I went to Challengers Comics last night for their Lucy Knisley Party, celebrating the publication of Relish: My Life in the Kitchen. It was the first time I'd been to Challengers, and their store was set up pretty well for this type of event. They've got their main store with racks of new comics and bookshelves of TPBs and all the stuff you typically expect in comic shops. Nicely organized and a good section of self-published and local works. Then they've got an adjoining room to use for other events; it was set up last night with a number of chairs for visitors and the walls were covered with original art from Knisley's book.
Knisely's presentation ran about an hour. She talked through the first chapter of her book, using a combination of art from the book and old family photos. She had a number anecdotes and asides that didn't fit into the flow of the book, but helped to underline her life-long connection with food -- a central theme of her book. She then walked through her process for creating the book, and having her work lining the walls made it easy to look directly at what she was talking about. She then answered a few questions from the crowd. Overall a very smooth presentation, and proved to be an excellent window into Knisley and her personality. Knisley then began signing books at a table back in the main store, while the Challengers folks cleared out the chairs to allow people to mingle and really get a good look at the art.
I've been to store signings before that were clunky and poorly laid out. People would be tripping over each other both in the lines, as well as those just browsing in other parts of the store. Even without big name creators. So kudos to Challengers for their general set-up and organization.
Kudos, too, to Knisley. Her presentation was well-rehearsed, but not blandly memorized. She worked well with the crowd and seemed very much at ease speaking to everyone, both in the larger setting and the one-on-one chats she had with people as she signed books. She also generously offered to everyone there to draw a picture of their favorite food with her inscription. I didn't see what she did for everybody, but the guy in front me got a croissant and I asked for a bowl of fried rice. (Not my favorite, but I got my copy inscribed for the S.O. who's a big fan of Japanese hibachi places.) I also had a nice personal moment with Knisley, as we joked about why in the world she might NOT want that last slice of pie and debated the merits of New York versus Chicago style pizzas.
All in all a good time. I had to cut out a bit earlier than I would've liked, but it was a good time and I'm very gald to have went. Knisley's going to be touring for the next month or so, hitting New York, Toronto, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland. (Plus one last venue tonight in Chicago.) Try catching her if you're able. Also check out Challengers if you're in the area. Good store and I would've liked to have had more time to check it out.
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