We'll post a complete con report sometime soon, time permitting, but if you weren't following along in real time, you can check out our Twitter posts from the floor of the con, with lots of Twitpics taken with my crummy phone camera. We had signings galore, plenty of book debuts, and some exciting visitors (Ray Bradbury!!). Whew!
San Diego hosts Comic Con International this week and every comics "insider" has an opinion about CCI and most of the opinions I hear are exasperated ones, heavy with a burned-out tone. Granted, I've only been to one year of Comic Con-- 2007-- but I loved it. I'm a guy who hates crowds but still I LOVE COMIC CON. Comic Con is filled wall-to-wall with people who are SO FUCKING EXCITED to be THERE. Everyone is excited just to be among comics and people who also like comics. Not that they know what to do with that energy-- it's still largely poorly-socialized individuals-- but they are EXCITED.
In fact, literally 10% or better of them are so excited that they even made a costume to show everyone how excited they are to be in this place. Probably more than that. I mean, some people you see and their queer pastiche of street clothes and odd baubles makes you wonder if they maybe started off at 5 in the morning donning a fantastically curated getup and then slowly, over breakfast and the drive down, began to question their confidence about walking around as a superhero so now they just have the appearance of someone who got off work, went to the gym, then a disco bar, and got too drunk to remember which clothes were for what. AND IT DOESN'T MATTER. The saggy guy still gets to walk among the throngs as Superman in public for a day, which is more than Clark Kent ever got to do.
Anyway, I love that energy. Even guys like Eric Reynolds, third arm at Fantagraphics, has gone to Comic Con every year for something like twenty years (except the one year his daughter was born) and he gets weary but, still, he loves it. He loves any opportunity to see masters of the medium, like the Hernandez Brothers. Here he is enjoying Gilbert's and Mario's company:
Of course, he'd say he loves all the Bros. equally but he clearly REALLY enjoys Jaime best:
The point is Eric's just another guy who loves comics in a sea of people who seriously love comics. And everybody there has the chance to talk with a hero.
In 2007 I got to meet Kevin Eastman, who was a ridiculously nice guy. He was supposed to contribute to BEASTS2 but I guess he didn't get my emails:
Even Steven Weissman got the chance to meet a hero. Here he is with Gwar or maybe it's just an S&M community theatre troop. I guess I'm not sure but he and the guy in underpants were both pretty happy to see each other:
But, alas, this year the Art Department of Fantagraphics Books (Adam Grano and I) are just too busy to trek down to The Con. Besides having too much work to do, we are spearheading the first ever Fantacon, which is mostly just him and me drinking a beer at lunch. But crowds are welcome.
NOTE: Thanks to Mike and Janice for the photo of the TMNT bus rolling into SD09.
C. TYLER SIGNS YOU'LL NEVER KNOW AT HISTORIC ERNIE PYLE HOME IN DANA, INDIANA AUGUST 6-8
Ernie Pyle Firemen's Festival, August 6, 7 & 8, 2009.
Ernie Pyle was a newspaper writer and War Correspondent both in Europe and the Pacific during WWII. His folksy, personal writings about combat soldiers were very popular and won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1944. Sadly, he was killed that same year on the front near Okinawa.
Pyle was born and raised in Dana, Indiana. His home was designated a state historic site in 1976 and each year the town celebrates with an annual festival.
This year, C. Tyler will be there on the porch of the Pyle home with her Dad, C. W. Tyler, to sign copies of the remarkable book she wrote and illustrated about him "You'll Never Know, Book I: A Good & Decent Man." Read the NY Times review HERE.
This is a real hometown festival with fun for all. Other events scheduled are:
Thursday August 6: Free ham & beans Friday August 7: Chicken & noodles (sponsored by the ladies aux) Saturday August 8: Jonah Fish Fry starting at noon. Parade starts at 6 pm Also: car show, poker run, flea markets etc.
The historic home is located at the corner of Briarwood and Maple, just over the tracks as you head north into town. Ms. Tyler and her Dad will be on the side porch facing Maple Street, not Briarwood or the Quonset huts. Plenty of Parking is available.
THE TRUE STORY OF HOW MICHEL CHOQUETTE (ALMOST) ASSEMBLED THE MOST STUPENDOUS COMIC BOOK IN THE WORLD
Issue No. 299 of The Comics Journal [in-stores August 2009, premiering at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con] unearths a long-lost treasure: Way back in 1970, satirist/editor Michel Choquette conceived a mammoth anthology of new comics from all over the world by just about every cartoonist imaginable circa 1970 (as well as such unimaginable cultural icons as Federico Fellini and Frank Zappa). All of the contributors were to riff on the 1960s, creating a comics snapshot of that decade, but the project kept growing in ambition until it reached a scale that scared off its publishers. Today, bookstore shelves are filled with comics collections and graphic novels, but in 1970, there was no Watchmen or Persepolis. Even Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer-winning Maus had yet to be published. To publishers of the time, Choquette's dream book was an enormous folly and one by one they backed out of negotiations, leaving Choquette, who had spent all his book advances traveling the globe enlisting contributors, to disappear into relative obscurity.
But by the time publishers had gotten cold feet, Choquette had already assembled an astounding array of comics contributions from 190 of the most influential comics creators and cultural figures of the 1960s and '70s, including: Jack Kirby, William Burroughs, Harvey Kurtzman, Art Spiegelman, Will Eisner, Arnold Roth, Don Martin, Michael O'Donoghue, Ralph Steadman, Tom Wolfe, Wally Wood, Bill Griffith, Barry Windsor-Smith, Gahan Wilson, Moebius, C.C. Beck, Vaughn Bodé, Harlan Ellison, Shary Flenniken, Albert Uderzo and René Goscinny, Russ Heath, Doug Kenney, Patrice Leconte, Chris Miller, Denny O'Neil, Roy Thomas, as well as the aforementioned Fellini and Zappa. It was a legendary compilation of the comic art form that would give heart palpitations to anyone who ever loved comics or was alive in 1970, but no one has seen it all except for Choquette.
Comics Journal writer Bob Levin tracked Choquette down and discovered that this long-lost El Dorado of comics still exists in storage. In an epic article, Levin follows Choquette's path across continents and countries as the would-be anthologizer encounters a cultural Who's Who of the '60s and '70s (Salvador Dali! Gloria Steinem! Jann Wenner! Jorge Luis Borges! Bianca Jagger!), collecting art that will, in part, see print FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER in the pages of this issue.
TCJ #299 also features an interview with SKYSCRAPERS OF THE MIDWEST creator Josh Cotter, a gallery of MYRON WALDMAN AND EVE strips with an introduction by Mark Newgarden, essays by Noah Berlatsky, R.C. Harvey, Matthias Wivel, and the usual assortment of reviews (KRAMERS ERGOT 7!), news and criticism from the best writers-about-comics in the field.
THE COMICS JOURNAL #299 [August 2009] • 208 pages • $11.99 U.S. • ISBN 978-1-60699-147-3
Online Commentary & Diversions updates resume next week. Off to Comic-Con tomorrow! I'll be Twittering from the show as much as I can.
• Preview: "Now Jason publishes a collection of his short, sharp works ...called Low Moon, in which his trademark anthropomorphic animals get into all sorts of trouble — including, in the story 'Emily Says Hello,' murder, revenge and sexual domination." - New York Magazine presents an exclusive five-page excerpt from Low Moon
• Review: "All of Jason’s tales in Low Moon play like a black comedy, tragic yet humorous. Maybe it’s his protagonists blank eyed stares or the fact the characters are all cute animals being put through some troubling things that give these outwardly simple and light cartoons a heavy feel. If you’re a comic fan looking for a change of pace from the tired summer/blockbuster/epic/crossover comic events then this one’s for you." - Mishka Bloglin
• Review: "What surprised me the most [about Prince Valiant Vol. 1: 1937-1938]... was... how much [Hal] Foster had brought me to care about these characters... [P]erhaps for the first time ever, we’re able to see just how detailed and elaborate Foster’s art really was... More importantly, though, was how well Foster set up his pages. His layouts draw the reader across the page from one panel to the next, often culminating in a truly impressive final panel... Prince Valiant was good all along. Who knew?" - Greg McElhatton, Read About Comics
• Review: "I mean, holy. Effing. Shit... Was [Fletcher] Hanks insane or otherwise mentally handicapped? Dunno, but as editor Paul Karasik points out in his meaty introduction [to You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation!], this was a man mean enough to kick his 4-year-old son down a flight of stairs... You’ll love how much you hate [these works]; you’ll hate how much you love them." - Rod Lott, Bookgasm
• Plug: "Boy, that Prince Valiant [Vol. 1: 1937-1938] hardcover looked great, didn’t it? The color is just stunning. The stories (what I’ve read so far, at least) are fun as well, with a nice mix of realism and fantasy. I’m looking forward to future volumes, both to see how Hal Foster’s style and Val’s character develop over the years." - Tom Bondurant, Robot 6
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