The Toon, The Dead, and Leon Beyond

Back in 2000, I bought the Gyuto monk costume worn by Tom Servo in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Horror of Party Beach." It was the coolest thing I owned, until I opened the mail on Tuesday.

Kevin Huizenga is one of my favorite cartoonists - he's one of the few people whose new work I buy no questions asked. Among his many projects is Amazing Facts ... and Beyond! With Leon Beyond, a fake-trivia strip he co-creates with Ted May and Dan Zettwoch for the St. Louis Riverfront Times. When the guys were informed that there wasn't enough money in the paper's budget to keep the strip going, they launched the Beyondathon, in an effort to save Leon. You supply a donation and a topic, and Kevin, Dan, or Ted would supply the cartoon.

Well, yeah, I wasn't going to pass that up. I originally asked Kevin to do something about Newcastle United, my adopted home team in the English Premier League (that's soccer, folks!). When he emailed to get a little more information, I wavered and wobbled and said he could also do something about the Grateful Dead, since I was on a pretty obsessive kick at the time. Most likely losing patience with me, Kevin sent a simple email: "I'll do both." And boy howdy he did. If you want a better look at the finished product, check out the scan over on the Amazing Facts blog.

If you want to check out some of Huizenga's non-Leon stuff, I love his adaptation of Sheridan Le Fanu's "Green Tea" (you can read the first part here; the whole story is in the excellent Curses hardcover collection), and his Ganges #2 was rightfully near the top of many best-of-2008 lists. If you dig the Amazing Facts stuff, you can also get their first collection, The Factoids of Life.

The Beyondathon is still accepting requests, so if you're into this stuff, get in on it while you can!

New York Comic Con Sketchbook & Recap

I've attended New York Comic Con for the last two years, and while I'm not necessarily among the con's target audience (it skews a little more mainstream/superhero), it's still always worth checking out. One of the best things about the show is the availability of creators, particularly in the Artist Alley section of the floor, where artists and writers set up shop to meet their fans and sign books. I always forget to bring a sketchbook to these shows, but this time around I grabbed an empty Moleskine from my shelf before heading up to the Javits Center. While I was eventually distracted by the boundless tables of discounty comics goodness, I got a few very cool sketches.

A kick-ass Frankenstein's monster, courtesy of Geoff Grogan. I have a copy of Grogan's oversized expressionist newspaper-collage comic Look Out!! Monsters #1, and it's just phenomenal - it was a nice surprise to see him there, and I picked up a few of his other books after a chatting for a few minutes. (Sean T. Collins wrote a better review of Look Out!! Monsters than I would have, so give it a look.

This one is from Ryan Dunlavey, the artist behind Action Philosophers, Comic Book Comics, and plenty more. The character is Box, aka Roger Bochs, a Canadian superhero created by John Byrne in the 1980s. As a onetime hockey player, I can't help but love it.

Craig Rousseau was nice enough to do this sketch of Molly, one of the main characters from his and Todd Dezago's paranormal-investigation title The Perhapanauts. I've been reading the series for a couple years now, and it's consistently weird and fun. The guys said they still aren't really making any money on it, so I hope Craig is pulling in some dough from his Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane gig. Both really nice guys.

I didn't catch the name, but this is a new webcomic character from Mike Dawson, the artist and writer behind Freddie & Me: A Coming-of-Age (Bohemian) Rhapsody, a book that's gotten great reviews this year. I'd been meaning to pick up a copy (my uncle Marty gave me the first two Queen albums when I was maybe 13 or 14, and I've been a fan ever since), so I picked up a copy on the spot. Luckily, Mike had just finished this Freddie Mercury sketch on the title page:

I mean, that's just cool.

This was a pleasant surprise: Adam "Ape Lad" Koford was at the show signing the first hardover collection of his Laugh-Out-Loud Cats comics, which actually started on Flickr, of all places. The book isn't in stores yet, so it was nice to get an advance copy. Even nicer? The complimentary bookplate, pre-signed by John Hodgman, who wrote the book's foreword (the Hodg-Man was busy on the other side of the country being all brainy at the TED conference).

And there's the weekend haul - a modest shopping spree by con standards (I walked the floor with this guy Saturday, and he could have used a pack mule after a couple hours). By the end of the day Saturday, my right thumb was burning from flipping through box after box of discounted trade paperbacks - the dreaded Con Thumb. It was a fun show, despite all the bitching you invariably see on the internet. Time to start saving my money for MoCCA....

Chrono Trigger, via Bryan Lee O'Malley

Bryan Lee O'Malley was signing copies of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Universe tonight at Brooklyn's Rocketship (my favorite comic shop in the area), and while that was exciting in itself, this might have been the coolest part of the night.

Transient

That's Lucca from Chrono Trigger, one of the finest video games ever made (it's now available for the Nintendo DS in what is probably the definitive version). If you want to get a jump on my birthday present this year, go down there and rip it off the wall and run! I'm kidding, don't do that. But you should go down there and check out the little gallery of drawings and original Scott Pilgrim pages, if you're interested in that sort of thing. I could show you more of them, but my camera sucks a little.