While You Were Out: Dispatches from Beyond SDCC 2008

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Chalk it up to the sophomore jinx, but the Second Annual Astoria Comic Con isn’t going quite so well as I had hoped. Sure there will be naysayers who insist that it has something to do with the fact that once again I stubbornly insisted on holding it the same weekend as the San Diego Comic Con. And then there’s the fact that I didn’t advertise or really mention it to anybody. And, of course, nitpickers will likely point out that I held the thing in my tiny backyard in Astoria, Queens.

Honestly, though, I think the whole thing is just a matter of building proper buzz, and that sort of thing takes at least three years of unsuccessful backyard conventions to build. Maybe next year J. Scott Campbell will return my phone calls…

We’ve still got another day-and-a-half to turn this whole thing around. And believe me, once word gets out about those discount-priced hugs, attendees will be fleeing the San Diego convention center like rats from a sinking Watchmen sneak previewing ship. At least it didn’t rain this year–yet…

In the meantime, we put out the word to some of our cartoonist pals and asked them why the hell they weren’t at SDCC either, this weekend. Check out responses from Jeff Smith, Evan Dorkin, Renee French, Tony Millionaire, Tom Hart, and many, many more, after the jump.

Bonus: almost certainly the most adorable picture in the history of The Hatch.
–BH

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Interview: Sparkplug’s Dylan Williams Pt. 3 [of 3]

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Based out of the alternative publishing capital of Portland, Oregon, Sparkplug Books is regularly issuing some of the most exciting work being released in comics today. When he first launched the company, cartoonist Dylan Williams was seeking to expose unsigned talent, while keeping check to make sure that the publishing house largely adhered to his DIY roots.

To true to its mission statement, Sparkplug has occupied a happy medium between the world of self-published, photocopied zines and the kingpin indie publishers like Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly.

In this final part of our interview with Williams we discuss the importance of being Portland, artist loyalty, and why the hell an indie comics publisher would be caught dead in the hall of the San Diego Comic Con.

[Part One] [Part Two]

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Interview: Sparkplug’s Dylan Williams Pt. 2

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While it was the release of Jason Shiga’s Eisner-nominated Bookhunter that brought Sparkplug Books to the attention of cultural critics across the country, without an equally strong roster of subsequent releases, it would have been easy to write the Portland-based publisher’s single book success off as a fluke.

Much to his credit, however, founder Dylan Williams—himself a cartoonist—has continually demonstrated a keen eye for spotting some of the most exciting artists toiling away in the small press universe, a fact reflected by a recent string of intriguing new releases by artists like Chris Wright, Trevor Alixopolous, and Elijah Brubaker.

In this second of a three part interview, we discuss Williams’s editorial role in the creation of books, the importance of staying small, and answer that question that is no doubt weighing heavy on everyone’s mind: just what the hell is Jason Shiga up to, these days?

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