Jen’s Blog

Dear Sarah: I Went to C2E2

Dear Sarah,

I’ve been drafting a bunch of different notes and essays for you, but decided to set them aside to get this out today.  I want to tell you about C2E2.

The launch for Chicks Dig Comics was the main reason I’d decided to come out; we don’t typically schedule a lot of stuff while the kids are in school, but participating in this book has come to mean a great deal to me and I wanted to be there to support it.  There aren’t words for how glad I am that I did.  The turnout for Sunday’s panel was great, and the panel itself was warm, funny, smart and inspiring.  You can read more about the panel and the contents of the book here and here.

Editors Lynne Thomas and Sigrid Ellis and all the folks who worked on Chicks Dig Comics have done a terrific job from start to finish; it is very hard to put something like this together, and the book is a class act.  The interviews are fascinating (I’ve been waiting years to read an interview like this with Louise Simonson) and the essays cover a wide range of topics, approaches and attitudes about comics and fandom. I’m very proud to be a part of it and will be happily pushing it under the noses of everyone I meet for the foreseeable future.

Speaking of which: contributors Sara Ryan, Rachel Edidin, Erica McGillivray and I will be signing and talking about the book at Bridge City Comics here in Portland tomorrow (Friday, April 20) from 6-9 pm.

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I flew out early in the week and brought my daughter along; we went to the Art Institute, saw the Blue Man Group, and spent a day at the Museum of Science and Industry, all of which blew her mind. We had a terrific dinner and mini-tour with John Suintres of WordBalloon, who is as lovely to listen to as he is to talk to (and a great source of Chicago area history!) and we saw about a hundred amazing sculptures and buildings. It was a terrific time, and put me in a great mood for the show.

And the show!  Wide aisles, good signage, effective HVAC! It’s great to get to a panel or signing all energetic and on time; it’s great to meet fans who don’t look done in by the effort to find me.  I love small shows. Heck, I can have a good time at a church-basement swap meet if folks are nice and someone brings cookies, but the bigger a show gets, the more I notice and appreciate the difference thoughtful planning makes. This one goes on the list with Emerald City: Large-Scale Shows I Like.

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Friday evening, I got to be on a wonderful panel about pop music and comics hosted by Patrick Reed of Depth of Field Magazine. Charles Soule was there to talk about his Image comic, Twenty-Seven (Book 1 is really good–read it on the plane home), Dan Parent talked about making Archie Meets Kiss, Bill Sienkiewicz talked about making Voodoo Child: The Illustrated Legend of Jimi Hendrix and his career in general, and I talked about Hopeless Savages.  Chris Powell from Diamond talked about helping retailers, readers, new readers and comickers reach each other with material like this, pointing out that librarians are really great at (and get more support for) grouping materials by theme or interest group, for instance, rather than by publisher.  That whole panel was educational for me, thoughtful, fun and engaged, and I’m so glad to have been invited to participate.

On a related note, I got to meet Seamus Burke when I stopped by to pick up my prizes from his recent Kickstarter to fund printing up his rock-n-roll webcomic Oh Goodie! His cartooning reminds me a little of some of the the underground cartoonists of the 60s and 70s and maybe Alison Bechdel’s early stuff as well; it’s goofy, earnest, a little raunchy and a lot of fun. Seamus himself is a sweetheart and his stuff is worth a look.

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Saturday, I was at the Challengers! booth, signing books for a couple hours (thanks to Cory Casoni at Oni Press for setting that up!) and met so many wonderful people.  Patrick and Dal and their crew are amazing folks and were lovely hosts.  Sold a few books, signed far, far more than I expected and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Every person who came by was super sweet and a delight to talk with.

Finally got to hang out with Jon and Ruth Jordon and their Crimespree staff; Greg’s known them for years, and I’ve known them online, but the real live meeting felt long-overdue.  These are not just super sweet, funny people, they are tireless supporters of mystery and crime fiction as well as comics.

On a friend’s recommendation, I picked up the Marvel Heroic RPG, and got to briefly meet game designer Cam Banks.  We like our tabletop gaming at my house, so I was excited to bring this one home; it looks like a well-built game, very flexible, and it sounds like the publisher has a lot of plans for support materials.

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All in all, it was a great trip and a great show.  In the next couple days I’m planning to tell you a little about what I’ve been reading and after that, a little about what I’ve been writing. Do let me know if there’s anything else you want to hear about.

Hello, and welcome. Run-on sentences. You’ve been warned.

July is the gruelingest month for my family.  The professional pilgrimage that is San Diego Comic-con is just one small part of it.  See, it starts with the kids being out of school; June is easy because we’re all so grateful to sleep in a little, but then the restlessness sets in and the little imps are up to their wacky hijinks and what we like to call ‘creative productivity’ (because ‘work’ covers so many things besides writing) drops by about 70%.   Plus, July is when we usually spend as much time as possible with the extended family, and if two wacky little monkeys can keep a girl from writing, throw in their cousins and you can keep her from even thinking about thinking about writing.  So that’s July.  And that’s why I’m only just now writing this, the very first blog post on my shiny new website.

And yeah, since you asked, the San Diego trip was as exhausting as ever, but pretty darn fun.

I spent some table-time at the Oni Press booth admiring the Carnival of Wow surrounding the Scott Pilgrim release and the unflagging energy and coolness of Bryan Lee O’Malley in the face of so much fan love.  And what’s more, I got to watch the astounding crew that is Team Oni run that booth like the children born 40 weeks after a NASCAR pit crew and a team of sassy ninja firefighters found themselves snowbound in a chalet with nothing but whiskey and Twister to pass the time.  And I say this again, because back in the day, when I came to the show as a fan, I had no idea how hard running a booth at that show can be, and it’s only gotten harder as the show’s gotten bigger: they were amazing.

The big event of the show, for writer-me, was being on hand for the announcement that Oni is all set and scheduled to publish an omnibus collection, Hopeless Savages: Greatest Hits in October.  It’ll collect everything so far, including some rarities, and a bit of new material as well.  The response to the announcement was gratifying, as was the enthusiasm of the folks who kindly stopped by the booth to ask if there will be more new material; my answer: yes, as soon as we figure out a way to do something about the July Effect (see above).  I’m also very grateful for the folks who came ’round to say nice things about the co-feature Travis Moore and I have been doing in the back of JSA:All-Stars and the Black Cat miniseries I’ve been doing with Javiers Pulido & Rodriguez over at Marvel; both projects have been a ton of fun for me and the feedback from readers is truly precious.

Add to that getting to meet with a couple editors and artists I’m going to be working with on upcoming projects, and it was a very encouraging convention from the ‘how’s my career going?’ perspective.

The other side of the con is getting to go around being a fan, and this year the high point was the chance to meet and thank some folks I’ve been admiring of late via their webcomics and twitterings.  I have only recently become a rabid fan of webcomics; initially I was impatient with formatting issues and load time and didn’t see a lot that I liked, but then some very kind youngsters started sending me links to things and I found myself looking forward to webcomics like I looked forward to the funnies page in the newspaper as a kid.  I wouldn’t have loved comic books if it hadn’t been for comic strips, and these are just some of the folks who’ve given that fun back to me:

Ming Doyle, who drew/painted me an awesome Aladdin Sane Bowie (which I will share as soon as I learn how to make our scanner go)

Tracie Mauk and Kevin Church, who are sweet people making some great funny in a new webcomic — easy to jump on!

Meredith Gran, whose dry wit, nervy insight and cartooning talent blow me away.

Rich Stevens, who makes the shirts our son loves most and understands the essence of the very short story that is a great joke.  Also, it turns out he’s delightful to talk with and I’d been buying socks from him for two years before I knew he had a comic.

And then there’s Curt Franklin and Chris Haley.  They make me laugh.  A lot.  And it turns out they are much taller than I’d expected, very sweet, lots of fun to hang out with, and surprisingly good-natured about hiking through the con-floor with me so’s I could meet up with Greg and try on a coat he really wanted to buy for me (and yes, ultimately, I caved and agreed to it, even though it is impractical in almost every way)  (But I’m glad I did.)

Beyond that, I also enjoyed getting a little time with Greg, catching up with old friends, drinking a wee bit too much, and hunting down bribes/presents for the kids.

All in all, pretty terrific.

And now we’re in August.  Several scripts to write before school starts, so I have no idea how often I’ll be posting here–barring any exciting news that might emerge–but I would like to come back soon and ramble on about some books I’ve been reading that are intimidatingly wonderful.

And that’s what it’s like when I do this sort of thing.