Q&amp;A: Lauren Davis on <i>The Comic Book Guide the Mission</i>

If there's any neighborhood out there that deserves its own comic book, it would have to be The Mission in San Francisco, home to awesome tacos and burritos, back-alley murals and Mission San Francisco de Asís, the oldest building in the city. And now there is one -- The Comic Book Guide the Mission, a guide to the San Francisco neighborhood that features stories by Mario Hernandez, Shaenon K. Garrity, Jamaica Dyer, Mike White and many more. I spoke with Lauren Davis, who edited and published the anthology.

JK: What is about The Mission that inspired you to put this guide together?

Lauren: In a lot of ways, the Mission represents a lot of what San Francisco is to me: It has a rich history, but it’s changing rapidly (and not, in everyone’s opinions, for the better). It’s easy enough to have a good time if you stick to the major thoroughfares, but has its share of secret spots. And it’s the sort of place that can easily make you feel like an anthropologist or an outsider. It’s a place I selfishly wanted to learn more about and see through other peoples’ eyes.

JK: Are all the creators involved from SF? How did you go about recruiting them?

Lauren: With the exception of Ariel Schrag, who grew up in Berkeley and has since moved away, all of the contributors live in the Bay Area.

When I started working on the book, I asked everyone I could find for advice. I badgered retailers; I took artists out for lunch and coffee; I emailed a lot of friends of friends, asking who they thought might have a great Mission comic in them. Of course, some people I invited simply because I very much enjoyed their work. I was extremely fortunate that, early on, I met Andrew Farago of the Cartoon Art Museum. He liked the idea enough to not only contribute his own piece (co-created with his wife, the incredible webcomicker Shaenon Garrity), but also to put me in touch with a lot of the artists who ended up being in the book.

JK: It seems like the guide covers a lot of what makes the Mission unique, from the food to the murals in the alleyways. How did you go about deciding who would cover what?

Lauren: One of the remarkable things about the way the book came together is that, for the most part, people chose what elements of the Mission they wanted to cover. I did commission one piece, “The Mission Taco,” after stumbling across Omar Mamoon’s blog about his search for the perfect taco. I managed the pitches and made sure there wasn’t too much overlap, but this was about creators highlighting the parts of the Mission that in some way speak to them.

JK: Where is the book being sold?

Lauren: It’s available in comic stores and bookstores throughout San Francisco and the East Bay, as well as online through Amazon, Last Gasp and my own website, SkodaMan.com.

JK: Do you have plans for a sequel, or maybe a second anthology about another SF neighborhood?

Lauren: I’ve had a lot of people approach me about doing a second book – either because they have a great Mission story or because they really want to participate in a comics collection about their own favorite neighborhood. At the moment, I’m kicking around a lot of ideas – including possibly taking the project outside San Francisco to another part of the Bay. Whatever it is, I’m excited to be ushering more local comics into the world.

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