Fruit for Thought
'Minty' Lewis and Damien Jay Settle bring flavor to the Schulz Museum
By Jackie Johansen
U nhappy Pear is heartbroken after finding out her partner, Banana, is having an affair with Kumquat. A mug with the words "I love you" written on it tells the story of young couple's shallow and doomed relationship, and the salvaging of self that comes from its ending. Apple, desperate for a vacation, leaves for Florida on his own where he spends a magical evening with the band The Hot Pocketz. He returns home to write them e-mails filled with lonely longing. When he gets the response he has been waiting for, it is a generic fan newsletter.
Cartoonist Melanie "Minty" Lewis of PS Comics and her cartoonist husband Damien Jay of The Natural World will be at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center on Saturday, July 11. As part of the museum's ongoing artist-in-residence program, the two will be drawing, available to chat and sharing their creative and interesting work.
Lewis, who says that she "enjoys Peanuts very much," has come to appreciate the darkness of Schulz's work. Speaking by phone from her Berkeley home, she says, "I can appreciate a goofy story, but comics take so much effort and time. It is important to me to make a connection with people." Her endearing characters, though usually nonhuman, reflect the complexities of the shared human experience.
Lewis creates art that is playful and fun, lovable and heartbreaking. She taps into who we are by paying attention. Her stories, she says, come "from different places. I take dialogue from things I over hear, by observing how people think about themselves. One kernel gets me thinking."
When a friend secretly submitted one of Lewis' comics for the prestigious Ignatz Award for outstanding mini-comic, she won. She remembers, "It felt good. Cartooning is a lonely craft. I get so engaged with the paper and stories, it felt good to know people are enjoying and reading them."
A saltshaker learns the trick to happiness, a quiet receptionist is stirred by the attention of a coworker and an apple writes to deal with loss—these short stories are poignant, thoughtful and important.
Melanie "Minty" Lewis and Damian Jay appear on Saturday, July 11, at the Schulz Museum. 2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa. 1pm to 3pm. Free with $5-$8 admission. 707.579.4452.
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