Thursday, July 24, 2008
Windy Corner at Quimby's report
Windy Corner touched down in Chicago on Friday and I couldn't have been more charmed with the city.
I came into town at noon and spent a lot of time sifting through books at Quimbys Books, where the Windy Corner signing was going to be. Everyone go read Mardou's Manhole #3 and Jason Overbys new mini Jessica! They were great---I hadnt spoken to anyone at all after getting off the plane and was spending the 7 hours from arriving till the signing quietly walking around chicago---so read those books felt pretty charged!
Jeremi Onsmith and John Hankiewicz showed up and we set up our little table. A nice cross section of the Chicago cartooning community dropped by, including Ivan Brunetti, Laura Park and Lilli Carre.
I have always thought of Chicago cartoonists as being both the most talented artists and the most humble. In Brooklyn, I must admit that you find is a lot of confidence, a lot of desire to conquer the world through comics...followed by a lot of procrastination. But I was positively inspired by Chicago---everyone is working very hard there.
At the signing we all talked about comics and it reminded me of how people used to talk about comics 10 years ago---all pure enthusiasm about the craft and joy of it and no talk about book deals and who got what agent.
Comics are changing, no? When I first started making mini comics in the late 90s, it seemed like people did it for the purest reasons. "I'm gonna work as hard as possible on this mini and send it to my favorite artist and maybe they'll see something in it." Now things are different---"gotta get this out ASAP so that first second will know I'm on the map." I like that we're making money now---or that money is at least within our reach---but I do miss that pure drive to just make good comics. It's still there of course, but Chicago reminded me how strong that purity can be if you really commit to it.
Consider this quote from Williams James:
"The moral flabbiness born of the exclusive worship of the bitch-goddess SUCCESS. That — with the squalid cash interpretation put on the word success — is our national disease." Soemtimes, I gotta say, it seems like comics are drifting into this trap while for years we were totally free from it. But we're better than this and I'm glad to be reminded of that.
On Saturday I went to see a Hairy Who exhibit with Jeremi Onsmith. Very Chicago! There was an incredible Jim Hot Salty Nutts colored pencil drawing---it must have taken him ages---using colored pencils as if they were paint. And there were some Gladys Nillson paintings that I couldnt get over--stylized figures, with arms reaching out over other figures shoulders.
Jeremi and I did some drawing---I love Jeremi's work. It has this quality to it---sometimes, people who draw in a very "cartoony" style seem resistant to adding more expressive elements to the work they do---but jeremi combines the two without even thinking about it.
The next day a bunch of us went to Lauara Parks.
Everyone in the world has been talking about Laura these days...and her work deserves even more talk. She is one of those people that seems to have arrived doing comics fully formed. Of course it jsut seems that way...in reality Lauara has been refining her style for some time but we're all just getting a chance to see it now. She is one of those people though---just glancing at her work you can sense the full force of her talent. Also, her house is like a museum!
At Laura's, me, onsmith, jeremy tinder, laura and lilli all talked comics. What everyone in chicago kept saying is how rare it is to have all these cartoonists together under one roof. Compared to the Brooklyn cartooning world---where it's impossible to walk down the block without running into fellow artists---it was an interesting contrast. Perhaps that is why so much refined work comes out of Chicago...people stay inside, working on making the most elaborate, intricate work they can.
Before I left I got a chance to look through Lilli Carre's sketchbook.
I can't say enough about Lilli's work. She will be in Windy Corner #3 and a million other more high profile venues in the next year. Lilli, to me, is a true writer. Her recent minis ("The Thing about Madeline" and "Dorado Park") are just overflowing with ideas. So much happens in them---but they're not unfocused either. They are layered but their is a drive to them---a particular feeling that they get to. I think, in comics, there are countless people with unique visual ideas but far less people with unique literary ideas. There are plenty of people who can tell a story---but less people with a totally eccentric story to tell. Lilli's comics are that rarity. Her sketchbooks are incredible.
I was sad to leave town but Windy Corner is trudging along the east coast...I'll be in pittsburgh on Saturday with Juliacks at Brillobox bar.
Saturday, July 26 at 9:00pm to 12:00am Brillobox 4104 Penn Ave Pittsburgh, PA
See you there?
Oh and thanks to Grace Tran for talking me to see Dark Night (ooof---heavy handed!) and for showing me the California Clipper. That place is so cool!
And thanks a million to Quimbys books for hosting us! http://www.quimbys.com/ There's no where else like it---I could spend 5 more days there.