Just a few quick hits this week; I have a big project brewing for my next column. But this is a good time for some recommendations:
** If you’re doing some comics-related travelling this summer and want to avoid the sensory overload of Comicon International and the circuses of Wizard’s shows, I have a few recommendations. First is the Museum of Cartoon and Comic Art Festival, alias MOCCA. Here’s a link to their site: MoCCA . The event is held in the venerable Puck Building in New York, and the whole event certainly has an NYC flavor to it: lots of local cartoonists whom you might not see at other shows. The event is strongly indy-centric with the occasional mainstream stalwart like Neal Adams or Frank Miller. If you go, make sure to attend some of the programming. The show is June 10-11th.
** The problem with a lot of cons these days is that they’ve become too media-oriented and have gotten away from comics themselves. A throwback in this regard is Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC. It’s a family-run event that’s been happening for years, thanks to organizer Shelton Drum. There’s a decent programming track and nice dealer’s area, but the real draw is the extensive artists’ area. In addition to a number of big mainstream stars (George Perez is a regular), there are always a number of Silver Age and Golden Age stars. What’s new at Heroes is their newly expanded Indie Island. The con has a new dedication to spotlighting indy comics, putting its money where its mouth is by getting commitments from the likes of Peter Bagge (HATE) and the Hernandez Brothers (LOVE AND ROCKETS). The show is June 30th to July 2nd.
** This may not quite qualify as summer, but I must make note of this year’s Small Press Expo (SPX) in Bethesda, MD. It’s a bit later in the year this time around (October 13-14) and it’s in a different hotel, but it’s still a must. Their website is at http://www.spxpo.com/ and the big news for this year is that legendary cartoonist Jules Feiffer is one of this year’s most important guests. One of the best things about the con is its intimacy of the event, as the artists love to congregate in the lobby and bar after the show proper.
** There’s an interesting project out there that deserves your attention: DEAR JOHN: THE ALEX TOTH DOODLE BOOK. Toth is a legend whose spare use of line is a huge influence on many artists, and the book contains years of correspondence between him and a friend, and it includes a ton of art. Check it out at http://parkerspace.blogspot.com/2006/05/alex-toth-doodle-book.html
** A few more specific recommendations. For a preteen girl, check out Raina Telgemeier’s adaptation of the BABYSITTER’S CLUB series. The first volume is out now. For any teenager, Lewis Trondheim’s DUNGEON series is the perfect mix of faithful sword and sorcery and a deft send-up of same. A perfect “gateway” comic for superhero fans interested in branching out is Alex Robinson’s BOX OFFICE POISON, a slice-of-life series that also dips into a number of issues familiar to comics readers. Robinson’s newest book, TRICKED!, is a Robert Altman-style narrative with a number of characters whose stories all converge in one act of violence. Fans of good gags should check out Kyle Baker’s THE BAKERS, now out in hardcover. Long one of the funniest men in comics, Baker uses a broad style to breathe new life into the old saw of family gags. Lastly, we’re in a new golden age of classic strip reissues. With the complete PEANUTS, the first volume of Gasoline Alley (WALT AND SKEEZIX) and many others, one can now add the complete POPEYE strips. More than ever, there’s a comic out there for everyone, and the production values only continue to get better.