Providence, RI Scene Report

This article originally appeared on The Comics Journal 11/26/2011

This week’s scene report is brought to you by Jacob Berendes. A couple of years ago at SPX someone left a copy of Mothers News at my table – at the time it was a one sheet newspaper with comics and weird local flavor bits of gossip, funny drawings and funny puzzles. I thought it was great – figured out it was from Providence – but didn’t know who made it. I subscribed to it – yes an honest to goddess monthly publication – and it quickly became one of my favorite rags ever. Somewhere along the way I found out it was Jacob who was stoking the fire – so I asked him to write about the comic book goings on of Providence, Rhode Island. Please enjoy!


by Jacob Berendes (by Frank’s request)

Providence RI was big for comics in the 1990s and the first decade of the 2000s, especially for works in the “art comics” genre, which doesn’t exist. People ask all the time what the fabled comics scene is like now, and I should say, with some caveats, that it’s pretty sweet. There’s a few crazy fuckers going hard as hell, and that’s almost all you need.

Some institutions first: Ada Books is a good independent bookstore that sells zines and comics and hosts comic-related events (Anders Nilsson came last month, Porcellino Dec 5th). The RISD library has a great comics section that is a wonderful place to spend a rainy day (although they are maybe cracking down on
non-alumni, boo dat). AS220 is a nebulous non-profit show venue / bar / developer / print shop that has a nice offset press that you can take classes on, then use whenever to print 1000 of your shitty thing. Time Capsule Comics in nearby Cranston has a nice selection of back issues, this past summer they had a wild $1 everything sale, it was like get get get, everyone was stacking up. Armageddon Shop is a metal / hardcore / punk record store co-run by Ben from DROPDEAD, but they also stock local zines, comics, and noise tapes, and recently started stocking a ton of old LAST GASP comics, which is weird. Amigos is a small publisher that this year opened a retail location in Providence’s historic erotic dance district. There used to be other comics stores around but they dried up / got priced out. Since the Borders closed down there isn’t even a place to shoplift manga from! C’est la vie… C’est la guerre…

People: well, most of the Paper Rodeo / Fort Thunder alumni are gone to other (not necessarily greener)
pastures. List of ex-pats: Jim Drain “went real” in art terms, which in this context means “moved to Miami”. Mat Brinkman is in Colorado, and just released a board game called Cave Evil that is
appropriately mega-sick. Leif Goldberg and Erin Rosenthal moved to Vermont and have a totally cute child. Leif also has a new collaborative poster project called Exploded View. Melissa Mendes has a new book out of her Freddy stories, but I haven’t seen it yet, since her and Chuck Forsman moved out of Providence for some reason (I think it had to do with how Providence can be a complete nightmare hellzone). Chuck has a new comic out called “The End Of The Fucking World”.

Still here / new: Paul Lyons still lives in town and last year published the excellent anthology MONSTERSand drew AND screenprinted great goopy covers for it. Brian Chippendale still haunts the streets, goes to shows, puts out CDRs,sleeps in papier mache huts, and twitters turd jokes into the void. He has a newish record out on Load, under the name “Black Pus”, which is technically a one-person band but at the same time is like a multi-character band, if that makes any sense. CF has really been burning the night lately, he’s got a few new tapes coming out (as Mark Lord), the first one is out already on Mickey Z’s bizarre PRICE TAPES label. What’s really wild about the new tapes is that they are all recorded in the off moments when he’s not grinding away on the next POWR MASTRS book, which is going to be a face melter. I think he’s at like three 9 kill right now (that’s 99.9% kill), he’s on fire, let the motherfucker BURN. James McShane is allegedly working on a new book for BCGF, though it might just be a nice folio edition of his “City Sketchbook” column from Mothers News, which is still going to be super nice, as he is a master of nuance. He’ll be kicking at BCGF with me and Mickey Zacchilli, who is definitely NOT a master of nuance, but will have a new issue (#5) of her insane and mighty comic book RAV, and maybe some posters (ps- buy these shirts before they’re gone forever). Katrina (last name not necessary, like Jason, or Freddy) is not new on the scene but is maybe someone you haven’t heard of- they have an excellent zine called ROT that really is a zine, not an idiotic whiny SPXy autobio comic or a loosely bound pile of psychedelic farts. Also Katrina has a comic coming out in the next issue of MRR, a cool band called GROKE (Moomin ref), AND they’re allegedly related to Walt Kelly! I tell you an apple doesn’t fall far from a tree unless thrown, and even then, it remains an apple…

I would say that the number one most hotly anticipated book of the year (and last year) is the Providence Comics Consortium collection. PCC is a comics class for kids, that takes place in a variety of public libraries. One thing they do is put together a sort of Guide To The Marvel Universe book of characters the kids create, then the characters are given out to local cartoonists to script up and draw. Chippendale, CF, Mickey Zacchilli, Jackie H Curtiss, and plenty of other heavy hitters all drew up stories that they are just WAITING to see in printed form. I keep calling them like “where is the book? why aren’t you printing it right now?”. They stopped picking up the phone… Are you reading this, PCC instructors? Is there anything I can do to hasten the printing of this book? It’s driving me crazy!!!!!!!!

As for me, I publish a newspaper called Mothers News that is free and good. It is 12 pages long and has 2 pages of new comics from CF, Brian Chippendale, Mickey Zacchilli, Katrina, Mike Taylor, Chuck Forsman, Melissa Mendes, Charlotte DeSedouy, Kate Schapira, Jackie H Curtiss, Mike Deforge, James McShane, and kids from the Providence Comics Consortium. It is not a goofy newspaper in the Paper Rodeo model, it is a real newspaper with columns, writing, and information. Please see for more about it, to order a subscription, to place an ad, or for any reason you might visit a website. Alsooooo in the “full disclosure” department, I run a distro for Providence and New England underground art, it’s called Chipsylvania. Uh, and for the record it’s not named after Chippendale, he doesn’t run the town. It’s named after Chip King, guitarist for the excellent doom band The Body. He runs the town.

In conclusion, I would like to say that Providence is a lot like the wikipedia entry

Providence, located in the South Pacific Ocean, southwest of Hawaii at 20°N 165°W, is an artificial island made of parts from Cable’s old space station Graymalkin. It first appeared in Cable & Deadpool #6. Providence was intended to be a place where the best minds on Earth could gather, live, and find new ways of doing everything in hopes of giving the world a peaceful future. Providence is open to all who wish to immigrate there, though all residents must undergo various psychological and skills tests.

Except for location and first appearance, I’d say that’s about right! We are supportive of each other, we party and jam together, but the psychological tests part is very accurate- those tests are called “winter”, “bringing something to the table”, “unemployment”, and “probably no one paying attention to you for at least one year”.

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