Posts Tagged ‘Travels’

My travels – Part 1 – MoCCA

June 17, 2009

Man, have I been traveling a ton this last month. As a matter of fact, I was on the road (or in the air, or on train tracks, or sleeping on an air mattress at a friend’s apartment) for 15 out of 19 days. Just too much. I’m happy to be home till Comic Con.

In order, these were the events I went to: The National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben Weekend, Book Expo and MoCCA. Since MoCCA is the most recent (two weeks ago), I’ll hit that first and the others (hopefully) next week. (Yep, I’m not very timely and thus a bad, bad blogger.)

I mooched a place to stay off of my friends Bob (professionally known as “R.”) Sikoryak and Kriota Willberg. Bob is quite well-known in the “alternative comics scene” and it was fun to tag along with him and experience an area of comics I don’t know nearly enough about.

And now the bullet points:

• MoCCA moved from the Puck Building to the Amory on Lexington. It’s big joint where you could systematically see every table but, man, was it hot.

• Got to sit near my friend Marek Bennett who just put out a new book on a Xeric grant. A “block” away way was Brendan Burford whose newest edition of “Syncopated” was just published by Villard Press. Marek, Brendan and I all play ukulele (me just barely). Brendan even had his with him. It seems to be a popular instrument among cartoonists, which leads me to…

• Sunday night’s “Comic Strip Serenade” at a joint out in Brooklyn. Put together by a couple of comics historians, it was a performance of early 20th century sheet music inspired by comic strips like Pogo, Barney Google, The Gumps and Krazy Kat. And, my oh my, were there are a lot of ukes involved. As a matter of fact, the last piece was music that was an integral part of a comic strip called “Them Days Are Gone Forever” and featured not one, not two, not three, but four, count ’em, four ukuleles!

• And a big shout out to reader Dorian, who I’ve christened the “MoCCA Weekend’s #1 Bo Nanas fan” for coming to the show to see me. (I am always shocked and amazed when anyone comes specifically to see me at these things, such is my humbleness and meager level of fame.). She was kind enough to pick up a Bo book and the new Great Scott book. Unfortunately I’d forgotten to bring Bo buttons with me so I mailed her one with a sketch as a “thank you.”

How I spent my summer vacation – part 1

October 22, 2008

The usual crack you hear as a cartoonist is, “Isn’t every day a vacation for you?”

The answer is, of course, yes. And now on with the post…

So let’s start off with this: my wife is very smart. She’s got a doctorate and all that. (Whereas I have a weeny 4-year degree, in art no less.) And she got a Fulbright to teach in Paraguay for three months this past summer. I went down to visit her for two weeks. (I’m just going to stick to the cartooning aspects of the trip so I’ll skip over the heart-breaking loneliness of the other 10 weeks at home.)

I’ll get to cartooning-related adventures in Paraguay in another post. Right now it’s on to Buenos Aries, Argentina. We took a short trip there just a few days after I arrived. It was unfortunately rainy and, even more unfortunately, I had holes in both my sneakers and my shoes. (I wore plastic bags on my feet the whole time there.) We stayed in a swanky mod hotel (where the wok-shaped sink could soak you fast if you turned on the water too hard) and had great food at very inexpensive prices.

Walking around the hip area surrounding our hotel, I noticed a lot of stenciled graffiti, much of it cartoon-related.

(The graffiti below is not cartooning-related, but is indeed silly.)

On a cab ride back to our hotel (a cab ride so cheap it would make a hardened New Yorker weep) we glanced a comic shop. We were able to triangulate our position and find it on foot the next day. Walking in you would have thought it was any hole-in-the-wall nerd haven in the US. Marvel and DC stuff was everywhere (although translated into Spanish). My wife, who fortunately speaks Spanish (told you she was smart), asked the owner if he had any specifically Argentinian comics. She explained that we were Americans and that I was a cartoonist. (Odd. He had never heard of me.) He spoke a bit of English and had even been to Comic-Con years ago. He pulled out a box and started recommending books. One was “El Eternauta” a collection of a science fiction comic strip from the 50’s that mirrors a lot of the country’s history. It’s even taught in schools.

Other books I bought there just cuz they looked cool – a Dickenesque prequel to Peter Pan and a fun-looking Medieval tale with a rhino knight.

We had a game plan of walking across the city towards the much trendier shopping section. It didn’t seem to be our cup of tea but it was a goal.

In our travels we stumbled upon an English-language bookstore. There wasn’t much in the way of comics but I did pick up a collection of Mafalda comic strips. Mafalda was created by a cartoonist who went by the name Quino (he was also an editorial cartoonist). Reading it you can tell that it was heavily influenced by Peanuts in both its art style and subject matter (little kids talking about weighty matters). It started in the 60’s, ended in the 70’s and still runs in many South American newspapers.

We got to trendyland and it was actually a quite cool open-air mall. Oh yeah, and it had bookstores. A few had teeny humor sections so I almost skipped one of the last ones. Glad I didn’t – it was the mother load. There was so much stuff (from comic strips to comics history to crime comics) that I’m surprised I got out of there with only one book.

I bought the first collection of Macanudo which is just so charming and funny (my wife reads it to me) and the Mutts-like retro style art is really wonderful. (While searching for this book cover on the web I found that the cartoonist, Liniers, has a blog. It’s in Spanish, but still.)

Next installment (or two): I teach kids and teachers, hang out with Paraguayan cartoonists and become a media darling for a day.