Posts tagged ‘Free State Comicon’

October 29, 2014

Found at Free State Comicon

I’m in a deacquisition mode with my comic collection these days, trying to thin out an overgrown collection and focus on those titles and items that really mean a lot to me. Sure, I have a nearly-complete Hulk collection that stretches back to 1968, but am I really going to reread those comics? Especially when the Essentials take up so much less shelf space, and at the same time fills in the missing issues from ’68-’73?

Still, I’m a sucker for a comic show, especially one with such a low cost of entry as last weekend’s Free State Comicon. And while I successfully steered clear of the bargain bins, I did pick up a few goodies from self-publishing creators:

FreeCon14aGooch #1 (Bookish Beasts, 2014), the latest collection from Tara Avery, compiles 48 strips starring the bisexual title character. While I had read a number of these online, it was great to read them in one sitting. In addition to her expressive, well-drawn characters, Tara has a real knack for dry humor and snarkiness which makes it fun to spend time with these characters. Especially enjoyable was the sequence where Gooch and Miguel set up Luddite bartender Martha with blogger Gretchen!

Tales of Amnesia #1 (Virtual Infinity Comics, 2014) is brand new from Kansas City’s own Mike Sullivan. While it introduces a lot of new characters and concepts (as is to be expected with a “backstory of the universe” kind of comic),  there are enough dynamic layouts and action sequences that it reads like an actual story and not just an encyclopedia entry. Mike also notes where it (along with his “There’s something happening in Crawford, Kansas” webcomic) fits into the larger tale he’s been telling via short comics and anthology stories since 2004.

FreeCon14aDaniel Spottswood‘s NIX! 2014 Annual (the author, 2014) is a fine little minicomic. Unlike some of his previous print work I’ve picked up, this is a less physically involved (think Chris Ware) product, and more slice-of-life vignettes (think James Kochalka). He’s still able to pack a lot of character and expression into his small panels and even smaller characters, and this issue includes his foray into Hourly Comic Day 2014, a comic-making marathon even I wouldn’t want to attempt!

Science Hero #1 (New Haven Comics, 2013) is an anthology written and edited by Aaron Walther. Not as “science-y” as I was expecting, it was a nice mix of SF heroics, mystery, and comedy in three different stories. While all are nicely done, the slickly stylized artwork of Grant Perkins and JAMWAH on “Muscles and Mullets” stood out the most for me…

p3coverDarren Neely’s weird science epic The Prospector #1-4 (the author, 2011-2013) jumps around in time and setting quite a bit–the author compared its multiple takes on the same events to “Lost”, which is an apt analogy. I’m of mixed mind on this effect: on the one hand, it gets tedious to jump back and forth between the same couple of scenes as they move slowly forward ; on the other, it’s a clever way to break up what could be long talky sequences with moments of action. The artwork by Chad Kaberlein & Philip Burnette improves over the issues, and issue #3 starts off particularly strong. Neely handles the lettering & coloring chores for these nicely-produced full color issues (his coloring includes a nice mottled texture that never overpowers the line art), which seems like a good way for him to exert final control over the finished product.

September 22, 2011

Fall convention tour 2011

I recently completed the closest I’ve (yet) come to a book tour, with back-to-back convention appearances: Sept. 10 at the Free State Comicon (Lawrence, Kans.),  and Sept. 17 at the Comic Book I-Con (Altoona, Iowa). I’ve never had a chance to reuse a table layout so soon before, and this was a good chance to see what worked well, what didn’t work so well, and make some quick changes without starting over from square one. Here’s  my four feet of display from Free State (photo courtesy Benjamin Young)– my display at I-Con was nearly the same, although the table there was six feet wide:

My display at the 2011 Free State Comicon; photo by Benjamin Young

The spinner rack serves as a handy display/storage element that adds some height to my table setup. Other artists are always impressed by it, but for some reason customers don’t want to use it like the spinner racks of my childhood. I’ve faced it out with 16 different issues, faced it out with my new book, and neither one seems to get the reaction I hope for– spinning and browsing. The standup is a recent addition, from my Doghouse Funhouse  minigolf hole– someday I’ll set it up as a playable course again, but in the meantime, it serves double duty as an eye-catching display element.  The only downside to it is that it won’t fit into my tote; otherwise, my entire show can fit into one piece of luggage! I also reused some framed pieces from my gallery show of last February (on the right in this photo, next to a binder of sample strips so readers can see what a typical strip is like); it was fun how often people asked where my strip was running!

My goals for both shows were to promote my Watusi webcomic (I had a new storyline starting soon), meet readers, network with other cartoonists, and to give away my stock of “Continuity and Vine” postcards (since I find it hard to promote projects I’m no longer working on … but that should probably be a topic for another post). Of course, I also brought a stock of books for sale– Watusi, Doghouse Funhouse, and Double Dip issues. While I was able to accomplish those goals to varying degrees (I was glad to meet people who still write postcards!), it still feels like my introverted nature takes over far too often.

One nice thing about both of these two shows is that I remembered to use my camera to take pictures of not only my display, but also of sketchbook drawings I did for readers! It’s especially flattering when I’m asked to be included in books along with favorite artists of mine such as Paul Chadwick, George Perez, and Stan Sakai (among others– you can check out my sketches for yourself on Watusi’s Facebook page)!

So, here are my questions for those of you who show and sell your work at cons or other events:  what tips do you have to share? Things that have worked well for you? Things you’d avoid? For those of you who attend cons as readers, do you like a busy display with lots of  options? Or is a clean display with just a couple of items more appealing? While I think showing multiple issues & related series is a sign that I’m committed to my projects, are that many choices overwhelming when you’d just like a simple way to patronize an independent artist?

While I have some tweaks I intend to make to my next display, any thoughts on these questions are welcome!