Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

















May 31, 2016


Go, Look: Location, Location, Location

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posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
On This One Summer's Key Position In A Minnesota-Based Battle Over Free Speech Issues

Alison Flood at The Guardian has a nice write-up on the crucial position held by the book The One Summer in a free speech battle caused by its banning from a K-12 school library in Minnesota.

I am so disconnected from this kind of fight and feel like history has already so very much overwhelmed the issues involved that I'm sort of baffled they still get argued, let along argued the way they are here. We're far past the point where there is any gateway function played by a school library, and so past the point where a parallel prurient interest might be served by a book in a library. I think libraries should hold everything for which positive value can be argued, and this is a certainly a book that has positive values. The rest of it seems 1978: kids aren't going to be checking this book for a thrill, and unless they're perpetually treated like the kind of morons that need material hidden from them aren't going to process it in some out-of-step way.

To put it another way, I am not frightened for one millisecond by the prospect of a young person built in the worst way one could possibly project from exposure to the ideas of This One Summer, and I don't like young people as a general rule.
 
posted 10:55 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Pot-Shot Pete

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posted 10:50 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: Older Cartoonist's Cartoon About Trans People Blasted

Here. It is punished in a more than justifiable way, I think: it's a dumb cartoon that offers nothing I can see in the way of insight beyond its rudimentary insult.

Although the cartoonist is older, there's no reason why this should be a barrier for them to learn a different way of thinking on a general set of issues about which we're privileged to live in times where we have any number of opportunities to learn, including a public chiding. I hope that that's ultimately the case here.
 
posted 10:45 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Jim Osborne In Thrilling Murder Comics

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posted 10:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Bundled, Tossed, Untied & Stacked: Publishing News

imageBy Tom Spurgeon

* here's great news: a reprinting of 23 Skidoo, an early Al Columbia comic.

* this Instagram post seems to indicate that we'll be getting another stand-alone Graham Chaffee comic soon, published by Fantagraphics, so that's great news.

* it's a couple of weeks in the rearview window now, but I've intended to put a link up to this George O'Connor cover for the latest Olympians series book at First Second.

* I did not know that Ted Rall has a Donald Trump biography coming out, although if you told me I knew, I might believe you. Apparently, he did one on Bernie Sanders.

* the artist Reimena Ashel Yee provides an update on a lengthy work in progress.

* here's another First Second cover reveal -- it's kind of their thing -- for the forthcoming Pénélope Bagieu biography California Dreamin', which is about Mama Cass. That could be a lot of fun, and it's the perfect time for a re-examination of that pop star's life.

* finally: Warren Ellis, back to prose. I liked the book of his I read.
 
posted 10:35 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: Ralph Bakshi-Era Spider-Man Cartoon Frames

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posted 10:30 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Comics By Request: People, Places In Need Of Funding

By Tom Spurgeon

image* Drew Ford has inaugurated a crowd-funder for his publishing company's forthcoming western, featuring Joe R. Lansdale and the great Sam Glanzman. I didn't know this was the kind of thing Entertainment Weekly covered, but it makes sense, I guess.

* I thought this was classy: Jamie S. Rich wrote this site personally to ask that some attention be driven to the continuation of the show that he did that he can no longer do as an employee of one of our leading entertainment juggernauts. I wasn't that familiar with the show other than that Rich was involved, but we can always use good ones and if you were a fan you might check out their post-Rich plans.

* this is where I'm always reminded that Gil Roth has a Patreon going. Roth was the featured media guest of the first Cartoon Crossroads Columbus -- a show of which I'm a part -- and I enjoy the 1/3 of his shows that are comics-oriented. I enjoy them all, actually, that Clive James one is aces.

* the two crowd-funders I haven't run mention of yet that jumped out at me on a cursory search are the latest from Pow Pow Press and a new one by Tyler Page.

* Kelly Tindall has a crowd-funder going for The Adventurers. There's a devoted web site for the project here.

* finally, there are a number of higher profile crowd-funders that have met their goals you can still get on: the latest Erika Moen (and friends) collection, a book by Abby Howard and the second collection of Rocket Robinson.
 
posted 10:25 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Where Monsters Dwell

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posted 10:20 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Forthcoming Comics-Related Events, Through July 2016

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*****

June 2
* If I Were In Philadelphia, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Philadelphia)
* If I Were In Phoenix, I'd Go To This (Phoenix Comicon)

June 3
* If I Were In Philadelphia, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Philadelphia)
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Phoenix, I'd Go To This (Phoenix Comicon)
* If I Were In DC, I'd Go To This (Awesome Con)
* If I Were In Dallas, I'd Go To This (Fan Expo Dallas)

June 4
* If I Were In West Virginia, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Philadelphia, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Philadelphia)
* If I Were In Maine, I'd Go To This (MeCAF)
* If I Were In Phoenix, I'd Go To This (Phoenix Comicon)
* If I Were In DC, I'd Go To This (Awesome Con)
* If I Were In Dallas, I'd Go To This (Fan Expo Dallas)
* If I Were In Albany, I'd Go To This (Albany Comic Con)

June 5
* If I Were In Philadelphia, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Philadelphia)
* If I Were In SF, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Phoenix, I'd Go To This (Phoenix Comicon)
* If I Were In DC, I'd Go To This (Awesome Con)
* If I Were In Dallas, I'd Go To This (Fan Expo Dallas)

June 7
* If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This

June 8
* If I Were In Brooklyn, I'd Go To This

June 11
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This (CAKE)

June 12
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This (CAKE)

June 14
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This

June 16
* If I Were In New York, I'd Go To This

June 17
* If I Were In Charlotte, I'd Go To This (HeroesCon)
* If I Were In Sacramento, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Sacramento)
* If I Were In LA, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Denver, I'd Go To This (DCC)
* If I Were In Vegas, I'd Go To This (Amazing Las Vegas Comic Convention)
* If I were In Houston, I'd Go To This (Comicpalooza)

June 18
* If I Were In Charlotte, I'd Go To This (HeroesCon)
* If I Were In Sacramento, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Sacramento)
* If I Were In Denver, I'd Go To This (DCC)
* If I Were In Vegas, I'd Go To This (Amazing Las Vegas Comic Convention)
* If I were In Houston, I'd Go To This (Comicpalooza)
* If I Were In Ann Arbor, I'd Go To This (A2CAF)
* If I Were In St. Louis, I'd Go To This (St. Louis Comic Con)

June 19
* If I Were In Charlotte, I'd Go To This (HeroesCon)
* If I Were In Sacramento, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Sacramento)
* If I Were In Toronto, I'd Go To This (Toronto Art Book Fair)
* If I Were In Denver, I'd Go To This (DCC)
* If I Were In Vegas, I'd Go To This (Amazing Las Vegas Comic Convention)
* If I were In Houston, I'd Go To This (Comicpalooza)
* If I Were In Ann Arbor, I'd Go To This (A2CAF)
* If I Were In St. Louis, I'd Go To This (St. Louis Comic Con)

June 20
* If I Were Phoenix, I'd Go To This

June 23
* If I Were In Berkeley, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Orlando, I'd Go To This (ALA Annual Conference)

June 24
* If I Were In Portland, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Orlando, I'd Go To This (ALA Annual Conference)
* If I Were In London, I'd Go To This

June 25
* If I Were In Orlando, I'd Go To This (ALA Annual Conference)

June 26
* If I Were In Orlando, I'd Go To This (ALA Annual Conference)

June 27
* If I Were In Orlando, I'd Go To This (ALA Annual Conference)

June 28
* If I Were In Orlando, I'd Go To This (ALA Annual Conference)

*****

July 1
* If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This (Anime Expo)
* If I Were In Florida, I'd Go To This (Florida Supercon)

July 2
* If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This (Anime Expo)
* If I Were In Glasgow, I'd Go To This (Glasgow Comic Con)
* If I Were In Florida, I'd Go To This (Florida Supercon)

July 3
* If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This (Anime Expo)
* If I Were In Glasgow, I'd Go To This (Glasgow Comic Con)
* If I Were In Florida, I'd Go To This (Florida Supercon)

July 4
* If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This (Anime Expo)
* If I Were In Florida, I'd Go To This (Florida Supercon)

July 8
* If I Were In Montreal, I'd Go To This (Montreal Comiccon)

July 9
* If I Were In Newark, I'd Go To This (#bettyzinefest)
* If I Were In Montreal, I'd Go To This (Montreal Comiccon)

July 10
* If I Were In Montreal, I'd Go To This (Montreal Comiccon)

July 15
* If I Were Near This, I'd Go To It (The Shrewsbury International Comic Art Festival)

July 16
* If I Were Near This, I'd Go To It (The Shrewsbury International Comic Art Festival)

July 17
* If I Were Near This, I'd Go To It (The Shrewsbury International Comic Art Festival)

July 20
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (CCI Preview Night)

July 21
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (CCI)

July 22
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (CCI)

July 23
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (CCI)

July 24
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (CCI)

July 29
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Ohio)
* If I Were In San Antonio, I'd Go To This (Texas Comicon)

July 30
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Ohio)
* If I Were In San Antonio, I'd Go To This (Texas Comicon)

July 31
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Ohio)
* If I Were In San Antonio, I'd Go To This (Texas Comicon)

*****

Events For July 2016 Onward Listed Here

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*****
 
posted 10:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Not Comics: The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner

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posted 10:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Random Comics News Story Round-Up

* veteran Marvel editor Tom Brevoort relates a death threat lobbed in his direction because of the recent Captain America comic book plot-line.

image* John Seven on Irmina.

* Nick Gazin did a video about the ten best comics of all time, but I couldn't embed it without it automatically playing so it gets a URL link here. Just in case the implication wasn't clear, it will probably start playing when you go there.

* not comics: if you were going to sell a bunch of your books, to have Aaron Cometbus show up and buy a significant number, well that would be cool.

* Melissa Giraud talks to Jeremy Whitley.

* here's a true OTBP: a charity publication created by Paul Hornschemeier that simply isn't available.

* can't be 100 percent certain why Brandon Graham is drawing Buddy Bradley, but I approve.

* not comics: I enjoyed watching this little kid wailing away on a video game store thief. I wonder if a comic shop or a video game store has ever been robbed by someone not into the hobby at hand.

* SAW has re-presented its single-year program, with a bit more clarity and a lot more support testimony.

* finally, the artist Melanie Gillman anguishes over the income and time lost to the presumption of free content.

 
posted 10:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 64th Birthday, David Anthony Kraft!

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posted 10:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
May 30, 2016


That Time Of Year: Twenty-Five Tips For Surviving And Thriving During Comic-Con International

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For the last dozen years, this site has on Memorial Day or soon thereafter published a massive guide for Comic-Con International -- the mid-summer event that is still in most ways North America's Big Comics Show. I'm still doing that guide, just not for here. It's a different era, and that era doesn't include a lot of people reading 40,000 words written link-blog style on a computer screen.

I wish it did, but at some point you have to own your dinosaur-ness or all your eggs get eaten.

What follows instead is a short and mostly practical list of specific tips for the upcoming convention, many of which can be employed at your show of choice.

There may not be a bigger change in comics over the last two decades than the significant role played by conventions and festivals. In North American comics, that starts with Comic-Con International, more frequently San Diego Comic-Con, Comic-Con, San Diego Con or SDCC. Sometimes it's just "San Diego." Call it what you want: Nerd Prom, Mouthbreather Sundance, Fandom Branson or Geek Vegas, Comic-Con International is that moment during the calendar year when all of comics pauses and watches Tom Arnold and Dax Shepard walk past them to eat in a restaurant they're not allowed to enter anymore, because, you know, private party. Sorry, folks.

At the heart of a giant dance that includes filmmakers, actors, toymakers, visual artists, prose authors, tv showrunners, animators and voice talent is someone like you or me representing all the funnybook fans slow dancing with their beloved art form: comics. Comic-Con is a really, really good comics show. Over the years I've met Lorenzo Mattotti, Ryoichi Ikegami and Moebius at Comic-Con. I saw the first two speak at length. Just three years ago I watched Gilbert Shelton draw from a position a mere two feet away! Their guest list is always loaded.

Comic-Con is an even better industry show, with all of the tribes represented in one place and taking meetings and saying "I just took a meeting" and running off to take another meeting. It's the only show with a cocktail circuit that involves more rooftop bars than there are yearly line reboots.

You should come see it, at least once. If I'm still going, say hi. I may be too stressed to respond, but I'll deeply appreciate the effort and will always remember how awkward it was between us. If you don't know what I look like, I'm the fat guy.

*****

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1. Stay Safe

Always remember that during Comic-Con you're in a real-life American city, not a magical land accessible via closet, train or bathroom mirror. You can get mugged; you can get beat up; you can get hit by a bottle. Accidents happen every show.

Also keep in mind that the events of the show carry with them their own dangers. Grumble at the cops and the security if you must, but do what they ask. In 2012, a Twilight fan with the intention of attending Comic-Con died after running into traffic and being struck by a car during a time she spent in a line that formed in advance of the show. Her name was Gisela Gagliardi. It's likely she did not think she was going to die when she got out of bed that morning.

So: please, please be careful. Nothing about this works if you get hurt. You look after you.

*****

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2. Do Your On-Line Research... And Your On-Line Reach-Out

You cannot be underprepared for a show the size of this one. Scope out the con. Scope out the city in which it takes place. It pays off. We live in an anticipatory age of spoilers and trailers; this an act of anticipation that has direct benefits.

At the very least: 1) bookmark the show's site. 2) bookmark your hotel's site. 3) get a broad picture of what each offers you that you would like to do. 4) investigate what's directly in the neighborhood around where you'll be staying. 5) map a walk from your hotel to the convention center.

If this is a rare trip for you, or one where you have a very specific set of goals, reach out immediately to your comics friends and see who's going. Reach back out to the group that responds by July 1. Share with them your hopes and plans. Comic-Con is a difficult place to negotiate socially. If you have goals that include a bit of networking, just reaching out to people you know can unlock key doors. Remember that you connect with old friends horizontally to forge new relationships vertically.

Finally, to keep things karmically clear, try to help the people who are trying to help you.

Twenty minutes on google maps and a half-dozen e-mails can make a huge difference in one's weekend. You'd be astonished how frequently this is the case. It's also true that people go, get frustrated, complain about it afterwards and more than one person reading thinks, "Wish I'd known!"

*****

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3. Join Every Freaking Points Club You Can

If you go to conventions with any sort of regularity, you should join the points clubs for 1) any airline you might use to get anywhere, 2) Amtrak, if it applies, 3) every hotel you might stay in but also definitely the programs offered by Hilton, Starwood (Westin) and Marriott.

It's great to use reward points on segments of travel or nights of hotel stay, making them paid-for by previous segments of travel and nights of hotel stay. A healthy convention schedule involving the Marriott chain can almost always get you a night or two off at SPX, for instance, savings that you can spend on getting the last few forty-somethings in attendance drunk enough to maybe physically fight one another.

Even if you do very few shows, join the points club at your San Diego hotel (and consider getting a Ralphs card). In your hotel's points club you might get an advantage of a dedicated check-in and check out desk. You might get automatically upgraded. Best of all, this gives your hotel an easy-to-grant avenue to make something right if something goes wrong. Comic-Con is a crazy weekend where things frequently go wrong. Hotels are almost never willing to give money back, but they'll give you points like a nervous class officer giving out drink tickets at the graduation luau. I got a bunch of Starwood Points one year at SDCC just because they kept marching new guests into my room when I was getting dressed after a shower. No big deal for me, traumatizing for them, and I'm the one who ultimately benefited.

*****

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4. If You Don't Have A Badge, Think 2017

There are no badges at this point available to most of us. If you're powerful enough in terms of influence, wealth and/or celebrity you're not even reading this but one of your assistants is, you might have a connection within the convention or with one of the convention's major players to have them secure one on your behalf, primarily if you're going to add value to the show. Work those connections. Don't buy a badge from someone on-line. There is nothing in that sentence that is a good idea. You could also just go, and hope that you run into someone leaving a day or so early (psst -- I'm staying at the Hilton, leaving Saturday at 5 PM and I have paypal). The days of asking Rory Root and him scooping several passes out of his pocket, those days are a distant memory. (RIP)

If you do score a late badge, don't abuse them! Someone put themselves out there for you. I'm totally not speaking from experience, but if I were I would still be pissed at that guy.

*****

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5. Park At The Airport

I'm also not going to tell you how to get to San Diego. I'm sure you have that under control. Comic-Con thwarts a lot of travel gimmicks. Even the newer flying tips like using Google Flights over aggregators like Kayak don't really apply here because the advantage of learning where discount flights might fall on a range of calendar dates won't be useful for a trip with rigid attendance parameters.

Due to the increased cost of the show, I've been attending the last few years from Thursday early morning to Saturday late evening. No complaints: that's just the way things are. Here's a practical tip that's probably totally illegal -- it's certainly unsporting -- that I've used the last half-decade: I parked at the airport's long-term parking for like 1/5 the price of hotel or public parking. I dropped off my bag and my family and any friends at the hotel, and drove right out where google maps told me, in this case a moderately-priced lot south of the airport between the highway and the ocean. Hopped on the shuttle to the airport. Took the city bus back down to my hotel. It added time, but I really appreciated not having to spend that money, which was literally like a fancy meal's difference. I'll eat my money in San Diego, thank you. Also one year the Westin lost my car, and with this strategy I've been in and out a lot easier. You're already free of downtown when you turn the key.

*****

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6. Find Your Store; Stock Up

I encourage a physical trip to whatever sundries store is closest and able to serve you. If there's still a pharmacy in the Horton Plaza, that or one of the two 7-11s is the place for you Broadway hotel people. It's Ralphs for everyone south of Broadway and west of the convention center's middle-most point. It's probably Cine Cafe for the group of hotels right up next to the show on the eastern access crossing.

You can buy stuff for your room on that first trip. That's never a bad idea. The programming schedule is super-full at Comic-Con, like an all-day college date that never ends, and you can end up hungry without anything to eat at 3 AM almost as easy as you can spot a teenager wearing a costume that looks like it cost more than your first car. More importantly, I just think going to the store connects you to the possibility of that place, and even to a kind of commercial activity that doesn't involve an exclusive Lego Mortdecai set or whatever.

*****

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7. Hit Whatever You Can At Off Hours

Good luck with getting through the registration process. They know what they're doing there, and it flies pretty quickly all things considered. Press and pro registration is so easy now I would vote for the person who changed it from the way it used to be done. Still, it's a lot of people. If you can get someone else to secure you these things, like an exhibitor or a publisher that's sponsoring you, do that. If you can't, consider going a little later that first day or during Preview Night itself so as to miss the biggest moments of clumping.

Take this strategy with you into the show. Three places you can apply it. First, if you just want a sense of a panel, you can frequently hit a panel ten, twenty minutes in and avoid the before line and the time spent there. Second, look for signings that are first or last in a day over those in the crush of attendance mid-afternoon. Third, think about hanging back from the opening hour to eat breakfast for less of a cluster around the buffet, or leave the convention center early for a dinner dominated by happy-hour discounts. I'm sure there others -- I always thought it was fun to shop at Ralphs at 2:30 AM, and the hot tub at the Westin can be all yours most Sunday mornings until 11 AM. It's a strategy that seems to work, at least a little bit. It's probably a bit less effective since the bulk of Hollywood people came because of their meeting structure and tendency to pull people away from the convention center, but it can't hurt to try.

*****

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8. Use The Half-Day Target Strategy

I always suggest under-planning for the show in a macro sense and then rigorously planning in terms of execution. A principle I always follow is to split each convention day into an AM and a PM and pick one thing I have to do during each slot. If I end up with extra time, I spend that on some general things I like to do, like sitting out back of the convention center and soaking in that Southern California sun or checking out the funnybook retailers or seeing if the guy who dresses like Captain Stubing is working the far west doors. By limiting to must-dos to five to eight things, I'm getting key things done every year.

Allowing a half-day per event also allows you not to feel as bad if the thing you want to do -- like see a TV or movie panel -- involves literally 12-18 hours of your time. I don't have any specific advice on those panel lines, by the way, except that they didn't seem nearly as bad last year as they had in the two or three years before that. You should also chat with people in line; that is value-added right there. Proposed subject: what people did before phones. A lot of the big-ticket events at Comic-Con involve a major commitment, and being reasonable about what you want to do makes for fewer instances of failure. Just like that, the day becomes less stressful. It's always better to get 5/6 of the things done you want to do on a vacation or working weekend than 11/40.

*****

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9. Make Time Between Events Because Of The Crowds

This is a recently necessary thing. Well, we thought it was bad before, but it got a lot worse. Anyway, definitely give yourself time to go places. Also, if you can skip outright a walking trip either at or up by the convention center, consider doing so.

I used to head down to the Marriott -- a hotel directly west of the convention center -- to take morning meetings at their restaurant because it was expensive enough not a lot of comics people chose to eat there: basically me and my friends, plus Mark Siegel and whoever he was paying for. Thus I avoided getting in trouble from other tables eavesdropping as I told loud stories about Jim Lee out of turn. (I actually don't know any stories about Lee, but people pay more attention when you have a big star at the center of your anecdote; my Jim Lee got in trouble a lot in Seattle in the '90s and grew up in Indiana.) The days when I ate breakfast at the Marriott ended when two years ago it took me a half-hour to get there FROM THE HOTEL NEXT DOOR. Three times during that walk I considered going Crocodile Dundee on the whole situation and running on folks' shoulders. (sorry, another old reference; please insert reference to shoulder-walking scene from Hamilton)

Anyway, I eat breakfast at my damn hotel now and I don't count on getting anywhere without 30 minutes of defeated-by-life style walking involved.

*****

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10. Think About Packing A Lunch

You're going to walk a lot. Wear comfortable shoes. Take water with you. There is water in every panel room and there are plenty of water fountains but having your own is still best. You should also eat at some point during the day. Because of the crowds and the circle of con activity closes to the show, that can be difficult time-wise. Convention Center food is basically a culinary parade of sadness, and you pay extra to boot.

You are not really supposed to take food into the convention center, but you might consider it anyway. There are plenty of things from the store to which you're now connected that you can get into a backpack or purse with no problem. I have yet to get in trouble eating quietly in the back of a panel room or sitting outside wondering what excuse I'm going to give Jonah Weiland for not visiting his dumb boat. (Jonah's gone; we no longer have to pretend, people.)

There are also merchants in the street on the way to the show that will sell you something that's nice and packed up. Pay attention. No matter how you get it, definitely process some calories, though. The only person that can get away socially with an aggressively feral state caused by low blood sugar is Lisa Hanawalt, and that's because she bribes people.

*****

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11. Attend The CBLDF Event

In the 1990s, San Diego Con offered people scattered parties and at least one night where a bunch of people would do something like go to a heavy metal show or head south to watch wrestling in Tijuana. Then it was hosted parties. Then it was big events. Now it's pretty settled: Thursday night is publisher-driven cocktail parties or private dinners; Friday is the Eisners or Hell No I'm Not Going To The Eisners; Saturday is maybe you get invited to a Hollywood party or two but otherwise you get a big meal and maybe just be mellow at a bar somewhere wishing someone would invite you to a Hollywood thing. All three nights feature heavy hotel bar drinking scenes, semi-hosted.

The one that I always suggest people do is the rooftop party hosted by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. You pay to get in with money, not status. That one is increasingly well-attended as a kind of Rick's Cafe for people of various comics backgrounds taking a few days off from fighting in the Creators Vs. Haters Wars. It's always lovely to sit outside in that glorious San Diego weather. Last year I spent a half-hour at the Fund party talking to someone before realizing it was Milton Griepp. Hi, Milton. It's also where 80 percent of the people I know catch up with Kiel Phegley.

*****

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12. Go Look At D+Q's Table For Beguiling Original Art Sales

There's a lot of shopping to be had at Comic-Con, particularly tied into advance copies and into art and exclusives brought by guests of the show or weird stuff found by the publishers at the show. It's a great place to get stuff signed, or to buy related art from the cartoonists themselves. I have very little advice for the advance consumer activity of exclusives: things like a special figurine of the person from middle school who laughed when you asked them to Return Of the Jedi. Most of these are sold out by an hour into Preview Night, a popular Wednesday night extra set of hours at the show created to make Eric Reynolds grind his teeth. The only thing I can think might be helpful there is to commit to scoring a high place in line, or to get someone working inside the show to hold a place for you with the exhibitor of your choice.

One thing I recommend for both buying and just staring is if D+Q has Peter Birkemoe from The Beguiling set up in a corner to sell original art, go look at that. One of my five favorite experiences from last year not having the manager of my hotel try to fight me was getting to see some Kate Beaton originals for the first time -- she does margins differently than most people, and the art itself is lovely. Peter has a ton of work there, much of it affordable, and he's one of comics' finest gentlemen and a beacon of good conversation. Just don't put your butt between the art and an actual buyer: that's mean. Also: that's my job.

*****

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13. Look For Secondary Signings

If you're there to meet a specific comics pro or have something signed by a specific person, pay attention to secondary appearances. Cartoon Art Museum has a lot of cartoonists at their booth doing charity sketches. The CBLDF has certain luminaries on hand. A lot of mainstream comics-makers have books at smaller publishers. All of those can sometimes be easier to access than the signing directly for the project in which you're likely most interested. Just be polite, and respectful of what the object of your attention is doing in that moment, and you should have a good experience.

One place that's difficult to meet someone is after a panel by running up to talk to them. If you do that , remember that the ideal position for a post-con talk is to be that person the artist or comics-maker walks with back to the show. That's quality time. So maybe try last instead of first (the risk is you're blown off entirely). Remember, the show wants you out of the room, and how happily you're greeted in a pressure situation like that depends on the artist. I've only seen a few people actually sign something as they're trying to leave; it's a hard sell.

In general, meeting celebrities or even comics people? They're all over the place there. You don't want to dominate their time or scare them. Still, nearly everyone likes to hear a few nice words. Just remember how you'd feel were you to be approached by strangers, even happy ones, who look like they expect a moment. Not the superhero version of yourself, but you -- how you would feel to be tapped on the shoulder right now and not get to read the rest of this sentence.

If you're hoping for a moment with someone, just don't press and you'll likely get one. The cartoonist Ivan Brunetti used to go to San Diego, where he would do brilliantly disgusting sketches based on three words that he was given by a CBLDF donor. When someone tried too hard to give funny words, it was never as good as Ivan's take on a few mundanities. It tends to be like that with meeting folks at San Diego, too.

*****

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14. Know The Floor

A cursory understanding of how the floor of the convention works solves a lot of confusion problems ahead of time. The Expo/Marketplace part is on the first floor; programming and ballrooms and a big wide open space between the two halves of the programming with some autograph signings and an art show make up the second floor.

If you look at the floor map as if it were the US and you're entering the country from the South before Trump's wall: East Coast to the Mississippi is basically the comics stuff: the East Coast is comic sellers and vendors, the midwest is comics publishers and an artist's alley/solo vendor area. West of the Mississippi is everything else, all the movies and toys, with tiny pockets in California and Southern Arizona for another artist's alley/solo vendor type area, and big crossover areas with the artisanal toymakers and the illustrators.

If you want to see anything in the movie and toy half, do that early or late in the day, or on Preview Night, before it gets soul-destroying. It's sometimes easier to leave the hall and walk on the outside corridor than it is to ram yourself down one of the aisles. There is an escalator at the far end of the hall -- think Northern Michigan -- to get to the second floor or back down again.

A couple things to remember about the one-way hallways upstairs is that if you leave a panel you'll be going out the far door so if you're know you're going to leave maybe sit up by that door so as not to freak out the panelists, who will think you hate them. The other thing to remember is that celebrities will sometimes be brought to their panel the wrong way down the exit hallways, so keep your eyes open for random encounters.

*****

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15. Panels, Panels, Panels

I basically do three things in San Diego now. I fecklessly carouse, I have pretty good meetings and I go to excellent panels. The overall swell of the con population has been good for panels -- the small ones that used to have seven people have 50 now, and the most appealing comics ones are packed. Beyond being prepared to focus in on and sacrificing other experiences for a panel you have to do, and the trick of coming into panels halfway through for an easy taste of what's up, any tips I can provide are pretty straightforward. Go see someone that interests you. Don't apologize for what that is.

You will have things and people you want to see, and everybody's a lot better at panels than they used to be but the fewer guests on a panel the more you'll get to spend quality time with the person you want to see. Themed panels can sometimes be great, but other times they're that sofa at Omega Theta Pi where the fraternity has stuck the freshmen they don't want to pledge. If you go to the panel before the panel you really want to see, in order to score a seat, that is still somehow an accepted strategy but be attentive and respectful of what's in front of you. I also always advise seeing humor cartoonists or people that are funny/interesting on-line. They're usually that way in front of a crowd, too. Also: think in terms of a panel experience you won't likely have again, like a cartoonist from Europe, say. I'm a big fan of the CBLDF's drawing panels from the last few years, too -- so if they're doing those again, jump on board.

*****

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16. If You're Buying, Write Down The Price You'll Accept For Comics

It's a great thing if you shop at Comic-Con. It's retro. It's bold. It's counter-intuitive. I think it's a psychically purifying thing to do, as it's literally the major reason why cons got started. There's a tendency to split material at booths between really rare stuff and stuff at a stripped-down discount and I am the perfect customer for at least one of those things.

Here's a tip I learned from a friend who no longer collects. Write down what you're looking for and then write down a price at which you'd be happy to buy the book. You might find it cheaper but comparison shopping in a room of 75,000 people is for suckers.

It's not a bad headspace to be in with original art, either, figuring out in a more sober location what would make you happy in terms of spending. There's no real comparison shopping there, either, except perhaps between artists.

*****

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17. Don't Develop A Hang-Up About Drinking

A lot of people in comics like to spend some of their con time having a drink or two. Some like to have 50. Some don't drink at all. There's no real stigma here. Do what you feel is fun. If you're not a drinker but enjoy a drink in the summer. I always suggest the gin and tonic as a socializing cocktail because the cheapest version is 90 percent of the most expensive iteration taste-wise, it boasts a sturdy glass you're not likely to drop or knock over, and the ice in one melts in a way that it's like getting two drinks for the price of one. It says "My other suit is seersucker."

Another option in recent years is local craft beer, which bartenders all over the city are happy to suggest specific examples. Still: Diet Coke is fine, believe me. Just by reading this section you've thought about this too much.

*****

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18. Eat Out At Least Once

San Diego's downtown used to be fairly terrifying in terms of the food offerings. There were five cheap, funky restaurants and 35 slightly overpriced ones serving a morose downtown clientele. There's a lot more to recommend eating in San Diego now, and I suggest spending some research time and finding a place for you and your friends to take in a meal. If you're having a hard time finding a place that floats your boat or satisfies your budget within walking distance, maybe head out of the neighborhood on a little field trip, perhaps to Little Italy.

Two classic San Diego Con restaurants I recommend are Pokez and Cafe Chloe.

One whole class of restaurants that has a tougher time than they used to on that weekend is the group of storefront restaurants up and down the Gaslamp. The higher end restaurants do well, the cheaper ones and the buy to eat in your hotel room places seem to be doing okay, but that $15-$20 entree restaurant has started to look, at least to my eyes, empty as can be some nights. I think it's just that the fans are different now, and the professionals are different now. You've lost that middle class of buyers and pros.

Two restaurants where I've eaten in almost empty surroundings in the last couple of years are Asti Ristorante and Bandar.

*****

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19. Attend The Eisner Awards

If you get a chance and you're not actively doing something more directly tied into your weekend's goals on Friday night, might I recommend the Eisner Awards? CR has declined to be even considered for nomination since our last trophy win, but that doesn't mean we've stopped going. We sit in the back now and laugh and drink beer and have people visit us to make a disapproving face about my not sitting up with the rest of the industry. It's glorious.

If you're a comics fan, you should see them at least once. They are divvied in a way that you're likely to have someone you like win one. It's fun to see all the comics peccadilloes on display and sometimes it's genuinely nice and funny and sweet. The afterparty is now the weekend's most underrated, a hardcore group of mostly 45 years old and older veterans that I never see any other place than in that lobby. I'm pretty sure Joe Ferrara lives there.

Winning an Eisner Award is still a goal for many cartoonists and comics-makers, and should be. It's one of the nice and completely comics-only things you can have happen to when you're in comics, and there aren't a whole lot of those things left.

*****

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20. Shmooze

I mentioned earlier there is a second track for late-night socializing: the entrenched hotel bar scene. I should probably give that its own post here. I think that whole scene is a handy supplement to anything else you might want to do. For example, a lot of folks of my acquaintance have spent their Eisner Fridays the last few years going to the awards program and then immediately cutting out for cocktails in the host hotel's bar and lounge. The bar scene can be a step-up or a wind-down: like I said, super-useful.

What used to be an afterparty scene at places like the Hilton and the Hyatt have become full-bore party experiences, noodling along from dusk until last call. The bigger places tend to have unofficial hosts that have laid the groundwork for an evening of drinks via their afternoon tipping. The last couple of years you've seen people finishing the evening at their own hotels: there are significant little parties going on at the Westin Gaslamp and the smaller Hilton. Muscling your way into a place with $13 cocktails is fine vehicle to stand around and sort of talk business until people glare at you.

You probably won't get hired for going to one of those places, but you might become familiar enough that someone pays a little bit more attention to your next creative act. Nearly everyone who's been going to San Diego for a while has spent a lot of time working these rooms, even if they don't remember why.

*****

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21. Go See Mark Evanier Moderate A Panel

The writer and historian Mark Evanier does at least two kinds of panels, and probably more, better than anyone out there: voice actors and cartoonists of his close acquaintance. Seeing him moderate and seeing how the great pros he assembles react is the Comic-Con equivalent of getting off the Las Vegas strip and dropping some money at a casino downtown. It's just this side of mandatory.

*****

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22. Use The Buses For Exhaustion, Not For Speed

There is an extensive bus shuttle service between the hotels and the show. If you're right across the street all the way up to Broadway, try to walk. If you're staying north of Broadway, try to walk the first day before making a decision if you'll be doing it all weekend. If you're anywhere else, get there any way you can, including the buses. If that means you're driving in, the key is to make sure you're paying to park all day and not just some eight-hour "all day" artificial configuration.

One exception is that if you're just too damn tired to make the trip, use the buses then. That might come Saturday night, or Sunday morning. But at that point don't be shy. They're pretty intuitive to figure out route-wise. You're going to have done a lot of walking, too much walking, no matter what.

*****

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23. Build In The Extra Time To Check Your Bags

One thing folks forget on getaway day is that they're probably going to have some convention center time that occurs after they check out of the hotel. Gotta do something with those bags. The hotels all provide the opportunity to check your bags in, but unless you do it early it might take a while. So build in the time or set an alarm and get down there with everything but your backpack stuff. You'll also likely need extra time built in to pick the bags up.

Another option is go over to the convention center with your bag, which I would restrict to those of you that have friends at an exhibitor with a lot of behind the table space. Do something to thank them if you do that. Maybe even ask the day before.

If you catch a cab out of the area, go west a bit, towards the Marriott first and then down the road even further to find a cab unencumbered with that direct-convention traffic. Also consider taking a bus up past Broadway before jumping into a paid car. I would assume these same principles apply to services like Uber and Lyft. You don't want to pay for downtown gridlock.

Talk of cabs reminds of one more direct piece of advice. There are pedicabs everywhere, and people like them for short bursts of travel, six to eight blocks. I'm not sure why. They creep me out a bit. Anyway, always get the price for where you're going before you get in one. That way there's no drama between you and some angry person with gigantic calves.

*****

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24. Take Business Class On Amtrak Back To Los Angeles

Here's a returning from San Diego travel tip. If you're taking the train back to LA, make at least that segment of your trip business class rather open and unreserved. You get assigned a seat that way, and you get a shorter line. The lines are enormous for the unreserved seats; there's no guarantee you'll get to sit down, and the length of the line leads to people cheating, which if I've played by the rules shoots my blood pressure to the moon after a long weekend of general stress. That's no way to live.

Also, never count on the train to get you back up the coast where you need to go right on time. It's a train. What are you, some hotshot?

*****

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25. Remember You're Having A Good Time

There are so many little stresses in terms of getting around and doing things at Comic-Con that a lot of people forget to have fun. Look at the crew coming in on one of the shuttle trains sometime, if you get the chance: not a smile to be had. Comic-Con is an amazing experience, if you think about it, this massive tent revival devoted to geekdom in its loftiest forms. It is a phenomenon of our times. Take it all in. Talk to those around you. Crack some jokes. If you feel like it, go ahead and smile.

*****

photos by Whit Spurgeon (the nice ones) and me (the awful ones); for those of you wagering at home, the Evanier/Sergio is from 2004.

*****

Comic-Con is an advertiser here at CR so you just wasted your time reading compromised nonsense. Sorry. Also, no one has ever called it Mouthbreather Sundance. That's not even funny.

*****

more guide in a different form soon

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Stay, Read: Terry And The Pirates, Memorial Day 1943

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posted 11:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: Aiyana Udesen

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posted 1:40 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Assembled Extra: MyComicShop.com Suffers Downtime

Explained here. I mention it on the site here not to make fun but because I don't think I've ever seen one of the big retailers go down, which is pretty remarkable considering CR goes down if I breathe on the keyboard by accident. I wish them the best in getting back to business.
 
posted 1:35 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Look: A Pair Of Mort Meskin Covers At Prize

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Your 2015 NCS Division Award Winners

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They were given out during a black-tie ceremony in Memphis on May 28, and if the statements out of the show are any indication in articles like this one, they are now branded or are re-emphasized to be the Silver Reuben Division Awards. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners, there are some really nice and really deserving people on this list. Outside of my personal take, this is a life highlight for nearly everyone involved.

Winners in bold.

*****

EDITORIAL CARTOONS

* Mike Luckovich
* Michael Ramirez
* Ann Telnaes

*****

NEWSPAPER ILLUSTRATION

* Anton Emdin
* Glen Le Lievre
* Elwood Smith

*****

FEATURE ANIMATION

* Boy And The World -- Ale Abreu (Director, Writer)
* Inside Out -- Pete Docter (Director, Original Story) and Ronnie Del Carmen (Asst. Director, Original Story)
* The Peanuts Movie -- Steve Martino (Director)

*****

TELEVISION ANIMATION

* Tumble Leaf (Amazon) -- Drew Hodges (Creator, Director, Executive Producer)
* Puffin Rock (Netflix) -- Maurice Joyce (Director)
* Zack & Quack (Nick Jr.) -- Gili Dolev & Yvette Kaplan (Co-Creators, Co-Directors)

*****

NEWSPAPER PANELS

* Argyle Sweater -- Scott Hilburn
* Bizarro -- Dan Piraro
* The Flying McCoys -- Glenn McCoy
* Reality Check -- Dave Whamond

*****

GAG CARTOONS

* Glen Le Lievre
* Benjamin Schwartz
* David Sipress

*****

ADVERTISING / PRODUCT ILLUSTRATION

* Ray Alma
* Anton Emdin
* Luke McGarry

*****

GREETING CARDS

* Jim Benton
* Scott Nickel
* Robin Rawlings

*****

COMIC BOOKS

* Giant Days (BOOM! Box) -- Max Sarin
* Prez (DC Comics) -- Ben Caldwell
* Squirrel Girl (Marvel) -- Erica Henderson

*****

GRAPHIC NOVELS

* Nanjing The Burning City (Dark Horse) -- Ethan Young
* New Deal (Dark Horse) -- Jonathan Case
* Two Brothers (Dark Horse) -- Gabriel Bá

*****

MAGAZINE FEATURE / ILLUSTRATION

* Anton Emdin
* Rich Powell
* Julia Suits

*****

ONLINE COMICS -- LONG FORM

* Drive -- Dave Kellett
* The Creepy Casefiles Of Margo Maloo -- Drew Weing (pictured top)
* Octopus Pie -- Meredith Gran

*****

ONLINE COMICS -- SHORT FORM

* Bouletcorp -- Boulet
* Kevin & Kell -- Bill Holbrook
* Sheldon -- Dave Kellett

*****

BOOK ILLUSTRATION

* Juana Medina -- Smick
* Sydney Smith -- Sidewalk Flowers (pictured bottom)
* Gitte Spee -- The First Case

*****

NEWSPAPER STRIPS

* Lio -- Mark Tatulli
* Pajama Diaries -- Terri Libenson
* Pearls Before Swine -- Stephan Pastis

*****

OUTSTANDING CARTOONIST OF THE YEAR (THE REUBEN)

* Lynda Barry
* Stephan Pastis
* Hilary Price
* Michael Ramirez
* Mark Tatulli

*****

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Go, Look: Dying In Paradise

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Forthcoming Comics-Related Events, Through July 2016

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*****

June 2
* If I Were In Philadelphia, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Philadelphia)

June 3
* If I Were In Philadelphia, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Philadelphia)
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This

June 4
* If I Were In West Virginia, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Philadelphia, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Philadelphia)
* If I Were In Maine, I'd Go To This (MeCAF)

June 5
* If I Were In Philadelphia, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Philadelphia)
* If I Were In SF, I'd Go To This

June 7
* If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This

June 11
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This (CAKE)

June 12
* If I Were In Chicago, I'd Go To This (CAKE)

June 14
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This

June 16
* If I Were In New York, I'd Go To This

June 17
* If I Were In Charlotte, I'd Go To This (HeroesCon)
* If I Were In Sacramento, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Sacramento)
* If I Were In LA, I'd Go To This

June 18
* If I Were In Charlotte, I'd Go To This (HeroesCon)
* If I Were In Sacramento, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Sacramento)

June 19
* If I Were In Charlotte, I'd Go To This (HeroesCon)
* If I Were In Sacramento, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Sacramento)
* If I Were In Toronto, I'd Go To This (Toronto Art Book Fair)

June 20
* If I Were Phoenix, I'd Go To This

June 23
* If I Were In Berkeley, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Orlando, I'd Go To This (ALA Annual Conference)

June 24
* If I Were In Portland, I'd Go To This
* If I Were In Orlando, I'd Go To This (ALA Annual Conference)

June 25
* If I Were In Orlando, I'd Go To This (ALA Annual Conference)

June 26
* If I Were In Orlando, I'd Go To This (ALA Annual Conference)

June 27
* If I Were In Orlando, I'd Go To This (ALA Annual Conference)

June 28
* If I Were In Orlando, I'd Go To This (ALA Annual Conference)

*****

July 1
* If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This (Anime Expo)

July 2
* If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This (Anime Expo)
* If I Were In Glasgow, I'd Go To This (Glasgow Comic Con)

July 3
* If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This (Anime Expo)
* If I Were In Glasgow, I'd Go To This (Glasgow Comic Con)

July 4
* If I Were In Los Angeles, I'd Go To This (Anime Expo)

July 9
* If I Were In Newark, I'd Go To This (#bettyzinefest)

July 15
* If I Were Near This, I'd Go To It (The Shrewsbury International Comic Art Festival)

July 16
* If I Were Near This, I'd Go To It (The Shrewsbury International Comic Art Festival)

July 17
* If I Were Near This, I'd Go To It (The Shrewsbury International Comic Art Festival)

July 20
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (CCI Preview Night)

July 21
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (CCI)

July 22
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (CCI)

July 23
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (CCI)

July 24
* If I Were In San Diego, I'd Go To This (CCI)

July 29
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Ohio)

July 30
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Ohio)

July 31
* If I Were In Columbus, I'd Go To This (Wizard World Ohio)

*****

Events For July 2016 Onward Listed Here

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posted 1:15 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Go, Read: The Stranger

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posted 1:10 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Your 2016 Max Und Moritz Prize Winners

The Max And Moritz Prize winners have been announced in conjunction with this year's International Comic Salon Erlangen. The final results were released via e-mail. Unlike a divisions-type prize, the German award names a list of nominated books and then gives some of them awards. This year a special lifetime achievement award went to humor giant Claire Brétecher, unable to attend for health reasons. Luz's post-Hebdo memoir Katharsis and the publisher Avant-Verlag were also given special awards. The nominated comics winning prizes were:

* Audience Choice Award: Crash 'n' Burn, Mikiko Ponczek (Tokyopop) (nominiert durch das Publikum)
* Best Comic Strip: Das Hochhaus. 102 Etagen Leben, Katharina Greve (www.das-hochhaus.de)
* Best International Comic: Ein Sommer am See, Mariko Tamaki und Jillian Tamaki. Translation By Tina Hohl (Reprodukt)
* Best German Artist: Barbara Yelin for Irmina (Reprodukt)
* Best Comic For Kids: Kiste, Patrick Wirbeleit und Uwe Heidschötter (Reprodukt)
* Best German Comic: Madgermanes, Birgit Weyhe (avant-verlag)

A comic I don't think was listed in the nominees, "Wunderfitz" from the Münster School of Design, won the student comic award.

The best artist and student publication awards came with endowments, which I'm always delighted to see.
 
posted 1:05 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 54th Birthday, Kevin Eastman!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
Happy 49th Birthday, Dean Haspiel!

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posted 1:00 am PST | Permalink
 

 
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