Local comic artist, zinester, and all around groovy guy Jess Smart Smiley is at it again! Above is Jess’ video for his exciting new Kickstarter project: Rumpus on the Run a Monster Look ‘n’ Find Book.
You may have already seen Jess’ work at our annual SLCPL Alt Press Fest this past July, or at one of our many zine workshops held throughout the year. If you aren’t familiar with his work be prepared for whimsical imagery in the form of the fantastic and supernatural with a generous dash of late 20th century pop culture nostalgia. How could you resist THAT!?!
Check him out today!
Alan Moore‘s, Bram Stoker Award winning graphic novel, Neonomicon is a mind-blowing, shocking addition to H.P. Lovecraft inspired / Cthulhu mythos fiction. Illustrated by Jacen Burrows, who’s art you might recognize from the frightening series, Crossed (another very SERIOUS horror comic). If your an Alan Moore fan or H.P. Lovecraft fan you have no choice but to pick this up.
Neonomicon was adapted from Moore‘s previous Lovecraftian short story, The Courtyard (which is collected in this graphic novel). Unlike other fictions inspired by the old gods, Moore modernizes the genre, adding critique to the controversial unspoken elements of racism and sex. Neonomicon is one of Alan Moore‘s darkest works to date and has already created quite a stir, inciting some libraries to ban the book. So get it while it’s hot!
Warning: Neonomicon puts the M in mature and the E in explicit. Not only is it not for kids, but do not…I repeat DO NOT eat Chinese food while reading this book. Mid-way through the book I just about lost my lo mein noodles. It was that awesome!
Jacen Burrows! You owe me lunch! *shaking fist*
As I searched through the massive zine collection at the Salt Lake City Public Library I
was intent to pick a zine that I had not read before for this review. Now this isn’t hard
because the collection has around 2500 zines within it, but on the other hand I didn’t
want to pick up something that I knew I would heavily dislike. This is a difficult
balancing act when you’re also determined to pick up something in that serendipitous
kind of way. But on the other hand not wanting to over think it all, I flipped thru the
boxes relying on sight and instinct.
It was the cover of Watch the Closing Doors #19 that instantly drew my attention. It
features three men sitting in a subway station dressed as Santa Claus most likely waiting
for a train. This absurd image is a delightful reminder that when you take any form of
public transit, whether it is be by bus, subway, etc, you have no idea what you may
encounter. It is that sense of lackadaisical whimsy, which sets the tone for this zine. On
the subway sometimes all it takes is one exceptional encounter to either ruin or enlighten
your day. Traveling in a car can be such an isolating experience while the bus or subway
contains all of humanity.
In short stories, pictures, some historical context and diary entry, zine editor and writer
Fred Argoff discusses the New York public transit system. His personal experience adds
credibility as he describes his travels from all over the boroughs. It’s immense fun to
here him describe the complexities of public transit travel and some of the crazy
encounters that he has had. In one-page vignettes he gives bite-sized anecdotes, which I
very much enjoyed. Often zine writers suffer from the rambles when they are their own
editors. Argoff manages to tell succinct stories with wonderful thrift that reminded me of
the work of Tobias Wolfe. In “Express Bus Excitement” I was impressed with how
Argoff mixed humor with some satirical commentary on the sin of entitlement. However
Argoff is never judgmental or mean, which is refreshing considering the easy targets
presented in “Polka Time!” and “Subway Spelling”.
Unfortunately Argoff loses his universality as he delves into the specifics of the NYC
subway system. This zine suffers due to his “insider” status. Without a map or diagram it
is well nigh impossible for anyone outside of New York City to be able to keep track of
the different trains and their destinations. Thankfully he includes some pictures, but like
with most Xeroxed black-white zines they don’t duplicate well. Some are far too dark to
provide any illumination or understanding as to why they are included at all. The detail
that Argoff meticulously focuses on becomes less and less relevant as one realizes that it
is most likely that most of these subway lines and trains have either been shut down or
replaced as this zine was created in the year 2000. This lack of relevance could be
defended as a portrait of a time, but I would have preferred a little more human interest
and little less talk about different subway car models.
Regardless, as an ardent user of public transportation I am often drawn to this type of
zine. I enjoy this genre because of it’s potential to focus on the human condition. Argoff
provides such excitement about the mundane route that he takes to get from A to B every
day. His disappointment is palpable when he describes an amazing route proposal that is
shut down due to budget cuts. From their very inception, zines were meant to be a place
where anyone can produce a work, which focuses on any subject that they love. Argoff
clearly loves to discuss public transportation. It is a joy to find someone focusing on
something so positive in a world that can be so horribly awful.
Watch the Closing Doors by Fred Argoff can be found and checked out in the Zine
Collection on Level 2 in the Salt Lake City Public Library.
I’m obsessed with North Korea. It all started about 5 years ago, after watching Vice Founder Shane Smith in The Vice Guide to North Korea. It was the first time I got a glimpse of the most isolated country in the world. Not just read about it, but actually “seen” it. The whole time my heart pounded and I could feel my anxiety rise. It was exciting and I felt like I was watching something forbidden…waiting for my parents to walk in at any time. Since then I’ll watch or read anything on the subject.
This is where Guy Delisle‘s Pyongyang: A Journey In North Korea comes in. It gives us a humorous look into the countries people, customs and government, from an outsiders perspective. North Korea really is a fascinatingly odd little country (at least compared to the U.S.) and if your as curious of a cat as I am, give it a read.
Available for check-out!
This month we highlight this blast from the past zine from the now defunct Slowtrain Music. You kids may not remember but there used to be these places called “music stores” where you would buy actual physical CDs and records that played music thru stereos. No download required. Slowtrain owners Anna and Chris Brozek edited this collection of great albums from 2006 which includes older treasures from bands with new albums out now such as Band of Horses and Grizzly Bear. Check it out to find some good music that you may not have heard of or a reminder of how awesome Decemberist’s The Crane Wife is.
(This pick was not at all influenced by the fact that Anna picked my favorite album Rabbit Fur Coat by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins as her #1. Not at all.)
This zine is available for check out in the Zine Collection at the Salt Lake City Public Library.
Happy 1 Year Anniversary to slcplaltpress!
Yep, we launched this blog here on March 1st with our announcement of Alt Press Fest 2012. We can’t believe that it has been 1 year!
Here’s some stats:
Not bad for a little blog created by employees at the Salt Lake City Public Library who love comics, zines, graphic novels and the alternative press. We’ve got some cool plans for the future, so stick with us.
Thanks to everyone who has posted, promoted, linked, commented, followed, and liked this little corner of the internet.
We do it all for you. (Well and us, but mostly you.)