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Newspaper folks with highfalutin attitudes about how they’re doing God’s work are easily brought down to earth by their readers, who have a way of getting outraged at the relatively irrelevant things newspapers do. Run a 10,000-word story about corruption and a nation snoozes; cancel Zippy the Pinhead and prepare for readers storming the lobby of the building. An editor I know is still disappointed that City Paper no longer runs Matt Groening‘s Life in Hell, which we removed from our pages nearly a decade ago. It’s a no-win situation. Making room for fresh blood gets you accused of messing with tradition; sticking with longtime favorites generates bitchy letters from local experimental musicians.
I have no real say in the matter—-if I did, we’d be running this strip every week. But I don’t think it’s going out on a limb to say that anybody who cares about comics can get excited about this Friday’s PEN/Faulkner event featuring Alison Bechdel, Lynda Barry, and Chris Ware. All three are elders to an extent, gaining fame in the ’90s for (respectively) Dykes to Watch Out For, Ernie Pook’s Comeek, and Jimmy Corrigan. But none of them have worn out their welcome, particularly Bechdel—-I’m generally allergic to memoirs, but her 2006 book, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, is a fiercely honest and detailed portrait of her reckoning with her father’s suicide and her own homosexuality.
Moderating the event is Dan Raeburn, whose comics zine The Imp was a must-read during its run—-his essay on Chick tracts, featured in an issue of The Imp designed to look like one, is the last word the subject. The evening starts at 8 p.m. at the DC Jewish Community Center, 1529 16th Street, NW; tickets are $15.