Day 8 – By the end of this day, I will have met most of my artistic heroes. The day started out with a lot of standing and waiting. Sparkplug tabler, Virginia Paine was also staying with Shannon, and i helped her with bring boxes from post office to the venue. American post office’s are kind of insane. Ok, not kind of, are insane. There was a ridiculous line up with only one person working. My favorite part was the very impatient lady in line, and her continuous commentary of what was going on at the wicket. “Oh hell nah, they aren’t going to weigh all those envelopes!”. Virginia and I rushed to the venue by way of one of those fancy town-cars.
We got there with lots of time to spare for set up. I was manning the table for my publisher Conundrum books. The books had been sent to a friend of my publisher’s in Queens, so all I had to do at that point, was sit and wait for the boxes to show up. My guy ended up being a little later than planned, so I had some time to bum around and check out what some of the folks had catch up with some friends. This report will be less linear, more capturing the madness of the day. The day itself was 9 hours of madness.
My table was surrounded by Lizz Hickey on one side, and Sally Bloodbath and Kate Beaton on the other side. I felt like I was in some pretty good company. Next to Kate was Doug Allen, Gary Leib and one of my favorite cartoonists of all time, Charles Burns. I hit up Charles pretty quickly for a sketch when the day started. I regret not talking to Doug and Gary. They are both guys that I would like to talk to at some point in the future.
Since my publisher was unable to make it down to the festival, I enlisted the help of Zack Soto in exchange for giving him some space at the end. Having Zack was great. He is a super charismatic guy that folks are just drawn to talking to. He also seems to know everybody. I took this photo of him, talking to Vanessa Davis, Sam Gaskin and Brian Chippendale, just to show you what kind of show it was that day. Every corner you turned, there was an amazing cartoonist to talk to.
I had Johnny Ryan and Lisa Hanawalt running the Pigeon Press table behind with Julia Wertz and Ben Catmull next to them on one side and Domitille Collardey on the other side. I had enough time to be able to get Johnny’ s latest book of madness off of him but totally forgot to check out Domitille’s books, and was kicking myself for it later.
Across the aisle from me, was the Closed Caption Comics crew. I had met Zach Hazard Vaupen the night before at the Nazi Knife art show. They seem to have some great releases. Zach gave me a copy of his latest Hatred for a Human Host.
An early highlight of the day was looking up and seeing these guys standing there.
I grew up on the Simpsons and Life in Hell, so needless to say, I was super-excited to see Matt Groening in front of me. I thrusted a disc of Inkstuds interviews into his hand and gave one to Gary Panter as well. Gary was really nice to finally meet. Interviewing him, has not only been personal highlight for the show, but I also feel like it is one of my strongest and a point when I feel I really understood what I want to do with the show. Gary’s comment at the end of the interview, was surprise that I knew so much about him. Gary is like the spiritual father of the Brooklyn Comics Fest. You can feel his legacy in so much work represented there. Gary was nice enough to come behind the table and do this great sketch for me. Gary, like many more people I would be talking to that day, is in the Inkstuds book.
Matt is set to be on the show again at some point soon, so we can discuss the work of French artist, Aristophane. Jillian did an amazing sketch in the book. It seems to be along the lines of her work that has been printed in her DQ book, Indoor Voice. I really love the direction of her personal work right now. I think of her work, as coming from an artist that is technically killing it, and really getting more and more in touch with something unique as time goes on.
The worst moment of the day, had to be a visit by this guy. He calls himself Captain Zorikh, the Brooklyn Cowboy. He did a quick 3 minute interview with me, that I am sure will never surface, but count your blessings if it is. He seemed to grate on my nerves very quickly, and I made that known during the interview, by selling comics to folks, while he was asking me some pretty asinine questions. In his bio, he describes himself as an amateur grappler. What does that mean? Does that put him on some offenders list?
Michel Fiffe is a guy that I have been emailing with back and forth for the last couple of years. He even did mix for site. I really like him, and wish we could chat for more than, “Hey, good to meet you”.
CiTR alum and former station president, Becky Sandler stopped by the festival. It’s always nice to see a friendly face from home.
I forgot to get a picture, but meeting Francoise Mouly was certainly a personal highlight. RAW really formed my mind as a reader, and also a critic. It is important to know the difference between good comics and bad comics, and RAW showed what is the best in comics. Nearly everyone that has been published in RAW has had some kind of lasting legacy on the industry that can’t be understated. I am thankful for people like her.
Brian Chippendale did this insane sketch in my book. He saw Keith Jones’ two-page spread and needed to beat him at the game.
Mark Newgarden is another person I was really excited about meeting at Brooklyn. We had been talking about doing an interview before, but could never really get it organized. He is working on a book with Paul Karasik about Bushmiller’s Nancy for Fantagraphics, and we have plans to talk when that comes out.
The whole day is just one exhausting blur. I am really happy that I was able to check it out and be a part of something that felt so alive and timely. The Brooklyn Festival felt a really defined snapshot of what is happening in modern comics. There are varying types of criticism floating around about how inclusive the Brooklyn Festival was, but from my point of view, it was curated with a specific artistic taste in mind. The work featured at Brooklyn represents a specific artistic ideal. I look forward to attending next year, in whatever capacity I can muster.
That night after the Brooklyn Fest, there was an afterparty at the home of Bill Kartalopoulos, Lizz Hickey, and Jon Vermilyea. I was there for about 2 hours and had conversation with an amazing aray of cartoonists. My favorite was probably talking about Grinderman with Zak Sally. Our music tastes have some pretty broad overlaps. On a side note, check out the Kim Deitch portfolio he just published. It’s something quite handsome.
My trip ended with the excellent animation show that Mark Newgarden put on at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. I started out my day having breakfast in a pretty cruddy diner, but crappy food was made better by running into Bill Kartalopoulos and Nadia and George from Typocrat.
The animation itself was awesome. Mark’s collection is legendary. If you ever get the chance to see one of his events, make sure you don’t miss out. After the show, I went out for the worlds runniest milkshake and swell conversation with Vanessa Davis, Tom Kaczynski, Julia Wertz, Karen Schneider, Jon Lewis and more. It was the perfect relaxing way to end the trip.
Many thanks to Andy Brown, Christopher Butcher, Peter Birkemoe, Annie Koyama, Keith Jones, Dave Cooper, Jen Vaughn and Muff Mansion, Al Columbia, Jerry Moriarty, Shannon O’Leary, Zack Soto, Ben Catmull, Gabe Fowler, Bill Kartalopoulos, Dan Nadel and many more for helping to make such an excellent trip. I really wish I had more time to spend with people and meet folks.