Big Fat Book Club

Lately I’ve only been able to read in what little free time I have between putting down the Wacom and passing out (either from plain-old sleepiness or with an assist from drinking) at night. Although I’m perpetually behind on my reading, there’s some great new stuff that’s been keeping me up WAY past my bedtime, and probably contributing to my increasing crankiness of late.

First up is Boston Phoenix writer and fellow Jamaica Plainer Chris Faraone’s 99 Nights with the 99 Percent: Dispatches from the First Three Months of the Occupy Revolution. It chronicles his impressive coverage of last fall’s Occupy movement. Starting with Occupy Boston’s takeover of Dewey Square, he crisscrossed the country reporting on Occupations as quickly as they sprung up. He was one of the few journalists who actually attended general assemblies and dug deep into the heart of the movement, unlike most in the media who either reported on drum-circle goofballs, or lamented that Occupy didn’t have any demands. (SURPRISE: If you talked to them, they did!) Here’s hoping the movement emerges from its winter hibernation, and when it does, Chris’s reports will be the first I’ll read.

Next is one of the alt-weekly cartoonists who inspired me to pursue this shitty career, Derf, whose latest book is My Friend Dahmer. A longer version of his earlier comic of the same name, it’s a graphic novel about Derf’s teen years spent with the serial killer. It’s funny and poignant, but not in a Lifetime movie kind of way. Obviously Dahmer was a huge fucking weirdo, but Derf draws a portrait of the kind of fuck-up we all knew (or were) in high school. It is my great shame that I have an unsigned copy of the original My Friend Dahmer comic. I met Derf once in Columbus, Ohio at SPACE, in 2003 or 2004, but forgot to schlep my copy out to the midwest for him to sign. He will not remember this meeting, as I knew my comics were super-shitty at that point in my career, so I just acted like a fan when I bought my signed The City collection.

Lastly but not leastly, David Rees, of Get Your War On fame, will release a primer on his latest passion project, Artisanal Pencil Sharpening next month. I went digital a couple years ago, but this thoughtful treatise has me rethinking that decision. One cannot “sharpen” a stylus, and therefore the cartoons I draw with it will never be as sharp as those drawn with a skillfully sharpened pencil. I’ve yet to see a live demonstration, but hopefully us rubes in Boston will be treated to one in good time.