Festive Curated Conventioneering

I love 'comic-cons'. From stories of Phil Seuling's New York Comic Art Conventions of the 1970s to the current annual monster known as San Diego Comic-Con or attending the wonderful annual Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art Festival in Manhattan, events to celebrate the comics medium have, and still do, vary in surprising ways. Gail Simone (@GailSimone) just wrote on Twitter about a new convention in LA specifically to celebrate LGBT comics creators and fans called Bent-Con[be warned, some stuff on their site is sexually explicit].

At the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival!The concept of the comics convention is evolving into some interesting avenues, and a new example of what it can be was put-up for the public this past weekend: The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival. Entirely supported by Brooklyn, NY comics shop Desert Island Comics and publisher PictureBox, who together sent out requests for participation only to the creators, collectives, and publishers whose work they most enjoy. This allowed the event to be small, curated, and best of all FREE for all to attend since no fee was exacted from the exhibitors or artists to hold a table!

Why? In the words of the organizers themselves:
"It’s good to try new approaches to old models! We like this approach better than your standard free-for-all, and it makes a better experience for the random spectator, which is good for comics in general. It’s less like a typical small-press fair and more like an art fair or edited comic anthology. It’s frankly an expression of our own interests, which is intended as a positive contribution to the larger comic and art world." (from the festival website)
But if the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival is an experiment, it appears to be a highly successful one as this is the event's second year and everyone I communicated with had a great time. That's, both, on the exhibitor floor and on Facebook and Twitter after the fact.

One of the many pleasant shocks of the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival for me was the discovery that the Jack Kirby Museum offers, as a reward for membership sign-up, a mini-comic version of the singular example of the famous Jack Kirby making comics without editorial interference: "Street Code". It's about Jack growing up in New York City in the 1920s and it had never before been printed as a stand-alone comic. This is the guy who co-created characters like The Hulk, Captain America, and Darkseid bringing his fantastic design sense to the gang violence within, and the architecture of, the ghettos he grew-up in.

This is the museum's Rand Hoppe holding the comic in question:
Rand Hoppe of the Jack Kirby Museum holding a very important comic: "Street Code"!

I also saw the excellent comicsmith Jason Little (@beecomix) [who's in the above photo to the right] and spoke with him about publishing in print after publishing on the web, and bought his brand new mini-comic "Gimmick Illustrated" #1! And I saw and bought comics from the fine folk of Sparkplug Comic Books and the people who work together on the Sundays Anthology.

Bill Kartalopoulos (@bkny) ran SIX creator discussion panels from about 1 PM till just 40 minutes before the show's close at 9 PM. All the panels were held in the basement in which was built an impromptu stage and a screen with a small projector.

One of them was an introduction (for me) to the work of comicsmith Anders Nilsen. Guy creates some smart comics. He recently released "Big Questions" #15. (Nilsen maintains a website here.) This is Bill and Anders talking while the screen displays a page from a previous issue of "Big Questions":
Folk listening to Bill Kartalopoulos ask questions of Anders Nilsen (comicsmith of "Big Questions")!

Another of the panels was on the concept of editing comics. Who better to get than Francoise Mouly, the woman who edited her husband's famous comic "Maus". And another on hyper-detailed or hyper-textured art and whether or not it disturbs the flow of the reading experience in the comics medium. The answer-like thing we got was: No matter what the art looks like, the eye must be somehow guided though the images or the comic will fail to be readable. Which makes sense and is damn key to understanding comics!

The exhibitor hall (well technically it was a basketball court but who's counting?) was closing down as I was leaving and I took this photo on my way out the door:
Closing time for the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival

I had a damn good time!

As I've said many times before, the fact that there are different kinds of comics is healthy and keeping that variety will depend largely on people being interested in them.

As such?

Events like this are important and I'm glad this one was packed.

~ @JonGorga


The day afterward there was a nice festival tie-in event around the corner at The Knitting Factory:
Mark Newgarden's 35mm reels "Cartoonists and Comics On Camera: 1916-1965"
[12/9/2o1o EDIT: Make that 16mm!]
35mm Cartooning 101 (2)
This was in "How to Draw Cartoons #3 - Expression" with Fred G. Cooper from 1944.

Very... edu-taining.


  1. Ah, my old-school media ignorance is showing! Corrections to be made...

    Tell me Mark, is there a way one can recognize the difference visually? Is the size of the image literally different?

  2. The image quality is nearly always evident. 35mm was the theatrical standard for many decades. 16mm was created as a non theatrical format: for classrooms, homes, small theaters & TV.