Apologies to all those waiting for our video of the Baltimore Convention; I’ve had a bit of trouble editing it. Hopefully it will be done this week.
In the meantime here’s some more photos. We’ve got plenty of costumes, the Quick bunny, and the most unfortunate tattoo you will ever see. Seriously, this thing is brutal. He might as well have just gotten the word “MISTAKE” branded to his arm.
Before going in you should realize that nothing will be cuter than the very first photo. Ok? Look at the first photo, and then leave my site forever, because I can no longer help you in your quest for adorable photos. As a matter of fact I’d suggest not looking at any other photos anywhere on any other site, because this picture (which I’ve dubbed “Li’l Civil War” for obvious reasons) is going to make all other photos look as appealing as a picture of Hitler banging your grandma. More cosplay and creators to come as the week goes on, but here’s a smattering (“smattering?” Who says that?) from Day 1, including some of the ComiXology panel.
Despite being a city notorious for its crime rate the tone of Baltimore Comic Con was overwhelmingly positive, with most of the big creators at personal tables rather than large, company-run signing booths. Star writers like Brian Michael Bendis and Matt Fraction saw lines of no more than five or ten people per table, whereas at New York or San Diego they would be on an allotted schedule, fans waiting on line an hour before the signing to get in on the action. Because of this Baltimore has a really loose, personal vibe to it that one doesn’t get at the bigger conventions, and fans and creators alike seemed to appreciate the casual nature of the event. After the jump, a recap of the weekend.
Enter Tony Shenton. You know I’ve never even heard of this guy but the way the panel spoke of him made it seem like he was some sort of folk hero, the kind of man who leads revolutions they make movies out about. Shenton, apparently, is a sales rep in contact with tons of small publishers (and I mean small; click that link above for a rather extensive list of tiny publishing houses) on getting their books circulated throughout the country. He even represents Drawn and Quarterly, though I’m sure not exclusively. Now from the few tales told about him at the panel I’m picturing a Johnny Appleseed type with a bag of comics and a smile on his face, travelling state-to-state spreading comics and joy as he goes along. I’m not sure how accurate this actually is, but he’s supposedly a pretty big deal amongst the smaller guys, and Wertz had the near audacity to take him to task for not starting his own distribution company. But then… if what he’s doing isn’t distribution what would you call it? Isn’t Shenton doing what Diamond’s doing on a smaller scale?
RutaRascal: MoCCA, next year please be housed in a location with AC. Other than that, you are great.lachendwolf: Yes, I kind of wish I’d spent more time at #mocca, but it was really wonderful despite the brevity and despite the heat.LizSayles: MOCCA at the Armory- Luckily art doesn’t melt. It was very hot and there was SO much great art.colorkitten: nice to see friends and fans at mocca…GLAD to be out of that steambath!! The new location is the ultimate buzzkiller.AndyBelanger: Hey MoCCA you need some AC our fans have all melted and so has everything in our pockets.
This past Friday Bergen Street Comics hosted Ivan Brandon, and together they celebrated the release of Brandon’s Viking, his latest release from Image comics which is billed as a “crime book for the 9th century.” Ivan was gracious enough to take time out to sign some copies, as well as chat with some customers of the Park Slope comic shop, which included some familiar faces. To see larger photos check out my Viking Flickr stream.
Eric Carlsen and son Oliver. I’m kicking myself for taking this with my iPhone before remembering I brought a real camera. What a cute kid. Little man loved comics.
Ivan Brandon will fucking kill you.
Jared K. Flethcher and Brian Wood do not want to take this photo.
Amy’s brother Dan, Swifty Lang, Brandon from Private Stock, and Rick.
You guys! It’s Kristyn Ferretti, Amy Adams, Jenny Lee, and Becky Cloonan!
How’s the book? Pretty fantastic, actually. Brandon succeeds in writing dialogue that’s not too corny, Thor, “verily” this and that, while at the same time giving an authentic feel to the interactions between characters, as well as to the characters themselves. Annikki and her father were an interesting pair, while the protagonists were the kind of anti-heroes you hate to like. Within these pages Brandon puts together a solid, complex, while still fun to read introductory issue.
With all due respect to Mr. Brandon, however, the art is what steals the show here. Nic Klein’s artwork, previously seen gracing the covers of Marvel’s New Warriors, is so refreshingly unconventional. A sort of painted pen and ink, the artwork is equal parts dark and colorful, classic and modern. In many of the scenes Ben-Day dots accompany the fury of his pen, juxtaposing the wild and almost sloppy, with the neat and uniform. The effect is really quite striking.
As many other reviews have pointed out, the sheer size of the comic is eye-catching (it’s slightly taller and wider than an average floppy), of course. But what first got my attention was the quality of the cover and paper. A beautiful, glossy cardstock cover and thick, heavy paper makes you wonder why you’re only paying $2.99 for a book of such high quality with no advertising while other companies are making books smaller and charging more. Image is such a hit-or-miss-and-really-just-mostly-miss publisher but they really got lucky with this. If giving stars was the kind of thing I did I’d give this book five out of five, but it isn’t so instead I’ll just say that you should go out of your way to buy this.
“Keep it real, everybody.”
I wanted to post these photos earlier but I’ve been up and about all day. Here’s some (admittedly shitty) iPhone photos from Free Comic Book Day at Bergen Street Comics. Check out that crowd.
Now, “comic book talk show” is kind of a vague description so let me get a bit more specific. There’s an announcer in a booth who interacts with the hosts. There’s monologue. There’s different segments. It’s formulaic talk show, right down to the “clips”, here comics instead of movies. I know “formulaic” is sort of a negative sounding word, but that’s really what it is and the show works very well because of it. Despite the small theater setting the cheap gag and pun flow helps give the illusion of being in the studio audience of a real television talk show. This isn’t to say there’s nothing original about CBC; on the contrary, there are some really interesting additions which make the show recognizably “comic book-y”. Tyler, LePage and Zalben bring their weekly video segment The Stack to the stage, and it’s a fun way to have their guests get involved in the comics critique process. There’s also plenty of audience participation with a trivia portion, where one lucky audience member who answers three questions about a guest correctly gets a twenty-five dollar gift certificate to Midtown comics. And before the show the announcer comes around with pencils and paper for the audience to write down questions, and those chosen get a free gift.
The guests, Tony Trov and Johnny Zito (writers of Zuda’s Black Cherry Bombshells), and Tak Toyashima (creator of Secret Asian Man), were met with questions ranging from the interesting to the inane, but it was all done with a style and taste befitting the talk show medium. The shows three hosts did a good job of interacting with the guests and fans without stepping on each other’s toes, and their three personalities played off each other well. Zalben, the show’s main host, had a sort of straight-man quality, asking msot of the questions and occasionally coming out with a dry joke. LePage, the group’s fall guy, spent most of his time dodging insults from Tyler, who in turn was funny-man of the group. The show’s been going on for some time now, so I’m sure they’ve had time to hone their interviewing skills, but they each come off spectacular in their own way, and help move the show along in a Conan/Andy sort of way; each of their strengths accentuate the other’s. I tell ya, I honestly don’t have enough good things to say about Comic Book Club. If you live in NY and you have a chance to check it out I’d reccomend doing so. It’s just plain good, nerdy fun.
From l.-r.: Zalben chats with Trov, Zito, and Toyashima.
*It should be noted that due to my receiving the wrong start time, I showed up to the lecture 25 minutes late. -M.S.*
Art Spiegelman commanded the attention of his mostly college-age audience this past Thursday like the elder statesmen he has gradually become. During the course of his 90 minute lecture, presented within a series on the Jewish experience in America, Spiegelman ran through a crash course in comics’ history, personalizing his sometimes didactic material with asides and anecdotes. Anyone familiar with Spiegelman’s work knows that he has a tendency to be a bit solipsistic, especially with his chronicling of his 50+ year relationship to comics. Spiegelman shines when he strays from his script since most of the material is well-worn territory for those who already have some perspective of the medium. It’s interesting to hear him try and reconcile his role as expert/historian and the academic credibility that’s been thrust upon him (having taught at Columbia) since he continuously asserts his decidedly low brow leanings. Making sense of that dichotomy was at the heart of his lecture and continues to shape his work. One of the other highlights was hearing Spiegelman use his clout to bring fellow artists out of obscurity including Justin Green, best known for Binky Brown Meets the Virgin Mary. His anthology is set to be published sometime this year through McSweeneys.
Discussing his illustrations for The New Yorker, many of which were deemed too scandalous for the gentile tastes of the publication, he presented a clear eyed analysis that revealed the false sense of controversy that often arises from satirical images/cartoons in the media and how bloated and exaggerated this outrage feels with even just a short passage of time (poke around the internet for a 1993 cover with a Hasidic man kissing an African American woman that came off the heels of the crown heights riots). Even when he ran through the usual touchstones, i.e. Mad’s profound affect on his view of cartooning, Little Nemo, etc., his delivery was humorous and engaging. For its part the audience, which did not quite fill up GWU’s Jack Morton auditorium, did not seem terribly familiar with his work or comics in general considering the paltry number of hands raised when asked how many were familiar with Krazy Kat and saw Persepolis. His estimates were about twenty percent of the room, leaving him to remark “I always overestimate my subculture.” He might be the only one.
During a rather tepid Q and A, someone asked about bringing Maus to the big screen. It’s a fairly obvious question considering the marketplace but his response was thoughtful and unexpected. He remarked that he had long put it “in emergency glass to break only when necessary” though hearing him discuss it at length, it seems like something of an impossibility considering the difficulty of transferring the narrative/ self-reflexive style of the book to a film. Drawing a distinction between his story and Persepolis’ Marjane Satrapi, who he commented adapted the movie “fairly well,” told her story through a graphic medium out of limited options rather than a stylistic decision which was clearly not the case for Spiegelman. Upon meeting with one studio who offered retention of the film’s final cut, he remarked “I’m an artist, not a Mohel.” What a mensch.