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This is the End

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GRUMPY BERT warmed us up from that cold November rain. The evening began with an actual revelation. Fresh off the plane, Theo Ellsworth mounted original art from the first, the second and the never-before-seen by anyone, including us, final volume of his trilogy, the Understanding Monster. On a miserable night, celebrating the release of the Understanding Monster Book Two was a more intimate affair than we’ve had in a while, and we’re not referring to attendance. Grumpy Bert hosts gallery shows, writing workshops, handmade crafts, homemade brownies and a friendly pug. People who braved the weather came from as far away as Philadelphia just for the occasion. Selling books and cuddling rarely go together and we all hung around later than we should have. Many thanks to Albert, the not at all grumpy Bert, for sending us so sweetly into our Comic Arts Brooklyn weekend.

 

Theo

 

People came to party on Friday. The comics kids took over the Park Slope Ale House for the night. With Breakdown Press and Space Face Books and Hic + Hoc and Secret Acres in the place, what did you expect? We were relieved to have skipped bringing books to the bar, once the room filled up with cartoonists and beer. Speaking of cuddly, we lucked out and got caught up with the Comics Reporter himself, Tom Spurgeon, on the eve of his great migration. We made pals with another bibliophile, Greg Farrell, whose graphic novel, On the Books tells the story of New York’s most storied bookstore, the Strand, and its union negotiations. And did you know the unionized Strand even carries mini-comics these days? Of course, we spent most of the evening talking about babies with Hic + Hoc chieftan Matt Moses, who has at least one cool daughter. Our very own Eamon Espey got there late after a grueling seven hour trip from Baltimore. Yes, Baltimore in Maryland. For once, we called it off relatively early and got some sleep before the big day.

We came pretty close to getting set up before Comic Arts Brooklyn opened its doors. Kudos to us! And several more kudos to what may have been the most helpful volunteers we have ever seen at any comics show ever. Even though we dropped down to a single table at this year’s CAB, we brought a ton of stuff with us. The volunteers met us at the door and carried our gear to our spot. We appreciated the help, and needed it, what with some among us under strict weight lifting limits post health scares (and Barry is recovering nicely, by the way). It took a minute for our entire gang to assemble, but finally we had Theo, Eamon, Rob Sergel and Corinne Mucha sketching and signing away. Rob delivered with his new mini, Joe Bonaparte and Eamon wowed us with his surprise fifth installment of Wormdye.

 

Eamon and Lisa

 

With all of that on top of the Understanding Monster Book Two, we somehow wound up selling about half as much as we did last year. That sounds way worse than it was. Sales-wise, CAB wound up being our best show of 2013, by far. Even cut in half, we had a very good day and got the Understanding Monster Book Two off to a flying start. Early in the afternoon, we heard  a couple of publishers panicking about their sales, but most everyone was caught up by closing time. Some attendees may have misread the CAB poster, and we were all asked if we would be there on Sunday. That could have been it. Or it could have been con fatigue. Or maybe half the tables meant half the sales. Having the programming the day after the show also meant there would be no panel-related sales bump for anybody.

Logistically, avoiding things like this is near impossible if you’re planning a show in New York. Our time on the MoCCA steering committee has taught us just how difficult it is to get anything done at all, let alone done right. What CAB does right – and beyond right, to perfection – is getting the best possible mix of artists and publishers behind those tables. It never fails; every year we spend more money and discover more comics at CAB than anywhere else. We have no problem losing a table since we know it means more of these folks in the room. Every artist exhibitor we spoke to, and we spoke to plenty of them, couldn’t have been happier. Our only real sad note: we miss Cartoon House, the loss of which is a great indicator of what a pain in the ass it is to find some space in our fair city. No Cartoon House led to a quick and far flung dispersal. After a fast feast at our favorite taco joint, we retired to a little slumber party, staying up all night reading our haul and never coming close to making it all the way through.

We spent Sunday playing tourist with Theo, so someone else will have to catch you up on CAB’s programming day. If you missed out on any or all of this past weekend’s festivities, you can catch some animated Theo art at Grumpy Bert for their big artist flipbook show, opening up next Saturday. You can read reviews of the Understanding Monster Book Two at Sequential State and Festival Season. If you are called to adventure, you can go see Theo this weekend at Seattle’s beloved Short Run show. If home is where your heart is, you can order in some Understanding Monster, the latest from Rob Sergel and the brand new Wormdye 5 from our Emporium. If you’re among the first to order the Understanding Monster Book Two from us, we’ll send you a signed copy, with one these little guys tipped in (and assembly required, because we’re lazy).

 

Cubee

 

If you’re in Minnesota and you are a stalker or a friend, you might catch us wandering around out there next month as we tour the home of our brand new distributor, Consortium. Joining them, and nearly of all our pals, promises great things in the year to come. Since this is likely to be our last blog post of 2014, we want to thank everybody who reads this blog, who reads our comics, who reads comics and who makes comics for what turned out to be our best year. We’d love nothing more than to spill the beans on what’s coming in 2015, but Consortium is making us act like grownups. They probably wouldn’t mind if we posted the cover to the Understanding Monster Book Three, though. We hope?

We have lots of paperwork to do and a website to spruce up, so until next year…

Your Pals,

Barry and Leon

 

UM3

 

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