Curator Tom Hart referred to it as something of a ramshackle version of R. Sikoryak’s Carousel—a New York indie comics institution of sorts. It’s a fairly apt description, but over the past few years, the Hart-curated Easter Sunday Comix Reading at the KGB Bar has lovingly stumbled into become a tradition in its own right, a gathering for the unreligious, the non-Christian, and the otherwise holiday orphaned members of the New York sequential art community.
The Hutch Owen artist has seemingly begun to take a certain amount of pride in the unpredictability of the show’s form, which last November, at the Thanksgiving version of the reading, produced Matthew Thurber’s now-infamous scroll reading of 1-800-Mice, a fantastic, if not especially environmentally-sound take on the show’s traditional slideshow format.
The creative plays on the medium were kept to a relative minimum this year, the one true bit of insanity arriving when Hart opted to step aside from his emceeing duties, handing the job over to one Joe Boginski, a cartoonist and self-styled comedian who deliver is perhaps best described as Neil Hamburger filtered through the Borsch Belt. The joke about the 69ing vampires was especially inspired. Boginski, like the rest of the cartoonists presenting on Sunday, is a graduate of SVA—well, all save for the final reader, Alabaster Pizzo, who still has another year to go at the midtown Manhattan art school.
The small second floor bar was packed yet again, another not so subtle reminder that the event has, for better and worse, long since outgrown its home in amongst the warm soviet knickknacks. Hopefully next year will see a change of venue—as terrific a bar as the KGB admittedly is, it’s hard to imagine shoving any more comics fans into the space. That said, there is something oddly romantic in the idea of fighting with an indie cartoonist over the last available seat behind the whirring projector.
The event got off to a late start—about 40 minutes or so. Fairly customary, I suppose in these sorts of situations. Leslie Stein was first up, reading from her book, Eye of the Majestic Creature. The 2003 SVA graduate’s soft spoken delivery prompted the shutoff of the bar’s loud, ancient air conditioning—apologies in advance for the sound quality of her video, but rest assured that the thing gets a bit better a ways in. Stein’s piece revolved around earmuffs, the counting of sand grains, and the Skittle-eating adventures of anthropomorphic musical instruments. It was also a happy reminder of the effectiveness of comic pacing when read aloud.
Act-I-Vate artist Ulises Farinas read next, presenting a section from the graphically stunning tale Motro. Farinas’s piece stood out in the group for its seeming relative lack of the intentionally comedic, though in this oral setting, a good deal of humor was clearly drawn from the absurdity of his story’s fantastic realm—and from the fact that the bespectacled Farinas was largely unable to read the tiny text in his own dialogue bubbles.
Dash Shaw, no doubt the best known of the lot began his allotted time by presenting a spread from his new mini Torture Hospital #1. Always happy to deconstruct his own work for an audience, the Bottomless Belly Button author patiently broke down the artistic motives behind the piece, a theme that carried over into is presentation of several pages from his Webcomic—and soon to Pantheon graphic novel—Bodyworld.
It was Pizzo, however, who really put on the evening’s show, complete with a cast of makeshift voice actors (Pizzo primarily relegated herself to the task of foley artist). Together the group read a story from Small Change, a cartoony caper about a talking mouse with bold literary ambitions.
In all, it was yet another successful Easter reading, a chance to escape from the mean, parade-filled streets of Easter Sunday and co-mingle with the New York comics community. Whether or not the next such event will be held in a larger venue has yet to be determined, and while it would be sad to see it moved from the warm and comfortable confines of 4th st.’s KGB Bar, it would be nice to have a place to sit next year.