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Culture Vultures: Illustrator Matthew LaFleur recommends the webcomic Space-Mullet

Plus: Chicago Urban Art Society founders on contemporary art mags and Supernatural Chicago's Neil Tobin on Lisa Alvarado's Still, Life

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Peter Kepha and Lauren Pacheco, founders of the Chicago Urban Art Society (CUAS) check the mailbox for:

Kolaj magazine and Elephant magazine We remember those days visiting the library or making the trek to the Kroch's and Brentano's in the Loop to grab our favorite magazines. Now we stay tuned to contemporary art practice by reading two magazines everyone should get their hands on: Kolaj and Elephant. It's not just the mind-blowing content but the printing quality and actual physical weight of these magazines that make it feel OK to drop the money. There's something inspiring about print publications that make aesthetic investments in their material. Kolaj actively seeks out collage-making artists, while Elephant offers fresh approaches to visual art culture with straightforward, to-the-point critiques—the type you aren't reading for hours. Print media isn't dead; it just might cost a bit more these days. But it's well worth it.


Neil Tobin, mastermind behind Supernatural Chicago has learned a lot from:

Still, Life As a writer and performer of one-man shows, I spend a lot of time thinking about first-person narratives. The stories that make up people's lives are a source of endless fascination and instruction to me. And one of the most powerful I've read recently is Still, Life by Lisa Alvarado. A longtime Chicagoan, Alvarado was recognized a few years back as Hispanic Author of the Year by the State of Illinois. But as Still, Life details, the road to that recognition, as well as the one leading onward to points unknown, has been far from a straight and easily navigable path. I don't want to share all the surprises and insights strewn along the way. But I encourage others to pick up this searingly honest, compact collection of poems and essays, to experience for themselves the intensity of her inspiring spirit—as a Latina, a Jew, an outsider, a survivor.


Matthew LaFleur, illustrator and professional doodler is jealous of the zeal behind:

Space-Mullet I find this webcomic, written and illustrated by Daniel Warren Johnson, to be nothing short of marvelous. The setting is a junky, clunky realistic-ish sci-fi outer space. The story is original and brilliant. The characters are fleshy, sometimes scaley and occasionally gooey, and use far too much toilet paper. Just like you and me. And the impossibly long, pencil-thin, face-hugging mustache of the main character, Jonah, distinguishes him from the multitude of other humans and aliens, along with his business (casual)-in-front, party-in-back hairstyle. Here's the rub: Daniel does this on his own for no reason other than he clearly loves it. I met him at C2E2 this year. We talked shop about the pens, inks, techniques, and fortitude it took to draw and ink one of the large pages, scan it, and add a blue "wash" of color via the computer, and self-publish to his website. As someone who tries very hard to do freelance illustration, I admire his ability to light a fire under his own ass with no compensation, just a hope of getting published someday. An iPad or tablet is a great way to enjoy it, since it allows you to finger-tap zoom and move around these highly detailed, well-rendered, and sublimely written pages.


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