The New York Comic Con: An Experience
Not since the World's Fairs of old has the Western world witnessed so spectacular a union of commerce and pomp as that which is embodied by the modern comics convention. Not since the Victorian period has our society celebrated, on such a paradoxically epic scale, the safe, small pleasures that an industrialized economy makes possible. Aware of this, I took some time this weekend to sample the graphic and literary offerings of the New York Comic Con.

The opportunities provided by the 2008 New York Comic Con to comics publishers and consumers alike entailed a harrowing human cost.

I went for many reasons. I went to immerse myself in the sights so characteristic of these gathering spaces at the intersection of art and commerce. I went to observe freakish outsider artists grimly making a living selling their work. I went to "network" with people, hoping to obtain a meal, or perhaps momentary companionship, in exchange for sex drawings of a favorite fictional character.

I did not dismiss the possibility of finding new works of visual or literary merit. Did I find any? It is hard to say. I spent much of my time at a remote part of the exhibition hall devoted to "small publishers." Moreover, I focused on those comics companies presumably in greatest need of my skills (see above).

Still, this Mammal Magazine is okay. I am not really a fan of some of the artists' explanation of their works, or their, um, play with signs. However, the artwork on the cover of their latest issue, depicting a major conflict between some kind of cybernetic Caesar and a barbarian warrior with a face right out of a Byzantine mosaic, is magnificent, maybe the best thing I have seen in my life.

Dave Sim's blog rarely fails to interest. Dave Sim is the author of Cerebus, a beautifully rendered 18-volume sexual psychodrama about a man's place in society. Here, he explains why men need to keep bitches in line. "A car with two steering wheels, two gas pedals and two brakes [drives less efficiently] than a car with one steering wheel, one gas pedal and one brake...[therefore] marriage [should not] always be an equal partnership," writes Sim. The common-sense analogy of the automobile marks this as the direct, honest writing of a man, rather than the flowery crap women pass off as "communication."

Dave Sim then forms a surprising alliance with sensitive confessional comics creator Jeffrey Brown (author of "Every Girl is the End of the World for Me"). In a letter to Sim, Brown rebuffs his critics, explaining why his boring comics are often so self-indulgent, inadequate and dull: "I view my work as a whole as work in progress... I still have a ways to go before I reach my potential."

A prolific critic of comics has linked to the exchange in a long article that makes an important point but doesn't argue it convincingly.

Unfortunately none of the above-mentioned persons or groups, except for Mammal Magazine, were actually present at the 2008 New York Comic Con. Indeed, the work I saw at the Comic Con mostly dealt with zombies in a "humorous" way (by "humorous," I mean zombies were incongruously referenced in these works).


Posted by xerxes on Wed, 23 Apr 2008 00:23:43 -0400 -- permanent link

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