“Stars-N-You” is a gentle and fanciful minicomic about Leroy, a singer is search of a band in Seattle. It is written and drawn by Merrily Duffy. It is lettered and edited by Jaycee Baron. This comic has a refreshing way of conveying some street smarts in a low key. It’s about youth finding their way and struggling to make sense of life.
There’s a nice moment when Leroy and Patrick are going about their routine as employees of an indie record shop. Patrick is convinced that we delude ourselves with our self-importance. Leroy counters that we have the ability to be self-aware for a reason. It’s a totally inconsequential bit of conversation but fitting. Duffy does a great job of tapping into a twee subculture with her own twee vision. Every man in this comic is elfin and seems to aspire to be the next Ziggy Stardust.
It will be interesting to see how Duffy further develops her characters and stories. There is still work to do such as fine tuning panel composition and word balloon placement which can be hit or miss. I can see her crossing over to children’s books too. Comics can certainly use more of her dreamy style.
You can pick up “Stars-N-You #1″ for just 99 cents at ComiXology here.
Jennifer Daydreamer and Hugh Howey
It’s good and natural to have well known writers spend some time with total strangers. It’s all about context. The writer, whether a giant in a niche market or an all-around best-selling star, knows that life is a bit absurd, fame is fickle, and that the vast majority of people have no idea who he or she is. That stranger, and that stranger over there, and that one too, all gather at a meetup, and at least they know something about the writer. Most likely they’ve read some of his work. Most likely they aspire to be writers themselves. Ah, much common ground to work from. And so that’s what I got to partake in for a little a while, a special moment. Hugh Howey was in town. He had delivered a lecture at Amazon earlier in the day. That night, a meetup was organized at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, which made for an excellent venue. It was a big group that became a smaller intimate group of new friends gathered to share a few ideas with a great writer.
“A Night at the Sorrento and Other Stories” collects the work of a longtime cartoonist of the Seattle School, yours truly, Henry Chamberlain. We cartoonists grew up in the Generation X ethos of DIY, small press, and a pride for a certain alternative comics aesthetic. Make no mistake, just like alternative rock from the 1990s, there is something specific that is meant by alternative comics. To the point, these are comics that favor the offbeat and idiosyncratic. This spirit rings true today as it embraces an independent vision. Stay tuned. This collection will rock your world, very alternatively, in 2014.
If you want a graphic novel you can become hypnotized by, then look no further than Jim Woodring’s latest, “Fran.”
Without question, Jim Woodring is one of our greatest cartoonists. What he creates is right in the thick of what we all dream for in the world of graphic novels. He reaches that ideal of one creator with a singular vision. The world of Frank and Fran is Woodring’s surreal take on early animation.
Whether intended or not, those cartoons from the silent movie era pack a surreal wallop. Woodring has been conjuring up his own special magic for quite some time. He’s at the point where his creations have established, and even surpassed, the object of their homage.
In this latest book, Woodring delivers an extended romp that finds Fran and Frank on their wildest and most dangerous adventure yet.
As Comics Grinder dutifully continues to review books, the pile of options can get high, but never so high as to not acknowledge Jim Woodring and the mighty publishing house that is Fantagraphics Books.
This has been a challenging year for Fantagraphics with the loss of its cofounder, Kim Thompson. But fans love this publisher so much that they provide their support when needed. After a successful Kickstarter campaign that will allow for getting back on track, we can expect Fantagraphics to continue to publish the great work they do. “Fran” is emblematic of that work.
Visit our friends at Fantagraphics here.
Macefied Music Festival celebrated its debut on October 5, 2013. We were there as part of my 24-Hour Comics Day exploration of Ballard, Washington.
What would Edith Macefield have to say about all the big changes in the once mellow neighborhood of Ballard? That’s what I’d like to know.
Some things take time to fully understand.
Into the night, we pressed on in search of the heart and soul of Ballard.
Portraits of Jennifer at Ballard Inn.
She and I had ventured onto an interesting journey.
Sights. Sounds. History. Ghosts. Maybe some answers.
Editor’s Note: Percy’s & Co. is a shining example of how old and new can come together. Percy’s & Co. is not some cute name that a marketing team came up with. It refers to Percy Sankey who built the building in 1893 to house his dry goods business. The Sankey building has mostly housed liquor purveyors of one form or another. Even when it was a dry goods business, there was a speakeasy in the back room.
Percy’s & Co. might be mistaken by tourists as a business going back over a hundred years. It’s actually brand new but it’s not brash. Just some local kids providing unique cocktails and working with local growers. Percy’s & Co. offers apothecary inspired cocktails. As its website states, these drinks feature “infused spirits, fresh purees, and beneficial tinctures.”
Thankfully, here’s a place that looks like it has a bright future because it bothered to take a careful look at the past. Visit Percy’s & Co. here.
You know that feeling when you discover something really cool? That’s what happened to me when I tried on a pair of Luna Sandals. It was inevitable that my feet would meet these sandals. I am usually barefoot and always game for a new sandal. But the big difference in Luna sandals is that you can run in them. Run? Really? If that were true, that would be quite a game changer, wouldn’t it? Well, the fact is, you’ll believe you can fly in these sandals, just as if they had wings.
Editor’s Note: While any place of quality is welcome in the Ballard hub, we have a soft spot for any business that finds a way to authentically integrate itself within the culture. The Noble Fir is a fine example of thinking locally. It is a tavern with an eye, a mind, and a heart, to being part of the community. You’re looking for something unique and refreshing? You want to feel like you’re really still in Ballard? Then visit The Noble Fir.
Maybe a place like The Noble Fir would have seemed just a bit too luxurious in the past. Maybe. But then again, Seattle has maintained a long love affair with microbrewies and can boast at having some of the best in the world.
Why not have that level of excellence, and even elegance, amid the industrial and mechanical fixtures of old Ballard?
What we all wish to avoid is The Planet Hollywood treatment. If a place has no real connection to anywhere, then it contributes to diminishing that place. Not to put down Planet Hollywood but I think you know what I mean. So, yeah, The Noble Fir, and other fine establishments like it, are what we want to see: something that enhances the character of Ballard and actually fits.
These sort of ponderings take time but we have plenty of that. And, once a good mood is set, perhaps with a fine ale, in a good place, we can settle in and find all sorts of stories to tell.
Editor’s Note: Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen is one of Ballard’s new hot spots which features tasty barbecue, catfish, and assorted specialty drinks and fine whiskies. Visit them here.
Ballard Comics comes out each Monday here at Comics Grinder.