Within the first ten minutes of our conversation, we’re bemoaning the loss of the 14th st. Virgin Megastore. You know never what you’ll become nostalgic for in the moment – maybe, given enough time on this earth, we eventually become nostalgic for everything, chain stores and all. Leslie Stein is the second person I’ve interview in Union Square for RiYL, and ambient noise aside, I’m beginning to think this might be the way to do. A park bench at dusk brings out the best in a New Yorker. For DJ Spooky, it was a conversation about how cities function. For Stein, a cartoonist and musician, it’s a mediation on making ends meet in the big city.
This being New York, our talk is augmented by frequent appearances from the characters who populate the area, each with his own unique calling card, and if you close your eyes while listening, you might be able to picture it all as something out of Eye of the Majestic Creature, with the occasional anthropomorphic sunflower and chain-smoking acoustic guitar.
Cartoonist Leslie Stein joins the show to celebrate her new book, Time Clock (Fantagraphics)! We talk about her amazing diary comics (recently collected in Bright-Eyed At Midnight), why she picked a really weird name for her ongoing comics project (Eye of the Majestic Creature), the artistic benefits of boredom, finding her style(s), drawing for online vs. print (and color vs. b/w), her strategy for surviving comic cons and festivals, how she got a gig publishing comics at VICE, the disconcerting discovery that she had an audience, and how she strikes a balance of cartooning, being in a band, and tending bar! Give it a listen!
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Here’s a pencil test of some gifs I’m working on of Leslie Stein’s Larrybear from Eye Of The Majestic Creature. This is actually only half of the first gif, with the 10 drawings cycling back to the beginning. The whole 20 drawing sequence will be the full Pete Townsend windmill power chord. The second gif will be what comes out of the amp.
“Leslie Stein’s comics give readers privileged access to a complete and wholly original world of gently skewed wonders.” – Jim Woodring
“It’s a seemingly casual tour of a very rocky emotional landscape, drawn with a care and devotion I hardly ever see anymore. Leslie’s pointillist panels reveal a ton but never impede the story — and instead kind of float along as the weight of the characters accumulates.” – Dan Nadel
“Part cute, part kind of creepy art-wise. The writing is serious and smart, slightly contradicting what the art is saying but this makes the work good. And real. And slightly creepy.” – Gilbert Hernandez
Behold these glimpses of an early advance copy of the bigger, even better second volume of Leslie Stein‘s Eye of the Majestic Creature. The continuing story of our hero Larrybear fleshes out her backstory and gives her a potential new love interest. Depth of character and keenness of observation elevate these warm, offbeat stories far above your average slacker comedy and create a world you’ll want to hang out in. Imagine if Buddy Bradley were a gentle, artsy, laid-back girl instead of a grouchy, cynical, rage-prone guy. Add a dash of magical realism and psychedelia. Spin around in circles a few times. You’re getting the feel.
We expect the book to be available toward the end of next month. You can read a 15-page excerpt and pre-order a copy here; we also have a nice discount offer on Volumes 1 and 2 together so you can get the whole story at once.
Is Larrybear comics’ new Manic Pixie Dream Girl? Nah, she’s far too mellow. You’ll fall in love with her all over again in the second volume of Leslie Stein‘s Eye of the Majestic Creature, at the printer now for availability in late June. This installment finds her having further adventures in the city and being courted by a flower-faced fella, and takes some looks back at her childhood and adolescence. And of course her walking, talking menagerie of musical instruments is along for the ride again.
Critics called Vol. 1 "a treat,“ "cute and sad and familiar,” “phenomenal,” “irresistible,” “a triumph,” “such a pleasure” and “a joy from cover to cover.” And we think Vol. 2 is even better! Point your majestic peepers at our 15-page excerpt, and pre-order this book right here.
Today’s Book-A-Day title is a bundled gift set of fantastical, surreal work by artist and musician Leslie Stein. Eye of the Majestic Creature Vols 1 + 2 are semi-autobiographical books starring the girl Larrybear and her talking acoustic guitar Marshmallow as they travel and have adventures around the countryside.
Larrybear is in a constant struggle between the desire to connect with those around her and to be left to her own devices. You get a glimpse of her past life when she visits her home town of Chicago, trying to relate to old friends who have not matured since high school, as well as her family (which includes her Hippopotamus father and his harem of ex-wives, two brothers, and Salsa-dancing mom). In the present, she moves to New York to find work for a time, resulting in many hilarious and drunken adventures with her new coworkers at a cell phone decorating shop, and her old friend Boris, who shares with her his P.G. Wodehouse books, as well as his “Incredible Hulk” weed.
Stein’s gorgeous cartooning, highlighted by incredibly detailed stippling, and her dry sense of humor combine to make one of the most unique and immersive narrative experiences in comics.
Yes, some artists do still send in their original artwork for scanning — case in point, Leslie Stein, who shipped us her lovely pages for Eye of the Majestic Creature Vol. 2, all neatly organized in three portfolio binders which are safely ensconced in our flat files (nestled alongside those bundles of Barnaby clippings) awaiting their turn on the scanner. Looks like we’re well on track for the book’s scheduled release in August! Since critics (correctly) called Vol. 1 “a treat,” “phenomenal,” “great,” “a joy from cover to cover,” “irresistible,” “a triumph,” “such a pleasure” and “one of the best graphic novels of the year,” it’s safe to call this one “eagerly anticipated.”