Ever since the Independent
published its first issue almost 23 years ago, comic strips were a part of its pages. We’ve featured everything from “Red Meat” by Max Cannon and “Life in Hell” by Matt Groening to “Land of Confusion” by Chuck Bordell and “Tom the Dancing Bug” by Ruben Bolling. Tom Tomorrow’s “This Modern World” has run weekly since 1992, and local artist Rob Rusignola’s news comics have appeared regularly since 1995. But not until now has the Independent dedicated an entire issue to the art form.
Quite frankly, we weren’t sure Missoula had the juice to make this special issue happen. While we pride ourselves on a vibrant local art scene, it takes a special talent to effectively combine storytelling and illustration in a series of small panels. We weren’t sure there were enough people willing or able to contribute original work. Wow, were we thrilled to be proven wrong.
Over the course of a one-month call for submissions earlier this year, the Independent
received more than 40 comic strips from professional and amateur artists alike, all inspired by the theme “Missoula stories.” A review committee judged each submission on originality, artwork, narrative and overall execution. We ended up selecting 18 comic strips–plus the cover, by Theo Ellsworth–for publication and elected to post 20 additional strips online at missoulanews.com. The result is a diverse collection that speaks to Missoula’s depth of creativity and wit.
In an effort to celebrate those attributes and the great artists featured on the following pages, we’re throwing a party. On First Friday, March 7, the selected comic strips will be on display at Zootown Arts Community Center, 235 N. First Street West, for a reception beginning at 5 p.m. We hope to see you there—and perhaps spark some inspiration for your submission to our second Comix Issue next year.
(Editor's note: This slideshow is best viewed full-screen, especially the vertical comic strips.)