REPORT :: Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festival
Oh man! What a great weekend--last weekend, to be exact. Not the weekend that ended yesterday, the one before that. Anyway! I flew, through the generosity of publisher Anne Koyama, to New York City for the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, which took place on December 4th in a church gym in Brooklyn somewhere. Williamsburg? I'm not sure, all those Brooklyn neighborhoods run together in my mind. Anyway!
My man Scott Campbell was kind enough to give up his couch for a lenghty four nights--originally my girlfriend and I were going to make the trip together and have a fun weekend in NYC, but her dog got sick and she had to stay home at literally the last minute. So there I was in the big city with a lot of time on my hands, although of course the time went zip! right by with hardly a nod in my direction. As time is wont to do. Witness above the dazzling view of uptown from Scott's rooftop. Breathtaking!
I flew in on Friday afternoon, then Saturday was the show itself. I was set up with Koyama Press, there was me and Anne and Steve Manale and Michael Deforge, and Chris Kuzma and the Wowee Zonk guys. Pretty sure we were the friendliest people in the room, and that's saying something--the room was PACKED all day with friendly people. Comfortably packed too, not the kind of wild sardine-style packed that the old Puck Building MoCCA's used to get. Plus people were spending money--I made as much in a day at BCGF as I did in a day at SPX this year, which for me is great. I'm a lot better known at SPX, so I was a little nervous about how sales would be, but I was surprised and pleased at the amount of traffic and interest in my little books.
One person I was really looking forward to seeing and didn't (really) was Paul Pope, who stopped at my table long enough to drop off this AMAZING gift, a copy of The Illustrated Dune complete with a Pope inked-frontispiece. *SWOON* But we never managed to get up the rest of the weekend, which is probably my fault. It's hard to keep a schedule in the big city!
After the show, both while I was still in town and now that I'm home, I heard a fair bit of grumbling from some people about how the show was curated, including this bit at my friend Brian Heater's Daily Crosshatch site. Mainly it seemed to come down to a) "I take umbrage at the way I was told I was not included," and b) "I am too important to not be included." I don't know, I'm a big proponent of curated shows, I think they're just better, from the get-go, than non-curated shows. By "curated" I mean that the organizers have put together a group of guests that they feel represents a certain aesthetic or subculture or whatever arbitrary grouping they decide upon.
It goes without saying that, by deciding that certain people DO get into said group, you're also deciding that certain people DO NOT. That's impossible to avoid. And I'm sure if I got told that I couldn't exhibit at a show that I wanted to be part of, it would hurt my feelings on some level. I'm certain I would not have been part of BCGF if it had not been for Anne Koyama--I just don't think I would have made "the cut," whether qualitatively or aesthetically or otherwise. I'm pretty okay with that though; although maybe I'm a little tougher from working on HeroesCon for so long--someone is ALWAYS upset, and often with some reason. It's impossible to deal with a large group of people and please all of them, especially when that group is composed of a lot of artists, you know what I mean?
Anyway, I probably shouldn't be wasting all this time writing about it, but for some reason it really bothered me that people were being so pissy about it. Cartoonists with some level of readership often complain about "fan entitlement," but I think there's a pretty fair amount of entitlement all around. Let's keep it classy, guys!
Let's see, what was I talking about? Oh yes, New York! What a lovely city! I bummed around the city a fair bit, visiting a couple of sweet bookshops I'd been wanting to try out (The Strand, Kinokuniya), hitting the MoMA, hanging with Scott and Bagel and old high school friends, just maxing. One highlight was getting to have lunch with Casanova editor Alejandro Arbona, who took me to a Cuban place called Tina's, which was essentially a room filled with delicious stew smells. That highlight was somewhat dimmed by the ensuing trek around midtown Manhattan during the holiday season, even weeks before Christmas. Holy cow! People everywhere! It was very unpleasant, very stressful--I think the older I get, the more anti-people I'm getting. Not crowd-phobic necessarily, just crowd-grumpy.
Anyway, Scott and I hit the MoMA, and then we cruised through Rockefeller Center to look at that big ole tree. Scott is bonkers for Christmas, so it was kinda nice to vicariously enjoy the crowds and spectacle through him. And then feel a little guilty for being such a humbug about the crowds. Stay classy Dharbin!
But the uncontested highlight of my trip was getting to spend an afternoon at the Pizza Island studio in Brooklyn, the studio started by Julia Wertz and Sarah Glidden, which now also includes Kate Beaton, Lisa Hanawalt and Domitille Collardey (at left and right above, respectively), Karen Sneider and... hm someone else maybe, I'm forgetting. Anyway, it was amazing. Working in a room with that much talent--heck, just being around other people cartooning, quietly skritch-skritching away at their various solitary works. Man, that was a heady brew.
I'd never really thought about living in NYC until then, until being around that kind of creative energy--plus I'm sure that same cellular structure is present all over the place around there, there's more cartoonists in Brooklyn than in Portland even, I think. After I bid the ladies farewell I walked through Brooklyn doing some present-shopping, and it was just as quiet and interesting and dull as I wanted it to be, and with the noise and racket of Manhattan just a bridge away anyway, should I require it.
Food for thought! Maybe one day we'll see how to plug that sort of thing in to my life and plans and relationships. For now my batteries are all charged up, there are comics to make and money to hunt and success to find. Thank you New York! Also thanks to Anne, Scott, Nathan Stapley, Philip Hood, Matt Arnold, Kate Beaton and a ton of others who ferried me around the city and took care of a dumb country boy in the big ole fancy city. You can see all those people in this picture below, although you need to look sorta hard.
More photos in this here Flickr photoset!