Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Busting for Busker Week

Those who know me know that I've been working on a series of artistically challenging projects for comics publications.  What's been fun about my projects for this year is the diversity.  One story is an adaption of a dark Eastern European fairy tale; another is auto-biography about being a woman working at a shipyard and the last is a work of comics journalism set in Chicago.

One of the busker silhouettes
created by Noel Franklin
for Seattle Busker Week.

While I'm gearing up, now, to dive into a whole new slough of auto-biographical stories, I have something of an artistic palette cleanser happening in the form of a paid illustration gig for Seattle Busker Week.

If you don't know what a busker is, that's ok.  Lots of people don't.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a busker as:  a person who entertains in a public place for donation.  So, the person you see on the street corner playing their guitar with their case open for donations, that's a busker.  But buskers aren't limited musicians.  Just about anything people find entertaining can fall into the busking category.

We've got a lot of great jugglers, magicians, balloon-twisters, contortionists and other street artists here in Seattle.  Ever heard the song Spoonman by Soundgarden?  When he lived in Seattle, Artis the Spoonman became probably one of the most famous buskers in history.  However, it would have been illegal for Artis to perform in Seattle 40 years ago.  There were laws against performing in the streets without a permit.

I don't know the entire story YET, but I will know it, because I may be doing a comic about the history of busking in Seattle as part of the Seattle Busker Week program.  What I do know is that a guy named Jim Page serenaded the Seattle City Council while they were in session at Seattle City Hall with a song that persuaded them to drop the permit requirement for busking.

Since then, there has been an awesome renaissance of busking in Seattle, that has included the long-running Pike Market Busking Festival. THAT festival was started by Jim Hinde, who passed away in 2008.  Seattle Busker Week strives to honor where
Pike Market Busking Festival festival left off, and it's pretty exciting.
Photo of Jim Hinde
provided by Jim Page

I am going to be back to tell you SO MUCH MORE about Seattle Busker Week in about a month from now.  It runs from September 14th - 20th, launching with a 4-stage, parade and kids activity jubilee on the 14th at Pike Place Market.  Then it runs around the city to Benaroya Hall and Seattle's amazing Central library, with lots of "pop up" events in-between, and ends at the Experience Music Project on the the 20th.

The same Jim Page who sang for Seattle City Hall is one of the organizers, and a lot of attention is being paid to honoring tradition and being inclusive and adventurous.  I'll post more when details are finalized, and you can check their website in a little while as maps, schedules and other enticements are added. 

As for my part, I'm just drawing drawing drawing up a suite of materials for them, and thinking about the possibilities of a lil' comic history of this whole Seattle busker experience.  Until next week!

C-log posts on comics, publication and community every Tuesday.

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