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Expos and Conventions

IFP's Independent Filmmaker Conference

IFP’s five-day Independent Filmmaker Conference will be held in New York City from September 19-23, 2009. It is a must-attend event for film and media professionals to learn how today’s creative choices and business decisions are impacting tomorrow’s artists, industry and audiences--and are shaping the future of independent film and media-making. Over 2000 filmmakers, producers, funders, distributors, agents, and buyers are expected to attend in order to share winning strategies on the art and business of independent filmmaking.

The first two days focus on Making Your First Feature. Other panel themes include: Positioning Your Film for Festivals; Audience Building; Unlocking Financial Opportunities; and Strategizing Your Film Career.

Keynote conversations include Mira Nair--award winning director of this fall's Amelia and Monsoon Wedding; Peter Saraf--co-founder/producer of Big Beach Films (Away We Go, Little Miss Sunshine) and R.J. Cutler--director of this season's hottest documentary, The September Issue. The conference will include advice from pioneering independent filmmakers and insights from industry leaders from BMI, HBO, Hot Docs, Kodak, SAGIndie, Sundance, SXSW, Withoutabox, and others.  Featured Industry leaders also include Peter Broderick (Paradigm Consulting), Yance Ford (POV), Ted Hope (This is that), Lynne Kirby (Sundance Channel), Peter Kujawski (Focus Features), Dylan Leiner (Sony Pictures Classics), Andrew Mer (SnagFilms), Craig Parks (IFC), Tom Quinn (Magnolia Pictures), Christine Vachon (Killer Films), and more. 

Panelists will offer key advice on: Making Your First Feature; Building an Audience for Your Film; New Digital & Financial Models; Positioning Your Film for Festivals & Buyers; and Strategizing Your Next Career Move.

For more info, and to purchase passes go to:

Independent Filmmaker Conference/Independent Film Week
September 19-23,2009
The Fashion Institute of Technology
Haft Auditorium, 227 West 27th Street
New York, NY 10001




The Annual Small Press Expo To Be Held in Bethesda, MD

The Small Press Expo (SPX)--the preeminent showcase for independent comic books, graphic novels and alternative political cartoons--will be held on Saturday, September 26 from 11AM to 7PM and Sunday, Sunday September 27 noon-6PM at The North Bethesda Marriott Convention Center in Bethesda, Maryland across from the White Flint Metro.

The guest list this year includes Gahan Wilson, Paul Karasik, Carol Tyler, Josh Neufeld, John Porcellino,  Peter Kuper, Kevin Huizenga, Kate Beaton, Al Columbia, Jerry Moriarity, R. Sikoryak and Joshua Cotter.

SPX culminates with the presentation of the Ignatz Awards for outstanding achievement in comics and cartooning which will occur Saturday night, September 26 at 9PM.

Attendees at SPX get in free to the Ignatz Awards. The Ignatz is the first Festival Prize in the US comic book industry, with winners chosen by balloting by attendees during SPX.

SPX, a non-profit organization, brings together more than 300 artists and publishers to meet their readers, booksellers and distributors each year. Graphic novels, political cartoon books and alternative comics will all be on display and for sale by their authors and illustrators.

A series of panel discussions on a wide variety of comics topics as well as one on one sessions is also be held for the readers, academicians and creators of graphic novels and political cartoons.

SATURDAY, September 26th

12:00 | White Flint Amphitheater

Jerry Moriarty: Jack Survives
A painter, illustrator and cartoonist, Moriarty has been teaching at the School of Visual Arts since 1963. Several episodes of his “Jack Survives” series of comics pages appeared in issues of RAW Magazine. This year, Buenaventura Press has published a definitive hardcover collection of Jack Survives, including never before published work. Publisher Alvin Buenaventura will discuss Jerry’s life and work with him in a rare spotlight session.

12:30 | Brookside Conference Room

Debut Cartoonists
Comics critic Rob Clough will lead a discussion with cartoonists who are debuting new books at SPX this year. These artists will talk about their new releases, what they represent to them, and how they fit into their work so far. Join us for a revealing conversation with Ken Dahl (Monsters), Eleanor Davis (The Secret Science Alliance), Hans Rickheit (The Squirrel Machine), and Zak Sally (Like A Dog).

1:00 | White Flint Amphitheater

R. Sikoryak’s Masterpiece Comics
For 20 years, stylistic chameleon Sikoryak has been producing literary adaptations in comics form that marry the plots of Western literary classics with the stylistic tics and tropes of classic comics. Originally appearing in RAW and numerous other anthologies, Sikoyrak’s parodistic adaptations have been collected in a book titled Masterpiece Comics, published by Drawn and Quarterly. He will discuss his work and working methods in a special slideshow presentation.

1:30 | Brookside Conference Room

Comic Strips: Online and In Print
The history of comics parallels and participates in the greater history of mass communication. As traditional print media struggles, the online medium has proved to be a hospitable site for the durable, traditionally formatted comic strip. But online cartoonists have increasingly found both material and creative rewards in republishing their work in print editions. Kate Beaton, Erika Moen, R. Stevens, and Julia Wertz will talk about the challenges and opportunities of working both online and in print with moderator Marc Singer.

2:00 | White Flint Amphitheater

John Porcellino Q & A
Porcellino has been self-publishing his ongoing mini-comics series King-Cat Comics since 1989. His spare but elegant style, insightful self-reflection, and DIY ethic have been an inspiration to countless cartoonists. His comics have been collected in several books, and in 2008 Hyperion published Thoreau at Walden, a graphic novel for young readers. This year, Drawn and Quarterly has published Map of My Heart, a new collection of work from his King-Cat series. Porcellino will discuss his work with friend, cartoonist and publisher Zak Sally.

2:30 | Brookside Conference Room

Now Make It Funny
Now that comics are finally being taken seriously, a new generation of cartoonists are bringing back the funny. Tucker Stone will talk to Emily Flake (Lulu Eightball), Matt Furie (Boys Club), Sam Gaskin (Fatal Faux-Pas) and Lisa Hanawalt (I Want You) about comics’ historical and ongoing aptitude for humorous effect, the deeper meanings of humor, and the struggles of producing comedy on a deadline.

3:00 | White Flint Amphitheater

Spotlight on Peter Kuper
Kuper is the co-founder of World War 3 Illustrated, the artist behind Mad Magazine’s Spy Vs. Spy, and the author of comics collections and graphic novels including The System, Speechless, and an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. In this presentation introduced and moderated by comics scholar Marc Singer, Peter will discuss his career to date and his new book Diario de Oaxaca, a visual journal of two years in Mexico that coincided with a violently repressed teachers’ protest.

3:30 | Brookside Conference Room

Critics’ Roundtable
A murderers’ row of comics critics will address general issues facing comics criticism today and will candidly discuss several new and recent works in a lively, no-holds-barred, roundtable conversation. Rob Clough, Sean T. Collins, Gary Groth, Chris Mautner, Joe McCulloch, Tucker Stone and Douglas Wolk will share their acute critical insights with moderator Bill Kartalopoulos.

4:00 | White Flint Amphitheater

Paul Karasik and the Fletcher Hanks Experience
Cartoonist, editor and educator Karasik has spent the last several years tracking down the idiosyncratic, visionary work of comic book artist Hanks, now collected in its entirety in two volumes published by Fantagraphics. Karasik will speak about discovering the work of Hanks, and will present “The Fletcher Hanks Experience,” an illustrated tour over the brutally surreal Hanks mindscape narrated by the late Fletcher Hanks, Jr.

4:30 | Brookside Conference Room

The New Action
For decades, independent cartoonists have labored to distinguish their work from the corporately-controlled material popularly associated with the form. In the process, artist-driven comics have frequently avoided genres such as adventure, fantasy, and science fiction. Recent years, however, have seen a wave of cartoonists who embrace genre and have explored new ways to activate comics’ ability to depict movement, action, and spectacle. Sean T. Collins will discuss these topics and more with Shawn Cheng, Benjamin Marra, Brian Ralph, Frank Santoro and Kazimir Strzepek.

5:00 | White Flint Amphitheater

Gahan Wilson in the Spotlight
The unmistakably macabre and hilarious Gahan Wilson was born in Evanston, Illinois in 1930. His work first appeared in Amazing Stories in 1954. Since then, his cartoons, illustrations and comic strips have appeared in Collier’s, Punch, National Lampoon, and, principally, Playboy and The New Yorker. This year, Fantagraphics publishes Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons, a three-volume slipcased set collecting his contributions to that magazine. He will be joined onstage by publisher and editor Gary Groth to discuss his life and work.

SUNDAY, September 27th

12:30 | Brookside Conference Room

Time-Constrained Comics
Since Scott McCloud formulated the 24-hour comic in 1990, countless cartoonists have tried their hands at this form of endurance-based cartooning. As this practice has grown into an annual worldwide event, other cartoonists have experimented with other forms of time-constrained cartooning, from the hourly to the minute-by-minute. Cartoonist and educator Marek Bennett will discuss the various permutations and productive pleasures of time-constrained comics with John Campbell, James McShane, Chris Piers, Maxime de Radigues and Robert Ullman.

1:00 | White Flint Amphitheater

Carol Tyler Q & A
Born in 1951, Tyler trained as a painter, earning an MFA from Syracuse University. In 1987 she published her first comics story in Weirdo. Since then her work has appeared in anthologies including Twisted Sisters, Drawn and Quarterly, Zero Zero, and Kramers Ergot. Her work has previously been collected in the books The Job Thing and Late Bloomer. This year Fantagraphics published her book You’ll Never Know: A Good and Decent Man, the first in a series of books recounting her father’s World War II experiences and their resonant effect on his – and her – life today. Carol will discuss her work with comics critic Douglas Wolk.

1:30 | Brookside Conference Room

Source-Based Comics
Works that draw on external sources – whether historical, literary, or otherwise – present artists with the twin burdens of faithfulness and creativity. Kate Beaton (Hark! A Vagrant), Paul Karasik (City of Glass), Ed Piskor (Wizzywig), and R. Sikoryak (Masterpiece Comics) will discuss what it means to make creative works of adaptation, parody, and historical fiction in this wide-ranging panel discussion with moderator Bill Kartalopoulos.

2:00 | White Flint Amphitheater
Josh Neufeld After the Deluge
Neufeld has published several non-fiction comic books and series, including his 2004 Xeric Award–winning graphic novel A Few Perfect Hours. In 2005 he volunteered with the American Red Cross in Biloxi, Missouri following the Hurricane Katrina disaster. From 2007 to 2008 he serialized via the web A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge, a non-fiction story relating the experiences of Katrina survivors. This year Pantheon Books has published A.D. in a print edition. In this presentation moderated by Gina Gagliano, Josh will discuss his work and the process of producing this comics document of recent events.

2:30 | Brookside Conference Room

Comics and Community
Dylan Williams (Sparkplug Books) leads an open and audience-inclusive discussion about the role independent comic creators, publishers, and distributors play in the comics community and how they can work together using principles of community organizing and resistance. Sally Bloodbath, Robyn Chapman, Benn Ray and Frank Santoro will talk about the internet, drawing nights, DIY networks, stores, distributors, publishers, friends, fans, clients, media outlets, tours, pooled resources, conventions and convention. Audience members are encouraged to bring their ideas.

3:00 | White Flint Amphitheater

Understanding Dutch and Flemish Comics
Gert Jan Pos from The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture and Els Aerts, Grants Manager for Graphic Novels at the Flemish Literature Fund, will give special dual presentations about the comics cultures of their respective countries. Pos will tell us what inspires Dutch comics authors today, and Aerts will talk about contemporary Flemish comics.

3:30 | Brookside Conference Room

The Future of the Comic Book
The economics and distribution of the comics specialty market have made the traditional comic book format an endangered species, even as book stores and libraries have become increasingly hospitable to long-form work. Moderator Bill Kartalopoulos will discuss the future of the comic book format with publisher Alvin Buenaventura, cartoonists Kevin Huizenga and Matthew Thurber, who have recently self-published their own serial comic book series, and Hellen Jo and Noah Van Sciver, two emerging artist who have recently launched titles in the embattled format.

4:00 | White Flint Amphitheater

Jeffrey Brown Q & A
Brown entered the School of the Art Institute’s Masters program to study painting; by the time he earned his MFA, he had begun drawing sensitive autobiographical comics about life and lost love. Since then he has published several autobiographical books Clumsy, Unlikely, AEIOU, Little Things, and Funny Misshappen Body. His range of work also includes short fiction, humorously observant cat comics, superhero parody, and fantasy. He was recently the subject of an award-winning short documentary film. Heidi MacDonald will join Brown onstage to discuss his diverse and evolving body of work.

4:30 | Brookside Conference Room

The Aesthetics of Mini-Comics
Modestly-produced and hand-made comics have been the major point of entry for young cartoonists since the advent of cheap xerography. As comics have gravitated more towards bookstore-ready formats, some artists continue to find in hand-made comics a valuable, and even preferred, method of production. Moderator Bill Kartalopoulos will discuss the unique qualities of hand-produced formats with Dina Kelbermann, Jason Miles, John Porcellino, Jon Vermilyea and Dan Zettwoch.

5:00 | White Flint Amphitheater

Center for Cartoon Studies Comics Workshop
Robyn Chapman and Jon Chad come from the Center for Cartoon Studies, a two-year educational institution for budding cartoonists in White River Junction, Vermont. This hands-on cartooning workshop will focus on the basics of a comics page construction, from thumbnail to final draft. No matter how little experience you have, you will leave this workshop having composed a comics page!

As in previous years, all profits from the SPX will go to support the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF), protecting the First Amendment rights of comic book readers and professionals.  For more information on the CBLDF, go to their website at:        
Founded in 1994, SPX is North America's premier alternative comic-book festival. This annual event brings together comic creators, publishers and more than 2000 fans together to celebrate the art of storytelling.

For more info:

Geico No-Go: Franchise Frustration at NY Comic Con 2014


I was amazed and angry. I know that at the New York Comic Con, there would be soft-core porn, bad Once Upon A Time parodies, panels I couldn’t get into and the like. I’ve no problems with that…well I do with the last, but that’s besides the point…. But I’d never expected what I saw on the floor and am still a bit furious. It was the most offensive thing I’ve ever seen at one of these cons with the singular exception of a woman selling “Boys are stupid, let’s hit them with rocks” tee shirts.

This was even worse than the Death of Archie® or the Book of Job action figure with real running sores! It was the GEICO booth.

Now for the full disclosure: I own stock in Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate that owns this insurance company. But just because of that doesn’t mean I like their commercials. I don’t and never have. So when I saw an old fashioned trailer surrounded by cardboard cutouts of their pitch critters, I was incensed. Don’t get me wrong. I know that cartoons and advertising have been hand-in-glove pop culture items since the beginning. Hell, the Yellow Kid pitched cigars in the 19th century! But branding isn’t what this event is about -- at least for me. It’s about the art form.

Cartoons specifically designed only to sell something else isn’t what I think should be at an event like this comic con. The product that is celebrated at such an event is the artwork or the TV show itself, not the advertising that pays for it. This is not about selling automobiles or insurance for automobiles -- it's about the creative impulse behind the work made, the characters developed.  If it was, then goddammit, they would have let Kellogg’sQuaker Oats and Post Cereals have booths.

Garry Moore Tony the Tiger 1955

Toy companies and the like have been producing comics as promotions for years and years. If you go to YouTube and look at the opening credits for the Huckleberry Hound show, you'll notice that Tony the Tiger and Snap, Crackel and Pop were dancing around with everybody else. Then there was the Linus the Lionhearted show from the mid 1960s, where the Post cereal characters had their own episodes. While that managed to hold on for a while, (it was banned in 1969) activist groups came on it like a ton of bricks. They also destroyed a proposed Chester Cheetah show in 1992.

The question as to whether promotional premiums from fast food places or cereal boxes belong at a comic con is one thing. There didn’t seem to be too many dealers in antique stuff there (although there were people who would appraise your antiques or protect that copy of Superman #3 you have in your safety deposit box), and I don’t think there have been many Adventures of the Hamburgler comic books given away in the past 20 years anyway.

But the things that were supposed to be promoted were the ‘toons, video games, and TV shows, not commercials promoting insurance.The Geico characters are made simply to sell insurance -- there's isn't an innocent element of honest creation in the development of this gecko character or other related Geico concepts; they are just created as a cynical device for the sale of product. Celebrating this with a booth at NYCC is wrong.

Some things are just wrong.


Epic Cookies Emerge at NY Comic Con

When I went to the 2013 New York Comic Con this year, I knew there would be no shortage of ground to cover, panels to attend, and cosplayers to gawk at. All this running around is enough to tire even the most hearty con-goer. What I didn’t expect was to find a comic, a delicious snack, and an energy boost all at one modest booth.

Einhorn’s Epic Cookies are four delicious cookies, each packed with a fun little comic book, with some surprisingly decent art. It reminds me of the multitude of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle clones from my youth (COW-Boys of Moo Mesa, anyone?), but paired with some great treats that are of a less dubious nature than the old Ninja Turtle Pudding-Pies.

There are four flavors, each represented by it’s own anthropomorphic equine avatar. Houston is a chocolate chip cookie with potato chip pieces mixed in. Cadiz combines marshmallows, crisped rice, and sprinkles. Broxburn is a hearty oatmeal cookie with orange zest, raisins, and chocolate chips. Romsey is a daring combination of peanut butter, maple, and bacon. The cookies are packed with a comic that branches off in a unique path for each character/flavor.

houston cookieHouston is a classic style chocolate chip cookie, with a soft and chewy body and a pleasant crunch bestowed upon it by the potato chips. The salty/sweet combo may seem strange at first to some, but I noticed that the friends I shared the cookies with still tore through them voraciously. One or two cookies in a bag might be overly salty, but that feels like a trade off for the home-made/organic quality of the cookies. Houston takes a great “classic with a twist” approach and does not disappoint.

You would think that Cadiz would be a gooey cookie, but the sugars in it makes it more brittle and crunchy, which is not unpleasant, just unexpected. It’s taste is slightly reminiscent of Funfetti, but without being overly sweet. I recommend it with a cup of coffee.

Einhorn’s Epic Cookies have a true home made appeal to them. They’re not uniform, and sometimes you might get one slightly singed, but that’s okay. These cookies show genuine care and craft in them, without the cynical attempts at one-up-manship you see in the foodie/culinary elite.

To learn more, go to:

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