About a year ago, Dan Mazur, co-founder of the weekly meetup Boston Comics Roundtable and publisher of 9th Art Press, was talking with Brookline’s Whit Taylor about possible ideas for a new comics anthology when the conversation turned to the allure of subcultures.
Taylor had studied anthropology at Brown University and expressed interest in mining the ore found there for the independent comics artists. So after the duo put out an open call for submissions, strangers and friends alike started offering up their art in both story outlines and artwork samples, and fully finished strips. More than half of the submissions ended up making the cut, and Sub Cultures: A Comics Anthology was released in September.
“The idea for the book was [really] hers,” Mazur says. “And it was her ‘gut feelings’ that determined the order of the stories.”
With 37 independent cartoonists making up the collection—and about a third of the artists local or Boston-based (including Hub-born SMFA alum Liz Prince, author of the graphic memoir on gender, Tomboy)—it explores everything from Star Wars conventions to Bigfoot trackers, cosplay stories to sadomasochism. All of which bear the artistic watermarks of stylistic individualism—gruff, polished, and everything in between.
“There’s a wide range of styles within the spectrum of indie comics,” Mazur says. “[From] a young audience whose style is big on platforms like Tumblr to artists like [Fort Point’s] Nick Thorkelson and the underground generation where he’s from. It’s underground-influenced style meets Tumblr art. [Sub Cultures] brings old and new together.”
Mazur grew up in Cambridge and returned to the area in 2006 after working for years in film as a screenwriter, and upon realizing he had been drawing comics more frequently than he wrote screenplays. Once he moved back, he sought a community of comics creators, started the weekly meetup Boston Comics Roundtable along with Dave Kinder, and eventually started publishing anthologies. Before Sub Cultures, Mazur co-wrote what he calls the first comics history book to incorporate Japanese, European, and American comic history in one tome, focusing on 1968 to the present. Before that, he put out The Greatest Of All Time, a collection of superhero stories set in Boston.
But Mazur notes the newest collection is different in regards to the level of artists he got a chance to work with. Say, Alex Robinson (“One of my faves,” Mazur says), who has been publishing major graphic novels for some time, but also those at the other end of the spectrum, like Sam Alden, a young cartoonist who has been heating up in the indie world the last few years.
The selections were assembled with care, avoiding grouping similar subcultures together (not placing doll comics back-to-back, for example) and were based on gut feelings about how the style, pacing, and flow would work best. But in the end, the most important thing to Mazur was gathering really great independent and local artists together with a unified sense of celebrating what he calls “infinite and intricate subsets of humanity.”
Hail to the weird.
SUB CULTURES | $15.00 | NOW AVAILABLE AT MILLION YEAR PICNIC, HUB COMICS, OR NINTHARTPRESS.BLOGSPOT.COM