Saturday, July 19, 2008

Friday Evening in Williamsburg: Leslie Stein's "Eye of the Majestic Creature" at Desert Island Comics

On our way to Prospect Park on Friday, we stopped early on at our favorite comic store Desert Island's 7-9 p.m. event featuring the multi-talented Leslie Stein, who was actually giving away copies of issue #3 of Eye of the Majestic Creature, whose last outing one critic at High-Low called "my favorite mini-comic to date of 2007."

We arrived before the promised sitar player got started (see him here), but it looked like it was going to be another great Desert Island event, and on an uncomfortably hot evening the store was delightfully cool in more than just one way. Leslie, who's billed on her books as Leslie Anne Mackenzie Stein, graciously signed our copy of the new Eye of the Majestic Creature. Here's High-Low's Rob Clough on the last issue:
Her stories are the product of an unhinged imagination, yet there is a coherent narrative to be found. Indeed, one senses that much of the story is directly autobiographical, if adorned with all sorts of weirdness. The story is about a young woman named Larry who has moved out to the country after living in the city made her too anxious. She lives alone in a house with her anthropomorphic guitar (named Marshy) and ponders misanthropy and the desperate need to connect, two contradictory impulses that nonetheless drive her...[Stein's] ability to create intricate fine-line drawings whose simplicity leads the eye around the page with ease is matched only by her many decorative touches.

Born in Chicagoland, Leslie -- a graduate of the wonderful School of Visual Arts (where we teach) -- has lived in Brooklyn for years. Fascinatingly, she employs a vastly different style and technique in her celebrated Yeah It Is!, an amazing full-color book we have back in our Arizona winter HQ. The Comics Reporter said of it:
The best thing about Leslie Anne Mackenzie Stein's debut Yeah, It Is! is the general look of the piece, a way of presenting comics narrative as dependent on colored paper cut-outs as it is on traditional alt-comics cartoony abstractions. Stein's establishing shots have this really nice, layered quality that replicates the way the author's reasonably innocent lead looks at the world, a vast unknown that is broken down into smaller units for better understanding. As body shapes play a supporting role here, the technique allows Stein to concentrate on how clothing can hide, accentuate or even distort the form underneath it - the artist even manages to get a sense of see-through cloth around her skirts.

Yeah It Is!
received a richly-deserved Xeric Foundation award, and it looks as though Leslie's got a new book using some of the same innovative techniques. She told us she enjoys working in varied styles, and each has different challenges and rewards.

Also on display were some of the charming crafts (pins, pillows, bags) Leslie makes for sale at Etsy.

We thanked Leslie for the free comic and thanks as always to Desert Island for bringing comics to our stretch of Metropolitan Avenue.

Heading off for our date with Deerhoof, we did get to enjoy Eye of the Majestic Creature on our way to Prospect Park, and it's a not-to-be-missed delight: most of the book is a narrative of Larry's trip back to her childhood home and the resulting adventures with her old slacker friends; her volleyball-playing, salsa-dancing mom; her oleaginous dad and his feuding second and third wives, Smusan and Shmelia; her odd siblings Salmon and Snickers; and lots of alcohol and ennui. Leslie gets a lot of things right, and for a 25yo, she's particularly perceptive about older, mostly Jewish, women.

Stuck in the Metropolitan Avenue waiting an unconscionable amount of time for a shockingly indifferent G train, we're grateful to have had Leslie Stein's wonderful comics as a boon companion. Isn't life wonderful!

1 comment:

WDILT said...

What a sweet and unaffectedly pleasant write-up.