Autumn in literary Seattle brings an abundance of choice. Any given night offers at least three decent options for events to attend—many of them entirely free. It would be a great problem to have if it didn’t mean you missed so much fun thanks to the overstuffed schedules. October and November pass blithely through when-it-rains-it-pours territory and skate directly into a monsoon.
Case in point: This Saturday will deliver not one but two comics-anthology debut parties. At Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery in Georgetown, comics authors Mark Campos and Noel Franklin debut a new collection, called Rock Is Not Dead, with special guest cartoonists and music from Amy Denio. At Love City Love on Capitol Hill, comics collective THE HAND debuts their second anthology, The Elements. No matter where you choose to spend your Saturday night, you’re bound for a fun comics-centric evening.
The back cover copy for Rock Is Not Dead says the anthology was born of a need to rebut KISS’s Gene Simmons, who in a 2014 interview pronounced rock and roll dead. “Rock ’n’ roll is not a business model,” the anthology exclaims. “Rock ’n’ roll is an attitude, a paradigm.” The comics, short fiction, and attached CD of cover songs are supposed to prove that.
Speaking as someone who has grown boundlessly bored of white men playing guitars, I remain unconvinced about the genre’s vitality, but Rock has some excellent comics in it. Franklin and Campos’ “Not Too Soon” is a beautiful, smoky, broken love story set in and around the Egyptian Theater, and Wm Brian Maclean’s “Never Trust a Junkie” is a vibrant celebration of motion and color.
The Elements is thematically looser: It’s just a collective of Seattle-area artists presenting their work as a single unit. The best of the lot is Robyn Jordan’s story of a woman who desperately wants a child. She visits a tarot card reader, who delivers some bad news. The story ends with an account of Sarah and Abraham from the Old Testament, and concludes on a moment of decision. The confidence in Jordan’s cartooning is inspirational: A full-page depiction of the tarot reading delivers a dense spray of information in as few lines as possible, and not until you give your eye time to soak in the whole thing can you appreciate how much work went into the page.
A lot of The Elements is like that. Rachelle Duazo’s “Shower Scene” can, to a prurient-minded reader, represent nothing more than a comic strip about two naked people making out in a shower. But it’s really a complete history of a relationship, from beginning to end, captured in the motions and gestures of sex: one lover kneeling before another, fingers clenched together into an exploratory knot. Comics don’t get much more, well, elemental than this: raw emotion, delivered in a few representative lines on a page.
The Elements, Love City Love, 1406 E. Pike St. Free. All ages. 7 p.m.
Rock Is Not Dead, Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery, 925 E. Pike St., 658-0110, fantagraphics.com. Free. All ages. 7 p.m. Both Sat., Oct. 22.
Paul Constant is the co-founder of The Seattle Review of Books. Read daily books coverage like this at seattlereviewofbooks.com.