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Elliot and Grist's Absent Friends in February from SLG

Official Press Release

No stranger to comic books whose themes include sex, love and personal trauma, SLG Publishing is proud to reintroduce the world to the long-lost collaborations between Phil Elliott and Paul Grist, Absent Friends. Early in their comic book careers, Elliott (Tupelo, Illegal Alien) and Grist (Kane, Jack Staff) collaborated on a series of comic-book-format short stories about sex, young love and struggling artists.

The stories were published in a variety of magazines and then collected into a mini-comic, which was sold mainly through the Gosh! comic shop in London. The distribution was small, however -- only 200 copies -- and both Elliott and Grist wanted to find a wider audience for Absent Friends, so Elliott approached SLG Publishing, which is currently publishing Tupelo, a mini-series written by Matt DeGennaro and drawn by Elliott, with the project. The 40-page digest-sized comic will be released in February to coincide with the 2004 Alternative Press Expo.

While not strictly autobiographical, the stories in Absent Friends are, according to writer Elliott, inspired by "personal experiences, thoughts and traumas." Elliott, known primarily as a comics artist, intended to draw the stories himself, but he wasn't satisfied with his attempts. Meanwhile, Paul Grist had self-published his comic, Short Stories, and Elliott felt that Grist was a match for his own stories.

"It was the first time that I actually drew anything that somebody else had written," said Grist. "It got me doing things that I'd have never really tried on my own. I tried to approach each story in a different way, which certainly helps flex the artistic muscle."

Elliott agrees. "These stories show a different side of Paul's drawing that maybe he can't express in other comics," he said. "There's still the same excellent graphic eye and superior composition, but there's a finer, almost hesitate line that hangs in the air and . . . well, that's why I gave these stories to Paul in the first place."

The stories that Elliott weaves focus on quiet, poignant human emotions and the relationships that inspire them. In Absent Friends, a man recalls a dangerous friendship, a boy tries to understand his teenaged sister, a young man learns about sex and love, and a street musician finds her own path to success. "The stories aren't always the most straightforward of tales," said Grist of his collaborator's work, "but they tend to rattle around in your head for a while afterwards."

Absent Friends is a 40-page graphic novella in 5.5 x 8.5 inch digest format. It will be published in February and will retail for $3.50. A preview is available at SLG Publishing's website, www.slavelabor.com.

Established in 1986, SLG Publishing is a San Jose, CA-based publisher of comics books and graphic novels. Operating under its imprints Slave Labor Graphics and Amaze Ink, SLG Publishing has distributed the work of such notable cartoonists as Jhonen Vasquez, Roman Dirge, Evan Dorkin and Andi Watson.

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