The webcomics blog about webcomics

Comics Camp: Mini-Con

Saturday in Juneau was going to be busy — campers would be checking out of their hotel, depositing luggage for collection and transport, setting up for a public convention in the Juneau Arts and Culture Center, having a one-day convention, tearing down, and getting on the bus to camp, all by 6:00pm. Worse, they would be doing so under the most trying of conditions imaginable: it was sunny.

Juneauites¹, it was explained, would never waste the opportunity to have a sunny day in the outdoors — at least, not until a ten or twelve of them in a row happen, by which time you’re exhausted from so many daylight hours and being active and the crash happens. The previous year, I’m told, it was raining and thus shoulder-to-shoulder in the JACC; this year was merely a respectable crowd for a one-day free event, which was starting at 10:00am. Breakfast, brisk walk, pack-in. With no specific duties for most of the day, I spent a lot of time as a runner and line-wrangler for Floor Boss Jessica.

The room was centered on two large table islands, one of which was where Alaska Robotics arranged signings. Kibuishi, Caffoe, Beaton, Telgemeier, North, Hatke, Brosgol, Carson Ellis, Tony Cliff, and Scott Chantler all did two hour-long signings, in twos and threes and (for the last two hours of the day) fives. Want to have some fun? Keep lines of people that want to get books signed by Kate Beaton and Raina Telgemeier from wrapping around and tangling with each other; it is legitimately the best problem to have.

My major contribution for the day was working the associated public concert; next door to the JACC is Juneau’s public radio/TV broadcaster, KTOO. The musician campers (and local singer/songwriter Theo Houck, who performs under the name FySH) were going to be performing for 90 minutes, the middle hour of which would be recorded for broadcast across Alaska public TV²; the chief limitations on the broadcast section were to keep the language friendly and to avoid covers³. Both portions of the concert featured live drawing by Kibuishi and merman maestro Lucas Elliott.

If you’d like to experience what it was like well, hey: video. And in case you only have time to watch a portion of it, I’d recommend you check out FySH’s portion (starting at the 15:00 mark) ’cause boy howdy, kid can play. I use kid not condescendingly, but because FySH is seventeen years old, has been songwriting from the age of eleven, and did a Santa murder ballad. It was great set. Not that the other performers were any less great, mind; I’ll just be talking about them later in this series. For now, suffice it to say that what you’ve no doubt heard about the drums being the heart of live music performance is wrong — it’s the cello.

Post-concert saw a lull and then an uptick in the showfloor crowd; people that had been there in the early part of day left to enjoy the mere eight or so hours of daylight remaining; those who’d been in the great outdoors came by on their way home. Flagging energy was sustained by the most delicious almond brittle known to human tastebuds and then it was over. Showgoers left, tables got packed up, stock from the snack table gathered for weekend consumption, and a schoolbus appeared for the ride north.

A long line of cartoonists and other ne’er do wells made their way along the last few hundred meters to the lodge, dispersed to drop luggage at their cabins, and returned for a casual dinner and announcements. Item one: lots of programming to start on the morrow4 with a schedule of sessions posted. Item two: close car and cabin doors, as at least one raven had already flown in to start exploring because ravens, man. Item three: name tags are over there (get to know everybody as best you can), snacks are over there, graphic novel library is over there, board games library is over there, s’mores ingredients are over there, and booze table is over here. They all got plenty of use.

Item four: everybody please sign up for a shift of either prep or cleanup for one of the meals, and try to eat with different people each chance you get. Item five: your phone doesn’t work out here, so leave notes for one another on the message board. The night featured meetings and re-greetings, with multiple groups heading off away from the lights to look at stars and the Northern Lights and a cut-throat game of Secret Hitler. Or was that Sunday? Maybe Monday? Time started to blur a bit and we’d only just started.


  • Saturday morning; this is from the same hotel room as yesterday’s picture.
  • The Juneau Arts & Culture Center. Lots of things happen here, and you’re never far from the wilderness.
  • The show floor in diagram form, and POV from the snack table. The biggest crowds were at the signings, and at the Laika display near the back corner. Jeremy Spake (in charge of armature construction) and Georgina Hayns (head of the puppet department) brought working puppets from the production of Kubo And The Two Strings, of which much more tomorrow.
  • The concert featured a studio audience space and played to a full room. The musicians were, from left, Angela Webber, Aubrey Webber, Marian Call, Seth Boyer, FySH, and Molly Lewis. Keep an eye out for FySH in the future — he’s going places.
  • Teardown (fueled by the last of the brittle) and the bus crowd. After luggage took up the back few rows, there were exactly enough seats for the people not driving their own cars, as long as you put large people and small people together. Me and Seth Boyer got to know each other pret-ty well on that ride.
  • There was significantly less trudging than the photos seem to indicate. It’s possible that this raven is the one that was investigating the interior of cars.
  • A pretty good fraction of the campers gathered for introductions and to exchange information.

¹ I looked it up, but I still like Junevers, if only because it sounds like jenever.

² And possibly yours; your local public TV station can contact KTOO and request a copy of the recording for broadcast.

³ The warmup and cooldown sections were just for those in the room, and featured a killer Seth Boyer rendition of Part Of Your World that needs to been seen to be believed.

4 Pat Race put me in the first programming slot, talking about the recent history of [web]comics.

Junutians “Joo-noo-shuns”)

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