i just got back from my maiden voyage to the proverbially* windy city and the unexpected delights of the second annual chicago zine fest. on the floor, i had the opportunity to introduce my patient civilian hosts mad dogg and travis to the work of some favorite third-coast artists, including aaron renier, laura park, neil brideau (one of the fest’s organizers), and lilli carre, whose beautiful new double-sided mini of the essence tells the brief story of a long life, twice.
other notable finds:
○ papercutter fifteen, like the fourteen papercutters that preceded it, is a small, handsomely produced volume full of unexpected treasures from tugboat press. in this issue, jonas madden-connor grounds his sci-fi in greek mythology, melinda boyce losslessly compresses the path from childhood to adulthood into seven simple self-portraits, and man can drew weing ink.
○ tuesday bassen‘s beautiful illustrations combine a 70’s-alternative-comics-grotesqueness with an early-craig-thompson-in-nickelodeon-magazin-ish adorableness in a way i wouldn’t have thought possible. i am kicking myself for not making my way to her table to trade.
○ the second shuteye comic from sarah becan contains the enigmatic story, told in collaboration with her brother david, of a man who, like dorian gray, finds an unusual place to keep his secrets.
○ dead dynasty; a collection of thanatopses from a man-cub named mowgli.
i somehow missed the memo about the “out of this world” afterparty’s semi-formality, but it was okay; i still managed to get down. neil and i took turns.
○ in a small, ceremonial effort to bridge the divide between the high and low art worlds, i also made an ambassadorial visit to the art institute. i could write much more than anyone would care to read about their diverse and historically significant collection, but will instead merely confess that, while i had thought myself extensively familiar with whatever monets they might have hanging, i was not. i was, of course, familiar with prints of most. but monet was not a printmaker. he was a painter, in the truest sense of the word; he loved paint and light in equal measure.
[ ceci n’est pas un monet.
collection: art institute of chicago ]
those of us who endeavor to make comics are perhaps prone to overlook the distinction. our work is not finished until a machine has mimicked it; the reproduction is itself the final product. but a painting reprinted is, in even the best cases, a vague shadow of the work it describes, and a monet, no matter how exhaustively reproduced, remains a wonder to behold.
[ * although, lest anybody tell you this moniker refers solely to the corruption of the region’s political machinations, allow me to assure you that lake michigan produces no small velocity of literal wind ]