Briefing Books: Up in the sky, it's 'Supermag'! (and Muse Stand Bookstore)

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If you're a local author and you've published a novel, a work of nonfiction or a book of poetry in 2012 or 2013, please send it to my attention: Tony Norman, Book Editor, Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Books published before 2012 won't be considered because there aren't enough hours in a day. Please, no PDFs or unpublished manuscripts scrawled in blood, either. Keep it classy!

"Supermag" by Jim Rugg (AdHouse Books). Imagine a master class in the possibilities of magazine-sized comic books printed on glossy stock by one of the most inventive and dynamic artists/illustrators the genre has produced in two decades. "Supermag" by Jim Rugg is a gorgeous, 56-page full color anthology of stylistically diverse comic drawings, full-page illustrations, designs, funny animal strips, erotica, Kafkaesque irony and visual experiments. It is also an homage to the independent comics and zines of the 1990s that Mr. Rugg grew up reading and ultimately assimilating. This is not to say that he is some kind of clever magpie. In most cases, Mr. Rugg has surpassed his influences.

The longest story in "Supermag" doesn't go more than eight pages, but it brilliantly showcases Mr. Rugg's satiric wit and surreal sensibility as he pits his delightful creation Duke Armstrong -- the World's Mightiest Golfer -- against a squadron of German aces. Duke uses nothing but golf clubs and balls to bring down a bunch of enemy planes in 1942.

Mr. Rugg's sense of design and visual placement is impeccable. Each page of "Supermag" can be studied as a work of art in itself. There's a nostalgia for older comic book styles and genres throughout the magazine that is twinned with a recognition that nothing can be static for long. Mr. Rugg's mantra "There are no rules anymore" doesn't apply to his disciplined approach to every line he commits to paper. He's the opposite of an anarchist, which is why his artworks on so many levels.

"Supermag" was funded by Investing in Professional Artists: The Pittsburgh-Region Artists Grants Program (a partnership of The Heinz Endowments and The Pittsburgh Foundation). It goes on sale next week, but there will be a release party at Copacetic Comics Company, 3138 Dobson St., 3rd floor in Polish Hill on June 22 at 7 p.m.

> available on Amazon, all comic book shops and where ever hip books and comics are sold;

• Barnes & Noble, the last nationwide bookstore chain still standing, recently announced that it will close many of its least profitable stores in the coming years. This has created a space for the return of independent bookstores. With only a fraction of the overhead and a mandate to cater to niche literary tastes, the small indie book store is already making a comeback in Pittsburgh.

The latest independent bookstore to set up shop here is The Muse Stand Bookstore at 4524 Liberty Ave. in Bloomfield. Owner Tracy Thomas is the kind of bookstore owner most book enthusiasts dream of dealing with: friendly, knowledgeable and full of advice. Her stock leans heavily toward literary fiction and mysteries, but most genres are represented. The Muse Stand is located next to Sound Cat Records, making it an invaluable part of Bloomfield's burgeoning nexus of cool and good taste -- and making for Pittsburgh's bookstore row: See East End Book Exchange at 4754 Liberty and Big Idea Cooperative Bookstore and Cafe at 4812 Liberty.

• It's hard to believe, but the five-year anniversary of local author Daniel McCloskey's Cyberpunk Apocalypse project looms on the horizon. For the uninitiated, Mr. McCloskey describes the project's anniversary this way: "Five years of making semi-professional writing more like semi-professional wrestling. In 2008, a kind of punk house appeared in Pittsburgh based around literature instead of politics or music." (See

The Cyberpunk Apocalypse writers' project has housed 36 writers from across the U.S .and Canada, hosted the completion for seven books, countless comics, zines, poems, essays and articles. It has been home base for six reading tours, book clubs and show-and-tells, including the Heinz Endowment-funded Writers' Showcase series.

On July 19, at 7 p.m., the CpA project will celebrate its anniversary at Assemble Art Gallery at 5125 Penn Ave. in Garfield with a reading performance event featuring Mr. McCloskey, Yona Harvey, Todd Faltin and the evening's emcee, Laura A. Warman. Information: 412-689-5541 or

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Tony Norman: or 412-263-1631; Twitter: @TonyNormanPG.


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