Dylan Williams, publisher of Sparkplug Comic Books, has died. He was not my friend, in fact, we've only ever met at conventions. A few years ago we had dinner together with a bunch of people at a macrobiotic restaurant after MoCCA. We sent a few emails. He always had the grace to pretend to remember me at cons, and may, in fact, have actually remembered me at least one of those times. He was charming and sweet in an industry known for its jerks and weirdoes. He was an important force in comics that exposed us to new and exciting voices and respected those voices with excellent production. He was a good cartoonist too, no matter what he said about his own work. I always had a little crush on him.
When it was recently announced that Dylan had cancer, the community rallied around him with cash and well wishes. Nobody did that because of the comics, even though the comics were good. Everyone flooded Sparkplug with orders because they loved Dylan. And surely, our love (and money) could beat cancer, right?
I'm sorry it couldn't. I'm sorry that most of us had to be shocked by his death, and then feel stupid for being shocked. I'm sorry that someone so lovely is gone. I'm sorry for me, I'm sorry for you and I am sorry for everyone who will never get to meet Dylan and think, "What a great guy."
Been toodling around the internet too much. I try to limit the crap that I read by sticking to the only five sites whose full url I can remember, but sometimes twitter leads me to the wilds of the net, where good stuff hides. Here is some of it:
!!! At the Minneapolis bookstore blog Mr. Micawber Enters The Internets, the proprietor has asked several indie bookstore workers to make lists of 50 book, books that they love to handsell, their favorite books, or both. It is an interesting project and a great way to learn about new-to-you books and to get all huffy about your own taste. Huff, huff, huff, why would you recommend The Sun Also Rises, do you want people to stop enjoying their reading huff, huff, huff.
!!! At The Hairpin, Sarah Beuhler writes a good prose poem on the intersection of online lives and IRL deaths. It also touches on being the one to break the news. Having been that person myself, this rattles me with truth: "Now we dance nervously around our apartment in Canada covering our face with our hands, not wanting to be the one to tell her, not wanting to be that person again." Read it.
!!! Have I ever told you how much I love Elizabeth Bachner's essays for Bookslut? Well, I am sorry for the horrible omission on my part. She writes about books with passion and no excuses for the fact that, for her, for some of us, reading is life. She often writes about how writers' lives and work intertwine; so often I feel like I should avoid biography when considering a writer's work, a big finger wags in my face tsk, tsking me, but sometimes, as Bachner's essays prove, considering life and work as one reveals different stories, different ways to think about art. From her most recent, "$120.73: Reading Scandalous Women," she says: "And even in my own head, let alone out in the world, god knows I am too tired to try to make this point without the equipment to prove it, god knows I am too tired to raise the whole question 'would Francesca Zelda Sylvia Ana Mendieta Frieda have been so famous without the tragedy, without being married to him,' too tired even in my own head to make some tired point to myself about genius and merit and Tender is the Night and Save Me the Waltz and Alma Mahler and sex and race and bodies and 'art' and is it art and what is art. It’s a point that’s been attempted but never made. People sniff and turn away." Bachner's essays are hypnotic, as though she is whispering urgently in your ear—you are feeling, sleepy, but not safe, never safe.
As many of you know, I spent the hottest month of the summer in White River Junction, Vermont. I was working in the Center for Cartoon Studies Schulz Library, housed in the same building as the Main Street Museum. I spent my days in the library and many of my nights in the warm, boozy embrace of inhabitants of the apartment above.
While you consider just how large of a donation you are going to give, here are some photos of A Museum of Early American Tools by Eric Sloane, a library discard from a WRJ school that I found at Left Bank Books in Hanover.