Anemoia and the Mid-South Coliseum

As I’ve delved more and more into the history of Memphis and its hallowed places that have fallen into neglect or are no longer with us, I’ve found myself experiencing nostalgia for a past that isn’t my own. I figured I couldn’t be the only person to feel that way and that there must be a term for it. Turns out there is and, weirdly, it’s not even German: Anemoia was coined by John Koenig a decade ago in his Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows project. 

Maybe the place that I feel this way about the most often is the Mid-South Coliseum. Even though it still has a stately presence in Midtown, located next to the Liberty Bowl, this 10,000 seat arena had been shuttered for nearly a decade before I even moved to Memphis. Constructed in 1963-64, it opened in October 1964 as the first racially desegregated facility in Memphis; Mid-South Coliseum management did not even include any signs advising segregation, which was a bold decision in those days.


While the Coliseum was the home of Memphis Tigers basketball, hosted indoor soccer & hockey games, and packed the arena with weekly wrestling events, it was its concert history that makes me the most nostalgic about its past, a past which, even if I could have, wasn’t able to experience. You see, from 1964-2006 the Mid-South Coliseum hosted a huge roster of legendary performers across all genres of music, from Rufus Thomas to Andy Williams, Loretta Lynn to Jay-Z, the Beatles (famously*) to Anita Baker, Frank Sinatra to R.E.M., Led Zeppelin to Barry Manilow … the list goes on and on and I get, well, a little anemoiac. Thanks to the Memphis Public Library’s Mid-South Coliseum Collection, I’ve been able to get a (perhaps too-) tantalizing taste of what those shows must have been like. 

Naturally, as I worked on my series of Memphis landmark prints, including the Coliseum was a no-brainer. Initially, I planned to use my drawing as the basis for a series of mock concert posters showcasing that concert legacy, but making prints of real people (many of whom are still alive) was uncertain terrain for me, and something I couldn’t ethically wrap my head around doing.  Happily, armed with the Library’s database and some internet sleuthing (as well as talking with friends who actually got to experience the Coliseum in its prime), I settled on a middle ground that lets me focus on the building and its history, not trading on the images of actual (often still-living) personalities to do so: ticket stubs! Plus, tracking down ticket specifics scratches the research itch that I often get when I’m working on historical projects!

Here are a few of the dozens of ticket stub designs I’ve worked up as 8×10″ prints. By the way, a selection of these prints are on sale at Arrow Creative, whenever I do pop-up shows, and in my Square store. Enjoy!




*(The Coliseum was one of the stops on The Beatles’ final American tour in 1966. They played a pair of concerts on August 19, 1966, in the midst of of protests and radio airplay boycotts after John Lennon’s controversial “more popular than Jesus” remark. Memphis city council called for the cancellation of the concerts (supposedly for safety reasons), but the show went on, despite protests from the KKK and an anonymous assassination threat. At least according to Wikipedia.)

“Outside my window”


For much of my life, my household moves have occurred in August, often tied to the start of school, then tied to the school-year lease schedules in Lawrence. I eventually broke that pattern, but can’t help but think about those moves at this time of year, seeing new students move into their dorm to start a new school year.

(… and I eventually even got a view out of my studio window, too!) 

“Outside my window” was one of the first one-page comics that I hand-colored to sell as a print. My prints now are colored and printed digitally, where I take full(ish) advantage of the vibrant color and texture that process allows me to get. They do lose the hand work of the earlier prints, of course, but I think it’s a fair trade-off.

[January 2023 UPDATE: this post originally appeared on my now-closed Patreon page.]

My stencil coloring method (Holiday piece No. 25)

Back in 2005, when I hosted the panel “Beyond Photocopies: cost-effective color enhancements for your comics” at the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo, I shared and demonstrated the technique I used to add color to my covers: a simple stencil method. Unfortunately, since I was busy demoing at the time, I wasn’t able to get photos of it, but a few years ago I documented the process when I used it for one of my holiday pieces…


For this one, I used a metallic gold on purple, which looked nice in reality, but didn’t always photograph so well. This technique doesn’t require many supplies: blank stencil material, a sharp X-Acto blade, the paint(s– while I only use one color here, it works well for multiple colors, too. Just cut a different stencil for each color, of course), a roller (I got mine at my local hardware store; it’s wider and holds up better than cheap craft store foam rollers), and a surface to mix paint on (I use a piece of double-strength glass). Continue reading “My stencil coloring method (Holiday piece No. 25)”