Monday, 30 March 2009

NEW YORK COMIC CON

I don't know, blog postings to me are like buses. You wait for ages for one and then three turn up at the same time!

I went to the New York Comic Con in February, which was fantastic. I was over for the US launch of the second volume of Erotic Comics: A Graphic History, published by Abrams. Charlie, Eric, Katrina, Ashley and all the gang at Abrams were fab and had a great stand and sold lots of books (including mine!) and were perfect hosts.

While in New York there was a huge buzz for the Watchmen movie (seems like anicent history now) and the queue for Dave Gibbons' signing was phenomenal! I've never seen a man sign so much, so fast for so many! While walking to the con one morning I saw this:

On a New York wall. Look familar?...


...Oh yeah, I knew I'd seen it somewhere! Yet another of Alan's little magical touches manifested itself just as the Watchmen film posters were going up all over New York.

Big shout outs to everyone I met there including Marty Pasko, Bob Greenberger, Tom DeFalco, Elliot Brown, Rodney Ramos, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti. I managed to catch-up with a few lovely people who had contributed to the Erotic Comics books including the wonderful Dean Yeagle and his lovely wife, Terry Nantier at NBM, Chris Staros at Top Shelf and the very friendly Phil Foglio. Made new friends as well including former Vertigo editor (how many of us are out there?) and Publisher’s Weekly reporter, Steve Bunche; Joe Casey and Peter Kuper.

Amanda Conner gets to grips with Power Girl (or is it the other way round?)

Erotic Comics contributor Gene Kannenberg Jr and I did a signing on the Saturday and signed a few copies to couples, which was nice to see. Thanks to the lovely Martha Thomases, I did a podcast interview with Mike Raub at the point radio, which you can hear here and go to the dates: 16 & 20 March. I was under duress and consequently ended up referring to Franco’s Spanish Fascistic dictatorship as a “company” and a “corporation”! Yeesh! I also handed in a set of the Erotic Comics books into Jill at the CBLDF for them to auction to raise money. They are signed by as many people I could get who feature inside (including a large portion of the names mentioned here) and is a rare treat for Americans as there were a lot of European creators who rarely make it to the US.

Psst... 'Ere... Wana buy some smutty books? Nudge, nudge. My 
filth-mongering cohort, Gene Kannenberg Jr (left) and I sign copies of 
Erotic Comics: A Graphic History at the Abrams ComicArts stand. 

Got to meet comic historian par excellence, and fellow Abrams scribe, Craig Yoe who’s fantastic book, Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-Creator, Joe Shuster is out in April. The book is thoroughly recommended as the perfect accompaniment to my two volumes and is full of fascinating facts. Go out and buy it now! Craig surpassed all my marketing expectations by producing a branded spanking paddle, genius! I want one!

My fellow smut peddler, Craig Yoe, signs copies of his excellent Secret Identity book.

Amazingly didn’t go massively out on the lash, as per normal conventions, and consequently missed loads of Brits I’d like to have seen more of including Steve Pugh, Dean Ormston, Frazer Irving, and there were people who I missed completely, including Andy Diggle, Yishan Li, Emma Vicelli, Dave Elliot, Peter Milligan, Philip and Shelly Bond, Nelson DeCastro, and Grant Morrison. Sorry chaps!

Did manage to have a few quiet pints with Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon, Rob Steen (Flanimals co-creator and Wormwood artist), DC’s Scott Nybukken and other friends. Avatar publisher William Christensen and novelist and former Vertigo editor (another one!) Alisa Kwitney also turned up, before me and the missus turned in for the night.

Had a lovely dinner with Tony Bedard and a friend of his. I hadn’t seen Tony since we’d all almost drowned off a windswept small Irish island 5 years ago with Garth, Steve, Darrick Robertson, Glenn Fabry, John McCrea and the gang, so it was good catch-up with him. He’s been a busy boy writing all manner of stuff at DC, but I suspect he wasn’t writing anything the next morning as Garth was plying him with copious amounts of fine whiskey!

This was my first time at NYCC—and only my second US con—but would love to return and do some panels next year (if you are reading this, Lance!) Actually the whole trip made me realise how many friends I have in New York and I should try and get back over there when there isn’t a show on and catch up with people.

"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

S. Clay Wilson Needs Your Help!

S. Clay Wilson, along with Robert Crumb, Gilbert Shelton and Spain, is one on the most important underground comix artists of the Sixties and Seventies. In fact, I'd go so far to say THE most important underground comix artist, as—by Crumb's own admission—it was Wilson who encouraged Crumb and the others to push themselves and the boundaries of taste to create truly ground- and taboo-breaking sequential art. As Crumb said, "What I learnt from him was the absolute freedom to draw whatever comes into your mind." These days Crumb and Shelton tend to overshadow Wilson, which is a tragedy, particularly as his artwork is fantastic. 

Wilson circa 1969

Unfortunately, Wilson took a nasty tumble on 2 November 2008 and suffered from a large brain trauma, and now needs a lot of money to look after him. He can still draw and has his sense of acerbic humour—which is incredible considering he nearly died—but his eyes, neck and brain have taken a pounding. If you care about comics, comix and the artists who created them, please go to the S. Clay Wilson Trust and donate some money to help with his medical care. None of us are getting any younger and any help you offer now will hopefully come back to you when you need it. I've donated, so should you.


"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Angoulême 2009 Report (2 months late!)


Boy time flies by! I was supposed to have had a couple of postings up by now! This year’s been a frantic one so far, having already been to France, America and the Canary Islands, and it’s still only March! After a 10-year absence I finally got to go back to Angoulême, Europe’s largest comics festival, in January. It was interesting to see how little had changed in the town, and felt at home straight away. Crowds were slow on the first day thanks to a national strike stopping all the trains, but things picked up as we moved into the weekend. I was there to promote the launch of Erotic Comics Volume 1 in French, published by Tabou Editions. My publisher, Thierry, was a nervous—but congenial—host as he had never exhibited at the show before and was concerned what the reaction would be. 

Erotic BD creator Xavier Duvet (left) and Tabou publisher Thierry Plee (right)

He needn't have worried, as the books sold well enough for him to return next year. The stand had a whole host of erotic comic creators including Frenchmen Xavier Duvet and the completely insane NevraX, Italian artist Giuseppe Manuta and Spaniard, Atilio Gambedotti. Best of all I got to meet one of my favourite artists, the master of bondage comics, Franco Saudelli.

Thierry gave all the artists a copy of Erotic Comics as a thank you present for all the hard signing, and Franco signed a copy of his latest edition of
The Blonde for me, which was nice.

Caught up with lots of old comic-related friends and made lots of new ones. Had a lovely lunch with French creator
Tanitoc (who I hadn't seen for nearly 10 years, and he has a new book—all about John Wilkes Booth—due soon from First Second); fellow comics historians Paul Gravett and Jean-Paul Jennequin; Lost Girls artist Melinda Gebbie and artist, colourist and general “man about town”, Jose Villarrubia.

Charlie Adlard and Sean Philips disagree about who can draw the fastest


The Hulk and Iron Man enjoy a few late night beers

Of the UK gang who were over it was great, as always, to catch-up with
Sean Phillips, Charlie Adlard, Eisner winner Nick Abadzis, Yishan Li and John and Patrice Aggs. Plus, Simon Fraser was over from New York and I hadn’t seen him in a donkey’s age (however long that is). Also got to meet a lot of interesting comics scholars such as my old pal Fredrik Strömberg (who’s writing a fantastic book on Comic Art Propaganda coming soon from Ilex), Harry Morgan, Matteo Stefanelli, Jim Wheelock and the charming Peter Maresca of Sunday Press (who I caught up with later in New York). Lovely, knowledgeable chaps all.

Bryan Talbot (middle) talks me (left) and Sue (right) though his latest book, Grandville, while some nice Scandinavians look on! (Photo: Fredrik Strömberg)

B
ryan Talbot was showing his latest book, Grandville, which is a action-packed, not-so-funny-animal/steampunk thriller. That’s being slightly disingenuous to it, but it is beautiful and packed full of hidden jokes and some of the worst/best puns I’ve ever read! Should be out this October from Jonathan Cape. I should be posting a review here shortly.

Popped into the awards ceremony for just enough time to see Bridgette Fontaine perform the opening act, and to see legendary mangaka Hiroshi Harata tell an amusing anecdote in Japanese, which was then translated into French (I don’t speak either language) and everyone (except me) laughed. The hosts, Depuy and Berbian co-presented the awards and there was a moving eulogy to Claude Moliterni, who died this year. Moliterni was one of the trio who helped set up Angouleme 35 years ago and the tribute to him by his remaining co-founders Francis Groux and Jean Mardikian was very moving (even with my meagre French).

Laff-riot gagster and wacky prankster Chris Ware yuks it up for the crowds in Angouleme.

Over all it was a great time and I’d forgotten how lovely the festival and the town are. I look forward to going back next year to promote Erotic Comics: Volume 2!

"Wake up" - Rage Against the Machine