The West Hollywood Book Fair is this Sunday, October 2nd, and a good number of comic book and graphic novel authors, artists, publishers and retailers are taking part. There are plenty of panels and events, which all include signings immediately after. Here’s a look at what’s happening:
The Comics, Graphic Novels & More Pavilion will have panels throughout the entire day. Good discussions will be held to examine how comics are attempting to diversify their readership, as well as the rise of graphic novel anthologies and young adult graphic novels. There will also be a look at comic book adaptations of the worlds of Jim Henson and a broader look at comics getting adapted to film and TV. The day is then capped off with a live podcast covering Superman’s impact on American and world culture.
11:00 am – 12:00 pm: Diversity in Comics panel. Former TokyoPop senior editor Lillian Diaz-Przybyl moderates; panelists: author/illustrator Leland Myrick (Feynman), manga editor/writer Troy Lewter (Priest, Cabin in the Woods), and writer Kimberly Komatsu (Womanthology,In America’s Shadow).
1:30 pm – 2:30 pm: The World of Young Adult Grapphic Novels. Lillian Diaz-Przybyl again moderates; panelists: author Cecil Castellucci (The Plain Janes), writer Deborah Vankin (Poseurs), and editor Barbara Randall Kesel (Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives, Wicked Lovely: Desert Tales).
2:45 pm – 3:45 pm: Jim Henson and Comic Books: Putting Puppets to Paper. Writer/editor (and Henson specialist) Tim Beedle moderates; panelists: The Jim Henson Company‘s Director of Product Development Jim Formanek, writer Brian Holguin (Dark Crystal), consulting editor Joe LeFavi of Quixotic Transmedia (Fraggle Rock, The Storyteller, Return to Labyrinth), and writer Heather Nuhfer (Fraggle Rock).
The Current Events & Hot Topics Pavilion will also include some comics mixed into their “traditional” book discussions. Writer Joshua Dysart (Unknown Soldier) will be one of the panelists for The Way of the Gun: Fascination & Fear in Fact & Fiction, moderated by writer Gary Phillips (Cowboys). Other panelists include novelists Naomi Hirahara (Blood Hina: A Mas Arai Mystery) and Adam Winkler (Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America).
The popular Amulet series of graphic novels by special guest Kazu Kibuishi
The Teen Stage has a live author interview with Cecil Castellucci (The Plain Janes, Janes in Love), conducted by blogger and book reviewer Chelsea Swiggett. The two will discuss Castellucci’s two graphic novels, as well as her popular young adult novels like Rose Sees Red.
Young Adult author Cecil Castellucci will also be exhibiting her collaborative narrative project Literary Diaspora at the Fair. She mails (yes, old fashion mails!) out words to visual artists and images to authors who then create something inspired by what they received. They then mail it back to her to add to the growing stories. So far comics artists Becky Cloonan, Joe Infurnari, Chip Zdarsky and others have participated. Cards returned so far will be displayed at the Fair, and visitors might even find a card in a books asking them to participate. Check out LiteraryDiaspora.com for more on the project.
Live Art with Billy Martinez – Indie comics creator Martinez will produce art at the Indie Comics Creators Booths all day long. Booth: C 19-22
How to Make Comic Books & Zines Workshop – The Indie Comics Creators Booths will hold workshops and tutorials all day long. Booth: C 19-22
Archaia Entertainment – Publisher of graphic novels Mouse Guard, Return of the Dapper Men, Jim Henson projects like Fraggle Rock and The Dark Crystal, and much more. Booth: C 4-5 The Comic Bug – A great comic book store in Manhattan Beach. Booth: C 1-2 The Devastator – A quarterly comedy magazine with comics, funny writing and other wackiness run by editor-in-chief Geoffrey Golden (Cracked, National Lampoon). Booth: C 19-22, Table E Eyedraugh Comics – Independent comics publisher located in Fontana. Booth: C 19-22, Table A Neko Press Comics – Art studio, school and publisher run by La Mesa-based illustrator Billy Martinez, who will be producing live art all day long. Booth: C 19-22, Table H OMGcow: A Comic Diary – An autobiographical web-comic by cartoonist Sheika Lugta of Long Beach. Booth: C 19-22, Table A
Cats I've Known & Loved by Scott Shaw! (click for the full story)
The weekly random YouTube kitteh video has been replaced this week by this wonderful new web-comic by Scott Shaw! where he spotlights his eight favorite kitties. The one above I knew too and he’s right that Outlaw was one of the special ones. “Cats I’ve Known and Loved” is the latest chapter in Scott’s Now It Can Be Told! comic at the web-collective Act-i-vate.
Things to do in and around LA this weekend:
ART – The 3rd Annual ArtCycle showcases the emerging art and bicycling cultures of East Hollywood by taking over Santa Monica Blvd. from Vermont to Virgil. There will be art galleries, live theatrical productions and other creative experiences making up a lively street fair on Saturday, 2:00-10:00 PM. Tickets: $0.
COMEDY – Two improv comedy groups, the Magic Meathands (with me!) and [This Space Left Intentionally Blank], have a tag team show at the Mary Pickford Studio, Saturday night at 8 PM. Tickets: $7.
After living here for just over ten years, I’m still learning about Los Angeles and its surprisingly rich history. From the 1950s and into the mid-’60s, local station KTLA, then owned by Paramount, ran The Pier Point 5 Club, later renamed The Popeye Show. Both shows aired live segments between episodes of the Popeye cartoon, which had been licensed to Paramount in 1941. To compete with other children’s programming, KTLA needed a host for the live segments, and so they hired Tom Hatten.
Dressed as a skipper to resemble Popeye, what made Tom Hatten unique from the other kids show hosts was his abilities as an artist, in addition to being a classically trained actor. Tom Hatten would draw Popeye, Olive Oyl and Bluto live on the show. For many LA area kids, this was probably the first time they’d ever seen someone draw seemingly random lines on a page and bring them together to create something familiar. The show was so popular that it was brought back in the ’70s and ’80s.
That magical experience was expanded when Tom Hatten started holding contests on the show where random “squiggle” as he would call them, would be made by a local kid, and then he would turn it into a whale or funny looking character. If he couldn’t turn the squiggle into something, the kid would win a free bike.
This kind of local programming is unheard of these days, so naturally this kind of improvised drawing is almost impossible to find. Fortunately I know of one live performance happening this week that is an absolute joy to watch. At Comic-Con International: San Diego, one my favorite panels is Quick Draw, where master cartoonists Sergio Aragonés (Groo the Wanderer, Mad Magazine) and Scott Shaw! (Captain Carrot & His Amazing Zoo Crew, Simpsons Comics) improvise their way through a flurry of cartoon drawings. This year they’ll be joined by cartoonist Mike Kazaleh (The Adventures of Captain Jack, Futurama). The show is hosted by comics historian/animation director Mark Evanier and there are usually some guest appearances by popular comics creators. It’s a hilarious hour and change, and really shows just how brilliant these people are to be able to create identifiable objects with personality and style using free association and random audience suggestions.
But back to Tom Hatten. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any videos on YouTube of Tom drawing from the original show itself, but I found a bunch of gift ideas for 8 year old boys and this two-part interview from 2004 where he was a guest on the local talk show Marty’s Corner. He demonstrated the squiggles game and his drawing Olive Oyl to get the job, along with other great anecdotes.
Director/host Miguel Cima shows a kid Fantastic Four comics for the first time, after seeing the Fantastic Four movie in theaters
The award-winning documentary short Dig Comics, which I helped produce, is an official selection for the New Filmmakers Summer Fest 2011. It will be making a rare screening at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City this Friday, July 1st, at 6 PM. D0n’t miss this opportunity to see this spirited call-to-arms for Miguel Cima’s mission to get America to dig comics again. It includes interviews with writer Jeph Loeb (Batman, Heroes), Scott Shaw! (Oddball Comics), Dame Darcy (Meatcake), and several Los Angeles comics retailers. There are also unique experiments with people on the street to get them to discover the magic of comic books.
Dig Comics won Best Documentary at Comic-Con International’s Independent Film Festival and was an official selection at Festival de Cannes, the Vancouver International Film Festival, Bumbershoot and other film festivals. There have also been special screenings at Meltdown Comics with special guest Edward James Olmos, and Jim Hanley’s Universe with a special panel made up of Marvel Comics VP of Publishing Tom Brevoort, The Beat’s Heidi MacDonald, comics creators Andy Helfer and Danny Fingeroth, and Graphic NYC’s Christopher Irving. The documentary has been written up by the Los Angeles Times, Ain’t It Cool News, and Comic Book Resources, among others.
For more on Dig Comics’ progress, check out my page for it here (although I need to catch up on some more recent events).
You can get exclusive comic books made just for Free Comic Book Day featuring the Amazing Spider-Man, Avatar the Last Airbender, Star Wars: Clone Wars, Green Lantern, Betty & Veronica, Darkwing Duck, Kung Fu Panda, Richie Rich, the Dark Crystal, the Simpsons, Captain America, Thor, Inspector Gadget, Sonic the Hedgehog, the Tick, Mickey Mouse, Young Justice, Batman: the Brave & the Bold, and so many more. See here for a complete list of free comics available at participating stores.
Locally, comic stores all around Los Angeles County will be celebrating with free comic books, discounted comics and graphic novels, guest appearances by comic book artists and writers, and more! Additional announcements will probably be announced this week, so keep your eye on your favorite store’s website or Facebook page.
Some stores have really pulled out all of the stops:
Golden Apple on Melrose will be open an hour earlier than normal for the big day. Starting right at 10 AM, there will be comics creators giving free autographs and sketches all day, plus 20% off everything, free Lipton Brisk Green Lantern tea & hot dogs, free Priest movie stuff, a bounce house for kids (!) and more! Creators signing: 10 AM – Top Cow Productions president Matt Hawkins, writer Jeff Cahn (Red Spike), writer Owen Weisman (Samurai’s Blood) and cartoonist/animator Scott Shaw! (The Flintstones, Simpsons Comics); 12 noon: actor/writer Walter Koenig (Things to Come); 2 PM – writer Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead, Super Dinosaur) and artist Jason Howard (Super Dinosaur); 4 PM – writer Marc Andreyko (True Blood: Tainted Love, Let Met In: Crossroads), and writers Brian McCarthy & Michael Lent (Brimstone).
At Earth-2 Comics both store locations will have plenty to do, like free sketches from 10 AM to 12 noon by Todd Brocasso Harris (in Sherman Oaks) and Justin Rodrigues (Northridge). Then from 12 noon to 2 PM, writer and DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns (Green Lantern, The Flash), and writer and Executive Vice President of Marvel Television Jeph Loeb (Batman: Hush, Spider-Man: Blue) will be available for autographs in Sherman Oaks. The two will be at the Northridge location from 3 to 5 PM. The store will also have an Earth-2 exclusive Green Lantern comic.
Free Comic Book Day 2011 (by Darwyn Cooke)
Meltdown Comics will be holding amazing special events all day long! From 11 AM to 3 PM, including a free screening of Jim Henson‘s classic movie The Dark Crystal and life-sized Skeksis statues used in the original 1982 movie! Writer Brian Holguin, who wrote a new Dark Crystal story in the free comic book flip book released for Free Comic Book Day, will be on hand for autographs, as will David Petersen, writer/illustrator of Mouse Guard, which makes up the second half of the flip book. Plus free posters, prizes, giveaways, and gourmet grilled cheese from The Grilled Cheese Truck. At the same time, from 11 AM to 2 PM, Jason JFish Fischer of Studio JFish will be present to sell his new underground comics, the adults only Junqueland #1, art anthology Fine Literature #2, and fantasy/adventure Jaephisch and the Dark Rainbow Chapters 1 & 2. At 1 PM, Shane and Chris Houghton, creators of the all-ages comic Reed Gunther, will hold a comics creating class just for kids. From 2:00 – 3:30 PM, writers Jeff Cahn (Red Spike) and Owen Weisman (Samurai’s Blood) of Benaroya Publishing will be signing. Finally, at 4 PM in the Meltdown Gallery, there will be a Graphic Noir panel with writer Joshua Hale Fialkov (Echoes, Tumor) and writer/artist Kody Chamberlain (Sweets, Punks: The Comic), as they discuss their creative processes and influences, followed by a brief signing.
The Comic Bug in Hermosa Beach has a ton of creators lined up, scheduled for 12 noon to 3 PM giving free sketches and autographs in addition to huge sales and live super-heroes for photo ops. Their line-up will include writer/artist Mike Mignola (Hellboy, Baltimore), writer Steve Niles (30 Days of Night, Criminal Macabre), TV & comics writer Christopher Yost (Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, New X-Men), writer Joshua Williamson (Fractured Fables, Yo Gabba Gabba Comic Book Time), writer/letterer Richard Starkings (Elephantmen), animator/artist Phil Ortiz (The Simpsons), Jeff Stokely (Fraggle Rock) and lots more. Artist Joe Benitez (Lady Mechanika) will be there 3 – 5 PM.
Excerpt of Now It Can Be Told Chapter 10: I Was the Only Kid on the Island of Blue Dolphins
Cartoonist and animator Scott Shaw! (Flintstones, Captain Carrot) has been releasing his first web-comics and they are an incredibly entertaining way to hear his great stories of his past. And in the process we get a great look at local history in Southern California.
The latest chapter of Now It Can Be Told is about the 9-year-old Scott visiting San Nicolas Island, an uninhabited land mass off the coast of California. Well, uninhabited except for the US Navy where his father was stationed. Scott got to see experiments with robot-piloted drone planes, huge sub-sea caves with ancient rock engravings (right), anti-gravity roads, human skulls, sea lions and lobsters.
The title of the chapter, “I Was the Only Kid on the Island of Blue Dolphins” is a reference to the 1960 children’s book Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, and illustrated by Ted Lewin. Based on a true story, the book is about a Native American woman who was stranded on the island for 18 years in the 1800s. Most people probably hadn’t even heard of the island until this popular book. In an amazing coincidence, the book was released about a month after Scott’s visit to the island.
Scott’s comic is a look at a part of California most of us will probably never get to see but thanks to the magic of comics (and Scott’s memory), now we can!
The illegal bootlegger and hardened criminal DaneInLA has posted two more videos to his YouTube account. The two videos capture the entire Q&A panel that immediately followed the screening of Dig Comics at Comic-Con International: Independent Film Festival this past weekend.
So now thanks to modern technology, it’s almost like you were there! Except with poor sound quality and a small yet erratic earthquake no one else but you seems to notice.
The panel consisted of Miguel Cima (host/writer/director), Scott Shaw! (animator and interviewee) and myself (associate producer). Also seen is producer and editor Dirk Van Fleet.
And in case you missed it, here’s the introduction from the panel with a special appearance by Edward James Olmos:
Dig Comics World Premiere Screening at San Diego Comic-Con International Film Festival
Olmos Productions To Produce Long-Form Follow-Up
LOS ANGELES – The documentary short film Dig Comics has been selected for screening at the Comic-Con International: Independent Film Festival on July 25, 2009. An exclusive question and answer session with director/host Miguel Cima will precede the screening.
Including interviews with Eisner®-winning writer Jeph Loeb (Lost, Heroes) and indie comics visionary Dame Darcy (Meatcake), as well as animation by Scott Shaw! (The Flintstones, Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew) and Emmy®-winning Russell Calabrese (Pinky and the Brain), the documentary challenges America to Dig Comics.
The documentary is hosted by writer/director Miguel Cima, who talks with comic book creators and retailers. He also conducts unique man-on-the-street experiments to find out what happened with America’s affection for comics.
Both a love letter to the American art form of comics and a call to arms to increase the dwindling audience, Dig Comics has already won the attention of Edward James Olmos’ company Olmos Productions, which has agreed to produce a long-form full-length Dig Comics. Olmos believes that as a medium, comic books not only increase literacy but also serves as an inspirational learning tool for both students and teachers.
What: Dig Comics world premiere screening with Q&A
Where: Comic-Con International, San Diego Convention Center, Room 26AB, 111 W. Harbor Dr., San Diego, CA 92101
When: Saturday, July 25, 2009, 6:30-7:15 PM
“When most people think of comic books, they think of a bunch of lowbrow entertainment for duller minds. Fact is, this art form is the most exciting and vibrant medium happening now. And don’t think just superheroes. Any genre you may fancy – comedy, horror, drama, documentary, the surreal, spiritual, historical, political – anything you want is out there being created by a community of incredibly talented and underappreciated writers and artists. Check out what you’ve been missing!” – DigComics.com
Dig Comics is a documentary about one man’s quest to get America to Dig Comics! (Heck, even if you’re outside of America, he wants you to Dig Comics!) We talked to people on the street to see why they didn’t read comics and to see if we could get them interested. We talked to comic book creators like Jeph Loeb (A Superman For All Seasons, “Heroes,” “Lost”), Dame Darcy (Meatcake) and Scott Shaw! (Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew, “Flintstones”) and retailers to find out what went wrong with an American art form that was all the rage in the 1940s and then nearly vanished, to see if there’s a chance for it to thrive again today.
Above is the trailer for the documentary. I served as associate producer. It includes fun animation by Scott Shaw! and Russell Calabrese. We’re looking to spread the word about this documentary and about comics in general. We want to see if we can get you to Dig Comics!