Last month I attended the first ever New England Webcomics Weekend (NEWW).Â It was pretty fun.Â It was billed as the first comic convention (in the U.S anyway) that was all webcomic artists – nobody who works mainly or solely in the print realm.Â Given how popular webcomics have gotten this decade, it’s surprising that there hasn’t been an event like this before.Â What’s been interesting to me, in fact, is the way that webcomics have had a presence at various kinds of fan conventions.Â They’ve been at comic conventions, sci-fi cons, anime cons, and even some computer/software cons.Â They seem to appeal to a wider audience that comic books typically have reaching perhaps the kind of audience that newspaper comic strips have in the past (of course, as the newspaper industry seems to be dying a slow death, those strips’ audience is shrinking).Â Now a critical mass has been reached or passed, and webcomics fandom itself may spawn multiple gatherings (there’s already talk of doing something similar in the Pacific Northwest).
Check out the NEWW site to see who was there (it’s a long list).Â Don’t bother checking out the forum on the site – it was overrun by spammers just after the event happened.
I volunteered to videotape a few of the panels.Â Below are links to the stuff I recorded – 2 panels and the webcomics awards ceremony.Â Each video is broken into parts because of YouTube’s time limits.Â My apologies for the lighting in some cases – I had no control over it.
Panel: Print vs. Web vs. a Bear
Panel: Creative Partner Newlywed Game
Webcomics Awards Ceremony
Even though the news is a bit old now, I wanted to post in commemoration of 2 more U.S. states gaining same-sex marriage.Â For those who haven’t heard the news:
- On April 3, the Iowa Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a state law limiting marriage to a union between a man and a woman.Â The ruling means that any 2 consenting adults can get married in the state, provided they meet the other usual criteria that the state sets.
- The following week, the Vermont legislature overrode a gubernatorial veto, enacting a law that made same-sex marriage legal.
In the span of a week, the number of states allowing same-sex couples to marry doubled (Massachusetts and Connecticut already were allowing such marriages, in both cases as a result of legal rulings similar to Iowa’s).Â Vermont is unique so far in achieving the goal legislatively, and I must admit I am encouraged by seeing a state reach marriage equality through the democratic process.Â I think public opinion in a lot of places in the country is shifting towards acceptance of LGBT people, including in the arena of marriage, and this is both a reflection of that opinion (in Vermont), and something that can help influence opinion in other states (perhaps showing that “gay marriage,” as it’s often imprecisely termed, won’t cause the apocalypse, and might actually strengthen the fabric of society).
Having said that, it is the Iowa result that I find more surprising, and exciting, and about which I worry more.Â I lived in Iowa for 4 years, and I experienced the climate for the LGBT community there.Â At that time, about a decade ago, people were still working on trying to prevent job and other discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.Â Such protections were in place in a couple of cities, but not statewide.Â I helped with an effort to get the city of Cedar Falls to add sexual orientation to its human rights law, and the city council ended up voting the change down 6 to 1 (with some council members who had seemed favorable to the change being swayed the other way by their constituents).Â The governor at the time, Tom Vilsack, issued an executive order to grant health benefits to same-sex domestic partners of state employees, and the legislature passed a law to rescind the benefits (fortunately not by a veto-proof majority).
Many Iowans may have become more comfortable with the idea of same-sex marriage, but opinion polls seems to indicate that the majority of residents still object to it.Â It’s wonderful that people will now be able to marry whomever they want in the state, but I worry about whether this will last.Â We saw what happened last year in California – the supreme court there declared that it was unconstitutional to prevent same-sex couples from marrying, and then the constitution ended up getting amended to prevent those marriages.Â At least one thing is in equal marriage’s favor in Iowa compared with the situation in California: in California it is much easier (almost ridiculously easy) to amend the constitution.Â A sufficient number of signatures needs to be collected to put the amendment on an election ballot, and then a simple majority of voters must support the ballot measure at the polls.Â In terms of process, Iowa is better compared with Massachusetts.
In both Iowa and Mass., a constitutional amendment has to be proposed in and passed by the legislature, and then passed again by the next session of the legislature, before it can go on a ballot.Â In the case of Massachusetts, there was an attempt to amend after the court ruling, and enough signatures were collected that the legislature was forced to consider the amendment proposal.Â A constitutional convention was held, and the measure did get passed on for consideration by the next legislature, but then in that session it didn’t get enough votes to go on to a referendum.Â Our good state representatives (and senators) stopped the amendment in its tracks.Â I do not think this is as likely to happen in Iowa.Â I would expect that Iowa lawmakers are still conservative enough, or will be swayed enough by pressure from their conservative constituents, that an amendment will end up on the ballot.Â Then we’ll get to see how Iowa voters really feel about the issue.
The good news is that the process won’t bring anything to Iowa voters for another 3 years.Â That’s 3 years in which public opinion could possibly be influenced in a more favorable direction.Â There will certainly be organized efforts to influence that vote long before it happens, and, hopefully, a plethora of newly married couples will be able to demonstrate to their neighbors that the court decision was just and right.
This is the last catch-up post – again posting about something that happened in October.Â I went to see They Might Be Giants at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, just as I’d done the previous October.Â Seating was different this time – the last time I’d been there, there were additional chairs setup in front of the fixed seating, and all tickets were assigned seats.Â This time, the area in front of the stage was open, and tickets for that section were general admission, which was what I bought.
Unlike many previous times I saw Them, there was no opening band.Â Then again, you could say They opened for Themselves. They played 2 sets, the first of which was composed of all the songs from the album Flood, played in order.
I arrived soon after the doors opened, and was surprised to be able to get a spot right up by the stage.Â It was over to one side, but right in front of John Linnell’s keyboard!Â I took a few pictures of the stage before they came out, some of which didn’t work so well without a flash.
The sign hanging in front of the backdrop:
I think it’s self-explanatory what this is:
And of course, Mr. Linnell’s most famous instrument (and his coffee cup):
The Flood set was great, as They played some songs I’d never heard in concert (and that They rarely play live).Â They had horn players with the band, who joined in on appropriate songs, such as Your Racist Friend (on which I think Flans screwed up the lyrics by repeating part of a verse).
Flans broke out a marching bass drum for Whistling in the Dark:
That’s the best photo I have of it.Â I tried often not to use my flash, partly because there was a ‘no cameras’ sign in the lobby, and I didn’t want to draw the attention of the theater staff.Â Eventually, I got tired of blurry photos and turned the flash back on.
At one point (I don’t remember which song), Flans passed his guitar into the audience so people could play it.
During the intermission I got a picture of the non-Flood backdrop:
and the setlist for the second half:
to spell out the listed songs:
The first thing written under the name of the venue looks like “rompy”.Â I believe this just refers to Their intro music as They came out on stage.Â They then played:
- Hey, Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had a Deal
- Alphabet of Nations
- The Mesopotamians
- Memo to Human Resources
- Experimental Film/New York City/Why Does the Sun Shine?
- The Sun Is a Miasma of Incandescent PlasmaÂ (from an upcoming album of science songs)
- Don’t Let’s Start
- Spider/Damn Good Times
- Here Come the Horns (written to introduce the horn players in concert)
- Withered Hope
- Dr. Worm/Clap Your Hands/The Guitar
- Mr. Me
They went right from Dinnerbell to Here Come the Horns.Â The setlist has written “I Hit My Head”, which would refer to a Mono Puff song, but They didn’t play it or anything like it.
They did 2 encores:
The first was Older/James K. Polk, during which Flans thanked the crew, and the second was just the song Fingertips.Â Normally, the confetti cannon is used during James K. Polk, but Linnell decided (couldn’t tell if it was planned in advance or not) to shoot it off earlier.Â If memory serves, it was during Clap Your Hands or The Guitar.
Here’s a few random shots of Linnell:
After the concert was over, the drummer, Marty Beller, came out on stage to say Hi to fans:
And so ended my 10th time seeing TMBG in concert.