This post is part of the Alison Dare Double Blog Dare Tour 2010! Check out all of Alison's stops though the Tundra Books portal. The pick up the new printings of Alison Dare, Little Miss Adventures and Alison Dare, The Heart of the Maiden.
I am Alison Dare's favorite uncle.
It's true. You don't hear about me as much because I don't find hidden treasures in far-flung places or stop crime, but then, some of us in the Dare family have to wear normal clothes now and then.
So, you can guess how excited I was to hear little Ali was coming to see me in Portland, Oregon, on her tour.
My first exposure to the word of Alison Dare was probably more than ten years ago now. I was editor in chief at Oni Press, and the company had bought some table space at the old Chicago Con out in Illinois. Most of the details of that particular show are gone--when you do enough comic book events, they tend to start becoming one giant weekend in your mind--but it would have been in the days when Oni was running on a skeleton crew. Editors at indie publishers don't have the cushy show schedules that some of the bigger boys do, we pretty much man the company table from open to close. If we can sneak a lunch in between, fabulous.
On this particular day, I must have been especially grouchy as I had been sent away from the table to eat my lunch, rather than just wolfing it down in between answering questions about the latest issue of Blue Monday or whether or not the Blair Witch was real (oh, yeah, Oni did Blair Witch Project comics, how did you forget?) and looking at portfolios full of superheroes and other creative interpretations of the human anatomy. Free from the confines of our little comic book prison, I was eager to go somewhere and hide and really enjoy my sandwich. How about Artist's Alley?
For those not familiar with convention terminology, "Artist's Alley" is pretty much what it sounds like. It's an area of tables specifically set aside for artists and writers to book for themselves, to sit and sell their wares as their own agents rather than on behalf of a publisher. The talent ranges from the just-getting-started all the way up to industry veterans, and anyone sitting over there has paid for their own spot and so is pocketing any money you give them directly. These are the guys doing it for the love of comics, in other words, and folks you should seek out and give cash to.
Anyway, J. Torres and J. Bone, the Two Js, had an Artist's Alley table, and they were set up all the way in the rear of the convention hall. This was as far from the thick of it as I could get, and so I asked if I could sit on the floor behind them. Here I knew I could enjoy some pastrami and mustard without any fear of a wannabe writer pulling up a chair to pitch me his latest and greatest. This would be my sanctuary...
"Now that I have you here," Torres said, "I have something to run by you."
Long story short, that something was Alison Dare, Little Miss Adventures. Torres and Bone had created a whole world for their plucky heroine, a world full of good guys, bad guys, and all kinds of guys in between. With Torres' crisp and fluid plotting and well-tuned ear for dialogue, and Bone's dynamic storytelling and classic illustration style, not to mention all the bad puns the two of them kept coming up with (setting the record straight, apparently the main offender is Bone)--it wasn't a hard sell for us at Oni. Plus, since all three of us working there had names that started with J.--Jamie, James, and Joe--the very idea of printing a comic book where we could all shorten our credits to just our first initials was too good to pass up. Two Js? Make it Five!
So, in a way, Portland could be said to be the birthplace of Alison Dare. It's where her comics, the very ones in the new Tundra Books editions, were first published. It's also a book lover's paradise, whether their printed poison be books of the comics or prose variety. No reader worth their weight in fonts can come through here without checking out the legendary Powell's Books. While we were at the super store, I took Ali to the their extensive graphic novel collection, and she took a peek at what other titles they had from Papa Torres. She was convinced that the upside-down copy of Lola: A Ghost Story was a bad omen, and we had a heck of a time tracking down the restless spirit that had set that particular comic topsy-turvy.
Alas, that's a tale for another time....
Current Soundtrack: The Killers, Live at Royal Albert Hall
Text (c) 2010 Jamie S. Rich