June 2009

Wake Forest
Angela Bendorf Jamison of The Girls from Ames


The Storyteller’s Bookstore—To answer the question many worried readers have been asking her, Angela Bendorf Jamison is “doing great,” she says. Those who bought Jeffrey Zaslow’s The Girls from Ames, a nonfiction chronicle of the decades-long friendship between 11 women from Ames, Iowa, got a sad surprise at the end of the book when Jamison was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, the same kind that killed her mother at age 52.

But as we meet at a Starbucks at Brier Creek, she’s chipper and smiling, her hair already growing back in an Anne Lennox ‘do. She’s laughing as we talk and excited about appearing at Wake Forest’s Storyteller’s Bookstore to promote the book.

“It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be,” says Jamison, who was diagnosed last October and has just started radiation after previously undergoing 16 treatments of chemotherapy. She had surgery the same week the book came out in April of this year and has been undergoing treatment at UNC Hospital.

“Cancer is never great, but the reason you can survive it is because of the people around you,” Jamison says. It’s almost a given that her girlfriends from Ames have been there for her. “They have visited, they’ve sent cards, e-mails, gifts … they even bought me a housecleaner!” Jamison says. “I really think I’ve done so well because of them and my friends in the Triangle.”

Since 1998, Jamison has run Communicopia Marketing (www.communicopiapr.com) in Wake Forest, where she lives. A 2007 reunion of the girls at her house serves as the framing device of The Girls from Ames, and a group photo of them on her porch has become the main marketing symbol for the book.

“I would say it’s been a fun ride,” Jamison says. “We never thought it would be something as big as it’s been. We thought, ‘It’ll be a nice chronicle of our friendship, and we can give it to our daughters and show them a different part of our lives.'” And while she’s gotten to see her friends more frequently as they’ve done interviews and promotions for the book, she’s not tired of them yet: “The time is never long enough when we’re together.” —Zack Smith

Angela Jamison appears at The Storyteller’s Bookstore in Wake Forest from 7-9 p.m., along with fellow “girls from Ames” Diana and Karen. For more information, visit www.storystorewf.com or call 554-9146. For more on The Girls from Ames, visit www.girlsfromames.com.

Reprinted from The Indpendent Weekly

Think your job sucks? Try working with superheroes. Ken Marcus has gotten rave reviews for his miniseries Super Human Resources, the tale of what goes on when you work in an office where caped crusaders are always dropping by, the receptionist is a reformed supervillain, and even the copier is plotting against you. With the collection due out in August, we talked with Marcus about what happens when you put superheroes in a place like The Office

Read the full interview here!


Imagine a comic strip where anyone could show up – where Blondie might stroll through, or Prince Valiant might charge through on his mighty steed. Imagine a strip where all artistic styles co-existed, produced without the aid of cut-and-paste or Photoshop.

Now imagine that strip existed almost 50 years ago…and people didn’t get it.

Read the full article here!

The Starstruck Chronicles III, Xandau and Looking Ahead

By Zack Smith


Starstruck #2, page 20

Our interview with the creators of IDW’s Starstruck re-presentation concludes today, with a look at what it took to bring this new series to readers, and what its return means to the creators.

The Starstruck Chronicles II: Helping Gene Colan

By Zack Smith


Starstruck #1, page 1

Our three-part interview with the creators of IDW’s Starstruck continues today, with a look at the staged reading of the original play to help comics legend Gene Colan, a look at the new material in IDW’s reprints, and more. Plus, we’ve got more preview pages from the reprints.

Read the full article here!

David Sedaris remembers the city of his youth

We talk Raleigh one day

17 JUN 2009  •  by Zack Smith

David Sedaris brings his dry musings to Quail Ridge Wednesday, June 24.
Photo by Robert Banks

David Sedaris graduated from Sanderson High School in 1975 and left Raleigh for the bright lights of, among other things, Chicago, New York, menial jobs, unfinished college courses and the Macy’s Santaland. Still, in his remarkably successful career, he has returned time and again to his youth in Raleigh, as a member of a large, offbeat clan. Although some of his old haunts still stand, such as the IHOP on Hillsborough Street where he used to prepare for a bout of writing, he’s missed a lot of the new development in the city. The Raleigh of his youth is fast disappearing.

Read the full interview here!

Charley’s Aunt

17 JUN 2009  •  by Zack Smith

Charley’s Aunt
Theatre in the Park
Through June 21

Men wearing women’s clothes is one of the ancient traditions of the theater, as is the confusion that results from it. And once you actually had male characters dressed as women—well, that opened up a whole new genre of storytelling that continues to this day.

The premise feels a mite dated these days, and that’s probably because it’s more than 100 years old—dating back at least as far as the 1882 farce Charley’s Aunt, which is currently being revived at Raleigh’s Theatre in the Park. Despite the show’s premise, an adept cast and lively direction by David Henderson help this production feel fresh.

Charley’s Aunt is a variation on the classic comedy of manners—and errors. Jack Chesney (Allan Maule) and his friend Charley Wykeham (Jason Justice) are two Oxford boys looking to propose to their sweethearts, Kitty and Amy (Hillary Edwards and Athena Reaves), but need a chaperone to appease the ladies’ guardian, Spettigue (Don Bridge). When the titular aunt fails to show for her chaperone duties, the two recruit their cagey friend Babberley (Matthew Hager) to don his theater costume to impersonate her. A great many slammed doors and cases of mistaken identity follow.

The cast all does a solid job with the required British accents, and Hager, a newcomer to Theatre in the Park, is a standout as Babberley, bringing a mischievous, uncouth charm to his performance. Henderson keeps the production moving at a madcap pace, and the scene and costume designs by Stephen J. Larson and Shawn Stewart Larson evoke an authentic sense of time and place. Sure, Charley’s Aunt, been done many times over—but that’s partly because its main conceit still works. After all, a man in an unconvincing dress is always good for a laugh.

Reprinted from the Independent Weekly

Sarah Dessen

Sarah Dessen

Quail Ridge Books & Music—Readers suffering from writer’s block, please try to not hate Sarah Dessen. Just a year after her eighth novel, Lock and Key, was published—and after giving birth to her first child—the Chapel Hill-based author has another book out this week, the young-adult novel Along for the Ride.

Dessen remains modest about her prolific output. “With my last few books, people had all these expectations for me to keep producing. But suddenly everybody just left me alone because I had this little baby.”

The time constraints of having an infant helped Dessen become more productive when she sat down to write. “I would come home, and I would have an hour, and I would just sit down and write,” she said. “I’d have had all day to think about what I was going to write, so I’d just jump right in. It was actually really good for my writing—it took away a lot of that obsessing I just didn’t have time to do any more. Plus, I was able to write about a character who was a new mom and channel a lot of what was happening with me on the page.”

Along for the Ride concerns Auden, an awkward, insomniac teenager. Over a summer, Auden deals with her stepmother, who’s recently given birth to Auden’s half sister, connects with Eli, a fellow loner, and finally learns to ride a bike. The story is set in Colby, a fictitious North Carolina beach town Dessen previously used in her novel Keeping the Moon. “I loved going to Emerald Isle in the summer, and I love the idea of that summer where you go away from home and everything changes,” Dessen says.

She’s “very, very early on” in her next novel, but she assures us that between promoting Ride and tending to her daughter, “I’m not going to have another book out this time next year, trust me.” Dessen appears at Quail Ridge Books & Music at 7:30 p.m. —Zack Smith

Reprinted from the Independent Weekly

The Starstruck Chronicles, I: Bringing Starstruck Back

By Zack Smith


The last few years have seen a renaissance of reprints, ranging from classic comic strips to runs by legendary creators. And once in a while, an underappreciated gem gets a new chance to shine.

Read the full interview here!

Going ‘Underground’ With Parker & Lieber


By Zack Smith


Jeff Parker and Steve Lieber are long-time studio mates at Periscope Studios in Portland, but while they’ve had their share of acclaimed books, they’ve never done a full-on project together. All that changes in August, when Image releases the first issue of Underground, a five-issue limited series (incorrectly solicited as four issues) that takes readers on a dangerous adventure beneath the mountains of Kentucky. We got Parker and Lieber together for an exclusive first look at the limited series, and to ask them a variety of stupid questions about caves. Insanity followed.

 Read the full interview here!

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