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I (Heart) Comics: Ellen Forney and Peter Bagge Display Wares at Fantagraphics Bookstore, 12/16
I (Heart) Comics: Ellen Forney and Peter Bagge Display Wares at Fantagraphics Bookstore, 12/16
by Maggie Bloodstone - SGN Staff

In the Spring of 1991, as an employee of Fantagraphics Books, I had the pleasure of being a part-albeit a teensy one- of a gallery event held at the Center Of Contemporary Art called 'Misfit Lit'. What it was, was a comprehensive presentation of the art of Comics, curated by COCA's Larry Reid, and one of the first attempts within the art world to impress upon the artless world the power and potential of comics, with particular emphasis on the then-flourishing subgenre of Alternative Comics. And the subgroup within that subgenre was what came to be known in funnybook circles as: The Seattle Cartoonist.

Your basic cultural movement, however cultish and/or commercially viable, normally sprouts from a gaggle of likeminded folks in the right place at the right time, motivated misfits who inspire and support each other's artistic efforts, and who, once in a while, actually affect major, lasting change. With a soundtrack of greasy Grunge, fueled by caffeine, and illustrated by a clutch of cynical, but ridiculously talented artists, it was finally Seattle's turn to be cool. (For those who actually care about such things, of course.)

Two of the most celebrated of the Class of '91 will be appearing at the brand new Fantagraphics Bookstore in Georgetown, this Sat., Dec. 16: Ellen Forney and Peter Bagge. If you've lived here at least long enough to remember the Battle In Seattle (the original, not the movie), no doubt you've seen Ellen's work, distinguished by some of the most lip-smackingly luscious babes ever committed to newsprint. That is to say, women who look like they could actually exist (in fact, one could be standing behind you right this minute&if you're lucky). She's frequently seen classing up the pages of The Stranger, with her Lustlab Ad of the Week cartoon, which unfailingly manages to make even the most unsavory kink or fetish appealing, and her How-To comics on everything from successful Fag-Hagging to reattaching an amputated finger. Before that, she told the hugely entertaining tale of her happy childhood (a BIG rarity among Alternative cartoonists) in the late, lamented Rocket, 'Seven In '75'. Her newest Fantagraphics collection, 'I Love Led Zeppelin', is a long-overdue compendium of her comic work ('Tomato', a 2-issue series from Seattle's Starhead comics), and a chunk of the aforementioned comics and stories. (See illustration-doesn't it make you want more, more, more?)

Peter Bagge is a former Jersey boy who was one of the original comics expatriates to Seattle in the mid-'80's, following the relocation of Fantagraphics, who published his first regular comic, 'Neat Stuff', which epitomized the hit-you-upalongside-the-head-with-a-two-by-four school of humor that evolved -- so to speak -- from the nihilistic underground comix of the 60's & '70's. Inadvertently, Peter created the prototypical Slacker, even before the word was co-opted into irrelevance, in the grubby person of Buddy Bradley, curmudgeonly anti-hero of 'Hate' comics. Drawing from his own Carter-era teenhood in creating Buddy and his typical American (read: basically fucked-up) family, Peter stumbled over the late-century zeitgeist that your average Entertainment Weekly reader would recognize as 'Generation X', and which assured him a niche in pop culture history-whether he likes it or not. 'Hate' is still published annually, by Fantagraphics, and besides a butt-load of comics and illustrations ranging from CD art for worthy garage bands to a regular strip in the online Libertarian magazine 'Reason', he writes & draws 'Apocalypse Nerd', the saga of two hapless WW3 survivors in the wilds of what looks like Snohomish.

Besides loads o' books, the Forney/Bagge evening will include a reprise of Ellen's raved-about multimedia performance based on her comics and screenings of Peter's rarely-seen animation, a Sub Pop/MTV collaboration featuring the wacky adventures of Buddy Bradley and his pals n' gals. If you're a true blue aficionado of lines on paper, it's well worth the trek into the neo-hipster refuge of Georgetown.

Fantagraphics Books (the store) is located at 1201 S. Vale St. at Airport Way. For more information, call 206-658-0110 or visit, www.fantagraphics.com.

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