Thursday, May 3, 2012

How Punk Rock Prepared me for Comic Conventions

I had the absolute pleasure to attend MoCCA Fest this year as an exhibitor, working the Gray Haven Comics table, and slinging comics with writer/editors Doug Hahner and Erica Heflin. I had an absolute blast, meeting new people, talking comics, and getting the opportunity to be surrounded and inspired by a room full of creators who JUST HAVE TO make comics. There is no other choice for them.

It’s funny, I’ve heard a few creators complain about how much they hate working the table at cons. How boring it is, and how frustrating it is. I spent almost all of my twenties playing in bands that felt the same way.  The standard procedure for most bands I was in – 1) Set up 2) Rock out 3) Break down the equipment 4) Drink many beers. Most bands I have met would rather do almost anything than sit at the merch table after they play trying to sling T-shirts and CDs. So many bands outsourced that job to a friend, or a girlfriend.

Fortunately for my band-mates, they always had me. I LOVED the merch table. I wasn’t much of a drinker, so sitting in the van and swallowing lukewarm Pabst Blue Ribbon didn’t hold a lot of appeal for me.  Plus, often the shows we were playing were populated by just the bands, and their friends. I thought an extra body still in the room watching whoever was on next was just plain courteous. But more than anything else, I always just assumed that someone buying a CD of a band would rather buy it directly from the hand of someone in that band. And I dug having the chance to actually connect with someone who was into what I was doing.

The Dakota Version, 2005.

Same thing with comics and conventions. I LOVE being at the table, and selling comics, and talking to whoever will make polite eye contact with me. I’m not a hard sell guy. I’ll tell you what the books are about, and if it’s not your thing, no hard feelings. But I really love knowing that there are some people out there, reading a story I have written, and maybe feeling that extra investment in it because they got it right from my hands.

Much love to some of the familiar faces and some of the new friends from MoCCA Fest.

·        Table-neighbor Mario Gonzalez, creator of the fantastic WYLIMAN. I only got to talk to Mario a little bit, but he struck me as being very sweet and genuine. I really dug talking to him, and I love his work a lot.

·        Heather Nunnely, our other table-neighbor, and the talent behind the comic/soon-to-be-webcomic VACANT. I got to snag the first issue of Vacant and thought it was really cool. Interesting premise, intriguing characters, and it left me wanting to know/read more.  (Heather’s sister was also at the table, but I didn’t really get to talk to her, and have totally forgotten her name. She seemed very nice, though.)

·        I finally got to meet Taylor Esposito face to face, after an extended courtship via Twitter. Taylor is good people, boy band handsome, and you should totally get him to letter your comic, if your comic needs lettering.

·        Sean Von Gorman, artist of the completely rad comic The Secret Adventures of Houdini, in what can only be called “living your art”, was wowing the crowd with straightjacket escapes all weekend long. He was goodly enough to drop a special performance in front of the Gray Haven table, and then talk us up to the assembled audience. He’s a really good dude.

·        I also got to see the lovely and talented AlisaHarris and her faithful sidekick, the no-less lovely or talented Allan Norico. I love them so much. I wish we lived in the same city so we could hang out all the time.


I continue to be obsessed with the Avengers Alliance game for Facebook, playing it like I’m getting a paycheck for doing so. It’s an insanely fun and addictive game for someone with my proclivities, and I find myself having actual hard opinions on the game mechanics, the difficulty of various bosses, the balance of power between Character A and B, and other sorts of things that would normally mean fuck-all to me in relation to a Facebook game.


Speaking of games, I had the opportunity to try out the new Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game recently. My one word review: Fungasm. I’ve been playing D&D in its current iteration for long enough that I had forgotten the joy of a pure RPG, with all of the wargaming and tabletop trappings burned away and only the drive of pure narrative left to matter. I’m so used to juggling a pile of different cards codifying the very specific acts my character can take that it was a thrill to be playing as Spider-Man, tell the Gamemaster (Or “Watcher”, how fucking cool is that?) “I’m going to grab a girder, make a web slingshot and shoot it at the bad guy,” and have him look me straight in the eyes and say, “Of course you fucking are. Because you’re motherfucking SPIDER-MAN.” (Or something like that, anyway. )

I cannot express this clearly enough. There was never that moment where Captain America jumping out of a helicopter and into battle required a lookup of rules on movement, motion, velocity, physics, and a million other things that each required a separate section of the rulebook. IT JUST HAPPENED. Because he’s Captain America. And there’s a battle to get into. So of COURSE he can jump out of the goddamned helicopter if he wants.


Jenny and I have tickets to see the midnight opening of “The Avengers”. So if you follow me on Twitter, don’t expect much in the next few days except the words “Oh my fucking god” and “Holy fucking shit”.

Hugs and kisses,