Category: Seattle Arts

Comics, lawsuits, science fiction and unusual real estate

Emerald City Comicon

The Emerald City Comicon is in town this weekend, the largest comic book and pop culture convention in the Northwest.

Comic publishers, panels, artists and speakers from around the country will be in attendance, plus local favorites and friends Jim Woodring, Jim Blanchard and Ellen Forney (the author of I Love Led Zeppelin and lady wrestler with the Pin-Down Girls.)

One publisher with a huge fan base is Fantagraphics Books. Fantagraphics has been active in comic publishing since 1976 and found itself at the forefront of the burgeoning movement to establish comics as a serious art medium.

Fantagraphics has been in the news recently because science-fiction writer Harlan Ellison is suing them and its co-owners, Gary Groth and Kim Thompson, for defamation and “violation of right of publicity.”

Says the Seattle Times in “Fantagraphics’ friends come to its financial aid“:

The alleged defamation regards statements in Fantagraphics’ forthcoming self-history, “We Told You So: Comics As Art.” The book says that Ellison tried to get out of paying his share of legal bills when he and Groth were co-defendants in a 1980 libel suit by comic writer Michael Fleisher. (Ellison and Groth won.) Ellison denies it while the Fantagraphics folks say they’re just commenting on a part of their history. Due out this summer, the book’s already been serialized on the publisher’s Web site.

The “violation of right of publicity” charge is for what Ellison says is the unauthorized use of his trademarked name on the cover of Fantagraphics’ “Comics Journal Library Vol. 6: The Writers,” released last summer. The volume reprints the inflammatory Groth/Ellison interview that prompted Fleisher to take them to court in the first place.

Ellison wants unspecified damages and an injunction to stop both books from being distributed. Ellison, 72, has won a vast number of awards and is best known among non-geeks for writing the most popular episode of the original “Star Trek” (“City on the Edge of Forever”). He was recently named Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America.

I first met Harlan Ellison when asked to chauffeur him around town for a Foolscap convention and accompany him to local collector Steve Bard’s very unusual home and Palace of Arts and Oddities in Seattle.

Steve Bard\'s House

Mr. Ellison wrote “A Boy and His Dog” that was made into a film starring Don Johnson in 1975 and the novel “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream”. He’s won ten Hugo Awards, four Nebula Awards, and five Bram Stoker Awards (presented by the Horror Writers Association) including the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996. He was one of my favorite science fiction writers until I actually met the man, but I digress…..

Harlen Ellison

Mr. Ellison is known to live in an unusual home in Los Angeles himself, so was anxious to view Mr. Bard’s domicile.

Steve Bard and Harlan Ellison

Steve’s house features some of the following items, the list being somewhat incomplete and less than exhaustive:

Circus Sideshow Smallest Mummy
Frog Babies (pickled punks)
Siamese Twin calves, weasels, goats, etc
Two-faced pig, cow and kitten
Painting on the head of a pin
Victorian Art & Artifacts
Wreaths woven from human hair
Hundreds of Art Nouveau and Deco statues
Lovely paintings/prints covering walls & ceilings
Ornate carved antique furniture
Natural History specimens, exotic taxidermy, skulls/bones
Medical Specimens / Equipment
Human skeletons, skulls
Assorted Fetuses
Antique medical instruments & machines
Quack-medical electrical devices
Funeral Paraphernalia & Memorabilia
Antique coffins and carriers (adult/child)
Casket plate collection
Embalmer/mortician tools & tables
Library of Curious and Esoteric Tomes (25,000+ books)
Thousands of autographed Science Fiction 1st Eds
Hundreds of Fantasy and Lowbrow art books
Hundreds of antique Erotica, Curiosa & Sexology
Hundreds of Victorian Art books
Toaster Museum (150+ antique toasters)
Garden Architecture, Statuary and Art
13 foot tall Minotaur bust
25 foot tall Rapunzel castle tower
15 foot diameter formal fishpond w/ tiered fountain
Sinister Cemetery / Satanic Altar
New Treehouse
Funky Future Room (ie Jetsons / Barbarella decor)
Hundreds of cool kinetic art and lighting gadgets
Egg-shaped furniture (Stereo chair, sensory-deprivation tank)
Other Curiosities, Antiquities and Gadgetry too numerous to mention

Meet Mr. Bard and take a little tour of his unusual home…..

Steve Bard

Bard\'s devil room

Bard\'s bathroom

Bard\'s friend

Bard house view

Bard\'s Bathroom

Bard\'s Kitchen

Steve and Marlow

Steve and I always talk about “listing” the house for sale and having an Open House, coinciding with April Fools Day. Can you imagine the look on potential buyers and agents faces when I welcome them to this spectacular Open House?!?

If you liked that, you can view more photos of Steve Bard’s House here.

Or take a Virtual tour of Steve’s house, courtesy of VR Seattle.

And see photos of Steve’s house on Flickr

And friend Kirsten Anderson also had an entry on Boing Boing of Steve Bard’s Odditorium.

If you’re a science fiction fan, do not miss Kirsten’s science fiction art show at her gallery Roq la Rue, Amazing Visions. (And see photos of Seattle Mayor Greg Nichols at Fantagraphics Books on Kirsten Anderson’s blog “That Ain’t Art”.


Other events of note, next weekend will be the Japanese comic and popular culture convention Sakura-Con. Very cool.

And don’t miss Norwescon, the only large (3000+ attendees) annual Science fiction/fantasy convention in Seattle, is this weekend, April 5-8, at the Airport Doubletree hotel (former Red Lion). The convention features a large fantasy art show and a dealer’s room full of books, jewelry, art, costumes, etc. There are a dozen tracks of continuous programming, ranging from writers on writing, science and technology, art and costuming workshops, etc. Major convention events include a masquerade costume show, presentation of the Philip K Dick Award for best softcover novel of 2006, dances, music, gaming, and lots of parties.

This and that

McLeod Residence

Always interested in modern art, especially in unusual places, I attended the grand opening of the “McLeod Residence” an art gallery/performance space located in an old apartment building in downtown Seattle. Like galleries in San Francisco and elsewhere, they’re offering “private membership” to augment their income to keep the place running. It feels like an old bordello with it’s velvet wallpaper and vintage chandeliers, and I look forward to more events there.

I was pleased to see Galen Ward in attendance, founder of Shack Prices. He and his cute girlfriend Eve were hobnobbing and chatting it up with other gallery attendees, and he was a good sport when I insisted that he bend his 6’+ frame down for a photo, so I wouldn’t look so short petite.

Galen Ward at McLeod Residence

Galen had a piece in the show entitled “Ice Field – No Dumping” that was presented as a transparency in a light box. Very cool.


I missed the big Inman debate of “High Touch V.S. High Tech” (you can view the videos from the debate on Sellsius blog) but I do remember seeing this NAR survey from a few months ago that that shows Buyers and Sellers use technology but they want personal service too. Of 7,500 respondents, 83% used full-service tradtional brokers, 9% limited service and 8 % used really limited service. 50% of those using limited-service brokers were unhappy with their experience.

NAR Survey


Beer cans in rental

Ryan Froerer, a property manager with Century 21 Gage Froerer & Associates had quite a surprise when he entered a Provo, Utah townhome and discovered 70,000 beer cans inside a townhouse he was managing. He and the owner thought they had a dream renter because the guy never complained and always paid his rent on time.

When discovered, the 70,000 beer cans fetched over $800 from a recycler.

At least he was a healthy tenant. He appeared to favor “Light” beer.

More “Beer Houses” on Unusual Life.