Wednesday, December 03, 2008

"Kramer's Ergot #7" Book Tour @ Brillobox.

In terms of traveling performers, Pittsburgh has long been sort of a flyover town (or perhaps more appropriately a drive-by destination). For regional and national bands, this has largely been the result of a prohibitive entertainment tax that makes it a bit more difficult for smaller acts to make a stop. Various fanatics have had to travel to Cleveland, DC, and/or Philly to catch their favorites live. While it can be fun to make a road trip, this situation is a bit of a black mark on the city's cultural scene. Considering the relatively low cost of living in town, it's also incongruous. It's hard to make an exact assessment of how this affects local artists, but I'd guess it dampens interest in general.

Fortunately not everybody makes a wide berth around the 'Burgh. Apparently some entertainers wouldn't even consider skipping the Steel City. Such is the case with a small group of rather obscure comics artists who will be appearing at the Brillobox (4104 Penn Ave) tomorrow night. The visit marks the release of a collection of work called Kramer's Ergot 7, the latest in a series of annual publications that showcases the cutting edge of alt comics. A varying selection of creators will be appearing to promote the new book. They are making a limited tour of eight American cities, including L.A., NYC, Baltimore, Toronto, Chicago, Providence, and Montreal. Certainly our hometown is in rarefied company.

I imagine that the significance of this event will elude most people. After all, there are still some among us that believe that the comics form is limited to men in tights and newspaper strips. But the fact is that if you are interested in drawing, the place to see the best modern practitioners is probably at your local neighborhood independent comics store. In our case that is the Copacetic Comics Company (1505 Asbury Place, 15217), the Squirrel Hill establishment that is sponsoring tomorrow's activities. Proprietor Bill Boichel has been providing our area with the finest comic product for a couple of decades, and it is a tribute to his knowledge and good taste that the Kramer's Ergot folks have graced us with their presence.

Truly some of the best cartoonists of the modern age will be around to promote KE7. Naturally series editor Sammy Harkham will be present. Without his tireless efforts, this showcase wouldn't even exist. But he has somehow convinced a number of outstanding contributors to join him, including Kevin Huizenga, John Pham, Ron Regé, Jr., Frank Santoro, and Matthew Thurber. If you are not familiar with these guys, you really ought to do some net surfing. In a way, I envy you, because I realize the stimulating discoveries that you are about to make. On the other hand, if you are already a fan of alt comics, then you know the incredible quality that these artists deliver. These are not minor players.

So what's the occasion? If there have been six Kramer's Ergot collections previously, why is this the first national tour featuring an impressive lineup? Well, this edition dwarfs the previous books in the series... literally. Its size is 16" x 21", and intended to reference the Sunday paper comic sections that are so reverentially remembered by connoisseurs of the medium. It includes a spectrum of the best artists working today, including luminaries like Matt Groening, Dan Clowes, Kim Deitch, Seth, Adrian Tomine, and Chris Ware. And it's virtually all-new, with individual pieces specifically created for the unusual format size. As Bill says, "The equally amazing renaissance that comics is currently undergoing will likely come to be symbolized in some fashion by this very volume of Kramers Ergot." You don't want to miss this event.

*This stop on the KE7 National Book Tour is open to all ages this Thursday, December 4th, 2008, from 5pm - 9pm @ Brillobox (4104 Penn Avenue). There will be additional local creators and products available at the event, including items from Unicorn Mountain and Encyclopedia Destructica. So bring your cash, suckas.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This well-done piece should appear in the Pittsburgh paper, or online in some announcement with a wider audience. BTW, there will be a somewhat related package arriving shortly.

8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good information. More artists should know of this venue. I've never picked up an alt comic but now I am curious. Thanks JM

12:48 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

Thanks jg.


Next time we see each other, we should talk about it.

7:27 PM  

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