I’ve known Mark and Megan for about 20 years. Mark, perhaps a little longer – from his days at Topps where he was one of the creators of Garbage Pail Kids as well as other satiric novelty products. Mark’s work has appeared in the avant-garde comics album RAW as well as the New York Times. His work has also been exhibited at the Smithsonian, Cooper-Hewitt, Brooklyn Museum, Paley Center for Media, and London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts. He’s also worked on TV, film, and multimedia projects for Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. His latest book, another collaboration with Megan Cash, is Bow-Wow’s Nightmare Neighbors, a wordless picture story from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. This is the eighth book in the Bow-Wow series (and the eighth book Meg and Mark have created together). Link to book series here and review here.
Megan Montague Cash is a leading designer and illustrator for all things kid related. Her work spans print, toys and games, exhibit design (museums and stores) and entertainment (on-air and online.)
She has created numerous books including the Bow-Wow series, which won a Gold Medal in the Society of Illustrators Original Art Show. Her 2003 picture book, What Makes the Seasons?, is a perennial staple of elementary school curricula and was the basis of an exhibit at the Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum. Megan currently teaches at Pratt Institute. She can periodically be found lecturing at other venues on a variety of subjects including the history of crayon packaging and growing up in a commune. She and Mark reside together in an ex-funeral parlor in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Read on below the break for Megan and Mark’s favorite Brooklyn spots (Desert Island sounds amazing!!) as well as some of their sources of inspiration (The Niblings and Plonsky are newly on my radar!).
YOUR 3 FAVORITE PLACES TO GET A FIX ON WHAT’S NEW AND INFLUENTIAL IN GRAPHICS AND ILLUSTRATION
We are both lovers of books and keep a perpetual eye fixed for compelling graphics. For us it’s essential nourishment. Some favorite places where we indulge our fixations include:
1. Desert Island, a local Williamsburg establishment, curated by shopkeep Gabe Fowler who maintains the best comics selection in Brooklyn.
Gabe Fowler also showcases a rotating pick of the new and stunning in illustrated, children’s and art books as well. If you’re looking for the latest issue of Spider-Man or role-playing accoutrements this isn’t the comic book store for you. But if you’re into innovative, personal storytelling and inspiring graphics, go spend some quality time at 540 Metropolitan Ave. (under the “bakery and comic booklets” sign.)
2. The Niblings – for when we need to catch up with the world of kid lit.
This consortium of knowledgeable and insightful children’s book bloggers united to consolidate the crème de la crème in one location. Each of these six writers really understand and love children’s literature and their combined works might well qualify as a click-through graduate course on the topic. You can follow The Niblings on Facebook. (Megan designed their logo, but this plug is legit!). Link here.
3. Plonsky also lives on the internet (and also on facebook.)
Plonsky cannot be conveyed in words because it’s all about the images; a daily curated visual conversation with hundreds of like-eyed contributors, who obsessively mine the finest Plonsky from the four corners of the worldwide web. And just in case you were concerned, posting Pronsky is strictly forbidden. (Mark is a Shop Teacher and co-founder of Plonsky, now in it’s 5th year.)
3 BRANDS/ STORES/ SERVICES YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT
Mark can’t live without Instant Café Bustello.
Neither one of us can live without 311. While it may not actually help matters any, it makes us feel a little better to have an easy to remember 3-digit number to call when friendly neighbors are slathering hot zeppole grease on the sidewalk or undermining the foundation with a backhoe.
WHAT’S NEW IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD THAT WE SHOULD CHECK OUT
If you like spending time (and money) in vegan cheese shoppes, little-hat lifestyle stores, cafés that proffer syringe-it-yourself donuts and BARS, BARS, BARS you’ll probably love Theme Park Williamsburg. But go find yourself another tour guide. We’re long entrenched residents (of an 85-year-old funeral home) as well as preservationists, so we’ll respectfully pass on the New. But we can gladly recommend a few venerable neighborhood institutions.
Kasia’s Restaurant is perhaps our last standing old-school Polish diner. (Translate “old-school” to mean: good food, good prices and the sort of ambiance that allows for an actual conversation without having to compete with a pulsing 24-hour party mix.) The turkey chili is a stalwart lunchtime standby and you can’t go wrong with a freshly-juiced Ginger Hopper (carrots, apple, ginger, boom. Done.) Bonuses include Ward Shelley’s prescient 2002 Williamsburg Timeline Drawing on the back room wall, near where the indoor tree grows through the ceiling. (Kasia’s Restaurant, 146 Bedford Ave.)
There is only one Crest Hardware. This emporium (footsteps from Desert Island) still hosts an annual hardware-themed group show featuring local artists (there are a few of us left in the neighborhood.) And you can pay your respects to both a talking parrot and a learned pig named Franklin on your way to the electrical conduits. If you’re considering taking on any home improvement projects yourself, you can learn pretty much everything you need to know from Tony in the back. But just so you know, Monday is Tony in the back’s day off. (Crest Hardware, 558 Metropolitan Ave.)
Northside Pharmacy (559 Driggs Ave) For the past hundred years or so there had always been a pharmacy situated on the corner of Bedford Avenue and North 7th Street. That is until somebody finally saw the light and for the betterment of all mankind, replaced it with a Dunkin’ Donuts. Fortunately, the nimble proprietors of Northside Pharmacy were able to secure a nearby location. The women who run this place actually know all of their customers by name and really extend. A neighbor of theirs recently told us the story of how they offered to personally deliver his medication when he didn’t show up on time because they knew it was important. It’s the kind of place that reminds us that there is still a real neighborhood here, somewhere, despite the musical-chair rotation of artisanal cupcake boutiques and $50-a-mug craft brew venues.