25 -- Back From San Diego
Man, what a trip! I've got more to say, but let's get this week's cartoon out of the way first.
Also, I'd like to apologize to See Magazine and Terminal City readers for being so dumb I forgot to send my editors the strip for this week, so Bob didn't run. Though of course, had either of those editors e-mailed me on Monday to remind me, I could have gotten the strip in by Tuesday morning. But I'm still responsible.
On the BtAF side, I did awesome. Contrary to my complaint in the previous pre-diego update, I ended up with a super-great table placement rather than the buried spot I thought I was getting, so instead of facing away from everything over by the wall, I was right on the edge facing down the aisle! I couldn't believe it! And the space worked for me, and once again I was sold out by the end of Friday. 130 books, plus a mess of posters! Woo-hoo!. If anything, it just shows how stupid I am, since this happened last year and I resolved to send more books, then didn't. I coulda sold another two boxes of books, easy! I'm such a moron!
As always, it was good to wear the hat and meet the fans, draw in their sketchbooks and sign their stuff. It comes and goes in spurts, where you'll spend 45 minutes trying to catch people's eyes and hand out flyers, and then suddenly a little crowd of fans appear and start buying.
Unfortunately, I was at my table most of the time, so I don't have a hell of a lot of cool I-met-or-saw-such-and-such-a-person stories. The coolest thing I did was manage to get a copy of Everybody vs. BtAF to David X. Cohen, co-creator of Futurama, which is pretty cool in my eyes but I can see how it's not much of a story. Steve Jackson of Steve Jackson games showed up at my table at 4 o'clock on Sunday wanting an apostrophe poster when I was long, long out of everything, and I had to sadly turn him away posterless. I saw the Penny Arcade guys, doing crazy good as the webcomic titans they are. They mentioned seeing me on their site last week, and yes, they know my name is Stephen Notley and not Robert Flowers. It's some kind of joke that has something to do with a webcomic I don't read, Wigu, I think. I don't get that one, but all the rest of their stuff is great video-game swearing goodness! Check it out!
I also went around to various comic retailers to try to interest them in ordering the UBOPE when it comes out, with mixed results, though I want to put a call-out to Lee at Lee's Comics in San Mateo, who's already carrying my stuff! Woo! Go Lee! Any of you folks in San Mateo, get books at Lee's!
Links and stuff
Some Minor ramblings
The biggest thing about the Uday/Qusay slam is that it popped the crappy
9-11 report out of the lead headline spot, though the grumblings on that
one have only just started. It's a pretty slick whitewash, smearing blame
so broadly over the security apparatus that nobody can pin anything on
anybody. But I ask again: Where were the fighters? WHERE WERE THE FIGHTERS?
I haven't heard shit about that in this 9-11 report, and that's one of
the central questions Americans need answered. We're already in JFK-land
here, in that it will become increasingly impossible to ever work out something
like the truth --and get it known-- in the wake of all the sneaky evasions
and unanswered questions surrounding 9-11. Instead, we're building a myth,
or a set of mutually contradictory myths, that people will gravitate to
more because of their already-existing prejudices than because we really
know what actually happened. Bleah.
July 16 -- Wednesday update madness!
As promised last week, the update to the site comes on a sunny Wednesday this time around on account of how I'll be all in San Diego this Friday. So let's get cracking. First, the cartoon, the beating heart of the page, the reason you people show up. It's a goofy one this week, and I've called it:
San Diego Comic-Con July 16 - 20
Astute lookers and noticers will have twigged to the little circled area on the upper left side of the floor plan. Let's zoom in a little closer and throw another graphical image up on the computer screen:
My table listing is "V8", which faces away from everything and is really making me start to wonder why I spent $300 on a small press table when I could have gotten an Artist's Alley space for free.
Regardless, I'm all packed and ready to go, and I've got tons of goodies and surprises for enterprising fans and unsuspecting Comic-con goers alike. I'm particularlly pumped to start giving people sneak peeks at the LoveBot Conquers All stuff; I think yer gonna like it.
Links and such...
Glorying in another's misfortune
Hey! Democrats! Go after CHENEY! He's the guy! He sent former ambassador Wilson to Niger to check the uranium claim, and his office had to receive the report that it was bogus. There's just no friggin' way he can claim he didn't know; in fact, since he's the one who most pushed the Iraq nuclear line, it's obvious this lie has been his baby from the start. Don't let him hide in his bunker; drag the mutha out from under his rock and start grilling him! He won't confess, but if you can get him up on TV a few times with his angry red liar's face, it'll start to make an impression. People will hesitate to criticize the President directly, but the Vice President? He's a boil waiting to be lanced. Get on it!
America, this is your country. It's not just your leaders; you
are also responsible. If you're okay with your leaders lying their
lying faces off to you in order to go to war, you will reap the whirlwind.
And frankly, I can't let that happen; I need America to stay alive so I
can sell books to it. So get angry, for cryin' out loud! Get political!
July 11 -- Man, how did I end up here?
Oh, right... I went off to see Pirates of the Carribean in order to review it, and I didn't get back until 1:30 in the morning, and I had to write the review, and then I spent all that time fiddling around with the earlier update listing at the bottom of the page, and that's why it's 3:21 am. All makes perfect sense, really.
Okay, the cartoon is this:
Buy Stuff Now
Off to San Diego next week!
But my big recommend this week is Channel101.com,
a kind of jack-off Internet version of a TV station. Yeah, we've seen such
like before, but the difference is that this one is powered by Dan
Harmon and Rob
Schrab, whose long-ago authoring of Scud
the Disposable Assassin still resonates with likers of cool stuff around
this Earth. They went to Hollywood, wrote a lot, got paid some, and now
they're making little mini-movies and putting them up on the web. The idea
is, they do wee 5-minute films and throw them up as pilots, viewers vote
with their downloads, and then the best ones go to "production". Not everything
up there is gold, and this stuff plays to a certain taste, but people should
probably take a look at the most recent offering in the Prime
Time section, Computerman,
starring Jack Black, and I'd also recommend Dan
Harmon's Batman in the Archives.
But there's lots in there, and hell, they accept submissions, so if you've
got a digicam and figure you can smartass with the big boys, go
July 4 -- Happy America Day!
To all my American readers, I wish you good health and pleasure on this, the day you celebrate the shrugging off of imperial shackles with the courage to forge your own destiny. Now if we can just get that going again here in 2003, we'd be rockin'...
Okay, first, the cartoon:
I've got 5 pages done already, in four days of working. Should be a good story, I hope, vaguely pornographic, with little real human understanding or insight. We'll see how it goes.
Buy Apostrophe Posters!
Buy Bob Books!
A Lame New York story
Pretty weak story, really --"How I failed to see Janeane Garafalo in New York." But I'm gonna use this weak story as the jumping-off point for some brief comments along the lines of what I probably would have shouted out during the Q&A period, had I actually made it to the event.
What the Democrats need right now are some serious "talking points"; that is, those little nuggets of ideology that the Republicans deploy to such good effect, where all Repubs get on board for a week and spin one thing, whether it's "The dividend tax is immoral double taxation" or "Saddam must be disarmed." Talking points are the way to ride the media wave, and the Democrats have been stunningly slow on picking up on how to use them; ie. pick something and then talk about nothing else for a week or two.
Here's my suggestion for a sweet talking point: "Where the hell is our 9-11 investigation?" How is it possible that two years later we still don't know what went wrong that day? How is it that we still don't have answers to basic questions like "Where were the fighters?" America is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a brand new Homeland Security department, and we don't even know how the already existing security departments fucked up. This is madness!
The trick to using your talking points effectively is to not buckle the moment somebody calls you on it, something the Democrats have been a little weak on lately. So here's how to do it. The Democrats pick a week, and then all the candidates go on message and ask the same questions over and over again: "Where is our 9-11 investigation? Where were the fighters?" Then it enters the spin realm: conservative commentators bluster that this is a partisan attack, that it's being used for political advantage. Then Democrats just say: "Of course it's political. This is politics. I'm a politician, and so is George W. Bush." And then you turn it around: "Let me ask you a question: do you think it's not important that we find out what went wrong that day? That it's not important to the families of those who died? Do you honestly think America can go into the next election without answers to these basic questions?"
Democrats seem terrified of Bush's insanely high approval ratings. Well,
no shit they're high; nobody's consistently, repatedely making the opposing
case. Considering how super bad this presidency is, Democrats currently
seem intent of carving a spot in history as "most ineffectual opposition
ever" in how feebly they're opposing this unbeliveable bullshit. America
is on the line here, folks, the America some of your forefathers fought
to create. History has given us the Democratic Party as the lone political
tool to derail the death train, and if they can't do it, it's gonna be
waaaaaay harder to stop this thing further down the track. So let's get
on it, folks!
June 27 -- I got a bit drunk last night so that's why this update is so late
Well, it's nice to know my fans are prompt enough that I start getting e-mails by 9 in the morning wondering where the new strip is. It's here:
More New York stuff
Oh, and hey, I haven't read the new Harry Potter yet. Is it any good, anyone?
And while you're at it, you could buy some books!
Yeah! That sounds awesome!
June 25 - Whew. New York.
I return to you a somewhat battered cartoonist. Not physically --indeed, I felt not even a single ping of violent feeling or intent in that big scary city-- but my ego has taken something of a kicking. There's something about New York that can take the piss out of an artist, or indeed, a thing-doer of any type, where you find out just how much bigger and better and more things are when you hit the big leagues.
I'm making this sound a hell of a lot whinier and sucky that it really was. In truth, it was a good time; it's just that the things I had the most fun doing weren't what I thought they'd be. I didn't think, for example, that one of my best memories would be sitting in my fantastically gracious host Pete Pachal's place (formerly of the U of A Gateway, now of Sound and Vision) reading comics. I was stunned at how much I liked J. Michael Straczinski's Spider-Man stuff, particularly after having decided a few years ago that even though I'd been a giant Babylon 5 fan for a while, I'd seen the measure of Straczinski's skill and found it wanting. But then I got all into Peter Parker's I-miss-Mary-Jane thing, and before I knew it I'd read 'em all. Fuckin' Straczinski, forcing me to alter my altered opinions! And then I read a big swack of Grant Morrison's JLA, and durned if I didn't get into those crazy ol' characters again, too. So that was fun.
And, of course, the food. I knew I wouldn't eat anything bad in NY, and I was right. Ah, the pizza. So good. Why the hell can't anybody in Edmonton make a half-decent slice of New York pizza? Thin crust, oily, so yummy, so satisfying, so cheap. And then there was the chinese food shared on Monday by me, Pete, the inestimable Keith Knight and Keith's lovely wife Kersten (I hope I'm spelling that right). Sesame chicken, house fried rice, okay, sure, but then we had the lobster, curry lobster, so flavorful. Top that with a Krispy Kreme donut, 12 oz. of milk, and a creme brule at some dessert place, and my guts were roiling in happy confusion.
But as I say, there were some disappointments. First was Hulk, which didn't thrill me half as much as I'd hoped. And while we're on the topic, what's with these "that's really the title" titles for Marvel movies these days? First there was "X2", which apparently had something to do with the X-Men, and then there's Hulk -- not "The Hulk", just "Hulk". Remember, everyone; the movie's just called "Hulk".
What was I talking about? Oh, right, disappointments. Well, there was the MoCCA show. First off, it was a great show, bopping, filled with attendees, tons of super cool cartoonists and comic people there. It was a ball, as always, to get the chance to meet some fans and sign the books of the folks who did come by, but my wicked greedy heart needed about three times as many of you guys to show than did. It's just that, when there's a show where people are making out like bandits, I'm used to being one of the ones making out like a bandit. Instead, this show for me (and Keith felt a bit of it too) was what we in the biz call "slow". That is, after a few hours I saw how limited the dent I'd put in my two boxes of books was, and had to start agressively price-slashing to get rid of them. I managed to move most of them, thanks to a gratifying sale to the Million Year Picnic comic store in Cambrdige, Mass., but I made about half the money I hoped I would. Sure, I've got lots of excuses -- I don't have much presence on the East Coast, I hadn't ever done this show before, New Yorkers are less inclined to be startled or intrigued by a guy wearing a flower on his head -- but still, it was something of a bummer, and set off a chain of ego-stripping thoughts on the subway ride to the post-MoCCA party. Thankfully, the party tourned out pretty well after some Budweisers; I got to rail about Hong Kong movies to Michael Kupperman of Snake N' Bacon's Cartoon Cabaret (he even let me bum smokes off him after I ran out of beadies!), and talked with Craig Thompson, whose new 600-page Blankets was the monster hit of MoCCA. I'm a third through it now, and if any of you kids read Thompson's earlier Goodbye, Chunky Rice and got all weepy, then break out the wallet and the four-ply hankies.
And that's all I got to say, since it's coming up on 4 o'clock in the morning here as I write this. I'll probably have a few more things to add on the Friday update, stuff about weird hostels and cute girls. Go forward, fearless readers!