Archive for August, 2010

comic con 2010 in words

san diego convention center [Blogger’s Note: Although there were many superstars at Comic Con, one actor was notably missing.  Alan Rickman did not, to my knowledge, attend Comic Con.  Sadly, my meeting with Sir Rickman has yet to occur.]

I can hardly believe it’s been more than a week since Comic Con.  The yearly festival of comics and media geekdom was, my second time around, still just as vital as ever.  Comic Con excels at two things, mainly: facilitating fans’ meeting hundreds (possibly thousands) of famous and yet-to-be famous cartoonists, and providing a ground for the exchange of ideas and products related (sometimes tenuously) to sequential art.  Uh, and recently it’s become a place where Hollywood previews movies based on comics.  If you want to meet the cartoonist who created your favorite strip or book, or if you want to see the starlet who will be starring in the movie based upon your favorite strip or book, Comic Con is the place to be.

This year, as I mentioned before, I was joined by my wife Isis and my good friends Nate McGraw and Alex.  It was their first ever trip to California, which was totally crazy to me, but some people just grew up on the wrong side of the country (or continent).  The ladies took off almost immediately to stand in line for movie panels.  Nate was gracious enough to let me lead the way though pop culture wilderness. L1020100L1020149

I’m dividing this post up thematically, as giving a blow-by-blow chronological account would bore all of us.  As it is, only three readers have gotten this far in the post.  Thank you!  Read on for the exciting part.

If the convention floor is the meat of Comic Con, the panels are the vegetables.  It is the panels where you can hear cartoonists blather on for an hour about their favorite pen nib. True bliss.

Nate and I kicked off Comic Con with the Spotlight panel on Jeff Smith.  Jeff created Bone and Rasl, and is a genuinely nice and funny guy.  His slide show covered new projects he’s been working on, and in the question and answer section he mentioned the upcoming Bone movie(!).

We also sat in on the Keith Knight Spotlight panel, in which Keith spoke about his weekly comic strip and his new (-ish) daily strip.  Keith is a great speaker, a natural entrepreneur, and above all a very funny cartoonist.  He brought something up that I found intriguing; his weekly comic, The K Chronicles, was essentially a blog before blogs even existed.  When I read it that way, it makes complete sense.

Nicholas Gurewitch, the mad scientist who created Perry Bible Fellowship, is someone either destined to be a Hall of Famer or a delirious bum who dies in a gutter.  I’m not sure which.  His question and answer section sounded eerily like a Bob Dylan press conference from the 1960’s, in which he would answer the question with a riddle, or he’d answer the question he wanted to be asked.  My favorite answer was to the question, “Do you get your ideas directly from life?”  He responded, “If we can only write from what we experience, then yes, 100% of my ideas come directly from life.”

We saw about half of a Krazy Kat panel.  They showed some home movies of George Herriman with his (then) baby granddaughter.  It was pretty cool to see one of my cartoonist heroes come to life, since we are separated by almost a century.

Berkeley Breathed put on a freewheelin’ panel, documented by this post and photographed in this post.  I may be the only one, but based on the test footage he showed I’m glad Opus never got made into a movie.

Ray Bradbury is almost 90, but he spoke to hundreds of us and seems entirely lucid, if nearly deaf.  Honestly, if it was a choice between ears and brain to go first, I’d choose ears every time.  It was a real joy hearing the very first Comic Con guest speak at Comic Con 41.  His responses to to questions were in depth and often funny.  Not sure why he hates the internet and Obama.

On a panel called Writing Animated Feature Films, four screenwriters discussed the projects they’ve worked on and how they managed to get through them.  I say that because apparently, in Hollywood, the writer is almost as low on the totem pole as the caterer (actually, they probably receive less respect than the food dude).  Between them, I found both Dean DeBlois and the writer who worked in TV (whose name I could not find in the Programming book, sorry!) to be the most straightforward about their work and what it takes to be creative while working with a group.  In all, it was a very informative panel and something that you wouldn’t normally see outside of a writing seminar.

Nate and I found the Nerdiest Guy At Comic Con at the Avatar Press panel.  We were there to hear Max Brooks, author of World War Z, talk about how to survive the coming zombie apocalypse.  The NGACC asked a dozen questions, and even filmed himself asking one question, as well as Max’s response.  Max cut him off after that.  We were thrilled to find the NGACC and wanted to ask him out for a drink afterward, to hear him monologue, but thought he might misconstrue our affection as ironic, so we didn’t.

The zombie panel leads me to the next segment of this overly-long post:

Zombies and Vampires
Last year, Twilight brought the vampire lovers to Comic Con en masse.  Seriously, there were like 80,000 teenage girls there for one reason (hint: it wasn’t sex).  This year, despite the popularity of True Blood – which Isis described to me as softcore porn with vampires – zombies ruled the convention.  There was a zombie walk, zombie panels, and two (count ‘em) booths devoted to the comic series Walking Dead.  This made me feel good about my book-in-progress, as it is about zombies.  I can’t wait to be a millionaire.L1020156

Last year I was at Comic Con for two days, while this year I stayed for the whole bloody affair.  I got to see more celebrities wandering the convention floor this year, which was pretty cool.

Scott Adsit plays Pete Hornberger on one of my favorite TV shows of all time – OF ALL TIME – 30 Rock.  I saw him wandering the convention floor and ran over like a panting doofus.  I was smart enough to give him my new Falling Rock collection, but I wasn’t sure how best to convey how awesome I think he is.  This was the second time this year I’ve seen Scott – he made an unscheduled appearance at Stumptown.  Scott, the next time I see you I promise to be more eloquent.

I saw Seth Green two times: once signing autographs, and once wandering the convention floor with his wife.  He would have been swarmed if he got noticed, so I didn’t try to say hello.

Nate and I saw two mega-stars while eating lunch on Thursday.  David Hasselhoff was apparently promoting a new reality show.  He stood on the roof a double-decker bus, along with a group of dancing girls, shaking his tanned body and singing “Hooked on a Feeling.”  His bus was flanked by Knight Rider cars.  Kind of the definition of “publicity stunt.”  Soon after, our waitress shrieked and ran down the sidewalk.  She saw Emilio Estevez.  She got her picture taken with him, then came back and told us how bummed she was that she had to work the entire weekend.  Despite my description, she was a perfectly good waitress.

Although I didn’t see her personally, Isis and Alex told me that they saw Helen Mirren wearing a Harvey Pekar shirt.  Helen Mirren, if you read this blog know this: you are totally awesome.  Please visit Falling Rock National Park anytime.L1020221

I know.  You’re wondering what all this has to do with comics.  While Comic Con has become more about pop culture in general, it does manage to retain its comic-centeredness.  Most of the convention floor is devoted to booths about comics, either hosted by the creators or the publishers or retailers.  I ran into a number of cartoonists either by accident or by visiting their booths.  The number of serendipitous meetings leads me to believe there is a great positive energy generated by Comic Con.  I won’t try to explain it, but I know it is there.

A partial list, with links to guide you: Greg Means, Stephen Notley, James Sturm, Jeffrey Brown, Nate Powell, Bill Amend, Steve Lieber, Katie Cook, Paul Guinan & Anina Bennett, Raina Telgemeier, Stephen McCranie, Rudy Solis, Dylan Meconis, Dave Kellett.

Although long, this post feels like a snapshot of the full days and nights.  A complete write-up would probably feel more like Ulysses and less like a blog.  As an event, Comic Con is probably the biggest and best I’ve ever participated in.  As a place to meet and spend time with creative and smart people, Comic Con is probably second only to college.

Thanks for reading, and see you in San Diego next year.L1020228

bike stolen

Sorry for the lack of posts lately.  My bike was stolen the night before last and I’m really bummed.

Bike thieves are the scum of the earth.  I hope they get hit by a bus, and then after the bus stops all the passengers get out and use their backpacks and briefcases to beat the thieves.

This post is in memory of Trek 7.2 FX.  You were an awesome bike.

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friday robots

You’d think drawing on a grid would make my robots even more geometrical.  In my mind, though, grids were made to be broken.  Long may you run, Friday Robots.friday-robots-8-6-10 friday-robots-8-6-10-2

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welcome back to falling rock national park: SEASON 5

Welcome to Falling Rock National Park returns in one measly week!  I can hardly believe it myself; the summer just flew by.

This will be the fifth year of Falling Rock, the longest stretch of time I’ve drawn one comic strip.  My previous personal record was with The Family Monster, which lasted four years.  Even though the length of time is greater for Falling Rock, I drew more strips for The Family Monster because it ran five days a week year-round.  Since I moved to the McClatchy-Tribune Campus, I’ve drawn strips for college newspapers, and they have little need for material during the summer holiday.

Although you haven’t seen my mad cartooning skillz on display these past months, don’t mistake that for mere idleness.  I’ve been hard at work on my latest comic book, an 88-page adventure starring everyone’s favorite undead monsters.  I’m about halfway done inking it and will be shopping it around to publishers as soon as the final page is dry.  Soon, I hope!

What can we expect this year at Falling Rock National Park?  Will Carver’s ship finally come in? Will Ernesto overcome his fear of scorpions?  Will Dee have a meaningful conversation with another human being for once?  Will Pam become a bestselling author?  Will Melissa sell out and install her art at the BP Headquarters?  Stay tuned to my website for answers to these burning questions, and more.

It’s good to be back!

official registration

As of a few days ago, Falling Rock National Park has been officially recognized by the United States government.  Not as a real National Park – I think those need to have “acreage” and “indigenous flora and fauna” – but as books.  Last October I sent away to the Copyright Office to have both Great Wave of Falling Rock and Welcome to Falling Rock National Park (the self-titled third book) registered.  I’d like to see somebody try to steal all my good ideas now!  My army of lawyers will suck them dry.copyright-office1 copyright-office2

In addition to paying for the right for nobody to copy my books, I discovered I am in excellent company!  Over at the Copyright Search, you can find anyone who has registered for copyrights in these United States.  In the same exact search engine that brings up these two fine Falling Rock books (available for purchase!), you can find:

Bill Watterson

Paul McCartney

David Hasselhoff (it is illegal to hassle his autobiography, Don’t Hassle the Hoff)

Virginia Woolf

Zooey Deschanel

And so many more!  It’s actually a fun game to type in somebody’s name just to see what the Copyright Office brings up.  I’m proud to be in such fine company.

friday robots

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where i at

I’ll be at a number of conventions this fall!  If you haven’t met me in person yet, you still can.  [Note: if you don’t want to meet me in person just walk quickly by my table without making eye contact.]

Portland Zine Symposium, August 28-29, Portland, Oregon

Alternative Press Expo, October 16-17, San Francisco, California

Tucson Comic-Con, November 6, Tucson, Arizona

I know some of you live in the “Midwest” or the “Deep South” or the “East Coast.”  Those are all fine places to live, but it can be hard to meet in person with literally millions of miles* separating us. That is why I’m so excited for next spring, when I’ll be tabling with my friend/spirit animal Kenan Rubenstein at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) Art Festival, next April 9-10 in NEW YORK CITY.  It will be my first convention east of the Mississippi. (I plan on crossing that mighty river by airplane, rather than hiring a Native American to ferry my wagon across.)

Hopefully I’ll see many of you soon, or at least in the next 8 months. 

*Not literally.

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season five

2010-08-16-falling-rock-national-parkFalling Rock returns for Season 5 today.  I’m so happy to be back.  If you could see me you’d know I’m dancing from one foot to the other in giddy glee.  It’s really hard typing this way.

This strip, along with the next two weeks’ worth of strips, was actually drawn way back in May.  It’s nice to have these finally see the light of your computer screen/iPad/3-D glasses.

To start the year off right, I picked an episode talking about the Falling Rock park in general.  Carver is, as usual, angry at natural phenomena way beyond his powers.  Park Ranger Dee is simply liking her job, up until the owl outburst.  I think Dee’s love for her work is tempered by her frequent proximity to Carver.  They’re opposites in many ways.  Dee came to the park voluntarily while Carver was born there and cannot leave.  Dee is tall, feminine, young.  Carver is a short, angry man.  He’s older than Dee in owl years, but I’m really not sure how owl years work – it’s more complicated than Celsius to Fahrenheit, I know that much.

Of all the characters, Ernesto the lizard is able to absorb the most of Carver’s vitriol without stomping off.  Dee finds Carver interesting as a case study.  If she were a psychologist she’d probably follow him around all the time, then write a bestselling psychological profile on him.  As she is simply a Park Ranger, Dee mentally catalogs Carver’s moods and then goes back to her dorm where she can determine how much of it is an owl thing and how much is Carver.

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