Wednesday, October 26, 2011

NYCC 2011: Veni, Vidi, Vici

Sorry I haven’t been more attentive to this blog lately. I blame it on a combination of three things:
-        Coming back from NYCC with a bunch of projects I want to do.
-        Spending the weekend following NYCC on an impromptu road trip to Philadelphia, about which I cannot speak, due to the statute of limitations on certain events.
-        I bought Batman: Arkham City.  
I swear to God, the lack of bloginess is due more to the first two items than the third. Honest.
To make up for my slackeriness, I will endeavor to blog more regularly. To facilitate this, I will do a Q&A blog sometime in the next week or so. Send me some questions, if you are so inclined


Holy shit. That was a good time. Jenny and I have been attending New York Comic Con since its inaugural outing in 2006, and have been to every show since then, with the notable exception of 2010, when I was busily going blind. It’s one of the rare social or cultural events I have the privilege of having been in on the ground floor for (oddly enough, the only other example that springs to mind is the Warped Tour), so I feel oddly proprietary towards it.
The show has been getting bigger and bigger every single year, and this year almost everyone who had a basis of comparison said that it was reaching San Diego levels of humungousness. Despite having absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with the planning or execution of the show, I still felt strangely proud of that. Our little boy’s all groweds up.

I got to rock my Pro Pass this year as a bona fide “person who makes funnybooks”. That was pretty righteous, not just for the ability to stand in slightly smaller than average lines, but for the looks on the faces of the occasional fanboy who would catch sight of the “Pro” on my laminate, and then try to decide if I was or was not Robert Kirkman*.  
I also got to do my first official comic book signing. Saturday morning, I found myself at the Grayhaven Comics table, hocking comics with the fine gentlemen of Grayhaven (Andrew, Doug, and James), and signing copies of the Gathering. I also got to hang out with the gorgeous, hilarious, and insanely talented Amanda “Clown Town” Rachels, and the gentleman’s gentleman, Len “Love Buzz” Wallace.

Me! (And Grayhaven Comics' James O'Callaghan)
A whole bunch of folks from the Bendis Board came and bought books from us while I was there. I was seriously blown away by the support I received from all these fine people. I am humbled and honored and thrilled to be a part of a community that has given so much to my life, including the lovely lady I tricked into marrying me.

Seated: James and I. Standing: Harry Crosland of the Next Issue Podcast, James Hooks, and Grayhaven's Doug Hahner

A fine tradition harkening back to the first ever NYCC, the New York City Bendis Board regulars invite all travelling nerds to join them for an evening of food, libations, and fun. This was one of the bigger turnouts we have had, damn near filling the bar we chose, and scaring the living shit out of the bar’s manager. (Pat Loika has a picture of the guy’s face. It’s hysterical.) I had my shit together enough to actually learn every single person’s name, which, if you know me, you understand is a “snatch the pebble out of my hand” moment for me.
I had a blast with some of my best friends on the planet, made a lot of new friends, and laughed until I thought my ribs were going to snap. I think it can be truly said that a good time was had by all.

The Powers that be were good enough to allow IDW to show the pilot episode of the “Locke and Key” series, based on the absolutely brilliant comic series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. Oh my God, it was brilliant. The fact that it didn’t get picked up makes me angry enough to punch television in the face.
I am making it my mission in life to grassroots this series into existence. If you get a chance to see the pilot at a Con, DO IT. Also tell Joe Hill and IDW how much you love it. DO NOT download it or torrent it or any of that shit, as that’s the surest way to make sure it never sees the light of day.

Hands down, the best panel I attended during NYCC was the “Women of Marvel” panel, held Sunday morning at an ungodly early hour.  The panel was moderated by Marvel Editor Jeanine Schaefer, and featured Colleen Coover ("Wolverine: First Class"), Kelly Sue DeConnick ("Osborn"), Editor Lauren Sankovitch ("Fantastic Four"), Editor Sana Amanat ("Ultimate Spider-Man"), Sara Pichelli ("Ultimate Spider-Man") Emma Rios ("Cloak And Dagger"), Marjorie Liu ("X-23"), and Editor Ellie Pyle.
It was an amazing hour. These women make me want to write better. They’re intense, brilliant, driven, and so fucking talented. I walked out of that room wanting to work with them. I wanted so badly to write something that they all thought was good. Talking to Chris Page after the panel, I told him, “I don’t know how hard it is to write for the average fanboy. Maybe hard, maybe not. But if I could write something that those women appreciated, THAT would mean I am killing it.”
It was especially amazing to be at that panel with Jenny. Watching her see these women doing what she wants to do, reassuring her that it CAN BE DONE. It was amazing to watch her face throughout the discussion and see how intensely and emotionally the whole thing resonated with her. If we had done nothing else the entire trip, that panel would have made NYCC worthwhile.

Kelly Sue DeConnick is one of my heroes. She’s an amazing writer, and a genuinely cool person. I’ve been spending a lot of time hanging on her forum on Jinxworld, and the people I have met there have all been top shelf (looking at you, Terry Tyson and Karen Mahoney). Kelly Sue has been just ridiculously generous with me, giving me advice that has truly helped me, and pushing me to do better. The one goal I had for the Con was to get to meet her face to face and tell her how much she had helped me out. And I finally got a chance to do so Sunday, after the Women of Marvel panel.

She might only be 5 feet tall, but she’s got ten feet of heart. Jenny and I are sort of in love with her.
New York Comic Con, I salute you. You are truly big-assed and full of all varieties of glorious nerditry. See you next year!

Hugs and kisses,

*Jenny did not get this joke until we saw Kirkman on "Talking Dead" this week. Then she turned and looked at me and said, "HOLY SHIT!"

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Coming in 2012 - WACKY ZACK MUST DIE

WARNING: Shameless self-promotion to follow.
Since this past spring, I have been diligently working on my SUPER-SECRET ORIGINAL GRAPHIC NOVEL PROJECT. Now I can finally show you guys some teaser art from the book, drawn by my partner in crime, Mr. Chris Hopkins.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present your first look at WACKY ZACK MUST DIE.
Max is living a charmed life as the alpha-nerd of his particular zip code, but he knows he won't be truly happy until he finally lands the girl of his dreams, the delectable Kelly Dee. Only one thing stands in his way - her unicycle-riding, hamster-juggling, amateur prop-comedian boyfriend Wacky Zack. So as far as Max is concerned, there's only one solution. Wacky Zack must DIE.
In these pages, Max is attending his high school reunion. His adoration of Kelly Dee from afar is interrupted by his old high school nemesis, Rob Bannerman.




Chris is hard at work cranking out pages and finishing promotional material for the book. Our goal is to publish sometime in 2012. Watch this space for more details.  

NYCC 2011
Oh, goody! My favorite time of the year in the nerd calendar is at hand. New York Comic-Con 2011 will be kicking off this Thursday, October 13th through Sunday, October 16th. SO EXCITED!
I will be at the Grayhaven Comics booth (2547) on Saturday from 10am until noon, signing copies of The Gathering Volume 2 (“The Other Side ofDespair”, featuring “The Hopester Vs. Despairicus”, with art by Pat Loika), and Volume 6 (“Further into the Abyss”, featuring “Jack, Unblinking”, with art by Chris Page). Please stop by and say hello! Grayhaven Comics will also have Gathering Volume 5 on hand (“Love Letters”), featuring the story “Green Carnations” written by my lovely wife, Jenny Langin, and featuring art from Amanda Rachels (Clown Town).

Hugs and kisses,
(The) Travis

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Laura Hudson Sex/Sexism Kerfuffle: What Have We Learned?

So Laura Hudson, a very smart lady who writes very smart things about comics, posted something on Comics Alliance discussing how women are presented in superhero comics. (SPOILER ALERT: It’s not always in a good way.) Her article was based directly on two of DC Comics’ recent relaunched titles, Catwoman, and Red Hood and the Outlaws. If you haven’t already, read the article here. It’s very interesting, I think, and raises some damned good points.
The comics fan community on the internet, predictably, went apeshit. My favorite comment from the peanut gallery? “Hudson is the prime example as to why women shouldn't be able to access the Internet.” Charming.
Man, I struggled with this one. I have seriously been kicking this stupid blog around for almost 2 weeks, trying to figure out how to crystallize all of my thoughts on the topic into some coherent points. And I still don’t think I’ve managed that. Talking about this, in fact, might be the very definition of beating a dead horse.
But I’ve also kept my mouth shut after reading articles like this one on the SDCC “Oh You Sexy Geek” panel, and I had a very similar reaction to that article that I did to the Comics Alliance piece (and the almost immediate backlash). And I can't help but think about the criticism some women had for the "hentai" Heroes for Hire cover from a few years back, and how hostile a lot of the fan response was to those women. Again, my reaction was the same.
That reaction: Sometimes nerd culture is awfully mean to the ladies we say we love.
Look, I understand that processing criticism of comics you like and movies you dig (Sucker Punch, for a painfully obvious example), or video games you play, or whatnot can be a bit troublesome -  Especially when that criticism is that there is an inherently sexist or misogynistic streak running through your chosen entertainment. Nobody likes being told that they’re a creep. I get that. But here’s my point, if I have one at all. You don’t NEED to agree with Ms. Hudson’s article 100%. You don’t need to throw away your issues of Catwoman or Voodoo, or Red Hood. You don’t have to stop liking something you like. But you DO need to take a moment, and read the article carefully, and disengage your personal stake in the material from the criticism being leveled, and then acknowledge that – like it or not – SHE HAS A POINT.
Especially if you’re an aspiring comic creator.
I haven’t read any of the issues Hudson refers to. Not because of any specific issues with sex/sexism in these books, but just because they’re not my cup of tea, and that was made pretty clear to me before going into the relaunch. There’s other books in the DCnU that are tailor made for a reader like me, and those are the ones I sought out. So I can’t comment on the quality of these specific issues, nor would I, honestly, strictly as a matter of professional self-preservation. But what I DID do, is read the article and think about how I can maybe take some notes from it, as I try to build my career, as I try to tell my stories, and as I try to continue to grow recognition and appreciation of my personal favorite art-form.
And that’s all I think Hudson really wants. I don’t think she’s suggesting we march on the offices of DC with torches. I don’t see where she’s suggesting that everyone involved is a misogynist. I think, at most, she’s accusing the parties involved of being a bit careless, but that may be me reading into her words. At any rate, it’s the lesson I’m taking away: To remember to be careful. To remember that sex sells, but you have to know who’s buying it. To remember that if you want to write comics and stories that appeal to real women, you need to put some REAL women in there.  
Maybe it helps that I have so many women in my life that I love, respect, and (sometimes) fear. I think about how my Mom would react if she read a certain portrayal of a character. I think about the fact that I WANT to show my work to my wife and her amazing sisters. I think about how much I would love to be able to hand my younger female cousins some comics that speak to them without pandering to them, and that entertain them without insulting them. And I try to do my best, and I try to be CAREFUL.
I welcome discussion. Post your thoughts in the comments.
Hugs and kisses,