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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Where the magic happened


On a drizzly day last Saturday, Tom Devlin, John Porcellino, and I accompanied Chester Brown back to Chateauguay, the suburb just outside of Montreal where he grew up. It's always a funny feeling revisiting a childhood home, but it's an added bonus when that home and the surrounding neighborhood happen to have been the setting for Chester's classic books The Playboy, I Never Liked You, and the title story in The Little Man.


Here's Chester in front of his house in The Playboy and below 40 years later...


Oh, if they only knew... If the current occupants of the house happened to be peering through their curtains at that moment, they may have recognized Chester from the article that ran in the local paper that morning. Tee hee.


As Chester tells it, the houses and buildings in The Playboy were drawn from memory. Here's the church where Chester first gets the idea of buying Playboy....





And speaking of, we visited the strip mall at least a mile away from his house where Chester drove his bike to buy that first Playboy.

The original store is long gone, but we all stopped for lunch at a restaurant at the far end of the mall that is still around (although it looks like everything was "updated" around 1986 or so).


Here, the failed Libertarian candidate talks to us at length about his belief that all schooling, on any level, is pointless and that society would be better off if people just apprenticed for employment. Tom and John P give each other bemused looks as they both try to figure out how to steer the conversation back to comics.


Chester took us to another mall, a place where he used to go to each week to buy comic books. That store is also gone, but Chester took us to the spot where it all happened.


Tom tried to take the same photo a minute later, but the mall security guard quickly put a quash on it.


Visiting Chester's elementary school, down the road from his house...


The same school circa 1970, from The Little Man.


The combination of all the comics talk and a visit to the suburbs brought back a flood of memories for both Tom and John P.


Here they both commiserate about the pre-"direct market" days where the only place you could buy comics was at your local convenience store. Tom: "They had X-Men #99 and #101, but they never bothered ordering #100. And once you missed #100, there was no way back then that you could get your hands on it." John P nods in agreement.

Here's the Mercier Bridge...

The scene, a few decades earlier, of where Chester's mom had this frank talk with her boys...


Later that evening, Chester is on stage and in the spotlight at the D+Q store...


...where he has a SRO crowd in the palm of his hands, listening to every word.

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