Seiichi Hayashi from Japan, Charles Glaubitz from Mexico, Jason from Norway–every time I attend Comic-Con I encounter at least one international artist with jaw-dropping, original talent who seems to redefine what comics can be. This year it was Brecht Evens from Belgium. His translated, painterly graphic novels, The Wrong Place (2010) and The Making Of (2012) are gorgeous slices of life that convey the power, drama, and luminosity of life without tights or capes. Or outlines or word balloons, for that matter.
Brecht’s storytelling ranges from stream-of-consciousness to dreamy and his panels swing from hyper detailed to quite sparing. But his gorgeous, voyeuristic pages always have a natural pace, truthful tone, and resonating message about the art of being human.
After meeting Brecht at the Drawn & Quarterly table, attending his panel with no visuals but plenty of interest, and then having dinner with the same crew as him at Comic-Con, I followed up with some questions about his work via email.
MW: It was a pleasure to meet you in San Diego, and I hope you enjoyed your visit. What were some observations that you took away from your first Comic-Con ?
BE: Thank you, and thanks for showing my comic book to the actress who played the scientist who tells the President the world is going to end, in The Day After Tomorrow!
There were a lot of nice people to meet at Comic-Con, but as a place, including the area around the convention center, it felt like walking around in a shopping mall for a week. Very peculiar.
It isn’t easy for the casual fan to acquire tickets to Comic-Con. Once you get in, it’s an ordeal to squeeze past the movie studio palaces with their big screens and giveaways. But if you are willing to put in the work, Comic-Con is still pretty awesome.
Preview Night. I don’t think I’ve ever seen preview night so crowded. Of course, the first place I went was the Giant Robot booth to see my great friend and conspirator, Eric Nakamura (top right). If you looking at the GR site, you know what I mean. Also there was ace cartoonist John Pham (top left) Why is it that I see certain L.A. friends only at San Diego? One more reason to go, I guess. On the bottom row are the two other places where I lurked. Not working the GR booth anymore, I can be that guy who hangs out at other people’s booths until it becomes uncomfortable. At Super 7, we talked with Brian and Scott more about hardcore shows than toys. And then there were Tom and Peggy of Drawn & Quarterly with Peter from The Beguiling. No bow-tie on Tom yet because the table was still a work in progress, without banners flaunting their world-class roster of indie, international, and classic comic artists. (more…)
A view from where I stand. The Giant Robot booth 1729.
My favorite cosplayer. She turns heads everywhere, all day.
That’s DrilOne. Alex. A master who customizes and now is creating his own.
Mari Inukai stopped by and perfect timing, to sign for some fans. She’ll be at our booth on Sunday.
In just a few days, you’ll be reading comments about how the San Diego Comic-Con is too crowded, blown up, and sold out. How there are too many poseurs and how real fans can’t get in. That it wasn’t always like this.
No, it wasn’t. When my brother, our friends, and I went for the first time in 1979 there were no star-studded movie previews, exclusive items for sale, or coverage by mainstream press. The vast majority of the floor at the El Cortez and even the old San Diego Convention Center was filled with folding tables covered with back issues and original art. Toys meant old Mego and Disney items, anime was fan-subbed “Japanimation,” and indie comics meant underground comix. As for swords & sandals and sci-fi fandom, they’ve always been around…
It’s true that most of the movie stars that make their appearances have never read a comic in their lives and a lot of the exclusive merch will just get flipped on eBay (not by Giant Robot customers, of course, who are the raddest). And it does kind of suck for the hardcore nerds who get squeezed out because of the trendiness and money to be made. Since my brother and I stopped being on the GR booth crew, we have only been able to get in through luck/the kindness of good friends who were able to purchase passes for us.
But if the Comic-Con never blew up it might be gone by now. As the cover prices of comics have risen and distro has gone more boutique–and kids’ allegiances have shifted to video games–the average age of readers has gone up and the number of readers has gone down. As mainstream comic titles were once published simply to sell Underoos, support Saturday morning cartoons, and hawk toys, they now pretty much exist to support movies and video games. These days, comics can use all the help and hype they can get. Likewise, Hollywood can use all the ideas it can get.
That doesn’t mean that every single genre flick or campy TV show should be presented at Comic-Con. (Ahem, Glee?) But teen vampire movies, TV shows about spies and superheroes, and zombie shows on cable–why not?
Seriously, I went for just one day last year and enjoyed the same sorts of panels and appearances that I enjoyed before Comic-Con ever sold out or “sold out”: Pee-Wee Herman, Los Bros Hernandez, Brian Ralph and friends from all over the place doing rad things… Everything is still there if you are willing to worm your way past the giveaway lines.
And even if it’s not the best convention (let alone era) for collectors of comics, no one can argue that this isn’t the golden age of cosplay. Yikes!
See you on Wednesday.
Artist, “Touma” will be at the Giant Robot Booth Saturday 2-3pm. He’ll have an exclusive poster at Giant Robot.
Thursday July 12, 12-2pm. SDCC Booth 1729
We’ll have Luke Chueh signing his new book, The Art of Luke Chueh Bearing the Unbearable at Giant Robot 7/12 Thursday 12-2pm. We will have free prints with purchase of his book while supplies last! Get there early.
One thing at Comic Con
GR at SDCC – 1729
Luke Chueh, J*Ryu, Angry Woebots, David Horvath, Yukinori Dehara Spanky Stokes, 64 Colors, Miso, A Little Stranger, Mari Inukai, Dril One, Leecifer, Kano, Scott Tolleson, Julie West
As it was for a lot of you out there, this wasn’t the easiest year for me and my family. Following Giant Robot’s print magazine going on hiatus at the tail end of 2010, I was unemployed with no job leads or responses to my queries for the first six months. Then, after I got an awesome job out of nowhere, the company my wife worked for was purchased by a competitor and shut down. Fortunately, we’ve managed to get by through frugal habits, a rock-solid support system of family and friends, and the PMA. And yes, there have been highlights. Here are ten of them–some of which has been written about in the blog, others merely alluded to, and a couple of odds and ends–in no particular order. (more…)
The work of Anders Nilsen can be cryptic, daunting. But his comics are as raw and primal as they are poetic, and their philosophical scope and artistic magnitude have never been clearer than in the Big Questions anthology. I have to admit that I was afraid to pick up the brick of a collection. Then I attended the Epic Literary Adventures panel at the San Diego Comic-Con, where the Chicago artist admitted to Drawn and Quarterly’s creative director Tom Devlin that even he had to draw a map so that the sprawling volumes wouldn’t contradict each other. It turns out he’s a regular guy who just happened to write and draw an ambitious, inspiring, and thought-provoking 600-page comic book about birds, snakes, and a plane crash.
MW: You’re in the midst of a reading tour to promote the Big Questions anthology. How’s that going? How do you structure your events?
AN: I just finished the first leg, going up the West Coast. I leave again in a week for Toronto and Minneapolis. It’s been great so far. People are coming out and I’m having great conversations. Most of the stops were basically just me signing books for a while, doing a slide show, talking about the book, and doing some readings from it, a bit of Q&A, signing a few more books… and then going out for a beer.
MW: The book is massive. Did you prefer long, epic comic book stories as a kid? The Kree-Skrull War? The introduction of the Inhumans?
AN: Yeah, totally. The X-Men battling the Brood, Elfquest, The Dark Knight–all that stuff.