Last Year when the pandemic hit, De Vere’s Irish Pub in Davis took the difficult decision to shutter up, focusing on its Sacramento site, temporarily until the pandemic eased. Well, in California at least we are at that point now where more and more people are getting vaccinated, and we are preparing to All Go Back To Normal*. Last weekend we were in Yosemite (sketches to come) where they are allowing people in with reservations only to stem the crowds, and after waiting nearly two hours in line to get in after a two hour plus drive from nearby Sonora, we parked several miles away from where our first hiking trail began due to lack of spaces, and waded through throngs of people on a steep narrow trail to look at a bit of a waterfall among large groups of people all trying to take photos of each other (and it’s fine for strangers to touch each others’ devices now). The Mist Trail is so-called because of the mists of sweat from the hundreds of other hikers, not from the waterfalls. It was a hot, hot day, we were tired, and we gave up and hiked back to the car. But more on that story next time. This was the first day of June, I was working on campus in the morning for a bit, the weather was ridiculously hot. I had to cycle downtown to pick up a drawing from the Pence (the Covent Garden drawing I had done for their ‘garden-themed’ show, it hadn’t sold). Anyway, as I pulled into D Street I noticed my bike tyre was getting low. When I came back out, it was completely flat, so I wheeled it over to Freewheeler on 2nd Street, and grabbed some lunch on E Street. I then noticed that De Vere’s across the street looked a little bit different. They were busy finishing off the shiny new paint job, going from black to red, a new look for the reopening which I was told would be happening this week. If you have followed my sketchblog over the past decade you will know how much I like this pub, I’ve drawn it many times. I really like their pub chips, served in gravy. So I did a drawing of it. I stood in the heat waiting for my bike to be fixed up, and when that was done I cycled home to work the rest of the day, finishing off the pen and colours later on. I’m well pleased for them to be reopening, I hope business is good, and can’t wait until I get back for some pub chips, a paint or two, and an actual interior sketch of a pub for the first time since before This Whole Thing. Last weekend in Sonora we did eat inside for the first time, at a pasta restaurant that was not busy (and going by the food wasn’t much of a pasta restaurant either), and yeah I’m still a bit anxious to go inside a pub, it’s been so long, but something about seeing these guys repainting and reopening made me feel pretty optimistic. It’s been, well not an easy week, news of other people I know losing family members in other countries to Covid, plus just being so far away from my family in England, my dad’s birthday was this week, it would have been nice to be over there but it’s still very hard travelling (on top of the restrictions and the quarantines and the expensive required non-NHS tests, I’m still not comfortable about being stuck in a plane with lots of people for eleven hours and then stuck in line at Heathrow for more hours). I’ve been generally feeling exhausted. But signs of optimism make me feel good, and when I’m up for it, knowing I can get some pub chips and a pint or two is pretty nice, maybe with a comic from Bizarro World next door, like I used to. I hope the reopening goes well.
Bizarro World, Davis. A comic shop that used to reside on 5th St, before moving into its present location on E St when Bogey’s Books closed down. I prefer this location, and I’ve been there many times over the past four years, as opposed to the one time I went to the 5th St location in the preceding five years. Then again, I read a lot more comics now. I mean a LOT. Not all of them physical, mind, but I do buy a fair few paper comics from here (and also from Big Brother Comics in midtown Sacramento and Mission Comics in San Francisco, whenever I am there). See now I have an iPad and a subscription to Marvel Unlimited, so I can read all the Marvel backlog (I have read hundreds since signing up in January). I like this place’s location though because it is right next to the pub. After a long day, it makes a lot of sense to buy a comic or graphic novel and pop inside De Vere’s for a cold brew. Or University of Beer a block away. So on a very hot hundred-esque Saturday afternoon I stood outside and sketched my local comic shop, the sweat dripping off of me. While sketching, a bearded man on a bike stopped in the street and asked me a series of questions (“are you a painter, did you draw that, what building are you drawing, do you have an email”). I had to say, sorry I can’t really chat, I am up against the time a little here, because it really was hot and I wanted to get finished and get inside. But then about fifteen minutes later another guy on a bike, this time with a moustache, stopped and asked exactly the same questions. It was, as they say, bizarre (if not quite bizarro, which as we all know means something else entirely) I’m starting to wonder whether they were in fact the same person in different disguises. I’ve had odd people come up and say odd things on E St before while sketching so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility. Perhaps I read too many comics? Nah, if that were true I’d believe it was Loki, out to trick me. I finished up all the penwork, the only colour added on site being the red pen, before cooling off with a beer in De Vere’s and finishing the paint at home. I did get a comic too, the Thanos annual, by Jim Starlin. Pretty good it is too.
Incidentally this framed drawing is currently for sale at Art-Is-Davis (222 D St, Davis) until July 6th…
My spare time is spent sketching the streets of Davis, over and over again. Last Saturday it was actually a little bit cloudy (that is basically our winter, right there) and so in the afternoon I biked down to E Street to continue the Panoramarathon. Yes, the panoramarathon that’s my word, I try to say it a lot, with different stresses every time, I keep wanting to say Panathinaikos or Parasaurolophus, but I’m getting the hang of it. I stood opposite De Vere’s Irish Pub (you’ve seen the inside of that on my sketchblog before) and Bizarro World comics. There are two places I am glad are right next to each other. I love to go to the comic shop, maybe pick something up and pop into De Vere’s for a pint to read it. This time I just picked up a 2014 Marvel Comics calendar. This year I have decided to read a lot more comics, in both paper form and digitally; I have downloaded a couple of good graphic novels on sale on Comixology, and I am considering a subscription to Marvel Unlimited to catch up on years of old comics in digital form. I have been buying more paper comics too, they are works of art and it’s nice to buy stuff at comic shops, I’m grateful they exist. A comics education to come for me this year.
Here are a couple of closer views from each side of the panorama:
I sketched with my headphones on, listening to a history podcast (“In Our Time” with Melvyn Bragg – if you want to hear Mr. Bragg rushing historians through their subjects and getting annoyed with them because they’re not saying exactly how many Vikings fought at Stamford Bridge and then chiding them for taking too long, this is your podcast). As I sketched, a young man with a guitar on his back came up to me, and gestured as if to say something. I took off my headphones and he said, “Are you pretending to be an artist?”
You what? “Are you pretending to be funny?” I replied straight away, and he walked off. What the hell? Strange thing to come up and say to someone. Anyway next day I was in Newsbeat, buying a Snickers bar, when someone behind me said, “Oh wow Snickers, that is good shit that, I survived up the top of a mountain eating only Snickers.” I examined the chocolate bar and said, “yeah, I’ve never heard of Snickers before, thanks.” Then I realised, I think it was the same guy, perhaps he goes around downtown Davis saying stupid things? Like I go round drawing stuff, maybe that’s his thing, a ‘say-stupid-things-crawl’? Or maybe it was two different people, or I imagined it and just need to get more sleep. All things are possible.
So this right here is in the very heart of downtown Davis, E St between 2nd and 3rd. The next panorama I will post is on the other side of this block and mirrors it in some ways. Panoramarathon (or ‘Panoramasnickers’ as it will soon be known) continues…