Saturday, July 25, 2015

Clallam County "Comicon" a Good Try. And Fun!

On Friday, 24 July, 2015, the North Olympic Library System featured the Clallam County Comicon.

While it wasn't actually what's been referred to traditionally as a "comicon," it was certainly a lot of fun.  It was actually a children's and teens' reading summer reading event.

Being in a library system, which is funded by public taxes, it couldn't allow sales by individual authors or companies - and unlike a sci/fi or fantasy convention, the dealers' area has always been the heart of a comicon. Let's call it a "meet," because everybody, including me, enjoyed meeting the authors and martial artists and cosplayers.

The Library went all out, offering tables covered with activities, including a working electronics-construct model I had a great deal of fun learning. A kid joined me, and we took turns placing the pieces as outlined in the informative booklet. We made LEDs light up and even hooked up a microphone that allowed the LED display objects to respond to our voices.

Of course, the first thing the boy learned from me was: REAL electrical systems can kill you - and burn your house down. Don't worry; kids can take it. He wisely nodded. The other important thing is: put all the pieces back in the box! Losing pieces while working on a project is a major cause for adult swearing (well, okay, I'm the plumber in the household, and LEAKS after fixing are the major cause of adult swearing). 

A little girl came along who wanted to do the next diagram, and I said to the boy: "Okay, I taught you - now you teach her." They looked a bit bemused, but I already know that's the best way to drive lessons into a kids' head. And I'd help, of course. But we didn't have time to do that - the meet was starting!

Wow. Look at all the costumes. A warrior from "Game of Thrones," carrying off the whole attitude that made his cheap materials work, a plausible Dr. Who, and a pirate and fairy in matching green-and-black. That must have been from "Pirate Fairy." 

It WAS a very genre-oriented event, but that would be how librarians think: they need to be able to shelve things. and it's comics' own fault that we don't list our stuff as "adult fiction" and such, so they know where to put it. Right now they manage American graphic novel vs. Manga. One librarian in the NOLS system I met a few months ago thought ALL graphic novels were read right-to-left because she only knew Manga. I don't blame her - it's a huge and growing art form. 

The first event was the martial arts demonstrations. A tall blond man in black turned out to be the dad of the family - and was hilarious, as his wife and kids all demonstrated how a bigger attacker can be made to end up on the ground. It was the best and funniest demo I'd ever seen, and the lessons stuck in my head, anyway. Best of all, they emphasized NOT fighting and NOT hurting the other person - and don't try pressure points on your friends, relatives or pets.

My old friend Dave Lasky was up next on a panel about the Carter Family graphic novel he did the art for, along with Mathhew Holm. Here's the official listing: Matthew Holm (Baby Mouse, Squish) and David Lasky (The Oregon Trail, The Carter Family) will discuss how they became professional comic book artists and authors, and offer insider tips.

After the panel, I went and bothered them both at their signing, by the table where the library featured their books. Linda Medley, the Author (artist/writer/owner) of "Castle Waiting," had come out, too, and we had lots of fun talking about publishing (It's interesting only if you do it, I might add - and then we can get quite geeky about it. Never ask anybody about publishing unless you REALLY want to know).

There were panels on making creature worlds, and a panel on making comic books based on popular TV cartoons, and all the constant niggling over drawing the characters and working the plots exactly as the editor wants to fit into the TV world. About the latter - because this is a blog and not a "newspaper" report, where we have to leave stuff out that may piss off the people who buy ads - I have to admit I leaned over to somebody I knew and said, "Kill me now." She responded with: "They'd better be getting a butt-load of money!"

I was really unhappy when I had to catch the 5:15 bus back to Clallam Bay, because the event went on another hour, but I took what I could. The whole evening was devoted to costuming, and I was really sorry to miss that.

The event was a one-shot, but it made me think seriously about holding one of my dinky old-fashioned conventions in Port Angeles. Why not? There's plenty of geeks showed up at the library event, and they'd love their own comicon.

Okay - caveats? Trying to hold a "comicon" in a library. One of the organizers seemed a bit upset when things got louder and exciting. Comicons are rowdy. No, we don't push each other around, but we don't get to talk to other geeks and nerds very often, especially up here, and in the surrounding rural areas, where nerds have been bullied. My comicon (see link on this page) is helping with that, and Twilight certainly started the ball rolling. But we get a bit excited when we see our own and try to cram in everything we have in a short time.

Second problem: the library actually planned to put the activity tables outside. This is a paper-based event. This is also La Nina year. The rain forced all the activity tables inside, and further added to the noise.

We've already talked about the lack of artists' sales tables, but that couldn't be helped, because it's a public taxed venue. 

BEST thing that happened: I brought a stack of my Desert Peach comics to the meet, for free distribution. Two girls were riveted, and had a short "panel" with me about becoming a comics author. They learned that the HARDEST way was the path I'd chosen - to NOT use other books as models - to solve artistic problems oneself - to NEVER give up one's copyright - and to never give up. It's the best path, though - because in the end, you own everything you've done, and there's nobody else like you. 

Linda Medley's "Castle Waiting" is another example of the Original Author, as is Roberta Gregory's Naughty Bits. 

Oh - and the fact that my books were about a German officer in WWII didn't hurt with teenage girls. There is a huge fascination among them for German soldiers in World War One and Two. I'd thought this was just because of the interest in the WWII German uniforms displayed in Manga, but I've since found out that many girls almost seem - with emphasis on SEEM - to be reincarnations. They're following the same path I took 40 years ago, when I thought I was alone. They want to know the causes of war, and how to stop it. 

While most of the books at the comics meet were sugar - they were, after all, meant for little kids - these girls wanted meat. 

Remember, parents, when your kids get into comics, they may want to think, and think hard. 

No comments: