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For A First-Year Event, This Is Damn Impressive

Okay, so you know that the National Cartoonists Society has a big to-do every year, right? Different city every year, give out the Reubens, very fancy, I went to it once. It’s also pretty insular, by cartoonists and for cartoonists, no real public component to keep people excited about cartooning, either as consumers or the next generation of creators.

Which is why the NCS is doing a damn near 180 turn and going full Euro-style festival this year: NCSFest will be held in Huntington Beach, California, 17-19 May, and the vast majority of it will be a) in public, and b) free. This is not going to be a fill-the-convention-center type event, it’s going to be on the beach, on the pier, in the Arts Center, occupying a significant portion of common space.

Now we all know that first year events are rough, but NCSFest is getting advice from show partners Lakes International Comic Art Festival in the UK, and LyonBD Festival in France. Their consultation must have been great — did you see the guest list they have lined up for this one? Keep in mind that all of the newspaper creators, they aren’t used to the idea of tabling and meeting the public and sales and such, and they’re going to be able to learn from the comic book and webcomics folk, who are all over this in droves. If you’re in SoCal the weekend after TCAF, you’ll be able to see a frankly astonishing array (I’m going to link to the NCSFest bios instead of websites, because it will feature their appearances).

On the legit superstars list, you’ve got Boulet, Jaime Hernandez, Pénélope Bagieu, Sergio Aragonés, and Lewis Trondheim. From the world of museums, you’ve got Andrew Farago (of the Cartoon Art Museum, and Joe Wos (is it a coincidence without him as a driving force, Pittsburgh’s ToonSeum has closed shop?). Speaking of Pittsburgh, you’ve got Rob Rogers, who was a staff editorial cartoonist that was fired by a Trumpalo publisher for being too tough on Cheeto Mussolini and Shaenon Garrity, who is Yinzer by upbringing¹.

The Nib regulars Ann Telnaes and Gemma Correll will be side by side with indie/webcomickers Carolyn Belefski, Lucas Turnbloom, Brad Guigar (who noted that he is listed as a podcaster rather than cartoonist … be sure to ask him when you see him!), and Los Angeles resident Dave Kellett. Newspaper editor Tea Fougner will represent along with the likes of Patrick McDonnell², Lalo Alcaraz, and a bunch of others whose work makes regular appearances over at The Comics Curmudgeon³.

And that’s before you get to Mary Fleener. Everybody doing off the wall, let’s push the boundaries of weirdness and see how they stretch comics for the past couple of decades owes a debt to Mary Fleener. They’re putting her out in public where she can freak out the tourists and I love it.

Note that some events (seminars, workshops, meet-and-greets) are ticketed, and are predominantly being held in conference rooms at the Hyatt Regency. Details are available on the Tickets page.

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¹ Today, she brings her sensibilities of Pittsburgh-area linguistic tradition and upbringing to her new roles as Funk Queen Of The Bay Area And Surrounding Environs, Tiki Ambassadrix At Large, and Nexus Of All Webcomics Realities (West Coast division).

² Who lives one town over; sometimes I bump into him on Main Street, and we chose our vet based on his recommendation.

³ Including Jerry van Amergongen, who wrote a gag strip when I was in high school that I still recall with perfect clarity.

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