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
Yes! And we're going back to bed. RT @inkstuds: asbury, space and linework good day to be buying comics.
- Saturday Apr 12 - 3:16pm
Hello! Are you in New Jersey or have you escaped? If you are still in Jersey or anywhere near it, you ought to stop by the Asbury Park Comic Con, which is right along the historic boardwalk, which is the site of some terrible goings on in Brendan Leach's Iron Bound. Of course, Brendan will be there, and we promise it's much safer than you would think after reading his book. If you don't have a copy of Iron Bound handy, you can pick one up from Brendan at the show. If you do have a copy, you might want to wait to read it until after the show. You can still play pinball at the Silver Ball Museum, though. Even more ridiculous, Jersey boy Mike Dawson is crashing the party. He's back living in Jersey now, but his latest book, Angie Bongiolatti, is all about life in New York post 9/11. His other books, Troop 142 and Freddie & Me will give you all the non-scary Jersey you need. Get over there and get some comics and take a little stroll along the beach, where the "Jedi" play "Tatoine," as the kids say. We actually saw that last year. It was HILARIOUS.
HEY! Are you in Portlandia or something? Because Edie Fake is in Portland, Oregon, doing some Linework. Linework NW, kinda like Edie himself, is blurring the line between comics, fine art and illustration work. They have Jim Woodring and Michael Deforge and some pretty killer events planned for the show, including an evening of Edie at the legendary Floating World Comics. We'd tell you what Edie is doing there, but the Lineworkers say it best, "Fake will be giving a short and colorful experimental lecture on the sexuality of patterns that weaves together fabric, the tarot, the concept of individuality and jeggings." Yes, sexy fabric and jeggings. Now you have to go! Read all about it here...
Hi! Are you in Ohio someplace? Because Sean Ford is in Columbus, Ohio, aka SPACE, the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo. Sean's got the brand new edition of Only Skin and a brand new issue of Shadow Hills, which is the third of that series (!). There's lots of fun programming, but you can also double dip and go check out the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum right next door. It's probably the largest collection of comics anywhere and, in conjunction with the SPACE Jam (that's a thing), they're opening up the Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes, duh) and Richard Thompson (Cul de Sac, duh) exhibits, too! Now that's worth the trip. Make sure you get Sean to sketch your books out. That guy acts like every day is Angouleme. Deets at the link!
Well, well, well! It's Paste Magazine's Hillary Brown on Mike Dawson's Angie Bongiolatti, which is a lot of names. It's also a very thoughtful review. Angie Bongiolatti is indeed a macro, holistic view of a group of people at a particular moment. The book is not so much about the people themselves, but more a book of ideas. That ain't easy. Hillary is too smart to take the bait on the politics of Angie Bongiolatti, of course. As she writes, it's a story of ideals and idealization, and how they distort our view of some very flawed thinking and very flawed people. Hillary is one of the best critics out there, so stop reading this and go read her. Go on...
And we're back on our Scuttlebutt blog with a rundown of all things MoCCA. Even as steering committee members, we were skeptical that a year's worth of planning would make much difference between last year's show and this one, but it turns out we were wrong, or we were "haters" as the kids like to say. A big balloon, a new layout, a Comics Week worth of events all over New York, some killer programming and a drop in admission prices really brought this show to life. And it WAS dead, Jim. We should have given the Society of Illustrators, and ourselves, a little more credit for learning on the fly. You can also check out the early bird reviews of Angie Bongiolatti and Memory Palaces, AND you can see where everyone is heading next, since both Sean Ford and Edie Fake will be at shows this very weekend, while Mike Dawson and Brendan Leach will be heading back to Asbury Park. We're staying put until TCAF time, but we'll return to warn you about that one and Corinne Mucha and Get Over It! we promise. Thanks, everyone, who came to MoCCA and to the Bureau of General Services - Queer Division and to Bergen Street Comics. We do it all for you!