The group met up at Mission Comics. We’d been promised a drawing tour of the Mission, led by Alfred Twu, one of the creators of the recently released “Comic Book Guide to the Mission,” and Vayable, a startup that aims to be the Etsy of tourism. On the site, individuals offer experiences that range from watching the sunset from a sailboat in the Bay to a limo tour of Bay Area pot clubs organized by a “Medical Marijuana Concierge” to the opportunity to live like a homeless person for 24 hours, organized by a man who offers to “help you find food and at least some semblance of shelter.”
“Let’s head over to Dolores Park first,” said Twu. “We can check out the hipsters. Maybe draw them, too.”
There was a couple eating dinner at a portable picnic table set up on the grass, with a whole meal spread out before them. There was a girl dancing alone to the music in her headphones. (“Getting ready for Burning Man?” another tour member commented.) And then there were the classic hipsters lounging on the grass, bikes sprawled behind them, sunglasses perched on their noses: Perfect characters to star in our brand-new comic strips.
It was unclear, though, how many of them were real, authentic hipsters, and how many were on Vayable’s “Live the Life of a Hipster” tour.
Twu seemed a little awkward — by day, he works in computer architecture — and trying to get used to this whole D.I.Y. tour guide thing.
There was actually only one other person on the tour, an art student, and the three of us sat in the park taking turns drawing a frame of a comic and passing it on.
After the cartoons were done it was off to Bi-Rite for salted caramel ice cream and ice cream sundaes. The art student had split, and the group was now down to Twu, June Lin, a Vayable employee, and myself. We discussed where to go next.
One of Twu’s other specialities, in addition to illustration, is thrifting — his section of the guide “Buy Used, Buy Bulk” depicts a personal journey through the Mission’s thrift stores in search of the best breakfast bowls.
Lin wanted tacos. Did we want tacos? Tacos sounded pretty good.
At El Tonayese Taquería (24th Street and Shotwell), the carne asada tacos with their extra-spicy salsa and peppers and fresh-tasting tortillas were just as good as the comic book had promised.
The tour was over. Did we know more about the Mission? We had at least spent more time looking at it. As the sun finally set, we headed home with our own comic book tales of the neighborhood.