As I stated yesterday, I very much enjoyed this past weekend’s Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. I touched a bit upon the concerns over show curation, stating that, while I do understand the sense of exclusion felt amongst artists who were not asked to take part in the proceedings, I also had no problems with the existence of such a show in a city like New York City, where there are a plethora of festivals whose tabling system is based solely on a first come, first serve basis.
Earlier this morning, I received an e-mail from a local artist I respect stating that I was, perhaps, missing something. There may be something in that assessment. After all, I approached this particular show largely from the perspective of an attendee and largely liked what I saw—and all of those I surveyed who were exhibiting had, it seems, equally positive experiences. Gabe, Dan, and Bill really pulled together a wonderful and vital show.
Given the show’s attendance, it seems unlikely that anyone will write off the concept of a curated show as a failed experiment, and as more and more shows begin to spring up around metropolitan areas already served by a number of comics festivals, it’s likely that more and more organizers will opt for a similar model.
So with that in mind, I present a rebuttal from a cartoonist who, while not asked to participate in the show, did attend the event as a member of the public.
I would love to hear some thoughts in the comments section below. I realize how often these things tend to devolve into shouting matches when argued in the confines of a Web forum, but I do think that, if we take the show as a model of sorts for the future of comics shows, we can certainly have a serious conversation without any of the name calling.
After a couple of hours, I’ve made my way back to the front of the room. It’s not so much the number of tables as the sheer density of talent present. I stand and wait to say hello to Josh Cotter, who is doodling something on the inside of one of those limited edition hardcover copies of Barbra in the Sky with Neil Diamonds. He finally looks up, says my name, and asks how I’ve been.
“Fine,” I say, but then, you know, there wasn’t a fire in my apartment since the last time I’d seen him. I return the question, and he answers gratefully that things could have been worse. No one was hurt, thankfully, and the fire was extinguished before anything too valuable was consumed—a true blessing when you pour your heart and soul onto something so flammable as sheets of drawing paper.
I flip through a binder full of Afrodisiac prints and begin discussing the possibility of a future podcast appearance with Jim Rugg—the proximity of the two artists is a not-so-subtle reminder of the consistency of Ad House’s output over the past few years.
As I try to set the scene for the recent live version of the Cross Hatch Podcast (“Is it just me, or does the entire block smell every time they open up a Subway sandwich shop?”), a man shuffles up next to me and begins flipping through copies of Skyscrapers of the Midwest. I turn my head slightly and turn back to Rugg.
“That’s Matt Groening,” I mouth, and we both freeze, unable to pick back up on the conversation for a moment.
Hard to believe, but in the three years and change that the Cross Hatch has existed, we’ve never had an official meetup. Sure, we’ve sponsored plenty of events, done our fair share of hanging out, and then there’s that upcoming live episode of the Cross Hatch Podcast, but we’ve yet actually host an official meetup.
We’re finally ready to address this grave oversight. On Saturday, November 13th, Sarah and I are holding the first-ever Cross Hatch meetup in Chicago, IL. We’ll be celebrating indie comics, the Windy City, drinking, and the fact that we’re all rarely in the same time zone at the same time.
We’ll be meeting up around 8:30 at the California Clipper on 1002 N. California Ave. The place comes highly recommended by some locals. Also, there will be ghosts.
Hey all, as previously noteed, I was recruited to curate programming for the second annual King Con at the Brooklyn Lyceum. There will be plenty of great panels over the course of the weekend (Chris Claremont and Jonathan Ames, for starters), but for the dual sakes of brevity and self-promotion, here is a quick list of where you’ll be able to catch me on November 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th.
Tags: big brain comics, bill prendergast, britt aamodt, danno klonowski, fallcon, international cartoonist conspiracy, Kevin Cannon, Lars Martinson, lupi mcginty, michael drivas, Mike Toft, MIX, rain taxi book festival, Tom Kaczynski, Will Dinski, zak sally
Minneapolis is a great place for comics. Have I said that enough?
Last weekend, two of our best festivals fell on the same date. For one day only you could attend either the Rain Taxi Book Festival or FallCon. Pretty good for the people of Minneapolis. Pretty tough for cartoonists wanting to exhibit at both shows.
The exodus from FallCon this year was substantial — at least ten indie cartoonists went to the Book Festival instead of FallCon. By all accounts, this year’s FallCon was the best yet. It’s still a great show, but decidedly more mainstream, which is why more cartoonists are spending money for space at Book Fest instead of enjoying the free tables and wonderful hospitality at FallCon.
No hard feelings, FallCon. Sometimes a cartoonist just needs to get out and try new things. Experiment a little. Test a new market. And they did. So how was it?
Danno Klonowski, Minneapolis cartoonist and prominent International Cartoonist Conspiracy member, was kind enough to write us a little something about his experience exhibiting for the first time at the Rain Taxi Book Festival. Full particulars after the cut.
I ran into Liz Baillie on the floor of New York Comic Con this weekend. She was tabling toward the back of the room in a small aisle packed with indie publishers. She seemed in pretty good spirits when I saw her on Friday–a stark contrast from my own already rundown state. Is suspected that she might be burned out by the time Sunday rolled around, but then, I was likely only projecting.
Given the fact that this year’s show was Baillie’s first ever large con (a bit of a surprise, given the amount of time she’s spent in and around the industry), she seemed the perfect candidate to offer a fresh perspective on New York’s massive show.
A certain combination of anticipation and dread is perfectly natural, I think, in the lead up to any convention. The precise content of said combination, of course, differs from show to show, attributed in part to the focus of the event and to the role a person is set to play within it.
With this year’s MoCCA Fest, for example, the dread largely centered around the amount of work I foresaw for myself over the course of the weekend as my first year in a program directing role. Ultimately, however, it took a backseat to the anticipatory aspect of things—a chance to be at the epicenter of one of the best indie comics festivals in the country.
In the weeks leading up to this year’s New York Comic Con, on the other hand, it was hard to spot the anticipation through the dread. My memories from past years’ events largely involve standing in line, waiting, and generally getting frustrated at not being able to get where I need to be in a reasonable length of time.
By that standard, the trip to Thursday night’s Comic Book Legal Defense Fund party was a pretty good dry run for the rest of the weekend. This year’s kickoff event was held at the new Village Pourhouse location on West 46th—a location which, without a good deal of forethought and maneuvering, requires a trip through the hellish depths of midtown Manhattan’s Times Square, an area which practically every reasonable New Yorker goes out of their way to avoid, but to which, for whatever reason (a Broadway show, a detour, an unquenchable appetite for Bubba Gump Shrimp), they find themselves drawn to, a few times a year.
It’s a dozen or so blocks of slow moving tourists with giant backpacks taking photos of each other and the freaks in costumes gathered there by the boatload—it is, in a sense, New York Comic Con, without the exorbitant entrance fees and boxes full of Marvel Two-in-One back issues.
The new Village Pourhouse location, likewise, is a bit of a madhouse, the standard number of party goers crammed into a far narrower space—a fittingly New York experience for all of those who traveled from out of town for the weekend’s festivities. And while all or most present seem to be having a good time catching up with old friends, I’m already deep in the throes of crowd-rage—a fact that certainly doesn’t bode well for the next few days.
I find refuge upstairs on a chair next to an extremely pregnant Miss Lasko-Gross and various members of the Zuda collective. I watch New York trounce Minneapolis in the last few innings of their second playoff game, as the crowd around me cheers on a woman on the sidewalk downstairs vomiting onto a 46th St. stoop. They should fire the person who decided to schedule two popular spectator sports for the same night.
What does that entail, precisely? I’m still in the process of figuring that out, but for starters it means offering up my decidedly myopic knowledge of the comic book world, primarily to help curate programming for this year’s event—panels and the like.
Last year’s event was, by nearly all accounts, an enjoyable and welcome event—even in the already crowded world of New York comic shows (here’s a thing I wrote about it). This year the show is straddling the line, both figuratively and literally.
Literally in the sense that this year’s King Con falls on November 6th and 7th, right smack in between New York Comic Con and the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival (also in its second year), and figuratively, in that the show caters to independent and mainstream comics fans alike. The first announced guest is Chris Claremont, after all—even a jaded indie fan such as myself gets a bit giddy at the prospect of meeting the guy who wrote “The Dark Phoenix Saga.”
For that reason, the show will be a new challenge for me, after having been involved in the paneling for MoCCA and the first annual Minneapolis Indie Expo, two decidedly indie-focused shows.
The show is also a celebration of local talents—any thankfully, there’s are plenty to choose from in Brooklyn and the other four boroughs. Heck, we might even go outside, if people’s travel budgets allow it.
Only in its second year, the show lacks the name recognition of MoCCA, and my timeline for helping to curate is significantly shorter, but we’ve already begun assembling talent, and there are a lot of panels in the works that I’m genuinely excited to announce.
Keep checking back for more info on the days and weeks to come. There’s a far more official sounding press release after the jump.
I won the first—and almost certainly the last—comics award of my career. It had the word “fake” in its name and two Silly Bandz adhered to its exterior. I haven’t actually opened the thing yet, but I’m told that it’s full of Sour Patch Kids. It got more or less smashed on in my suitcase on the car ride home, under the weight of the new Adhouse Book and a mason jar full of “genuine” Georgian corn whisky—apparently they distill the stuff in Kentucky.
Ignatz emcee Liz Baillie tossed the cardboard Fakenatzes to anyone who could guess the next presenter based on a series of obscure questions she’d found rummaging around amongst Internet biographies. I guessed Dean Haspiel. Moments later, at the request of the crowd, Dean presented the award for “Best Graphic Novel” topless. So, in a sense we all won.
The Ignatz Awards are, no doubt, a fascinating thing for first timers, a unique balance of the goofy and earnest, the self-proclaimed “fastest awards show in comics,” wherein shirtless presenters and prat falls co-mingle with tearful acceptance speeches given while cradling a brick on a small wooden cradle. There was, much to the disappointment of many, no gorilla suit in the crowd, but the point stands nonetheless.
It’s easy to appreciate the ceremony as a microcosm the whole weekend. SPX is a rare thing in an industry that, let’s face it, has the tendency to take itself far too seriously—and understandably so. We’ve all, no doubt, spent countless hours and energy as one-person ambassadors working to convince other of the legitimacy of the form. How many strangers have you told about Maus or Fun Home or Palestine or Persepolis?