Tag Archives: Gentrification

Review: THE DREGS, published by Black Mask Studios

Arnold on a metaphysical hunt for clues.

Arnold on a metaphysical hunt for clues.

THE DREGS, published by Black Mask Studios, is one of those ideal experiences in comics: a work that lifts you up with something to say, whispers it as if only to you, and then sets you back down all the better for it. The script by Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson crackles with wisdom and originality taking you places you might never see along with places you don’t want to ever see for real. The artwork by Eric Zawadzki is so full of humanity and keeps you turning the page. The colors by Dee Cunniffe pull it all together with shades of melancholy and grit. This is a weird story and so much more.

The concept is an intriguing riff on the legend of Sweeney Todd, the London barber who murdered his clients and then sold meat pies made from their flesh. In this case, gentrification has run so far amok that the homeless are not only being squeezed out of space, they are being dispatched and turned into gourmet delicacies for all the new trendy boutique restaurants. No one is going to eat the rich, as Rousseau once championed. It’s the homeless who are going to be eaten in this story.

THE DREGS, published by Black Mask Studios

THE DREGS, published by Black Mask Studios

There’s no one who can stop these killings except perhaps for one intrepid homeless man. Arnold feels that he’s tapped into the mind of detective Philip Marlowe in Raymond Chandler’s novel, “The Long Goodbye.” One thing is for sure, Arnold knows to be a fact that three of his homeless friends have completely disappeared, most likely murdered. For the rest of what he needs to solve this mystery, he has to rely upon his own special brand of deduction.

This is an exceptional work in its boldness and intelligence. It has its gore and it’s guided by a plot that would make both Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett proud. An interesting side not is the fact that Chandler and Hammett wrote some of their earliest work from the 1930s for the pulp magazine, Black Mask. It just seems quite fitting to have this work in comics published by a publisher undoubtedly aware of that history given the name it chose to publish under, Black Mask.

The first issue of THE DREGS is available as of January 25th. For more details, visit Black Mask Studios right here.

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Filed under Black Mask Studios, Comics, Comics Reviews, Crime Fiction, Gentrification, Homeless, Pulp Fiction, Satire

BALLARD COMICS #8

Editor’s Note: Here in Seattle, we have an election this Tuesday. And, here in Seattle, we are going through some vastly problematic growing pains. What exactly are we doing as we sprout condos in every conceivable spot? Well, rest assured, Seattle will elect someone mayor. However, we the citizens of Seattle need to look beyond this, or any, election. Consider, for example, visiting a site looking to make a difference, Reasonable Density Seattle. Sure, growth can be wonderful, just as long as we don’t stomp out the very reasons Seattle is so attractive.

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Visit us every Monday for a new installment of Ballard Comics.

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Filed under Ballard, Ballard Comics, Cities, City Living, Comics, Editorial Cartoons, High Density Development, Political Cartoons, politics, Reasonable Density Seattle, Seattle, Social Justice

BALLARD COMICS #7

Editor’s Note: Any serious conversation on urban planning will include the thoughts of activist Jane Jacobs. She was a champion of urban spaces at a human scale and of the preservation of older buildings in a community. Just in terms of practicality, it was the older buildings that had intrinsic value. It was their presumably lower rents, that allowed for risk-taking ventures with limited funds.

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When is gentrification too much of a good thing? Something to consider as Ballard continues to grow. Will there always be room for those things with the original sense of Ballard?

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Filed under Activism, Ballard, Ballard Comics, Comics

24-Hour Comics Day 2013: An Edith Macefield Theme

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It is fascinating what can develop during a 24-hour comic. I knew, going in, that I was doing a comic that was going to take me to some interesting places. It ended up being a journey in search of the heart and soul of Ballard, Washington, once a mellow destination with a history of saloons and bordellos and coasting along as a blue collar hangout, it became a prime target for developers. The rest is history: a slew of trendy boutiques and restaurants that have brought a whole new dynamic to the area.

Is this a question of whether it is good or bad? Are their lessons to be learned? Well, one person, Edith Macefield, who defied the developers and would not sell her home, has become a symbol for independence and the theme for my 24-hour comic.

24-Hour Comics Day is celebrated around the world on the first weekend of October. This is when all cartoonists join together in the pursuit of a full comics narrative during a 24-hour marathon. The timing was just right this year to take on such a substantial and compelling subject as Ballard, Washington. It is a place that perhaps never thought it would go through dramatic change and yet it can’t come as a complete surprise given its location and demographics.

But, in the past, locals didn’t really have intense concerns over location or demographics. It’s a very laid-back culture. It is something you’re not supposed to be able to manufacture. But, oddly enough, marketers and developers have done their level best to tap into the Ballard experience. Fascinating stuff.

Hattie's Hat in Ballard, Washington

Hattie’s Hat in Ballard, Washington

A new friend made, at Conor Byrne pub, during my 24-hour comics journey in Ballard, Washington

A new friend made, at Conor Byrne pub, during my 24-hour comics journey in Ballard, Washington

First Annual Macefield Music Festival in Ballard, Washington

First Annual Macefield Music Festival in Ballard, Washington

Exploring the character of any place is such a fun thing to do. You don’t have to have any expectations. Or, if you do, see where that takes you too. As for Ballard, I know that area quite well. I can see it from various vantage points. No one is going to seriously argue against Edith Macefield, right? Another thing that is hard, or impossible, to argue against is comfort, good food, and fun items to buy now and then. It seems you can find just about anything in Ballard.

Ballard, old and new: Hattie's Hat bar and restaurant; the new Hotel Ballard

Ballard, old and new: Hattie’s Hat bar and restaurant; and the new Hotel Ballard

Stoneburner restaurant, part of Hotel Ballard

Stoneburner restaurant, part of Hotel Ballard

I will run the whole “Ballard” comic here at Comics Grinder in the coming days.

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Filed under 24 Hour Comics, 24 Hour Comics Day, Alternative Comics, Comics, Comix, Henry Chamberlain, mini-comics