On the second day of NEWW, I had a bit of time to spend looking over artist tables and deciding whether I wanted to try anything new. I ended up buying a book from Jonathan Rosenberg, some of whose earlier books I have.
I was scheduled to volunteer at 1:00, and I ended up getting assigned to line duty. That is, I was supposed to manage the fans lined up at tables to see Jeph Jacques and Kate Beaton. I’ve never read Beaton’s comics, but several people have recommended them to me, so she’s on my radar. She seems to be enormously popular, and her line required quite a bit more managing than that of Jacques. By ‘managing’, I mean that I had to make sure people weren’t blocking the passageway, which required arranging the line in a particular shape, and periodically capping it temporarily so it wouldn’t be too long. I was certainly kept busy for most of the two hours of my shift. There was an unfortunate miscommunication, though – at one point Kate thought I had capped the line for good, when I had only done so temporarily. Once it shortened enough I let more people in, and she emphatically asked what was up and made it clear that she had to stop soon (her hand was getting sore from signing and drawing). So after that I had to turn away some disappointed fans, but the artist gets to decide when she’s done.
After my volunteer time was done I went to a panel on weirdness artists have dealt with from readers and others on the Internet. I did not take a picture of the panel for some reason, perhaps because I arrived just as it was starting and I squeezed into a spot against the back wall (it was standing-room-only, and very warm in the room). I can’t quite remember who all the panelists were, but for sure Erika Moen, Chris Hastings, and Randy Milholland were on it (that last strip is another one I have not read). The stories they told were amusing, and mostly seemed to fall in 2 categories: crazy stalker fans, and overblown hate mail (plus a sprinkling of IP theft).
Next post: the Webcomics Awards.
I spotted this on a bulletin board while at NEWW:
I guess that means that webcomics are a Big Fucking Deal!
I went to one panel on the first day of the con. It was about world-building. Here’s a pic of the panelists:
From left to right: Aaron Diaz; Spike; Evan Dahm; Liz Baillie; and Ben Riley. (Note that I only read one of those 5 comics, but I may check out the others) Evan was the moderator, and he’s posted an mp3 of the panel on his site.
In the late afternoon I did my volunteer stint. I ended up watching over the green room, which was basically for the artists at the con to go to when they needed a snack or some peace and quiet. It wasn’t much work, and I spent much of the time in there reading or chatting with other volunteers or artists who came in. It was necessary, though, as several people had left backpacks and such in the room.
After the show officially ended for the day, there was a dinner gathering with pizza for all the artists and volunteers. Getting to hang out there was the real advantage to volunteering. It was mostly people sitting around in a big room and talking, but there was also black construction paper on the tables and one wall, and chalk for drawing on the paper. Here are some bats that were done on a table corner:
And another section of table where I drew some objects that may be familiar:
On the wall, I also doodled a couple of things. I’m nowhere near as good as the people who draw comics regularly, but I learned years back at another convention to not let that bother me, and just to have fun with it.
A dragon took up the middle of the paper:
Here’s Spike drawing one of her characters:
A bit later I saw her drawing an eyeball with a top hat, and asked, “Is that one of the Residents?” She answered in the affirmative, and then someone came up next to me and asked the same question. I think Spike was surprised that that many other people knew of the group.
After that, someone else drew in the rest of the band:
The following day I took a picture of the filled paper:
I also have some other high-res shots that show all the details. I may post some bits at a later time.
Next post: Sunday at NEWW.
Earlier this month I had the pleasure to head across the river and attend the second New England Webcomics Weekend. It may yet become an annual event, but this one was held a bit over a year-and-a-half after the first one.
Above is the marquee on the Eastworks building in Easthampton. The actual building entrance where registration was being held was marked with these wooden cutout signs:
The signs were made by Chris Yates.
I had bought a VIP registration for the con, which got me a tote bag, a couple of other goodies, and better seats at panels. However, I also ended up volunteering, which got me this t-shirt:
The official uniform of NEWW volunteers. I did about 5 hours total of volunteering over the 2 days. More on that in later posts.
Here’s my swanky VIP badge, with art by John Allison:
John did a strip called Scary-Go-Round for many years, and though his site still uses that name, his current strip is called Bad Machinery. He writes dialogue that is often very funny, in a silly, dry, British way. He was one of the cartoonists I wanted to see there (he having traveled across the Atlantic for the con), and I bought a book from him while letting him know how much I liked the badge.
Other cartoonists I wanted to see included Chris Baldwin, of Spacetrawler (and other stuff); Spike, of Templar, Arizona; Jeph Jacques; Dylan Meconis; Erika Moen; and Chris Hastings. Convention attendees were given a sketchbook, and I got sketches from a few of them in it.
From Spike (I specified nothing about the sketch):
From Chris Baldwin (I asked for a sketch of these 2 characters):
From Jeph Jacques (I asked for this character saying something poetic):
More later on panels, people, and parties.
Not long after I started this blog, in the Autumn of 2005, I posted a recipe for pumpkin pizza. I’ve recently made another (delicious) variant on that recipe.
The crust is the same, as is the amount of gouda cheese. This version uses more pumpkin or squash, covering most of the cheese surface. Besides the gourd, the other topping is sauteed leeks, which are placed between the cheese and crust (i.e. the leeks go on the crust after it’s spread, followed by the cheese and then squash). It’s a wonderful meld of flavors, and needs nothing else. I made this variation for the first time a couple of weeks ago, using pie pumpkins, and made some more such pizzas tonight, this time with acorn squash. Yum.
I’m writing this blog post from bed (a time when it’s useful to have a laptop). Normally, I don’t get to bed quite this early, but my partner needs to be up at the crack of 3:30, and can’t easily fall asleep alone.
I’m musing on this week’s puzzle given by Will Shortz on NPR. It is as follows:
“What is the longest familiar phrase, title or name in which the only consonants are N and T, repeated as often as necessary? The other letters are vowels. Try to think of an answer with at least 18 letters.”
I’ve come up with a few 18-letter phrases that fit the bill, except that they aren’t familiar at all. Nonetheless, the words might be used to make up the answer.
I was thinking that longer words would help, but it could be that what’s needed are several short words. Here are words I’ve come up with that only use those 2 consonants:
Anyone have other words to suggest? Note: if you know the answer, or an answer, don’t post it – I don’t want it spoiled.
Another comic review tonight: for several years I had heard of, and had recommended to me, the comic Girl Genius, by Phil and Kaja Foglio. I finally started reading it about a year ago.
Like Runners, this started out as a print comic, and later moved to the web. For some time now it’s been posted a page at a time, three times per week. Both of the Foglios write the script, with Phil pencilling and inking the art, and colors by a third person (the colorist has changed over time – currently it is Cheyenne Wright).
One could maybe call this a science fiction comic, though I think fantasy would be a better way to put it (the creators use the term “Gaslamp Fantasy”, in fact). It falls into the subgenre known as Steampunk, though to my recollection there’s a lot more devices in the story that are powered by wind-up clockworks than by steam power, but that’s neither here nor there. What makes it not so sci-fi for me is that there is little attempt to explain how any technology works, or to make it at all realistic (it’s more ‘mad science’ than anything else).
That said, it is a very enjoyable story. It takes place in a fictional 19th century Europe, much of which is unified under the rule of one Baron Wulfenbach. The main character of the series (the titular smart woman) is Agatha Heterodyne, who has grown up thinking she’s an ordinary citizen, only to discover that she is what is referred to as a Spark (basically, a somewhat unhinged savant), and that she comes from a rather infamous family. What ensues are her attempts to stay alive and out of the Baron’s custody while figuring out more about her past and her abilities.
The series is a nice blend of high adventure with really goofy humor, and the particular cartoony style of the art lends itself well to the humor. The comic has an almost epic scope, with a lot of characters, but even when things are fairly serious, some of the characters provide good comic relief (especially the Jaegers, a breed of humanoid soldiers who place particular importance on hats). This comic, like Galaxion, features a large cast of strong female characters, but there has been a tendency to draw them in a somewhat more revealing or cheesecakey way some of the time (though I think that tendency has lessened over the years).
Most readers of this blog probably already read Girl Genius, but I certainly recommend it for those who haven’t checked it out.
This morning I heard a report on our local public radio station, WFCR, about a music group called The Books. I’d never heard of them before, but they sound pretty cool. It’s a duo who use various found audio sources and mix it with original guitar and cello compositions. The few tracks they played in the report were neat, such as a piece that uses audio from several different self-help tapes, or a tape of an argument between some kids paired with very strident music. I’d link to the radio story, but it doesn’t seem to be online as yet. If it gets posted over the weekend, I’ll update here with the link.
It’s definitely a group I’ll be looking more into.
So this evening well after dinner, as often happens in our house, I was cooking a meal that we’ll eat for dinner the next few nights. I was criticized for the fact that it smelled good, but was not to be eaten right away. The conversation turned to the suggestion that perhaps I should make things that are unappetizing, so as to avoid this situation.
Among the ideas we came up with were things like franks and beans (somewhat unappetizing even to those in the household who aren’t vegetarians). This ended up morphing into pieces of hot dog in sloppy joe sauce. We quickly dubbed these Sloppy Dogs, and had a good laugh.
Then, we thought to check Google, and found that they already exist.
(and, dare I say it, some of them sound kind of good)
P.S.: In related news, I saw this post this evening on the blog Cookrookery, and couldn’t resist adding some suggestions in the comments.
Short post today, as I don’t have much time. Back in the mid to late summer, I happened upon two instances of livestock birds sitting on fences. The pictures were taken with my cell phone, so please excuse the blurriness of some of them.
This is one of our neighbors’ laying hens:
And this is a turkey at the Maple Farm Foods store:
Here’s another review of a sci-fi webcomic. This one is Spacetrawler, by Chris Baldwin. I’ve been reading Baldwin’s comics for darn near a decade, and he’s one of my favorite cartoonists. (as an aside, I got to meet him for the first time this past weekend at NEWW, but the details of that event will be in a different post).
Chris has done a number of comic strips in the past, the two major ones being Bruno and Little Dee (which are each currently being rerun with commentary). Spacetrawler is different in that it’s a graphic novel being posted one page at a time rather than a single strip each day (which can stand alone even if part of a longer storyline). The plot in Spacetrawler concerns a half dozen Earthlings who are enlisted (kidnapped, really) by aliens to help free an exploited species known as the Eebs. Nogg, the captain of the ship and leader of this mission, has an elaborate plan – with which things keep going wrong.
This is another comic in which I really enjoy the alien designs. Some of them are patterned after Earth animals, but others are imaginative. What’s also great about Spacetrawler is that Baldwin infuses it with serious politics and conflict, as well as with wacky humor (the sense of humor here is similar to that in Little Dee, though aimed at a more adult audience). He’s always been able to mix comedy, drama, and tragedy in effective ways in his comics.
This is another series with very distinct characters – humans, other species, and robots – with one of the neat (and very funny) things being the different ways in which each human reacts to their newly expanded reality.
If you read only one of the comics I’ve recommended so far this month, I’d advise that it be Spacetrawler.
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