Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Just Food Conference comic

A few weeks ago I attended the Just Food Conference in Manhattan and decided to use my notes and sketches to make a comic about the day. Part 2 will be up next week. Go check out part 1 at Cooking Up Comics!

I'm also having a sale in my online shop until Sunday April 28th. Urban Nomad #1 and Conan the Librarian prints are now in stock!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Brooklyn Zine Fest

Thanks to everyone for coming to the Brooklyn Zine Fest on Sunday! It was great to see returning customers from previous zine fests and other cartoonists like Kenan Rubenstein, Darryl Ayo and Bill Roundy all made it a point to say hi. It was also nice to hear a few people say they'd seen Urban Nomad previously either at Desert Island in Brooklyn or at one of the Zine Libraries in the city.

I had a birds' eye view of the main show floor and it looked like this for most of the day. So many people had nice things to say about my signage and display despite being in a non-visible section of the dark stage. Luckily I'd brought some alligator clips and was able to hang my sign from the curtain behind the table. Once we got some lights clipped up at both ends it was much better. It was difficult for people to maneuver with my table having a steep precipice on one side and the other side being perpendicular to my neighbors so that anyone in front of either of our tables was blocking the other. I angled the books on the right so that people could still see if they were craning to look over others' shoulders from the side. Most people were patient and it seemed like the majority of the giant crowd came up the stairs to see what we had going on.

Despite the non-ideal table placement, I sold out of all the Urban Nomads, all my $1 zines and all but 3 copies of Counter Attack that I'd brought with me. Ah-mazing! This was also my first time using Square register on my phone and I made 3 sales with it, so that was a bonus. Definitely my most successful zine fest to date, rivaling the combined sales from two days of last year's CAKE Comic Convention in Chicago. The Brooklyn Zine Fest was packed the entire time and I had a blast. Hope I'm able to table there again next year!

I only had a few minutes before the Fest started to quickly walk through the second room (which also had a much better lit stage) and the main hall to say hi to A.J. of Syndicate Product, Ayun Halliday of East Village Inky, Malaka Gharib of Runcible Spoon, and later Robin Enrico of Jam in the Band. I wish I'd had more time to discover new work and say hi to some of the other zinesters I've met before.

I know there were a few people who hoped to pick up a copy of Urban Nomad after I sold out at the fest but unfortunately I have to reprint Urban Nomad #3 now! I just put Urban Nomad #1 up in my online shop along with my Conan the Librarian print which has a limited run. I'm running a sale until Sunday April 28th to match my convention price in the online shop for this week only! If you're in NYC and prefer to shop locally, Bluestockings Bookstore on Allen St in Manhattan and Desert Island in Williamsburg both carry them on consignment.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Brooklyn Zine Fest this coming Sunday!

Welcome back to our regularly scheduled comic with a recipe comic for Rice Cooker Oatmeal at Cooking Up Comics!

In other news, I will be at the Brooklyn Zine Fest this coming Sunday April 21st from 11 am to 6 pm at Public Assembly in Williamsburg (70 N 6th St). I had a bit of short notice since I was on the wait list, but I decided to reprint Urban Nomad #1 since it was out of print most of last year. Here are the covers of the proof copy, printed on matte paper to match the other issues. I will probably be putting it up in my shop after this weekend.

I will also have the new zine 'Money-Saving Freelance Tips' that I made before Drink and Draw Like a Lady / MoCCA for a mere dollar!

As usual I will have Urban Nomad #2 and #3, an assortment of Counter Attack issues, and my mini comic Rock On! I'll be at table 20 A on the stage so come say hi! Be sure to tell me your Twitter name if I know you from there. The whole face with a name thing can be tricky sometimes. There will be a lot of awesome local zine makers and cartoonists attending. I've gotten many of their books in the past and it is sure to be a fun time. It is FREE to get into the fest! See you there!

(click to see images larger)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Another great Drink and Draw Like a Lady

Drink and Draw Like a Lady has been a pre-MoCCA staple since 2009 when it was held at Madame X and organized by prolific cartoonists Hope Larson, and Raina Telgemeier.

I was happy to help with organizing the annual Drink and Draw Like a Lady this year. I was on the train with Raina when we ran into Tea Fougner and Raina asked if either of us wanted to help out since she wouldn't be in New York to co-organize this year. Lucy Knisley who has been coordinating DDLL for the past few years with Raina would be kicking off her book tour that week and could use the help. I volunteered to make the flyer for the event (something I've secretly been wanting to do for a few years now.) I was also happy to link Lucy up with my friend Susan Godfrey who owns a co-working space called The Productive in midtown when the usual bookstore venue fell through. Tea donated a ton of delicious vodka from the distillery she works at and created an amazing punch for the party as well as setting up for the event. Sara Becan is the unsung, off-site hero of the yearly website updates!

There were already a bunch of prompt ladies at The Productive when I arrived at 7:30pm after picking up a few last minute odds and ends. I met some Philly cartoonists in the elevator including Dre Grigoropol who will also be at the Brooklyn Zine Fest on April 21st.

Over the course of the evening it was fantastic to meet up with friends and new cartoonists alike. I was happy to get a few minutes to talk with people like Johanna Draper Carlson of Comics Worth Reading, Gina Gagliano of First Second and Alison Wilgus of the webcomic A Stray in the Woods whom I barely glimpsed at MoCCA Fest itself.

I caught up with several artists that I met at last years' party or other zine fests including Carey Pietsch (who had a fun mini called Crafts for the Un-crafty), Glynnis Fawkes, Marguerite Dabaie, Megan Brennan and Rel (who both gave me amazing mini comics of Pencil Pup and The Virus, respectively). It was also fantastic to meet cartoonists Jennifer Hayden, Noelle Stevenson and illustrator Rebecca Mock (who had a cool optical illusion mini) among many others.

To my delight, a number of ladies set up at some of the desks and brought out their sketchbooks making this one of the first Drink and Draw Like a Lady parties where at least a third of the attendees were actually drawing at some point! This particular crew were all from MICA and their work at the convention was stellar.

Lucy had set up a photo booth on one of the brick walls and everyone was having fun using it throughout the evening. I'm looking forward to seeing all the photos from that night when she is back from her book tour! It looks like Marion Vitus has a bunch of photos of the evening up on her Flickr!

The new space seemed to accommodate everyone well, though the brick walls had the voices of 60 plus women bouncing off them. I did hear some complaints after the fact that it was hot, but there were quite a few bodies in there and only windows on one side of the studio that were open. If we're able to use the space again in the future, we can look into getting a fan or two in there. As the night wore on people spread out more which helped with the heat factor. Overall it sounded like everyone had a great time. I finally left close to midnight and there were STILL people drawing!

Thanks to co-organizers Lucy Knisley and Tea Fougner, Susan Godfrey for letting all of us trample through your space and to everyone who came to the party, especially all those who brought snacks, booze, good conversation and helped clean up afterwards! See everyone next year!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Guest recipe comic from Ayun Halliday

The title says it all in this week's guest comic, brought to you by the Queen Zinester herself, Ayun Halliday! Check out the whole recipe at Cooking Up Comics!

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Thoughts on MoCCA Fest 2013

Since this is the first year in a while that I've attended MoCCA as a pedestrian and not an exhibitor and because this is the first year that the event was hosted by the Society of Illustrators I wanted to record my thoughts while they're fresh.

First of all I had a great time walking around as a fan and my main impression was that the Society did an excellent job of hosting the festival. I'm sure that Emma Rivera staying on as one of the key members of setting up the festival is part of this smoother transition. Reviewer Johanna Draper Carlson of Comics Worth Reading called this year's festival the "Best Ever!" And I would agree with saying it seemed to be the best in recent years. I'm curious how sales were for everyone who tabled. I'll break down my thoughts on the 2013 festival in a bit more detail below, apologizing in advance for my somewhat blurry phone photos.

1) Volunteers and greeters: Upon arriving at the Armory, there were two rows of tables setup for existing pass holders and those purchasing tickets. There were volunteers stationed there to greet people and make sure you were in the correct line which was nice. I didn't get a festival badge, just a wrist band. Perhaps it was because I just bought a day pass online. But for $12 you'd think they'd throw in a badge and lanyard. I didn't interact with any other volunteers during the day but everyone seemed to have a station and there were plenty of them walking around the floor. There was also a dedicated area near the front of the venue with a table for freebies and space to sit and read which people were utilizing throughout the festival.

2) Signage: For the first time since I've attended MoCCA there were signs hanging in each aisle to indicate the aisle letter. They were designed after Michael DeForge's show flyer and large enough to read easily. No guessing which aisle you were in as in previous years. The large signs made it easier to find a specific table if you knew which aisle letter they were in.

3) Uniform black fabric tablecloths: This was also a new feature. In previous years MoCCA would provide a white plastic disposable tablecloth. Lots of people still brought their own table coverings, but it was pretty classy that at least the fronts of each table were covered to the floor and made the overall flow more cohesive. As someone interested in conservation, I also like the idea that the tablecloths can be reused each year.

4) Red curtained partitions in each aisle: Again this really added to the uniform look and seemed to break the vast armory into a more accessible space. I did an informal survey of the exhibitors and the partitions seemed to have mixed reviews. Some were disappointed that you couldn't look across the venue and get a vibe of how crowded it was at any point. It also seemed a detriment for the people who had nice tall signs behind their booth which you could see from across the armory in past years. On the other hand, onlookers were forced to be focused on the aisle they were in instead of being distracted by someone or something they saw across the armory. I felt like the partitions made me take my time in each aisle, though this also was because I wasn't worried about rushing back to my table after 20 minutes on the floor. The partitions also made it so no one was bumping into the people behind them and had a space to hang their work as if they had a wall space. The only problem with this was that most of the exhibitors didn't know there would be a curtained wall until they arrived and some didn't have tape or a means of hanging their work behind their table. It also seemed like the partitions helped with dulling the roar of everyone talking at once. I didn't feel like I was loosing my voice after talking most of the day which is a bonus.

(Mike Turzanski and Peter Lazarski)

5) Aisle spacing and rows: The aisles were nice and wide and it seemed like each exhibitor had enough space to stand or sit comfortably behind their table as long as there were only 2 of them. The rows seemed to be set up well, but I soon witnessed that anyone who was in the center of a row was basically stuck back there unless they climbed underneath their table. Not the best solution for exhibitor comfort, especially if they were wearing a dress or skirt. Perhaps leaving a bit of space inbetween every few tables would alleviate this problem for next year.

6) It seemed like there was a lot of quality content this year. Perhaps it was the improved visual cohesiveness from the partitions and tablecloths making the entire venue looking less cluttered. But I was impressed with the amount of new creators and the quality of new content. There was no one section that I wanted to skip entirely because of poor presentation or lack of interesting looking content.

7) Table pricing: MoCCA Fest was started as a fundraiser for the museum. I understand the table pricing in this context. But as the Society has now picked up the slack, each exhibitor is still paying an ENORMOUS amount of money to have a table at the festival. This was the main reason I didn't purchase a table this year. The price has only been escalating each year and paying almost $500 for a table when my printing costs for a short run of a new book are in the hundreds seems ridiculous. I understand that the space still costs money to rent and maintain and after reading the interview that Comics Reporter did with the Society of Illustrators' Anelle Miller, I see that they were incurring some of the additional costs like shipping books for free to the Armory, wi-fi for the building along with the new aesthetics for the festival.

The good news is that student prices are much less than a regular table and it seemed like several students would split one table. The only problem with this is the crowding behind the table meant that often the 3rd or 4th exhibitors were out walking around themselves and not behind the table when fans would stop by. It seems to me that if the professional publishers (Top Shelf, Oni, AdHouse, First Second, Abrams, Fantagraphics etc) paid a larger amount since they are selling larger books and the small press creators were given a better deal on their tables there would have been less ambivalence by the mid-sized creators who decided not to show this year.

(Lucy Knisley)

8) Ticket pricing: Again, I understand why MoCCA used to charge $15 a day to visitors to the festival when it was being done as a fundraiser. But spending $15 when I am generally spending $15 on 1 to 2 books seems ridiculous. If they want to support the comics community, MoCCA could lower the admission or even (gasp!) make it free. It seemed like Saturday foot traffic this year was slower, which may have been because I couldn't get a good view of the entire venue. But it's hard to justify spending $15 just to get in when you're on a budget and could split that $15 on five puppy-dog-eyed art students selling their zines.

9) Charging for the exhibitor booklet/map: I know the Society of Illustrators makes lovely take away books for their art exhibits. Call me crazy but I don't think that because they spent more money on making the souvenir booklet full color on glossy paper justifies charging $5 in addition to the $15 admission price. All I want is a map indicating where my friends are tabling, I don't care about the fancy write-ups and bios. Give me a cheap print out that I don't feel bad about tossing at the end of the day. I had assumed there was no updated exhibitor map on the MoCCA website, but I see after the fact that there was. I declined the $5 booklet and decided to discover the tables more organically.

(Daniel Vasquez and Patricia Burgess)

10) Placement for panel discussions: I may have misunderstood how this worked, but it seemed like the panels were being conducted at the top of the stairs on the way to the bathrooms. This was the one area where acoustics seemed terrible which is the opposite of what you want when you have an audience trying to listen to a number of people speak. There was also minimal seating with most people hanging around at the sides and back, leaving space for those going up and down the stairs to the bathroom. From what I could tell on Saturday, the larger room downstairs where the panels used to be held was filled with tables, chairs and a smattering of people checking their email or taking a break. I was later told there was food for sale in this room, but didn't notice it myself. It did look like there was a bar area next door to that for the exhibitors which is a nice touch. I don't know how well this was advertised to convention go-ers since it was fairly empty down there. There was also supposed to be a gallery space somewhere in the armory, but I totally missed it.

11) Lack of signage for larger publishers: This was something I was a bit baffled by. Again, it may have been because of the new partitions, but it seemed like a lot of the larger publishers didn't have their publishing house signs up. If I hadn't seen my friend Steve in the line for Boulet signing at the AdHouse table, I would have continued on my way. (Boulet's first book to be printed in English "Noirness" was the best $7 I spent at the show.) I also purchased a book from what I thought was Topataco and then later realized was Oni Press. Maybe it was an attempt to have more of an indie vibe, but I was mostly frustrated by not being able to find the publishers I was looking for unless they were setup on the very end of an aisle.

As I said in the beginning, I think overall the Society of Illustrators did a great job with the MoCCA Fest this year. Any gripes I have are generally with the pricing which has been an ongoing issue. It seems like all of the aesthetic moves were well received by most. After walking around on Saturday, I had the same feeling of renewed interest in creating comics that I usually get after a festival weekend. I had lots of wonderful conversations, bought a bunch of amazing content from friends and new exhibitors alike, I only wish I'd had a larger budget.

(My cat Moe is bored by all this comic talk.)

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Drink and Draw Like a Lady and Convention Schedule for 2013

The MoCCA Arts Festival is this weekend. It's the first year since I started attending as an exhibitor that I won't have a table, but I will be walking around on Saturday. So if you see me, say hi! I'll have some Cooking Up Comics bookmarks and possibly some of my Rock On! zines.

I am also excited about the annual Drink and Draw Like a Lady party on Friday evening. I was super pleased to draw the flyer for this years' event. It will be held at a new venue thanks to the very awesome Susan Godfrey of The Productive co-working space in midtown!
If you are a lady interested in comics, please stop by!

Although I won't be tabling at MoCCA, I did get taken off the wait list for the Brooklyn Zine Fest which will take place at Public Assembly in Williamsburg on April 21st! I don't have much time to get anything new together, but I will be doing a reprint of Urban Nomad #1 which has been out of print for most of last year.

I also found out yesterday that I officially have a half table at SPX in Maryland this September! This is a show I've been looking forward to attending for years and this is the first time it looks like it will work out! I'm very excited to work on some new material before the Fall.

This will probably be the extent of the conventions I attend this year, but if I end up doing more I'll add them to the handy "Upcoming Appearances" list to the right. Looking forward to catching up with my cartoonist friends in real life instead of online!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Guest recipe comic from Michelle Kondrich

This weeks' tasty guest comic is from Michelle Kondrich! Go read the whole recipe at Cooking Up Comics.