Note: Edited to fix an incorrect photo; Fleen thanks Leah Schnelbach for her eagle eye. Gina Gagliano is shown second from left here, along with Alex Cox of Rocketship, Calvin Reid of Publishers Weekly and PW Comics Week, and John Shableski of Diamond; all but Cox were members of the organizing committee.
So SPLAT! was a big success. Big props to Gina Gagliano, who had the idea; Leah Schnelbach (on the right, during the raffle) , the assistant director of the New York Center for Independent Publishing (who graciously allowed me in), Karin Taylor, the director of the NYCIP (who kept everything running) and the entire organizing committe (especially Dave Roman, who tipped me off about the event, put me in touch with the organizers, and had to miss the day due to illness — we’re glad to hear that he’s feeling better).
As I told several people on the day, it didn’t feel like the first iteration of a conference; things went smoothly, the panels were informative and had a heady mix of guests and topics, and the library of the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen (“By Hammer & Hand All Arts Do Stand”) was a beautiful venue. In fact, the most serious complaint I can come up with is, that in a building that in part houses a plumbing trades school, I’d have expected the hot-water faucet in the loo to work.
The symposium itself was divided into three tracks — one on the what & why of graphic novels; a second on making them; and a third on graphic novels in schools and libraries. I spent most of my time on track one, but crossed over to three — having no pretensions of artistic ability, I left the “how to make ‘em” sessions to those that would benefit.
In terms of presentation, the Who Reads Graphic Novels? and Webcomics: A Primer seemed to run most smoothly; this was probably a function of the panelists present and the moderators — wrangling smart, opinionated people is an art form, and Evan Narcisse and Colleen Venable just seemed to do the best job of it (it doesn’t hurt that Narcisse has both a conversational style and voice very similar to that of Elvis Mitchell).
The most purely fun session was probably that with Margeaux Del Guidice and Michael Lizardi, a pair of school librarians from Long Island speaking on Comic … In A School? Using Graphic Novels to Enhance Student Achievement; they had some terrific info for teachers and librarians looking to get past the legacy of Seduction of the Innocent. In fact, by my estimate a good 20 – 25% of the attendees appeared to be from the school/library field, which I found to be encouraging. Talking with Charles Brownstein (executive director of the CBLDF, and a panelist in the schools/libraries track) confirmed my suspicions — the librarians and teachers and there looking for a path to build their graphic novel collections. That want this material, and they’re pushing to include it in their collections; everybody who’s doing comics and isn’t Bill Barnes & Gene Ambaum, take note.
We’re going on a bit long here, so the detailed recap of the webcomics panel will have to wait tomorrow. But I’ll leave you with one teaser — Ted Rall was in fine form, and he’s no longer couching his dislike of internet archives solely in terms of editorial cartoons.
Quotes of the Day:
Scott McCloud, feelin’ the early-morning hungries — Oh my God, they have donuts!
Calvin Reid (R), in the keynote interview with McCloud (L) — [Meredith Gran's (R) Octopus Pie collection] looks terrific, by the way.