The webcomics blog about webcomics

Opposite Coasts, Opposite Approaches

We’ll get to the title reference in a moment, but I want to call out something first. Yesterday I spent quite a bit of space talking about Shing Yin Khor’s meditation/poem in comics form, Stone Fruit Season why, my goodness, you really should go read right now if you haven’t yet. If you have, read it again.

Anyways, when you’re done reading Stone Fruit Season, you might want to check out the comment below yesterday’s post from reader David Cortesi, who notes that Stone Fruit Season contains a number of references to TS Eliot’s The Love Song Of J Alfred Prufrock. Having spent most of my nerd school humanities electives on history and political science, I wasn’t familiar with Prufrock (or really, much of Eliot’s work except to be aware that his poems are the root cause of why people got purposefully very drunk/high to watch a movie and have been clamoring for The Butthole Cut.

But now I’ve read Prufrock and yeah, I think Cortesi is onto something. So thanks for that, I learned something today. Namely, that while I can’t say that I’m suddenly an Eliot fanboy, I can see how he set the stage for modern poets whose poems I do enjoy, including one in particular that I once traded a hand-transcribed copy of to The Space Gnome in exchange for admission to an interstellar trade guild. I love it when circles close so neatly.


Okay, time to get a bit more serious about thing, as I have to look at two comics institutions that are (at least as of the time of this writing) taking two entirely different approaches to the dominant issue of our time, the novel coronavirus pandemic.

  • On the one hand, you have the Cartoon Art Museum (who I was always going to write about today), who are running an auction to benefit the museum and its programs. Specifically, they are holding the Shelter-In-Place Fundraising Auction:

    The Cartoon Art Museum’s galleries were locked down following a statewide mandate issued on March 15, and our staff took immediate steps to adapt, developing online exhibitions, workshops, and conferences, sharing resources with other institutions, and seeking alternative sources to offset the revenue lost from our temporary closure.

    Members of the creative community have stepped up to help the Cartoon Art Museum and offer assistance during these uncertain times, and many cartoonists offered original art for the museum’s forthcoming Shelter-In-Place Fundraising Auction. Comic book artists, graphic novelists, comic strip artists, and animators have contributed artwork from their own archives for this ongoing online auction, which will help us continue our mission to ignite imaginations and foster the next generation of visual storytellers by celebrating the history of cartoon art, its role in society, and its universal appeal.

    That link will take you to a preview of items to be auctioned, the first of which will go up tomorrow, Thursday, 27 August, at CAM’s Ebay page with new items listed weekly. Props to everybody at CAM for finding a way to continue on in the face of closure.

  • On the other hand, you have something I had no idea I was going to write about today, except I happened to see a related story that caught my eye and subsequently raised my ire. The Ringo Awards announced today that their final ballots are decided, and voting is now open. So far, so good. But nowhere on their site (so near as I can tell) do they actually list the names on the ballot categories unless you provide an email address to register to vote.

    No. I’m not providing an email address for the privilege of researching information that should be public. I spent a significant amount of time poking around the Ringo Awards site looking for anyplace that has the categories and final nominees, and nothing. As of this writing, the sole communication from TRA on their Twitter account since late June is to say Hey, Kids! Comics award ballots! Vote and we’ll tell you who’s on them!¹.

    It was in my poking around in vain that I came across the following, which is on the home page, just above the list of this year’s judges:

    The fourth annual awards will return as part of the fan- and pro-favorite convention, The Baltimore Comic-Con. Top honors will be announced Saturday, October 24, 2020.

    That can’t be right, I thought, nobody could expect less than two months out from an event that regularly tops 15,000 people is going to be held indoors. That would be unbelievably irresponsible. So I went over to the BCC page, where (as near as I can tell) neither the words coronavirus nor COVID appear. The About/General Info page mentions exclusives, hotels, and sponsorships, but nothing about public health. The News page features a tickets on sale story from last November and literally nothing more recent.

    They are planning to hold this thing in person. There’s no other interpretation. They’re pushing tickets, advertising guests, and not acknowledging the elephant — the entire friggin’ population of African elephants gathered together into one improbable herd — in the room.

    Okay, they’re not good at communicating, I thought, but the absence of newer news doesn’t excuse this. The past ten days have been nothing but stories from around the country of schools — ranging from local public up through large universities — resuming classes and immediately having to shut down because of massive COVID outbreaks. The Frequently Asked Questions is about ticketing, how kids have to stay with parents, rules on celebrity group photos, how VIPs can enter the hall 30 minutes early, and their privacy policy. They are not acknowledging reality here, and it is dangerous.

    Well, maybe they’re just waiting for somebody else to pull the plug? I thought. In that case, there should at least be a statement about how they are carefully assessing the situation with respect to everybody’s safety, and oh, I dunno, recognizing that every other con canceled more than two months out? The Baltimore Convention Center has, right there its front page, a link to a Re-Opening FAQ that says, and I quote:

    The Baltimore Convention Center is currently unable to host events during the current State of Emergency enacted by Governor Hogan in March of this year. Events will take place again when the state of emergency has been lifted.

    They aren’t allowing more than 10 people at a time to make site visits (and are strongly encouraging virtual visits) to decide if they want to take a gamble on booking the convention center sometime 12 – 14 months from now. The city of Baltimore — home of Johns Hopkins and the best epidemiologists in the world, they are not fucking around with this thing — is currently at Phase 2 of reopening² and as of yesterday is meeting criteria to revert to Phase 1³. You’ve got all the justification needed to make a decision, stop jerking off in public, Baltimore Comic Con Committee.

    Call off the godsdamned con. And if they don’t and you decide to attend, stay the fuck away from me.

Spam of the day:
Know what? No spam today. I’ve had enough stupidity for one day.

¹ If you want to participate in the public voting portion of the multipartite Ringos, you have until 23 September. If you do and feel like sharing the nominees, I’ll run the list here at some point.

² No direct link to that screen; follow the link provided and click the button for Reopening Phases. Screenshot taken 26 August 2020, approximately 4:00pm EDT.

³ Again, no direct link; go to the button for Reopening Indicators. Screenshot taken 26 August 2020, approximately 4:00pm.

I feel compelled to point out that the Baltimore Convention Center is ALSO the primary public COVID-19 testing center in Baltimore. (I just got tested today for the second time; very quick and smooth operation and have been getting our results in ~36 hours, highly recommend as much as one CAN recommend getting that thing jabbed up your nose into your sinuses.) So yeah, if the Comic Con people think they have a chance in hell of actually doing this in person, they are in for a RUDE awakening.

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