At Hugo House, a night of music inspired by comics inspired by online personal ads

The Emerald City ComiCon is almost upon us, and in that spirit, the Bushwick Book Club will take to Hugo House Wednesday night to perform original music inspired by the graphic work of Stranger Genius Award winner Ellen Forney, whose art is literally all over her home turf of Capitol Hill and the city. The book in question is Lust: Kinky Online Personal Ads From Seattle’s The Stranger.

This will be the kind of blind date where one party knows a lot more of the other, and things could get weird. When asked about her input on the show Forney spoke of being very hands off. Normally the authors are long dead or otherwise unavailable (e.g. Vonnegut, Zinn, Silverstein), but for this pre-con show Geoff Larson wanted to focus locally.

“We saw that ComiCon was coming up and we wanted to showcase a local graphic artist, and she came up because she had just won a Genius Award this year,” said Larson.


Forney will be on hand for a talk, as well as publisher Fantagraphics with copies of the book for sale. Tickets are $10 presale and $15 at the door, 8PM.

Larson played music here in Seattle for many years with groups like Das Vibenbass before moving to Brooklyn three years ago. It was there that he met Susan Wang, who introduced to him to the original Bushwick Book Club. With their blessing he established the Seattle Chapter upon his return. With his connections with Seattle musicians and his position working at Town Hall, he was able to start corralling talent in relatively short order. The first show was on 10/10/10, with a steady schedule of shows from then on.

The Bushwick Book Club actively attempts to create synesthesia with their performances. Their songs are whimsical didactic windows into books. That’s the goal. There is a deep-rooted educational element to Bushwick shows, and going forward that is where Larson sees the path.

Normally the shows are for adults, but eventually Larson would like to have touring groups perform at schools for children. This was first attempted with their Shel Silverstein show, which they split into two different shows for kids and grownups respectively.

“That’s the kind of thing I would like to do, but focusing on kids shows,” said Larson.

His vision entails going into schools, putting on shows for kids that would be dovetailed with teachers’ lesson plans. This April they are doing that with Academy Schools in Tukwila. They won a Charlotte Martin grant, and are doing the Wizard of Oz, working with kindergarten through high school students at the private school. “Music programs are dying now,” said Larson, “We do this cool thing and get your kids to think differently about a book that you were already going to read.”

Currently Shuntpike provides the trappings of a nonprofit for the organization, but by the end of the calendar year Larson intends to have everything filed and squared to go it alone as a nonprofit. To do the educational element that Larson is pushing for means winning more grants, as no schools have things like Bushwick in their budget. It remains to be seen if it can be made to work. Donations are always welcome.

For more Bushwick and more Forney (separated this time) Emerald City ComiCon will be your best bet. Forney will be with Fantagraphics on Saturday March 2 from 3-5PM, and Bushwick will be performing music inspired by Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman that night at the Crocodile.

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