Nate Powell, Sounds of Your Name
Microcosm Publishing, $18.00
My first exposure to Nate Powell was through my 2006 trek to Olympia Comics Festival, where I picked a few issues of his “Walkie Talkie” series. In true post-festival form, I was too busy coming down from the high of meeting so many cool artists and the low of having aching joints that his issues sat unread and neglected for a period of time.
Once I read my way through the stack, I came face-to-face with “Walkie Talkie.” The quality of printing was low, but the talent and writing was high. So impressed was I that I scoured high and low for more of his work. About a year ago I found a copy of Sounds of Your Name and devoured it. In fact, about every three months I find myself in that comic slump where everything feels the same, looks the same, and makes me feel the same. My antidote is reading Nate Powell’s work. And for far too long, I’ve kept this praise to myself.
Sounds of Your Name collects comics dating back to 1992, but unlike some retrospective collections you would not be able to figure that out by flipping through the pages. His art has been very consistent in quality and character, without any missteps showing amateur abilities. The fluidity of his lines set a highly emotional tone to his work, with expert shading and facial expressions rounding out the character of his art. When looking at his panels, it is impossible to only see it in the black and white tones that he is actually restricted to.
But the writing - oh boy - this is the good stuff. His words carry great weight, as he uses dialogue in an economic way. There is a sad quality, colored with angst, but it’s done with such quiet tones that it is barely detectable. He makes you pay attention, and once you do the cadence of the voices mixed with the fluidity of his art create a highly dimensional world where you can get lost in, kick your feet up, and let it wash over you.
This, folks, is the stuff that I live for. And thanks to the folks at Top Shelf, I’ll get another Nate Powell fix in September with his new book “Swallow Me Whole.”
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Ellen Forney gets validated by the City of Seattle! It looks like someone deserves a toast for the decision to hire her for custom artwork to be installed in the Capitol Hill Sound Transit Station.
I can’t wait to go to my neighborhood station and see one of our favorite artists. If you are getting weepy with jealousy (as you should), ask nicely and I’ll take you on an Ellen Forney tour of my neighborhood. Unfortunately some of the spots here her art was featured are gone (R.I.P. The Globe), but fear not as there are many more haunts to visit.
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Wow, things have been quiet here. No apologies, as we are both alive and kicking. One of us has been busy changing jobs, and is working within the sphere of The Evil Empire. The other has been busy learning about worldwide oppression and communication theories. I’m not telling which is which.
A few things of note:
Tatiana Gill has a blog! We heart her, and look forward to reading her witticisms and peeking at lovely art. Her blog already has some gems, so go and take a look. As a bonus, she makes cool sculpted art that people should buy. Bug her about it.
Our annual trek to San Francisco to attend APE has been thwarted by evil schedule changes. The sizable and aching hole has been filled by two spectacular cons - Stumptown and Emerald City.
Why you should go to Stumptown:
- Pre-registration already sold out. This means no empty tables and sad faces.
- It’s not just indie faces this year; big names like Gail Simone and Pia Guerra will rubbing elbows with some of the greatest cartoonists in the industry.
- Don’t let the fabled rain dissuade you - Portland is lovely in the spring.
- We will be there. Duh.
Why you should go to Emerald City:
- As lovely as Portland is in April, it has nothing on Seattle in May.
- We hinted at our displeasure with the con last year in our wrap-ups. Someone obviously cared about our opinion, as this year there is a nice indie representation, including the recently announced Bryan Lee O’Malley and Hope Larson appearances.
- Jordan Crane exhibit at Fantagraphics
- We will be there. Duh. I might even buy you a beer at my favorite pub if you are nice to me.
Real reviews to follow soon. No, really.
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