Surrounded by bitter winds, the Jacob Javits Center hosted the first annual New York Comic-con, February 24-26, 2006. Dave Fooden and I walked the floor during the pro-only period on Friday.
Allow me to lead with some of the best newcomers I encountered:
Matthew Bernier, still in SVA but with a sharp voice and style gouged from the nexii of the mid-15th and late-20th Centuries.
Getsiv, and his fascinating The Green Kid which he #@¢%-well better finish at some point. It’s like copying a page from a 1960s Highlights for Children with Silly Putty, but then using the finished art to quietly scatter all bullies and bigots away, across its beaches.
Tara Heusner & Yan Wu, and their We Can’t All and Some of Us Don’t. An all-too-brief paean to the eccentric orbit artists take in modern society. What will they do next?
Dave had with him his latest demo copy of Oh My God! There’s An Axe In My Head, and no one could believe he had handcrafted it all himself. Well, actually, these were pros, so yeah, they believed it. But they were also impressed. So!
We ran into Voltaire, and I got reacquainted with many of Dave’s pals, Steve Ellis (left), Rich Clark, Fred Harper and Dean Haspiel. We may all team up for some Axe In My Head game nights! It’s just an idea we had.
Hanging around a mysteriously empty booth smack in the middle of DC, Wizards and Dark Horse, we were tempted to just set up a game and start playing. This boldness, and the game itself, attracted the attention of Molly Crabapple and Dae Yoo, among others, though I’m going to plug the girls since a) they were very attractive and flirtatious and b) they had the business savvy to email me during the show.
(…Actually we never set up the whole game, and just took these shots from a different corner.)
The Axe Effect unleashes the Power of Venture! New Venture Bros. episodes June 11!! Glathheld is gunning for you, Jackson Publick! ! !
Later in the day, Dave and I fought to stay awake during Vertigo’s presentation. I woke up to applaud for the Y The Last Man announcements (its running toward completion this year… I think…) and we tried to determine if either of us had snored. Shame on us, because Vertigo is doing some exciting stuff: Not least, the V for Vendetta movie, which looks to be a welcome anarchist wet dream, releasing as it does during the Bush Oligarchy. Vertigo reiterated its promises to be bold and beholden to none; we shall see if DC ever yanks in the reins…
Dave went on to a DC party later that night, but you’d have to ask him what went on.
On Sunday, I caught a few more panels, starting with the webcomics panel, hosted by mostly Blank Label guys. Kristofer Straub of Starslip Crisis, Jon Rosenberg of Goats, Brad Guigar of Evil, Inc., Paul Southworth of Ugly Hill, Steve Troop of Melonpool, and Dave Kellett of Sheldon, probably had a lot of fascinating things to say, but I barely got in at the last minute. Though they concluded with a clear summation to the panel’s official title “The Future of Comics: What Works, What Doesn’t, and Where It’s Going… Online”:
“The majors are seeing their market share drop, their audience is no longer in comic shops, they’re online. They’ll be spending the next ten years figuring out how to do what we’re already doing.”
Then it was on to “Beyond the Capes and Spandex” and the mini- to micro-press crowd. True to form, their names do not appear in the con booklet, unlike the other seminar descriptions. Because that would be selling out. Ah, but I took a shot of the Powerpoint slide with their indicia, and so now, through the power of the Internet, they shall forever be enshrined as participants in the first New York Comic-Con:
Ivan Brandon — NYC Mech
Tania Del Rio — Lovesketch; Mangaka America
Jose L. Torres — The Hunger
Fred Van Lente — Action Philosophers!
Neil Kleid — Brownsville
Ken Lillie-Paetz & Chris Moreno — Elsinore; Monkey In A Wagon vs. Lemur On A Big Wheel
Jenny Gonzalez — Too Negative
Best line was from Kleid: “If Marvel wants to allow their protagonists to all be pr*¢ks, I’ll do the entire line.”
And finally, I could not resist but sit in on “Spiritual Values in Comics” described with, “As comics reach new levels of maturity and expression, creators are looking inward and outward as they comment on humanity’s search for spiritual values.” Could be gnostic, New Agey and pagan-tastic, right? Then you read that Archie Comics alums are present, and you know you’re in for the Ned Flanders Hour. Virgil, take me there!
Alec Stevens (Sadhu Sundar Singh), B.J. Oropeza (The Gospel According to Superheroes: Religion and Popular Culture), Paul Castiglia, Steve Ross and Buzz Dixon held forth on an array of Christian topics, most consistently wondering how to reach a wider audience. There seemed to be agreement that the prosyltizing approach wasn’t going to reach new audiences, and that something subtler was called for. While that was mildly creepy, the best part was Ross going on about Marked, his adaptation of Mark, and how more Christians need to rediscover how weird the New Testament really is. He also accurately pointed out that Jesus wasn’t originally portrayed as a guy in beard, halo and toga, but as a typical, shaven-faced Roman tradesman.
Knowing Joss Whedon to be a staunch atheist, I asked Buzz Dixon, one of the creators of the Christian manga Serenity if they had had any trouble with the filmmakers.
Apparently not: “Oh, the fans aren’t confused. They know the difference. One is a spaceship, the other is a girl.”
The upstairs was mostly devoted to the set-up of the unrelated Art Expo, except for the top floor, which had a few video game set-ups, and one room with hundreds of tables awaiting card players. We didn’t see any players there Friday or Sunday, though we imagine they had some success whenever we weren’t around. Certainly the Wizards booth in the main area was jumping, and their staff was very helpful and courteous to us.
“Play or Die” does seem to be Hasbro’s credo. Or trademarked threat. But “sponspored”? (See enlargement.) Taking “viral marketing” too seriously? Three-foot-high letters is not where you want to leave the typo.
I decided not to go back Saturday, though Dave Fooden did, in search of panels on writing for movies. Saturday turned out to be unseasonably warm and pleasant between the two harsh winter-weather days, and this only exacerbated the popularity of the event. Comic-con was oversold, 11,000 tickets, and the fire marshalls took charge of traffic flow, leaving many waiting outside for hours. The con organizers reportedly thought ticketholders would spread out, both in time and space, and were proved very wrong.
Their desires to make this the East Coast equivalent of San Diego seems well underway. After the con, sometime before 7 pm Sunday, I was lurking on the shoeshine chairs when I overheard one of the show organizers discussing the traffic situation and next year’s show with one of the Center’s union guys:
“We’re definitely looking to take over the upstairs too, next year.”
Finally, allow me to leave fellow scribblers with this public service reminder:
Corsets make all those impossible bodies you draw… a little more possible.