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I walked into MoCCA Arts Fest a few minutes after it opened, with my friend Erica Friedman, and we noticed the difference right away: The last two shows have had an improvised, “Let’s have a comics show! We can use my father’s barn!” kind of feeling. They weren’t disorganized, exactly, and the talent has always been top-notch, but the show floor felt crowded, cluttered, and confusing.
This was the first year that the Society of Illustrators was running the event. Organizers had a lot to prove, and they proved it. The show felt professional. The aisles were wider. A very simple addition — a bright red backdrop that ran behind the tables — made a huge difference, giving visitors more focus and eliminating the distraction of looking out across that cavernous space. The red curtains also set off a small gallery at the back of the armory that featured original comics art from the Society’s collection, a gentle reminder that they have been welcoming comics creators for more than 100 years. Visitors could buy a slick, nicely produced catalog for $5, and there was a modest cafe downstairs, a pleasant addition that allowed friends who met at the show to sit down and have a bite and a chat without disrupting the experience too much.
Writer MK Reed and artist Jonathan Hill are looking forward to when their First Second graphic novel, Americus, is released in Fall 2010. In the meantime, as part of a build-up to the book’s release, the creators are pleased to serialize the book online here. The book is about “Neil Barton, a teenager growing up in Oklahoma, and his fight to keep his favorite fantasy series, The Chronicles of Apathea Ravenchilde, in his public library.” Recently I was fortunate enough to do a brief email interview with Reed about the book and serializing it online in advance of its release.
Tim O’Shea: How did you and First Second decide upon serializing the story before printing it?
MK Reed: My editor (the fabulous Calista Brill) called me up in June and asked if Jonathan & I would be interested in putting it up on the web. We’ve been working on this book together since 2007, and besides the one chapter that was published in Papercutter, no one’s seen any of it, nor would they for another year. So we were psyched to get it out early, and they were psyched to start promoting two of their lesser known artists.
Joey Weiser is giving readers a variety of choices in order to read his latest work. In catching up on Weiser’s work, you currently have three choices: Cavemen in Space (distributed by AdHouse [PDF preview here]), Mermin (his mini-comic series with two issues released so far about an adorable fish-boy); or Monster Isle (his weekly webcomic, which he told me, was “inspired by Japanese Kaiju monsters, and it’s a lot of fun to make”). The bulk of our interview focuses upon Cavemen in Space (“A caveman named Washington and his prehistoric tribe have been torn from their era and placed aboard ‘The Wheel,’ a futuristic space laboratory…”)–but we also touch briefly upon the initial response to Mermin. My thanks to Weiser for taking the time to discuss his work.
Tim O’Shea: The main appeal to Cavemen in Space (for me) is that many of the Cavemen–transported to a future time, become accustomed to the new world/dynamics to varying degrees. Had you always intended to have that juxtaposition–or was that a nuance to the characters that evolved as the story developed? I was really pleased with the character arcs for Madison and Jefferson.
Joey Weiser: In this case, I came up with the characters first, and the story just formed around them. I wanted to work with a large cast and give them all stories that intertwined. The goofy concept of Cavemen in Space is obviously playing with opposites, so that was a core part of the characters and from that I realized how they would interact with each other and what developments I would want them to have by the end of the book.