Urban creatures: Cartoonist Alison Wilgus draws metro monsters

Urban creatures: Cartoonist Alison Wilgus draws metro monsters
Alison Wilgus

She makes Brooklyn fantastic!

A Sunset Park artist and writer conjures up stories that blend monsters and magic with mundane life in the borough, and she will showcase her genre-spanning work on July 25 at Pete’s Mini Zine Fest, a tiny expo for the local zine community.

A self-described comic book nerd, Alison Wilgus creates stories that, however surreal, still hit close to home for urban dwellers. Her comic “Apartment Hunting,” may be about gunslingers literally hunting and killing apartment monsters, but it was inspired by real life.

“Moving is bad enough, but that particular intensity of finding a new place is transformatively stressful,” said Wilgus, who has experienced that stress too often in her 16 years as a New Yorker (she has been a Brooklynite for 12 of those years).

After considering the phrase “apartment hunting” Wilgus envisioned people stalking apartments in the wild, then added some of the real-world stressors that make inking a lease a nightmarish experience.

“I was trying to think about how to incorporate the idea of physically hunting for apartment monsters but still maintain the feeling of calling in favors and dealing with a lot of people,” she said.

Wilgus also illustrated a fantasy guidebook that rings true to real life — “Boyfriends of Brooklyn.” The short zine covers the gamut of strange male specimens you might encounter in the borough — like the “Common Hipster,” rumored to live on vinyl records alone. Wilgus says the project, which started as simple bantering with a friend, has turned into one of her most popular ventures.

“ ‘Boyfriends of Brooklyn’ is something that goes over well in New York,” she said. “It’s the kind of crowd that might get a kick out of it.”

At Pete’s Mini Zine Fest, hosted at the bar and music venue Pete’s Candy Store in Williamsburg, Wilgus will debut a few word-heavy projects alongside her comics, including Sockdolager, a fantasy fiction quarterly that she co-edits, and a collection of short stories, “At Least It Didn’t Kill Us.” With one exception, all of the anthology’s stories are of the sci-fi or fantasy genre, which she says just speaks to her interests.

“I’m a nerd, all the way through,” said Wilgus. “It’s a short anthology about the kinds of problems people have in a utopian future.”

This weekend will be the first time exhibiting at Pete’s for Wilgus, who is looking forward to mingling with other artists in the back yard of the Williamsburg bar. But she does have a concern about the venue.

“The only thing that I’m remotely, actually worried about is that someone who isn’t paying attention will take their beer glass and set it down on some color comics and leave a ring on them,” she said. “Then I’ll have to make a decision about whether to make them buy it.”

Pete’s Mini Zine Fest at Pete’s Candy Store in Williamsburg [709 Lorimer St. between Richardson and Frost streets, www.petescandystore.com, (718) 302-3700]. July 25 from 2–7 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at ahobb[email protected]local.com or by calling (718) 260–8312.
Drawing from life: Alison Wilgus will display her surreal comics and zines about Brooklyn at Pete’s Mini Zine Fest on July 25.
Photo by Georgien Benvenuto