Today, Quick debuted WE'VE NEVER MET, the bimonthly ("every other week") comic by me and Chad Thomas. You can find the print version in racks around the Dallas Fort Worth area.
Lovely, isn't it?
For this project, I'm trying to create a narrative that operates on a few levels. Yes, it will be a humorous self-contained comic on topical issues. Yes, it will also be an ongoing story about a "poor little rich girl" searching for love and trying to start her band. And it's an opportunity to editorialize about Dallas and the creative community within this city.
So, let me share two observations:
OBSERVATION #1. This first comic page was inspired, in part, by the efforts of PAC-WE -- a Dallas based group dedicated to insurance reform and equitable access to health care for freelance creative professionals. I've noticed that a few times every year, there's a huge benefit concert/auction/gallery show etc to help some poor local cover medical expenses and a necessary operation. Think about that for a second. Some guy or girl needs heart surgery, and we hold the artistic equivalent of a bake sale. Something is seriously wrong with health care in America, if this is how we handle it. On one level, it shows the incredible charity of people in Dallas. (If I need a kidney transplant, I know the Happy Bullets will be playing somewhere in my honor!) However, it also reminds us of how limited insurance options are for someone self-employed.
OBSERVATION #2. With this first comic, I also wanted to say something about Dallas's consumption of art. We have no lack of talented people, and yet, our patronage of local art, local theater, local film, local fashion, local comedians, local music, local comics (!) is sorely lacking. Artists love their art. We cherish our art, but we'd probably raise more money selling jello shots at a bar on McKinney Avenue. This says something about what Dallas values. This might be true of anywhere in America, but the reputation of "plastic Dallas" is a hard one to shake.
Last Saturday, April and I went to see Elvis Perkins at House of Blues. These drunk girls next to us were talking the entire time. Why you would pay that much money in service fees alone and not enjoy the concert is beyond me. Another girl next to us told them to shut up. (Something we were all thinking.) These drunk girls then began to torment this other girl, and one even poured her beer on the girl. Why you would waste your $6 beer is also beyond me. I overheard the persecuted girl reply sourly: "Welcome to Dallas."
Really? Really?! Do the drunk idiotic girls of Dallas make a bigger impression than the thoughtful concert-goers who genuinely adore Elvis Perkins? Oh yeah, and then that drunk girl tried to pick a fight with someone else.
This will be an ongoing theme in WE'VE NEVER MET. Who owns our reputation?
I don't mean to suggest that it's an "us versus them" situation, an expansion on jocks versus nerds. (In all fairness, there are some cool places in Uptown, West Village, and Victory Park.) I hate to acknowledge it, but I've been to the Doublewide numerous times, and the bar area often looks more crowded than the stage area. Deep Ellum struggles to keep music venues and art galleries open, and it's our fault. Dallas fails to support local creators. Is this an unfair assessment?
My friend Matt told me a story about a couple that went to Hawaii and ate every night at Chili's. A little absurd? In the same regard, why would you live in Dallas and not check out jazz at Amsterdam Bar on Mondays, eat at Cowboy Chow, visit the Kettle Art gallery or the Public Trust, drink coffee at Murray Street, enjoy a local band at Lee Harvey's on a Friday or Saturday (no cover), watch a midnight movie at the Inwood, cheer your favorite roller derby team, hide away for a weekend at the Belmont Hotel, see a play from the Audacity Theatre Lab or Undermain Theatre? These are just my personal favorites, off the top of my head. I know I'm missing a lot.
I don't mean to sound pessimistic. I'm really not. All the elements for Dallas being a great city are there. These elements just haven't come together on a scale that would allow it to have any momentum. Instead, we just keeping pushing and pushing. I hope WE'VE NEVER MET might get people thinking and talking about what's great in Dallas. Or maybe, as retribution, someone will pour their beer on me.