By: Daniel McCloskey
Carnegie Library Of Pittsburgh
4400 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
The first time I attended the Carnegie Library’s monthly graphic novel discussion group, Out of the Gutter, I was just scratching the surface of Pittsburgh’s comics community. The presenters were Nate McDonough and Andy Scott. I didn’t know either of them then, but I had started to see their work in the cheap bins of my favorite comic shop.
Out of the Gutter, I would find, is one of the hidden gems of the Pittsburgh Arts community. It was started by two librarians, Cory Wittig and Renee Alberts, who wanted an event that discussed comics without being a book club–or at least not just a book club.
On the third Monday of every month a different speaker from the local comics scene is invited to talk to the group. Those speakers range between professional comic artists, amateur artists (like Andy and Nate), comic publishers, and comic activists. Often the folks you see headlining one month are sitting quietly in the audience the next. On the day I heard Nate and Andy speak some of Pittsburgh’s notable professional comic artists were in attendance. Ed Piskor, whose graphic novel Wizzywig is to be released by Top Shelf productions sometime in the near future and is perhaps best known for his collaboration with comic legend Harvey Pekar, interjected when Nate expressed embarrassment about the comics he had made earlier that year. “You know, that’s a good thing,” he said. He cited a number of comic artists that don’t show their early work, and told Nate that was a sign of improvement.
Jim Rugg, who worked on D.C. Comics’ P.L.A.I.N. Janes and illustrated and co-wrote both Street Angel and Afrodisac, was also there. He asked Nate and Andy about their process–if they used drawing boards or drafting tables, what dimensions they worked in.
I’ve since gotten to know a lot of the folks that frequent comic events in Pittsburgh. They’re all amazing people and, more often than not, a little crazy. But, I wouldn’t have gotten to know them or their work if it weren’t for the people I met through Out of the Gutter. And that’s the wonderful thing about this particular discussion group: it’s an access point into the sometimes hidden but incredibly vibrant Pittsburgh comic scene.
So if you love comics and want to nerd out or if you don’t read comics but are curious to see some art that won’t be appearing in the galleries any time soon, consider stopping by the Carnegie Library’s main branch in Oakland. It’s the third Monday of the month at six-thirty pm. Look for the signs that say, “Out of the Gutter.”
Out of the Gutter is open to all graphic novel fans. Discussions are held in the Teen Meeting Room on the First Floor of the Main Library on the third Monday of the month from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.