The evolution of the Sub Pop empire will be examined at Fantagraphics Bookstore in SODA POP: Super Sugar Big Buzz opening Saturday, July 13. These hand made publications serve as exquisite time capsules of early 80s indie culture. I recall sessions at Rosco Louie gallery with Bruce Pavitt and Russ Battaglia in 1981 individually coloring issues of Sub Pop #3 with crayons. The only directive I remember was "Don't stay inside the lines." Covers and random interior pages were scribbled with infantile abandon. Multiple examples of these early Sub Pop zines (with a quaint 80¢ cover price) will be on display.
In 1983 Pavitt migrated north from Olympia to Seattle, enabling him to interact with a larger cultural community. He soon found a home for Sub Pop as a regular feature in The Rocket, where he joined an extended family of talented writers, artists, cartoonists, and graphic designers that would play an important role in the future development of the Sub Pop aesthetic. The second installment of the column in May 1983 featured an early appearance of what would become Sub Pop's signature logo, designed by future Fantagraphics art director Dale Yarger. The Rocket regularly ran comix and illustrations by Lynda Barry, Charles Burns, Matt Groening, Gary Panter, Robert Crumb, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, and Peter Bagge, among others. Several examples of these important columns will be featured in the SODA POP exhibition, along with art and artifacts by Barry, Burns, Bagge, Daniel Clowes, Charles Peterson, Jim Woodring, and more.
At 1:00 PM on July 13, I'll moderate a panel discussion, Pop Goes Seattle, with Pavitt, Bagge, Peterson and Danny Bland on the formative period of the Sub Pop phenomenon. This informal but informative talk will be followed by a short reading by Danny Bland and Greg Dulli of Afghan Whigs from Bland's debut novel, In Case We Die, set in grunge-era Seattle. Patrons at the reading will be the first in the country with the opportunity to acquire this essential book. Russ Battaglia will spin period platters following the reading. Then the real fun begins. Free concerts by Mudhoney, Built to Spill, Chad VanGaalen, J Mascis, Tom Price Desert Classic, and countless others right outside the bookstore. Don't miss a minute. Arrive early. Stay late. Buy comix!