So, CAB. It was good. Tiring and fun. It was my first time officially tabling at a convention. I always enjoy reading convention reports, but I feel self-conscious writing them myself. I will try to make this one interesting.
I tabled with Frank Santoro, Zach Mason, and Dash Shaw at the Official Comics Workbook Table. Or at least the Table Where Comics Workbook Magazine was Debuting. We had t-shirts too. Simon Hanselmann stopped by to sign for a while as well. It was really gratifying to see so many people excited by Simon’s presence at the con; couldn’t happen to a nicer or more deserving cartoonist. Simon also bought A TON of comics and seemed genuinely thrilled to be doing so. Not everyone has that kind of enthusiasm for comics. So that was fun to observe as well.
The only observation I can offer on crowds: Dash Shaw told me around 1 or 2pm that they weren’t as big as BCGF crowds in years past, before saying a little later when things started to get really packed that we had in fact reached BCGF levels. I have so little reference in terms of being able to judge whether or not we had a good show, financially speaking, but Comics Workbook Magazine (which, for those who missed out, will hopefully be for sale online soon) seemed to go over very well and I sold enough of my own work to pay for my trip to New York and for the nice pile of comics pictured above. Very sincere thanks to everyone who bought something or who came by to tell me they liked my work. That was really nice.
Hopefully Frank will write about this somewhere in more detail – there are lots of interesting anecdotes to be told – but in brief, he made a killing off of his longboxes. A handful of people spent several hundred dollars, and it seemed like his one box of alt-comics minis, priced at $10 or $20 each, sold particularly well. I wish I had more of a chance to look through them myself. As AD documents, the first printing of his Area CC was priced at $20 – and even though the recent reprint was available a few tables over, it sold!
I myself contributed to the inflating prices of 2000s alt-comics by purchasing a copy of John Pham’s Substitute Life sketchbook for $20 from Pham himself, after Frank told me the comic in that book on Chris Ware and John Cassavetes was Pham’s best work (I read it yesterday; Frank is absolutely right). Everyone seemed really excited about Pham’s new Epoxy 4. I would make that and Simon Hanselmann’s Lifezone my nominations for the proverbial book of the show.
I talked shop with Dash and Zach quite a bit, which was really nice. That’s something I rarely have a chance to do. It was particularly interesting to hear Dash talk about some of the things he is doing to sustain himself financially (selling original art) and artistically (in terms of how he is approaching new and ongoing projects) as a full-time cartoonist. I’m just beginning to sort out some of those issues in my own mind as someone who is at the moment decidedly not a full-time cartoonist, so hearing his perspective was very helpful.
Speaking briefly with L Nichols was a highlight. She told me about some of her current projects in sculpture, painting, and comics, and about her interest in finding more areas of overlap between fine art and comics. I think having people like L, for whom comics is one (important) aspect of a wider artistic practice, is a really healthy thing for our little world.
I got a lot of comics, as pictured above, even though I was consciously trying to limit my spending. A few people were nice enough to give me their books, which was very kind and much appreciated.
I had to take the train home on Saturday night, so I missed out on dinner, afterpartying, etc. which was too bad. The two comics I read on the train despite being quite tired were Lifezone and Ryan Cecil Smith’s SF3, which I think speaks to the ability of both Simon and Ryan to create work that is compellingly readable and easy to follow. I enjoyed both books and I hope to write a bit more about them as well as many of the other things pictured above in more detail soon.