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.”)
Kupperman’s art exhibition and book signing will be on Saturday, May 8, 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM, with the exhibition of his impeccably rendered satire on Fantagraphics/Georgetown Records’ walls through June 9. If you remember that Snake ‘n’ Bacon came on right before BBC’s crisply surreal The Mighty Boosh, a gander at Kupperman’s work would make complete (anti-) sense.
There was an enormous and gorgeous Thrizzle book put out late last year, and the next featured Fantagraphics artists for “slide show and book signing” will be the highly esteemed Jim Woodring, who has a new tome out called Weathercraft after years of painstakingly doing fine art paintings and illustrations for galleries and various media, and apprenticing many younger Seattle artists through Friends of the Nib (very sadly R.I.P.).[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brHZ69DsfQI]
Woodring has also had much of his more organically developed and utterly psychotropic artwork exposed to loftier crowds than almost any other UG-spawned artist (besides maybe Robert Crumb and Robert Williams). It’s been made into animation as well, manufactured into the coolest toys you’ll ever see, and if his current mind-slapping masterpiece Weathercraft excites you, see his work on Saturday, May 22, from 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM. (And feel free to shop around the Fanta store for excellent back issues and collections of his earlier comic titles like Jim, Frank, and volumes like Seeing Things.)
If you’re already familiar with both Kupperman and Woodring, and already have the two books highly recommended above, and want to try a sampler of other artists just getting their start or waging a comeback in the alternative comics world, Fantagraphics has also put out a new issue of MOME, Vol. 18, Spring 2010. This is publishers Gary Groth’s and Eric Reynold’s love child of literary-quality short pieces, with a lot of small stories by young women (this issue featuring Lilli Carre), black humor bad-asses like Dave Cooper and Renee French, and exploratory foreign boundary-breakers including Joe Daly, Ivan Brun, and Gavin McInnes. MOME is sometimes as intimate as a dastardly autobiographical mini-comic, always creatively poking new holes in the “sequential storytelling” medium, triumphing minority voices and styles even farther off the beaten path than what gets published as book length single artist collections. This is the best issue in a long while for me, featuring more narrative-driven contributions but still highly evocative experimental new artwork throughout. Pick it up while you’re at one or hopefully both of the great events coming up at Fantagraphics in Georgetown in May.