screen-printed, side-stitched, glued, covered in gold leaf, stencil-cut, and folded in ways you can’t conceive of! Many of the artists and writers have had one or more of their books “professionally” published, or hope to some day, but Short Run’s heart is the home made.
Even though Fantagraphics won't have a table, several of our artists will be in attendance... like Megan Kelso! How did you get Megan involved?
Kelly: We are totally excited that Michael Dowers will be at Short Run! We don’t think mini-comix ever went away, but the people creating them scattered and many new comic artists were not aware of any kind of “scene”. Seattle does not have a Fallout Comix anymore, or a Confounded Books, or even a Pilot Books. Besides a few dusty spin racks, there is no physical hub for selling and sharing mini-comics. There are lone creators and drawing groups all over Seattle that meet on different nights in difference places, and mini-comics are being made.
Eroyn: The capability to self publish is more attainable than ever and people are definitely taking advantage of new technologies and affordable printing to produce great work.
Eroyn: Along with these stores and a few independent distros like Jason T. Miles’ Profanity Hill, we hope to help foster underground press in Seattle.
And, finally, what sort of future do you guys envision for Short Run? Do you hope to keep it small and local? Or will it eventually be the Seattle-version of an APE or Stumptown?
Jenny: I would like to see Short Run grow into itself organically. Big is not necessarily better - unless there is a solid community there providing the support. It's the difference between a stadium concert and going to see a local band at your favorite club - both have equal measure, they are just two very different experiences.
Kelly: It was our experiences at these larger festivals that helped us to decide what we did and didn’t want to be. We want to always be free to the public, and we want to always have low cost tables. Being local was really important to us as well, and one aim of Short Run was to draw out first-time tablers and try to reach people who had maybe shied away from other larger conventions. Looking over our exhibitor list, you will see that we have a lot of exhibitors from Portland. We can learn a lot from the comics community that they have built but Seattle has its own history of alternative cartoonists, and we need to grow from there. Short Run not only has a few of these “legends” of small press in attendance, but we have a ton of more obscure artists and writers, not only from comics, but from zines, animation, and the literary world. It’s a great showcase of artists and writers and we are really excited to share Short Run with Seattle!
During a pig roast party in Georgetown last Saturday night, Jim Woodring and Fantagraphics Bookstore curator Larry Reid ran into the proud owner of Fantagraphics old delivery truck. At a 1991 signing at Fallout, this white Econoline van was adorned with exquisite images by Woodring, Daniel Clowes, the Hernandez Brothers, Peter Bagge, Roberta Gregory, Aline Komisnky-Crumb, Michael Dougan, Paul Mavrides and R. Crumb, who lettered his famous "Keep on Truckin" phrase on the front bumper. The van was sold for a song and sat derelict for years, but the owner reported that restoration of the historic vehicle began two weeks ago. We'll keep you posted.
While you're at the store, get the gift of music. Our neighbors at Georgetown Records will give $1.00 off every purchase to Fantagraphics Bookstore customers. Simply show your receipt and save a buck!
Vintage vinyl and comic books. What else could you possibly ask for? Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, along with Georgetown Records, is located at 1201 S. Vale Street in Seattle's groovy Georgetown district. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. We're open on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve until 4:00 PM. Closed Christmas and New Year's Day. Phone 206.658.0110. See you soon.
In 2003, when Harvey Pekar's American Splendor film was coming out, the indie-friendly film chain Landmark Cinemas was really high on the film and an acquaintance of mine who worked as a graphic designer for their in-house magazine, FLM, asked me if I would try to edit a short comics section in tribute to Harv. So I did. It didn't come out quite like I'd hoped, but I was honored to do it. I thought of this when Harvey passed away recently and I wrote this, but couldn't find a copy. This weekend, while starting to move everything out of my basement to have some work done, I found it. As far as I know, it isn't on the web anywhere else, and there are some great pieces.
Click HERE for a larger version than what's below, so you can read all of it, but here's the Tim Hensley piece to whet your whistle:
Make plans for Labor Day weekend in Seattle now! The Bumbershoot art and music festival promises to be the best in recent memory. In addition to performances by the likes of Bob Dylan, Neko Case, Hole, the Decemberists, Weezer and countless other bands, the festival includes a large exhibition of contemporary Seattle cartoonists.
Organized by Fantagraphics resident curator Larry Reid, "Counterculture Comix: A 30-Year Survey of Seattle Alternative Cartoonists" begins with Lynda Barry's work circa 1980 and continues through the present. The show reveals Seattle as the ancestral home of the alternative comix genre and examines the role comix played in Seattle's youth movement of the 90s, which penetrated popular culture globally.
• Review: "Many books have been written about World War I, but few can truly worm their way into your head like Jacques Tardi’s It Was the War of the Trenches. … The tales here are devastating and heartbreaking, and often disturbing, but readers will nonetheless have a hard time putting it down." – Holly Scudero, Sacramento Book Review
• Review: "Perhaps there is something in Charlie Brown, that the longer I read his adventures, the more I become a fatalist. I look at the history of Europe and I know that there are frequent periods of relative peace, such as the past 60 years in Poland. And since they are rare, sooner or later they can suddenly end." – Konrad Hildebrand, Motyw Drogi (translated from Polish)
• Review: "This, then, was my introduction to the idiosyncratic and fantastically imagined worlds of Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez. ... While the stories and art of each Hernandez brother is unique, they shine extra bright by being juxtaposed, one to the other. Altogether: these rambling, lingering tales are bewitching." – Anna Clark, Isak
• Review: "...[In A Mess of Everything, Miss] Lasko-Gross covers the usual Holden Caulfield territory with brevity and an eye for detail. Her cartooning is very expressive and the book is coloured in subdued wash-like tones of brown, grey and blue that enhance the emotional impact of her cringe-worthy struggles for independence and individuality." – Bryan Munn, Sequential
• Plug: "[Roberta] Gregory is the cartoonist responsible for the comic series Naughty Bits, which is one of the best comic series I've ever read. Seriously, Life's a Bitch is one of my favorite comics ever. It's basically a biography of one normal — albeit kinda hateful — woman, and it's insightful, funny, and true." – Paul Constant, The Stranger (previewing an event on Saturday that, alas, we didn't know about in advance)
• Reviewer:Laura Warholic author Alexander Theroux looks at a new biography of Jack London for The Wall Street Journal: "Readers can be pardoned for thinking it seems not improbable that London, given the chance, would punch Mr. Haley in the nose."
Holy smokes -- collector alert! We had 8 great comics from past years that, due to record-keeping error, have not been available for sale for years but were really in stock all along! Now you can buy them again -- quantities are limited so act fast:
(1993) Before he killed Captain America, Eisner winner Brubaker racked up his first nomination for this tale, delineated in rich, realistic detail by Shanower. Was a teenage girl's death accidental, or obsession-fueled murder? $3.50
(1992) The second of the four-part authorized adaptation of Tod Browning's classic horror film, written by Woodring and drawn by Solano Lopez. In this issue, the seeds of jealousy and intrigue are sown among the circus folk. Highly recommended. (Issue 3 is also available.) $2.25
(1995) The voice without makeup, survival tips for real life, letting off steam, love songs to the one that got away. Girltalk publishes underground heroines and money-making illustrators along with diamonds in the rough. $3.50
(2002) Elegant society reveals its true nature with tales of deflowering demons, tea with a couple of Playboy Bunny virgins, a running commentary on Romanians, delinquent dolls, and what happened when Fashion Week met the apocalypse. $3.95
(1985) Classic Love and Rockets in full color! This miniseries reprinted the early, sci-fi adventure "Mechanics" stories with the addition of artful color embellishing. Plus in this issue, a Rocky & Fumble adventure! $2.00
(1991) Where it all began! The long-running, eye-opening series kicks off. Can you handle "Crazy Bitches," "Female Problems," and "Bitchy Bitch Gets Laid"? How about "Bitchy Bitch Goes to Fantagraphics"? Classic venom and hilarity! $2.50
(1988) Cop-turned-P.I. Alack Sinner takes on a shocking case from a young socialite that revolves around a questionable retirement home and discovers there's more to this whole affair than meets the eye! Plus a thought-provoking backup story. $2.95 (Issues 4 and 5 also available)
(1999) Everyone's favorite depraved child alcoholic stars in his own comic book. Let's eat some paste and rejoice! "Dumpy" offers advice on trash-digging, the "supporting" characters battle it out to see who's the biggest loser & more. $2.95
"COMICS SAVANTS" EXHIBITION OPENING AUGUST 8 -- FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKSTORE & GALLERY CELEBRATES SEATTLE ALTERNATIVE CARTOONISTS
July 29, 2009 - SEATTLE, WA. Since relocating to Seattle from Southern California 20 years ago, Fantagraphics Books has remained committed to nurturing and promoting the diverse practitioners of alternative comics in the Northwest. The country's most successful purveyor of challenging comics routinely employs local cartoonists and publishes the work of regional artists which has contributed to Seattle's international reputation as the unrivaled center of alternative comics. To celebrate this association, Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery presents "Comics Savants: A Survey of Seattle Alternative Cartoonists" opening Saturday, August 8.
This exhibition will feature over a dozen emerging and established artists, including many of the most accomplished cartoonists in the alternative movement. Among them: Peter Bagge, who coined the term "alternative comics" in 1990 and as the highly-regarded creator of the phenomenal Hate comic book series attracted dozens of young cartoonists to the city during the 90s decade; Seattle native Charles Burns, whose teen years are fictionalized in his amazing graphic novel Black Hole, soon to be a motion picture directed by David Fincher; Visionary artist Jim Woodring, one of only a handful of cartoonists to be embraced by the fine art world, having been awarded the United States Artist Fellowship in 2007 and a 2009 Art Trust Washington State Artists Fellowship, who will exhibit work from his forthcoming graphic novel Weathercraft; Ellen Forney, whose collaboration with local author Sherman Alexie won the prestigious 2008 National Book Award; David Lasky, who will exhibit pages from his collaboration with Seattle writer Chris Esty "The Last Testament" from Hotwire #2; Second wave Seattle alternative cartoonist Megan Kelso; emerging artist Eroyn Franklin, who will exhibit hand cut pages from her Xeric award winning graphic novel Another Glorious Day at the Nothing Factory; current and former Fantagraphics Books staffers Jim Blanchard, Roberta Gregory, Patrick Moriarity; Ted Jouflas; Jason T. Miles and Eric Reynolds.
In addition to the display of original artworks, an eclectic array of comics and graphic novels by exhibiting artists will be available. Many featured artists will attend the opening reception of Saturday, August 8 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM. Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located at 1201 S. Vale St. (at Airport Way S.) only minutes south of downtown. This event coincides with the colorful Georgetown Second Saturday Art Attack featuring exciting visual and performing arts presentations in close proximity throughout the historic artists' enclave.
COMICS SAVANTS: A Survey of Seattle Alternative Cartoonists
Peter Bagge, Jim Blanchard, Charles Burns, Ellen Forney, Roberta Gregory, Ted Jouflas, Megan Kelso, David Lasky, Jason T. Miles, Patrick Moriarity, Eric Reynolds, Jim Woodring, and introducing Eroyn Franklin.
Opening reception Saturday, August 8, 6:00 to 9:00 PM
Exhibition continues through September 9, 2009
Join us on Saturday, August 22 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM for the publication party of Eroyn Franklin's Xeric award wining comic Another Glorious Day at the Nothing Factory.
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