It’s no secret among literary types that graphic novelist James Sturm has written and drawn some of the best books in that field. From Hundreds of Feet Below Daylight to The Golem’s Mighty Swing, Sturm’s approach to American history is refined, restrained, but revelatory, chronicling for example, the dangers of capitalism steered by evangelism (and vice versa), and the glories of a fictional all-Jewish baseball league in the early part of the 20th century. Sturm’s artful but deceptively simple and sketchy illustrations characterize the journalistic restraint and elegance of his work.
But did you know that he helped co-found The Stranger, Seattle’s long-running confident and controversial alt-weekly, back in 1991? He and publisher Tim Keck were at giant of printed satire the Onion and moved out to Seattle together to found it, and for many years Sturm’s profound design and illustration skills defined The Stranger’s cunning approach to graphic style. It’s Sturms’s stark, timeless art that captivated so many Pacific NW readers from the tabloid’s inception, and now the author returns to Seattle at the Fantagraphics Store in Georgetown on Saturday, April 17, to unveil his new book, Market Day.
A meditation on the changes in daily life during the Industrial Revolution, Sturm’s latest work promises to be as detail-rich, historically descriptive, and really enjoyable as his other topical, truly inspired graphic novels. (Sometimes “graphic novel” seems a lofty tag for a book of comics, but in Sturm’s case his writing and illustration hold up to anything published in literature in the past century.)
Also premiering a new full-length work will be occasional Stranger sarcastic-bastard and pop-punk musician Peter Bagge, who just delivered a big bundle of caustic and incredibly clever new collected strips and original material in his Fantagraphics-published HATE Annual right after the Emerald City Comic Con. He is putting out his first all-new full-length comic about people caught up in other people’s worlds through virtual lives called, um, Other Lives. It is on mainstream DC-side imprint Vertigo (Sandman, dozens of great more-adult comic titles since the late 80s) and looks a bit more serious than his usual tall tales of salty iconoclast Buddy Bradley. (Which reminds me: don’t miss the hilarious new HATE for long-time loser character Lisa’s attempt to start a mid-life stripper-club band, who rip off Tori Amos and later their clothes). But like his cartoons in Reason and other magazines there will be as much mind-expansion as gonzo, over the top underground comix slapstick. Bagge’s the best when you want a fun, yet darkly informative read. Get Market Day, Other Lives, and HATE at the signing and big party!
The final reminder from Fantagraphics itself:
The Peter Bagge and James Sturm event on April 17 coincides with National Record Store Day at neighboring Georgetown Records.
Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery is located at 1201 S. Vale Street (at Airport Way S.) in the heart of the historic Georgetown arts community. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. Phone 206.658.0110.