Brad Beshaw is the owner of Confounded Books, currently Seattle’s best alternative print media outlet. Beshaw moved here from New Mexico several years ago, and although his drawings have rarely seen wide distribution in Seattle, is a talented cartoonist. He wrote the long-running column Hollywood Deathwatch for Tablet Newspaper.
I spoke with Brad on February 17, 2004, in preparation for an article to appear in the Stranger.
Brad Beshaw, Confounded Books
What’s the most interesting development in the local cartooning scene over the last year?
BB: There’s a bunch of ’em. I mean there’s – it’s not over the last year, but over the last several. . . David Lasky’s comics-as-fine art group (Fine Comics) has gone through a lot of changes and recruited more and more people and they’re definitely a force. I mean, they’re everywhere. I’d need to include of course Davey Oil and the Slide Rule folks as well. The Slide Rule is definitely something interesting too that’s relatively recent.
. . .
The idea of bringing comics to a live performance medium is pretty interesting.
You hosted some of the Slide Rule events at the store. What other live events have you hosted at Confounded?
BB: There was Fly, who came here with the Killer Banshee Studio. Killer Banshees adapted her comic to computer manipulations – they didn’t actually move but they manipulated them via computer while she read. They projected them while she read. Her book is called Peops.
Perpetual Motion Roadshow is the mastermind of Jim Monroe, he’s a novelist from Canada who used to be the editor of AdBusters magazine. He has a website called nomediakings.net, and through that he sets up groups of three readers – sometimes poets, sometimes novelists, sometimes cartoonists – and sends them off across the country.
There’s a west and an east coast leg; right now they are doing west; then they’ll be doing east.
The Bookmobile. Half of them are from Canada, and half are from – I can’t remember where. New York or was it Baltimore? I had it in my head that they were somewhere not quite New York but close [Buffalo?].
That’s an interesting group. They take submissions throughout the year and then tour with their favorites. Locals can also add stuff; our local cartoonists and zinesters added stuff. A couple of them were even called back to add stuff nationally.
Is Seattle taking part in something that’s reflected nationally, this performance/alternative press thing?
BB: Absolutely. I’d been talking about setting up some sort of national circuit for years and years, getting addresses of shops and so forth. Of course, they start up and go out of business quickly – See Hear in New York just closed, and they were one of the venerable stores. . .
We had talked about setting up some sort of a circuit and I had discussed it with my friend Juliet Torres who works at Last Gasp and publishes a series of minicomics that pairs comics artists with slam poets together. Dave Lasky’s done those, Ivan Brunetti’s done those – and we were talking about it and he turns around and does it, which is great. So he added us to the west coast list right away.
How interrelated are the Seattle and Portland cartooning and comics communities?
BB: Just in terms of output – Craig Thompson lives there and he’s pretty well known nationally; he’s gotten really big since the release of Blankets. Our big one right now – obviously Pete Bagge lives here, he doesn’t publish as much as he used to, but Dave Lasky’s gotten really large as of late; and then people like Jason Lutes are from here, and then around them are a group of lesser known zinesters or minicomic artists who kind of pop up and put out a lot of stuff or fade away. Like, Jennifer Daydreamer gets picked up by a major independent company like Top Shelf, and she’s doing really really well. She’s poised to become really big as well.
Both scenes are very – we get a lot of people from Portland down here. I would say they’re both twins in that we’re both big advocates of zines and small press. I remember years ago when I first moved here I pitched the idea of kind of doing a zine/comic crossover thing at the Hugo House for ZAPP, and a lot of the people who we asked about it were like, ‘why?’ you know, as if it weren’t just a natural connection.
But that connection’s very strong both in Portland and Seattle.