Soundtrack: Short Stories 1989-1996 by Jessica Abel

Soundtrack: Short Stories 1989-1996
by Jessica Abel
Fantagraphics, 2001

An unusually bare-bones large-format paperback compilation of Abel’s early Artbabe zine material and other work. Initially, like the Locas stories in Love and Rockets, it’s about being young and dumb and part of the local grunge/punk/alt rock scene, with densely inked Chicago backgrounds and obsessions with smouldering baristas, but there’s also some interesting journalism comics about attending a talk by Camille Paglia, trying to work out the appeal of Douglas Coupland, and attending a G-Con for Godzilla obsessives. There’s also mechanical experiments with layered photocopies, which isn’t something that people do now that you just deliver stuff as a PDF.

At the end is a section from Artbabe #5: The Four Seasons, published with a Xeric grant, which demonstrate  the artistic benefits of financial backing and recognition. It’s strange that this isn’t a more complete reprint, with facsimiles of the original issues and colour pages, but I suppose it’s better to have the work accessible rather than not at all.

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