Last week I got something unexpected in the mail, a copy of a new book from Bloomsbury Academic, AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL COMICS, by Andrew J.Kunka. It wasn’t totally unexpected, since Kunka had approached me last year for permission to reprint two pages from one of my comics in the book, but in the meantime I had completely forgotten about it.
Naturally, I turned to my name first in the index. Though DAVID CHELSEA IN LOVE is my best-known autobiographical comic, there is no discussion of it in the text, or of any of my work apart from the two pages previously mentioned, which appear as “Appendix 3”. These are the opening two pages from EVERYBODY GETS IT WRONG!, a 24 Hour Comic I drew in 2006 (which gave its title to my first collection of 24 Hour Comics from Dark Horse). This story was an essay in comics form, making the argument that an artist who draws him or herself in an autobiographical comic is false to experience, and that to really recount the story as the artist experienced it, it must be drawn “subjective camera”, as seen through the artist’s own eyes.
Last night was the long-awaited theatrical premiere of 24 HOUR COMIC, the documentary film directed by Milan Erceg, in which I appear along with seven the other artists including my daughter Rebecca, drawing– what else?– 24 hour comics. The premiere at the Laurelhurst Theater in Portland went well; we had a near-full house, the audience laughed in all the right places, and there was a lively question-and-answer session afterward. My fellow participant (and ARE YOU BEING WATCHED? colorist) Jacob Mercy still refuses to watch the film, but showed up for the q and a and seemed to have a pretty good time despite his misgivings. Rebecca (thirteen at the time of filming, seventeen now) was unfortunately barred from attending due to restrictive Oregon Liquor Control Commission rules, but she will be on hand for a matinee showing today at the theater at 4 PM. If you missed the first time, even if you didn’t, I urge you to attend.
24 HOUR COMIC matinee with Q&A
Friday, 4-6 PM,
2735 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214
l’ll be on KBOO-FM radio today at 11:30 am PDT to talk about the film with Milan and KBOO host S.W. Conser. Listen in Portland at 90.7 FM, or worldwide on the web.
David Chelsea is reading: Absurdistan: A Novel
by Gary Shteyngart
I believe I have mentioned this before, but 24 Hour Comic, the documentary in which I appear, along with seven other cartoonists, is about to have its Portland theatrical premiere. In the film, 8 Artists confined to a comic book store partake in Scott McCloud’s 24 Hour Comic Challenge. Each attempting to write, draw, and complete a 24 page comic in 24 hours. The film is the debut feature from filmmaker Milan Erceg, and features, among others, Paul Guinan, Rachel Nabors, Sera Stanton (now known as Opal Pence), Jacob Mercy, Pete Soloway, and Tom Lechner, and also has some delightful footage of my daughter Rebecca at 13, making her first attempt at a 24. Special guest appearance by comics guru Scott McCloud!
David Chelsea is reading: Fante Bukowski Two
by Noah Van Sciver
I’m beginning a new archive comics series today on Patreon, a collection of the prototype strips for my graphic novel DAVID CHELSEA IN LOVE. These were drawn over a period from about 1987 to 1989, and distributed in the form of photocopies which I gave away at performances of the Weird Al-like stand up act which I had been doing for several years in and around the East Village. The idea was that audiences would come back to follow the story (of course, it would have made even more sense for me to come up with new material to perform, but I was a slow writer). When I finished the series, I tried to market it to alternative weekly and comics publishers, but could find no takers. Gary Groth at Fantagraphics suggested that I expand it into a full-length graphic novel, and it was that version which Eclipse Comics eventually published in four issues in 1991-92, and as a collection in 1993. This early version did eventually make it into print when Eclipse made it part of their weekly ad in the industry publication THE COMICS BUYERS GUIDE, which actually reached far more readers than the comic itself.
David Chelsea is watching: Blade Runner
starring Harrison Ford
The Third Thursday of the month is when I post Secret Stash material to my Patreon page; sketchbook drawings, old decorated envelopes, and other ephemera. This month I have a gallery of reference photos shot for my first graphic novel DAVID CHELSEA IN LOVE.
David Chelsea is reading:
Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink
by Elvis Costello
Like many in the comics community, I was saddened to hear of the death last week of Dennis Eichhorn, who was best known for his very frank series of autobiographical comics, which were published under various titles, mostly in the 1990s (including REAL STUFF, REAL SMUT, and REAL SCHMUCK), and collected in the book REAL STUFF in 2004.
Not necessarily the best, but certainly the biggest. This sketchbook was given to me by Gloria Moyer, the art director at Longman Publishing. I had been illustrating one of their English As A Second Language textbooks, and Gloria had noticed that I carried a sketchbook with me everywhere. She presented me with one of Longman’s dummy dictionaries, a bound book with blank pages made to give them an idea what the real dictionary would eventually look like. I have never counted the pages, but they must number in the thousands. To give you some idea of its dimensions, I would ordinarily go through three or four sketchbooks a year in those days. This book I carried around for about five years, 1984- 1988. Having so many pages kind of unleashed the floodgates for me,and the book contains a wide variety of drawings.Eventually I constructed this jacket from cardboard and masking tape to protect the covers:
David Chelsea is listening to:
Little French Songs
by Carla Bruni
The old interviews are the best. Here’s one recorded in 1992, from the public access cable program The Chronic Rift. The interviewers are Andrea Lipinski and Keith R. A. DeCandido. The talk is mostly about my then-current comics series David Chelsea In Love, but it also touches on the optics of night vision, my preference for Embosso eggshell paper over coquille board, and my embarrassing East Village performance artist phase. I even work in a prophetic and utterly gratuitous mention of perspective.
David Chelsea is reading:
Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City
by Guy Delisle