HELLO, everyone! We’re sending you off on your Memorial Day weekend (all you non-Americans can remember whatever you like as we Americans have friggin’ amnesia when it comes to our own history, anyway) with a little treat. This is our very first guest blogger here on Scuttlebutt and it is none other than Sean Ford, he of Only Skin fame. Sean and fellow Acre, Joseph Lambert went all the way to the Maine Comics Arts Festival without us and volunteered to report on the scene. He even provides photographic evidence! Take it away, Sean:
Last weekend, fellow Secret Acres artist Joseph Lambert and I went up to Maine for MECAF with good pals Charles Forsman, Melissa Mendes and Becca Lambert. Mosley Lambert stayed home to guard things. It was the third show in four weeks for some of our merry band, myself included, so road-weariness and poop jokes were in healthy supply.
My first stop on a whirlwind weekend tour of New England was to Chuck and Melissa’s idyllic Hancock, MA home. There I saw the amazing drawing studio they’ve set up and met Bruce, the chillest cat in the land. They have an amazing house that seems like the perfect place to draw and create awesome comics. And, of course, that’s just what they do. It makes sense. I also learned that Chuck’s cartooning prowess is matched only by his tortilla-making abilities. I didn’t take any pictures of this wonderful place and pictures wouldn’t do it justice anyway.
The next day, after a short morning walk in the woods, we drove up to White River Junction to meet the Lamberts. We took some windy back roads that I’d never taken before, driving through some beautiful Massachusetts and Vermont country with the windows down. We drove pretty close to the Bennington Triangle, which made me happy. We arrived in Vermont mid-afternoon and after sharing some smells with Mosley (Joe and Becca’s charming wolfboydog) we set out for Maine. The drive to Maine was uneventful, unless you count singing songs and fixing cars with gaffer’s tape.
On arriving in Maine, after deciding not to spend too much time in our uh… modestly outfitted (read: ‘a mix of dog and human pee and hair smell’) Motel 6 room we decided to investigate downtown Portland, Maine. We knew there had to be a MECAF-related party going on, we were just really bad about finding it. We got beers and nachos and ice cream instead.
The next day was MECAF. The show takes place in a wonderful building that is all glass and views of the harbor. Everything about the show was top notch – a beautiful, well organized space, cool panels, and friendly, helpful volunteers – they even had the option to order sandwiches for lunch that were hand-delivered by show-organizer and Casablanca Comics owner Rick Lowell. I missed that particular sammie boat, but that just seems really thoughtful. The show never felt particularly crowded (though Kate Beaton definitely had a long line), but it never felt empty, either. As people have said, it certainly felt like a kids-friendly show; there was even a 10-yr old selling his own drawings at his own table – and he was busy! And good! But there were certainly people interested in Secret Acres books, Sundays, Joe’s prints, Chuck’s The End of The Fucking World and Melissa’s Freddy Stories and Lou comics.
And that’s where it got interesting for me. I don’t know if this was the case, so forgive the speculation, but my sense was that most of the people who stopped by the SA table hadn’t heard of Secret Acres before and were willing to try out something new. Capacity caught a lot of eyes. As did PS Comics, I Will Bite You! and Only Skin. It seemed like the crowd at MECAF often didn’t come expecting to lay out money for bigger books, at least not past Hark! a Vagrant and the Amulet books, and so were caught off guard by the presence of Secret Acres and a $20 book like Capacity. But there were several distinct occasions where people found a book on the table, flipped through it for a while, put it down, picked it back up and then said “I have to get this, I’m going to find an ATM.” Usually someone saying they need to find an ATM at a comics show is code for “thanks, but no thanks,” but a lot of these folks actually came back with money in hand and picked up the books that had caught their eye. It is a really cool and rewarding feeling to help someone discover a book they knew nothing about. It felt like finding some of that Blue Ocean we talked about after TCAF. It also reminded me of Dylan Williams’ call for building communities at smaller regional shows. That’s exactly what MECAF was. And I think there is a potential to build something there for anyone willing to put in the time. Joe has been to three out of four MECAF shows over the years and has clearly built up an audience at the show. He wasn’t selling like gangbusters or anything, but he seemed to do quite well and run into a bunch of people who knew his work and were happy to see him again.
That’s what MECAF felt like – a small, smartly run show that can act as a platform for individual artists or small publishers to build an audience, helped by a beautiful location and good organization. It might be the sort of show an artist or small publisher needs to help carve out their place within, but that’s an exciting place to be in comics.
After the show we grabbed some pizza with the amazing Jose Luis Olivares, who had taken the bus up from Boston to say hi (sadly he didn’t bring his comics!) and then hit the road back to Vermont, Massachusetts and New York, having found some Blue Ocean and sung some Billy Ocean. We sing when we’re happy and MECAF had us singing. Thanks to everyone who made it a great weekend, from Rick Lowell’s awesome crew to intrepid customers willing to take a chance on something new to great great great old pals.
- Sean Ford
Barry and Leon and Sean
@DandQ This is amazing! Best comics publisher site of all time. Maybe you should get artists for the other letters in the alphabet now.
- Friday Aug 8 - 5:01pm
@realasianfriend It's all for YOU! But, really, thanks; we needed that!
- Thursday Aug 7 - 10:09pm
ZOMG! It's Tim O'Neil for the Onion AV Club on Corinne Mucha's Get Over It! and it's a pretty darn good review, too. Tim's clearly on top of his comics game, name-dropping and comparing Corinne to none other than Kate Beaton, John Allison and Dylan Horrocks - pretty much a Mt. Rushmore of the medium. He gets it right; Corinne hits every bump on Heartbreak Road, ever stage of grief, but all told, it's actually kind of... ...fun? As Tim puts it, she "turns a book about three years of anguish into a page-turner." There IS something fun about being heartbroken, and not just the rebound. It's like a license to crazy. At least we think so. There's lots of other good stuff reviewed here, too, including Rocket Raccoon's latest, Superman and Roman Muradov (love that guy). Corinne's got some good company for Get Over It! Thank you, Tim, and thanks, AV Club, for the very kind words. You guys go read now at the link!
We are outta here! Or at least will we be in the morning. Actually, the very early morning. Sigh. But we're going to the Rhode Island Independent Publishing Expo aka RIPE! This is our first time at the show. It's also the first time FOR the show. RIPE is brand new and the brainchild of some folks we truly adore, like Mickey Z, who roped us into going way back when at the last Comic Arts Brooklyn. Yes, it is suspicious that there's a comic show in the dead of summer called RIPE. We've stopped showering and wiping for the occasion. Kidding. At our table will be Brendan Leach, of Iron Bound fame, and Sean Ford, he who has brought you Only Skin. Not only will Sean have the new and improved edition of Only Skin, he will have the fourth, yes, FOURTH issue of his new series, Shadow Hills. Playing the role of Secret Acres comics mule on the ride up will be Dave Nuss of Revival House Press, home of folks like Malachi Ward. It's a star-studded event and we don't even have to worry about crossing any borders! Doors are at noon and details are at the link below. If you're in Providence now, there's all kinds of stuff happening tonight, too. We will see you tomorrow...
The thing about Mike Dawson's newest graphic novel, Angie Bongiolatti, is that it's daunting at first glance but kind of impossible not to identify with its characters. Well, you could somehow not identify with them, and that's your right, but you'd probably be completely insane. Rob Kirby, writing for the Comics Journal, writes about Angie Biongiolatti so well, that he might just be the ideal reader for this one. He's sensitive, empathetic, politically conscious and he likes to party. He also nails Angie, the character, who can come across as enigmatic or aloof, but it's her faith and her clarity, as Rob puts it (and we're paraphrasing), that make her the best barometer ever for the most difficult of times and the craziest of people. The key, though, is Rob writing that he knows these folks and he's partied with them. It would have been a lot easier for Mike if he'd had an agenda when he drew these people. Yeah, we might have recognized the ideas, but maybe we wouldn't have recognized these people. Poor Rob! He's one of THEM! Thanks, TCJ, and Rob, especially. This was a really good one.
Well, folks, Edie Fake has arrived! This newest LA native gets a very warm welcome indeed from Joshua Michael Demaree at the LA Review of Books. It's both a full-blown interview, a complete history and in depth review of Memory Palaces, Edie's latest and our first ever art book. If you're worried about Edie going Hollywod, go ahead and worry since Demaree has christened him a "flourishing celebrity." At least, he's a flourishing celebrity in the queer art world. There's some stuff in here that rarely gets discussed, including Edie's background as a video artist and the influence of that medium on his comics work. We even get a mention in the story of how we met Edie, which almost didn't happen. Plus, and this was news to us as well, Edie's return to Chicago (after "going feral") coincided with the death of Michael Jackson. But was it a coincidence? Thank you, Joshua, for all your super thoughtful work here (and for making another dream come true and writing up a Secret Acres book for the LA Review of Books). Go and read this very funny and very serious career retrospective right now!