Aug 31, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - The Weekly Graphic Novel: Week 2 - Salt Chuck on the rocks!, 1982/2006

At some point in the near future, I'll be posting a column about my adventures in comic books on my vacation this summer. Before we left I had mapped out all kinds of comic stores along our route, though I managed to get into only about half of them. Which is a good thing, as the trip would have been exponentially more expensive if I'd hit all of them.

One of the things I wanted to do as we made our way down the coast was to pick up local comics at each of the stores I stopped at. I was surprised to find that very few of the comics shops I stopped at had any books by local creators. I'm not sure if this speaks more to the attitude of the stores or the dearth of local comics artists, but if I was disappointed with anything about this trip, it was this.

However, while hanging out for a couple of days on lovely San Juan Island, Washington, I found this little gem in a local bookstore. As the back matter states, "Chuck Sharman...drew Salt Chuck aboard his old 33 foot boat moored in Friday Harbour," the main town on San Juan. While the book was published not far away on the mainland, it really doesn't get much more local creator than this. The strips revolve around the day to day life of Chuck, a crotchety boater, and his ramshackle boat. There were some jokes that I didn't get, ones obviously hinging on an intimate knowledge of the maintenance and ownership of a boat, but for the most part Sharman's jokes were completely accessible. Funnier to long time inhabitants of Friday Harbour, perhaps, but still funny.

I've been asked why I would want to buy a comic from each of the places I visited, especially if the comic is one that I could very easily have procured at home. For me, these comics are like photographs. I remember the shop in which I bought them, the town in which the shop was located, and the experiences I had while traveling through that town. Books like this one, however, are special, in that not only does the material artefact itself remind me of San Juan, but the content too. A lovely island in a lovely part of the continent. One day, I'll go back.

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