For a relatively young country, the United States holds a tremendous amount of history, with much of it leading back to Ole Virginny. “All My Ghosts,” a new comic from Alterna Comics, is set in a small town in Virginia, rife with history, and ghosts. Our main character is Joe Hale, the editor and owner of The Wise Progress. This is likely a nod to The Daily Progress in Charlottesville. Given that this story takes place in Wise, a small college town up near the Appalachian Mountains, I believe I’ve hit the nail on the head. It’s a nice quirky setting that adds some extra flavor.
Tag Archives: Reporting
“Vietnam Journal,” by Vietnam veteran, Don Lomax, is one of the great examples of what can be done with comics beyond superheroes. Thanks to dedicated supporters, like Gary Reed, the publisher of Caliber Comics, this is a comic that has secured its place in history. But there are always new readers to reach and new ways to reach them. Caliber Comics is releasing the entire run of this Harvey Award nominated series starting with “Vietnam Journal Vol. 1: Indian Country” With a very special thanks to comiXology, this work will reach an even bigger audience. You can find the first volume of Vietnam Journal at comiXology here.
A tattoo artist deals with people’s desires and dreams. So do bartenders and cab drivers and let’s not forget therapists, agents, and attorneys and all manner of other good souls servicing a wide spectrum of humanity. People have needs, wishes, and frustrations. People seek answers, release, and resolution. Often they seek out the tattoo artist for more than any form of body art could ever fully satisfy. The seeker and the tattoo artist, in unspoken agreement, realize this and still they meet and arrange together a new portal toward that most elusive of goals, pure happiness. It’s at an event like the Seattle Tattoo Expo, held this last weekend at the Seattle Center, where all that unspoken energy comes to the fore and gains finer articulation by the very fact there is so much of it gathered in one spot.
If I were to compare a tattoo convention with a comics convention, I’d say there is a certain amount of a fish-out-of-water sensation that both vendors must contend with. You’re not at your home base anymore whether it’s a tattoo parlor or a comics shop. And both of those environments have their own special vibes that are not going to be totally recreated on a convention floor. What you get instead is the next best thing. That is what you get from this tattoo expo, the next best thing to actually being at the parlor. The Seattle Tattoo Expo was created by world famous tattoo artist Damon Conklin. His shop, Super Genius, leads the way in hospitality at the expo. Tattoos are a very personal thing but Damon Conklin and his crew of talented tattoo artists will break the ice. I got to chat a bit with Colin, who is an apprentice at Super Genius, and he was very friendly and in the moment which is great since, truth be told, tattoos are a personal thing.
What’s great about being at the expo is the opportunity to immerse yourself in the tattoo culture. You can walk in with your whole body tatted up or with no tattoo and it’s all good. But you can feel that special bond that is shared by those that are fully into tats. It can’t be made up. Either you’re really into tattoos and show them off proudly or you’re not–or you fall somewhere in between. If you’ve long admired tattoos but only from a distance, then actually coming down to the expo could be very rewarding. There’s a benefit for everyone, for those who are new to the scene as well as for all the attendees who have years of experience.
Many people aren’t going to ponder over the mysterious world of tattoos. A fair amount of people are just going to dive in and get one. That would be a mistake. That’s where bad tattoos come from. It’s a fevered form of thinking when all those impulses suddenly rise to the surface and you act way before you’ve fully thought it through. Did you really mean to get a star tattoo? Well, nothing wrong with that but is that really what you meant to do? That particular star, on that particular place, instead of stepping back, maybe concluding that this could wait? All is not lost. These days, tattoo removal is within reach. In fact, there was a tattoo removal booth at the expo. It’s not a perfect process. Mistakes will be made along the way but it’s sure nice when you can avoid them. But mistakes are human and there are plenty of humans. It just makes those who get it right look that much better.
What does it take to get it right? You get to see a lot of that at the expo. Whatever it is you are seeking, it doesn’t matter if it’s a tattoo or going to college or whatever your goal, you will find that you need to take the time to get it right.
“Discordia: Six Nights in Crisis Athens,” written by Laurie Penny and illustrated by Molly Crabapple, are recent notes from the underground, published in October of 2012, that remain quite relevant to this unfolding story. As much as things seem to move at a breakneck pace, and trends seem to abruptly shift, some truths are here to stay. It was on September 17, 2011, not very long ago at all, that Occupy Wall Street galvanized a new generation of protesters seeking a better world. That spirit of change rippled across an unstable world. In the summer of 2012, the focus fell on Athens, the hotspot of the global financial meltdown. The highly corrupt Greek government was especially hit hard when its debt-addled financial chickens came home to roost. The Greek government’s response to the crisis was a series of severe austerity measures. Riots and chaos followed.
Journalist Laurie Penny saw an opportunity to document firshand a significant hisotrical event and invited illustrator, Molly Crabapple, to join her. Much like a teaming up of Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Steadman, Penny and Crabapple immersed themselves in the subject at hand prepared to report back on what they found: the violence, the drugs, the sex, and the intimate thoughts of a lost generation. It is a remarkable undertaking with impressive results. And you need to read this 140-page ebook. You can find it here and you can also seek out more information on the publisher, Random House Vintage Digital, over here.
Molly Crabapple and Laurie Penny find themselves in Greece right after the elections and the narrow defeat of the leftist coalition, SYRIZA. That coalition was seen as the best hope for dealing with the crisis. Instead, an ineffectual government makes matters worse. The rise of a facist party, Golden Dawn, having gained seven percent of the seats in parliament, signals even more dire times ahead. There is no doubt that Golden Dawn is neo-Nazi. Reporting from the bloody streets of Nikaia, Penny finds numerous murders of immigrants directly linked to Golen Dawn. After she uploads some video footage of the violence, she gets a chilling response back in Greek: “Don’t cry. Soon the time for hunting Pakistanis will begin in earnest.”
Penny does a great job of sharing her personal observations. Make no mistake, this has gotten personal for both Penny and Crabapple. This is subjective reporting getting to the heart of the action in the spirit of gonzo journalism. We are brought intimately close to Greek citizens of various walks of life. The prevailing fear is that Golden Dawn is, as the saying goes, “winning the hearts and minds of its countrymen.” Despair hangs heavy over those who would resist. We sympathize as we take in conversations and take in a view of Athens amid dark highrises, due to an ordered cutback on electricity. The haze from the shallow bowl of pollution is only releived by the Aegean Sea twinkling in the distance.
What lies ahead is a desire to fight on. If the left is not getting through to the masses, then the left must learn to more actively engage. If the general public has concluded that the Occupy movement was a flash in the pan, Penny is hear to tell you that this is not true. In the last year, Penny reports, there’s been a systematic global police crackdown. In North America alone, there have been 7,500 protesters arrested. But the protesters are not done yet. Penny sums it up with a line from the Bible, from Jeremiah: “The harvest is past. The summer is ended, and we are not saved.” It is not meant to be read as defeat but as a fact that the struggle continues.
And if you should think that all of this is not your problem, the coda to this book is very apt. Penny describes what happened once she and Crabapple had returned to New York City. It was on September 17, 2012, the first year anniversay of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. This is what happened, the text read round the world: There is Molly Crabapple, neo-Victorian cartoonist simply standing on a street corner when she decides to take a snapshot of the NYPD’s tidy work at pushing back protesters. For this, Crabapple is plasticuffed and sent to jail. She manages to Tweet: “Arrested.” Housed in a cell with other women who had been picked off the street for doing the same thing, Molly Crabapple is jailed for twelve hours. When simply taking a photo lands you in jail, you really have to wonder where we’re headed.
Be sure to pick up your digital copy of “Discordia” and, if you happen to be in New York, you’ll want to view a special art show of Molly Crabapple’s work related to Occupy and beyond entitled, “Shell Game” at Smart Clothes Gallery. You can read more about it here.