Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery
I was lucky enough to have occasion to visit the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery this past weekend. The store is nestled in the ever-so-hip Georgetown district of Seattle, and shares a space with Georgetown Records. What does this mean for the visitor? A friendly, laidback, brightly lit store stocked with droolworthy posters, graphic novels, comics, prints, and more, all to the soundtrack of really excellent music played steps away where you can go buy collectible vinyl. My boyfriend and I have spent a pretty impressive number of hours in Fantagraphics, and while we’ve both dropped a pretty penny there, too, they wouldn’t care if we didn’t.
The storefront acts as a sort of a giant display case – a place to show off all the amazing pieces of readable art released by Fantagraphics all the time. They also have a clearance room for books that have been bumped, bashed or bruised and are now offered at great discounts. We talked to the gentleman working the store and were laughing a little at the length of time we’d been there, staring rapt and open-mouthed at shelf upon shelf of bright, shiny beauty. He reassured us that’s exactly what they want. It’s a very browser-friendly store, and his attitude reminded me why I like Fantagraphics so much. This time around we picked up:
Parade (with Fireworks) by Michael Cavallaro, an absolutely stunning graphic novel set in Italy right between the first and second world war, amid rising ideological tensions. The book depicts conflict between socialism and fascism, as well as family conflict and personal struggle, and is gorgeous and poignant. It tackles dark, sad, difficult topics in a very simple and accessible way, and the writing is accompanied by brilliant art impossible to look away from. I’m very glad I bought this, and will look at it again and again (and lend to a very select few).
The Clouds Above by Jordan Crane. This is the very sweet and funny adventure of a boy and his cat-slash-best-friend who climb a mysterious staircase. Written with strangely appealing, very old-fashioned language and phrases, the tolerance of the cat for his owner-slash-best-friend and the unstoppable spirit of the little boy are very endearing. Add to that the illustrations, and it’s impossible to put down. This was a surprise gift from my boyfriend, who had seen me wistfully leafing through it, and putting it aside due to budget. My next tattoo may be from this book – I love it THAT much.
And behold, huzzah, a mighty huzzah, the second Beasts book is out! Compiled, edited and designed by Jason Covey, this second part picks up where the first Beasts! book left off, bringing a new lineup of over 90 artists and their interpretations of monsters, creatures and mythical beasts from vampires to satyrs, manticores to unicorns.
Here are two of the illustrations included in the 216 page volume, which includes only beasts which were at one time really thought to exist.
We had to draw the line somewhere, and sadly, the Beast books were beyond our Beauty Budget this time around. But mark my words – I will own them both. Every page begs to be framed and hung on a wall. Absolutely gorgeous.
And if you’re in Seattle, be sure to stop by the amazing Fantagraphics storefront and browse to your heart’s content – you won’t be able to resist buying something, though.
Also, if you’re in that neighbourhood anyway, I recommend nipping around the corner to Smartypants Restaurant for one of their famous sandwiches. My boyfriend had the Gringa, and I had the Roast Beef, and we were both very impressed. Books, records and sandwiches… does a day get any better?