Fallcon 2009 Walkabout + Round Up

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fallcon2009postcardThe Midwest Comic Book Association throws a big event each year called Fallcon.  In most ways it’s a con like any other con.  Costumes, long boxes, xeroxed minis that don’t sell well, and a lot of dudes wearing black coats.

To me, the identity of Fallcon was apparent long ago: it’s just your average hero-worshiping local comic convention.  Make of it what you will, but in the end, creators go because their friends go and the more they go the more friends they know.  It’s fun, but even if you come out a few books light, you’re not leaving with a book deal and you’re rarely getting out with a date.

Fallcon is a hospitality show that fosters comics love in the Twin Cities.  It works that way because it’s basically the pet project of a very successful local comic book shop owner.  Comics love = comics business.  Our good fortune comes as easy as that but it’s not a formula that could work everywhere.  Luckily, this show is very good at achieving it’s mission, but it’s also been decidedly predictable.  Until this year.

I recently noted a change of tone in MCBA’s marketing strategy.  At least, it seemed new to me.  I perceived this year, for the first time, that the identity of Fallcon is slowly attempting to morph.  Into what, I don’t know.  But while Fallcon certainly appears to be just another fanboy-centric con to you — look again.  Look at that postcard!  This year the MCBA slogan for this show was realized by me for the first time.  Suddenly I couldn’t think of Fallcon as “just a con” anymore because, as the postcard notes, it is “A Comic Book Celebration.”

Wait.  “Celebration.” That’s like a party!  Huh-freaking-zah.  We’re all friends here.  It’s about time we got down.

That word “celebration” got me totally psyched to attend Fallcon this weekend, but looking back on things, I think I took it the wrong way.  All weekend long I sought evidence that Fallcon was much more than a sales floor, but was in fact one big swinging bash the likes of which Saint Paul, Minnnesota, would not see again until its next annual, epic appearance in 2010.  We were gonna tear down the rafters and spike the cola and open a kissing booth and gamble on real life Superman vs. Batman combat bouts in the adjacent conference room.

I took my camera and snapped what I could, but found none of this highly anticipated debauchery.  When I finally discovered the source of Fallcon’s celebration mojo, however, I was pleasantly surprised.  And while I’m sure that the celebration aspect of Fallcon takes on different forms for different people, to me it has become something very specific.

I’m taking you now on a photographic tour of the 2009 Fallcon.  Maybe the fruits of my walkabout will prove “celebration” enough to you, but it wasn’t until I reached the final piece of evidence that I really knew what it meant to have a comic book party.

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Interview: R. Sikoryak Pt. 3 [of 3]

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In light of his successful debut at San Diego Comic Con this past weekend, we may well be seeing a slew of new Masterpiece Comics strips debut from the R. Sikoryak camp. Of course, given that the first book took roughly 20 years to produce, perhaps it’s best not to hold our collective breath for another anthology.

In the meantime, I’d like to take this opportunity to encourage the artist to instate some manner of Internet-based suggestion box—not because I expect or even really hope he’ll elect to tackle proposed strips, but rather because proposing theoretical pairings of literature and comics is, simply put, a lot of fun.

Heck, I couldn’t help suggesting one of my own in the third part of our interview, and while Marma Dick wasn’t a creative high point for me personally, once you put yourself in that mindset, such suggestions can’t be helped. But ultimately, I suppose there’s a reason why Sikoryak is the master behind Masterpiece Comics.

[Part One]
[Part Two]
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Interview: R. Sikoryak Pt. 2 [of 3]

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What do Dostoyevsky, David Heatley, Demi Moore, and the guy who drew Bazooka Joe have in common? Why the second part of our interview with Masterpiece Comics Author R. Sikoryak, of course.

[Part One]

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Interview: R. Sikoryak Pt. 1 [of 3]

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It took Michelangelo four years to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Beethoven composed his 9th Symphony over course of six. Jonas Salk, meanwhile,  spent eight years chasing the cure for Polio. According to the copyright on the inside cover of Drawn & Quarterly’s Masterpiece Comics, the book’s 13 strips were created by R. Sikoryak over the course of 20 years—roughly the same period of time it took tens of thousands of workers to complete the Great Pyramid of Giza.

While it would, perhaps, be a bit of a stretch to suggest that the work were an accomplishment on par with, say, that big triangular structure in the middle of the Egyptian desert, the collection has certainly been eagerly awaited for all of those who’ve followed the New York-based artist’s work, which, over the past two decades, has appeared everywhere from RAW to The New Yorker to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

But while Sikoryak has certainly built an impressive portfolio by way of his freelance output, the strips that comprise Masterpiece Comics are his masterwork, filtering some of the greatest works of literature through some of 20th century sequential art’s most iconic figures. The cast of Bazooka Joe plays out Dante’s Inferno, Garfield becomes Mephistopheles to Jon Arbuckle’s Dr. Faustus, and Beavis and Butthead wait patiently for Godot.

These 13 strips are not straight comic satire, however. Sikoryak’s Masterpiece Comics are defined by two key factors. First is the artist’s devotion to his source material—never straying too far from Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, even as Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego adopts the role of Raskolnikov. Second is Sikoryak’s commitment to aesthetics, switching gracefully from Winsor McCay to Charles Schulz to Joe Shuster.

In honor of the book’s release in September (with early editions available at San Diego), we sat down with Sikoryak to discuss the book’s secret origins.

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Interview: Craig Yoe Pt. 2 [of 2]

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In part two of our interview with cartoon art historian Craig Yoe. We discuss the roles that Fredrick Wertham, a Brooklyn-based gang of Jewish Nazis, and the Supreme Court judge who helped found the ACLU played in Joe Shuster’s post-Superman SM drawings.

[Part One]

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Interview: Craig Yoe Pt. 1 [of 2]

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Given the breadth and diversity of Craig Yoe’s career, from My Little Pony employee to creative director of the Muppets to self-made comics historian, it might be easier to define him by those seemingly few things he hasn’t done in the entertainment industry. Or better yet, we’ll simply focus on those aspects of Yoe’s career that are particularly important to us, at the moment, beginning with the 2005 publication of Modern Arf.

The first in the Fantagraphic series—which now includes Art Museum and Arf Forum—the anthology helped established Yoe a first-class documenter of sequential art’s secret history, a position echoed in the near simultaneous publication of Boody, the Fantagraphics-published love letter largely forgotten master, Boody Rogers and Abrams’ Secret Identity.

We sat down with Yoe at the recent MoCCA Festival in midtown Manhattan for a conversation that largely revolved around the latter, a book devoted to the long lost SM drawings of Superman artist, Joe Shuster, which Yoe happened to stumble upon at a rare art sale.

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Interview: Eric Powell Pt. 2 [of 2]

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At a comics convention, an early stages movie deal is something of a 300-pound gorilla—something everyone wants to discuss, but still tries hard not to jinx. In this industry we’ve seen countless optioning deals come and go, so when a creator announces that they’ve got the ball rolling on a project, it can be difficult to broach the subject.

The Goon creator, Eric Powell, while slightly apprehensive, seems fairly confident in a recent deal struck for his most famous creation. And really, the artist has every right to be. After all, he’s got David Fincher in his corner. A self-proclaimed fan of the Dark Horse  series, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button director has signed onto the project as a producer. Powell has begun working on treatments for the film, and, by all accounts, the early animation looks extremely promising.

In this second and final part of our interview with Powell, we discuss working for the Hollywood machine and what it’s like letting his creation go, ever-so-slightly, in order to explore mediums outside the insular comics world.

[Part One]

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Interview: Eric Powell Pt. 1 [of 2]

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A skilled craftsman by any measure, Eric Powell has put in his time all over the industry, from more independent works to superhero franchises like Batman and Superman. The Lebanon, Tennessee-based artist is, however, most content to do things on his own terms, reveling in the rare manner of freedom afforded to him by his own Dark Horse series, The Goon, the ever-evolving tale of a classically-styled pipe wrench-wielding ruffian doing battle with whatever manner of strange and fantastic villianry the artist’s mind can concoct.

After nearly a decade, the series has become Powell’s major creative outlet, and the hard work has paid off in spades. The book has become one of Dark Horse’s most popular creator-owned works and has garnered Powell numerous awards, including a handful of Eisners. It’s also recently been optioned by David Fincher in hopes of being transformed into an animated feature.

We sat down with Powell at this year’s New York Comic Con to talk about his work in the industry and why all roads lead back to The Goon.
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