WE’RE PRETTY stupid, when you get down to it. An object in motion tends to be inconsiderate, and we tend not to consider the possible consequences of our actions when we are moving as quickly as possible. So let’s consider!
It’s obvious that death notes tend to get a lot more eyeballs than love letters (see: the internet). The conversations about the future, or lack thereof, of MoCCA the festival and museum, which happened in the comments of our blog (and offstage) were many and got the attention of several of our heroes in this comics world. We were thrilled about this. We were not thrilled that the only person voicing MoCCA’s positives (which exist) was a volunteer. The volunteers are the best constant of all things MoCCA. And no one speaking in any official capacity from the museum had a word to say. Clearly, we’re doing something wrong.
As for stupid us, we also took a jab at one of the big boy pants comics publishing houses. We may not be smart, but we’re a bit oversensitive, very overprotective and certainly smartasses, so when our feelings are hurt over any kind of perceived slight, we break out a zinger or two. Our reward for a lousy assumption was a long and fascinatingly honest conversation with someone we didn’t think knew we existed. Of course, this makes us even less likely to consider our words when we are miffed. To the target of our snarkiness: thank you for treating us like grownups; it’s more than we deserve.
Apologies should also be extended to Sean T. Collins and Tom Neely (of Sparkplug and Tom Neely fame), who tried to warn us that bringing a comic like Wayward Girls over the border for a Toronto Comic Arts Festival debut was maybe not a good idea. Last year, Tom and Sparkplug were held at the border and had their books confiscated for six months. The year before, Ryan Matheson was arrested and jailed for carrying manga over the border. None of these people were transporting anything remotely as provocative as Wayward Girls, the content of which stretches the limits of plausible deniability. Still, M.K. Reed, our ridemate (poor woman) didn’t try to stop us, either.
We can’t say we didn’t know. We can say we didn’t care, at least until we met a very unfriendly border guard. A fellow mumbler, we kept asking her to repeat herself until we were certain we were going to jail. Finally, she sent us to pay our taxes. As we were leaving, we saw a troop of men carrying machine guns heading over to check out the car that showed up after us. Only after we were pulling away did we start freaking out. Why are we so stupid?
Haunted by our idiocy, we didn’t get much sleep. We did have a hell of a view from the large balcony of our guest suite in a building that houses both Annie Koyama and the Toronto International Film Festival. With all those goodies, there was still no soap, because weren’t clever enough to remember to pick any up. We spent the entire weekend shrouded in the subtle bouquet of Nivea Cashmere Moments hand soap.
In this state we arrived at TCAF to find our table, which took us a while because it was in the middle of nowhere and behind a pillar. Mike Dawson immediately christened it Pete Campbell’s Office. We did, however, get everything we asked for from TCAF. We were next to the Sundays table (again, always and forever, we will be sitting with Chuck Forsman and Melissa Mendes) so Joseph Lambert could two-time us. Sundays was next to Beth Hetland, who was next to John Chad, all by request.
As you might expect, being out of the way and behind a pole didn’t do wonders for business. We asked to be relocated, which the TCAF folks set to work on and they immediately produced and handed out flyers to tell people know where our small press area was. It worked. There were other convention impressarios taking notes on TCAF’s organizational skills. As well they should because TCAF is untouchable. No one flips their lid when the hall is too hot, or there’s a video glitch at the Doug Wright Awards because bringing a problem to the attention of the TCAF gang is the same as getting a solution.
We had so much fun at TCAF last year that we’d have come back even if we’d lost money (which we didn’t). This year, we sold of out of almost everything, praise be to Annie Koyama, because sneaking Wayward Girls over the border twice would be pushing even our dumb luck. Major congratulations are in order for Michiel Budel aka Slechte Meisjes for a sellout debut. Sean Ford, on his way to selling out of Only Skin, had the thought that the crowded aisles may have worked against us last year. Our books are all over the map and it takes a little space to look them over, fondle them a bit, buy them a drink and get them in the mood before taking them home. We even had room for guest star Brendan Leach, selling his new and excellent mini, Ironbound, at the Acres table after selling out of his Pterodactyl Hunters at the Top Shelf stand.
Once again, we sold the vast majority of our wares to women. Generally, there was the sense that we were selling comics to civilians, not Comics People, which is the benefit of both free admission and to the scale of TCAF. It’s big enough to take over the uber-worldly supermetropolis of Toronto. Shocking as it was, the pathologically shy Mike Dawson was the only one who didn’t like Pete Campbell’s Office because he felt like he was missing the party.
There is no missing the TCAF party. We made an excellent new pal of Derf Backderf, who was there to sell out of My Friend Dahmer. Nate Bulmer should expect our company on the regular. Josh Bayer was lurking at dinner time, which was a banquet every night. We got all blushy and toed the floor when Zak Sally came by to say hello. We saw our old pals, Alex Kim, L. Nichols (and lovely wife, Christina), Kevin Czap, Becca Lambert (yes, Joe is married), Robin Nishio, Laila Emir, Scoop MacDonald (no longer a TCAF virgin), Michael Deforge and still failed to so much as say hello to Tom Devlin for the second time in as many weeks.
Speaking of friends, our panel was really fun, especially for those of us on the panel, which were Annie Koyama, Pat Grant, Sarah Howell, Matthew Sheret, John Retallick and us. We learned a lot about comics in the UK and Australia (!) and how they’re developing the indie comics scenes over there. We’re fascinated by their community building efforts, which for the Aussies included renting a former communist youth camp and inviting the entire country’s comics population to hang out and just play, no show involved at all. TCAF brings you the world.
It’s hard not to fall in love with everyone over a weekend like that, and we’re too foolish to protect our hearts. The one thing TCAF is missing, organizationally, is a helpline to deal with the massive separation anxiety after it’s over. Love hurts. That’s not hyperbole, it’s the truth. It hurt a little less when we got home to find a ton of messages from folks wondering if we were in jail.
Also, that little drawing up there of a plane flying in a pink sky? That’s a sliver from a new comic by the artist formerly known as Ken Dahl. We’ll have more on that when come back here to talk about CAKE. Right now, it’s time for more tears of loneliness.
Leon and Barry
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We're back on our Scuttlebutt blog with our Comic Arts Brooklyn report, and our Brooklyn Ale House party report and our Grumpy Bert show report and our year-end report and a tiny, little look ahead to next year. CAB is, for us and lots of other comics people, the start of the holiday season, so we're a little Auld Lang Syne-ish about the show. There were hiccups this time around, and no Cartoon House (see the post for an explanation of that) but CAB still has the best exhibitors at any show, making Brooklyn proud. Speaking of heart-warming, many thanks to the folks at Grumpy Bert. Someone came all the way from Philadelphia just to see Theo and the brand new second book of his Understanding Monster trilogy. That's the kind of amazing that made 2014 our best year ever. We owe everyone a big thank you for reading our books and, really, for reading. You guys are the best. Normally, in our last post of the year, we babble about all the new stuff coming your way. We can't do that anymore. We're joining the likes of Koyama Press and Uncivilized Books and Nobrow at the good distributorship, Consortium. Sure, that's business stuff, but it's a big deal for Secret Acres. Still, we did manage to sneak at least one 2015 comic into this final blathering. Read on...
Comic Arts Brooklyn is today! I'll be signing at the Secret Secret Acres table!
Join us and Theo Ellsworth and everybody else tonight for a gallery show and some Comic Arts Brookyln pre-gaming at Brooklyn’s own Grumpy Bert! You can beat the CAB crowd to the punch and get your very own signed and sketched copy of Theo’s latest, the Understanding Monster Book Two. Book Two picks up where Book One left off, following Pharoah Tellitome, Inspector Gimble, Turtletree, Master Sponko and Minnow on their collective quest to awaken Izadore and re-establish his identity and memory. Get to Grump Bert early enough and you can really lord it over folks: the first ten to arrive get a limited edition Theo print made just for tonight’s show. Of course, there will be free beer and bubbly, too. What more is there to life?