A perfect match of form and content, Storeyville was originally published in 1995 as a 40-page tabloid newspaper. Now rare, it was printed in black and white, along with a set of three muted tones ranging from sandy yellow to deep sepia, and it described the arc of a youthful adventure that took its protagonist, Will, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Montreal, Quebec at the opening of the twentieth century. Rendered with humor, pathos and a gentle graphic flair, this story brings Will to terms with himself and his fate. It is a sprawling story that gives Santoro ample opportunity to showcase his love of drawing through dramatic cityscapes, landscapes and seascapes rendered in a unique combination of pencils, inks and grey-scale markers. Hugely influential on the likes of Chris Ware, Seth and many others, this long out-of-print cult work finally gets a proper release with this deluxe new hardcover edition. Frank Santoro's work was recently shown at Canada Gallery, New York.
Originally published in 1995 as a 40-page tabloid newspaper, this is a subtle, understated classic, reprinted in its original size, with a powerful introduction by Chris Ware, whose work is nothing like this, but to his credit, Ware anticipates our initially not liking its sketchy rushed appearance, to show us how the form matches the content perfectly, and is ultimately a very moving story. Dan Nadel writes an afterward explaining how this subtle comics master, admired by comics artists more than a wide audience, is appropriately honored in this gorgeous book.
The text adopts a very literary approach, making for a kind of turn of the century yarn. The story is one of a sort of lost young white man at the turn of last century in search of an older black man who is essentially his father figure. He travels from Pittsburgh, where nothing is happening for him, to Montreal, so this becomes a kind of coming of age travel story. The finish is wonderful, surprising, worth the wait, with a kind of lesson we expect from coming of age stories, but it's not preachy. Lots of landscapes, sketched as if from a train sometimes. Something like one might read on a train, as people read tabloid newspapers. I liked it a lot. Comics history buffs, check it out!
I read this when it first came out, in 1995, as a newsprint standalone when Frank Santoro and his then girlfriend, Katie Glicksberg, who did the colors and handled production, were living in the vaguely defined Tenderloin of San Francisco. They had stacks and stacks of it still in their tiny apartment a year later, when I moved down from Sacramento to take a new job. It says something about the unpredictable path of culture that dozen years later the book had been forgotten then remembered, collected by the publisher Picturebox as a lovingly scanned hardcover (and, later, softcover) volume with an introduction by Chris Ware. It's just a beautiful book, a nostalgia-rich story mixing matters of hard times economics and buddy journey.
I admire and appreciate this more when I'm reading the extra materials and flipping through the pages than when I'm actually reading it, panel by panel. I get that it's groundbreaking and important, I just didn't connect.
Loved loved loved the art; the size, the palette, the sketchiness... that's about all I liked. The looseness of the art makes it hard to identify our main character from panel to panel, and the plot is very thin.
I can't even guess how many times I've read Storeyville, but it gets better each time. It felt a little strange reading it in a hardback format rather than on newsprint, but if you don't have this get it.
I can totally see why this book is so influential in terms of art, design, layout and all kinds of other things. It's a beautiful book that is beautifully created. Plotwise, it's solid, but nothing mind-blowing. Definitely a recommended read for anyone seriously interested in comics.