Davey Oil is a fixture of the current Seattle cartooning and comics scene. Within that community he is renowned for his verbal ability, and his quick tongue always makes for an interesting interview experience. I have an extant talk with him in the can but not placed, alas, in which at one point he said something and immediately clapped both hands over his mouth, wide eyed. He is amusing and erudite.
He is also the guiding spirit behind the multimedia comics/animation slide shows known as Slide Rule, which the majority of people I talk to about these things cite as a highlight of the current goings on in Seattle alternative cartooning. Oil contributes drawings to these events that are based upon his dreams. Nearly wordless, and often stately in pace, watching them is nearly the inverse of engaging in conversation with him in his rapid flow of thoughts and intensity.
I spoke with Davey on February 17, 2004, in preparation for an article to appear in The Stranger.
Tell me about upcoming Slide Rule events.
DO: On February 28, we are going to be part of an art opening/multimedia event called Rabbits and Robots. It’s going to be at Secluded Alley Works. I’m not exactly sure what time we’re performing at… Painter and Illustrator Kristine Evans also known as Konoko has put together this rather large group show at Secluded Alley Works. I think she’s focusing on Rabbits and Robots because there are certain themes of cuteness and technology culture that intersect.
Our performance is gonna be pretty short in that we’re going to be squeezed in between some deejays and some live rock music, it looks like.
It’s going to be all-new material. It’s looking like at this point it’s going to be myself and Tyler Gillies, my collaborator, and Stefan Gruber.
On March 22, at the Deep Down Lounge, which is in Temple Billiards in Pioneer Square, we’re performing at Fourth City’s weekly Monday night event. These people put together the laptop battles and all that. On Mondays they’ve been putting together deejay nights and music nights, experimental music and sometimes like noise rock bands. And once again through Kristine, we’ll be presenting a Slide Rule.
That one’s gonna be pretty close to a full-size slide rue, but it’s gonna be cool because it’s not gonna be in a sit-down venue. So I’m not really sure how it’s gonna go, but it’s probably gonna be mostly all-new work. We were performing a lot at the end of last year, the beginning of this year, so, January and February have been about getting people back to their drawing boards.
David Lasky mentioned a new Moxie to me when we spoke earlier. Will we see that in future Slide Rules?
DO: Yeah, definitely. It’s too early to announce the date but we’re going to be doing a Moxie II benefit Slide Rule performance. Most of the issue will be turned into slide shows.
Any further plans to take Slide Rule on the Road?
DO: Yeah, we’re going to be performing at the Olympia Comics Convention. I think it’s in May.
Any thoughts of taking the show to Portland?
DO: Um, more so now that we have a great connection down there with Alyssa and Elijah moving down there. We just now started talking to some people who look like they might be interested in booking us down there.
Compare the Seattle cartooning and comics scene to a year ago.
DO: It’s lacking. We could use a lot more connections between people. We need more events, I think. Self-publishing and events seem to be slowing down around here, or maybe people aren’t bringing their zines and mini-comics to places where I see them. Even the most active, self-motivated cartoonists don’t seem to be making all that many zines right now. Although I think that it might be just as simple as people are – maybe they’re not spending as much time out or making as many connections because they are working more, really hard on long material. That’s what I feel is happening with me and the Slide Rule people.
Is that interest a reflection in the publishing press given to growth in the sales of long-format material such as graphic novels?
DO: That’s not what I’ve heard people say. My feeling is just that I feel like people are starting to hold themselves to higher standards, so self-publishing maybe slows down when they are trying to be cleaner and not just a zine they’ve thrown together at the bar…
I’m kinda talking outta my ass right now. Let me think about this for a second.
No, I don’t think that the reason is because of the attention that large book publishers have been paying to comics, because I don’t think that attention has really been felt by most cartoonists that I hang out with.
What’s the most exciting development here over last year?
DO: You know what I think has been really exciting? The readings that have been going on at Confounded Books. I don’t know if they’ve been more frequent recently of if I’ve just noticed them more recently now that they’ve moved down the street from where I live. I feel like their readings – Confounded involves cartoonists with barely a mention of the fact that we’re working in a different literary form than text writers…
Do you see a commonality between the touring literary circus stuff at Confounded and Slide Rule?
DO: Probably. I didn’t see many of those people. . . Let’s see. There’s been a cartoonist on each of the ones that they’ve done. I don’t see those people trying to perform – trying to create the kind of performance experience that we’re creating. I see those people maybe more using the slide show as assistance to the description of what they do. Where we’re using the slide show to make what we do.