If only your 12th grade American history book was like “Inbound 4: A Comic Book History of Boston,” a graphic anthology of memorable events dating from the 1600s to the present that was created by 35 local writers and artists, including three from Beverly.
If only your 12th-grade American history book was like “Inbound 4: A Comic Book History of Boston,” a graphic anthology of memorable events dating from the 1600s to the present that was created by 35 local writers and artists, including three from Beverly. The book was put out last December by the Boston Comics Roundtable.
In fact, four North Shore artists and writers — Ron LeBrasseur, Dirk I. Tiede, Joshua Santa Cruz and Eric Boeker — were major contributors. These hometown artists wrote and illustrated stories ranging from the odd history of Dungeon Rock in Lynn to the tragic drama behind the Great Molasses Flood of 1919 and the Busing Crisis of the 1960s, to a funky, punky tour of the Boston Modern Rock scene. Hub history never looked so good.
In its fourth release, the Inbound series is the bi-annual collection of stories written and drawn by the artists who make up the BCR, but this is its first venture into nonfiction.
“We’ve had themes before,” explains Beverly resident and professional illustrator Tiede. “We were finishing up Inbound 3 which came out around Valentine’s Day last year, so naturally the theme was ‘romance.’ When we started thinking about what to do for our next release, a ‘Boston’ theme came up and we all jumped at the idea.”
In fact, so many BCR members, whose total numbers over 100, “jumped” that strict parameters had to be set on the length of the story — only four or five pages per submission.
“There was so much to write about — Boston and all of these areas have so many amazing stories to tell,” commented LeBrasseur, also a resident of Beverly and a native of Lynn.
Another Beverly artist, Boeker, agreed with Lynn’s Santa Cruz in saying, “I could have done a hundred pages more.” Comic proposals poured in through a Wiki submission page online and were slowly honed down to the final 35 contributions through a rigorous selection and review process.
This thoroughness seems to have paid off. Larry Harrison of Harrison’s Comics & Collectibles on Essex Street in Salem called sales of the comics anthology “phenomenal. To have people calling the store for a graphic novel is pretty incredible. It’s flying off the shelves.”
The BCR was started in 2006 by Dave Kender, who had posted an ad on Craigslist for possible comics collaborators. As Kender cheekily states on the group’s Facebook page, “As we gradually stumbled across each other, one by one, we were amazed to discover — despite our firm beliefs — that we were not working in utter isolation. In truth, there are many of us, and it only seems natural that we should meet up and take over a small cafe once a week.”
The weekly meetings are free and participants are encouraged to show their latest work, plan joint projects or just talk about what comic book people love to talk about — comics.
Originally from Chicago, Tiede, the illustrator of Inbound 4’s “The Great Boston Molasses Flood” stumbled upon the BCR through comic conventions. He has been self-publishing his own volumes of stories called “Paradigm Shift” since 2003. Describing the premise behind his work as “a cop story with a supernatural twist,” Tiede is about to release the third in the series.
It is through Tiede’s wife, who works at OSRAM Sylvania, that Eric Boeker, author and illustrator of “The Great Sordid History of Boston Punk Rock” as well as his own Web comic, “Commute of the Living Dead,” found the BCR. Boeker, an engineer, has lived in Beverly for the past five years after a “slow escape from the Midwest.”
Originally hailing from Missouri, Boeker admits that the discovery of the group was a serendipitous situation: “Within one week, I had picked up the first issue of Inbound out of an artist’s curiosity and my wife and I went to a music festival and there was Dirk.” Boeker’s Web comic was recently translated into popular holiday cards.
Creator of “The Lost Pirate Treasure of Dungeon Rock” and illustrator of “Factory Town,” LeBrasseur, when he found the group in 2007 at the Boston Zine Fair, confesses that he assumed that the BCR was like other comics groups he had been to: “I had met up with a couple other comics-interest groups before that, but they were always of the ‘What’s Aquaman doing this month?’ variety. I wanted to meet other people who were interested in creating new stuff.”
After discussing the BCR with another artist who happened to be a member, he happily found his assumption to be wrong. LeBrasseur is working on a new graphic novel as well as contributing to the Potlatch anthology, put out by Angry Dog Press.
More to come
Santa Cruz began his work on “American Confusion” about three months after a meeting with BCR member Dan Mazur at the Boston Comic Con 2009.
“I gave him a copy of my latest work at the time. (It was a 15 page adaptation of James Baldwin’s ‘Sonny’s Blues.’) He gave it a read and contacted me three months later to do a story for the next Inbound. I was ecstatic that he wanted me to participate and so we brainstormed a bit about a story that he thought would be appropriate, ‘The Soiling of Old Glory.’” Santa Cruz is currently working on creating a Web site for his work.
Our local artists have a lot to look forward to: The original artwork for “Inbound 4: A Comic Book History of Boston” is still on view at the Atomic Bean Coffeehouse on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge until the end of January. Tiede will be giving a talk about his Inbound contribution at the Arisia science fiction and fantasy convention at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge this Saturday, Jan. 16, at noon. There will be a book signing and discussion at Porter Square Books, also in Cambridge, at 7 p.m. on Jan. 21st. And LeBrasseur will be helping to coordinate an exhibition of BCR members’ work at the Marblehead Arts Association in March. With a little luck, these four talented North Shore artists will be making their own history very soon.
For more information about the Boston Comics Roundtable, to purchase a copy of “Inbound 4: A Comic Book History of Boston” or for news on when the BCR’s science fiction anthology will be released, visit bostoncomicsroundtable.com. Copies of Inbound 4 are also available at Jerry’s Comics & Collectibles, 296 Cabot St. in Beverly, and Harrison’s Comics & Collectibles, 252 Essex St. in Salem.