Oftentimes when people look at me sideways upon hearing that I live in a smallish town on the Wisconsin border, I half-jokingly explain that "I live as close to Chicago as I can afford to." Even though it drives me crazy, the City of Chicago is my hometown, where I grew up as a kid, and will always be a special place to me. So, I feel lucky that I get to live in an affordable, peaceful place, surrounded by nature and open space, yet am only a quick drive to "The City." A few weeks ago, I was invited to participate in the tenth iteration of ZINE NOT DEAD , a Chicago zine/comix reading organized by Matt Davis of Perfectly Acceptable and Brad Rohloff of Bred Press .
View from the back porch of the event space, Ballroom Projects.
Steph and I headed into the city, and Google Maps took us in on Ogden Avenue. So we got to drive through Lagrange ("They gotta lotta nice girls there"), Lyons, Brookfield, Stickney, and other mysterious suburbs that I never really go to. We arrived early and had dinner, then took seats at what we called "The Grown Ups’ Table" in the kitchen area of the event space. We got to chat with a succession of the Most Awesomest™ Cartoonists in Chicago. Max Morris cuddled for a bit ; Nick Drnaso and his wife Sarah discussed house plants ; Aaron Renier and Jessica Campbell went dog crazy ; and Raighne Hogan, Maggie Umber , and Iona Fox all said hi. Presently the room filled with people. I was like "Where were all these folks when I was 24 ???"
Genius poster from the World’s Greatest Cartoonist, Anna Haifisch , hanging in the bathroom, Ballroom Projects.
Soon the show started. Brad and Matt had the crowd in stitches as they work through their usual "technical difficulties."
I spoke third (out of six) so Stephanie and I could make it back home to Beloit before midnight. (Our usual bedtime is about 9 pm.) I read from King-Cat 78, mostly comics about our cats and dogs, so it was fun. People seemed to dig it, and I felt overwhelmed by the warmth and support this community has for one another. It was very moving.
After I read I stuck around for the intermission, which featured a hilarious roast of the hosts by special guests Gina Wynbrandt and Sarah Squirm . The crowd was howling. I felt kinda sad to have to split early, but I’m old.
Gina as Matt, Sarah as Brad, killing it.
There were, I would guess, well over 100 people in the audience. On the way home I was telling Steph how when I first started making King-Cat you could count the number of US cartoonists making artful, literary comics on two hands. WE’VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY !