Monday, February 11, 2019

Alvin Buenaventura . . .

Last week, I stopped by my “LCS” (Local Comics Shop) on “NCD” (New Comics Day). Rather than follow my normal routine of skimming the racks of overpriced new comics and thumbing through water-stained boxes of recently acquired back-issues, I decided to rummage around in the alternative comics section, which, not surprisingly, is secreted away in a dank back corner of the store. My shop, Nostalgia Newsstand, is unusual in that it even has these kinds of non-mainstream comics. While very few of its customers go for the arty stuff, the store owner does — so he always orders “the good shit.”

On a dust-covered and bent-from-being-overstocked shelf of alternative comics and graphic novels, I came across an old Buenaventura Press project Private Stash (2006) that I worked on with Alvin (in addition to the brainstorming we’d do for most of his projects, for this one I came up with the title and wrote most of the copy). I already owned one and should have left it in the wild for some lucky art-comic lover to stumble across (given it had been collecting dust there since 2006, the odds of that happening were slim). But whenever I see anything Alvin produced in a store I feel a need to buy it, just as I buy every copy of the Alvin and the Chipmunks comic book I come across because it’s a comic and it has “ALVIN” on it. 
Private Stash is, like so many of Alvin’s projects, a smartly and extravagantly put-together work of art. Inside its see-through container sits a piece of vellum with small color images of each of the twenty drawings it collects. The art (by Clowes, Burns, Tomine, Panter, and others) folds out accordion-style into a single sheet of nearly ten feet. The vellum is printed with numbered red dots that work as a key: they overlay images of the twenty contributing artists as drawn by Rick Altergott on the book’s interior full-color wrap-around insert -- a fold on the vellum identifies each artist’s name.
Image result for buenaventura private stash

While I was paying for it, one of the store’s former regulars, a nice guy named Mike — who I used to see every Wednesday (aka “New Comics Day”) but hadn’t seen there in years — stopped in. He recognized Private Stash and began talking excitedly about Alvin: “Everything Alvin produced was great. Books, prints, whatever. I would go to SPX every year and buy anything he did. If it was a book, I didn’t even need to look at it or read it. If Alvin did it, it was great work.” “So true,” I replied. 

Alvin was an anomaly, an aesthetically well-tuned freak of nature who cared deeply about making compelling objects. 
He left us three years ago today, and I miss him. On the inside of Private Stash appears this acknowledgement: "Special thanks to Ken Parille." Does it seem maudlin if I thank him here today? Well, anyways, thanks Alvin.

*** Past Remembrances