For the first time in 15 months, the Beat was on the scene for a comic book event! The Brooklyn Pride Comic Book Fair may have been only a dozen or so tables on a Brooklyn street, but it was a celebration of Pride, comics, and, let’s face it, the ability of human beings to meet and greet like we used to.
It was great.
Setup is almost done for the #BrooklynPrideComicBookFair!
Come on b! We're here til 5! pic.twitter.com/e0DKeegR31
— AnyOne Comics (@AnyoneComics) June 13, 2021
Here are some photos from the set-up because with my own perfect timing, just after I arrived — intending to chat and take photos just like I used to — it started to rain and everyone had to scurry for cover (and throw some drop cloths over the precious paper wares.) Such are the vagaries of outdoor events…not that a little rain could dampen enthusiasm for the return of in-person comics events.
Just before the rain arrived I spotted the Beat’s own George Carmona chatting to Vita Ayala. It was happening…I was….running into people I knew. I felt like crying. Aside from my pod of friends and family, random sightings of acquaintances on the street or at gatherings has been an ultra super rare occurrence for the last year or so, and one I’ve missed so much.
It didn’t come without some agita. I’ll confess: as I got ready to leave the house for an unknown experience, I had a mild anxiety attack. Me, a veteran of hundreds of conventions, festivals, signings and panels. This pandemic — the defining event for several generations — has left the world changed, globally and individually. Many of the changes have left us stronger, but there’s a lingering, undefined mystery about where we go from here, how we interact. What will return and what is gone forever?
I keep hearing about the “hybrid” world we’re entering. Listening to a recent Clubhouse session on “The Future,” I heard one participant wonder if we’d keep doing everything online since Zooming had become such a way of life.
From where I sit, Zoom fatigue is very real, and at least some people are going to want to mingle IRL and find it infinitely superior to the version that comes in four boxes on a computer screen. Some people are going to want to continue working at home and staying isolated, too. And that’s okay.
But it’s safe to say that everyone at the BPCBF was there to enjoy the experience.
How do you make small talk after everything we’ve been through? Over the last few weeks I’ve been starting to see more people, and I find myself asking them “So how was your pandemic?” That seems to cover it. People share — sometimes intimate, painful details, sometimes a quick gloss. Whatever. It’s fine. We made it this far. (And we’re not finished yet — we may be in a highly vaccinated area, but most of the rest of the world isn’t that privileged.)
Big picture aside, the wheels of local comics event slowly started spinning again. People talked about their upcoming graphic novels — the pandemic did give people lots of time to work on their projects. Bits and pieces of news from other pods drift out: people who moved, people selling houses, people got a dog. The mosaic of life coming back into focus.
Since I got there late, there were already Post-Its reading “Sold Out” on several tables. There was a steady stream of customers, and people told me they had sold lots of stuff all day. During the rain delay, folks took refuge inside Anyone Comics, across the street. I’ve heard tons about this shop since it opened four years ago, but this was my first time visiting, and I got the chance to chat with owner Dimitrios Fragiskatos. He said April had been one of the biggest months ever at the store, but things had calmed down a bit since then as people begin to travel and do other things again. But he’s not worried. The store is well arranged and carries a wide array of material — it’s certainly well-prepared for whatever happens, including the space in the basement used for drink and draws and other events. Another thing to return.
And now…PHOTOS. Yes the return of our “award winning” on-the-scene photography! You know you missed it!
I forgot to take one of Sam Johns and their table of gay comics! Sam is one of my top Pokemon Go friends but WE FORGOT TO TRADE. Darn it all!
Inside Anyone Comics.
Show organizer John Jennison — The Beat did a preview interview with him here about the event. He has some awesome tarot card decks for sale here.
Liam Donnelly and his Sad Gay Comics. Like many there, Liam is a veteran of FlameCon, which is virtual this year, but he looks forward to exhibiting in 2022.
Michael Shirrey had a lot of great stickers and buttons to celebrate Pride — and he said he sold a lot of them. As with most everyone there, this was his first comics event since the pandemic began. How did he like being at a show again? “It’s wonderful!”
Jonah Newman and Lara Antal, showing the way life used to be. Jonah’s graphic novel Out of Left Field, a semi-autobiographical book about baseball, growing up, and coming out, is coming from Little Brown next year. You might know Lara from Tales of the Night Watchman, but her debut graphic novel, written by Rick Louis, is coming out from Abrams next year.
Bill Roundy is a legend of queer comics, and Brooklyn comics. This was his first show since the pandemic, too. Was he happy to return? “I love being here!” he told me.
I ran into N. Steven Harris talking to Isaac Goodhart, two of the nicest people in comics. I didn’t get a chance to ask Steve what he was up to, but Isaac is busy on another DC graphic novel for younger readers, and check out his sweet new Jack Kirby tattoo.
So there ya go. People doing things! In person! Buying comics! Selling comics! For the first time since C2E2 2020, I went somewhere and talked to people about comics. It felt really good.