Sorry, for the late post here, but getting caught up over the past two days has kept me busy. Throw in a washer giving up the sudsy ghost and… well…
Anyway, I thought a good way to finalize my thoughts on the 2007 OSU Festival of Cartoon Art would be to reply to the evaluation here at the blog. (I’ll also send it in of course.)
What did you enjoy about the festival?
I think the thing I liked most was just hanging with cartoonists en masse for a few days and recharging my cartoony batteries. I met so people I’d “met” online, but never in person, and it was particularly exciting for me that so many folks seemed to know who I was. Ego to power, inspiration to speed! (Cue MarkMan music!)
Were the presentations of interest to you? Why or why not?
To be honest, I did skip a few to get some time relaxing back up in my room, but I mostly attended everything, and it was generally all very good. I can think of a few speakers that didn’t exactly float my boat, but when you contrast that with some absolutely out of this world speakers, it more than balances out. I thought the topics were nicely varied, and there was even some tech for toony geeks like me!
What did you think about the exhibitions?
The stuff at the cartoon library was probably my favorite as it showed a lot of Caniff other than Terry and the Pirates (loved the letters!), but it’s hard to complain about big original Caniff over at the reception. All in all, very nice. And the library tour was great!
What did you think about the schedule? Did each speaker have enough time? Where the question and answer sessions long enough?
I thought the schedule was fine and I was very impressed by by how on-time everything was kept.
Who would you like to have as speakers at future events sponsored by the Cartoon Research Library?
I think a panel of independent cartoonists would be interesting. Be they gag, web, whatever, but cartoonists who don’t work for a syndicate, newspaper, etc… I wanna see people entirely self-sufficient.
Did you enjoy being at the Renaissance for the conference? Why or why not?
I enjoyed it immensely. The accomodations were great, and being able to skip a presentation here or there to relax and/or catch up on work in my work was fantastic!
Any suggestions or ideas?
Perhaps some tables in back with outlets for laptops jockeys like myself?
8:55 – Just finished up having coffee and a croissant with Stephanie Piro, Anne Gibbons, Sandra Bell-Lundy, Stacy Curtis, Kim Warp and a bunch of other folks. Lots of talk of people who want you to illustrate their children’s books, people who want cartoons for free, and other cartooning annoyances.
9:00 – Quick look around and other than the sound guy, I think I’m the only one here on a laptop. Weird…
9:07 – OK, here come the graphic novel publishers. Looks like it’s gonna be a fair amount of Q&A. I wonder if I can come up with anything that even sounds semi-intelligent. The Diana Schutz is beginning and is giving a little history of DH. David Saylor from Scholastic is giving a little background on book clubs, book fairs, and the like. Talking about reading a lot of comics when he was a kid and rediscovering them later. Telling about Bone’s recent success. The Babysitter’s Club books are being made into graphic novels/comics now. Talk about full circle considering the books’ author is Henry Martin’s daughter. (Any way I can turn that into an intelligent question?!) Gary Groth from Fantagraphics is speaking now about The Comics Journal, Love and Rockets, Crumb, etc… Lucy asks if “we’re stuck with the term ‘graphic novel?’” Groth answers that he’s not fond of it and sees it as a marketing term, but all agree that we seem to be stuck with it. Lucy asks about the mainstream media’s acceptance of the form. Schutz and Groth agree that there simply needed to be enough material for publishers/retailers to create the ‘graphic novel’ category. Lucy asks about manga’s influence. Groth suggests manga is 80% of the graphic novel market and 20% is everything else, and, largely, the two groups almost never overlap in readership. Lucy asks about finding new talent. Saylor says he gets a lot of recommendations from other artists, and a lot from word of mouth. Groth says he sees a lot via press conventions. Schutz agrees with both and discusses “overnight success” being years of really really hard work. I wonder if I could come up with a coherent question about humor books. A guy asks about web piracy. Saylor says “piracy sucks,” and Groth suggests that it’s difficult to stop isn’t really concerned about it. He comments on the sort of free promotion aspect of it too; promotion they don’t necessarily have to be involved in. I wish I’d asked about longer form humor, but I never go the chance. Oh well…
10:00 – Back up the room for a laptop recharge and some more coffee.
11:00 – Ray Billingsley – Speaking about his family and early inspirations. Telling a story about finding a girl in his brother’s bed, early experiences with vodka/asthma, and hiding scrambled eggs in his brother’s pants. Talking about how cartooning saved him from problems his friends had fallen prey to. Ray’s a really good speaker; he’s got the crowd very much in his hand. I was on a panel with Ray a while back that Mike Lynch put together and he was such a nice guy. Lucy made mention of some recent illness, but Ray seems to be feeling well and having fun. Talking about meeting Mort Walker while sporting a giant afro. Curtis is his second strip. A lot about working hard and rejection. Discussing working Kwanzaa into the strip. On mentor, teacher & friend Eisner, lovingly, “that brother was never moved by anything I did.” Talking about an early play-writing class and his interest in storytelling. I want to ask “where’s the Curtis collections?” Ray just mentioned “if I had a book thing I’d show you, but I don’t” and you can tell… Oop! Someone just asked about books! Regarding himself and other black cartoonists “we don’t get the same sort of respect, we don’t get the same opportunities…” You can tell Ray’s upset by the lack of a book deal. Mentions Boondocks and says “…it reinforced the stereotype of the angry black man.” Mort Walker asks about Ray’s gallbladder attack, Ray says you will see it in the strip; lots of laughs. Class act all the way, really really fun presentation. You can tell that people could keep asking questions and Ray could keep telling stories for a good long time. Discussing designing a character, Derek, via a simple circle with Schulz. Telling a story about his barber grandfather cutting off his afro. Talking about moving from Wake Forest to Harlem as a boy. Lucy asks about controversial strips. Ray explains “The Stinky Middle Finger” story line. Now a story about Curtis meeting a rabbi and the mail that ensued. Story about defending himself against angry people on a radio call-in show. Resounding applause for Ray, and well-deserved.
12:00 – Mike Peters – I’ve been a fan of Peters for a long time. I stole my thick line from him and I just love that look. Begins by discussing showing up at the wrong building, forgetting his slides and notes, trying to get into the cartoon library, driving over to the hotel to give his speech… funny! Exuberant is the word. Talking about being dyslexic before being dyslexic was cool. I’ve never seen Mike speak before, but you can tell he’s really comfortable in front of a crowd. Explaining avoiding nuns over summer break. Telling story about his mother who had a TV show in St. Louis growing up and being “little Mike.” Story about having his hair cut in front of everyone in military school and realizing only later that he was supposed to be embarrassed. Talking about the “bricks” that make you into a cartoonist. Discussing potentially flunking out of art school while dating the dean of students’ daughter and the advice he got. Onto showing cartoons… Tells a story about coming up with cartoon ideas. The space shuttle, its plane, and the Wright Brothers and how he almost missed doing that cartoon while trying to come up with a Kissinger gag. Explaining brainstorming and his spoked wheel approach. Remembering the OJ trial and Ito mentioning one of his cartoons on TV and discussing it with the jury. Wow, Peters is a hoot! I’ve heard people described as a “strong cup of coffee,” and I think that applies to Mike. What fun! Showing his favorite cartoons now. I’m gonna tape this… I’ll try to post it in a day or two.
2:00 – OK I’m back, Nick Anderson is starting now. Mentions he went here to Ohio State; neat! Showing an x-ray of his recently broken thumb. Showing a pic of his Cintiq. Showing a video from his blog showing how he managed to draw with a broken hand. Hey, another cartoonist with a blog! Discussing the evolution of cartoon technology: erasing pencils, a light box, etc… Showing his process technologically. I wonder how many people in the audience think this is space age stuff. The presentation is really nicely done. I’m assuming in Keynote. Talking about hiding his childrens’ names in his cartoons. Says it remind him of what’s important every day. OK, so why use this technology? Nick explains it’s a huge time saver and he’s got a lot to get done. Nick’s responsible for policing his blog’s comments?! Yeesh! Says editorial cartoonists are graphic storytellers, but it takes place over a long period of time little by little. Nice point. Showing some older art. Some really great stuff. Now onto animation; cool! Ahh… they have someone do the animation FOR him. Oop, he’s in powerpoint? On a Mac? OK, after some tech problems, he’s got some animated stuff for us to see now. Showing a sort of Flash video game/cartoon. That’s is freakin’ fantastic! What a great idea! I dunno that you could do that every day, but still… God this SO makes me want to do some Flash! VERY cool stuff. Showing us the process. Now some simpler animations. Man oh man, neat stuff. I wonder how other editorial cartoons feel about these? Showing some 3D animation stuff in Maya. I’m less impressed with the “My Humps” thingy, but, wow, you gotta admire the stretching the boundaries of the medium. Just played a take-off on Feel Good Inc.. I’m not sure these longer animations are as effective, but holy cow, this is really some forward thinking. I wonder if he has to get permissions for all of these songs and photos? Mentions he has to do a lot himself to get this stuff to work. I want to ask a question about permissions, I’ll see if we have time. Showing some Painter stuff live. Hooray, I got to ask my permissions question, and my heart didn’t jump out of my chest. Seemed like Nick thought it was an intelligent question. (Hooray for me!) OK, I gotta check out Nick’s site and get more knowledgeable about his stuff. Perhaps a kindred soul. Harvey asked about the whole Pulitzer thing, Nick gives a good answer. Looks like we’re finishing up questions. Wow, what a GREAT presentation. I would so love to see a whole festival based around this sort of thing!
3:00 – Back in my room for a break and realized I forgot to get a pic at the Nick Anderson thing. Grr! But I did get a chance to talk to Groth outside the room about the potential for longer form humor. Felt like I got sort of a blow-off answer, but I’m sure this guy’s getting deluged with people hassling him. Anyway, he suggested I check out some Peter Bagge, and I really should. See you at 3:45.
3:50 – Alison Bechdel – OK, got a fresh charge on the laptop and I’m ready to go. Alison is starting out with Dykes to Watch Out For. Said part of the appeal for her 25 years was that comics were soothingly obscure and she could void criticism. Asking herself why she does this: she doesn’t want to bore people and this gets her info across quickly and effectively. “It’s easier to read a cartoon than to not read it.” Wanted to see herself and her generation in a comic. Talks about self-syndication in the 80′s. Able to do this full-time by the time she was 30. Explains the very wide nature of her strip. Looking at some really great art. I so love stuff like this in only black and white. I could never command crosshatching and larger black areas this well. Beginning to discuss Fun Home. Wow, some amazing art. A book I really need to make some time to explore. Comments it was interesting to write something with a concrete end, unlike an ongoing strip. On to the technical process. Showing an example of her handwriting font. Writes in Illustrator, drawing empty boxes, and placing text first. Neat idea! Gotta remember this. Prints it out and does pencil sketches. Showing some family photos. Does shading on a separate piece of paper. Curious to hear why later. Neat video of her doing the watercolor shading on a light desk over the line art. Takes a lot of photos for reference. Says she’s become more and more photo dependent. Wow some really neat stuff here, and inspiring too. Again I’m wondering if a graphic novel is something I should consider?! Now a reading from the book. Could I do a book telling an entire story in gag cartoons? Could you do a narrative that way? Wow, a kinda low key, but thoroughly engaging presentation. Questions now. Book took 7 years to finish. Holy ka-moley! Did it off and on while doing her strip. Says her new memoir is going badly and she shouldn’t even be here. Doing a lot of self-psychoanalytic research now. “Sounds like fun, huh?” Says she’s trying work from photos more loosely now. Question about her blog. Says she needs to be in the right mood for such immediate feedback but that its often inspiring and she likes it. Another blogger. Speaking about the bleaker landscape for selling Dykes. Says “Fun Home” isn’t really therapy for herself. Question about issues with her family regarding the book. “They weren’t so keen on it.” Not the “after-school special fantasy” she hoped for. Says her family doesn’t talk about the book. Wow, another really good presentation. Today was chock full of good stuff.
9:00 – Just got back from dinner with everyone and had a great time. I know everyone is meeting in the bar downstairs, but I think I’m just gonna kick back, maybe watch a movie, let my feet breathe, and get ready to fly out at an ungodly hour in the morning. I figure I’ll write sort of a nice wrap-up tomorrow or the next day.
Sorry that a lot of these are sorta crappy, but the room had kinda lousy lighting for pics. I tried the enhance thingy in iPhoto with varying degrees of success.
Gotta love this ad for Terry and the Pirates!
The remembering Caniff panel.
A wall at the little Venezuelan place I had lunch.
I dunno if it’s ironic, or just plain weird, but Grimace, Snoopy, and what appears to be a Bart Simpson of color required a photo.
A few pics from Rall’s presentation
I dunno why, but this shot in the library reminds me of that last warehouse shot in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
I’m in Columbus, Ohio for a few days attending the OSU Festival of Cartoon Art! Woo-hoo!
It looks like there’s going to be a LOT of great stuff, although it’s gonna be tough topping me and the Mrs. chatting it up with Lynn Johnston at the 2001 festival.
Anyway, I’m looking to pseudo-liveblog this as much as time, available electrical outlets, and wi-fi will allow, so stay tuned and feel free to check back on this post throughout the day.
9:05 – Just had coffee and chatted with Benita Epstein, Stacy Curtis, Kim Warp, Stephanie Piro, and too many other folks to mention and/or remember. Wow! Too much fun! The welcoming thingy is starting now.
9:10 – Brian Walker s talking about comics leading up to Caniff. Lots of amazing slide of early strips and their travel motifs. Now moving into adventure strips. Some great Captain Easy stuff from Roy Crane. There’s so many strips and artists here that I just don’t know anything about. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever really get to dig into all of this. Now onto Caniff. Fascinating to see the original ad introducing Terry and the Priates. And then the first Sunday strip! (Pictures coming soon!) Man, look at all that Caniff inky goodness. Wow! God, I could never do shadows and light like that. Just amazing stuff! I’m so glad I came; I think I’m gonna learn a LOT this weekend!
9:50 – The Caniff panel is taking the stage (Arnold Roth is thought to be out smoking somewhere) Mort Walker is telling a story about doing a caricature of President Johnson with Caniff. Peter Poplaski is talking about (here comes Roth) buying paper with Caniff. Arnold is defending his “lateness” (this panel started a bit early) by saying that freelancers should never send in their work early. I know it’s cliche, but I’m struck that Roth sort of looks like one of his characters. Caniff apparantly used to say “and it all starts with that boy in the attic, drawing and dreaming, and hoping that someday…” So true. Walker remembers a joke about Caniff’s voice and that “it was so high, it could only be heard by a tall dog.” Harvey discusses the Dragon Lady, and her “predecessor,” Moonshadow, a female pirate in Vampires of the China Coast â€“ now that’s a title! Roth remembers an NCS Christmas party with Caniff where they gave an Amateur Cartoonist Extraordinaire (ACE) award to Pete Hamill who read a letter from when he was 15 telling Caniff what he could do to improve the strip. Walker reads a letter he wrote to Caniff when he was 13. Wow! Lucy pipes up that Mort’s letter is on display in the exhibit. Mort says Caniff gave him advice: 1) add a pretty girl 2) don’t draw backgrounds in a fight seen 3) don’t draw a real tank, draw your impression of a tank. Poplaski contrasts Caniff’s heroes to then emerging popular anti-heroes and underground comics. Apparently the strongest language Caniff could use was “bleepin’!” in the strip. Harvey talks about Caniff intentionally provoking readers and gag-a-day comics replacing continuity/adventure strips. This is really a fun panel and I’m gonna have to dig further into some Caniff. Mort talks about Caniff roasting him and presenting him with a toilet seat with Mort’s picture under the lid. Harvey discusses how Caniff would write after midnight so as not to be disturbed doing “the dirty work.” Arnold talks about Caniff chalk talks with pretty girls. Mort talks about Caniff testifying for him in federal tax court. Apparently Caniff read Mort’s strips to the court (to much laughter) and the judge later mentioned that this was the best trial he’d ever had. Harvey talks about Mauldin remembering Caniff leaving poker games, NCS functions and the like to draw Terry. Now some talk about Caniff inking an assistant’s penciling. Mort shows art Caniff sent to him for his 80th birthday. Question time and the panel is finishing up. Harvey answers a question about Caniff and “Dr. Strangelove.” Now a story about Caniff being visited by the FBI because of a strip showing an invasion of Burma that, by coincidence, was happening the next day. Wow! Also a story that ends in Caniff asking the FBI “so where did you get your Happy Valley?!” (Too long a story to explain here, but a great way to end this post.)
11:15 – After a long-delayed flight, and that restless first night in a hotel sleep, I’m takin’ some down time. Can’t wait for the Ted Rall thing at 2:00! Lemme know if you want pics of my lunch.
1:45 – I strolled about the lobby before the upcoming presentation and looked at name tags. I have to assume a lot of other folks are doing it too, but it still feels weird. Looking forward to Ted Rall…
2:00 – Ted Rall is starting out showing some of his editorial cartoons. Mentioning “Idiocracy”‘ Ted’s reading some more of his cartoons. Now discussing switching over to longer form graphic novels. I’m gonna have to check out some of Ted’s books. Talking about Joe Sacco and graphic journalism. Suggests that work like Sacco’s is “more real than real.” this sort of thing would be fascinating to do, but I dunno how you’d even start. I wonder if I have a graphic novel in me. What would I talk about?! Bio comics have been done to death… Anyway… I love the look of Ted’s stuff. Now he’s discussing “Silk Road to Ruin.” Looks fascinating, if a little intimidating. Mentions again how he feels drawings come across as more real to him than photos. I’m still thinking about what sort of graphic novel I might write. Probably a good idea to wait until the kids are in school, but I sorta want to strike while the iron is hot. Ugh… I’m so off topic again. I like how Rall uses photos in this book amongst and, in many cases, inside the cartoons. Ted’s showing a page from an upcoming more autobiographical book with a Spanish artist. Questions now… I always feel stupid a question time. Stephanie Piro’s husband is asking a really good question right now (I just met him a bit back, but I’m pretty sure it’s him). Man oh man, so much of this goes right over my head. I think I’m kinda a simple guy, which makes me wonder about my graphic novel possibilities again. Ted’s talking about not putting his cartoons on the covers of his book to help it not be banished to humor sections in bookstore. Making a note of that! Discussing Mauldin, Thurber, Feiffer a bit now… Really good talk, and lots to think about, consider, and even plan.
2:45 – Jessica Abel is on now with Notes on Storytelling. Discussing “Junkie,” her first real story and finding things to write about. Mentions she was an English major. Says an Archie Double Digest helped her decode some basic narrative techniques. I think I’ve heard this before, maybe from Mike Lynch(?). Note to self – get an Archie comic sometime soon. I’m hoping this talk will inspire me or give me some sort of graphic novel idea. She’s discussing a book called Radio that she did with Ira Glass. Cool! I definitely have to check out this one! I LOVE This American Life! Mentions she has a new books coming regarding narrative structure. 3:07 and now she’s asking for questions.
3:45 Note – the liveblogging shuts down here as we all head over to campus for tours and the reception. More later…
4:00 – The Cartoon Research Library – Wow, what a great bunch of Caniff stuff. I particularly liked liked seeing letters he’d received and cartoons he’d be given by other cartoonists. Took a really nice tour of their collection in back too. What I wouldn’t give to have that place to myself for a day.
Went over to the reception and got to see a ton of Caniff originals. OK, this stuff is well before my time, and I can’t say the stories grab me particularly, but man oh man you gotta love all that ink. There’s just something amazing about seeing original art like this, warts and all. OK, especially the warts.
Got an opportunity to talk to Hilary Price for a little while (who very kindly informed me I had something on my lip) and tried to answer some website/database questions for her. Not sure how clear I was, but I mailed her some details later. She’s always so nice.
Seeing her reminded me of meeting Jay Kennedy for the first time at OSU six years ago. What a great guy. I think a lot of folks are missing him today.
Also got a couple of good chance to hang out with Stacy Curtis and his wife. We talked about cartoonists we admire, what we’re sending clients for giffts, etc… It’s so nice to finally meet him and get a chance to talk.
Had a really fun chat with New Yorker cartoonist Michael Shaw on the bus back to the hotel. What a great guy. It’s so funny when gag cartoonists get talking, because invariably, at some point, they start shooting gags back and forth. I don’t know what that is, but it’s always a hoot.
I gotta say, this first day has just been wonderful. I’ve been surprised again that people know who the heck I am. Most people seem to associate me with the blog first and foremost, but I got a lot of “oh, Mark Anderson. I see your stuff everywhere” too, which was fun.
I’m so glad I came, and it feels so different from six years ago when I was a walking bundle of nerves. I dunno that I’m ever gonna be a big name in cartooning, but I think this is the most accepted by the community at large that I’ve ever felt.
OK, off to bed. More tomorrow.