! = recommended
* = all-ages
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TIG readers won't be surprised there are two adorable new books out from Seattle-snared, world-shaking Fantagraphics. As the world's foremost glossy-n-generous "boutique label" of classic comics reprints (Peanuts, Dennis The Menace, Krazy Kat), and the publishing patron of local and international graphic novel geniuses like Jim Woodring, Megan Kelso, the Hernandez Brothers (Love & Rockets), and many others, we're all up on it. Even those not much into "sequential art" love to hype out along with all the fine arts, middlebrow marauders, and indie rock stars enrolled in their various ranks of production and promoting the product itself (galleries, album covers, et al).
Meanwhile, beyond just knowing the importance of the imprint, where would a good place for a DIY-loving potential fan-person start to read something more like an illustrated 'zine or chapbook, less like a 3-D blockbuster? Well, Leslie Stein is a young lady out of Brooklyn, NY who has been crafting literary/illustrative dub versions of her tastes and trials and laying them out in meticulously crafted yet still oodles-of-eye-fun anecdotes and tall tales. Fanta has collected them all into Eye Of The Majestic, a big-sized anthology of her work, with color covers and B&W insides and a whole lot of heart reproduced superbly for proper long-term keeping.
When we talk about Bumbershoot, it's usually about the big music shows we've seen, or the new bands we've discovered. The festival has always had an arresting line-up of literary readings, comedy, multi-media events, even live theatre to offer too, and in recent years its multi-arts smorgasbord has become as ferociously popular as seeing the big (and cult favorite) bands.
Sure, Bumbershoot will always remind me of once-in-a-lifetime performances by the Sex Pistols, Magnetic Fields, the Mekons, and others (and the KEXP Music Lounge is its best, near-kept secret). But I also have amazing memories of presentations by up-and-coming novelists, gut-splitting humor, secrets from underground cartoonists, teenage spoken word artists ruling the microphones, and so many other cultural bellwethers who are pulled into the frantic fray of culture-tasting.
This year is as exciting as ever for the non-musical (or about music) events and performances, and I've put together my own cheat sheet of "happenings" that are crucially important. Pop in to some of these between the bands, and I bet you'll feel that Bumbershoot 2010 is one of the sweetest deals you got all year for the ticket price:
Just a few more days of the Seattle International Film Festival and a ton of sizzling hot music shows to see now that June is here, but you should start "booking" (ha) some time for some very TIG-worthy readings and parties about books coming up. As a nervous and gluttonous reader of quality stuff, I heartily endorse all of the programs listed below, and hope that you can attend them.
We have a genius artist in our midst in Seattle, beloved internationally, who started in graphic novels but whose paintings have been avidly collected, his imagery made into hot-selling Japanese toys, and those art-work has been animated. Jim Woodring was a co-recipient of the highly lauded United States Artist Fellowship (2006, with collaborator Bill Frisell) and then in 2008 became an Artist Trust recipient for Washington State Artists. He also had exhibitions in Australia and France last year. And he benefits Seattle by having called it home for a very long time, for many different reasons, but mostly because his work kicks ass.
Beyond that, Woodring has been a source of encouragement and inspiration to a couple of entire generations of younger cartoonists, painters, illustrators, and "outsider" artists who admire his ability to create impeccably rendered artwork that pulls you in and hammers open a third eye to your subconscious. He hosts a local artists group (Friends of the Nib) that has been helping other artists get up to snuff on their craftsmanship autonomously, and giving them camaraderie in the midst of a world plagued by bad computer graphics and terrible commercial "art."
Fantagraphics (the publisher) has announced a couple of frantic hype-worthy meet-the-artist shows coming up at Fantagraphics (the store) in the next few weeks.
Michael Kupperman is currently known for still creating probably the last great alternative comic (pamphlet format), Tales Designed To Thrizzle. His slowly-building career includes doing strips like Up All Night for The Stranger for years; getting animated shorts on cult favorite TV Funhouse (SNL's Robert Smigel's short run Comedy Central freak out); crafting astounding design work for McSweeney's eponymous publication; and getting his strips for the utterly-absurd Snake 'n' Bacon comic on to Adult Swim once and for possible future consideration.
The point to all this is that Kupperman is really funny, and Thrizzle always rips a few genuine, audible laughs out of me with every issue. As his illustration skills (using hammy clip art styles and garish color juxtapositions with a strange B&W old newspaper psychedelia) have become perfectly suited to chopped-up and tweaked stories and jokes about Mark Twain & Albert Einstein, Cowboy Oscar Wilde, Ever-Approaching Grandpa, "Oi'm Glad I Became A Cockney Grave Robber," and "Jungle Princess," Thrizzle has become the one actual serialized alternative comic book to buy among all the loftier graphic novels. (I'm leaving out all the titles for those of us with infatuations for other genres besides what was once called "undergrounds.")