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