Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Kenn in Ace Weekly

ACE Magazine, Lexington, Kentucky's local, weekly rag does a piece on me this week in anticipation of my book signing at the Morris book shop on Saturday, November 22, 7pm to 9pm (see flier):

""Cute but Deadly:
Artist Kenn Minter is... Not From Here!

Joe Conkwright is Oliver “a very large, sometimes pink bunny rabbit” in Kenn Minter’s comic strip. He writes, in the introduction to Minter’s new book, I’m Not From Here, “most of Kenn’s neon-coated life has been spent… in a Kentucky town of around 300,000 good and evil citizens…He got sucked back into the vanilla creamy vortex that is his hometown, and covered in the steamy, stinky juice of familiarity. It was only after his return to this familiar setting that he began to really devolve his special art style.” He concludes the Introduction by saying, “Because where you are from is different where Kenn is from, or coming from. I wouldn’t want to live there, but it is a nice place to visit.”

Arturo Sandoval describes Kenn Minter (who'll be signing his new book at Morris Book Store, this Saturday) as "one of the most active UK Department of Art alumni. He is constantly involved in producing his comic art, his radio music hour," adding, "he has a strong community presence."

Those are powerful words to art students who worry they may be working at Applebee's post-grad.

Minter is currently an Art Director at UK; works as a freelance illustrator; and his work has appeared in magazines and newspapers all over the country (including Ace and the Kentucky Kernel). With co-creator, Clarence Pruitt, he produces the off-beat, adventure, graphic novel series The Experts. He has taught at the Living Arts and Science Center and Spencerian College as an art instructor. He started his own publishing company a few years ago called Near Mint Press.

Asked to elaborate on his biography in a more Lex-centric fashion for the Ace readers, the title of one of his blogs says it all, along with the title of his book, I’m Not From Here: Slightly Embellished Autobiographical Comic Strips.

His Facebook status, at this very moment, says “have the cakes delivered to my office.”

When pressed, he’ll offer a few more details. “My family moved to Lexington in 1981 when I was 11. I went to Morton Junior High... hated it. Then I went to Lexington Junior High.. loved it. I went to Henry Clay High School ... where I was introduced to beer, drugs and lost my virginity.”

His friend Cheryl Mohr reflects on their childhood days together (this would be pre-Henry Clay), “I have not seen Kenn in 26 years, sixth grade to be exact! But last year when I was having a conversation with my middle school aged daughter and we were comparing different kinds of boys, I thought of this mature, deeply, artistically talented boy named Kenn Minter. He used to draw comics for me as a vixen type character in all sorts of adventures! That was something for a twelve year old girl! He was complex even then and always left everyone wanting more. Well, as I told her about him, I thought to myself, ‘I should Google him and see if he continued with his enormous talent.’ Lo and behold, there he was and to know that he entertains the masses, as he did all of his classmates 26 years ago, makes me smile. And now we are friends again!”

As for his early art career, Minter says, “I went to UK for five years. I wrote and drew comics for the Kentucky Kernel and majored in graphic design and illustration. I also ocassionally worked for Ace. I worked a hundred different part-time jobs... I spent many years working as a delivery boy for Wheeler Pharmacy on Romany Road. I also worked for a short time at PEP TAB... the head shop downtown. Two different sorts of drug stores.”

He did make a break for it post-grad. “In 1996, I moved to San Diego and worked for a t-shirt and greeting card company called ‘STICKWORLD.’ When the paychecks started to bounce... I moved back to Lexington.”

Ron Penn, longtime musicology professor at UK, says "I had the pleasure of Kenn's company in a World Music class several light years ago. At the time I associated him with some wonderfully refreshing and deliciously odd cartoons that appeared in the Kernel... Since then, I have been pleased, amazed, delighted, charmed, and enlightened by Kenn's saucy, hilarious, surreal take on the world. Truth expressed in humor is a rare tonic for our times....And Kenn dispenses this tonic liberally and with grand effect."

Lucy Points describes him like this, "Kenn is that guy at the party peering out from the corner, behind a plate of salty snacks truly absorbing every detail of his environment. The party ends and a couple of days later—sometimes a month later—there, in the in-box, appears a meticulously and masterfully crafted comic depicting an otherwise mundane conversation or incident. Far superior to digital photos or thank you cards."

Kenn Minter signs his new book at Morris Book Shop on Southland Drive, Saturday, November 22.""