This and the next couple of posts will be stream of consciousness rambling as I try to piece together disjointed memories of NYCC 2007...
Here's a general tip for convention-going: you may see more of the convention by moving around...but you meet more people by staying in one spot and letting them come to you. Provided it's the right spot, mind you, and you aren't actually working. I spent a lot of time with the hospitable Randy Hoppe of the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center and his charming wife Lisa as well as comics scholar and author George Khoury at the TwoMorrows Publishing booth, which became a regular check-in point and refuge from pacing the convention floor.
And who can blame me, given the caliber of visitors it attracted? Besides all the pros and exhibitors and dealers who stopped by, sticking around that table enabled me to chat with fellow Jack Kirby fans such as Tom Kraft, Scott Sheaffer, and James Romberger (who was eloquent on the trials of being a Kirby devotee while studying with noted Kirby-hater Art Spiegelman) as well as Jon Cooke and his brother Adam, both working on what promises to be a terrific documentary on Will Eisner.
The biggest surprise of the day by a wide margin was the sudden appearance of Jon Browne, proprietor of the comics shop They Walk Among Us in the London suburb of Richmond. This was my local comics shop back when I lived in the UK...but we hadn't seen each other in seventeen years. And yet Jon recognized me immediately from a distance and greeted me by name while I was still trying to figure out who he was.
I knew something of what Jon had been up to lately -- namely raising money for diabetes research with a 500 km bike ride along the Mekong from Saigon to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The most interesting people run comic shops, didn't you know? But seeing him at the con was the last thing I expected. I spent most of our conversation moving my jaw and trying to make words come out. Which was pretty much how I always acted back in the day, so no big surprise there. It must have been like stepping through a time machine for him.
I got a special kick from hearing that Pete Townshend is now one of Jon's customers. Pete lives in the same area; I used to walk past his house and studio on my way to the shop. Pete never used to read comics -- though as it happens, one of his best friends is a comic book writer and editor -- but he loved The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and was inspired to check them out. What could increase my delight at seeing Jon again after all these years? Finding out that Pete Townshend owns a book I worked on.
The Comics Blogging panel on Friday afternoon started at 2:30 PM...an hour and a half before the convention opened to the general public, limiting attendance to those with industry, exhibitor, or press badges. The focus of the panel was inevitably on the mainstream news sites that cover sales figures and industry trends, rather than us scruffy amateurs who offer only opinions and analysis. And yet, from a show of hands, more than three-quarters of the audience had blogs of their own. I think there's room for a whole different discussion of blogging by individuals, rather than just portal sites and old media web presences, but this wasn't that panel.
When the panelists were asked to name their favorite non-industry, non-insider comics blogs, Chris Butcher of Comics 212 demonstrated good taste by citing Jog for his mad writing skills, and Ron Hogan of Galleycat chose Chris's Invincible Super-Blog for its high fun quotient. Those were the only two "outsider" blogs mentioned in the whole panel; panelists Heidi MacDonald and Johanna Draper Carlson each declined to name a favorite, sensibly pointing out that not having to remember all the sites they recommend is why blogrolls were invented.
It was comforting to learn that both Heidi and I get a surprisingly large number of hits from the search term "Disney sex" -- at least I once actually wrote something vaguely related to that phrase, and no I will not tell you where to find it, you filthy pervert -- aaaaaaand now those hits will at least double, what with me mentioning it again just now.
There was a potentially interesting but too-brief discussion of the hazards in reviewing the work of people with whom you interact socially. Johanna opined that "Just because I don't like one of your stories doesn't mean I don't like you." To which any writer -- Johanna included -- would have to reply "But that's much worse! What you think of my work is much more important than what you think of me as a person!" I only wish I'd thought to say that at the time.
It turns out I missed the chance to meet bloggers David "hermanos" Brothers and Geoff Klock, both of whom were in the audience. However, by a staggering coincidence, friend of this blog Redhead Fangirl took the seat directly behind me and didn't realize it for the entire panel. And yet Jon Browne recognized me after seventeen years...!
In our next installment: the shocking link between The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas and the Scrotal Safety Commission!