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April 25, 2013


A Few Notes On Visiting New York's MoCCA Arts Fest 2013 And S.P.A.C.E. 2013 In Columbus

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* so a week apart I went to two very different comics shows: the MoCCA Arts Fest in New York City, and SPACE in Columbus, Ohio. What follows are some notes from those travels. I apologize for their lateness; nothing here quite cohered, and I thought they might do so as time passed. Then I got busy. Then my computer blew up.

* I have relatively few hardcore travel/flight notes this time out. I remain slightly dismayed how thinly we're spread in terms of our travel infrastructure, how missing a single connection can capsize your trips for a day or more, and how little this seems to matter to any of the airlines that might be able to better cope with the consequences of this were it to become a priority to do so. This is not my memory of travel even 15 years ago, and can't be a good thing for the prospect of traveling a bunch in the future. I think travel may become more increasingly attractive to cartoonists and other comics folk.

* so: New York and MoCCA.

* since New York is first, let me do a New York-related travel note about the hotels I stayed in. I did spend some time with a friend in New Jersey but in the city I stayed at hotels. I prefer this, even though I know most people couch and guest room surf -- there were a couple of comics people inhabiting the otherwise empty home of Brian Heater, for example, perhaps even with his permission. But at this point in my life I almost always opt for a hotel. I'm old, I prefer to watch ESPN at full blast at 3 AM while eating corn ships, and I occasionally have Night Shrieks.

I stayed in three NYC hotels. According to on-line review sites, this should have cost me $1500 and involved rats constantly running over my face. New York hotel room reviews are about 20 percent crazier than all other hotel reviews, which are pretty loopy to begin with. People seem to savage any hotel that isn't really top-end as being a series of tiny hell-holes in a crumbling fa├žade staffed by ingrates. I thought all three hotels I stayed in -- a Best Western at Bowery and Grand, Pod 51 reasonably close to the Society of Illustrators (I got a full room rather than one with a shared restroom) and the Marcel at Gramercy Hotel near the show itself -- were freaking fine, and everybody at each place was super-nice. I would stay in all three again. I also worked all three down under $150 a night by just checking discount sites with some regularity in the weeks leading up to the show.

So it's possible to do a hotel in NYC and not get screwed. Just saying.

* okay, that boring point was to make everyone leave that was likely to leave so we can gossip, you and me. How are you? Have you been well?

* comics shows are sort of amazing right now. I could go to a comics show every other week for a solid ten months, and that's not the month that includes Angouleme. It's a whole different world than it was a generation ago, when there were maybe two or three shows in an entire year that one might consider doing. It's a better world, I think.

* I flew into NYC on Easter Sunday. This was the Sunday before MoCCA.

* I was close enough that first night to stop by the KGB Bar Easter-tradition comics reading on my way to a late dinner. Robyn Chapman told me that attendance was slightly down, but there were still enough people I had to stand. I enjoyed what I saw: Sam Henderson doing funny voices, Jesse Reklaw singing a song on his guitar, and at least one cartoonist I'd never heard of whose work I enjoyed -- I think the one I saw and whose work intrigued me was Caroline Paquita. The room would hold maybe 40-50 people at most. I'm glad I did such an event this one time, as I can't imagine that becoming my kind of thing on a regular basis even if I had the opportunity. But anything that cartoonists want to do and that they think helps get their work over with an audience, I'm for it.

* one unfortunate element was a small stream of traffic walking past the screen in varying degrees of stooped-over politeness in order to get at a bar. One man that looked a lot like Michael Chiklis walked in during the Jesse Reklaw reading, wondered out loud what in the hell he was seeing, and then asked me where he could "score some blow." That's never happened to me at a comics event before. I'm not sure that I knew I looked like a guy who could help a guy score some blow.

* don't get me wrong, I still sold some to him. It was just weird to be asked.

* I thought that Karl Stevens' material read surprisingly well, and seeing him emphasize the funny parts actually changed the way I'll approach those comics in the future.

image* the new Jesse Reklaw comics mentioned a couple of times already are kind of fascinating-looking if you compare it to the crisper, easy-to-scan work for which he's best known; I picked up that book, called Lovf, at the show.

* one bit of publishing news I gleaned from that event is that Karl Stevens is drawing a full-length graphic novel on contract, I believe from someone else's script but still in that distinctive style of his. I think it's okay I report that in a casual way here.

* I wonder sometimes if Stevens isn't one of those cartoonists super ill-served by the shape of the current marketplace, that were we in an era where he could be published three or four times a year in comic book form people would pick up on what he does in order that he might build a more significant fan base in that traditional comics world. I wonder, I wonder.

* the reason I flew into MoCCA a full week in advance was so I could attend my friend Gil Roth's talk with Ben Katchor at the Monday night comics symposium held at the Parsons New School. Gil is a very skilled comics interviewer, and I urge all publicity people to include his podcast on their publicity plans for the New York area.

* one supposes Katchor spoke to Roth both as a way to provide content for the ongoing symposium but to help promote his new book, Hand-Drying In America. You should go listen to it here.

* so I guess they do this symposium every Monday? Or at least they do this on Mondays with some regularity. Charles Brownstein presented the next Monday, the one after MoCCA, and I was invited to present sometime this summer if I could make it back to the city. That's also slightly astonishing to me, that something like that exists and that it hasn't existed for years. While there are models for and examples of more informal comics get-togethers stretching back decades -- not to mention outright parties and alcohol-fueled lunches -- there's a lot to be said for something formal like this as a foundational thing on which the local community of artists, industry-folk and hardcore fans can hang their hat. I hope that five years from now every single comics town with an appropriate, sponsoring institution can offer something similar.

* the Hand-Drying In America book is beautiful and immense and formidable; we honor and enthuse over none of our routinely great cartoonists as little as we do Ben Katchor, and I'm not sure why. Katchor was an engaging reader of his own work when projected on a screen, and I imagine would be a complex and challenging interview subject were I sitting in Roth's chair.

* the event was fairly well attended: a full room with people along the back wall, skewing older, but with more than few young people. Seymour Chwast was there. Bob Sikoryak. Bill Kartalopoulos. Andrea Tsurumi. Keren Katz. Connie Sun. Arlen Schumer. A bunch of people I didn't know. I would go to this a lot if I lived there.

image* there are several things I recall about the substance of the interview, even without the podcast refresher. One was that Katchor said he had the full support of his parents in the sense that one of them had always wanted to pursue art and one of them had such strong memories of cartooning as an honorable profession that this seemed like a great thing for their son to do. He noted how hard it would be to be a cartoonist without the support of one's parents given all the other difficulties, and something about that struck me as a particularly kind and generous thought. Another thought that floats to surface was that Katchor seemed to avoid the label of nostalgia, and in fact at least one emphatically stated he'd like to see the future be more interesting far more than he'd ever want to retreat to a more interesting past. Yet another thing I recall was that Katchor said it was more difficult to make comics now than it was when he started out, which is something you hear quite a bit from older cartoonists. Pressed on process, Katchor noted he writes his strips first, which I didn't know. This allows him the luxury of doing that portion of his work wherever he finds himself. He also stated a preference for the free newspaper as a home for his work because of the easy access to his work by people that maybe couldn't afford a book collection or even Internet access.

* anyway, that was good. Ben Katchor! New York City! Comics!

* something that came up there and elsewhere throughout the New York portion of my trip was the notion of comics community. This is a natural subject matter at shows. I did not get a sense of strong local comics community from the New Yorkers with whom I hung out, even by the pretty loose nature of how comics culture defines those things. I could be completely wrong about this, or intersecting with cartoonists who are older and have more complex lives than allows for easy interaction with a bunch of their peers. I hope if I'm right that it changes; I think there's a lot of value for younger cartoonists, in particular, in having regular events to attend and regular faces on which to count seeing. I'm barely "in" comics, and I rely on a version of this.

* while staying with Gil Roth. I got a podcast tutorial for the long-threatened CR podcast. Something soon, I promise.

* I studied Roth's vast library of comics, which is fascinating to me because Gil is quite well read generally so his comics collection is a component of that larger devotion to books and reading rather than its own thing. It's hard for me to imagine Gil building a comics vault, if that makes any sense. You are much more likely to see a shelf of Ron Rosenbaum and David Gates books near the Eddie Campbell than you are a row of Batgirl statuettes. All love to the statuettes and those that adore them, but I like seeing as many different ways of conceiving and interacting with comics as is possible. If Shelf Porn were a real porn site, all the categories would take you to the same page.

* Roth owns a significant number of works from artists like Gary Panter, but he also had some buys that reflect his local comics retailer: Joker's Child (my favorite name for a comics shop in a while). He has these hardcover Marvel volumes that I didn't know existed: one, for example, collects the entirety of the Walt Simonson run on Thor. Marvel's book publishing program seems so arbitrary and goofy at times, like it's less a publishing strategy than a performance art piece on the subject of not keeping stuff in print. I don't think I've even seriously covered that element of their overall output, let alone bought a lot of it, it's such a slow-motion train wreck in so many ways. Anyway, I would love to have a few books like that one, and I should learn more about what's out there.

* comics could do far, far worse than adding 8000 Gil Roths to its reading audience, which strikes me as a goal equally achievable and desirable as converting 50,000 videogame players. As we move past seeing comics resources as limited and to be spent in parsimonious fashion on whatever element of comics most flatters ourselves, it would be wonderful if the needs of all readers were more directly engaged. I used to spend money on comics that I couldn't spend now. This is dumb.

* saw the writer about comics and occasional comics-maker Sean T. Collins on Tuesday. It's always nice to catch up with a peer. We talked about the on-line writing market in which he participates with some strength and force as a reviewer of TV and music, most noticeably as a high-end re-cap style writer about television. (He doesn't really write recaps, but his reviews are informed by the same thorough engagement with the material that recap culture has brought to the service. If you want to spend some time with the episode of the show you just saw and enjoyed, you could read one of Sean's reviews the same way you might consume a formal recap.) It sounds rough out there in that market, with relatively meager returns in terms of pay for just a staggering amount of writing being done. Granted, Collins is more than grateful for every opportunity that comes his way so any aspersions cast are wholly my own. I'm not sure what the hell happened to that writing market, why there's no longer any money for on-line content -- don't say there never was because I know differently -- but it isn't pretty. I'd hate to be stringing together a bunch of freelance gigs right now considering how few opportunities there are for so little reward. It's terrifying. This was actually by far the more positive of the two lengthy conversation I had with talented working writers.

* had lunch with Bob Fingerman on Thursday, at about 105th and West Broadway. We talked about vocational issues, and comics marketing, and Bob's reputation as having something of a noticeably fallen face on the last day of major comics events.

* that's right, all I did was eat with comics-people. What do you do when you travel?

* I always enjoy Bob, and I hope his Maximum Minimum Wage trade does well. It is a handsome mounting of that material, and that's a key alt-comics series. I certainly think it'd be as effective a springboard into a younger-persons TV show as any other comics property that exists right now. A comic might be an odd place for someone to go for something like Girls, but that comic could definitely work that way for some enterprising TV producer. I also suspect that Fingerman is eager to do more comics work, which would be great.

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* you can tell the above is the office building that houses DC Comics because there's a Batman symbol in one of window. Actually, I have no idea if that's a DC office at all, and might prefer it not to be. I hadn't visited since Archie Goodwin was alive.

* ran into the writer Mark Sable in the lobby. That was nice. I like that guy.

* I had an excellent meeting with John Cunningham. It was all off the record, informal and engaging, and I greatly appreciate Cunningham taking the time to talk to me. I enjoyed the discussion and learned a lot -- all in above-board fashion -- that I'll be able to employ at CR.

* hung out with Scott Nybakken a bit on my way out of DC. Scott works in the archives department there, and is very nearly a 20-year DC employee at this point. Nybakken was my immediate predecessor at The Comics Journal, is a very good writer, a nice man, and the kind of person on whose back the North American comics industry is carried. We have a number of mutual friends.

* I didn't have a lot of solid questions about DC archival work. Nybakken said he would like to see his department do more Jack Cole and I can't imagine anyone disagreeing with that. I don't think Scott would mind me writing that he noted how the archives started as something the art department did but the place added an editorial component to that task in a formal way -- by which I mean people in charge of editorial with people they report to -- at a later date. That's kind of interesting. He seemed happy and looked well.

* Nybakken took me by DC's library, where I received a nice tour. This included getting to hold copies of various iconic superhero first editions. I was interested to learn that one reason DC has a number of fairly impressive books on hand is for legal reasons, not just editorial-driven research, which makes total sense. I saw the drawer full of licensed comics and some of the oddities, including an apparently famous comic a rich man licensed for his sons birthday in which the birthday boy and all his friends appear. That would have ruined me for all other comics when I was that age. I would have wanted more of them with me in it. I was bad enough about characters that reminded me of me. Like Kitty Pryde.

* that night I went to the MoCCA-related reception at the Society Of Illustrators, a place I'd never been before. That was... that was pretty great, actually. I could have looked at the art for five hours. Here are photos of the basement level with the Harvey Kurtzman exhibit on the walls and the first floor when they had the boxes on hand they were taking to MoCCA exhibitors the next day.

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* what struck me was 1) how nice in general the art displayed was, 2) how nice the place was otherwise (you can see how people would have wedding receptions there), 3) how earnest the people were and how they were generally interested in learning more about the milieu of comics in addition to the work itself. Bill Griffith, Diane Noomin, David Mazzucchelli, Danny Fingeroth, Anne Ishii, Gina Gagliano, Heidi MacDonald, Bill Kartalopoulos and Calvin Reid were among the comics people on hand.

* the overall impression of that reception was a show of institutional strength, whether or not that was what was intended. Kind of "this is our home, this is how we treat comics art, this is how we operate dressed up and trying to impress, we look forward to you being part of our family" as a message, if that makes any sense. It was hard not to be a bit taken in.

* at one point Calvin Reid looked around the ridiculously well-appointed bar and dinner area and proclaimed, "So... MoCCA died and went to heaven." I laughed.

* Anelle Miller was as generally impressive in person as she was in this interview, and I thought she came off extremely well in that interview. I don't want to overstate things, but she struck me as someone that works very hard, is focused on what is in front of her, and is open to making changes and doing things differently from a position of strength rather than as part of a constant referendum on what she's done and how she did it. This is much more rare in comics than it should be. It seems to me that in comics a ton of us seem to approach work matters as if from a crazed, defensive hunch, ready to advocate on behalf of what's been done or our actions or both in a kind of strained way usually reserved for congressional hearings. I don't know if that communicates, but if you've been around comics long enough, I think you know what I mean. We always seem to be defending ourselves. It's never about the opinion as much as it's our right to have this opinion. And I didn't get that from the SOI people.

* the Society also had free booze at this event, at least for the first half, so everything I just wrote was probably purchased from me one bottle at a time. And then I went to a bar, and talked about comics, and I seem to recall Danny Fingeroth asking me multiple questions about Laramie, Wyoming, and I don't all the way remember how I got back to the hotel.

* it was the day that Carmine Infantino died.

* I was lucky enough to have lunch with Brendan Burford the next day. I worked with Brendan when I wrote a strip being syndicated at King Features, where Brendan is now the comics editor. Despite my occasional inability to spell his name correctly, he's yet another one of my favorite people in comics. I'm surprised we don't make a bigger deal of a former mini-comics maker and indy anthology editor holding one of the few positions in comics that can actually provide cartoonists with careers. Everything we talked about was off the record, and most was off of comics. There's no better conversation than one enjoyed about some specifics of New York architecture with Brendan Burford.

* later that evening I went to the Dash Shaw event at Desert Island in Brooklyn, seeing it for the first time. Primed by a subway ride where I thought someone was actually going to offer me a seat, I made the first of 43 million old jokes I was to make the rest of the weekend, telling owner Gabe Fowler I was on hand to ensure he wasn't the oldest person in the room. Soon I wasn't the oldest person, although I never left the top three. That's good, though.

* my new thing at comics shows, incidentally, seems to be one excruciatingly clumsy bro-hug with at least one comics person under 35.

* Brooklyn. I watched a young couple break up just outside the store. I should have given them their privacy, but I stayed and watched like a creep, pretending to text from my $5 phone. I think the guy actually feigned a leg injury to make her stick around and take him to the hospital. I wish I could say it's the first time I've seen that particular move. It didn't work for him, either.

* two different sets of people walked up to the shop and walked away when they found out the former bakery space was no longer a bakery. I guess it was some kind of temporary electronics store directly preceding the takeover by Gabe Fowler. He sent me a link to some photos of the conversion.

* anyway, Desert Island seems a well-stocked store, and makes good use of its space. I saw a bunch of stuff there I hadn't seen before, and two different cartoonists showed their friends books they had done that they hadn't seen displayed in any retail establishment before. I could have spent $10K in twenty minutes.

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* as implied, a lot of younger comics people came out to see Dash and eat cake. I talked to Ben Marra about EC artists -- I never talk to that guy. Gary Groth and Fantagraphics would have been gratified to hear that Marra said he had no real experience with the EC comics and was looking forward to the hardcover series to rectify that. Marra expressed a specific interest in Al Feldstein, which is an intriguing choice.

* I hunt out briefly with Team Young Comics at a bar stocked with people straight out of a Brooklyn cliché agency. I imagine I looked like George C. Scott searching for his daughter.

* slightly later than that, I joined Team Young Fantagraphics in a bar that looked like it could use boiling. Because it was Brooklyn, where apparently this kind of thing happens all of the time, we were joined in our elbow-bending and ethical discussions of workplace romances by a man named "Hot Tub Tony" and his friend "Joe Babyshoes." Hot Tub Tony seemed baffled by my presence, and, at that point in the evening, so was I.

* I have never been more tired at a comics event than I was Friday night. I slept ten hours, and missed the first hour of MoCCA.

* MoCCA is held on a Saturday-Sunday, which I think works for a show like that. I like one-day shows slightly better, I think, just because I can never tell the difference in my memory between one-day and two-day shows. Still, I think the two-day format may be the strongest format, if that makes sense. Three or more days starts to get into grouchy old-man territory for me, and the only thing I think it facilitates that I like are things like schools visiting a show, if a show is able to attract that audience. But really I love them all. It seems to me much more natural to extend events back into the week preceding a show than it is to extend shows into Thursdays and Fridays, at least at this point. I am probably in a huge minority on this.

* most of the people to whom I spoke agreed with me that MoCCA 2013 was a generally successful, although not special, comics show.

* the overall atmosphere and the operational smoothness of the show got the highest marks. One publisher told me they never had an easier time at a show not TCAF. A lot of people also sold pretty well.

* there were only two people I spoke to convinced the crowds were noticeably lighter than the previous years. One of them, however, was on the advisory board, so I thought that was interesting. I have to imagine that show lost some momentum in recent years and with the shift; this year may have been more of a placeholder in terms of the publicity drive and anything more ambitious being done with the show -- that, of course, depends on the Society's plans.

* I talked to exactly one person with an overall negative impression. I'm sure there were others, but no one in my direct sphere other than that single person.

* so yeah, good show. If the number of people basking in its glow was probably limited to those that had special experiences and those for whom this show hit a particular sweet spot, I also bet there weren't a lot of people grinding their teeth at noon on Monday.

* let's pull this apart for a bit.

* I think the primary strengths of MoCCA 2013 can be broken down three ways. One was the institutional stolidity on display throughout. That would be Anelle Miller, the rest of her team from Society Of Illustrators, and the committee she put together to bridge that world and the comics world in which arts-comics in New York operates. The second was a general buy-in by several creators and key comics people, something required to make a show in that world work. The third was that an audience showed up.

* don't discount that last one. The biggest underreported story of the surge in festivals and comics shows is the way that audiences have responded to them. Whether this is fans of more general media for whom comic conventions seem to be their own thing independent of anything one might possibly or even accidentally have to read, or whether this includes those that attend what are essentially reading festivals with comics at their center, audiences have taken to cons and festivals in a way that outpaces the reasonable level of expectations for anything in comics beyond top-level art-comics talents. In other words, we have shows that perform ahead of what a smart person might have predicted for them a few years back. And the best shows have the best attendees -- as far as I know without exception.

* the show was four rows facing the entrance to a back row anchored by the CBLDF. Behind that last row was a curtained-in art show featuring comics art from the Society Of Illustrators. Programming was in a side room (the table talks) and downstairs (the formal panels).

* if you haven't been, the 69th Armory is a big space, sort of an indoor basketball court-sized space of the kind you tend to find in a lot of small, mid-western towns. It's a massive, thick-necked jock of a building, too. If you went to high-school with it, it would wrestle at 185 pounds. There is a balcony around the exhibition space that remains inaccessible to con goers, and some downstairs space that seems about 2/3 used, I couldn't quite tell. The show stretched pretty much the length of the floor, with some more versatile space up front. Behind the final row of tables facing these rows was an art show selected by the sponsoring organization, I think about 60-70 pieces. It looks like there's room to expand, but the show will have to be smart about it, it won't be automatic.

* I have to admit, I sort of liked the space. I thought it was interesting and kind of cool. It wasn't as nice as the Puck Building, but professional basketball was never played in the Puck Building. Most of the people that had a negative reaction to the space itself seemed to do so in terms of remembering past, not-great elements of shows, like the year where it was apparently 400 degrees, called "The Sweaty Show."

* one person did express unhappiness that it was an armory and that they actually once saw military personnel there, which was kind of a buzzkill in terms of it being an indy-comic experience.

* I was a little freaked out to see that much art on display with an open side door nearby, and I'm told that some of the flourishes made a huge difference in how the room was perceived, but I thought the space itself was fine.

* I'm not sure I can say the same thing about that neighborhood, which struck me as a place people go to rather than a place where people already are. It was a nice enough, but a little not-arts oriented and not exactly a boon.

* it was not a popular neighborhood with the New York people to whom I spoke. I heard two different people reference bars in which we found ourselves as "bro bars."

* so I think that's a cool place to have a show, but it's not an outstanding one. I suspect that the show could potentially move, and I could see them considering any number of space options for future iterations. I suppose we'll know soon enough.

* one big get for MoCCA was that Fantagraphics, Drawn and Quarterly, AdHouse and PictureBox all showed up, which at one time or another was in significant doubt.

* the Drawn and Quarterly booth was without Julia Pohl-Miranda, after she was delayed at the US border. I think I'm able to say that without irritating anyone; it was openly discussed on the floor. Once thing Fiona told me is that an enormous number of people stopped by and asked if they could help; it doesn't look like she needed it. D+Q had very few books by show's end, and most of their signings seemed well attended.

* Fantagraphics had Jen Vaughn and Jacq Cohen and Gary Groth. AdHouse had Chris Pitzer (looking slim) and Boulet. PictureBox had Dan Nadel and his terrifying, "I am the less-handsome brother of CF" beard. Secret Acres had a high-energy Barry and Leon. It was the old gang, mostly there.

* dividing the hall and aisles with curtains this year -- a new thing, apparently -- was a positive move for most people to whom I spoke. What I mean by that is that there were curtains that separated the show into aisles -- it wasn't just the way the tables were arranged. This kept the hall from seeming oppressively large because your vision was limited to the aisle you were in. It also helped with noise by muffling the noise from tables behind you. I think that was an overall positive, in a way that I imagine someone out there is going to joke about, but is definitely worth noting.

* what else...? I'd give the signage an A-. As the son of a hospital administrator I have a signage fetish, and I'm always frustrated by the shows where I can't tell where I am or where I'm going. It was still a little difficult to find the panel presentations downstairs, or at least I walked a couple of people down there that weren't finding where they were supposed to go. People liked the big row banners as a design element.

* the support staff was widely praised, at least in my direct vicinity, for being courteous and solicitous in terms of asking people if they needed help. I caught one dancing when they thought no one was looking.

* on Saturday. I saw Brigid Alverson interviewing Darryl Cunningham. That's two super-nice people. I'm thinking they talked about comics and how to clean petroleum off of waterfowl.

* all of the younger cartoonists and comics people seem to be either a) dropping weight by mad, b) working out to get into shape. I suspect they're coming to kill all of us over 40. People mentioned to me without prompting Sean Ford, Katie Skelly, Michael DeForge and Leon Avelinho as looking like they were in a particular good place health-wise. A lot of people seemed happy and positive independent of their table sales or the general shape of their lives in comics.

* went to dinner with Dan Nadel and Tim Hodler on Saturday night and told Comics Journal war stories. Dan and Tim together make up about 11 percent of the total audience for such stories, so that was super-convenient. Dan Nadel's unfortunate haircut and beard was the butt of several jokes and at least one person walked up to me just to express their displeasure with it. I thought it looked okay, but the widespread anger at it made me laugh.

* had a drink and too-short conversation with Paul Pope at a bar on Saturday night. I greatly enjoy Paul; he's always treated me like a prince, that guy. I was a fan of his work really early on, and I was happy to make a case for THB in TCJ at a point in time where a lot of what we thought was important to comics worked out of a completely different tradition. Paul and I talked a bit about how he ran his PR through a completely made-up press person when he ran his self-publishing outfit in the Columbus days. More people should do that. Pope and Dan Nadel made plans to take Blutch out to a jazz club, which is exactly the kind of conversation you'd think Dan Nadel and Paul Pope would be having over glasses of alcohol in a New York bar. I look forward to Battling Boy. You know, that Image hardcover that they did has a ton of work in it, by the way; I just noticed that before I left for New York. For some reason I just thought that was one or two stories, but it's a bunch.

* it was great to see Rick Altergott and Ariel Bordeaux, former Seattle comics community members of my era turned Providence nuclear family with their young son. It was his first con. Ariel has a work done for which she's seeking a publisher. I hope publishers will ask after it.

* it was also wonderful to run into new daddy Tucker Stone at the end of the show; I thought he might not make it to festival, but he did, despite the new family member at home. I'm told he attended most of the show in a Bergen Street Comics capacity. I won't lie to you that a giddily happy Tucker Stone isn't slightly terrifying.

* I never saw Gary Tyrrell; I have a theory he's some sort of sentient computer program, and was not dissuaded by his absence. I ran into Darryl Ayo for about 10 seconds. He tweeted twice with his left hand while shaking my hand with his right. Okay, I'm just kidding. It was three tweets.

* I thought the programming was strong and well selected. We have a very high standard for programming right now, but this seemed perfectly pitched to the more casual nature of this particular show, while giving us solid spotlights on the guests of honor. The three panels I was able to attend were pretty packed. The sound was just fine, roughly the same at different places seated.

* I watched a big chunk of Dan Nadel's panel with Stan Mack, Miriam Katin and Bob Fingerman, all of whom were funny and charming. Lot of Stan Mack fans in that room. Mack mentioned that one reason he has worked with found dialogue is that some of the illustrated reportage he did was billed that way. Bob Fingerman also made a humorous point about how gun experts flood the e-mail accounts of any author, comics or otherwise, that fails to provide exact information in terms of a gun being depicted or shown.

* the Bill Griffith/Paul Di Filippo conversation was lively and had a real outreach feel to it, the kind of thing where there was information that fans that know his work a bit would enjoy hearing, or hearing again, but also seemed to place Griffith's work in a broader, more general context that would allow you to appreciate what he's been doing if you'd never seen his work before. Di Filippo -- a science-fiction author, a comics reviewer, and a one-time superhero comic book scriptwriter -- did about as solid a job as I'd ever seen of slipping questions in and out of a pre-prepared slideshow. I was glad he pointed out how generally attractive that strip is.

* I missed out on lunch with Griffith, Di Filippo and Gil Roth because God hates me. That strategy of standing somewhere where you know you're going to see someone when they walk by? That is an overrated strategy.

* I thought the talk between Jillian Tamaki and Ryan Sands was quite good. Tamaki showed up for her panel about 30 minutes early with karaoke stories (apparently Michael DeForge is something). Sands sauntered in about ten minutes later. Tamaki was worried she was late, Sands not so much.

* Tamaki was a guest of honor -- I was happy to see that, I think she straddles the world of comics and illustration with aplomb. She enjoyed a significant line at her post-panel signing with the CBLDF. She had a mini-comics edition featuring the Super Mutant Magic Academy comics with her. Those are some of my favorite comics right now.

* Tamaki said at her panels that she would be moving to an SMMA collection after her latest, big project was done. That's great news. She's also moving forcefully through another major project with Skim collaborator and cousin Mariko Tamaki.

* Sands sounds like he's ready to step up his publishing efforts, which is good news for comics given his displayed taste, the quality and range of his acquaintances, and Sands' belief that cartoonists being rewarded is a primary concern for publishers.

* one popular cartoonist acquaintance of Tamaki in the audience told me after the panel they were having a fun time not tabling at the show. I heard that a lot from people, how refreshing it is to actually attend a show without having to do business there. It's nice to have shows that cartoonists want to attend as shows.

* there were generally positive vibes about the Society's juried Awards winners, with opinions expressed ranging from "they were excellent" to "they were on the high end of what I've seen here." That seems to me like a pretty good award given that a) the judging process was spread out amongst some severely busy people, b) the award itself was new, and it usually takes some time for those things to catch on. I hope people will attend the SOI event where those winners are displayed. Again, it was something the Society should be able to build on, if they want to.

* If they want to, if they want to, if they want to...

* I got to meet Serge Ewenczyk of Ca Et La on the floor, just wandering around. I think we might have met at the Tugboat booth. We talked about amazing conversations we've witnessed with comics people that were never taped. He also mentioned that the French-language edition of Duncan The Wonder Dog used different paper that displayed the artwork differently, which I'm dying to see.

* ran into Charlie Kochman from Abrams, who showed me pictures of the slow, deliberate moving of his comics and cartooning stuff from one apartment to another. When comics becomes a religions, Kochman will have a surprisingly high number of powerful relics.

* there was a bit of talk on the floor about the show, about improving it. There were about a dozen people told me they hoped the show might significantly curate in the future, and other industry folks to whom I spoke thought this would be the case moving forward, at least on some level.

* I'd say maybe a half-dozen people, including festival board members, expressed an interest in bringing in some sponsors in a way that would directly allow the Society to cut prices on tables. The cost of tables is still a major concern. I know some people that did not make their money back, although they considered it an effective write-off. That's not as sustainable thing long-term.

* the CBLDF said they had a good show, and made over $5000 to put towards their work.

* what else...? one very well-known cartoonist flipped out in my direction about the Adam & Eve cartoon on display at that show, the one from Eleanor Davis. That display of comics was generally well-reviewed, at least in anecdotal fashion by those around me. It's nice to have things to do at a comics show other than engage in commerce, as much as we all love commerce.

* the one comic-thing I kept staring at in the little museum display -- which I thought was fun, both to have and the actual art as compiled -- was a panel of Brenda Starr getting hit in the head with a flying wrench. What a goddamn odd thing to have appear in your morning newspaper.

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* was there a book of the show? Well, there were the prize-winners, including the Gregory Benton book I heard a lot of folks talking about outside of those awards. Dean Haspiel asserted that the appeal of Benton's book was its handmade, tactile quality; I tjust sort of thought it was cool. There was a book by a young cartoonist named Keren Katz that people talked about -- she was giddily happy after the show and that book looked like the future. The Boulet sold out. A lot of things sold out.

* I saw at least three editors explicitly talent-scouting for future editions of the publications they ran.

* the Lucy Knisley line at one of her First Second signings I saw was very long. I have to imagine that book of hers will do well. Gina Gagliano said they actually field-tested the recipes in Relish, which sounds like the best editorial task ever, but I couldn't tell if she was kidding me or not.

* I forgot to ask Calista Brill about her recent trip to India, but it was nice to see her too, if only briefly. She was actively dissuading young cartoonists from continuing on in the field and I am very much kidding.

* one subject that kept recurring in conversation over the weekend were all the comics schools, usually sponsored by running into some students or some sort of prominent alumni. I believe some of the schools were set up at the show. At this point, I see the schools as more of a hardcore social organizing
mechanism than I'm discerning any difference in the art being made.

* no one took me up on my offers to help box up after the show; of course, I didn't ask anyone that looked like they might have actual work for me to do. I walked up the street and did some on-line work at a coffee shop. It was fun to enter back into New York and become crushingly, immediately, and beyond-all-doubt anonymous and small and forgotten and unimportant. I would imagine it's the unique New York challenge when it comes to building a comics community, the idea that little that matters in comics is likely to matter to anyone else.

* there were the usual awesome small comics-moments galore. I got speak to peers I enjoy like Joseph Hughes and Jonathan Gray. I got to talk at greater length to cartoonists I only knew in passing, like Katie Skelly. I saw Gene Kannenberg walking up the aisle, who was one of the rocks when I edited The Comics Journal. He's now in Albany, New York. You could publish a really solid comics magazine from industry writers on the floor of that show. I talked to Michael DeForge about his conversations with Gilbert Hernandez at last year's SPX. Meredith Gran gave me her appraisal of the show entire, which I don't remember now because I'm old. I saw Charles Burns walking table to table with Gary Leib. One prominent cartoonist expressed the opinion to a friend of mine that Burns' new series of books is going to be better than Black Hole by its conclusion. I think it's very good, and relatively under-discussed.

* I wasn't aware comics-focused agent Judith Hanson suffered a stroke in 2009, mostly because I would never have guessed that of the energetic, forceful woman to whom I spoke at the show.

* it sounds like 2009 through 2011 was a vast, apocalyptic landscape for comics folks' general health. Anyway, she was a on a panel -- which is rare for her these days -- and doled out practical advice bomb after practical advice bomb.

* the folks at Fantagraphics said they did well with Ulli Lust book, and the new edition of 7 Miles A Second.

* AdHouse sold out of their Boulet book. People were generally excited to meet Boulet. He's around at a bunch of different shows this Spring.

* as mentioned earlier, D+Q seemed to get rid of everything they had on hand, although, as was the case with SPX 2012, I'm not exactly sure what they had on hand.

* people were nice to me. As you get older, you learn to appreciate this. Here's a sign-of-the-times observation: more people complimented the CR twitter feed than complimented CR as a web site. "I enjoy you on Twitter" as opposed to "I enjoy the site." First time that's happened. Maybe "CR" is becoming a brand. Gross.

* I went to the afterparty at a nearby bar, hosted by The Beat and comiXology. I got to speak briefly to Heidi and to Chip Mosher, two people to whom I rarely speak at such events, if only in passing.

* Ellen Abramowitz was there, another person who had come out the other side of some recent health issues. I was happy to see her. I hadn't talked to her in quite some time, and I'm not sure we'd ever met. The MoCCA Festival and MoCCA's presence at SOI is her legacy in comics as much as it develops here away from her time more actively in charge. I didn't understand everything she said to me, but at one point she said she underlined that maybe I would look back on the original MoCCA's work more positively, that she and the others working with that organization weren't bad people. I never thought so. Let's talk about that, though. The old MoCCA group had what seems to me a lousy reputation with a lot of people, and I think there were a lot of bridges to be rebuilt. There probably still are. I'm sure others have sunnier memories. I don't think anyone broods over it, though, and the willingness of people to reinvest in the show as currently constituted is proof that no one in comics holds a grudge for very long when there's no longer a reason to hold that grudge.

* but that's the tough thing in comics, isn't it? We all want to be involved, but maybe we don't get to be remembered or regarded in a way that matches that initial desire and impulse to give back. It's tough. Someone made a joke is complimenting Chris Ware that, "Suddenly, we're all Salieri." That's a little strong, but more of us are going to be forgotten than remembered, that's for sure. What we do in comics has to be worth more than what it returns to us in self-validation. At the same time, we could probably also be kinder about the degree and forcefulness with which we criticize. Yeah. Tough.

* the SelfMadeHero group was a generally attractive group holding court. I found myself at a table with Nick Abadzis, Darryl Cunningham and others. I could listen to Abadzis talk for hours, and Cunningham has beautifully expressive hands. It was so great to see Cunningham, one of the great comics stories of the Internet era.

* Nick Abadzis explained to me that Guinness is the perfect post-convention beverage because the non-aggressive alcohol-content is less challenging than something at a more deadly level. Always happen to learn about booze from the people that know it best: cartoonists.

* while at the Sunday night party I asked if anyone had heard of any cartoonists fights and I immediately regretted the next 20 minutes of stories about domestic violence and people bleeding so much pillows stuck to their face. Thankfully, this covered about only two or three violent incidents. I will never ask this question out loud again.

* at three different points during the weekend I heard people talk about secret on-line methods of communication employed by various camps of cartoonists. That's kind of scary.

* so MoCCA was good. I had a great time. More than it just being a solid show, MoCCA is "back" in the way that show seems to have enough foundational ballast to be the New York spring show moving forward. If it wants to be. New York can host a lot of shows, but I think if someone wanted to do an arts show for the Spring as an alternative to MoCCA they would have had to have had something going this year.

* I would also point out that so much depends on what the Society Of Illustrators wants to do next, and how the show and its final numbers and its potential fits into their plans. To be sure, the opportunities seem to be there for them to settle in for a good long time, but they are likely to have way different standards than people that run a show that's either crassly bottom-line or done solely for the love of the form.

* postscript: every single festival board member I saw and all of the SOI staffers asked me to send in ideas to improve the show. Like I said: that's a very different thing for comics. Anyone that had complaints or observation might do well putting them into a letter and sending them to Anelle Miller.

* I hung out with the CBLDF's Charles Brownstein that Sunday night, who in the time I've known him gone from precocious magazine to foundational comics industry presence. That is a guy wholly invested in the industry and medium. He's great company. I wish he could write more, because he's a good writer about comics, but we're lucky to have him where he is.

* I spent Monday morning in the company of Jen Vaughn visiting Karen Green at Columbia University, first taking a look at the stacks where books in their collection can be checked out, then in the rare books room with boxes of original materials and old collectibles that can't be. We were met briefly by Connie Sun, and getting to see a young New York cartoonist like that was a nice bookend to the New York portion of the trip. That's NYC's comics future, right there.

* Green is a tiny dynamo of a woman that walks 3X faster than I do and seemed to have the magic power to know which elevator door will open given multiples from which to choose. Her office wouldn't look out of place in the middle of the Fantagraphics art department, and the bags next to her desk contained the raw materials Jerry Robinson used to put together his book on comics.

* the holdings are pretty amazing. A couple of things of interest to me. They keep a lot of material in the stacks to check out, and the items are widely circulated. That's not always the case with comics holdings. Also, Green seems to me to have been given a significant amount of leeway in curating the collection, which means, wonderfully, she's allowed to pursue various interests and lines of inquiry as long as they make sense for what they're trying to build there. So the collection is kind of cool and quirky, not just big.

* I had fun looking at a bunch of Chris Claremont written material. Columbia's primary purview is New York comics-making, which I think will take them in some extremely interesting areas. I should remember but do not the name of the woman that brought us material from the stacks.

* I would like 10 percent of whatever Green decides to do next and hope to God that nothing she wants puts me in her way.

* one additional travel note: I rode the M60 bus from Columbia to LaGuardia and it was just swell. I'd never taken it before, although I was aware of its existence and have actually recommended it on this site as a way to get into Manhattan from LGA. It's just a city bus that has LaGuardia on its route, so you have to manage your own luggage, but if you're looking to save a few extra bucks, there you go.

* ran into the Koyama Sisters at the airport. That's honestly never happened to me before. Annie said Koyama Press had a great show, but there wasn't enough time to press her for details.

* I think MoCCA did what it needed to do, and a bit more besides. Its primary goal as I saw it was to instill in the comics community a certain level of confidence in the Society Of Illustrators as the people running the show. I think that was accomplished. I also think they didn't lose any of the attendance momentum they might have in skipping a year, and I think the show was an effective, pleasant experience that was successful in a business sense for many of the exhibitors. Its other major goal was to give SOI an idea of what running a show was like, and I think we will learn what they thought by what they do with it next.

* it's up to the Society, really.

* the next weekend I went to Columbus for SPACE, the long-running independent and small-press comics show organized by Bob Corby.

* I really think highly of Columbus as a potential comics community, with the caveat that it's a comics community already. It has a first-rank star cartoonist in Jeff Smith. It has the Billy Ireland library and the talented people that work there. It has a number of other, local cartoonists. It is the thriving city in its region, which means it will continue to draw young people from places Cincinnati and Cleveland. It has the \ in addition to Ohio State. It has Laughing Ogre, one of the long-running comics retail know-them-by-name players. Most importantly, perhaps, it's dirt freaking cheap to live there -- the house-buying opportunities are so tremendous even comics can dream of ownership -- and it's right in the center of the eastern half of the United States. You can drive to every show not hugging the West Coast in less than a day. In Columbus I bought a beer for $1.60 -- and I had just missed Happy Hour.

* so I like Columbus.

* SPACE is one of Columbus' comics shows, along with the festival that Billy Ireland runs every third year and the local mainstream show that sold itself to Wizard.

* in my dream landscape for North American comics shows -- and we're almost there -- there is San Diego, with two mainstream, national-import shows flanking it in the Spring and in the Fall. There are three to five regional conventions that are run well enough to attract everyone in the area and an undercurrent of national visitors, perhaps intermittently. These are shows of special charm and affection, particularly for old-time comics fans who desire a slower, comics-focused experience. There are a few comics festivals of ambition, great, thriving places where the art form and the creators come first. There are a few, odd specialty shows, with a specific focus or a stunt aspect: single-creator cons, cons focused on kids books. Finally, there are dozens of local shows, some perhaps bordering on regional.

* I think SPACE is one of those local-to-regional shows, albeit one that the national small press community looks in on with some interest, for its awards and history and a chance to visit the Columbus area.

* that's in no way an insult. I think what Bob Corby does with SPACE, particularly for the local comics community, is art-hero heroic. I think more people should stop and appreciate the kind of thankless effort involved. A well-executed, smaller show can be just as meaningful as any other show out there, depending where it hits its exhibitors and attendees in a way they need or seek. I really believe that. We love binaries in comics: good/evil, rich/broke, fair/unfair, big/small, but most things don't function that way.

* I had a really good time.

* I came in on Thursday and went to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, reacquainted myself with Caitlin McGurk and Jenny Robb, and finally met Lucy Shelton Caswell, which was a huge thrill for me. I could not be happier that the Library is moving to a new, glorious location for the simple fact that it reflects on her professional lifetime of work on comics behalf. What a fighter for the art form Caswell has been. She is both friendly and formidable.

* my next comics-related function was the next day: meeting with Jeff Smith and getting a brief tour of Cartoon Books. I met the company's main on-line focused person, asked after some of the oddities on the wall, like a giant poster from a period of time they were seeking to animate the property themselves and were seeking some outside financing, and took a peek at a few attractive RASL pages. It's a sharp-looking place, professional and efficient, much like the company it houses. They are fully in RASL mode.

* Smith is one of my favorite people in comics. I don't think he'd mind if I shared that he's excited about moving into web serialization with the next project, Tuki Save The Humans, which looks fun -- I only saw an image or two. Jeff also strikes me the way a lot of people of his comics generation hit me these days: as someone looking for that third act, a way to continue making work that's meaningful but also function within the wider artistic communities that increasingly look to him for guidance and leadership.

* we ate pizza and told stories about other 1990s self-publishers: some happy, and some rueful.

* the Billy Ireland Library had a small reception in honor of SPACE that was well-attended and I guess would be one of the last events in their current space. They had art out and people were allowed to go back into the stacks in small groups under supervision. There was an astonishing-looking Hal Foster page, and Ed Piskor -- very recently in-residence at the Thurber House -- held forth on the Chester Gould.

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* I saw Tom Hart and Leela Corman and, of all people, Bruce Chrislip. Bruce Chrislip! My understanding is that Bruce Chrislip -- a native of Youngstown, Ohio -- was the first cartoonist to move to Seattle back in the early 1980s. He was there when Peter Bagge arrived. He was around at many of the same parties Tom Hart and I attended in the dead-middle 1990s, and was the cover boy for Bagge's infamous I Like Comics fanzine. When we used to see Chrislip walking around Ballard, we'd yell out that he was the I Like Comics guy. He lives in Cincinnati now, and visits Columbus frequently for events like this one. I freaked out some Seattle people by texting his picture their way. Chrislip is working on a history of mini-comics.

* Caitlin McGurk was familiar with I Like Comics as soon as I mentioned it. This is a publication that came out when she was seven years old. God bless specialty librarians.

* Carol Tyler was also up from Cincinnati with several of her students. She is one of our great cartoonists and I've enjoyed every time I see her. She's had a tumultuous last few years.

* a highlight for me is I got to meet Caitlin Naber, one of the volunteers working at cataloging the Dylan Williams collection. I'm really happy that collection exists and if I can ever answer any questions about donating,

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* there was a backroom party at Laughing Ogre. This was literally a back room: it looked like a place some Hollywood actress in an independent film trolling for an Oscar nomination would have sex with an apron-wearing Billy Bob Thornton. Free beer, though. And sandwiches! I talked with several people, including Matt Dembicki, who declared his love for the show. Jeff Smith arrived. I met one of the The Outhouse guys, Christian Hoffer, their Editor-In-Chief. He was super-nice. Apparently, I'm kind of a dick on Twitter. Sorry, everybody. Talked to James Moore. Began a conversation with Ken Eppstein of Nix Comics that we continued the next day. Also met Gib Bickel, who still works at the store. Everyone was super-nice. At one point I lamented the loss of magic shops and someone pointed out to me the next day that there was a magic shop within a half-mile of the convention.

* had a late drink. It was so cheap I picked up a couple of the other bills so as to be able to run a credit card charge that wasn't ludicrous. Columbus!

* JT Dockery let drop he once interviewed Hubert Selby Jr., I think to make me hate him. I enjoyed hanging out a bit with Dockery. We have a mutual pal in legendary writer-about-comics Bob Levin. Dockery's presence reminded me of an element of 1990s comics culture that doesn't seem around so much today, this continuity with other elements of alternative or slight-out-of-touch culture: grindhouse cinema, authors like Charles Willeford, music raw and locally made. You don't see that so much now as you used to, and I'm not sure why that is.

* the Ramada where SPACE was held wasn't the best hotel where I'd ever attended a con. My room at the hotel was big but musty, the elevators acted like recalcitrant interns, and the bar didn't open until late in the afternoon, literally three hours each day after my first desire for a drink. There was standing water in the stairways, and, this is probably more mean than a useful observation, roughly two-thirds of the guests looked like Travis Tritt. Nice staff, though, and I liked the size and shape of the basement room in which the con itself was held. It reminded me a bit of going to my local university's student center for conventions in the 1980s, gaming and comics, men sitting behind tables.

* so the hotel is what it is, but I get it: the tables cost $65, that's what folks there can afford to exhibit, and you're not going to easily find a facility where that can be done in a town as aggressively convention-utilized as Columbus.

* I caught up with some of the people I know from other shows, and those whose work with whom I'm familiar. There was a small Denver contingent there, minus Noah Van Sciver, who was off lecturing or something. A number of Pittsburgh's cartoonists made the trip. Derf Backderf had startling-looking originals, and talked about his France trip, a potential move ahead and what Abrams is hot for him to do next. He's going back to France next year, for Angouleme at least. Talking to My Friend Dahmer's French-language publisher at MoCCA, he told me that one thing that was intriguing about the positive reaction for Derf's book is that they didn't know of Jeffrey Dahmer, so they were just kind of reacting to the cartooning.

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* on Sunday, Derf left and Matt Feazell took his place. Not bad. Feazell had new comics.

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* Joseph Remnant was there, next to Hart and Corman's SAW table. John Porcellino was the other side of Remnant. John P. looked healthier than I'd ever seen him, clean-shaven and beaming in glasses from underneath the Chicago Bears cap. He seemed well. We're working on something for the Dylan Williams collection. We talked about how easy it is to let a potentially profitable convention weekend slip into the red. We also talked about the Bears in free agency, of course.

* Spit And A Half remains a treasure. John described Keiler Roberts as a particular favorite right now.

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* Nate Powell drove over from Bloomington. Powell may be the living embodiment of comics/music crossover DIY-ism. Several of the other cartoonists in attendance talked about how fun it was to hang out with Powell, as it was a small enough show that they got to do that and hadn't at any other cons. I spoke a couple of times to Katherine Wirick, Powell's booth-neighbor, and even met her mother. The show was like that. I got to meet Steve Hamaker.

* I heard different things about the actual table performance -- a wide, wide variance of things.

* the mood, though, was mostly positive, pleasant, upbeat. None of that apocalyptic, scorched-earth feeling I got when I used to attend shows like this in the 1990s.

* I watched a couple of panels, but only fell asleep during one. They were lightly attended, mostly. They were small enough that three of the panelists noted I had fallen asleep. I had never seen the basic Billy Ireland presentation that Caitlin McGurk gives, and that was fun. I did not fall asleep during that one. That slideshow offered up more photos of Bill Blackbeard's comics-stuffed home than I'd seen. I still couldn't be happier Blackbeard got in the Eisner Hall Of Fame, mostly because he's beyond a place where we can give him a heck of a lot more than that and I want to give him everything I can. My life is better and certainly wholly different for his work.

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* for dinner Saturday I had Vietnamese with many of the people listed above, at a place Carol Tyler found. The entire meal for eight people cost about as much as a lunch I had with one other person in New York.

* there was an after-party on Saturday night, the convention's halfway point in every way except mentally. I found the puppet show based on Eamon Espey's comics delightful and bizarre -- I have absolutely no sophistication when it comes to processing puppets, I just clap and grin like a simpleton. You should see that one if it comes to town. Leela Corman sang with a friend while Tom Hart sat in the audience with a giant grin on his face. That was nice. I think Leela might have planned to dance, but she was very pregnant. It was great to hang out with Corman; I don't think I'd spent five minutes with her before that weekend, although I know we met. She's very passionate about the way artists are treated. JT Dockery sang a song with dirty parts in it and we were suddenly concerned for the guy that brought his Mom. I worked the door for a while. One of my favorite cartoonists bought me a beer. It was a fine evening.

* there was an after-the-afterparty at someone's home that involved Everclear -- which I thought was a fictional form of alcohol that only appeared in pre-1992 movies starring James Spader -- and open flame. I clapped Gabby Schulz on the shoulder on my way out. It was surprisingly easy to find street parking given that it's a college town.

* I slipped out Sunday late afternoon happier for the experience.

* Columbus: it's the future.

* there was a lot more, much of it personal and meaningful, but this is already way longer than it has any right to be. It's a good thing I know the editor.

* it's great to have so many worthwhile comics shows.

* onto TCAF.

*****

all photos by me; New York cartooning art at top and bottom by Will Eisner and Denys Wortman

*****

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*****
*****
 
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