Friday, April 17, 2015

ECCC 2015 (or Rotoscoping from Memory)

Finally, a moment of thought and reflection over last weekend’s most excellent convention in Seattle, the Emerald City Comic Con. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’d like to discuss ECCC and what that convention means to me as an avid comic reader/fan and aspiring writer/creator, especially in comparison to other conventions I’ve previously attended. I suppose I could go into heavy detail about my trip, from the exhaustive planning and packing procedures and navigating an alien cityscape, but realistically I feel like no one (especially me) cares to hear those mundane-sweet-nothings because they’re actually not sweet. They’re about as stale and useless as a sun-dried dog turd (good luck with that).

Instead, I think I’ll talk about the exciting stuff. You know, the detailed leavings that get you pumped to read, make, and discuss comics. That’s why we go to these conventions, right? To meet people with similar interests, discover new, astounding material that feels so cutting edge that it practically wears the creator’s last meal, and to inhale the permeated creative juices like the elusive drug that it is. This way by the time you’re ready to travel home, you’re already considering and planning for the next show (thinking: what comics will I discover next? will I get the chance to meet x, y, and z creators that inspire me? maybe, if I finally get my shit together, I can create a sweet comic to share too!). These are the signs of a great convention, essentially what you take away from the experience. Or, to break it down even further, what you got and what was given.

First I’ll talk about what I got (tangible objects/purchases*):
**NOTE** I think I should mention that I rarely, rarely buy comics and my purchases here might appear extreme and daunting (at least they are for me). If you’re a cautious reader like myself, I’ve placed links to the creator’s pages. Maybe you can find some free reads online before you make a financial commitment. There’s always the library too. **END NOTE**
I picked up nearly all of Corey Lewis’ new books. His DGAF sense of style and coloring blows me away every time I see his work. His sheeeeet is slick!
I dropped over by the Study Group/Floating World Comics table and dropped a wad of cash on this reprint of Kilian Eng’s first art book Object 5. The poster work he’s done for Mondo is phenomenal and his sense of colors really remind me of Otomo’s cities in Akira while his designs are yanked right out of Blade Runner. It’s a cool combination worth checking out. Apparently the owner of Floating World is working on a comic with him, which is neat. I’d love to see more sequential work by Eng since all I’ve read is Syklus.
Also, I picked up a copy of Ben Sear’s Double+. I started following his Tumblr a couple months ago and really liked what I saw. His colors are getting really great too. You can read his work on Study Group here.
I realized SG was also selling some comics by Jonny Negron on the final day of the con. They’re massive sized comics printed on newsprint called Adapt. Thankfully I wasn’t aware of them until the end since they’re unbelievably huge. I took a photo of an unfolded copy in comparison to a normal size comic book (kind of looks like Big Guy is about to get down in a chessss-t match, heheh). 
Across from Corey Lewis was a really neat creator-owned comic by Tony Wetz called God Speed Mew! I was really impressed by Tony’s production quality on the book. The art is consistently great and the paper stock is nicey nice. Plus, plus, cats on motorcycles!
Met another indy creator named Mike McGhee and picked up his comics called Star Fallen. He’s another great blend of euro-comics/manga and I’m loving how I’m finding more creators with similar tastes. Checkout that sticker sheet with the pizza in the pokeball. Practical useage, people!
Silver Sprocket Bicycle Club were rocking some of their comics. These guys have been on my radar ever since last year’s San Francisco Zine Fest and they put out a bevy of great creators. I picked up a couple issues of Liz Suburbia’s Cyanide Milkshake that I was trying to track down (I think she’s got a new book coming out from Fantagraphics, btw). Also, I discovered a new artist I’m really excited about, Lauren Monger. That’s her book Sleepwalking and that print below is a sample of her work. I’ll admit I’m a huge sucker for watercolors, but damn me, if that story in Sleepwalking doesn’t entertain. Any book that starts off with a good dick joke told by anthropomorphic animals is required reading imo.
Speaking of water colors, I couldn’t resist purchasing these pieces of Farel Dalrymple’s This Will All Hurt. There’s so much about Farel’s art that moves and inspires me: his colors, his penchant for tiny details, his throwaway/permanent character dialogue. It’s like he’s not afraid of failing and uses the scraps in his art to his advantage. For instance, see that little mouse wearing the coat in the second panel? A nod to Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH? Maybe. Who knows? Farel knows. And I feel he’s cool with him knowing and us not.
Again, back to water colors with a couple more small buys. These are Shing Yin Khor’s Center for Otherworldly Science 1-3. My pal Johnny recommended I sample her wares and I’m really excited to read these. They look bold, brightly colored, and maybe something that’ll make me cry…
A couple more small buys. Here’s Caleb Goellner and Buster Moody’s Task Force Rad Squad III. If your into anything Sentei/Power Rangers, your sure to love this series. I also really dig Moody’s art. He’s got this 70′s underground cartoonist vibe that reminds me of Robert Crumb & Kevin Eastman.
Keeping up with childhood nostalgia, I was really surprised to find this Waiting for October fan-zine for the perfectly, zany Nickelodeon show from the 90′s, “The Adventures of Pete and Pete.” If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend watching a couple episodes. It’s about the closest you’ll get to David Lynch directing a children’s show, with a revolutionary soundtrack added for good measure. Listen here.
Here’s some comics I got from the guys behind Speculative RelationshipsTyrell Cannon and Scott Kroll. I think I first became aware of Tyrell’s art through his fan art on Prophet, but I dig his art on his creator series just the same. I’m really excited to read these and pick up their future issue of SR (it has a great lineup and the cover by Sandra Lanz is a stunner).
Here’s some newer titles I picked up on whim because the art is hawwwwt! S.M. Vidaurri’s issue of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Witches is really something to behold. His layouts are unconventional and remind me more of a children’s picture book than a comic, kind of like what Emily Carroll is doing in her work. Afu Chan’s art on Halogen is neat and I admittedly succumbed to the media buzz. I’m hoping it’s worth it. Ziritt’s art on Space Rider’s looks all kinds of crazy, definitely some Kirby influences running amok. Funny thing about this comic, I ran into so many people during the convention reading/carrying it, that I’d definitely say it was the comic of the con. My only Marvel purchase was Jake Wyatt’s issue of Edge of Spider-verse. It was really great meeting him in the flesh and hearing he has multiple projects coming out this/next year. He’s posting some killer work on his tumblr page that you should check out.
Did some pregame shopping over at half-price books and got these for a song and a dance. Seems like I scoured the earth for a decent priced copy of The Witching Hour in hopes of reading Annie Mok and Emily Carroll’s story and I finally found one! Definitely a treasured find. And that Frank in the River by Woodring was only a $1. There’s still 20 something copies left if you go by the Half Price Books in the University district.
Also snagged a cheap copy of Taiyo Matsumoto’s Blue Spring. Score!
And found these really shitty comics for half off too. Bought them as a joke, because, you know, I’m going to burn them in front of anime conventions or something…
More .50cent/$1 bin finds. I bought the CMYK Vertigo Quarterlies since they seemed like good short-story research material. Both the DHP and Genesis have peaked my interest in the past and fiddy cents felt like it was worth paying to look behind the curtain. The Deforge book was a strange find, right in the middle of a bunch of marvel/dc titles. But obviously, obviously the elephant in the room is that issue of Moebius’ Airtight Garage. IN A FUCKING 3-FOR-1 DOLLAR BIN, PEOPLE!!! Some dude had the gaul to ask if it was mine when I set it aside. Of course it’s mine! Mine, mine, mine! Keep your greedy little chode fingers away!
Also, came across these back-issues of Rue Morgue at the same exhibitor’s booth, because, you know, I’m a horror fiend til the day I die.
Yep, that’s essentially what I got from the convention, but I think it’s especially paramount and vital to note what was given (wisdom/experience) by the end of the weekend. Because as a whole, this trip would have been absolutely meaningless without the interactions I had with many individuals at, and around, ECCC. 
For one, my boy James Scott really played the titular role of friend, confidant, and host during this Seattle trip (along with his awesome lady Ashley and their cat, Ponyo). It’s been maybe a little more than a year since James and I first met and bonded over our taste in comics, and I’m really surprised by how great a friend he’s become. I think he made me an offer to stay with him in Seattle for the con shortly after last year’s, and the fact that he stayed true to his word really solidified our friendship. Not only that, but how we’ve both managed to honestly relate our wins and losses at creating comics is really refreshing. I think we both come from a lucky position in life to have friends and family that are so supportive, yet at the same time there’s something more beneficial when you have ties to someone who shares the same goals. It’s cathartic in many ways. Plus, knowing someone has your back in this industry seems and feels pivotal. If you haven’t noticed, the comics industry is fairly cliquish. I recommend finding some like-minded individuals and when you find them, treat them nice. Maybe they’ll do you a solid. Like give you kickass art, as so:
Here’s some more examples of nice peoples giving awesomeness away like it aint no thaaaaaaaang.
As I previously mentioned, Farel is definitely one of my favorite dudes. Chatting and talking with him is always so unexpectedly candid that I feel like I walk away with a new perspective on creating comics. For example, he mentioned how he recently dropped out of illustrating a script for a major publisher to pursue his own creator-owned like of work. This is an important topic (the pursuit of individual creative endeavors) that’s really important and deserves reminding (especially for young comic writers). Not all comic artists want to tell your story and share your same vision. Sure, it’s cool if the vision is shared but imagine how much easier it is if the artist picks up a pencil and totally turns her/his back to you. Is the artist supposed to forgo her/his dreams just because you have a project that demands their work? I think that every comic writer should know and be reminded that artists are not machines or cheap Etch a Sketch playthings. This is important for every comic artist’s career.
So thanks for drawing what you wanted to draw in my copy of PGW, Farel!
Same goes to Brandon Graham. A general consensus confirms that this guys is beyond nice and casually cool. I like his approach to the comics scene. He’s definitely not a creator that stares past you at the ever growing line. He listens to your words, is kind, conscientious, and totally in the moment. Even if he doesn’t recognize you, he will write down your name on a card for reference. I admire the shit out of those traits. I mean, at this point Brandon probably doesn’t need to attend conventions, yet the brother still does. And half the time he’s hunched over sketching kewl doodles like you see below. That’s dedication. That’s commitment. That’s awesome comics.
Meeting Marley Zarcone* was also another highlight to the weekend. I don’t know what I expected her to be like (offish maybe?), but she was definitely not what I had in mind. Instead she was probably the brightest and most personable of the late-night Sheraton crowd. Listening to her talk smack about Stokoe and parts of the comics industry was sooo… perfect. But hearing her give James and I encouragement on pitching/creating comics was definitely the inspiration needed to last one more year til the next ECCC. **Definitely HAVE to thank Amy Clare for prodding Marley our way**
Had a great discussion with writer/artist Sarah Horrocks about the horror genre too. James told me I should check out her work and I recall reading an impressive article she wrote about Under the Skin somewhere before. She turned out to be really nice and knowledgeable in all things macabre. I love sharing enthusiasm with other people, but especially in regards to horror. There’s certainly this cultist vibe among horror fans that’s hard to describe. I feel the reason is because we all like to be scared and secretly hope to rediscover that feeling once more. I mean, for most creeptastic flicks your lucky if by the 2nd or 3rd viewing you’re feeling any sense of unease. There’s nothing that compares to that first viewing. So when you meet other horror fans it’s like two meth-heads talking dealers. And every once in awhile, if you’re lucky, you hear about an elusive new supplier that’s got a better high. Some drugs Sarah pushed my way were The New York Ripper and Suspiria. I should probably look up her podcast and give that a listen too. Here’s the comic I bought from her with a really neat sketch.
Also, also! I met Christy Karacas, one of the creators behind my favorite Adult Swim cartoon SUPERJAIL! If you can’t tell, this is the only time I decidedly geeked out during the convention (I rarely ask to get photos taken with people—just imagine me uuhhrrmaaguurd-ing really loud, okay?).
There’s also a dozen more smaller conversations I had throughout the weekend that truly made the con so great. But I think rather than listing off every person I interacted with, I’ll send out private messages. That sounds more appropriate, rather than creating some public academy awards list of dicks I want to suck people I wish to thank. That’s more my style anyway. 
If any of you little critters don’t like it, you can eat me.