Tonight to do: Julia Wertz and MariNaomi reading at Bergen Street

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The week between SPX and the Brooklyn Book Festival s usually crowded with events and this is no exception. Tonight, things kick off at Bergen Stree Comics with A Live Reading with Julia Wertz and MariNaomi!:

Two of the the most spectacular people in comics on one night, reading from their fresh-from-the-printer new books? It doesn’t get better than that! Come on out to and let MariNaomi and Julia Wertz remind you that in the contest for funniest comics on the scene, we’re all scrambling around for third place. (Because they have the first two spots, you see.) Besides the new books, the live reading and the general joie de vivre, they’ve even promised a signing to boot. You have to be here. It’s not even a question. YOU HAVE TO BE HERE.

Wertz and MariNaomi do have two of the freshest books out there so stop on by.

Julia Wertz to debut new mini at SPX

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Following the hilarity of Fart Party and the hilarity tinged with self-examination of Drinking at the Movies and The Infinite Wait, cartoonist Julia Wertz proved herself one of the sharpest observers out there. However she’s been in hiatus from making new comics for the last two years, while getting a new reputation as an urban explorer. (If you want creepy, follow Wertz on Instagram.)

However, good news: Wertz is cartooning again and will have a new mini at SPX this one dealing with “girlie subjects.” And she’ll have plenty of other stuff as well:

I’ll be with Atomic Books from SPX opening until 4pm, then I’ll be with Koyama Press from 5-7. I’m signing with Renee French at Atomic, who I adore, so I’ll be more excited to be there than you will, I’m sure. To buy Museum of Mistakes, come by Atomic. To buy The Infinite Wait & Other Stories, come to Koyama. At both tables you’ll be able to buy this mini, but I will have tons of other stuff at Atomic, like original art, hand made trinkets, photos, posters, etc…so if you want all that hot garbage, swing by Atomic before 4pm. If you want both books, don’t worry, I won’t make you wait, I can totally sell you both at the same time.

Julia Wertz on alcoholism, cartooning and life

GVF8VNRTx28DHxvxX0V9 8  1The hysterically funny Julia Wertz hasn’t been cartooning as much lately, as she deals with staying sober and improving her life. Over at Narrative, she writes with humor about her ups and downs and shares some her private diary comics. Nut graph:

“Without realizing it, I’d replaced a boring, solitary, indoor habit with an exciting, social, outdoor hobby.”


Although Wertz spends most of her time these days spelunking in abandoned buildings, she does have quite a few comics coming out—glad to hear she hasn’t left us.

Kibbles ‘n’ Bits, 12/6/13: Lonely Superman

Download  2§ The DC Comics blog actually marshals the evidence for why Superman is lonely: building robot friends, putting a cape on his dog, that kind of thing.

§ I stayed the hell away from that Sound of Music thing last night. WHY.

BapjtI3CEAEwQpC§ And yet I’m intrigued by the first picture of Quvenzhané Wallis as Annie in the reboot that also stars Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, and Rose Byrne. I’m always happy to see orphans marching around and singing—it gives them something to do.

§ I did not quite understand this article about how a “graphic novel startup” is getting funding from a public offering, due to a recent SEC rule change. The startup is called Sparkony Entertainment, and they hope to raise $250,000 is order to make graphic novels which people will then make into movies. Okay, that I got.

§ In another familiar story, a celebrity is writing a comic, This time it’s Black Francis, aka Frank Black aka Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV, the front man of the Pixies, who is writing a GN called The Good Inn. Black will write with his biographer Josh Frank, while artist Steven Appleby did the art. The book is out in May in the UK. I don’t know about this graphic novel thing, but I like this song from his first solo album, which should be studied by everyone who works at DC Comics in NYC> “Counting helicopters on a Saturday night/The symphony of the fair light.”

§ A sequel to the non super comic book movie 2 Guns might come out, and it might be called 3 GUNS according to the producer.

“I mean, I think we’re having that conversation. You know, I don’t wanna be so bold to say, you know, it’s 100%. Of course it comes down to Denzel and Mark and the director, Baltasar [Kormákur], who’s doing Everest now, who have to make that decision. We, of course, would love to do a sequel and we are pushing for a sequel.” Even though plans are totally up in the air, Emmett hopes to get moving on a script soon: “I think we have to find the right story because that, of course, [is what] it all comes back to, but I think that we’ll probably push forward with a script soon and then hopefully if the creative powers that be, you know, fall in love with the storyline, then we would start to have that conversation.”


Also, is there a reason why every single Mark Wahlberg role involves him being a badass millitary/police guy?

§ Comic shop opening news! Spirit of Retailing Award winner Tate’s Comics in Florida is opening a a second store in Palm Beach, FL:

“There are no comic book stores in Palm Beach,” said owner and operator, Tate Ottati, 37. “I saw a need to open a Palm Beach County location. I have many customers who come to Plantation from Palm Beach County every other month. It needed to be done.”

§ Julia Wertz has an Etsy shop which sells not only her fine comics, but photos of her eerie explorations of abandoned buildings.

§ Kevin Huizenga reviews Jesse Reklaw’s Couch Tag, one of several late in the year books which are TOP-NOTCH.

§ Are Comics the Art Form of This Century? asks Cultural Weekly.

The most common response one hears whenever graphic novels enter the conversation is, “What are graphic novels?” (consider the corollary – “What is a novel?” “What is a movie?” “What is television?” Never heard of ‘em.) Some think the term describes children’s picture books (especially if their kids read comics); many people assume it’s a euphemism for porn. In what other medium would it be necessary for someone to create this two-page tutorial as drawn by graphic novelist Jessica Abel (La Perdida, Life Sucks)?

§ Bill Nicholson ruminates a bit on the end of PictureBox:

The only potential upside I can see is that this breaks up the cool kids table. The single most potent “brand” no longer exists. So if Uncivilized Books wants to say “We’ve got Matthew Thurber!” then maybe more young people will look at that True Swamp collection. Or if Image Comics were to say “We’re putting out Puke Force” maybe more freaks will read The Bulletproof Coffin. Everyone should see this hole in the landscape to be filled with weirdness, and go nuts.

24 Hours of Halloween: Julia Wertz’s photos of abandoned asylums

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You may know Julia Wertz as the hilarious cartoonist behind The Infinite Wait and Other Stories, The Fart Pary and many other books. but she also has a thriving hobby in urban exploring: going into abandoned buildings and photographing them. You can find examples on her Flickr stream and amazing galleries on her website. In the about page she explains some of her motives: [Read more…]

Review: The Infinite Wait by Julia Wertz: bio, booze and books

The Infinite Wait by Julia Wertz

Koyama Press

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I have a complicated and knotty relationship with auto-bio comics, beset by apprehension and cynicism. There’s no doubt the genre produces some interesting material- Art Spiegelman, Seth, Robert Crumb, to name but a few, but more recently I’ve found a lot of it to be, quite frankly, boring. The popular sad-boy view where nothing much happens, the narrator questions his existence in a supposedly deep and meaningful manner, where banal routine events and turns are things into which the reader is expected to imbue STUFF.

It’s a viewpoint I’m much fatigued of, and one that I’ve observed to be pretty prevalent in male creators who go the introspective self-analysis route- there’s an emphasis on the seriousness of it all, perhaps because men are traditionally not expected to be tapped in to their emotions and feelings, so when they explore that plateau  there’s a need to present them in a valid way. Women, on the other hand, as we all know, are hysterical, wild, emotional wrecks, giving them -rather ironically- a greater freedom of expression and approach.

The boring, uneventful auto-bio comic reminds me of the trend (at least here in the UK) of ‘celebrity’ memoirs by pop stars/sports wonder kid foetuses- a 250 page book ‘written’ by a  17 year old on his experiences of kicking a ball around. Most of us, whilst happy with our lives, recognise that quite naturally, it’s of most interest to ourselves. Many creators recognise this too. So to overcome the boringness, there’s the incorporation of fictional elements and exaggeration for greater dramatic and humorous effect. That mediation can imbalance the text. Thus the auto-bio comic becomes a strange mixture of truth and fiction, leading to a remove, a dilution of essence, a loss of the honesty in the work. Not truth, necessarily  but honesty.

infinite3 Truth is a concept I’m incredibly wary of, referring as it does to an actuality or universal consensus. What I do expect from auto-bio work is some form of honesty, which, as a more subjective notion, is trickier.  My criticism isn’t that often auto-bio comics don’t ring true, but that they seem to lack any kind of honesty. That’s not an accusation that you can level at Julia Wertz.

Whilst the ideals of truth and honesty are upheld as values to which we should all aspire, in actuality people are comfortable only with a certain level of honesty, which when surpassed becomes embarrassing and even impolite. Conversely, we’re pleased when we think we’ve been honest with ourselves, usually because it’s the facing or acknowledging of something unflattering, unattractive or negative. This small act of pseudo acceptance is enough to makes us feel inordinately pleased, giving a sense of superficial achievement that is deceptive in itself.

We are all, I think, prone or able to dissect other people in a scathing and thorough fashion, but find it difficult to reconcile truths about ourselves.This where Julia Wertz comes in. With an internal gaze that’s unflinching and unforgiving, Wertz  blows all comers out of the water. Her honesty is searing, caustic, strengthening and yet not without fear. Her truths are coated in an equally zingy humour, a cloak that makes them less scary and more manageable. Wertz’s honesty is the ultimate defense mechanism, you cant criticize her or say shit about her, because she’s going to get in there first and do it better than you.

infinite1 There’s a lot of material in The Infinite Wait, enough to easily make 3 separate books; a point Wertz muses briefly on, but hey you get 226 pages of fantastic comicking so who’s complaining? Wait comprises of 3 stories, one which deals with Wertz’s lupus, one with her drinking and a short and lovely ode to libraries and books to close out.

Wertz’s documenting of her relationship with drink is portrayed terrifically. It’s a story of her life, of which drinking is a part. There’s no sympathy-baiting scene after scene  ‘hey life crapped on me repeatedly which led me to become an alcoholic’ or repeated expositionary incidents of her staggering around caterwauling the streets at night, but instead she simply shows us her life and in between you get hints of a problem developing. Wertz too recognises it pretty early, but continues to drink anyway. Sometimes she doesn’t see it as much of a problem, sometimes she thinks she can handle it, sometimes she feels like the lowest of low.  The combination of as yet undiagnosed lupus and lack of direction and purpose do little to help.

Wertz appears to be a chronic hard-worker, needing to be in employment, needing to be doing something, needing to be tired at the end of the day with the blank, thoughtless release that provides. The party line is that acceptance of a problem is the first step to overcoming it, but Wertz accepts and acknowledges her problem with alcohol early on- and in Wertz-like fashion it’s a deflection, a covering of sorts- like saying ‘I know I’m a bitch, but I genuinely think…,’ while the first statement implies insight, the second cancels it out in a way. It’s not easy reading by any means; it’s relentless and  the pain lupus leaves her in is palpable, but it’s genuinely rewarding and entertaining. It’s funny and engaging, cringe-worthy and embarrassing, relate-able and interesting, painful to the point of self-flagellation, and very, very honest.

infinite4 A quick and final mention for the library/books story that closes out the book, all the more surprising for it’s change of subject and tone, and also because it’s not what you expect after having been emotionally tumble dried for the past hour or so. If you have been a child of libraries and books, you will read this with a warm familiarity and love, the recognition of vast, wonderful worlds encased within unassuming pages of paper- that feeling of anticipation and discovery is conveyed beautifully here. I would encourage you to buy The Infinite Wait, it’s a book that is so much, and does so much, and one that I believe will manage to surprise you even after having read a 1000 word review on it.

Shopping Guide: Julia Wertz on Etsy

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Cartoonist Julia Wertz (Fart Party, The Infinite Wait and Other Stories) has just launched Julia’s Junk Shop on Etsy, and if you are looking for gifts for that certain someone, you might find something here. besides Wertz’s own very funny books, there is jewelry made of Peanuts, earrings made of sea glass, and many other pleasing items. Check it out.

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PS: you might not be able to see this unless you’re on Facebook, but Wertz also has a haunting set of photos of a trip to a ruined Catskills resort that is very much worth checking out.

King Con: the report

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In the runup to King Con, the Brooklyn-based comics show held at the Lyceum in Park Slope this weekend, it was asked many times, “Do we NEED another New York comics show?” Starting with the Big Apple Con back on October 1, running through New York Comic Con the next week and on to the Brooklyn Comics and Graphic Fest on December 4, King Con made a total of four cons in three months, not really a heavy workload for a comics town as huge as NYC, but definitely a strain on the wallets of attendees, especially after the NYCC epic. (New York’s fifth show is MoCCA Fest in April.) So from the outset you have a show with big questions hanging over it.

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Friends had asked me to come out for various events and I was slotted for the Kids Comics panel on Sunday morning so I ended up going out on three out of four days. What I saw was a scene with enough energy to overcome logistical mistakes and misconceptions to still create a fun and informative afternoon activity. But it didn’t answer the fundamental question of what King Con’s mission should be.

King Con started out with a pair of panels on Thursday night that, perhaps due to rain or lack of promotion, were so poorly attended that the second one was canceled. Not a good start.

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Friday night was a big comics reading/rock fest party. I arrived habitually fashionably late only to discover that I had missed a lot of cool comics readings — none of the press materials had bothered to include a schedule. I was definitely “non plussed” by that. Luckily a few beers next door led to a lively discussion on a frigid roofdeck with Paul Pope, Charles Orr, Sean Pryor and others. One big plus for King Con — an excellent bar/restaurant next door with a lot of outdoor space and a weird deck covered with mysterious junk in the back.

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I returned later the next day to catch some panels, arriving at what seems to have been the apex of attendance. King Con is held in the Brooklyn Lyceum, a former bathhouse that now houses stage productions and craft fairs. Last year, the people who run the facility thought it might be fun to put on a comics show, thus the genesis. The Lyceum has no heating or cooling facilities; a cafe in the front serves food made by heating them in a tiny toaster oven. The venue itself is large (not cavernous) and crumbling, but in a funky bohemian way that sets off the indie comics vibe.

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Artist Jen Ferguson and cartoonist Dean Haspiel

The exhibitors room was small and traversed in a few minutes; schmoozing time took much longer. Secret Acres was probably the biggest real “publisher” at the show. Proprietors Barry Matthews and Leon Avelino said the day had been “okay.” Matthews expounded on how important the convention circuit now is to indie publishers — it’s like the craft fair circuit in a way. Secret Acres and others we spoke with had a lot of good stuff to say about the recent Philadelphia Alternative Comic Con, which was gangbusters. An emerging show in an underserved market? With events like this and the recent Pittsburgh show, among others, the indie circuit is expanding into a network of local shows where small publishers can meet their audiences face to face, and sell them precious objects.

I caught the live taping of the Daily Cross Hatch podcast with hosts Brian Heater and Alex Cox, and guests Bob Sikoryak, Lisa Hanawalt and Julia Wertz. This was very odd and the sort of thing that made me notice how much fun it was to fiddle with the settings on my phone and take pictures with the late afternoon autumn light streaming through the huge windows.

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Earlier I mentioned that the Lyceum has no heating or cooling. It was a very chilly 50 degrees or so, and everyone was very cold. Steam was rising out of cups of cocoa. “I lost the feeling in my hand midway through my panel,” one person told me. I discovered that you can use your iPhone touch screen if you are wearing leather gloves because they are, after all, made of skin.

Later I caught the second half of the Carousel live comics reading. These events are always a pleasure and Sikoryak, Wertz, and Michael Kupperman did not disappoint, but I am ashamed to confess I had never seen the work of Emily Flake before, and she was frigging hilarious. I snapped a pic of one of her drawings of two horrible dogs she had to dog sit — Flake is one of those artists who just “draws funny” — no wonder she’s in The New Yorker!

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Artwork ©2010 Emily Flake!

Between this and the previous spotlight on “Bored to Death” with Jonathan Ames and Dean Haspiel, I did note that the room had excellent AV — including a HUGE white screen. Comics looked great projected on it. That was a big plus.

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There were no evening events planned, so I split for home and more hot cocoa. The next morning I had to get up early for my 12:30 kids panel, meaning I had to cross the New York Marathon itself just to get to the Lyceum. When I arrived the streets were JAMMED with runners so you had to wait for a lull or jog across the street Timing the show with the biggest public event in NYC seemed odd, but it was the first time I’d ever actually seen the Marathon so that was cool.

After seeing the AV on Saturday, I thought to throw together some slides for the participants before going on and that made a GREAT difference. Generally speaking, I get asked to do three different kinds of panels:

Blogging/journalism panels

Women in comics panels

Kids comics panels

Of the three, the kids comics panels are the toughest, because invariably parents bring their KIDS to the panel thinking it’s going to be something that amuses them, whereas I usually ask panelists about contracts and marketing plans. Invariably the kids begin to squirm, I guiltily endure their looks of absolute boredom, and there are walkouts. Panelist Raina Telgemeier, another convention vet, suggested that a way to make them palatable to kids is to do actual comics readings, a suggestion I will look into in the future.

Anyway, Comicsgirl has an EXHAUSTIVE write-up of the panel!

Everyone basically agreed that comics can be great gateways to reading. Telgemeier said she’s had a lot of parents say that Smile was one of the first books their children read voluntarily. Roman praised teachers for taking the initiative in introducing comics into the classroom. Abadzis agreed with all of this, but said that comics still need to get past “gatekeepers” — people who may doubt their value.

I tried to record the panel with my phone, but the audio was caught between ambient and the speakers with bad results. In general the panels at King Con, curated by Brian Heater, had much merit — more of them should have been recorded. The New York comics scene is full of interesting, smart people. A group of young teen boys arrived just for the Chris Claremont panel and that was not expected.

After that I schmoozed a tiny bit more but everyone seemed to be having very very slow sales and there really wasn’t anyone who I hadn’t seen a dozen times on the circuit , so I headed for the Target down the street which was a horrible mess. Should have known better.

So what to make of King Con? It was a pleasant afternoon’s activity but NOT a four-day epic fest. In retrospect I’m bummed that I spent all weekend there instead of going to the New York Art Book Fair at PS.1. I did discover a few cute things which I’ll get to, but in general the show was unnecessary as presented.

And yet, online, reviews were VERY POSITIVE!

Adventures in Gabistan:

when i got there it was way more exciting than i’d thought it would be. in fact, even though it’s was an all day event—all weekend, actually—i showed up only 15 minutes before the panel started. i’m usually early to things but by the time the main part starts i’ve been hanging around so long i’m already antsy. only now, when i walked in i wished id given myself more time to check out the booths on the main floor. i was thrown back into my adolescent days when i thought comic books were beyond awesome. i started young, thanks to my comic-drawing grandpa. there was a time when i’d get three new archie comics a week. then, as i got older, more angsty, i found Oni Press, jim mahfood and johnny the homicidal maniac. comics had a way of energizing my brain and motivating me to create. i fell in love with ink pens, bold lines, and white space.

WARMACHINE is thinking about the circuit thing I mentioned above:

The show was pretty good, modest turnout of customers and I even made sales of my books, shirts, and prints. It could always be better, but I left satisfied. Things learned, until the economy turns around or at least better than it is sales for this kinda of stuff will be limited. I also have to figure out where and when I will buy a table at these conventions. I talked to Shawn and Carl about pooling our resources for road trips to other conventions next year. I also talked to a guy who is convinced that the Ipad/Kindle/others will revolutionize the field. He maybe right. I will have to research that more, I think the potential is vast. Another Con more experience.

Comicsgirl again:

It’s a small, laid-back show. The Brooklyn Lyceum has a pleasantly rough industrial aesthetic and I think it lends itself well to DIY culture. The space for exhibitors wasn’t very big so there wasn’t that many of them, but I liked that it was small.

I’ve been to a bunch of comic-related shows this year so I’ve seen many of the same people multiple times, so I sought those I hadn’t. Among them were Alisa Harris and Allan Norico, a fun, artistic couple.

Allan Norico himself had a SWELL time:

This weekend Alisa and I exhibited and debuted new comics at Brooklyn’s first annual King Con. Hopefully other exhibitors are remarking about how EXCELLENTLY we were treated. I’ve never been to a con where the organizers: 1. welcomed you at the door and escorted you to your table. 2. delivered bottled water to your table every few hours to keep you hydrated (and happy!) 3. played modest mouse while you waited for coffee at the upstairs cafe. 4. rocked this TOTALLY EXCLUSIVE red velvet security rope service for the exhibitors. 5.made announcements every few minutes (albeit a little too loudly on the speaker system) about general going-ons and con-news. 6.had their sh*t together, and if/when issues came up, made sincere efforts to accommodate and happify. 7. came to their senses and gave Steve Flack a megaphone.

Valerie D’Orazio singled out the Brooklyn esthetic itself:

The second annual King Con, held at the Brooklyn Lyceum last weekend, was a celebration of all things comix from Brooklyn and its surrounding areas. As a native Brooklynite, seeing everything my borough has to offer in terms of comic creators and related art was a real treat. The panels, which included an in-depth interview with Chris Claremont, a discussion on the intersection between comics and female sexuality, and a special presentation of Dr. Sketchy’s featuring artist Paige Pumphrey, were great, and convention organizer Regan Jaye Fishman skillfully kept all of the activities moving along. Would definitely attend next year!

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In all honesty, all of this good will comes DESPITE the fact that the show wasn’t very well thought out. A lot of the con vets I talked to thought the show had many problems. $200 for a table? In a room that BARELY could hold 150 people? I doubt there were more than a few hundred attendees all weekend, and most exhibitors I spoke with did not make any money. In fact, there was more of the puppy dog “please look at me!” vibe in the room than I’ve felt in many a moon.

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Plus the venue is either charming or decrepit, depending on whether you think an abstract statue of the sandworms from DUNE functions as an air duct or not. The bathroom was unisex, meaning men and women had to make wee (or…worse) in adjoining stalls — some people were seriously creeped out by that. I personally held it in the whole time.

The first King Con last year did well because it was held in the 22-month gap between the 2009 and 2010 New York Comic-Cons. It arrived in a show-starved environment and did well. Now, it is jammed into a packed schedule and needs some serious rethinking. I spoke briefly with Regan Jaye Fishman, the show runner, who acknowledged the learning curve but seemed to be gung ho for doing a show next year. She said that due to the lack of heating or cooling, the timing is an issue — the show could only be held in the fall or spring, but any earlier and it will conflict with MoCCA, which is similarly held to a spring date by an antique venue without air conditioning.

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Wandering around the room I found a few people I had never seen before, or had time to see before anyway. Another cute comics couple? YES. Laura Galbraith and Nate Bear. Where do they all come from?? They have a t-shirt.

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Also the aforementioned Alisa Harris and Allan Norico. (Above photo nicked from Allan’s con report.) I picked up one of Harris’s minis, Urban Nomad, a cartoony slice of life comic about New York with haunted bathrooms and exciting Chinese grocery stores.  She also does books of cute cat cartoons, and I’m just a sucker for that.

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This guy, Mike Lapinski, has just done a book from Archaia, and just about every professional editor at the show had signed up for his mailing list. Watch out for him.

So that’s it. It wasn’t so exhausting that I wasn’t left eager for BCGF, which promises a fantastic guest list and all the great books I missed a chance to buy during the year.

Bottom line? I could see the concept working as a one-day craft fair kind of thing. The modest charms of a scaled back King Con with more direction could still have something to add to the New York scene, provided it could nail down a situation that allowed people the chance to make some money. It’s a big town with big ideas and big comics.
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