In this exciting debut graphic novel, Ray Fenwick has pioneered his own medium of storytelling, one best described as "typographical comics." [See this excellent NATIONAL POST feature on Fenwick from last month for more info.] HOBK is presented as a handsome, found journal written by an unnamed voice, referred to only as "The Author." Little is known about him. He clearly fashions himself a genius, writing with a faux-aristocratic air. Each page features pearls of "wisdom," lettered in an elegant, almost obsessive fashion, bedecked with Ionic columns and fleurs-de-lis. Only at the end does The Author's true story become clear. The ensuing journey is a riotous tour through the narrator's ego and id, part graphic novel, part art object, part satire, and part puzzle. Elegantly designed and printed with rounded fore edges and belly band.
RAY FENWICK is an artist, illustrator and typographic thing-maker living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. A former improv comedian and theater school dropout, he now occupies himself making drawings, comics and patterns for people like Blue Q, CMT, Nickelodeon, Urban Outfitters, and others. He contributes regularly to the comics anthology, MOME.
"Fenwick has taken a high-brow route to the art of comedy. Hall of Best Knowledge is several things rolled into one: a bizarre self-help book; an eccentric college text; a guide to life from the unlikeliest of guides. It's hard to categorize (typographical novel? graphic metafiction?), even harder to explain." - Mark Medley, National Post
PUB. DATE: MAY 14, 2008 • 168 pp. • ISBN 978-1-56097-910-4 • $19.99
Georgetown Second Saturday Art Attack Spring Offensive Continues with a Blast on Saturday, May10 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM
Seattle's liveliest cultural adventure continues with the May 10 installment of the Georgetown Second Saturday Art Attack. This monthly event, a production of the Georgetown Merchants Association, is intended to draw attention to the creative industrial arts district of Georgetown in an effort to foment public sentiment in favor of preserving this historic civic asset. More than 50 galleries, nightclubs, boutiques, studios, and individual artists participate in this colorful celebration of aesthetic diversity.
Coinciding with the Art Attack is the first exhibition of Georgetown Independent Artists in the Engine Room of the enchanting old brewery building. Organized by painter John Ohannesian, the show features recent work by Augie Pagan, Doug Parry, Diana Pharoah, Angielena Chamberlain, Dave Mazak, Steve Wright, Mike Poetzel, Dave McGranaghan, Lance Mercer and many others. While these artists frequently exhibit throughout the region, this exhibition acknowledges the fierce independence of Georgetown's working artists, who largely reject the stifling restrictions imposed by traditional gallery representation. Other highlights include: We Make Our Own Luck, mixed media encaustic paintings by Joseph Wackerman at Georgetown Tile Works; an exhibition of illustrations and prints by Los Angeles artist Jordan Crane at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery; Georgetown artist Sherri Scott at George; musician Anna Coogan performing at Full Throttle Bottles; free musical performances at neighborhood nightclubs; exotic dining, drinking and shopping experiences in the charming Bohemian enclave of Georgetown.
For additional information contact GMA chair Kathy Nyland or Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery curator Larry Reid. Website: www.georgetownartattack.com
Georgetown Second Saturday Art Attack Saturday, May 10, 6:00 9:00 PM.
All City Coffee, Artcore Tattoo, Art at the Top of the Stairs. Backstage, Bella Vitale, Belle & Wissell, Black Market Studios, Bolte Creative, Calamity Jane's, Catherine Gill Studios, A Dog's Dream Natural Pet Supply, Equinox Studios, Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, Fruit Cocktail Collectibles, Full Throttle Bottles, George, Georgetown Art Center, Georgetown Liquor Company*, Georgetown Records, Georgetown Tile Works, Great Stuff, Hangar Café, Jules Maes Saloon*, MIX, 9 Lb. Hammer*, Smarty Pants Restaurant*, Squid and Ink, The Stables, Stellar Pizza & Ale, Two Tartes Bakery, 24 Karat, and more. * Indicates 21 + with valid ID
THREE BRILLIANT ART STARS SHINE ON CONSECUTIVE SATURDAYS IN MAY AT FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKSTORE & GALLERY!
Jordan Crane on May 10, Peter Bagge on May 17, and SHAG on May 24
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery springs into action in May with a succession of events featuring three of the country’s most celebrated cartoonists and remarkable illustrators. The public of all ages is invited to join us in an exciting series of exhibitions featuring Jordan Crane on May 10, Peter Bagge on May 17, and SHAG on May 24.
Los Angles artist Jordan Crane’s evocative and bittersweet meditations on the human condition in comics and illustration have gained him an enthusiastic following among art aficionados of all ages. His economical narrative observations have been published by Seattle-based Fantagraphics Books, including two issues of the comic book series Uptight, and graphic novels The Last Lonely Saturday and The Clouds Above, recently issued in trade paperback. His exhibition opening Saturday, May 10 includes exquisite limited edition prints and original artwork from his comics. The reception, from 6:00 to 9:00 PM, serves as the after-party for exhibitors and guests of the Emerald City Comicon, where Crane is among the featured artists. The opening also coincides with the lively Georgetown Second Saturday Art Attack, featuring art, music and more at over 30 locations throughout the enchanting Georgetown neighborhood.
Seattle’s Peter Bagge is one of the most accomplished and admired cartoonists in the world. On Saturday, May 17 from 6:00 – 9:00 PM, Fantagraphics Bookstore will host the launch party for a line of skateboards and related product produced by Seattle-based Manik Skateboards. On display will be the debut of skateboard decks drawn from the pages of his landmark comic HATE. Bagge’s grunge-era imagery is ideally suited to the skateboarding subculture. At once hilarious and poignant, Bagge’s work of this era went beyond satire, and helped fashion both the attitudes and aesthetics of Seattle’s only significant indigenous youth movement. In the opinion of Fantagraphics Books’ resident curator Larry Reid, “Peter Bagge’s HATE is the most fully conceived and executed comic book series ever published.” These delightful boards remain as funny and compelling as his comics of the 1990s.
SHAG (Josh Agle), of Santa Ana, CA, is the Andy Warhol of the new millennium. His distinctive artwork is characterized by a deceptively simple fluid line quality and contemporary interpretations of mid-century Americana. His work is simultaneously fresh and familiar, drawing on oddities of American popular culture both past and present. SHAG’s imagery resonates with audiences worldwide, and over the course of the last decade he has become a cottage industry – certainly one of the most prolific and successful artists working today. For good reason. The exhibition opening and book signing on Saturday, May 24 from 6:00 – 9:00 PM will feature work from his new book, SHAG: A to Z, published by Fantagraphics Books, natch. The book is comprised of 26 original paintings corresponding to the letters of the alphabet. Each piece is accompanied by a short verse extolling the pleasures of a hedonistic lifestyle and the virtues of overindulgence. Join us in welcoming this extraordinary artist.
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located at 1201 S. Vale Street in Seattle’s Georgetown district. Open daily, 11:30 – 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. Phone: 206.658.0110. A selection of imagery in a variety of formats is available for publication. For additional information, please contact Larry Reid.
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery
Jordan Crane Book signing and art show Saturday, May 10, 6:00 – 9:00 PM (Emerald City Comicon after-party) Exhibition continues through May 21
Peter Bagge Manik Skateboard launch party Saturday, May 17, 6:00 – 9:00 PM
SHAG: A to Z Book signing and art show Saturday, May 24, 6:00 – 9:00 PM Exhibition continues through June 25
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery 1201 S. Vale Street. (at Airport Way S.) Seattle, WA 98108 206.658.0110 Open daily 11:30 – 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM
Fantagraphics was in full effect at the 2008 Stumptown Comics Fest. Your humble reporter was only there for Saturday of the two-day event, but had a smashing time (and went 200% over budget buying comics, art & t-shirts — yikes). Here's a brief video clip of our table:
Paul Karasik sends along photos and reports from last weekend's event in Brooklyn:
Well, it happened. Karasik and Newgarden in the same place at the same time. Tears of joy were wept by those in attendance. Tears of sorrow were wept for those who were not. An exhibit of Garbage Pail Kids rejects and Fletcher Hanks' student work remains on display at Desert Island in Williamsburg, a very fine book store.
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery’s resident curator Larry Reid presented a very engaging and informative slide lecture on the topic “WEIRDOS: Seattle’s Alternative Comics Culture in the Context of R. Crumb’s Underground” at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle last night. Stay tuned — we'll be adapting Larry's presentation into an online feature here on the website in the near future.
I attended David Hajdu's excellent event at Town Hall last night, which featured (or so I gathered) a significantly different lecture from those given on the rest of his book tour. The lecture was to promote The 10 Cent Plague, Hajdu's excellent history of the crackdown on horror and crime comics of the 1950s, which promoted the Kefauver Senate Subcommittee hearings on juvenile deliquency and led to the formation of the Comics Code Authority.
This event was put on by Nextbook, a non-profit organization that serves as a locus for Jewish literature, culture, and ideas; as such, Hajdu tailored his Town Hall event to how the creators of the era of The 10 Cent Plague employed comics to express their Jewish experience. For the evening's talk, Hajdu culled exclusively from interviews he conducted for the book that discussed Jewish identity but didn't make it into the final draft. So it was a night of bonus tracks, basically, which was great. He shared anecdotes from Will Eisner, Al Jaffee, Bob Oksner, Arnold Drake, Harry Lampert, Al Feldstein and many others.
But the highlight was a rare film short Hajdu was generous enough to share, a piece of propaganda he obtained from the Library of Congress and filmed in the 1950s to promote the idea that comic books cause juvenile deliquency. Specifically (but not limited to), torture. I wish I could have shot the whole clip, but my digital camera can only film for about two minutes before running out of space.
The film only gets better after these first two minutes, which are mostly introductory. It later becomes a dramatization of a group of suburban adolescents, all boys, happily hanging out in the woods, reading and trading comic books. The voice-over paints a more grim picture (I'm paraphrasing):
"Look at these children. When I was a boy, we too gathered in gangs like this, but it was to roast potatoes or learn skills and build things, like a raft to put in the river. Never did we just sit around READING. And what are they reading?"
Well, you can imagine. Tales of "sexual depravity, adultery, murder, etc." The sheer trauma of reading such pernicious filth turns the boys into a raving mob of sadists who con a younger boy into the woods, tie him to a tree, gag him, hold lit matches centimeters from his head and hair while slapping him around and punching knives into the tree he's bound to, and laughing in a way that makes me think Heath Ledger might have studied this film as research for the new Batman movie. It was like A Clockwork Orange starring the Little Rascals.
Which is to say it was fantastic. I almost bought into it, it was so good. I might have thought going in that knives and matches contributed more to juvenile delinquency than comics, but screw that notion.
Anyway, here's the clip. Thanks much to Mr. Hajdu for sharing with us. Buy his book (even though we didn't even publish it), it's good. It even has a killer Charles Burns cover. Now excuse me, I need to go roast some potatoes.