Sunday, April 16, 2006

· A Family Affair

In Family Style Jamboree #2 (the semi-infamous Chris Brennan issue) I ran a fake letters column called "A Family Affair"... at the time I really couldn't imagine that we might get any real "fan mail", but lo and behold, all things come to those who wait: Every so often we receive a wonderful piece of correspondance from some far (or near) flung reader of our zines and comics, so I thought that I'd publish a few letters here every so often as a sort of "shout out" to those dedicated readers. It's really exciting to hear from people you've never even met who've chanced upon your stuff in some shop somewhere. Thank you so much for your support!

9:42am. June 28, 2005. A Tuesday. 94°F here.

Hello there,

I hope that this finds you well over yonder in California. I'm writing because I stumbled over your website, and I just had to order me one of your wonderful items. So I've enclosed some well-concealed cash in hopes of receiving "Friends #2" by F. Vigneault. Okay well I have some photography work to get to but I hope to hear from your lovely self realitively soon. Take care!


Grand Rapids, MI

We got this awesome little illustrated note the other day from Sasha Pearl in Portland, OR:

In case you can't read it, Sasha says "Dear Family Style, I feel less than cool because we're not friends. I read all your zines because I have nothing better to do". Sasha, you are tripping. Consider yourself a "Friend of the Family" from now on. We'll see you in Portland in August and October (for the Zine Fest & Stumptown, respectively)! Also, make your own zine with that spare time! Why not? I love the sheep.

Finally, a few excerpts from the letters of Rose Phung, who found us before Family Style was even off the ground:

18 December 2004

Dear François,

Your Copy of Two Stories caught my eye during a recent visit to Isotope on Noriega Street. I found your "simple stories of love" beautifully presented and thought provoking. Thanks for the wonderful read. I haven't clue how long ago this volume was released and whether the message on the last page regarding Friends #1 is still aplicable, Nonetheless, I have enclosed $3.00 for a copy of it, should it still be available.

Merci mille fois,

4 February 2005

Dear François,

I finally made it out to Isotope in the Sunset to pick up the first and second issues of "Family Style Jamboree" zines, as suggested in you letter. The last copy of the Beth issue- a lucky find, indeed- complete with a coffee splashed and stained back cover was hidden by multitudinous copies of the Chris Brennan issue. I have read them both... the zines are funny and interesting. It is as amusing to learn about people through their own personal voices as it is through the narratives of their friends. You must work very hard to pull all of this material together. I am curious- does the person featured get the final say in what gets stay and what gets to go? Both issues had a lot of what I felt to be depth, honesty, affection, and humor. I look forward to reading future publications...
Best of luck compleating your pieces for the [Alternative Press Expo]. It is good to know that Friends #1 will be pulling itself out from "publishing purgatory"... after having made whatever necessary atonemens to achive, perhaps, a more "purified" state? In any case, I do look forward to your new comic.
Thank you for your zine recomendations. They were great for laugh-out-loud moments on the morning and evening rides on MUNI.


Rose Phung
San Francisco, CA

P.S. Have you seen any folks walking around sporting Chris Brennan masks? That would be quite a sight, wouldn't it?

Rose has really immaculate penmanship, by the way. She is super nice and sweet; we got to meet her at last year's APE and saw her there again this year... One of the definite highlights of APE was seeing so many familiar faces from last year!

So, everyone out there, please pull out a pen and paper sometime and write us a note... I love to get mail, advice, criticisms, or what have you. You can also write to any of the other Family Stylers and I'll be sure to forward them the letter.

Francois Vigneault
2802 21st Street
San Francisco, CA

Thursday, April 06, 2006

· Jacks

So, Friends #3 is off at the printers... Everything went pretty much according to plan, shockingly enough! The only fuck up was in scheduling the time to letterpress print the covers with my wonderful boss Mara at the San Francisco Center for the Book: they are all booked this week, so the initial run that I'll be selling at APE this weekend will have some sort of alternative printing method, perhaps this version, made with the mysterious Risograph photocopier/silk screen printer (which I got for free last year from the church of Scientology):

The thing's damn temperamental, and there's this ink spot that keeps landing in the middle of the page... but that red ink! I love it! Maybe I'll just discount these copies.

Finishing this issue also brings the "Jacks" story to a close. I came up with my idea for these two characters years ago, while I was living in Chicago... they were orignally a pair of reckless gamblers, hence the "Jacks" name: two of a kind (a Jack of Spades & a Jack of Hearts, to be specific). Over the years the story stayed in the back of my head, changing over time and getting farther away from a romantic if noirish concept of inveterate gamblers and crooks into a slightly more familiar short story about the place where I first conceived of the two in the first place. I wanted to capture some of the flavor of my long-ago life in Chicago, a mix of maniacal energy, despondency, drugs, and ill-conceived scams; a place that I still somehow miss, despite having made a very serious decision to get away from that life years ago. I'm sure that I will return to that world again in my thoughts and my work, I'm just not mature enough as a creator to even start to do it justice, or to give a well rounded account of what even one bad day there might have been like.

More importantly, I wanted to address some of my feelings about male companionship in my life; and here I feel my failure was the greatest. The two Jacks aren't meant to be me and any friend in particular (in fact I often think of them as different parts of one conflicted character, namely myself); but much of the flavor of their relationship is meant to reflect a long and all-encompassing friendship I've had with an old and now distant friend, Ossian. We met while we were in high school, and lived together for many years, in San Diego, Berkeley and finally Chicago. Our relationship was so convoluted and close that I think that both of our personalities began to merge into each others (I've discussed this briefly with Ossian recently and he agrees), we were rarely apart, and after a while we were truly "two of a kind". But we were both slowly changing over the years, drifting apart, and we finally were more or less separated when I moved up here to San Francisco and he moved back to San Diego. We rarely talk much these days, but I think that we both have a huge wellspring of love for each other, despite our differences...

As I began to work on Jacks, and it became increasingly clear to me that I was really trying to address my complicated and deep feelings about my friendship with Ossian, I became more and more nervous. As a fledgling author I just couldn't begin to plumb the depths of that friendship, probably the most important of my life (It also doesn't help that Ossian is possessed of a devastating critical streak, when I finally did send him copies of Friends #1 & #2 he wrote me back and said they were "offensively bad"). But that's the thing... I can't wait around until I get better, I'll never get better if I'm not working now; I would rather try and fail then keep silent (which had been the case for years). I can only hope that each story and each issue will be some improvement on the last, and perhaps someday I will have the creative wherewithal to do justice to all the amazing people and places and sparkling, surprising moments that I've had seen in this life.