To do tonight: Reception and Awards Ceremony for SoI’s Comic and Cartoon Art Annual

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Tonight it’s a shindig for the Society of Illustrators first Comic and Cartoon Art Annual. Winners from the Long Form and Comic Strip categories will be on the walls (up until the 21st) and there will be a cash bar a buffet. Tickets are $15, but winners get two free tickets.

As we strive to expand our mission of promoting the understanding and  appreciation of comic and cartoon art, we are proud to announce a celebration of the first Comic and Cartoon Art Annual! Please join us for an Opening Reception and Awards Presentation.

 Friday, June 13, 2014

Doors open at 6:00pm

Awards Ceremony at 7:00pm

Complimentary refreshments until 7:00pm

Cash bar following the ceremony.

Complimentary small plates buffet in the Third Floor Hall of Fame Gallery.

Artists on display include Tom Gauld, Gilbert Hernandez,  Alex Shubert, Robun Bolling and more.

 

To do tonight: It’s About Comics at the Scott Eder Gallery

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As part of Special Edition week, Brooklyn’s Ecott Eder gallery is having a special show, It’s About Comics featuring art by

Phil Hale | Ashley Wood | Jeremy Geddes | Jim Woodring | Robert Crumb | Will Eisner | Jeffrey Brown | Jim Mahfood | Basil Wolverton | Tom Taggart | Jaime Hernandez | Gilbert Hernandez | Chris Ware | Tony Millionaire | Peter Bagge | Milo Manara | Moebius | Chris Bachalo | Gary Panter | Dave Cooper | Rick Griffin | Spain Rodriguez | Kim Deitch | Ryan Heshka  | Frank King | Alex Raymond | Richard Sala | Savage Pencil  … and more!

The line-up featured curated selections from the gallery’s best shows over the last few years. The event begins at 6 Pm.  T-shirts, and  books will be available.

 

Photo parade: Daniel Clowes exhibit opening at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

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Here’s a pretty awesome photo gallery of the Dan Clowes art show opening at the Wexner Center for the Arts All photos including the above by Katherine Spengler © Wexner Center for the Arts, 2014

ReedPOP Announces Super Week for New York Comic Con with Neil DeGrasse Tyson and more

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As convention centers around the nation max out their capacity due to the public’s rabid frenzy over comic-cons and “nerd” culture, off-site and spin-off events are becoming more common. The way that San Diego Comic-Con takes over downtown all the way to the freeway is the clearest example of “If the convention center is packed, on the streets you must act”—or something like that anyway.

No single event will ever take over New York City—the Super Bowl, political conventions, Fashion Week, even the Marathon—all get sucked up into the vast social sponge that is Amrica’s largest urban area. However, with it’s thousands of venues, NYC is also ripe for expansion of Comic-Con beyond the walls of the oppressive Javits Center.

And so — New York Super Week. Just announced by ReedPOP, the week of October 3-12 will be given over to events throughout the city at a variety of venues, leading up to the show on on October 9-12. People can buy a special “Super Week Card” which will give them access and discounts.

The events sound very pop-culture as opposed to culture focused, but still this sounds like a significant expansion of the New York Comic-Con brand—and a lot more to do for fans.

And you can even submit your OWN events.

ReedPOP, the world’s largest producer of pop culture events, today announced the launch of New York Super Week – a first of its kind pop culture festival. For one week the entire city of New York will become a playground for super heroes, villains, vampires, zombies, geeks and passionate fans of all sizes. With different pop culture themed experiences happening in every corner of the City – including concerts, comedy shows, gaming events, lectures, podcasts, storytelling, food tastings and more – New York Super Week is an immersive and inclusive experience that aims to bring the energy, passion and color of the entire universe of popular culture to every corner of all five boroughs of New York City. The event will take place October 3-12, 2014 leading into the East Coast’s biggest and most exciting popular culture convention, New York Comic Con. Clear Channel Spectacolor has been announced as the Official Media Partner of New York Super Week and New York Comic Con in 2014 and will co-produce several New York Super Week events.

ReedPOP has partnered with a number of venues, bars, restaurants and retailers throughout the city, including, but not limited to: Hammerstein Ballroom, 92nd Street Y, Rock Bar, The Bell House, Galapagos Art Space and Barcade. New York Super Week will be the ultimate celebration for fans of pop culture. Kicking-off with StarTalk Live! hosted by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson at the Hammerstein Ballroom, New York Super Week events will demonstrate the breadth of international, national and local pop culture, ranging from live recordings of Ask Me Another and Slate’s Hang Up & Listen podcast, to The Big Quiz Thing, Running Late with Scott Rogowsky featuring the co-creators of Dr. Katz, Story Collider, and eSports competitions.

Additional partners, on sale dates and details about purchasing tickets for each of the New York Super Week events will be continually announced throughout Summer 2014. In addition to tickets for individual New York Super Week events a New York Super Week Card will be available for purchase starting on June 18 and will offer cardholders access to discounts and special offers happening during New York Super Week at dozens of retailers, restaurants and bars across the city ranging from happy hour prices, free desserts, and merchandise discounts to priority seating for select New York Super Week events.

“We envision New York Super Week taking over NYC, brining diverse content from all corners of the pop culture galaxy to all the corners of the five boroughs of the greatest city in the world. New York Super Week will follow the spirit of popular events like South by Southwest, but introduce it with a distinct New York sensibility and flair and fully rooted in the world of popular culture,” said Lance Fensterman, Global Senior Vice President of ReedPOP. “With New York Comic Con becoming so popular amongst fans, media and sponsors it was natural to broaden the scope of content and tear it out of the Javits Center and into the city at large allowing new fans and more fans  to experience a whole week of content leading into the show.”

“With New York Comic Con attracting over 130,000 people each year to the Javits Center and generating tens of millions of dollars to New York City¹s economy, we look forward to the increased programing being offered through New York Super Week,” said Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company. “We encourage both New Yorkers and visitors to experience the inaugural New York Super Week, a truly unique pop culture celebration throughout the City¹s five boroughs.”Since ReedPOP’s first event in 2006, the sold-out New York Comic Con, the group has sought to dually produce exceptional experiences for passionate audiences and grow the industries surrounding these passions, and this philosophy has led to burgeoning attendance, the support of major creators and publishers, and partnerships with leading entertainment brands including Lucasfilm (Star Wars Celebration), UFC (UFC Fan Expo) and Penny Arcade (PAX). ReedPOP’s events now reach 600,000 attendees, welcome 3,000 exhibitors, showcase 2,000 guests, and occupy 4,000,000 gross square feet across 15 conventions on four continents around the world.

Additional exciting details about New York Super Week, events, talent, and sponsors will be revealed in the coming weeks. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit www.NewYorkComicCon.com or www.NewYorkSuperWeek.com and New York Super Week’s social media pages (Facebook, Twitter & Instagram).

 

To Do Today 6/7/14: Grand Comics Festival in Brooklyn

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Exhibitors include Dean Haspiel, Nick Bertozzi, Jess Ruliffson, Gregory Benton, R. Sikoryak, Keren Katz, and many other locals, which means some of the best cartoonists in the US. This is a fun, locally sourced affair, farm to drafting table. And it’s FREE.

More info: @GrandComicsFest, and here .

BONUS: The Comic Book Theater Festival is also going on!

Fat Jack’s Comicrypt celebrates its 38th Anniversary tomorrow with wrestlers Daniels and Kazarian

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I’m not exactly certain how many US comics shops can celebrate a 38th anniversary, but it isn’t a whole lot. Fat Jack’s Comicrypt is not only Philadelphia’s first comics shop, it’s an institution in its own right. But you never stop learning and growing and they are throwing their first ever anniversary party—so what if it’s the 38th. Good training for the big four-oh.

As guests they’ll have wrestlers Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian, who are along with being champions at some point, writers for Aw Yeah comics and, I’m told, soon Dynamite. They’ll be signing TOMORROW from 1 PM to 4 PM.

As part of the celebration, Fat Jack’s is having a 38% off sale on most back issues and all kids under 10 years old will receive a free comic.

From Christopher Daniels: “We’re thrilled to get an opportunity to meet the great wrestling and comic book fans at one of the best stores on the East Coast, Fat Jack’s Comicrypt! I hope they enjoy nonsense & tomfoolery, that’s all I put in the comic book!”

From Frankie Kazarian: “We’re looking forward to chewing the fat with all the fans that come out to Fat Jack’s. We’re psyched to show them all what Bad Influence & AW YEAH COMICS are all about!”

Mike Ferrero of Fat Jack’s Comicrypt: “Christopher (Daniels) and Frankie (Kazarian) are two incredible wrestlers who know how to entertain their fans, and their first comic is a fun and great read. We’re extremely happy to be hosting this signing for our fans at the store, and having it coincide with our anniversary sale helps us put together a great experience for all who come to the store.”


Daniels and Kazarian’s appear in Aw Yeah Comics! #1 and “travel to Beautiful Downtown Skokie to challenge Action Cat & Adventure Bug to a TAG-TEAM wrestling match?! What the…? How did this happen? That doesn’t sound right. How can real-life wrestlers meet comic book characters?” The story is written by Daniels with artwork by Art Baltazar. Bonus Pin-Ups and artwork by Kazarian, Scoot McMahon, Denver Brubaker and Franco. 

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For some, BookCon was…crap

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Although my take on the first BookCon was positive, it was definitely crowded and unorganized, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that some people had a total crap time:

BookCon was horrible.  It was the worst bookish experience of my life.  Maybe that’s not saying much because my bookish experiences have been rather pleasant so the bar isn’t really all that low to begin with, but BookCon set a new low that I don’t think any other event/panel/insertyourbookeventhere will ever be able to match.


This person even went so far to make videos of the crowds:

And yeah, there were crowds. Have I ever mentioned that the Javits Center was not designed for consumer shows? The comments on the above post are also pretty uniformly negative, so there is some PR to be done here.

Despite the problems, it does look like Reed Expo/ReedPOP is set on making BookCon a permanent adjunct of BEA, and perhaps even making the two events separate down the line. With the crowding and other logistical issues addressed, I still think this concept is here to stay.

Comic Arts Brooklyn exhibitor applications due SUNDAY June 1st

 

cab_postcard02Just a reminder, the exhibitor application period for Comic Arts Brooklyn closes on sunday. Applications are here. It’s a curated show, in a small space, so no guarantees. But you’ve got to be in it to win it.

CAB will be held Comic Arts Brooklyn
November 8th, 2014
11 AM – 7 PM
Mt. Carmel church
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Interview: The coming of BookCon

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This Saturday the previously business only trade show Book Expo America will turn into the very first BookCon, an event that is open to the public (8000 advance tickets have been sold) and very much modelled on the successful New York Comic-Con. Both shows are run by Reed Exhibitions, the world’s biggest business-to-business (B2B) event planner, but BookCon is being run by ReedPop, the consumer show arm of Reed. Although Lance Fensterman, a frequently quoted personage on this site, runs ReedPop, BookCon’s manager is Brien McDonald, who has been working on BEA proper for five years. I was offered a spot to interview McDonald, and given my fascination with convention culture, I couldn’t turn down the chance.

In some ways, the coming of BookCom was inevitable. I’ve been attending BEA for years, and it’s a perfectly nice trade show, but when compared with the energy and excitement of a Comic-Con, it’s a wet noodle—which is weird because prose authors are way more popular and famous than comics creators! Yet both organizers and publishers have struggled with the idea of how to bring the passion of book readers to an event like a Comic-Con. Publishers have been wary of going face to face with the public, and the logistics of the event weren’t clear.

But a solution has been found. While tomorrow and Friday will be the traditional BEA with trade only programming and author signings, exhibitors who want to remain for BookCon will all be set up in a specific area that will convert to a consumer show, where for the price of only $30 you can look at books and meet and hear authors like John Green, Jodi Picoult, David Mitchell, Holly Black, Carl Hiasson, Stan Lee, and so on. Some of the celebrity authors from BEA will be hanging around like Amy Poehler, Jason Segal and Jason Bateman. And the film version of Green’s beloved novel The Fault in Our Stars will be given the equivalent of a Hall H presentation with a panel featuring the producers and Green. (And probably a star or two unless I miss my guess.)

Given that many of these authors successfully appear at actual comic-cons, it’s really only the quiet—and hugely popular—lakes of mainstream fiction and non fiction “fandom” that are being accessed here. While the whole idea seems sounds—book fairs around the country like the huge Miami Book Fair or the bustling Brooklyn Book Fair are hugely popular for instance—BookCon stumbled right out of the gate with the announcement of its first panel, “Blockbuster Reads: Meet the Kids Authors That Dazzle”– which happened to feature four white men, Daniel Handler, Jeff Kinney, James Patterson, and Rick Riordan. In a world where, unlike comics, female authors and readers are dominant, this seemed pretty odd. (Rachel Renee Russell, the African American author of the Dork Diaries series has since been added to the panel.) As if this wasn’t enough, the second list of guests was all white—unless you count Grumpy Cat, who is Siamese. The social media outrage was so intense this time that a whole hashtag was coined, #WeNeedDiverseBooks. And in response a panel on diversity was added.

If BookCon is a lot like Comic-Con in this regard, it may eventually be more like it in the pleasurable engagement of readers with their literary idols. As I am always saying, meeting the author of your favorite book is an experience that you will remember for the rest of your life. It’s done all the time as those book fairs I mentioned, signings and other book events show. Translating that experience from the orders and meetings focused world of BEA to a whole new experience may take a while. But, the transition is, I feel pretty sure, just the start of an even wider application of the Comic-Con Experience to other things.

THE BEAT: I was really curious about BookCon and how it evolved. People have been talking about this kind of thing for a long time, but how did Power Readers Day go to BookCon under ReedPop? I know Reed runs BEA but how did BookCon go over to ReedPop?

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MCDONALD: We have this long standing amazing b-to-b show, which is Book Expo America, with so much great content there and so many great authors available to us. Since we’re in New York City, the perfect place for a book and pop culture event, it just made sense to take the leverage and the equity we had in the publishing world through Book Expo, and then infuse that with the ReedPop way of doing things with fans first. We had a lot of great things kind of right in our hands, and we were able to collaborate and bring in the ReedPop philosophy to books and book related content.

THE BEAT: I know for years, everybody has been looking at BEA and then they look at New York Comic Con. And they’re like, “hmmmmmm?” [laughs]

MCDONALD: This is my fifth BEA and my previous job and still a lot of what I do is working with our key clients in the publishing world, and I wish I had a dime for every time I went to a meeting and were asked, can we get some of that Comic Con energy? Not that there’s anything wrong with the b-to-b side of Book Expo, that has a distinct purpose and it’s excellent and it’s great and it’s achieving certain objectives, but people like the zeal of a fan based event.

THE BEAT: Right. The zeal, that’s a great way of putting it actually. What kind of transition did you make for the show?

MCDONALD: The Power Reader Day, that brand is over. It went pretty well the last year, but to plug fans and consumers into a b-to-b event doesn’t work all that well. And that’s no one’s fault, it’s just not the way that it should be. So we decided that Saturday would be BookCon and we’re going to put a concerted effort towards creating a fan experience. So we went out to every client and said if you want to activate with consumers here’s how to do it. If you don’t, that’s totally cool, if you want BEA to remain a trade only show for you, you’re more than welcome to do that. Many Book Expo exhibitors feel that BookCon is not applicable to them—distributors, e-book producers, and so on. It doesn’t make sense to pour consumers into those booths because there’s nothing there for either side.

In addition to the core exhibitors that will be there, we also have I think 45 new exhibitors coming in solely for Saturday in BookCon. So it’s cool from that perspective. But as far as the publishers that have decided to activate with consumers it’s who you think they are, Random House, Simon and Schuster, Abrams, MacMillan, and Chronicle, Diamond Distributors, Andrews McMeel, so it’s really cool. Publishers have been really receptive and they’ve raised their hands to do some cool things.

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THE BEAT: Well I’m fascinated by this story because I have been covering Comic Cons for many, many years, and the rise of Comic Con culture that we’ve seen in the past decade, spiraling out of control really for the past 5 years. I’m fascinated to see the change, because let’s face it, books are a lot more popular than comics. But a lot of people just like to quietly read a book about economics, and they’re probably not going to stand in line to meet the guy who wrote the book…but maybe they would if it was Thomas Piketty!

MCDONALD: Yes I think you’re definitely going to see that. There’s a film tie in to John Green’s work, but look at John Green on the Today Show when he was in Miami last week. Hollywood talent is attached, but John Green is at the center of that story. And that’s kind of what BookCon is trying capture, things like True Detective where people are so passionate about that but it was based on an older book that no one would have known about unless there was a TV show. Reading is very much a private enterprise, but it’s something that people are really passionate about and they build a community around it. I think one reason that cons are blowing up is [as a way to meet in person, as opposed to social media.]

THE BEAT: Well it is very experiential. The programming with Amy Poehler and Martin Short, obviously there’s some celebrity elements to it, but you also have a lot of just very famous book authors, much loved book authors. How did you approach the programming? What did you look at in Comic Con and say we’ve got to do that for BookCon?

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MCDONALD: When we started our conversation we had a whole lot of equity in the publishing world due to our work on BEA and to Comic Con. So we went out and just explained the concept to publishers. We pursued some people hard like we made hard asks, particularly authors, but then other publishers said hey this author has a super passionate audience, we’ve done a lot of cool live events with him or her, here’s what we could do. So we kind of went for content that has a great following, but we also looked at the cross over in pop culture too. We wanted stories that cross over into all different elements. And obviously we were able to make some big hits with a lot of actual celebrities, Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Amy Poehler, Martin Short, those type of folks, and then also some celebrity type authors and then, I don’t want to say cult authors, but then you have someone who’s like a super literary guy like David Mitchell who has an amazing following. And then there’s Brandon Stanton, the photojournalist from Humans In New York. That’s someone to me who is very cool, telling a great story, and brings something different to BookCon.

THE BEAT: I notice you have speed dating which is a very popular event from Reed’s Comic Con events also. Funnily enough, it says registration for females looking for males is closed. At Comic-Cons it’s sometimes the other way around. [General laughter] Anyway, you’re also bringing these kind of fun, social events, I guess you could say.

MCDONALD: Social’s the perfect term. We want it to be immersive, we want people to go there from, the show’s open from 9, there’s activities going on from 9 to 6 and we want people to be busy all day and having a great time, doing different things, so something like speed dating is a perfect interactive activity. But then maybe you want to sit down and take in a panel or you want of embrace your comics side and go and see Stan Lee, but then your literary side and go see David Mitchell. So we try to offer people a pretty active lively day that has kind of different points. And the speed dating thing was definitely taken right from the Comic Con model.

THE BEAT: You also have some actual Comic-Con type events like Stan Lee and the Great Graphic Novel Panel. Is this an attempt to appeal to NYCC type attendees?

MCDONALD: Oh for sure. We definitely welcome them in and then hope they find some of our content enthralling.

THE BEAT: BookCon unfortunately got its most notoriety for the whole diversity issue. And there was sort of a, mis-messaging, or what would you call it?

MCDONALD: Diversity in books and in the publishing industry and in everything in life I mean is critical. And we wanted our authors to be as diverse as possible and we work with publishers to help ensure that’s happening. Now, there was what would we call it, I guess kind of a backlash about who we announced, and if I could turn back the clock I would change the announcement strategy a little bit. In the first [group of] authors that we announced, there wasn’t a lot of diversity. But as we kept saying, we’re not done yet. So by the time we get to the event on May 31st I think we’ll have a really good representation of authors from all sorts of backgrounds. And I feel confident that we’ve now achieved that, but when we came out of the gates, that wasn’t shown in the initial announcement. If I could change that we certainly would have, but there’s pressure to announce an event and build buzz and that kind of thing. So we went out with some of the bigger names that were not completely reflective of what our event will be when it goes off on May 31st. Since then we’ve been able to work with our partners and bring in some awesome content.

THE BEAT: Is there anything about BookCon that you’re especially looking forward to or you’re really excited about?

MCDONALD: The whole thing! When you’re planning these events you just want to get there. I’ve been in it from the B-to-b side like working BEA, but I’m actually really excited to be in with passionate book fans, which I consider myself one of, But I’m just really interested to see who turns out at the show and how they interact and what they love.

To Do Tonight, NYC: A Bone Marrow Donor Drive In Support of Seth Kushner at JHU Comics

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And just a reminder tonight is a Bone Marrow Donor Drive and Hang Dai Studios Signing at JHU with all the above folks PLUS Fred van Lente and Joe Infurnari and doubtless other luminaries.

It’s a good cause. Come on down.

To Do Tonight, NYC: SCAM Signing at Forbidden Planet

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The above band of scalawags signs the SCAM Anthology at Forbidden Planet tonight. SVCAM is a book that was Kickstartered and now published by Comixtribe. It concerns a bunch of superpowered people who live in Vegas and get involved in various capers…call it Avenger’s Eleven.

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To Do Tonight May 16th: Box Brown reads Andre The Giant at Bergen Street

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I’ve been remiss in announcing localish events but there’s a good one tonight at Bergen Street Comics where Box Brown will read from Andre The Giant: Life and Legend. Deets:

Friday, May 16th 8:00PM
Comics Reading, Signing and Book Release with Box Brown!

This Friday will see Box Brown–one of our favorite alternative cartoonists–rocking his major label debut,Andre The Giant: Life and Legend. A surprisingly moving biography about one of the world’s most beloved wrestling icons? We couldn’t be more excited to host this event! Box will be in the house to talk about the book, and you’re welcome to bring wrestling questions–he’s the guy who will have the answers. The presentation part of the event will begin roughly around 8:30, and afterwards Box will sign copies of the book while regaling you with what it’s like to make books for First Second. The first people to grab a copy are welcome to the extra posters–just make sure you ask nicely! (And yes: there will be drinks!)

Cartoon Art Museum to host Queer Comics Expo this June

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As part of Pride Month, San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum will host the first annual Queer Comics Expo (QCE) on June 8th from 11am to 5pm. The museum was previously an incubator for the Latino Comics Expo, and this sounds like another fine event. Details via the announcement below:

The expo encourages attendees to dress up, draw, meet artists, mingle with Queens, watch demonstrations, join conversations, and learn about the fierce LGBTQ world of comic books. In the past few years the museum has been a successful jumpstart for popular local comic conventions like the Latino Comics Expo and APAture.
 
“Now that the Latino Comics Expo has overflowed the space of the galleries with their success it is time to repeat that victory with something new. The Queer Comics Expo is an event we’ve been waiting to do for a while and we finally have the right team to make it fabulous,” said the events co-coordinator and Cartoon Art Museum Bookstore Manager, Heather Plunkett.
 
The Queer Comics Expo is part of the Queer Cultural Center’s National Queer Arts Festival and will be headlined by local Bay Area comics champion Ed Luce. Ed is beloved for his series Wuvable Oaf and his position as an educator for the California College of the Arts Comics MFA.  A former Queer Press Grant Recipient, Ed Luce’s Wuvable Oaf was announced as a new book from Fantagraphics earlier this May.
 
The event also features creators “Along Came Lola” animator and Eisner nominated cartoonist Jett Atwood, Kickstarter success story and writer of “Young Protectors” and Artifice Alex Woolfson,  “Primahood” and former Cartoon Art Museum Small Press Spotlight artist Tyler Cohen, and many more.
 
The Queer Comics Expo will also highlight organizations leading the charge in queer comics like Northwest Press, the premier queer comics publisher and Prism Comics the leading non-profit supporting LGBT comics, creators, and readers with convention appearances and their annual Queer Press Grant.
 
To spice things up the expo will also feature “Super Drag Queens” to mingle with attendees and prizes for the best cosplay!
 
Tickets are for the QCE are included with admission to the Cartoon Art Museum, $8 for the general public/$6 for students and senior citizens, and are available at the door and in advance from the Queer Cultural Center.  Attendees of the Queer Comics Expo will also receive a 10% discount at the Cartoon Art Museum’s bookstore.

CAM is located at 655 Mission Street in SF. [Read more…]

Cartoon Art Museum to host Queer Comics Expo this June

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As part of Pride Month, San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum will host the first annual Queer Comics Expo (QCE) on June 8th from 11am to 5pm. The museum was previously an incubator for the Latino Comics Expo, and this sounds like another fine event. Details via the announcement below:

The expo encourages attendees to dress up, draw, meet artists, mingle with Queens, watch demonstrations, join conversations, and learn about the fierce LGBTQ world of comic books. In the past few years the museum has been a successful jumpstart for popular local comic conventions like the Latino Comics Expo and APAture.
 
“Now that the Latino Comics Expo has overflowed the space of the galleries with their success it is time to repeat that victory with something new. The Queer Comics Expo is an event we’ve been waiting to do for a while and we finally have the right team to make it fabulous,” said the events co-coordinator and Cartoon Art Museum Bookstore Manager, Heather Plunkett.
 
The Queer Comics Expo is part of the Queer Cultural Center’s National Queer Arts Festival and will be headlined by local Bay Area comics champion Ed Luce. Ed is beloved for his series Wuvable Oaf and his position as an educator for the California College of the Arts Comics MFA.  A former Queer Press Grant Recipient, Ed Luce’s Wuvable Oaf was announced as a new book from Fantagraphics earlier this May.
 
The event also features creators “Along Came Lola” animator and Eisner nominated cartoonist Jett Atwood, Kickstarter success story and writer of “Young Protectors” and Artifice Alex Woolfson,  “Primahood” and former Cartoon Art Museum Small Press Spotlight artist Tyler Cohen, and many more.
 
The Queer Comics Expo will also highlight organizations leading the charge in queer comics like Northwest Press, the premier queer comics publisher and Prism Comics the leading non-profit supporting LGBT comics, creators, and readers with convention appearances and their annual Queer Press Grant.
 
To spice things up the expo will also feature “Super Drag Queens” to mingle with attendees and prizes for the best cosplay!
 
Tickets are for the QCE are included with admission to the Cartoon Art Museum, $8 for the general public/$6 for students and senior citizens, and are available at the door and in advance from the Queer Cultural Center.  Attendees of the Queer Comics Expo will also receive a 10% discount at the Cartoon Art Museum’s bookstore.

CAM is located at 655 Mission Street in SF. [Read more…]

Comics Unmasked: a watershed for comics in Britain

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If there was ever a reason to go to England, as if more than real mushy peas was needed, this summer’s “Comic Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK” exhibition at the British Library is the one. Not only is it the biggest exhibit of British comics yet, it is by far the most official, and will be, I daresay, the most influential. Curated by Paul Gravett, along with John Harris Dunning, this is no mere “Oh look comics are cool!” exhibit, but a bracing investigation of the often transgressive gutter nature of comics in a specific culture. Since there is little chance I’ll be able to go see it for myself before it closes on August 19th, James Bacon’s photo heavy walk-through will have to do.

Described as a ‘Pivotal Exhibition’ where the British Library wants to have a show ‘that gives creators the respect that’s due to them’, this is indeed a brilliantly conceived and realised exhibition that will be accessible to all while remaining especially satisfying for long-time comic readers. As one walks into what is the largest UK exhibition of comics ever, one realises that this has been a vocational vision to show the thousands who walk in this summer that comics are much more than two-dimensional children’s ephemera.


While British and Irish comics creators have had a massive—perhaps even oversized—influence on the American comics industry, in their native country, comics are, believe it or not, still a little bit outlaw, something Gravett geos into great detail on in this piece on the making of the exhibition:

So you can imagine the thrill of being allowed to explore these astonishing collections and the challenge of picking out which comics to present in Comics Unmasked: Art & Anarchy in the UK, the Library’s first major exhibition on the subject this summer. Usually, the British Library calls mainly on its own expert staff to look after their wide-ranging programme, recently covering propaganda, the Georgians and this autumn, Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination. They had never highlighted comics before, partly because nobody in house felt they had the breadth of knowledge. Two years ago, I joined my colleague John Harris Dunning, journalist, author of the graphic novel Salem Brownstone: All Along The Watchtowers and co-founder with me in 2003 of Comica, the London International Comics Festival, to propose a project and we struck at just the right time. We were both brought in to co-curate what has grown into the biggest exhibition of British comics this country has ever seen.

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But again, this wasn’t just Rupert Bear:

But nor have comics diminished in relevance. If anything they are more a part of culture today than ever before. Comics Unmasked sets out to re-evaluate how mainstream and underground comics have dealt with violence, sexuality, society, politics, heroes and altered states through dreams, drugs or magic. It spans the centuries, tracing back as early as Medieval Bible stories from 1470 (above) and coming bang up-to-date with the boom in cross-pollination with movies, games and more and the ‘infinite canvas’ beyond the printed page offered by digital, interactive and gallery-installation comics. While the exhibition is principally made up of glorious print, we also wanted to demystify the creative process, so there are some revelatory examples of scripts, sketches and stunning original artwork also on loan from Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Dave Gibbons, Simon Bisley, David Lloyd, Frank Quitely and plenty more, as well as new videos of artists in their studios.


The status of comics in the UK has been on the rise in recent years, with Dotter of Her Fathers Eyes winning a major literary prize, the Costa, being as seminal as Maus winning a Pulitzer 20 years ago. However, it is still an uphill climb, as Gravett expands on in a piece for The Guardian (does this guy EVER sleep?)

These and other arguments about comics have been around for decades. In “The Art of an Unknown Future” in the Times Literary Supplement in 1955, shortly after the government legislation banning horror comics, George Mikes reflected on claims by some pundits that “this new form of expression is capable of creating – indeed, has already created – works of lasting merit”. Mikes mentioned John Steinbeck, who wrote in his introduction to The World of Li’l Abner in 1953 that the strip’s American creator Al Capp “may very possibly be the best writer in the world today”. Mikes was less impressed and, while not wholly condemnatory, was convinced that comics created mental laziness and stupidity. He warned: “if the comics are a new kind of literary form, they may well be a kind of literature to end literature. It is a kind of literature not to be read, only looked at. The comics may flourish and conquer; but their ultimate victory … may mark the end of the reading habit.” That nightmare scenario has not transpired and the reading habit now encompasses both literacy and “graphicacy”. How ironic that many teachers and librarians, once among the most concerted opponents of comics, have more recently become their advocates as a way to motivate reluctant readers and to bring apparently dry, complex texts and subjects to life.


It’s been evident to me that a comics “moment” is definitely happening in England for the last few years, with the rise in indie cartoonists and publishers like Blank Slate, SelfMadeHero and many more. My theory is that with even more “establishment’ coverage of comics in the UK, as crazy as it sounds, comics in the US are going to get EVEN MORE established because if there’s one thing that American media types do it’s ape the Brits. A rising tide lift all renegade artforms.

If you go to see the exhibit please let us know — or comment below.

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Eventbrite uses social media to examine PAXEast

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PAX East, the hugely successful Boston version of the gaming show created by Penny Arcade, wrapped up last weekend. PAX Prime is held in Seattle, and they just announced PAX South, to be held Jan. 23-25 in San Antonio, Texas. There’s also a PAX Australia—all the shows are run by ReedPOP, which also throws a bunch of comic-cons worldwide, as you may be aware.

Eventbrite is a ticketing agency that helps sell tickets for gaming events and they teamed with social media analysts Mashworks to analyze all posts from Twitter, Facebook, forums, and blogs about PAX East during the three-day convention. Eventbrite sent us the above infographic after using social media analysis to see what people were socialing about the show. Eventbrite provided the following bullet points:   

• PAX East created a bit of a social media frenzy: the event drove a whopping 193,000+ social media posts, driving 500+ more posts than PAX Prime 2013 and 25% more social volume than PAX East 2013!

• There were more women in the mix than ever: 28% of people talking about PAX East were women, up from 25% at PAX East 2013 and 26% at PAX Prime 2013, indicating that female attendance and social sharing at gaming events is steadily growing.

• Move over, Nintendo! Indie games drove big buzz: Over a third of all discussion around game announcements and demos centered on indie games — great to see new names breaking through. Conversations studied ran the gamut, and general excitement about PAX East dominated social discussion (48%), followed by chatter about gaming tournaments, like the Towerfall tournament and the 25K Infinite Crisis Event (15%). Other discussion topics included cosplay (12%), game announcements and demos (10%), Panels (9%), and parties and concerts (6%). The biggest social spike of the convention was the announcement of PAX South, driving over 5,500 posts from excited gamers.


Now why are we highlighting this press release? It seemed to have several interesting aspects, not least of which the integration of more women into the PAX culture. In the past, there were some ugly incidents, but hopefully more mixed participation will help change that.

It also seems that Eventbrite is getting more involved in the pop culture event arena — well, heck everyone is. This kind of data mining could turn out to be quite revealing.

And also, it’s a little scary how much people can figure out from social media, eh?

It grows.