Comic Con this year was amazing. I had a blast, met so many people, saw so much kick-ass work, and learned so much! It was also a great opportunity to spend some time with the amazing people I work with, outside of the context of the day-to-day bustle of the work week.
As opposed to last year (when I only had a day Saturday pass), this year, by virtue of volunteering to staff the Tor booth on Sunday afternoon, I was given a full weekend pass. It made a huge difference: I got to walk the entire floor on Friday afternoon, before the fans were all let in, so I could sort of get an overview of the entire Con, and was then in a better position to go and look at the particular things I wanted to check out in detail later on; I also got to attend a bunch of panels, relevant to me both professionally (Manga-related stuff for our Tor/Seven Seas collaboration) and personally (I got to see Neil Gaiman read from The Graveyard Book, w00t!); I also got to create a continuous thread of day-to-day interaction with some of the professionals I met, which hopefully will help establish more permanent relationships with my colleagues. In all, a wonderful experience.
I went to a panel titled Working Digitally, moderated by Dan Goldman, and featuring Frazier Irving, Héctor Casanova, and Lincy Chan. All four discussed their process, and showed us slides (or should I say screen shots, really?) of their work in progress. It was fascinating to see how the pros put it all together—as a person who favours an all-digital process as well, I found the session highly informative. One of the main points that came across while listening to them talk, and something that I discussed afterwards with both Héctor and Dan, is the fact that as the artist finds s/he has more control over the process, and faster tools at his/her disposal, there is a deliberate rejection of the old ‘division-of-labour’ workflow (penciller, to inker, to colorist, to letterer) of Marvel and DC -style comics production. In the words of Héctor Casanova (accompanied by a look of abject dismay): “I couldn’t imagine having someone else ink over my work. I just couldn’t imagine it!”. The only one caveat I would add to this, is that I don’t necessarily agree with the elimination of the role of the letterer. Coming from a typographic perspective, I can attest that a lot of artists (there are exceptions) who insist on doing their own lettering are doing themselves a huge disservice. Typographic communication/expression is its own craft and mode of communication, requiring skills and an eye rather different from that of an illustrator. Sometimes the two skill sets are present in the same person, more often than not, they aren’t.
On Friday night, my boss, Irene Gallo, was gracious enough to invite Theresa DeLucci and me to dinner with a bunch of illustrators, including Arkady Roytman, Steve Belledin, and Doug Cowan. The latter two being Pratt graduates (Doug and I actually graduated the same year, and were booth-neighbours at the Pratt Show), we had plenty to talk about. I had a particularly fascinating conversation with Steve about the state of art education at Pratt (and universally, to a certain extent), lamenting the fact that the curriculum is not set up to encourage the collaboration between Graphic Designers, Illustrators, and (to a lesser extent) Photographers. This then segue’d into yet another iteration of the e-books conversation, pieces of which can be found in the comments sections here and here. The clock is ticking—everyone’s thinking the same thing. It’s time to move on this before someone does it for me!
In all, a wonderfully positive experience. A weekend full of comics (I’ve doubled my to-read pile, ohnoes!), fun people, great times. The one shame is the lack of good images from my camera. I really must get myself a real camera. The crappy phonecam on the iPhone really is a poor substitute for the real thing. In the meantime, check out some pics from Irene here, along with her own Comic Con write-up; and from ignorancehere’s photoset here.