APE 2009

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Isotope Award 2009 from Sarah Morean on Vimeo.

I’ve often thought of independent comics as the great social equalizer. By this I mean that no indie cartoonist or fan walking alone into a room full of similar stock should be able to leave without a friend. My estimation of indie comics, it seems, was too naive. See, until last weekend, I’d never been further west than Denver. The indie shows I’d seen were packed with internet acquaintances, kind artists recalling my fan letters, and other Midwesterners. In other words, people that I already knew. I’d been biased, for sure.

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Nine Gallons #1 by Susie Cagle

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Nine Gallons #1
by Susie Cagle

ninegallons1I did some light internet stalking of Susie Cagle while trying to find her website at a time when her book was not in hand, and learned unexpectedly that her father was once a toy inventor. This news has nothing to do with her excellent new mini-comic Nine Gallons #1, but it’s fascinating nonetheless and obviously something you should know. I mean, look at this genius “bath soup” invention Ms. Cagle is modeling. Who knew then that years later, when she grew up and moved to San Francisco, she would devote thankless hours to making real, edible kinds of soup as a member of Food Not Bombs? It’s a remarkable coincidence – and certainly the best segue I could hope for leading into this review.

Nine Gallons #1 is a slice-of-life style book that chronicles some of Cagle’s most memorable experiences with Food Not Bombs – the loosely-knit international collective of anti-war pro-soup activists.

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The Bridge Project Volume One Ed. by Matt Leunig

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The Bridge Project Volume One
Ed. by Matt Leunig
Scraped Knee

bridgeprojectIt’s only natural for a cartoonist living in the middle of the country to glamorize life on the west or east coast of the U.S.  There, you’d always find someone to drink and draw with who could help you fix your bike or navigate public transportation.  Sounds great.

The Bridge Project, edited by Matt Leunig, is an anthology focused on west coast cartoonists.  Particularly, it demystifies a little about the dreams and lifestyles of 23 of cartoonists living in Portland, OR, and California’s San Francisco Bay Area.  I believe the core audience for this material is made up of the following people: those considering a move to these areas, and those current inhabitants who would like to contribute to volume two.

A team was assembled for each of the book’s 13 stories including one cartoonist from each region (so two artists on one story ideally), and the problem lay in how those collaborators would complete their contribution.  The result is an interesting display of temperament and cooperation from creative-types in two cities who are more accustommed to doing things solo AKA DIY.

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Comic Shop Focus: Needles and Pens, San Francisco, CA

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“I’m the needles half,” answers Breezy Culbertson, the shop’s pigtailed co-owner, seated behind the counter nestled in the back right-hand corner of her store. “The sewing needles half.” The pens half, she explains, is Andrew Scott, a former Maximum RocknRoll coordinator and editor of the long-running zine, sobstory.   Together the duo opened the quasi-eponymous Needles and Pens a few blocks from this spot, a half-dozen years ago.

“The old store was tiny. It was the size of a one-car garage,” explains Culbertson. “San Francisco is so expensive, it was the only place we could afford.” Needles and Pens opened up in 2002 on 14th and Guerrero, in storefront that had formerly been home to San Francisco’s Black and Blue tattoo parlor, a small but cozy location that shared the block with a handful of kindred commercial spirits. “It was off the beaten path, too, but it was fun, because there was a record shop and a print shop and a gallery and a bike shop,” says Culbertson. “We used to have events together and it was like a mini-block party. It was fun. But then they moved on.”

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