The amount of literary talent in Texas is amazing, from world-renowned authors to local favorites, from the ever-growing mystery community, through the longtime science fiction community to a small army of the best rock critics in America. There was once an argument as to whether or not there was Texas literature. The notion of even conducting this discussion is trampled by a parade of writers from Larry McMurtry, Bud Shrake, and Cormac McCarthy to Bruce Sterling, David Lindsey, Mary Willis Walker. From Frank Dobie, Walter Prescott Webb, Roy Bedicheck, and Katherine Anne Porter through Gary Cartwright, Billy Lee Brammer, John Graves, and Molly Ivins to Mary Karr, Dagoberto Gilb, Sandra Cisneros, and Sarah Bird (I'm leaving all Chronicle-associated writers out of this litany, Marion). This is a state with a passion for the land and the written word. Few states have so rich a contemporary literature.
When I first heard of Jack Jackson, he was already a legend. "Jaxon" was an underground comic book artist who came of age in the class of UT's Texas Ranger with Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers creator Gilbert Shelton, published perhaps the very first underground comic book God Nose, helped start the Rip Off Press in San Francisco, as well as influenced and inspired the very first generations of underground comic artists. When other Austin poster and comic artists talk of him, it is not just with respect but with admiration.
In the very early days of the Chronicle, Jack Jackson drew for us and most recently he published a spectacular comic book history of Threadgill's in Eddie Wilson's wonderful cookbook. Over the years, the emphasis of his work has been more and more on little-known aspects of Texas history. Appropriately, he is interviewed this issue by Jesse Sublett, another self-taught Texas history expert who has proven how multi-talented he is, whether it is writing detective novels, scripts for documentaries, or writing songs. We are proud to feature this in a section that also honors the first Texas Book Festival.
The Restaurant Poll has proven to be one of our most popular and controversial features. Everybody has an opinion on food. No one is ever entirely happy with the poll. There is always a category or categories that leave heads shaking -- this restaurant was left off or that restaurant was included. Think of this poll as a choruses of voices ringing out from all over the city when you ask yourself, the age old question, "Where should we go out to eat tonight?"
Ordinarily, we like to thank everyone involved with a special section but there are too many people who went above and beyond the call of duty on this issue (though we will note restaurant poll tabulators: Kate Messer, Karen Rheudasil, Leslie Hill, Amy Baldwin, and Jonna Prescott). Fortunately, the Chronicle boasts a remarkable staff that routinely looks upon above-and-beyond as normal procedure.
While into personnel notes: Visual Arts and Listings Editor Julie Weaver recently married her longtime love Shelley Lucksinger. Those of you who follow this column may remember that the two were involved in a horrific automobile accident last New Year's Eve. The groom came down with chicken pox just before the wedding but given what these two have been through, that was nothing. The wedding was beautiful and The Austin Chronicle staff wishes them our best. n