When I was an ugly child…

I went to Scot’s Comic Book store last Saturday on 23rd street and Mission.

The store is very small, and packed with comics, basically there is only enough room for one customer at a time and browsing of any form is not encouraged. It’s a real trip. You go in, Scot says “What can I get for you?” and if you say something like “I’m just looking around” then he’ll scoff at you and go back to reading his comic muttering something like “whatever, man.”. Only Scot knows what he has and where he has it, your welcome to try, but he’s not gonna make it any easier.

“What comics are behind that Grendel on the wall?”
“Oh, just some other comics.”
“…”
So I dropped in and started looking around, which was obviously bugging Scot, when I found a copy of Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children ..2. Score! I picked it up, and behind it was ..1… and ..6… ..8… ..4… ..20… ..24… Ding ding, high score! It’s like the only time I’ve ever gone in there to browse and actually find anything.

BSUC is one of my all time favorite comic series, and absolutely made the biggest dent on me artisticly at the early age I found it. I think I first came across issue number 5 in 1989. It was in the $.50 boxes at Great Escape in Nashville. I first started scraping through those boxes in an effort to maximize my comic book money to it’s fullest. One copy of Superman or 4 copies of the Tick/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/or other great indie comics.

BSUC are illustrated short stories, usually with a large/sketchy piece up on top and writing on the bottom. The art was dark and humorous, usually the main character would have one dull expression throughout the whole book, no matter what was happening around it. Many of the pieces reminded me of Bill Plympton’s heavy handed pencil style. The writing was bare bones and full of irony. Usually it would just be some proposterous scenario told so simply and beautifully that it just seemed like an every day occurrence. Each issue was a different short story, so collecting them piecemeal wasn’t annoying.

At the age of 14, the concept of comics with no re-occuring main characters was mind-blowing. I was also pretty touched by the main characters, they where usually losers of some sort, for instance, Confessions of a Blood Junkie is all about a vampire that attends Vampires Anonymous and paints pictures of the sun in his spare time.

So I continued picking up these bizare titles, collecting maybe 18, without knowing how many issues there were out there. As I moved from Lewisburg TN, I thought of Beautiful Stories often, in fact whenever I walked into an old comic store it was always the first thing I asked about. Well it’s been about 10 years, and I’ve never ever seen a copy of these books aside from the ones I bought at Great Escape, in fact it never even occurs to me to check online or in comic shops anymore (note, holy shit there are a bunch on ebay!).
So yesterday was a total score, I can’t wait to get the chance to re-read these old issues. After picking up the books, I found out that Dave and Dan seem to have been very busy recently sort of repackaging Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children. In fact their website just went live recently and features “animated” versions of the comics, so far the art doesn’t really do the comics justice though. Still it’s cool to think of my favorite comics team working again, I haven’t seen a single thing from either of them since Dave illustrated the American Freak comics for vertigo in the mid 90’s.

psst- I just found an online copy of A Cotton Candy Autopsy!