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....

Comics: MoCCA recap and loot pics

This weekend was the big Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art festival, aka MoCCA, and I started the weekend Friday night at Rocketship:

That's where Norwegian comics master Jason debuted his new collection, Pocket Full of Rain. A small gallery of original pages was set up at the front of the store, accompanied by a work Jason contributed just for the occasion. There was a great turnout; check out more pics and a weekend round-up over at the store's site.

I spent 45 minutes sitting next to Jason at a bar before the signing, and I didn't even know it (I'm sure he was relieved in retrospect).

One of the absolute highlights of Saturday at the MoCCA festival was talking to Lynda Barry, who was signing copies of her new book, What It Is. To be honest, I was more familiar with Barry's name than her work - I really only knew she had a great reputation as a teacher, writer, and cartoonist. That reputation is deserved, if you ask me; she was gracious and engaging, taking five or ten minutes to talk to everyone who waited in line to meet her. If you get the chance, go see her while she's promoting this book. Either way, try to check out What It Is, a scrapbook-style meditation on creativity that's absolutely overflowing with images and ideas. There's a good preview over at Pop Candy.

This one still cracks me up - it's a mini-comic called Kool Aid Gets Fired, by Tim Piotrowski.

That's Hope Larson signing my copy of Chiggers, and that's her husband, Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O'Malley, immortalizing the moment from another angle. He's showing his solidarity by sporting the fashionable Shasta bandana, which was also for sale at the table and which I may or may not be wearing as I write this.

A blurry pic of Hope and Bryan, but at least you can see the cover as she's working on it. She did a different ink-and-brush drawing for everyone who bought the book, and it was really fun watching her work - she's seriously talented. I didn't get a chance to ask Bryan for a sketch, but he was busy enough selling copies of Chiggers. Probably my only regret of the weekend. That, and not cramming my shorts full of ice packs. The billboard thermometer thingie outside on Broadway read 101 degrees when I left the show.

The finished product, and the coolest thing I brought home from the show. I hope this thing sells a million copies.

Did I mention it was hot in the Puck Building? It was bearable on the air-conditioned first floor, but up on 7, the ceiling fans weren't making much of an impact. That's where they stuck most of lesser-known creators, the for'ners, the LGBT crew, and Vertigo.

I addition to the stuff up there, I picked up a copy of James Sturm's America: God, Gold, and Golems, which I've read a lot of great things about and which looks awesome (I'll read it as soon as I've finished Josh Cotter's fantastic, depressing Skyscrapers of the Midwest). I also grabbed all three Action Philosophers books and scored a free poster from the Evil Twin guys. Cartoonist and Spongebob writer Sam Henderson was at the show selling his Magic Whistle books (I bought two and should have gotten more) and wearing hospital clothes. I'm really looking forward to digging into the oversized Sundays #2, an anthology by students and alumni of Vermont's Center for Cartoon Studies. Oh, and my award for Best Cover goes to Paul Horacek and his collection of bleak, pessimistic gag cartoons, All We Ever Do Is Talk About Wood.

Transient

My favorite cartoon in the book shows a boy sitting in bed with a broken leg, his cast signed with things like "Get worse soon" and "Too bad it wasn't your neck." At first it's hilarious, and then it sort of makes you want to cry. If that's your kind of thing, you can get a copy through the Drawn & Quarterly site.

MoCCA is a must-attend event for comics fans whose tastes lean more toward the artistic or literary or whatever you want to call it. The non-superhero stuff. The work on display was incredibly diverse, and I'm sure I missed at least a dozen great indie and small-press books. For a smaller show (compared to the bloated, cosplay-saturated New York Comic Con), it's incredibly dense, and you really need to attend both days if you want to take everything in. I surrendered to the heat and only left my apartment for about ten minutes on Sunday, and I sort of hate myself for it. To atone, I'll just have to buy twice as many books next year.