Addley Walker is a comics and pattern maker from Los Angeles, CA. He joined us in Pittsburgh for a Comics Workbook Rowhouse Residency in June 2017. Here are his thoughts about visiting the city and his Rowhouse Residency experience.
So I’ll go right into it:
There’s no way (no way!) I can really summarize the week I had at the Rowhouse – just that going in I had a vision of personal breakthroughs which my stay allowed me to achieve, and which put me in a mental state that I do not yet feel I have left, some days later.
It’s funny how it happened – a bit ago I went cruising on eBay for some spicy zine action when I came across a copy of CF’s Core of Caligula. I didn’t have it, I hadn’t read it, it was an instant purchase. When it showed up at my house later, I was surprised to find that in my consumer stupor that I had ordered from none other than Comics Workbook, and inside the packaging there was a slip of paper promoting the Correspondence Course and the Residency. I had taken Frank Santoro’s online course 2 years prior, and I had regretted that after graduating I never took advantage of the people and community that existed in that space, and overlapping ones, online. I found it hard to communicate while curating myself on Tumblr, and just overall couldn’t find a rhythm for myself in the community. So I took the slip’s advice and I reached out to Rowhouse Organizer and Overall Scene Badass Sally Ingraham, who heard me out, and with her encouragement I decided I needed to go to Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh is definitely a very special place. It’s hard for me to describe (I don’t really get out of California very often!), and I was very taken with it. I spent most of my time in the cozy house that served as the Residency space, which I totally adored. As Sally had told me, just the time to spend alone focused totally on creating is radical in itself, a vacation from the distractions of your life. I really spread out all over the place, and lost myself in intense sessions of reading and drawing. Oh, and music listening, because there are some real stellar records hanging out amid a small but impressive collection of comics work.
Then there’s the matter of Frank Santoro. Frank’s sincere nature coupled with a deep love and understanding of the form was an oasis. I saw him a few times in the week for dinner, which were highly energizing times of comics discussion and discovery. Access to Frank’s library of knowledge and the most insane out-of-print shit you will ever see was just totally overwhelming in the best way possible. It was almost like he was playing a game, the way Frank just continually surprised me, which he ratcheted up all the way to my last night (you really got me, check mate dude). [Editor’s Note: Frank stunned Addley by inviting Blaise Larmee over for dinner and comics talk!]
At one time Frank and Sally talked about comics as an oral history, which I think is very important. So important! Before I had come to the Residency, while I kept up with the goings on of the internet (reading, exploring, learning) I had a very strong urge to participate in the conversations happening in comics that I feel are so vital, both as an artist and as a fan. I can learn and get work done noodling in my room while playing video games, surfing Instagram, and listening to Chapo Trap House, but there is no substitute to spending a day at Copacetic Comics as Sally fielded question after question I had about creators, and printing, and the culture at large. There is no substitute to going to Frank’s house and having a master of the form talk to you about your work. There is no substitute to meeting in person people you respect, and having them take you seriously.
The connections made between people, on the ground, are what propel things forward. On the walls of the kitchen there is evidence of the Residency’s past participants – sketches, a calendar, proofs of a zine cover. I wanted to see more. I felt that sense of community that I had lacked, and I wanted to see that community succeed.
I left the Rowhouse feeling validated, and motivated. I hope to see more drawings on the wall when I come back!