I could not have expected how much of an interesting and educational experience New York Comic Con would turn out to be.
I did not attend any manga industry panels, nor did I attend the “American Anime Awards,” which interest me not at all. I did walk around with translator extraordinaire Mari Morimoto, and meet a bunch of industry folks – and visited a bunch more I knew already. I did hang with the most fabulous Rica Takashima, get her an interview with some slimeball website (heavy.com – who were, of course, interviewing all the most freakish people they could find. lol).
I also did not attend panels by famous and classic American comics creators and publishers. I did see Stan Lee, and some of the stars from his reality TV show “Who Wants to Be a Superhero?” I handed a Yuricon flier to Fat Momma, without having a clue who she was. It dawned on my about an hour later. LOL I was like, “oh, hey…”
Nor did I listen to cutting edge popular artists and writers talking about their work and the industry. I did walk around the artists’ alley and check out the art there, and buy a very funny pamphlet from one of the booths.
Mostly, I did something I have never before done – I immersed myself in the world of Gay/Lesbian/Bi/Trans comics while I talked to people at the Prism Comics booth. And what an honestly educational experience it was!
I’ve uploaded a few pictures I took of a small portion of the people I met. I hope you will indulge me as I do two things here: one, talk about the people, and two, give you links and descriptions of some of the more notable books we sold. (These will be a very few comparatively, so if you *are* interested in Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans comics, make sure you visit the Prism Comics website to check out all the great stuff they have.) Basically, this is going to be a REALLY long post. Hence my begging for your indugence as I namedrop and pimp books.
First off, Rica Takashima. She came all the way from Tokyo to be here, wore the most fabulous outfit I have ever seen, and was charming and funny and fun to be around, as always. Honestly, if you have not yet bought her book, Rica ‘tte Kanji!?, shame on you. It’s just like her – funny, cute, sweet, with the teeniest edge of sharp and sarcasm to keep it real. There is nothing else in the world – no lesbian comic, no yuri manga, like it. Rica and her manga, are entirely unique. In all the years I’ve been “the yuri lady” I have never seen anything else to compare it to.
If you’ve ever met me, you’ll probably have heard me say this before – I’m a terrible lesbian. Other than the liking women part, I tend to eschew all the other cultural/social/emotional/psychological artifacts of my fellow Yurizoku. (Yurizoku=”Lily Tribe”= Lesbians.) “Lesbian comics” rarely have stories I cared about – more importantly, they frequently fail the “would I have these characters over for lunch?” litmus test. (This actually holds true for most other lesbians in real life, as well, so it’s not *that* surprising that the characters fail.) And, comics by gay guys – obviously *not* something I’m going to stay on top of…. and yes, pun intended.
So, wow, what a cool education this weekend was. I got to read, sell and meet the creators of some of the best in the L/G/B/T comics field. What fantastic people. Yes, by and large I would have them over for lunch. In fact, it would be a great pleasure to have them over for lunch. lol
One of the nicest things about the weekend was that Rivkah, creator of Steady Beat, stopped by. I’ve reviewed Volume 1 and Volume 2 here, and I look forward to being able to review Volume 3 – even more so now that we’ve talked. She is an absolute doll, and has some really good ideas and I’m so looking forward to seeing more of her work.
I also had the opportunity to meet June Kim, creator of 12 Days. I have not yet had a chance to read the book, but I hope to this very week. June herself is a very pleasant and relaxed person – very striking in the middle of all that chaos, let me tell you.
About three in the afternoon, we were busting each other’s chops – really rudely – and a journalist who had adopted us (me, JD, and the whole booth – Jacoba kept coming back over and over) asked “How long have you two known each other?” I replied, “About six hours.” LOL It really did seem like we were old pals from way back. JD shared a signing time with Rica, and they exchanged books. We all had a lot of fun together.
I didn’t get a chance to read JD’s book, Punk Like Me while at the booth, but you can be sure I plan on adding it to my “to read” pile. JD was totally awesome. I enjoyed picking on her while she fangirled at Alison Bechdel, who came to the Prism booth to sign copies of her new book.
JD was so funny – apparently her book had come in second to Alison’s newest book for the ALA award. JD was totally cool with that loss – considered it an honor to have lost to such a great writer/artist.
Speaking of Alison Bechdel. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention her, and her exceedingly pleasant publicist (for whom I had about a half dozen questions, but never got to ask…I’ll see if I can email her.) Alison’s new book Fun Home has won all sorts of awards already, and has catapulted Alison from being that “famous lesbian comic artist” to “that brilliant young artist/writer.” She seemed a bit overwhelmed by it all, still. But good for her. Her book is hardcover, and really interesting. In fact, most of the folks who came up to the table, men and women, had read it and universally commented that it was, in fact, all that and a bag of chips. Seriously…the world “brilliant” was the one most often used.
I didn’t get a picture of Alison, because the journalist kept monopolizing me and JD kept monopolizing Alison. :-) I did give her some of our ALC Yuri and explained what it was. She looked surprised, and interested. Considering how busy she was (she was doing signings at her publisher’s table too), I think surprised and interested is a great reaction. :-)
I spent *a lot* of the day, explaining what Yuri was. To people who were straight, gay, comic artists, readers, buyers, book stores, journalists, authors…anyone who would listen. LOL The folks at Prism were probably like “shut up already!” But I introduced Yuri to Alison, Ellen Kushner (did I mention I was dropping names? Well here ya go. Ellen has a new book out, Privilege of the Sword, which looks totally awesome and I can’t wait to read it – and she and Delia were fantastic and supportive and cool and stylish…) a Comic Buyers Guide rep, and about a dozen book company people. Plus anyone else who I could corral for a second. I also handed out fliers for Yuricon 2007 to people as they walked by saying, “If you don’t take a flyer, I’ll cry.” LOL
Another person I did not get a picture of, but whose book (and self) is totally awesome, is Jennifer Camper. I didn’t read any of Jennifer’s stuff until after she left the booth, but as I flipped through, I just kept laughing. It’s all funny bitter, but damn funny. I can highly recommend Rude Girls and Dangerous Women. Three pages, I laughed out loud three times. I suggested the book to a guy who was looking for something funny. He opened it randomly – and laughed. I mean, really. It’s *funny.*
I talked to several of the guys throughout the day about yaoi – of course – most had at least heard of it and seen a little, but the overwhelming opinion was “meh.” Ben, a rep from Lamda Legal (which is having a political cartoon contest) and I were talking about how we prefer, if we are going to read a comic with men having sex with each other, them to look like *men*, not girls without breasts. So, I immediately thought of one of the volumes of Kizuna which stars Masa, the exceptionally manly yakuza hunk, doing very nasty things to another yakuza hunk. I loved that story, even thought it was just a side story. I grabbed Ben and said, “come with me!” I dragged him downstairs to both the Media Blasters booth – where Chet, Jonathan and Frank cheerfully discussed the raunchiest yaoi they had with him (I love these guys – have I ever mentioned that before?) and then we ran over to CPM/Be Beautiful where I made him buy the volume of Kizuna that had the story I remembered. He was happy, I was happy. I hope he enjoys both volumes. It was a hoot. He had said that he knew there must be cool stuff, but he wasn’t so comfortable asking. I totally understood – especially as since at both booths, it was guys doing the selling. I reassured him that *most* manga/anime fans are pretty cool, and he could ask, at least, without fear at just about any manga company. But it was more fun to go shopping with him. :-)
Last but not least, I want to say that to my shame, I had not actually heard of Allan Neuwirth before this weekend. As I said earlier, I don’t really follow gay and lesbian entertainment or press (I’m a geek, dammit, I follow geek things.) And I am ashamed, because he is not only brilliant, but funny as hell, charming and a great conversationalist. One of those folks you definitely want over for lunch. I learned so much sitting with him for a few mere hours. Allan is a writer and one of those people who knows everyone. A real Hollywood type. He’s got a movie coming out shortly called Abbalicious, based on the album of drag performers singing Abba tunes of the same name. Look for it at a G/L/B/T Film festival near you.
Allan’s new book, Chelsea Boys Stepping Out has a terrific cover that reminded me right away of the classic European comic, Asterix. It’s a collection of the serialized comic by Allan and Glen Hanson. The book itself is very handsome, good paper and color and a really nice cover and binding. The bits I had a chance to glance at were fun and provocative. He and I discussed (il)literacy among youth today and receiving hate mail, among other things. I genuinely hope to be able to bring him to a local anime/manga event, just to be able to show him why I’m so passionate about it – and to show him some youth of America that is not all despair-making.
Okay, last two things, then I’ll wrap up.
One – One of the things I dislike the most about these giant for-profit shows is the autograph alley. It’s always filled with aging stars who had a role once, way back. NYCC had some of that, and some other, less depressing people, too, but one of the folks who was sitting in the row the Prism table was in was Melody Anderson. She played Dale Arden in the most spectacularly campy version of Flash Gordon ever conceived. It is, without fail, my most favorite movie *ever.* Ever. Ever. Ever. The entire cast is composed of famous, stellar actors – except the two lead roles, who were pretty much two American nobodies. The script is…indescribably bad, and the costumes and sets right out of the comic strip itself. Max von Sydow actually studied Charles Davidson’s Ming from the old 30s serial. And the soundtrack – by Queen. Yes, that Queen. All together it was…so awful and so wonderful and so…shiny and cracktastic all at once. So, when I saw Melody Anderson, I walked over and thanked her, because I still watch the movie and enjoy the hell out of it. (Although the original official release cut my favorite Dale Arden scene out for some reason. I’m told the DVD has put it back. I should really get that.) She was sitting there balancing her checkbook, but was very lovely and gracious. When I walked back towards the Prism table later on, some dribbling idiot was wasting her time, so I got all protective-feeling and for the first time in my entire life, I bought an autograph. I have never done that before and can’t see any reason to ever do it again. But there you go. I have a Melody Anderson autograph on a picture of her as Dale Arden in the moments *just* before my favorite scene. LOL I think I’ll hang it in my office.
And last. On the way in to the convention center in the morning, the ferry was a little late so, having become my mother (as we all do,) I started chatting with the woman sitting next to me. Jennifer is a very nice lady from Richmond, who is studying Holistic Nutrition in NYC. We chatted all the way across, and parted once we got off the ferry.
On the way home, I did something *incredibly* stupid, for which I have no excuse. I left my keys in the Javits convention center. So, I got back to my car…and was stuck. The Javits was closed, I was pretty much screwed. I called the wife, who had to drive out with an extra set of keys…not happily, and rightly so. So I was sitting there at the ferry terminal, feeling really unhappy, when who gets off the ferry, but Jennifer! And do you know, she offered to wait with me, until the wife came. It was a random act of kindness that was priceless – I hope the universe rewards her suitably. :-)
I think that covers everything. Except for a quick note to say that the security in Javits were the biggest bunch of dickwads I have ever dealt with in any venue on four continents – and their line management skills are non-existent. In every way that had nothing to do with space use, people management or related topics, NYCC was a total blast. If Prism is going to be there again next year – I will be there again too.