Archive for the ‘Conventions’ Category

SPX and the adventure of the man-purse

October 2, 2011

So a few weeks ago I went to SPX, the Small Press Expo, which, as its name implies, is about indy comics. Everything from one-person self publishers to “biggies” like Top Shelf. (The quotation marks weren’t meant to be a slur at all. Top Shelf is great and “big” in many respects, it just that it’s not huuuuuuge in the traditional sense.)

The biggest question when going to an event such as this is: Which man-purse am I going to use?

Yep, I call it a “man-purse.” Not a satchel or messenger bag.

And, yep, I have numerous man-purses.

Most of the ones I have came from other countries – a fact I use as a defense if someone gives me lip about it. And they are also different in size and what they can carry. For my trip to SPX I needed to be able to carry a couple of bricks of postcards (for the Jay Kennedy Scholarship and for my personal projects like Infant Fred and Dadding Badly) to leave on the freebie table. (Do I need to explain the freebie table? You’re all intelligent folks, right?) I also wanted to take a couple of Bo Nanas books with me in case I see someone I want to give one to. And, y’know, I might just want to buy some stuff.

So those were the perimeters. Looking on the hooks inside my studio’s closet door, I knew I needed something like a soft-sided briefcase. I have a couple (not from other countries) but they either had stuff in them or were just not to be found without a major search. (And since I’ve cleaned my studio for baby-proofing, there’s even more stuff in the already-bursting closet, making finding anything that’s not floating on the surface tricky.) So in the end, there was only one bag that fit the bill:


This is a bag I got as a holiday gift from my friends at MAD Magazine, which happens to be owned by DC Comics. The problem is, I don’t want to be “that guy.” (This is along the lines of my abandoned Summer T-shirt Spectacular!! experiment.) I don’t want to look like I’m advertising my comics nerdom. Although I’m not ashamed of it. (Or am I? Hmmm.) That aside, I didn’t want to be wearing the logo of one of the big two mainstream comics companies at an indy comic con and to be secretly sneered at by cooler-than-me hipsters. (Or outwardly sneered at for that matter.) So what to do? Simple – I’d just wear the man-purse with the logo facing in.

The problem is that the logo is on the flap so to get inside you have to maneuver a bit to get it open. To make this easier on myself I figured I’d just leave the flap unflapped, hanging to the outside. After all, this would mean that only the inside of the flap is showing and the logo is on the outside so it can’t be seen…… right?

Well, this is what it looked like.


So not only was it evident that I was wearing this logo, it was obvious that I was try to hide it.

What a nerd.

OSU Festival of Cartoon Art

October 14, 2010


I’ll be at the Ohio State University’s Festival of Cartoon Art for the next couple of days. It’s sold out but I think there are some public events.

What I’m (re)reading – The Spirit

April 5, 2010

In 1998 Will Eisner spoke at Ohio State University’s Festival of Cartoon Art (it’s October 14-17 – and it’s only every three years – so don’t miss it). During the Q&A a 16-year-old boy stood up and announced that he had skipped school to come hear Eisner talk.

That made me feel better about the future.

An honor to be nominated…

October 12, 2009

Surprise, surprise. Just found out this morning that two of my books (APPEELING: The Best of Bo Nanas and Jack N. Box) are finalists for the SPACE prize. (Who knew you got presents on Columbus Day?)

(Wait a sec. SPACE is based in Columbus, OH. Now I understand how the universe works.)

SPX memories 2009

October 6, 2009

100_8143 Doug Bratton and John Kovaleski by mgrhode1.

Doug and I bumping elbows while we sign books.
Photo courtesy of
comics scholar Mike Rhode, from his ComicsDC blog.

Had a great time at the Small Press Expo last weekend. (Well, it was really the weekend before last. You know how I like to be timely.) Just a couple of bulleted points:

• My table partner was Doug Bratton of Pop Culture Shock Therapy and we couldn’t have had a nicer time. (And his wife Pam tracked down lunch for us both days. Extra points.) We had a couple of moments of near-disaster as we set up Doug’s jerry-rigged PVC pipe display. It fell over three times. I swear our neighbors started a pool about when it would fall and kill a hipster.

• Speaker of hipsters – it looks like handlebar mustaches are making a comback. Can straw boaters and sleeve garters be far behind?
• Got to have dinner with R. (but you can call him “Bob”) Sikoryak and Marek Bennett and finally got to put face-to-name of Chris Mautner (of Robot Six) and Johanna Draper Carlson (of ComicsWorthReading).

• A very nice lady flipped through one of my Bo books and I did my spiel, “It’s about a talking monkey in the human world.” She said she didn’t see any monkeys in the book. I said I personally guarantee that there is at least one monkey in each and every strip. (Doug said maybe she thought my monkey drawing was a dog. I told him that my friend Chuck often jokes that I’m actually drawing Alf.)

• We were talking in depth about comic strips with a very nice guy and then all of a sudden I said “I gotta go to the bathroom” and lit off. I had no choice. (I believe it was a roast beef wrap I had. It didn’t smell or taste bad but I must confess, the meat was kinda gray.)

• I brought a book with me by a certain cartoonist who was a SPX special guest to have it signed for a certain little boy (who occasionally read this blog so I’m being cagey). It didn’t seem like the certain cartoonist had any times listed for signing and I didn’t want to be one of “those guys” who stalks a certain cartoonist, then pounces for an autograph. I was bitching about this to Doug when, low and behold, the certain cartoonist came right down our aisle. Case closed.

• There was only one time that I was away from our table for an extended period. When I came back Doug told me that a woman wearing a t-shirt that said “math is delicious” stopped by. She was very excited because she recognized Bo from the Washington Post and said she would come back. Guess what? She never did. My faith has been shaken – I no longer believe that “math is delicious.”

Comic Con- Part 6 – Dress-up

August 5, 2009

And what would Comic Con be without costumes?

• My hands-down fav was the bunny suit my friend/colleague Rich Moyer specifically bought to pick up another friend/colleague Sean Parkes at the airport. Then he wore it the rest of the day.

• I think the most common costume was Wonder Woman. I saw it on a toddler and a 70+ year-old woman.

• While sitting in our booth two brothers dressed as Superman came from the left while another guy dressed as Superman came from the right. The three Supermans (or “mens”) met, chatted for a moment, then couldn’t go anywhere because everyone wanted to take their picture. (Which seems to be the reason why one dresses up for CC.) I wanted to pool our money and pay them to fight it out to see who was the real Superman.

• Saw a number of Steampunk adventurer outfits – sort of Jules Verne-y with ol’ timey gadgets – that were impressive. I liked the guy who wore a running clockwork on his chest.

• A few Slave Girl Leia costumers had a little trouble, uh…keeping it all PG rated

• I was proud that I recognized three guys as being dressed as extras from the zombies-as-pets horror comedy “Fido” complete with light-up, don’t-eat-the-humans control collars.

• Saw a couple of “husky” guys dressed as film maker Kevin Smith – baggy shorts, long coat, backwards baseball cap, beard. But, considering the possible nerd wardrobes, maybe it wasn’t a costume at all.

• People took all this very seriously. There wasn’t a lot of ironic costumes. No really skinny guys painted Hulk green, holding up stretched-out purple pants. Although one guy had a superhero costume made from found objects including a towel for a cape. He had a piece of notebook paper on his chest that read “Budget Man.”

• And to finish up my Comic con round-up, here’s another funny pic of Rich. Isn’t he cute?

Comic Con- Part 5 – Consumerism

August 4, 2009

I wasn’t planning on buying much at Comic Con besides my friend R. Sikoryak‘s new book Masterpiece Comics. I was looking for a trade paperback of this odd British superhero comic called “Jack Staff.” I found a place that had half-price trades, and this was my downfall. The next day they had marked them down to $5, which was even more my downfaller. And not only did they have Jack Staff, they had way too many trades of another character by the same author. Here’s what I got:

• Jack Staff Vol 2 by Paul Grist

• Five books of “Kane” also by Paul Grist

• Six Mike Mignola books (Hellboy, BPRD, Lobster Johnson) Stupidly I bought two of the same.

• Three Windsor McCay reprints

• A Sin City I didn’t have.

• League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Vol 3, I think)

• A bio of Will Eisner

• Rocketo Vol 2 by Frank Espinosa

• Joss Wedon’s Fray for my wife

• And a rare DVD collection of the Steve Canyon TV series put together by Milt Caniff’s estate.

I bought so much I had to make sure I sold/gave away/burned enough of the books I brought to balance out the weight of books I was bringing home.

Comic Con- Part 4 – Doin’ stuff

August 3, 2009
The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Not a pic of me and Tom Richmond and me signing at the DC Comics booth, but since it's a bald guy (actually Grant Morrison) and a non-bald guy at a DC comics booth, it is a reasonable facsimile

• Spent a fair amount of time at the National Cartoonist Society’s booth (whose number I had screwed up on the blog – hope you all found me). I was selling my books and pimping some NCS t-shirts and bags leftover from our last two conventions. I’m pretty good at selling other people’s merch (having honed my skills doing so for Witches in Bikinis).

• On Thursday, before opening, I was walking around, noticed that DC had stacks of free MADs out (DC owns MAD, BTW) so I mentioned that Tom Richmond and I had flexible schedules and, faster that you could say “usual gang of idiots,” we were scheduled for a signing that day. We signed MADs and drew sketches. (I did my “Me, Myself and My Puppet” characters. I did one very poor Alfred E. Newman). It went great – lots of people, all very appreciative. It went so well they scheduled another one on Sunday. (Can anyone find any photos of it out there on the web? There were a number of people clicking away.)

• At the end of the day on Sunday, R. Sikoryak and I were part of The Cartoon Art Museum’s Third Annual Sketch-A-Thon. Some people had ordered drawings of their own character (we both drew a clothed mermaid), some requested a specific famous character (I did a Spiderman) and some bought one that were already done (like the Flash-with-walker I drew.)

Comic Con – Part 3 – People, famous and otherwise

July 31, 2009
Cartoonists at dinner...

From bottom left clockwise: Daryl Cagle (, Jenny Robb (Ohio State Cartoon Library), Jeff Koterba (Omaha Herald editorial cartoonist), me eating, Glenn McCoy ("The Duplax," "The Flying McCoys"), Sean Parkes (illustrator/cartoonis), Piotr Walczuk (caricaturist/voice actor), Rich Moyer (animator/cartoonist), Jeff Keane ("The Family Circus"), Young Tom Richmond, Original Tom Richmond (MAD), Susie Cagle (cartoonist). (Photo courtesy Tom Richmond the Elder)

• Not going to any wait-in-line-for-hours panels nor being in the part of the exhibit hall where the big media play, I didn’t really see any famous people. Some of my friends (above) are kinda famous yet attract little in the way of paparazzi.

• I did catch of glimpse of Jennifer Love Hewitt. She was in a booth that was surrounded by counter, which in turn was surrounded by fanboys six deep. She looked like a scared deer.

• I was at the panel of editorial cartoonist Pat Oliphant. The live drawings he did of priests, Bill Clinton and Sarah Palin (not all together) would not be considered “safe for work.”

• Went to the Pop Perversity panel featuring my friend R. Sikoryak. Afterwards Bob invited me out to dinner with his friends, who are some high-end folks. To my right was the amazing cartoonist Carol Lay. To my left was screenwriter Ted Alcott (“Ants”). And across from me was Bob’s-former-roommate-now-actor James Urbaniak (Robert Crumb in “American Splendor”).

• I only heard about this: At the Stephan Pastis (“Pearls Before Swine”) panel someone asked him what other cartoonists’ reactions are when he makes fun of their well-established features. From the back a cartoonist of a well-established feature yelled, “Screw you, Pastis!” (Told to me by the aforementioned  cartoonist of a well-established feature.)

Comic Con – Part 2

July 30, 2009

• Did you hear that there were a a lot of people at Comic Con? It’s true. I lived to see it. Unfortunately, there often times would be so many people that browsing seemed impossible. Actually, seeing seemed impossible. The Ironman suits above? Didn’t see them on Preview Night. “Couldn’t see them” is probably a more appropriate phrase. With my exhibitor badge I could walk around before the show opened up and that became my MO.

• There were a number of pre-recorded announcements that were played in the exhibit hall including, “There is no running at Comic Con.” When I first heard that I though, is that really necessary? It was. At opening time there would be a mad dash of people looking to get freebies before they’re gone.

• One the the most prevalent freebies was the giant tote bag (emblazoned with advertisements, of course.) It’s basically a couple of feet tall by a couple of feet wide to carry all your booty. I saw a woman who had taken a couple from a year past (pimping “Smallville”) and had sewn them into a dress.

• I got a regular-sized tote bag from some horror movie booth that is white with blood dripping all over it. I can’t wait to tote my groceries in it here in my small town.

• There was also a fair amount of promotion going on outside of the convention center. Billboard trucks, a “Heroes” carnival, fliers galore. A restaurant I had breakfast in had been completely “branded” by the Scyfy network. Signs, menus, tabletops, TVs everywhere playing commercials for their shows. I was a little suspect that it wasn’t even a real restaurant. Figured it might be an empty storefront by Monday morn; a few typoed logos strewn on the floor .