Tuesday, August 18, 2015

DUNE & Ex City Part 2 + INTRUDER

Covers from four of the month DUNE compilations.
I'll add artist names as I learn them.
I only know one now.  ;)

DUNE Revisited 


Last week I wrote about DUNE, a collaborative comics event that happens every third Tuesday at Cafe Racer at 5828 Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle. 

Deep irony:  It is occurring as I type.
  But I did not go for, well, reasons. (Read Down) 

I did want to follow up on last week's post.  Cafe Racer has long fostered creative communities, and hosted a comics hang-out called Friends of the Nib (hosted by revered cartoonist Jim Woodring) and Bureau of Drawers.  I was too new to the scene to know the difference, I didn't even know how important an artist Jim Woodring was at the time.  I just showed up and made some drawings.  But both folded and morphed in succession and then I  stayed home to draw after that.

There's another story here, one that includes a shooting at Cafe Racer.  I am so sad for those we lost, and so grateful we didn't lose more.

After that, some 33 or so months ago, Cartoonist Max Clotfelter started up DUNE.  You show up, you draw a page (or two), you leave your coveted originals with Max along with $3 and leave.  Next month, you show up again, and you get your coveted originals back along with a minicomic compilation of everyone drawing in the building at the same time as you.

DUNE is pure art.
  BECAUSE no extras are run to be sold--only enough compilations of the drawings from last week to give back one publication for each--there is no commodification of your work.  It's just the joy of comics.  Pure and simple.

I don't make it out to DUNE more than once in three months.  Partially because I work solo, A LOT. 

Yes I was the first person down the fire escape
in my pajamas.  Why do you ask?

Today I am working on literally six projects, and also my apartment building caught on fire, no joke.

However, I do make it to DUNE, because I get to say hello to amazing people and take home an entire community in a saddle-stitched zine.

I asked Max a few questions to illuminate his process, and here are the responses:

Gone Girl Comics:  Why did you start DUNE?
Max Clotfelter:  I was part of this local anthology (INTRUDER) where participation had to remain pretty exclusive just because of the logistics of deadlines and the high cost of printing. It was just too hard to invite everyone we wanted to participate. We were also meeting lots of new local comics folks who wanted to get involved with a group project. So I tried to think of the easiest way to make an open invitation anthology project and DUNE grew from there.

Gone Girl Comics: Why do you run DUNE the way you do, with copies just for participants?

Max Clotfelter: It's all about keeping it as simple as possible. Everyone has to finish their page in one night at the Café, just so I don't have to deal with a bunch of emails from people sending me stuff later on. The minute the clock strikes 11pm the contents are finished and all I have to do then is take it down to the copy shop and make the book. Also, I only make one copy per participant because it keeps the cost down and doesn't leave any room for the debate over what to do with the extra copies. Anyone who wants a copy is more than welcome to participate no matter how well they can draw!

Gone Girl Comics:  What do you think it does for Seattle comics?

Max Clotfelter: Hopefully it gives people a place to hang out and meet each other. It's also fun for me to sit down and force myself to draw a comic page in 4 hours. I love it when people collect their pages into their own mini comics. I also hope it inspires similar kinds of events around town."
INTRUDER poster art by Seth Goodkind.
Seth is also the curator of
Exterminator City
worked on EXTRUDER
a comics compilation of INTRUDER artists.

I, (GGC) myself, would like to add that this seems replicatable in the same way that Slam Poetry grew up in Chicago and was dispersed to become a National phenomena.  Could be good.  But remember to honor the founder, as slam should still honor Marc "Slampapi" Smith.  More about DUNE here.



Speaking of Marcs, Marc J. Palm is the founder a INTRUDER, a free Seattle-based comics newspaper.
In this corner of Seattle comics, Intruder bridges the DUNE comics night, many of the artists that work with Push/Pull Gallery as well as the comics tabling event Exterminator City.  When asked, he referred me to the website, http://intrudercomics.com/  

"INTRUDER is a free, quarterly, co-op, comics newspaper that started in March of 2012 consisting of 16+ Seattle based, darkly comedic cartoonists. Subscribe to get yours $12 for 4 issues! (cheap) paypal - swellzombie@hotmail.com"

He then added: Intruder was started because there was nothing like it in Seattle at the time and we felt like comics were still important here.

Here here.

Exterminator City, Saturday!
Poster art by Bunny Lee.

Exterminator City #4

Did I mention that Exterminator City, one of the nations only neighborhood comics events, is happening this weekend, Saturday August 22nd, at Push/Pull Gallery?  (8537 Greenwood Ave N, underground in the Greenwood Collective, to be exact.)

Did I mention there were not one but two awesome shows related to both comics arts and twin peaks on the walls?

Did I mention that INTRUDER will be there, with free comics as well as their compilation, EXTRUDER?

Did I mention I've spent 3 nights in a row staring into the abyss of my own ghosts to come up with a new poetry chapbook in addition to the comics I'll have for sale?  (Gone Girl Comics #1, #2, Jezinkas and the poetry chapbook:  The Essentialist.)

It includes 25 poems--half of which have been published before and half of which have just hung out in secret, waiting to see the light of day.  No comics in this one, but half of the reason why I stayed home tonight was to draw a kick-ass cover.

So, come see me Saturday at Exterminator City, 11 - 4, Saturday August 22nd.

Until next week (When it's all about me, really.  I have been working on the graphic novel.)

C-log posts on comics, publication and community on Tuesdays.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

PUSH/PULL Seattle Gallery

If you live in Seattle and have any interest in comics and underground art, you likely already know about PUSH/PULL, an indie-arts gallery and sometimes cartoonist lair.  They are located squarely in the heart of Greenwood, at 85th & Greenwood.  (8537 Greenwood Ave N, underground in the Greenwood Collective, to be exact.)

Comic Life / Between Two Worlds

Maxx Follis, Director of Push/Pull
Gallery, accepting art this afternoon for
the Comic Life/Between Two Worlds shows.
Push/Pull presents a number of monthly shows, and this Friday, August 14th, I'll be one of 20 artists to present work in Comic Life.  The work presented includes original art that was actually used in the creation of a comics story or art related to the cartoonists art and process.  You can find the event page here.

I am more than grateful to have been invited to the show and I can't wait to see what everyone is dreaming up to display.  One of the works I'm showing is my first experimentation with M. C. Eschers "Division of the Plane" depicting Patti Smith getting her hair pulled by a crow. 

In addition to Comics Life, Between Two Worlds, a Twin Peaks art show at Urban Light Studios curated by Push/Pull, will be opening at the same time, in a slightly separate space.  The two shows display an amazing array of fine Pacific Northwest Artists.  Check check.

Exterminator City #4


Exterminator City #4 happens August 22nd.  Details can be found here.

I've written about Exterminator City before (here).  What is it?  It's one of the only neighborhood comics tabling event I know of in the United States.  Artist and Organizer Seth Goodkind, one of the resident artists at Push/Pull, converts the labyrinthine gallery spaces into a sort of farmers market for local artists to hawk their minicomics, zines and merch of all array.   

There is nothing NOT TO LOVE about Exterminator City.  First, it is professionally organized and promoted.  Second, Seth is going out of his way to outreach to new and diverse creators.  Third, I have literally never sold more books at a tabling event with the exception of Short Run.  This includes some major regional events....people who love comics come to Exterminator City to buy comics.  Art and ideas exchange hands.

But don't take my word for it.  The Comics Journal sang high praise of Exterminator City in Paul Tumey's article covering the first Exterminator City in April of 2014.   The Seattle Underground Comics Scene is Alive and Oozing, shouts the headline.  And it is!   You can read it here.

Kick Start It!  There's a Push on for a bigger, better Push/Pull Gallery


Click through if you dare!  And contribute if you will.
Push/Pull Kickstarter here:  http://tinyurl.com/nfju6pr
Push/Pull is growing and evolving in remarkable ways.  They already provide great programming like monthly shows and Exterminator City.  Now they are looking for funds to create a bigger and more luminous atmosphere for underground artists in Seattle.  I encourage anyone who can to toss a coin into the well  to do so at their Kickstarter site here.


The Long Arm of Community


Max Clotfelter, the mad genius
behind the community-in-a-publication
otherwise known as DUNE.
I had intended to write about two components of the Seattle comics community that feature heavy crossover with Push/Pull's activities, artists and mission.

DUNE is a comics drawing night that occurs every 3rd Tuesday at Cafe Racer in Seattle.  That's right.  NEXT TUESDAY you should absolutely show up with drawing utensils and $2 bucks in hand to be part of DUNE

Until then, all you need to know is that you arrive at 7:00.  You draw a maximum of two pages of comics art.  You turn in the art and $2-3 to Max Clotfelter (the mastermind behind the venture) and next month you come back and receive not only your original artwork back but also an anthology of everyone's work from that night.  You can find details here.

I love DUNE to the ends of the earth.  It is too luscious an event to break it down in a few sentences and I will spill A LOT more ink on it in the next month.

SO--look forward to more writing about DUNE.  Also Intruder, a free comics newspaper published and distributed here in Seattle that features a rotating stable of artist who also exhibit regularly at Push/Pull.

Until next week!

C-log posts on comics, publication and community on Tuesdays.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Gone Girl - Origins

The NYT best seller.
Image from Wikipedia.
Sometimes if you begin a manuscript, stamp a title on it and then let it percolate for a decade, someone else publishes a New York Times best-selling book under the same name before you get yours underway.  OK, I'm sure it doesn't always happen that way, but that is what happened to me.


 Gone Girl the Prose Memoir

In 2006, I participated in National Write a Novel Month (NaNoWriMo) with the goal of creating a minimum 55,000-word manuscript.  I took a blood oath to complete the project along with two fellow artist and writers.  By November 30th I had written 77,000 words of a memoir outlining the years leading up to and after a friend's death.  I meant it to be an interesting travelogue that just happened to include a tragedy.  

Toast to our lost friends!  Taken on November 29, 2006
after typing the last words of my NaNoWriMo draft.
(It really was that cold in my apartment.)
It was not the Great American Novel, which is forgivable from an unedited manuscript written in 30 consecutive  late evenings.   The process did get the raw material onto the page, though, and--while I pushed the project aside to work on professional projects--it started a process that I hope will eventually lead to a work worthy of the subject.

The 1995 Cover.


Gone Girl the Poetry Chap Book

The obvious reason for titling my manuscript Gone Girl is that the book included two female lead characters and one of them goes away.  The less obvious fact is that I was falling back on a title I had already used in 1995.  It was the title of one of the poems I used to read on Portland, OR Spoken Word stages and later used as the title of my first poetry chapbook, which is copyrighted 1995.  

One night I was going to perform at Portland's historic Cafe Lena, and I told the poet Douglas Spangle that I was nervous.  When they called me to stage, he yelled "You Go Girl!" and when I walked off after reading he shouted "You're GONE Girl!" It stuck with me.


Gone Girl Comics - Then and Now

Gone Girl the poetry chap book also contains my first comic.  It's a four page silent comic that only has two word, GIMP and HEAL, spelled out in sign language at the beginning and end of the story.  Ten years later, I drew my second comics story--an illustration of a poem by David Lasky--and another 5 or so years after that I published my first all-out minicomic.  

Gone Girl, the novel by Gillian Flynn, came out shortly before I put out Gone Girl Comics #1, and I was unaware of it.  When people started referencing it, I didn't pay much attention.  Lots of things share titles.  Then her book sold very, very well and now the movie.  

Page 1 of 4 of my first comic.
I am disappointed, because all of the comics work I've done up to date has been preparation for
converting my initial manuscript into a full-length graphic novel under the title Gone Girl.  I have friends who pseudo-jokingly goad me to sue for the name, since I published first, but there's very little chance Gillian came across my 600-run self-published poetry/comic hybrid, to begin with.  And I'll leave fame-via-litigation to former Jerry Springer contestants er...special guest speakers.

On top of everything else, I've had women roll their eyes at me without even masking their condescension when reading the title of Gone Girl Comics.  Even if it lived in my mind first, and I'm attached to it, some faction from the Court of Public Opinion will always judge against my use of Gone Girl as a title for anything literary.


One cover image from the
Real Gone Girl site.
Courtesy Miriam Libicki


Other Gone Girls

My Gone Girl is gone.  I've changed the title of my pending graphic novel to Girl on A Road, which is a song by Ferron, suggested by cartoonist Mark Campos.  But it's worth noting that Gillian Flynn just might have lifted the title Gone Girl from a short story of the same name by noir writer Lew Archer.

I'd also like to mention Real Gone Girl comics by Miriam Libicki.  Miriam lives in Canada and creates beautifully rendered and well-written autobio comics about her service in the Israeli army during the second Intifada, among other things.  Though our comics have shared a similar name, I can't imagine a much more different life than mine, and I'm really happy that the whole copyright issue led me to discovering her stories and artwork. Be sure to check her work out here.

C-log posts on comics, publication and community on Tuesdays.