I’m not sure what was more unusual — that the closest thing I have to a home-town convention got covered (due to Work and Family circumstances) in about half of a Saturday, or that the Javits Center’s renovations have cleared off the main show floor to the extent that such was possible for me to do.
Having learned my lesson last year re: the impossibility of swimming against the tide to Artists Alley, I arrived good and early on Saturday morning, my press badge in hand and my Twitter account credentials resolutely un-registered. Early enough, in fact, that the possible chokepoints where you had to physically touch your badge to a reader to enter or exit the grounds weren’t very chokepointy at all, but I wasn’t entering or exiting with large swells of people.
- A few minutes after 10 they let us into Artists Alley were I immediately made my way to the table of Scott C. to purchase the second Great Showdowns collection¹, which came with an amazing sketch of Mr The Frog and an amusing story as to why Mr C. always thinks of me as Doug.
- A short while later I was making the acquaintance of Maki Naro, Strip Search veteran and PopSci cartoonist without portfolio. This was a casual visit rather than a formal interview, and so I can tell you that Naro’s got some good-looking stuff ready to drop in the near term, and I’ll be talking more about that once it does. For now, I’ll merely say that his beard was as magnificent as I suspected. Also, his Hippie Love Commune compatriot, Mackenzie Schubert, was busy with somebody every time Naro and I had a conversational lull until such time as I had to leave the AA floor, so I apologize that I didn’t get a chance to talk with him also. Next time!
- I was initially disappointed that the redoubtable Jim Zub wasn’t at his AA table, but on a hunch I dropped into the orbit of the ShiftyLook booth, waiting for an on-stage interview. I believe I mentioned previously that the forthcoming Samurai Jack comic by Zub looks great, and I shared this opinion with him; he replied with some good news: the five-issue mini has already been extended to a ten-issue run. So when Jack launches later this month, do me a personal solid and buy it, and keep buying it, because good numbers at the start of the run could be what convinces IDW to change things to “ongoing” status.
Before leaving, I mentioned to Zub that more than anybody else I know in web-/creator owned-/freelance comics, he’s succeeded in making himself the brand, as opposed to any particular project he works on. People that have never heard of Skullkickers will read Samurai Jack, others will read his Lil’ Red Sonja oneshot, or Makeshift Miracle, of ShiftyLook projects … a lot of them will take a leap of faith and try out one of his different projects because he’s done such a good job at transferring fan interests from one to another. Hold that thought, it’ll be recurring.
- Moving a few aisles over to the BOOM! booth, I ran into Yuko Ota and Ananth Panagariya, waiting to start their signing for Adventure Time: Candy Capers. Speaking of creator-as-brand — they’ve moved from autobio into licensed work-for-hire, as well as original graphic novels (like Lucky Penny, serializing now at JW), along with other projects. It’s not easy to move from such close association with a project that is literally about your own life into being well-regarded in lots of different spheres, but they’re well on their way.
They didn’t even mention at the time (because it wouldn’t be announced for a few more hours) their involvement on the NAMCO High game (previously mentioned with respect to the involvement of Andrew Hussie back in San Diego). Because that announcement? Involves a significant chunk of webcomics. Hussie is now identified as Creative Director, Panagariya as Head Writer, with a writer’s room including Magnolia Porter and Brian Clevinger, and character design/animations from Ota, R Stevens, JN Wiedle, Ashley Davis, and Geneva Hodgson, with more contributors to be revealed. Kudos to Ota and Panagariya for keeping to the terms of the NDA, and congrats to everybody else for getting to work with so many creative people at once².
- This is getting a bit long, so I’ll bring you the fun quotes from the Kate Beaton, Chris Hastings, and Ryan North panel on life Beyond the Webcomic tomorrow, but I will leave you with one choice bit now. Beaton has projects she’s working on, so many that she can’t talk about, but she announced one of them at the panel: a 32 page illustrated children’s book for Scholastic, featuring a certain pony that you may recognize; in fact, the panel was the very earliest that Beaton could announce the deal, as her agent (Seth Fishman, who moderated) handed her the contract to sign as she was sharing the news. That’s what you call immediacy in the internet age.
¹ Bonus fun: this book contains the Showdown from The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, which hangs on my wall.
² I wasn’t going to get NAMCO High, but if Magnolia Porter is writing character/dialog for high school students? I’m there.