Dune Zine and the Drawing Jam at Cafe Racer | City Arts
Saturday, December 07, 2013 // Share on Facebook
The monthly comix zine Dune is the most egalitarian publication in Seattle. It’s also the one with the narrowest possible distribution. “The other day some guy asked me how to get a copy of Dune,” says Max Clotfelter, the zine’s organizer, “And I told him, you’ve just gotta show up and draw. You’ve gotta contribute to get a copy.”
On the third Tuesday of each month, artists converge on Café Racer for an all-call drawing jam. Each of them will pitch in a completed page of art and two dollars for printing expenses, and at the end of the night Clotfelter gathers the work and photocopies it into the next issue of Dune, to be distributed at the following month’s jam. There is no editorial direction or control, and the only rule is that the work must be created that night.
Café Racer is the perfect backdrop for an indie comix event, a homey neighborhood bar decorated with a crowded hodgepodge of vividly-colored paintings, knick knacks and other obsessively-worked decorative elements. The café itself looks like an indie comix backdrop—you can almost see R. Crumb-esque crosshatching creeping up from the dimly-lit corners.
On the evening I visited, the cafe was packed. About fifty artists had shown up to contribute, cluttering every available surface with their sketchpads, pens, erasers, and pints of beer. A long table in the center of the café was crowded with artists hunched earnestly over their work, giving off an almost monastic vibe. One huddled scribe asked “Does anyone have an eraser?” and someone responded, “Yes,” tossing one over without looking up from their work.
Artists of all skill levels attend the jam and contribute to Dune. At a table in the upstairs room, I spoke to Abigail Swanson, a first timer and Café Racer employee who came here on her night off to participate. “I’m just drawing this weird penis guy,” she said, almost apologetically, “I accidentally sat down at the ‘pro table’ and I’m a Newb Deluxe.”
“There’s actually no hierarchy here, you can sit anywhere,” jam regular Marc Palm corrected. But this table was loaded with some serious talent. John Ohannesian, a working pro, labored over a full-page drawing, pausing intermittently to chat with his colleagues. Beside him, Brian Beardsley made steady progress on a four-panel piece. “It’s my ode to Spy vs. Spy,” he said. Across from them, Mark Allender sat penciling his page and occasionally glancing at an open copy of a well-worn graphic novel. He was reproducing a grim sequence from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, but replacing Batman with the San Francisco Batkid. Next to Allender, Marc Palm worked on a multi-panel dialogue between hideous monsters that was as violent and profane as Palm is friendly and unassuming.
Clotfelter greeted a pair of women who just arrived, “You gonna draw tonight?”
“Yeah. We’re jam virgins!” . . . .