Fabulous Fiction Firsts #422 - Spotlight on Ann Arbor Authors (with news flash!)

Words failed me in describing Matt Bell's In the House Upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods *. It disturbs my dreams and shows up at unguarded moments. I now see why Keith Taylor recommended it as a "must-read" this summer. (Listen to the podcast and check out the feature in Publishers Weekly).

By turn called "charmingly bizarre and disturbing ", "spare, devastating", "dark, intriguingly odd fable", it tells how a newly-wed couple relocates to a remote and desolate homestead along a lake - to live simply off the land and water, to build a house and raise a family. With each failed pregnancy, they grow more distant - the child-obsessed husband begins to rage at this new world and resent the wife whose beautiful voice could sing physical objects into existence and altering nature's course. As grief divides them, they must also separately grapple with the bear who rules their woods and the squid who dwells in their lake. A story that is "as beautiful as it is ruinous,... A tragedy of fantastic proportions".

"Bell finds whimsy in despair and reality in the absurd in this absorbingly virtuosic near fairy tale about marital struggle and personal reclamation. The result is a novel of catastrophic beauty and staggering originality. "

Formerly of Ann Arbor (a senior editor at Dzanc Books), currently an assistant professor in the English department at Northern Michigan University, Bell will be one of the speakers at this year's Kerrytown BookFest on Sunday, September 8th.

Signing at the BookFest will be local author Shirley G. Coleman, for her debut novel Mersoon Rising which the Michigan Chronicle review called a "sociopolitical space opera", that chronicles the lives and loves of the Jymirr race during an epic battle for the fate of a planet and an entire solar system.

Check out the feature story in the September 4th issue of the Ann Arbor Journal on Ms. Coleman, and Mersoon being the first title published by Plenary's Wild Seed Press imprint, which honors the late Octavia Butler, and is dedicated to publishing black American authors.

Click here for the BookFest event schedule.

* = starred review

Purple Rose: The Vast Difference

The Purple Rose Theatre Company in Chelsea is presenting "The Vast Difference," a comedy by Jeff Daniels from September 19 to December 14.
From the Purple Rose website: "George Noonan is having a mid-life crisis. The father of five girls and a flight attendant for a small Midwestern airline, he is scheduled to have a vasectomy. As he works up the courage to go through with the procedure, George becomes reflective on his struggles with his career, living up to his father's expectations, and the nature of "being a man" in the modern world. Contains mild adult language and themes." The play is directed by Guy Sanville. Tickets may be purchased here.

Comic Artists Forum with Cartoonist Joshua Buchanan

Sunday September 8, 2013: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm -- Downtown Library: 4th Floor Meeting Room

To kick off another year of the Forum we have guest artist Joshua Buchanan who believes bringing characters to life is an art form in and of itself. Josh says, “As cartoonists and storytellers, we strive to give that life to our character so our readers will feel a part of the world and narrative in a personal way.” During his presentation he will shed light on the basic principles you can use to create lively anthropomorphic characters.

Joshua Buchanan is a graphic designer by day, comic artist by night. His latest work includes his self published comic book The Rocket, and the recent releases of the all ages comic Scratch9.

Get fresh ideas for your next graphic novel or comic creation at the Forum. Drop in to draw, learn and network with other cartoonists. Drawing supplies are provided.

Note: Cartoonist Jay Fosgitt originally scheduled for September 8 will present at the January 5 Comic Artists Forum.

Drawing Lab: Perspective

Saturday, August 17, 2013 | 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm | Downtown Library | Multi-Purpose Room

The theory of perspective has been simplified over the decades. It is basically the notion that objects appear smaller the further away they are from the viewer. However, very few artists understand the mechanics of the theory. For the artist, there is a very specific process to follow to accurately represent the illusion of real space.

Illustrator, Joe Foo, will help you unlock the secrets of drawing accurate perspective the same way the old masters did. The tips and tricks will help you improve your landscapes and still life, with a small section discussing drawing figures in perspective.

Paper and pencil supplies will be on hand. Please join us for an afternoon of discovery.

This event is for adults and teens (grade 6 and up)

Comics: The Importance of Line

Monday, August 5 | 6-8 PM | Malletts Creek Branch

Lines are critical in comics defining characters, moods, actions, motion, and more. This week you will face three exciting challenges to improve your use of lines.

Come every week to collect a special series of video challenges! Become the supreme master of visual storytelling! ALSO, each week there’ll be a drawing for awesome items donated by 2013 Kids Read Comics artists!

Giddy Read-aloud Picture Book: 'Dozens of Cousins'

This is my favorite book yet by Shutta Crum, the librarian, author, poet, and speaker who lives in Ann Arbor and has delighted so many readers with her writing. Dozens of Cousins, Shutta's latest picture book, is rhythmic, lyrical, warm, and hilarious.

As the annual family reunion approaches, the cozy chaos of cousins begins. "We are wild and fierce. We do not wait for invitations. We run through front doors, arms extended, slap dirty feet on cool linoleum, grab from plates thrust out at us -- and holler for more." Some wiggle their fannies toward distracted adults, in the cutest possible way. Splashy, rip-roaring illustrations are by David Catrow, editorial cartoonist and illustrator of more than 70 books for children.

Initial reviews are glowing, including one in The New York Times. Looks like another hit for the author, a former AADL youth librarian and storyteller. Check out Shutta's books and accomplishments on her website.

Comics - Panel Sequence and "Camera" Angles

Monday, July 29 | 6-8 p.m. | Malletts Creek

This week you’ll put on your director’s hat to determine the best sequence for telling your story and choose the best "camera" angles for the most effective visual storytelling. Master teacher Jerzy Drozd will pose three challenges that will have you looking at comics creation in a whole new way.

Come every week to collect a special series of video challenges! Become the supreme master of visual storytelling! ALSO, each week there’ll be a drawing for awesome items donated by 2013 Kids Read Comics artists!

More Comics Fun at AADL!!

Mondays, July 8-August 12 | 6-8 PM | Malletts Creek

If Kids Read Comics inspired you to try your hand at making comics, then you’re ready for the SUPER COMICS CHALLENGE! Or, if you’ve been making comics for a while but looking for a creative boost, then by all means join us.

At this weekly series, you'll design dynamic fortresses, awesome heroes, lugubrious villains, and unlock achievements of the comics-storytelling masters! Each week you'll have two fun drawing challenges to level up your comics-making powers and get special Summer Game codes.

Come every week to collect a special series of video challenges! Become the supreme master of visual storytelling! ALSO, each week there’ll be a drawing for awesome items donated by 2013 Kids Read Comics artists!

Comics Character Challenge at AADL

Monday, July 15 | 6-8 PM | Malletts Creek

This week in the SUPER COMICS CHALLENGE get ready to conjure up some awesome heroes and lugubrious villains! Yes indeedy, cartoonist and teaching artist Jerzy Drozd’s challenges will loosen up both your brain and drawing arm.

Come every week to collect a special series of video challenges! Become the supreme master of visual storytelling! ALSO, each week there’ll be a drawing for awesome items donated by 2013 Kids Read Comics artists!

Worldbuilding in Comics

Monday, July 22 | 6-8 PM | Malletts Creek

Worldbuilding is the challenge in this week's session. You will face four different challenges in creating the world that fits your characters and storyline. From imagining a fortress to an entire universe, these challenges will have your synapses firing like mad!

Come every week to collect a special series of video challenges! Become the supreme master of visual storytelling! ALSO, each week there will be a drawing for awesome items donated by 2013 Kids Read Comics artists!

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