Literary Event of the Week: Bad Gateway at Bellevue Arts Museum

It's a brave new world when the coolest art exhibit in Seattle is currently hanging at the Bellevue Arts Museum. Right now, BAM is hosting Bad Gateway, a celebration of Seattle cartoonist Simon Hanselmann's Megg, Mogg, & Owl series of comics.

Bad Gateway — the latest book in the series — continues the themes of Hanselmann's work: the heartbreak of youth and addiction and poverty, the complex ties of friendship, the challenge we all face to climb out of the pits of our own making. And Bad Gateway — the BAM exhibit — takes those themes and brings them to full, disgusting life.

This Thursday, Hanselmann will be in conversation with Ben Heywood, BAM’s Executive Director and Chief Curator. My interview with Hanselmann was the most fun of my entire career as a literary critic; he's entertaining and candid and freewheeling in a way that 99 percent of authors and cartoonists simply are not. I'd expect some of that energy in the onstage conversation tonight.

Hanselmann's work keeps deepening with each new Megg & Mogg & Owl book that he releases. What at first feels like a joke strip is quickly turning into one of the rawest, most complex portrayals of young adulthood that I've ever read. Imagine what would happen if Peter Bagge's Hate gradually turned into Requiem for a Dream and you have a vague idea of what to expect. And then imagine if the book spilled onto the earth in the hallways of BAM, and you'd have the Bad Gateway experience. Hanselmann is breaking boundaries that we never knew we wanted to be broken.

Bellevue Arts Museum, 510 Bellevue Way NE, 425-519-0770,, 7 pm, $5.