What makes for a good bar story? Is it rollicking debauch? Triumph or tragedy? Hijinks or breakdown? The man to ask is, indisputably, writer Steve Hughes. He’s been collecting and weaving tales from Detroit-area barstools since he moved to Hamtramck in 1995. These stories are encountered on the front lines of some of Hamtramck’s finest dive bars — including Bumbos, New Dodge, Suzy’s, Painted Lady, Kelly’s, Lo and Behold, Seven Brother’s, and Trixie’s — sometimes transcribed almost directly, or else serving as jumping-off points for more fanciful narratives, eventually coming to be published in Stupor, Hughes’ brainchild and “Detroit’s longest-running zine.”
Initially, Hughes created both the written content and designed collage-art style layouts, but soon converted to a system of collaboration on the illustration and graphic design with a rotation of area artists, including regular collaborators like Teresa Peterson and Tim Hailey, and names as big as Matthew Barney, Hygienic Dress League, and Scott Hocking. Hughes has been making Stupor ever since he settled in Hamtramck, and is now approaching publication of the 41st issue, working in collaboration with Hamtramck-based artist Alexander Buzzalini.