SpringCon 2010: All That I Acquired

Categories:  Features

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The Midwest Comic Book Association sponsors two comic shows a year in the Twin Cities – October’s two-day FallCon and May’s one-day MicroCon. Due to scheduling conflicts at the State Fairgrounds, among other things, the two-day show has moved to spring and the one-day show is set for fall. Thus, MicroCon becomes FallCon and FallCon becomes SpringCon. It’ll make your head spin. Try not to think about it.

Suffice to say that if you haven’t heard of SpringCon, that’s because it only recently became a thing for anyone to talk about. Ostensibly, 2010 was the show’s inaugural year.

Regardless of name, any show thrown by MCBA is an important event for the greater Twin Cities comics community. For years, this has been where we Minnesotans and MCAD grads go to re-meet old friends and classmates, find cheap back issues and ogle costumed fanboys and fanladies. My favorite costumers include Superman (he’s like some kind of professional Superman look-alike with a slew of different Supes outfits), a dead-ringer for Harry Potter’s pal Hagrid (complete with The Monster Book of Monsters), and Spiderman (who is normally really graceful and spidery but this year totally dropped some dude’s camera and broke it).

But this year, probably more so than any other year, was a good one for me in terms of loot. I acquired a lot of neat things.

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“The Inmate” by Jack Kotz

Jack is an MCAD undergrad with a lot of enthusiasm who I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time last weekend. The Inmate is about a prisoner who makes a deal with a demon. He wants freedom and revenge, so he offers to give the demon his soul in trade.  However, with an ironic twist, the deal falls through.

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“More Information Than You Require” by John Hodgman

I received this as a wonderful and completely unexpected belated birthday present from Danno and Nichole Klonowski. John Hodgman will appear next month in Minneapolis as part of the Minnesota Public Radio WITS series with Neil Gaiman as a phone-in guest. Why are there still tickets available for this event? Go, buy tickets. Now.

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“Rooster Jack vs. The Mermaids” written by Adam Hansen with art from Ben Zmith, Laura Ault and Sara Witty

Adam Hansen is one of the most fun people to talk with at the MCBA cons. Do yourself a favor next year and ask to see the latest hat his fiance made him.  I promise there will always be one.  She makes him a lot of hats.  He writes a goofy series of books about Rooster Jack and his unlikely crew of fellow adventurers. In this issue, Rooster disturbs some mermaid bones. The results are not pleasant.

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“These Top Cartoonists Tell How They Create America’s Favorite Comics”

This book contains one-page interviews with 39 cartoonists from the 60’s. Each artist talks about his background with comics and the tools and methods used to make those comics. It’s really interesting stuff. Many of the syndicate cartoonists got started right out of high school or worked on someone else’s strip as an apprentice. My favorite story came from Al Smith who had a lot of snarky things to say about Bud Fisher, the creator of “Mutt and Jeff.” But it was also interesting to see artists taking the time to praise another creator within their bios, like William Overgard did with his mentor Milton Caniff. Equally interesting was learning that Zack Mosley “logged more than a million and a half miles of flying time to gather material for his strip [Smilin’ Jack]” and that Darrell McClure, an avid sailor, would work very often from aboard his yacht. I bought the book from the Spring Hollow Books booth, which specializes in Pogo memorabilia. The man behind Spring Hollow Books has been President of the Pogo Fan Club for many years and if you ever make it to one of the MCBA shows you really have to ask him about his collection. He doesn’t make it to many shows and may not return to Wizard World Chicago, so it’s always an honor to sit across the aisle from him and his gorgeous collection.  He has quite a history to tell and really knows everything there is to know about Walt Kelly.

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“Photographs of Thomas D. Anderson”

Tom D. Anderson makes KISS posters. His work is indescribable, really, so take a gander HERE. He’s loved the band KISS for as long as anyone can remember, and circa 1980 these photographs were taken of him as Peter Criss.

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“Abe Lincoln Sketch” by Kevin Cannon

Kevin skipped my birthday so he made me a sketch. If it seems like a cheap cop-out, I’ll still take it. Especially when the sketch is – sigh – Abraham Lincoln. I’m often questioned about why I love Abe so hard. It’s embarrassing to admit or describe a fascination with someone so dead and so before-the-age-of-moving-pictures-and-audio, but he just sounds so dreamy in the history books. He’s always saying those smart things and making those clever jokes. And then there’s this photograph of him pre-beard. Dear Abe Lincoln as a young man, I basically love you.  If you are also a Lincoln lover, join me in eager anticipation as Noah Van Sciver finishes up his Lincoln graphic novel The Hypo!

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“Tattoo” from Dave Steinlicht

For the release of Dave Steinlicht’s book Cornered! (collecting his gorgeous comic series In This Corner which syndicates in the Pioneer Press) he made some “temporary tattoos” which are basically stamps. I got the pirate one, but there were many other equally good tattoos to choose from.

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“The Bushwackers” by Aaron Poliwoda

Aaron Poliwoda is basically one of my favorite people. He tells the most ridiculous jokes that are often totally inappropriate. “Favorite Uncle” kind of jokes. Aaron graduated from MCAD with a B.A. in Comic Art and makes comics non-stop because he doesn’t have a job. I read an older issue of Low Blow at the con, which was all about the cursed history of the wrestling family Von Erich. I believe it was issue 7, but really, I’d recommend any issue from the Low Blow series. It’s all good. Aaron has mild autism but didn’t know it until he was pretty old. A lot of his comics deal with that or his opinions on trending topics or wrestling or surfing. He had a series of drawings at the con that were just of wrestlers. I got The Bushwackers, but would have been just as happy with The Iron Sheik or Hulk Hogan.  Anticipate the release of Multiple Stab Wounds — Aaron’s semi-autobiographical graphic novel, originally serialized in Low Blow.  It will be printed this winter with either the aid of the Xeric Grant (preferred) or the aid of me and Will Dinski (assuming we can gather enough money).

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“Honeymoon” by Sam Hiti

When I lived in Sioux Falls, South Daktoa, Sam Hiti’s book Tiempos Finales was the only indie title carried by my local comic shop. Sam’s an easy man to admire just for that, but he’s also super nice to talk to, great with his fans, and great with the kids he mentors. He’s an incredible talent and I’m always a little amazed that he talks to me. This two-color screen-printed poster was made for the Pink Hobo Gallery’s Monster Print Show in 2009.  Anticipate Sam’s official print release of Death Day, rumored to release at the Minneapolis Indie Xpo in August.

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“1890 Part I” by J.P. Beaty

Last winter, J.P. Beaty took a comics class at the Loft Literary Center with Sam Hiti who continues to mentor him in comics. SpringCon marked J.P.’s first time exhibiting at a show, and 1890 Part I is his first comic book. In it, Sherlock Holmes is dead and a vigilante in London is protecting people left and right until he finally blacks out and awakes in a strange place. The look of the art is really experimental and edgy and awesome-looking because of it.  Still, the words are a bit tough to read because of the font and size and placement (smudgy black ink on blood red ink).  I’d like to see the book in a larger format someday. To sum up what a comics rock star J.P. is going to become, I give you this picture:

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“I am the President of Ice Cream” by Geoff Sebesta

Geoff Sebesta’s book makes fun of corporations and their obsession with profit and appearances. Ice cream needs a new direction, and the man they put in charge is an overblown image of negative stereotypes about CEOs in general. The newly installed President of Ice Cream goes on a rampage, destroying all homeless people and freeloaders — basically anyone who might not have money, or might not pay their own money for ice cream. The result is that ice cream actually sells worse because people are afraid to touch it.

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“Stitching Together” by Ed Choy Moorman

Stitching Together opens with a glimpse into the life of Jim Henson from boyhood onward as he and his Muppets develop into super-stars.  The second half excerpts pieces from Ed’s past work, in which he also writes about Muppets.

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“Life Interrupts” written by Sigrid Ellis with art by Sean Lynch
“Dandelion” written by Sigrid Ellis with art by Ed Moorman

Sigrid Ellis writes lovely stories that get inside of her characters.  For years, she tried working with creative friends to produce her comics, but after that didn’t pan out she started to work with real, paid cartoonists.  So far her comics have been drawn by Sean Lynch, Ed Moorman and Erika Moen.  Sigrid is a mother of two and borrowed from her own experience to write Life Interrupts which tells the story of a road trip and the things a boy dreams about in the car.  Dandelion is about two gal pals named Kick and Lee who go out of their way to write awesome love notes for some guy who seems totally not worth it.  Still, it’s a nice story about two creative ladies, and they end up meeting Lee’s crush in a field of dandelions.

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“One Day in 1978” by Lance Ward
“Radio Daze” by Lance Ward

Lance Ward began making comics in September. Already he’s writing regular opinion cartoons for South Washington County Bulletin newspaper and has self-published at least two books.  Lance Ward is a total achiever and I really like his art, which in One Day in 1978 is a bit more filled out and polished, but still looks good when reduced to the quicker sketchy style used in Radio Daze.  I look forward to seeing more work from him.

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“Brain Food #16” by Mike Toft

Mike Toft’s ongoing series Brain Food is political, snarky, and populated with zombies, a talking rabbit and enterprising evil-doers.  Zombies are making porn, zombie babies are sold as “Chinese orphans” and everything is totally bonkers in the Brain Food world.  In this issue, Rabbit gets paid for the online orders of “Zombies Gone Wild” and discovers there’s been a drop in sales and general use of the zombie porn site.  It seems a do-gooder group has gone up in protest of the zombie porn industry.  Apparently the public was okay believing that the orphans they bought were caught in the wild, but totally resent that they’re the product of porn and their special baby food is mashed up brains.  (Oh, ick.)  Meanwhile, the zombies have developed a taste for human balls instead of brains.  Brain Food has been in production, and weirding people out, since 1996.

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“Buzzpop #1-3” by Matt Chicorel

I haven’t seen any work from Matt Chicorel for about three years, which is too bad, because I love his books. Each issue is packed with gorgeous art, great stories, posters he made and other treasures.  I haven’t had a chance to read these yet, but I look forward to hearing more about the adventures of Trenchcoat and Kim.

Sarah Morean