Whirlwinding into Pittsburgh, PA
Ah! I made it back to the Burgh! (aka PGH, aka Pittsburgh PA, aka The City of Bridges, etc..) It's been about 6-7 years since I made the trip back, mainly delayed because I hate to fly. God, what a wimp. Anyway, I made it safe and sound at 12am on Saturday morning, got the rental car (did you know that an HHR is considered Economy size?) and listened to Trevor Alixopulos' Spring Mix while driving in the dark, on the winding I-276. It was good to be home again.
Saturday early morning, I enjoyed a fun phone conversation with Anne Reilly from the Pittsburgh City Paper while standing outside of the Epworth Church's flea market. While my mom got 3 boxes of random stuff like found photographs and a clock with a hobo drinking beer, I talked to Anne about the book and the Burgh. She did this nice write up for the reading that was to come at the ToonSeum. You can read the article here. By the way, Epworth Church's volunteers make a mean cup of Joe! No kidding!
Eat N Park, I went to my old local library since I am addicted to the internet, and that is the closest place besides Starbucks where I could get WI-FI-connected. The Shaler North Hills library was where I took out many of the graphic novels/comics that inspired me to make comics like Art Spiegelman's "RAW" anthologies, Chester Gould's "Dick Tracy", and Dave Breger's "How to Draw and Sell Comics" among many, many others. They had a decent collection of newer graphic novels including Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit?!?!! I also discovered the following book in the Mystery section......!
David King!!! I don't care, David. I love this cover, okay?
Sunday, I attended my first Pens games versus the Montreal Canadiens! We lost, but it was so much fun. Great seats along the blue line, jumbo chicken nachos and an RC cola. Spectacular. It was great to be in the Igloo one last time. I know, this isn't really interesting to comics people unless Tony Millionaire was playing center, so let's talk about the reading that I was totally nervous about all week long!
As you can tell, there was nothing on the screen. There were laptop issues, but that's okay!!! Who needs technology when we got books! So we did the reading the old-fashioned way for a change, or what I refer to as "The John Porcellino Way" of doing a reading. The last time I got to see a John P. comics reading was when he was on tour for his book, "The Diary of A Mosquito Abatement Man". He read straight from his book and people sat and just listened to his voice. John has a nice voice, seriously. In this case, I read from the laptop and people shared the books and followed along. My voice was probably not as soothing as John's, but everything went well and to quote from the book, "Dad was a hit! L-O-L!" ... again! Thanks to Carmen, Maureen, and Chelsea for attending too!
I finally got to meet some of the great Pittsburgh cartoonists that I only knew through the their books or Le Internet, like Pat Lewis, creator of the mini comic series, "Cragmore." If you want smart funny dialogue with stylish artwork, which you DO, you need to get his stuff, okay? Also, it was great to see cartoonist Rachel Masilamani, creator of the Xeric award-winning RPM Comics. I am eagerly anticipating her 3rd issue of the series like.. NOW, PRONTO!
Oh, look! Superstar Ed Piskor! Just a great dude all around. He gave me the first 3 installments of his self-published comic series "Wizzywig" which I read right when I got home. (Ed, DO NOT re-draw the first volume, or I will do harm!)
Awh, and here's class-act, Jim Rugg, Mr. Street Angel/Afrodesiac! I found out that Jim lives pretty close to where I used to live -- "close" meaning you only have to take ONE winding road to get from my house to his.. I think? He didn't give me his address, because, I mean, let's face it, Jim's too smart for that, you know? I am cheating because this picture was from TCAF, but Jim looks good in all types of weather, right?
The ToonSeum is a real special place and I'm really honored that I got to do a reading there. Many thanks to John Mattie, Harold Behar, and John Reilly Morgan who helped out with the event. My only regret was that I didn't get to see museum director Joe Wos, but his presence was definitely felt. The atmosphere was so inspiring and positive. The Akira exhibit that they currently have up is just mesmerizing. If you are in town, you should definitely go see it.
Oh, and to make the moment event more sensational, they let me draw something on their Wall of Fame. Oh my goodness, Lynda Barry!
You know, this PGH comics report would not be complete if I didn't mention the esteemed Bill Boichel, owner of the fantastic Copacetic Comics store.
The store is in this quiet part of Squirrel Hill. I mean, who would not want a store like this in their neighborhood?!? I finally got to see the place before the move to Polish Hill. Thank god I did... lots of mini-comics, limited edition issues... just great quality stuff!
Just when I was getting so comfortable and retaining my Pittsburgh accent (using the word "Yinzer" a whole lot than I ever did before), it was time for me to bring all of this comics inspiration up north to Canada at the Toronto Comics Festival. More about that on tomorrow's blog post!!
Thanks Pittsburgh, you'll always be home to me! Till Next Time!