Want to see more of my visit to Ssalefish, check out my Flickr album.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Want to see more of my visit to Ssalefish, check out my Flickr album.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Tom Waits in the early 1970's was a clear product of his influences. The menagerie of folk, blues, pop standards, jazz, and beat poetry was ever-present, albeit unrefined. After all, how many artists are fully developed in their craft by their early twenties? However raw those early records were, they were what initially drew me to the artist's work. As an aspiring songwriter in my own state of development, it's understandable that I would gravitate toward the more melanchoic strings of nostalgia and wanderlust Waits' early work provided.
Waits' restlessness seems especially apparent on songs like "Shiver Me Timbers," "Old Shoes," and the classic "The Heart of Saturday Night." Elsewhere on songs like "Martha," we see Waits' mourning the lost past to great melancholic effect. While he always had the knack for the dramatic in his songs, it wasn't until Waits' mid-'70's milestone album Small Change that we see the complete synthesis of his influences and original thoughts. While there are successful representations of the influence of both spoken word and jazz, the three major ballads on the album ("Invitation to the Blues," "I Wish I Was In New Orleans," and "Tom Traubert's Blues") see Waits' best use of restraint in dealing with his once overly exuberant imagery. There's also a simplicity in the music of these songs that belies the honest difficulty it takes to play them. Dare I say it, there's even a healthy dose of soul in these pieces. Not the jumping, horn-driven soul of James Brown, but rather the quiet soulfulness of a writer who seems aware that he's actualized something in his art over time.
It is true that Waits' remaining '70's albums lacked some of the emotional and artistic depth he found on Small Change. While there is a more noticeable presence of electric guitar and horns (as opposed to earlier albums' heavier emphasis on piano and strings), in reflection, the most significant role of albums like Heartattack and Vine and Blue Valentine is one of transition. These albums mark the passage of an artist from his early '20's to his early '30s, and from his studies of songcraft so prevalent in the '70's to his much more experimental work of the 1980's. There are still songs worth hunting down, particularly the more uptempo bluesy pieces like "$29.00" and "Mr. Siegal," as well as slower songs like "On the Nickel" and one of my all-time favorite Waits' narrative ballads, "Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis."
Next time I'll try to put a frame around Waits' exploratory albums of the early '80's, and attempt to determine whether they are simply Waits' stabs at postmodernity, or if they're just examples of a writer stretching out and reinventing himself.
You might have noticed a new site design this past week. Rico Renzi, Creative Director of Heroes Aren't Hard to Find, Colorist Extraordinaire, and All Around Awesome Person sat down with us Friday and created the border you now see. Rico hasn't only lent his creative design talents to our blog, but has been kind enough to support our blogging efforts in general. You can find more of Rico's awesome art, like the adorable Valentine shown here at his blog linked above.
We'd also like to thank all the members of Sketch Charlotte for encouraging us in our new adventure. You guys rock!
Friday, March 25, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Waits' initially impressed me solely for his balladry, but over time I learned to appreciate his showmanship, the musicality of his arrangements, and the multitude of ways his songs can be interpreted. Some listeners understandably can't get past Waits' gravelly "Cookie Monster meets Louis Armstrong" brand of vocalizations. If you are willing to try, though, you'll experience a vast array of influences, genres, themes, and characters who walk the line between concrete reality and hyperbole. Waits' music isn't for everyone, but don't disregard his value as an artist and entertainer. He is a legend, abet one who seems unenthusiastic about the trappings such a status might afford. The reluctant Californian star, the poetic prince in pauper finery; the wolf in sheepskin still howling at sheep and other wolves alike.
Monday, March 14, 2011
In an attractive brick strip mall on Highway 9 leading into Myrtle Beach you will find Apocalypse Comics owned by Chad Hudson. It is hard to miss or resist the rainbow sign declaring “Comics” above his shop. Once inside you will find a well organized store with lots of options for comic fans and gamers.
The shelves and racks contain new issues, back issues (including some hard to find back issues and variants), statues, and a wide selection of comic-based toys. The rack by the entrance displays weekly picks and recommendations. In addition to comics, Apocalypse carries cards and pieces for games like Magic and Heroclix. Chad currently runs games in the back of the store several nights each week and expects to eventually move to running games every night to satisfy the area’s increasing number of gamers.
A lifelong collector and reader of comics, Chad carried his enthusiasm for this industry into adulthood. Before opening his store, Chad worked as a contractor who traveled throughout the United States. He would visit comic shops within 100 miles of his work site, often making notes of what he thought worked well in each store he encountered. His attention to detail and love of the products he carries is evident in how he runs his store. Not only is Chad very knowledgeable about the comics and games he carries, but he’s also very friendly and willing to chat with shoppers.
One of my hesitations in visiting new shops is how so many seem to be dusty and cluttered. Apocalypse is open and inviting, and maximizes the amount of products he carries while remaining clean and neat. The store caters to regular customers, but also welcomes vacationing readers looking for impulse buys to read on the beach. There’s even a couch in the front of the store to accommodate visitors or parents (or wives) who can comfortably wait while their children or husbands enjoy the selection. For children not yet of comic reading age, there is small children’s area with games and videos to allow parents time to shop.
If you’re in the Myrtle Beach, SC area, I recommend a visit to Apocalypse Comics. You’ll find a wide selection of trades and single issues to suit your reading needs. Apocalypse Comics is located at 2126 South Carol
ina 9 #2, Longs, SC 29568 and the phone number is (843) 399-4765. The store is open seven days a week from noon to at least 8pm (depending on if games are being run).
Want to see more? Check out Apocalypse Comics on my flickr page.
1. Step outside of my comic reading comfort zone. I admit it. I have a comic type. It involves cute animals and chick characters. Thor the Mighty Avenger was my toe in the water stepping out of my type and Marvel responded by cancelling it. (Yes, Ted, I’m still complaining about that. Damn it, people, put down the Deadpool and read TMA.) Thanks to the lending library of Brandon (Big Dog), I have read more comics outside by type, the Walking Dead for example. However my purchases for 2010 stayed clearly within my comfort zone. In 2011, I will make an effort to add different comics to my personal library.
2. Write more reviews for the Dollar Bin. I read a number of comics in 2010 that I really enjoyed and fully intended to review so I could share stories that I enjoyed. Like Cragmore by Pat Lewis. I will finish that review and post it along with others this year. (I am revising this resolution to posting reviews here as well as the Dollar Bin.)
3. Do more interviews. I love talking to artists and writers. Off the record, I have some truly ridiculous conversations with creative people. I want to channel that into interviews. Interviews get me interested in reading new comics which will be very helpful for resolution number one.
4. Go to more conventions. To date, I have only been to Heroes Con and SPX. This year the Heroes Mini Con (January 22 in Charlotte, NC), Fluke (April 23 in Athens, GA) Fanaticon (May 21 in Asheville, NC) are all on my calendar. My con ventures are still on the smaller side, but perhaps I will attempt some of the larger cons as well.
5. Venture out to more comic shops. Granted this venture may have me scurrying back to Heroes, but it can’t hurt (or can it?) to check out some of the other shops. I did enjoy my visit to Richard’s in Greenville, SC for the Chrissie Zullo signing, but my few other non-Heroes experience have been less positive. I can’t possibly be the first chick in some of these places, right?
6. Write more lists. Who doesn’t love a good list? They have numbers and some times a heading. Everything is nice and orderly. My comic goals for 2011 are laid out for me to check off. I shall have a feeling of accomplishment come December.