Saturday, January 26, 2008

SPL Comixtravaganza

Okay, so the good news is that I made it to the Comixtravaganza today (see below). The bad news is that I forgot my camera, so I have no pics to share. Here's a rundown anyway.

From 2pm to 3pm, David Lasky, creator of comics such as Urban Hipster, ran a workshop on creating minicomics. It was a great crowd - much bigger than the library had expected. Lasky gave a short presentation, showed us how to physically make a comic pamphlet from one sheet of paper, and then walked through his own storytelling process on a whiteboard while all the attendees made their own comics.

There were people of all ages and all attitudes in the audience - I was sitting with a tweener and mom who came with a six- or seven-year-old daughter, but I was far from the only greybeard in the house. And I think that was the most appealing thing about the session: it wasn't about breaking into the business, or professional techniques, or any of that; it was all about the joy of making comics for their own sake. Lasky obviously loves the form, and his affection comes through.

Here's my comic. I may post interior scans when I can.



And here's Lasky's website - but be warned: it has mystery meat navigation and doesn't seem to work too well.

From 3:30 to 4:15 pm, I attended a panel discussion on "the comics business." The panel comprised

Bill Barnes & Gene Ambaum, creators of Unshelved, the library-based webcomic. Artist Barnes is a lot like the character Dewey (snarky); Ambaum was the warm writer-type.
Greg Hatcher of Comic Book Resources. He played the crotchety old man for the panel (citing Adam West as his inspiration for getting into comics) and obviously loves the kids he teaches comic art to.
Nicole from NDP Comics, a how-to-draw-manga outfit. I didn't get a chance to ask her how she defined manga, especially in the context of this article.
Eric Reynolds, editor and PR guy from Fantagraphics Books (and a cartoonist in his own right). The embodiment of Seattle hipness, yet also very gracious.
Rosie Heffernan & Madeline Heffernan, creators of the webcomic Serves You Right. I gotta tell ya, their strip makes my head hurt, but these were two of the brightest and most poised high school students I have ever met.

The format of the panel was all Q&A; unfortunately, although the panelists tried their best with the As, the Qs didn't give them much to work with. It could have been so much more.

The finale of the event was a presentation by Seattle comics superstar Ellen Forney, she of Sherman Alexie collaboration fame. Forney is da bomb. She gave an overview of her creative process through examples of her work, all of which were beautiful to see. Besides having natural charisma, she is very comfortable working a crowd and knows how to organize and impart information (as well as being a rockstar cartoonist, she also teaches at a local art college). She closed with something that is close to a performance art piece; here's an early cut at it, but we got the big-screen version.



Forney's website is well worth a visit.

Overall, while not exactly an extravaganza, this was a solid comics event. The spearhead for legitimatizing comics in libraries has come in large part from the Young Adult librarians, and this was the case here. While this is laudable, it does skew the crowd young, changing the tenor of the event a bit. Still and all, a worthwhile way to spend a cold and rainy afternoon.

Oddly enough, on the bus to the library,
I was listening to the podcast of the "Comics are Not Literature" panel from the last Comic-con.

1 comment:

David Lasky, Esq. said...

Hey, it was good to meet you & see your mini comic! I'll try to get my website to work better (one of my new year's resolutions)...