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One of the more interesting, art-focused and idiosyncratic comic conventions around, the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, will take place this weekend.
The bulk of festival will be held from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, located in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, N.Y. The show has expanded considerably, however, to include a number of other events, including gallery shows and a film festival.
The featured guests for the third annual Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival have been announced, and whoo boy, it’s quite a line-up. And it runs the gamut, too: MAD Magazine legend Jack Davis, book-design kingpin Chip Kidd, The Diary of a Teenage Girl author Phoebe Gloeckner, Asterios Polyp/Batman Year One artist David Mazzucchelli, Providence artcomix vets CF and Brian Ralph, grossout-humor queen Lisa Hanawalt, and minicomics patriarch John Porcellino. An opportunity to encounter Gloeckner live and in person is not to be squandered, folks, and that’s just for starters.
Organized by publisher PictureBox Inc., retailer Desert Island, and scholar Bill Kartalopoulos, this year’s BCGF will take place on Saturday, December 3 from noon to nine at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with programming hosted at the nearby Union Pool. If the last two years are any indication, it’s the alternative comics show to beat.
I tweeted it after I got back home the night of the show and I stand by it now: Book for book and creator for creator, the second annual Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival was the best comic convention I’ve ever attended. I’m not sure I can articulate exactly why — certainly not in a comprehensive fashion, as I was in and out of the day-long show within three hours and didn’t even attend any of the programming (though I could see it was pretty much standing room only from my vantage point by the hot dog stand that provided grub for the attendees). I’m sure people who stayed longer, participated more, and took advantage of all the show’s ancillary events could paint you a bigger and better picture. But from my admittedly narrow perspective, it came down to a sense of…well, of giddiness — that’s the best way I can put it. Pretty much everyone I saw or spoke with at the show seemed head-over-heels happy, not because of proximity to cool parties or big-money media extravaganzas, but because of proximity to comics — tons and tons of unusual, gutsy, great comics.
Nate Neal‘s first graphic novel, The Sanctuary, is a considerably quirky work on multiple levels. It’s a silent graphic novel, it sports an introduction by Dave Sim, and as I found out in this interview, Neal initially wanted the book to have an wordless title. Publisher Fantagraphics describes the book as exploring “the primal mysteries and sordid inner workings of a Paleolithic cave-dwelling tribe, creating an original ‘silent’ reading experience by using symbols instead of words.” The publisher offers folks a 15-page preview in order for consumers to get a small taste of the story. Neal also offers some unique marketing videos as well as other samples at his blog.
Tim O’Shea: Whether one agrees with him or not, Dave Sim typically elicits a strong reaction whatever he does these days. With that in mind, I am curious what motivated you to have him write the intro to Sanctuary?
Nate Neal: Gary Groth (publisher of Fantagraphics Books) and I were trying to come up with someone to write an introduction to kind of ease people into the comic–to explain to the reader that they were in for something different and to prepare themselves. Gary suggested a journalist who writes for The Comics Journal. I mentioned that I knew Dave Sim and thought he might write an intro for the book. Gary perked up. He seemed interested by this, even though he and Dave are kind of nemeses–he told me to give it a shot. He warned me that Dave was making people sign a “Sim is not a misogynist” petition before he’d talk to anyone. I first met Dave in 2005 at a comic con in Ohio. At that time, a couple other artists and myself had been self-publishing a comic book anthology called Hoax. Dave was a big supporter of Hoax–although I think he kind of disinterestedly loathed most of my artwork in that anthology–the style of the art, the ideology behind it, everything! Although when he thought something had merit, he’d tell you. He would write little reviews of Hoax and send them to us. Very detailed, scathing reviews. He butchered a comic I did for Hoax #4. It just destroyed me. Embarrassed the hell out of me because I knew he was right. Later after I got a Xeric grant and printed the first half of The Sanctuary as pamphlet comic books, Dave wrote me a letter telling me he thought it was great. He basically told me I was going in the right direction. So he kind of broke me down and built me up again. His work had astounded me since I first read Minds. Even though he’s been railroaded out of the alt. comics canon (along with other modern greats like David Lapham), he’s still one of the greatest cartoonists alive–a visionary. Of course I’d want him to write an introduction to my book. I’m not an apologist for Dave, but I’ve read every Cerebus book in detail and I believe that he doesn’t hate women. Sometimes I think what he really is is a Confucianist!
* Organized by Desert Island‘s Gabe Fowler and PictureBox‘s Dan Nadel, the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival made its debut on Saturday, and I’m awfully glad I was able to make it. (I didn’t think I’d be able to, but my wife and mother-in-law gave me a reprieve from going to see New Moon for the third time. Hey, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!) I live on Long Island, so having an artcomix convention on my very own land mass is a cause for celebration. And provided you’re willing to brave a dreadful mile or so on the BQE and the Kosciuszko Bridge, it’s not even that much of a hassle to get there — parking in Brooklyn is a snap.
* Less easy was dealing with the weather, which was awful. Freezing rain and, eventually, snow. I figured this would do a real number on attendance levels …