wow, someone actually agreed to do a “tell me something” for the second time! that man is roadside graves frontman and all around awesome dude, john gleason. the first time he participated in this, he was talking about their most recent, and my favorite record of 09, my sons home. this time around he’s talking bout comics, and his love of em which honestly is quite fascinating. besides his love of comics, he loves music as well, and it most definitely shows in the releases of the band he fronts. their most recent, we cant take care of ourselves, is based solely around the coming of age novel, the outsiders, written by s.e. hinton and published in 1967, i believe. you can know absolutely zero about the book or movie and easily appreciate and fall in love w we can take care of ourselves. even with my limited knowledge of the outsiders it definitely adds a sense of depth to the record. i may read the book one of these days, or at least watch the movie, before the years up, to brush up on everything. if you want to read an actual review of said record other than me stating that its a very good possibility that it will end up my favorite record of the year, head on over to citizen dick. thanks again to john for taking part, and the rest of the gang for all the amazing music.
we can take care of ourselves is out on tuesday, 7.19 via autumn tone. its actually only avail on vinyl, but me thinks you get a digital download with your purchase.
Tell Me Something – Why I Read Comics
by: John Gleason
As if music wasn’t enough to obsess about every day (I know Pitchfork scores more accurately than world news events), I also read reviews of comic books daily. Why? There must be a dominant compulsive male collecting gene in my family that passed from my grandfather- if you want to read Popular Mechanics magazines from 1981, simply pick one up from his current toilet reading basket- to my father, who spoke openly to his odd collection of fish he interbred in the basement that replaced his Lionel Train town, to me storing comics in plastic bags and long white boxes in the attic. I’ll never read them again. It doesn’t matter. If comics like music eventually go digital only, will it kill the pack rat gene? Will we begin to collect hard drives?
For me it starts with places. Vintage Vinyl (Fords, NJ) for music. Tommy’s (Metuchen, NJ) for comics. I was overweight, had to stay home from school sick because of acne, and was cursed with red hair. Where else could I have gone but to the comic shop to feel better. I was fortunate enough to be able to walk there without supervision. With a Slush Puppie in hand I’d look hard at the new comics. I was a “weekly”- a kid who had certain comics pulled weekly so when you walked into the store the owner would hand them right to you. I had no preference then for comic book companies (though as an adult I’m DC over Marvel and Rolling Stones over Beatles, shit I prefer the Bee Gees over the Beatles) I usually bought Spiderman, Batman and any comic that looked like it might have naked women in it. Eventually though girls began to accept my date requests, a step up from the group dates to the local fair and a trip to Friendly’s for sundaes, and by the time I was fifteen I stopped reading comics. I sold the load. Music was fine, it even helped and distinguished. I feared, probably accurately, that comics would only keep me at the bottom of the dating pool sitting with Jeremy on the couch on a Saturday night drinking Cokes, eating Doritos, and watching late night Showtime movies.
Skip about a decade. I got married and moved to South Jersey and discovered I lived a few minutes from a comic shop called, Fat Jack’s Comicrypt. A narrow wood paneled shop in Oaklyn alive with attitude and white cats sleeping on top of old issues, conveniently located close to a liquor store and a used toy shop.
When you are married you should feel entitled to revert back to your previous obnoxious interests. Shouldn’t they love us for who we really are? And not for who we pretended to be for them! I really should apologize.
So I now walk in to the comic shop and Brian says, “Gleason” and hands me my triumphant weekly pull. It’s Wednesday. I’m 34 and I don’t care. These are my people. Teens with acne, pot-bellied old men, bearded peers, deformed ligaments, the overtly proud and argumentative, the extremely talented and unemployed, and the occasional girl (the shop goes quiet when they walk in).
I read at least one comic daily, usually before bed. I make an effort to read “real books” during the day and still am not completely brave enough to take a comic to wait in the doctor’s office. I have my limits. Sure graphic novels and Hollywood’s obsession with making comic movies have made it slightly more socially acceptable, but it’s still an underground and misunderstood way of life (I just deleted the word hobby).
Why read comics? Sometimes it’s fluff. I’ve taught all day and sat in turnpike traffic and the idea of simply opening a book that lays it out for me is ideal. Similar to watching True Blood, it’s ridiculous entertainment that tends to exceed your expectations. Ideally though there are comics worthy of a higher status- comic books that are literature and works of art. Reading Kevin Huizenga’s Ganges or David Mazzucchelli’s Asterios Polyp can be just as inspiring as a Steinbeck novel.
Comics that might change your mind about reading comics…
Swamp Thing (Alan Moore years especially) – Chaotic panels, ripened orgasmic rare fruit, tasteful horror, novel-like sentences, torment of not being a real man, reluctant protector of the environment, and an expansive trip through hell are just a few reasons to discover this brilliant series that I guarantee will shatter any expectations you may have about the character or comics in general. DC has recently reissued the Alan Moore years in hardcover graphic novel format
Black Hole by Charles Burns – A plague is infecting teens in the 70’s in Seattle. Beautiful naked women with tails. Imagine Dazed and Confused meets Day of the Dead.
The Lagoon by Lilli Carre – A family is lured by music and everyday sounds to a lagoon by an empathetic creature who not only sings but will smoke cigarettes with you out your bedroom window. This is a fine and beautiful work of art. Watch the woman’s hair slowly disappear in the reeds of the lagoon and you’ll want to re-read it again. This book will stay with you. Imagine Wim Wenders writing a comic.
The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller – Possibly one of the best Batman stories ever. Batman is old and cranky and Superman is a dick. The art is stunning and some pages deserve a place in modern art museums.
Shortcomings – by Adrian Tomine Asian slacker has beautiful Korean girlfriend but has wandering eye for blonde white chics. Simple and poignant depiction of my generation.
The Best American Comics – This collection is published yearly and has been my introduction to many fine independent comic writers and artists.
Ok, so if you ever come to one of our shows and you are not completely disgusted by the amount of sweat streaking through my T-shirt consider a chat over a drink and tell me something.
Thank you for reading.