October 10, 2014

Going APE in Frisco

Filed under: Uncategorized — Bob Patterson @ 12:25 pm

crop of first squid pix best

We were on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train somewhere in South Berkeley near the border with Oakland when the caffeine from our morning coffee kicked it. It was almost noon and we had miles to go and promises to keep before we could get to Press check-in at the Alternative Press Expo 2014 being held at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. In October, San Francisco becomes bat country. The Giant sluggers’ bats come alive (only in even numbered years) and the bats lead the way into the World Series. That’s one thing you should probably understand about Frisco. “Only in even number years.”

The home office had neglected to arrange a press pass for us and so we lurched over to press check-in and began babbling. Free lunch, final wisdom, total coverage. How can you tell if someone is a genuine member of the journalism community? The boys on the bus head straight for the free food, and after shoveling some into their mouths, they ask: “Where’s the press release?” We passed the smell test and entered the event that was taking place on a dock overlooking the San Francisco Bay where we could watch the tide roll in and then watch it roll away again.

We noticed that the first booth featured drawings of a huge reptile gnawing on a woman’s neck. The comic book posse falls into two diametrically apposed groups: one that thinks a serial killer lurks inside everybody and the other that thinks the world is full of wonderful kids and loveable animals, especially puppies.

A comic book series titled “Byron,” done by Karl Christian Krumpholz, caught our eye immediately and we honed in on it to learn if it was based on the life of the legendary manager of Club Ocean Park in Santa Monica. It turned out that it was a fictionalized account of a serial killer.

The crew from Whiskey Tango Comics (dotcom) seemed ready to challenge us and draw their guns (cartoonist pun alert!) and we had to reassure them: “We’re just a good patriotic American like yourselves.”

We had promised our curmudgeonly self that we would not buy anything but when we encountered a copy of “L’il Buddha Loves You (then again he loves everybody!),” by Ryan Dow we had to buy a copy to give as a Christmas present (WTF?) to a member of the congregation of the church of loveable puppies and adorable rug rats.

Note: don’t the clergy provide much better sermons during war era Christmases? When the world is at Peace during Christmas time, aren’t the speeches given by the various members of the clergy rather anemic? “We hope your little once got all the swag that Santa could smuggle down your chimney!” GMAFB. During war, the priest/minister/rabbi urges folks to sing “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.”

The sermons about praying for Peace on Earth are so much more inspiring.

There used to be a Museum of Robots (dotcom) but all that’s left now is the virtual gift shop.

Squid Row Comics (dotcom), about a quirky, coffee-addicted artist, drawn by Bridgett Spicer (dot com). We wanted to advise her that she should try using that formula for writing columns. We don’t recommend it to everybody but it’s always worked for us.

Somewhere, somehow Erin & Christine Humiston have gotten the mistaken impression that there is a lot of conflict and drama involved in the formation and career of a rock’n’roll band and so they produce a comic book series, titled BAND, based on the misperception. Its home on the Internets resides at Band-Comic (dotcom).

Nuggets of Wisdom (AKA nuggetsNOW dot com) was so different from all the rest, we wondered how they sneaked (the past participle of the verb sneak is not snuck; it’s “sneaked”) in.

Wandering around we were trying to get a handle for putting all the diverse examples of fine comic style drawings and wild imaginative stories into perspective and one coherent column. Lumping well crated images of pre-historic animals, gun toting seekers of vengeance, and cute animals together on one dock in San Francisco is what the whole hep world would be like if the Germans had won WWII, we thought.

We had been toying with the idea of doing a column on publicity and how it is the key to success for any artistic endeavor and at A. P. E. 2014 we saw that the key to success is to stand out from the crowd and the best way to achieve that is through publicity.

A surge in publicity got massive amounts of pop culture clout for a group of writers and poets in the Fiftiies, when they were labeled as “beatniks.” (Actually Herb Caen, a San Francisco based columnist coined the word.) The new literary movement and the demand for copy about the phenomenon was phenomenal.

Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe took the idea of the writer as protagonist and repackaged beat as hippie and got plenty of press and greenbacks. (Hadn’t Hemingway gotten into Paris before the Allied Armies?)

Thompson claimed the “Outlaw Journalist” title and shot to the front of the list of the hippie era writers.

When the country music boys needed to boost sales, someone cooked-up the “Outlaw” label for use with their songs and then (to quote a line from a Waylon Jennings song): “New York sent a posse down like I’ve never seen.” The rest is pop culture history.

In the early Forties, Gypsy Rose Lee wanted to expand her career to other money making endeavors and so she became a mystery writer. If she had been a stripper with a comic strip, she probably would have achieved an even great amount of fame and fortune than she did. (Homework assignment: Google “Stripper girl comic strip.”) Isn’t the rule in Hollywood: “Ya gott have a gimmick?”

Cartoons and motion pictures have been a winning combination since the first “talkies” were made. Boo oop ee doop! We wonder if Pixar sent a cartoon talent scout to the San Francisco Bay Area event.

Hunter Thompson fans should fact check the comic book series “The Transmetropolitan,” which featured a famous fictional gonzo journalist, named Spider Jerusalem, who wears sun glasses and has a shaved head. (Try a Google Image search.)

Speaking of suing a cartoonist for plagiarizing a life, when we noticed the comic book series “Kill-Weather,” (written by Jesse E. Lichtenstein and drawn by Abraham Mong), which is about the adventures of a conservative political pundit, we thundered: “You changed liberal to conservative and stole my life story; my Samoan lawyer will contact you.” They responded “There’s nothing for him to take away from us and we need the publicity; so go ahead and make our day with a newsworthy lawsuit!”

Last weekend was the A. P. E. event; this weekend in San Francisco will be Satire weekend. (Wasn’t he on the NY Times OpEd team roster some time ago?) Maybe for next Friday, we’ll do a column and use the headline: “Sartre, Satire, and Safire”?

Charles M. Shulz (creator of the Peanuts comic strip) has said: “There is a difference a philosophy and a bumper sticker.”

Now the disk jockey will play the Coasters’ song “Charlie Brown,” the Hollywood Argyles’ “Alley Oop,” and the Royal Guardsmen’s “Snoopy vs. the Red Barron.” We have to go see if we can get a one-day press pass for when the Giants play home games during the World Series. Have a “Curses! Foiled again!” type week.

crop of second Krumpholtz better

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