With an entire afternoon and evening to myself, I went on a whirlwind tour of Southern California creativity yesterday. It started, as many recent Saturdays have, at the Frank & Sons Collectible Show in the City of Industry, best known as the comics and sports trade show where O.J. Simpson was planning on selling the stuff he was stealing back from the people that stole the stuff from him -- or something like that. Anyway, ever since I cataloged my comic book collection a few weeks ago, I'm determined to fill in some holes before I take on any new series or storylines, so I was grateful to discover a few gems in the multitude of quarter-priced back issue bins, including Jim Krueger's The Foot Soldiers #4 and The Sword of Solomon Kane #2, illustrated by one of my favorites, Bret Blevins. Of course, I couldn't resist one or two issues I certainly didn't need, but for their flagrant uniqueness, including Ted Seko's Billy Cole #2, about a talking baby trying to recruit some wrestlers to help him fight the evil in the world, illustrated with the stark black and white contrast of Frank Miller's early Sin City. Issues like Billy Cole #2 make the craft of comics seem easy and difficult all at the same time -- which can also be said for trying to buy them with scrutiny.
The highlight of the day came at dusk, when I went to a poetry reading hosted by the non-profit organization Beyond Baroque in Venice. A few of the acquaintances I've made at my local poetry reading were featured, so I went to both lend support to local talent and broaden my horizons. I wasn't disappointed in either case, as I experienced poets' work I wouldn't have seen otherwise, and as the performers I knew delivered incredible vocal interpretations of their work. I'm featuring at a local coffeeshop in just a month, now, on Cinco de Mayo, so watching the way others present their poetry has inspired me to take twists I wouldn't have considered before. Further, in the Beyond Baroque gift shop, I found whole racks of chapbooks and zines that utilized the small press medium in ways I haven't seen for a long time -- not since my last trip to the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco in '07. In fact, many of those self-publishing efforts exceeding anything I've seen before, not only in the sophistication of their content but in their craftsmanship, as well. From the use of label makers and envelopes as slipcovers to folding and binding techniques -- I've just now begun to self-publish confidently, with my monthly poetry zine series and my forthcoming Karaoke Comics #1, and beholding these others' works have already inspired me to raise my game. Now, if only I had a place to put these finished products . . .
In April, it's rare to hear anyone talk about their New Year's resolutions, but I'm proud to be fulfilling mine -- my desire to maintain my creative efforts, and create tangible results. I've already produced a mini-sketchbook, three poetry zines, a few single page comic strips (called "Vs. Current Events", found at my other blog), and with Karaoke Comics #1 on the horizon, I feel like a viable artist. The biggest lesson isn't in the output, though, but in the consumption. The more I'm surrounded by these mediums I love, and the more I purchase pieces of choice, the more I want to contribute to them in some way. Goes to show, you have to spend a little paper to make something of value on it, eventually.