Cartoon Art Museum, and full steam ahead into fall.

Things I love:

  • Fall
  • Salads
  • White peaches
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Awesome news

And it is a great day in this apartment, because the fall sunlight is making its way in, and I am eating a salad and a white peach, listening to old Joni albums on vinyl, and announcing some awesome news!  This fall, I will be showing at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, as part of their Small Press Spotlight series.  Previous artists in this series include Trevor Alixopoulos, Jamaica Dyer, MariNaomi, Lark Pien, and many others.  I’m proud to be joining their ranks, and really excited to have my work up at the Cartoon Art Museum.  CAM was one of the first places I visited in San Francisco, and since I moved here, I’ve been  impressed by their thoughtful, well planned exhibits, their consistent inclusion of women artists, and the way they mix big name cartoonists and animators with local artists.

Next up: finishing up Zine Fest preparations, taking the train down to Santa Barbara, driving back, thumbnailing for a new project (which, Lord willing, you will see at APE), eating more peaches (they were on sale, and I went a little crazy), Zine Fest, getting entries ready for the Isotope Mini-Comics Contest, then right on into APE!  Phew!  And somewhere in all of that there, I turn 31.

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Zine Heat

One of the great things about San Francisco is that it is almost never as hot as it was today. 

One of the other great things about San Francisco is Zine Fest!!  SF’s terrific mini-comics, small press and DIY fest gets better every year.  Let’s reminisce, shall we? 

  • September 2006.  I had arrived in the Bay Area just weeks before, with a truckload of dreams and my first ever self-published mini comic.  I went to Zine Fest at CellSpace, and I was SO SHY that I had to be talked into bringing along copies of said comic to show to creators.  This show was where I first met MariNaomi and Shannon O’Leary, who were both really sweet to a timid new girl.  Mari was an inspiration right away; I mean, the gal had a comic called Estrus, how could I not love it?  Meeting two ladies who were so friendly and encouraging, and clearly supportive of feminist comics, was part of what got me to make a collection of my own stories.  And a good thing, because the following year…..
  • July (I think?) 2007.  Having cracked the world of tabling at shows with APE, I got a table at this ZF, which was at the Women’s Building.  I met Melaina at this show, and was just as taken with her funny, friendly, feminist books (and self).  I also made insta-friends with the makers of a feminist zine up in Bellingham, Washington, which sadly no longer exists.  Wonder where those gals are today?
  • Fall (forget the month) 2008.  Boyfriendless for the first time in many years, I took on Zine Fest at the County Fair Building.  Again, lots of fun, and I think this was the year I first tried watercoloring.  (Not that I’ve done much with that, but it was cool!)  Here I will throw in that my perennial favorite table neighbors are the Two Fine Chaps.  I love you guys. 
    I got a call right after this show ended that a friend of a friend had died.  That threw a pall on the thing…  immediately after I hung up, the friend who had overheard the conversation started asking me if I was having a good time at the show.  Um what??
  • August 2009.  This Zine Fest spanned a rather confusing breakup.  I still had fun.  I remember going for burgers at Flipper’s after it ended and getting silly.

It occurs to me that whenever I do a show, I always have some silly crush going on.  Even if I haven’t been into anybody for months, I always end up with a crush while I’m tabling.  Perhaps it is one of those things that compels me forward, and gives me the energy to stand there smiling for days on end.  Crushes are fun.  I’d pay money for one right about now.

Luckily, I don’t have to because SF Zine Fest 2010 is Sept. 4-5 at the County Fair Building!!  Woo hooo!!

No hugs, because it’s too hot out,
–Amy

PS Check out my creator Q+A!

Chocolate Ack

The mind plays tricks on you, when you’re hard at work on comics.  Sometimes, when I’m on what feels like day 3,857 of working toward a deadline, and my back is aching from being hunched over the table, I’m seeing double, my legs are numb, and the neighbors are calling the police* because I won’t stop singing along to that stupid Dar Williams album, I get this rush of fear.  Slowly I lift my head, my eyes unfocus, and I stand over my body of work and cry out in horror: “oh, my god…. I write CATHY!!”

Heh!  Right?  Because it is every cartoonist’s nightmare to find herself drawing a successful syndicated strip that’s been around for 34 years.  Love her, hate her, or just covet her heart sweatshirts, Cathy is leaving.  Personally I gotta give feminist props to one of the very, very few women in newspaper comics, and to a lady who puts her perspective out there, even if it is loaded with fatphobia and consumerism.  And Cathy (the character) did at least give voice to women’s frustration with what society expects of us. 

For those of you who worry about the void that will be left when that perspective is retired on October 3….. let me introduce you to your void-fillers.
Roberta Gregory.  Bitchy Bitch is your new best friend.  SHE is what SHOULD have been running in papers the last 34 years.
Alison BechdelFun Home is fantastic, but if you haven’t read her new collection The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For, you are missing out on some serious awesome.
K. Beaton.  So thoroughly charmed by her.  I have a hard time believing how much Hark, a Vagrant makes me laugh.
Team Atrox.  Okay, so most of them are fellas, but in their current run of sculpted (!!) comics, Leslie Levings is the hot dame who sculpts the figures.  How she gets that much expression into Sculpey—repeatedly!—I’ll never know.

So goodbye, Cathy.  I think Liz Lemon summarizes my feelings about you the best.

–Amy

 

*The taste police.

In The Fade

Everyone has it: the post Comic-Con letdown.  It’s worse than the January blues.  I wonder how many nerdy couples break up in August?  Comic-Con is five days of nonstop costumes, excitement, books, art, buzzing and flashing lights, and then it’s all gone, and you have to board a plane, unpack your suitcase, and resume spreadsheet life.  (And not awesome spreadsheets like the one my friend made to keep track of all the parties going on around San Diego.  Oh no.  Budget tracking*.)

This year’s Con was fantastic, and I have to give big thanks to the folks there for the chance to try it out as an exhibitor.  As I told many people, I think showing there was actually LESS overwhelming than just attending!  I had my little home base in Artists’ Alley, and apart from ducking out for brief, very pointed dashes across the floor to particular booths, I was there the whole time.  I loved it.

Photo by Kim M.

The particulars:
–Yes, there were lots of movies, and a shit ton of movie stuff.  As one other blog said, it did almost feel like more movies than comics.  But you know, a friend asked me earlier if I minded that, and I said I don’t?  The movie element is fun, and there were so many great new books this year that I don’t know that it holds up the comics industry.  Of course, moments later that same friend said “I didn’t know Scott Pilgrim was a comic first!” and my heart broke a little.  C’est la vie.
(I am reading Julia Child’s memoir, “My Life in Paris,” which I picked up at SFO on the way to the con, and it is WONDERFUL.  And yes I am picturing Meryl Streep sassing her way through Julia’s memories as I read, and that is wonderful too.  So movies can enhance and revive literature too.)

–Standout releases:  Scott Pilgrim 6, of course.  I bought it on preview night because I was sure it would sell out and then I wouldn’t get it for WEEKS.  That book is just so damn cute and funny.  This volume starts off a little slow, but the ending is satisfying and heart-meltingly romantic.  Great end to the series.  Make Me a Woman, by Vanessa Davis.  Drawn & Quarterly had a strong showing this year, but a lot of it was reprints.  That made Miss Vanessa’s beautiful book even more of a standout.  I heard a lot of buzz about this one… it was one of the show’s indie hits.  You’ll Never Know vol. 1 by C. Tyler.  She is an amazing comics memoirist and really, a poet.  And I will readily admit to being excited about the AMC Walking Dead, there I said it.

–Status of women:  We made some advances this year.   I saw/met lots of women artists and writers, and there was a refreshing number of booths and books helmed by ladies.  Or maybe I just think that because I refuse to acknowledge or give credence to any comic combining the words “dead” and “girls,” so I missed a lot of booths.  I still really wish I saw more women’s names attached to books, signing schedules, panels, without the terms “female” or “sexy” listed as qualifiers. 
And the thing is, I would love to have more women in comics, but I don’t even care about that so much as male artists treating women with respect.  My neighbor to the right was an awesome, stand-up guy, super friendly, made me feel welcome in the space… he had some female nudes in his portfolio, but they were tasteful, and  he didn’t leave them all over the table all the time–he only brought them out for a few customers.  My neighbor to the left, on the other hand, specialized in mermaid tits.  And they? were out.  All over the table.  All the time. 
I don’t like that stuff.  I don’t like sitting in a space where I am supposed to feel welcome and being forced to look at big-titted mermaids.  I kind of liked hearing about the following conversation, which took place between my two neighbors while I was away, and which Right Neighbor later reported to me in full:
LEFT NEIGHBOR wanders over to RIGHT’s booth, starts flipping through portfolio.
LN: So, what do you think of your neighbors?
RN: Uh…  (thinking he means, neighbors at home)  George is great, do you know him?
LN: No, I mean the two lesbians.
RN: Oh! Well, they seem cool. I don’t think they’re lesbians, though.
LN:  Well, they weren’t very friendly.

To which I responded, to RN, “look buddy, just because we hate YOU doesn’t mean we hate MEN!” 
It’s true we weren’t very friendly to him.  At one point K got called my “booth babe” by a customer of LN, and she looked up—not flashed a look of doom, mind you, merely lifted her gaze.  The customer said “WHOA!! she just gave me XENA FACE!”  I wish I could summon Xena Face at will, I really do.  But it takes a special, very special kind of fellow to call it forth.  Maybe K didn’t mean to give Xena Face; I am sure I gave enough for the both of us while we were there.

Dear Men Making Comics:  if you want women to like you, maybe try not making big-titted mermaid “art”  and not accusing us of having Xena Face.  Love, Amy

–Celebrities encountered:  THIS is one of the funnest parts of Comic-Con for me, I wholeheartedly admit.  I LOVE seeing famous people!!  I saw:  Seth Rogen, being let into the party I was being frogmarched away from (noooo, we were not on the list); Scott Adsit, aka Pete Hornberger from 30 Rock, who walked RIGHT PAST ME in an otherwise empty aisle after the show was closed (squeal); Matt Groening, who turned up about five feet away from us handing out business cards; Stan Lee, but everybody saw Stan Lee; and, ok, that’s it.  I heard the Old Spice guy was there.  I did not see him.  Sigh.

I have to give a shout out to my helper**, already a dear old friend, who proved herself indispensible, catching every mistake I made, making awesome suggestions for everything from table displays to how best to get back to the hotel, and talking people who were buying a book into buying one more.  And on top of that we had four nights of drinking together and heart-to-hearts.  This was truly one of those gung-ho experiences that, if you’re lucky, can make a friendship stronger and awesomer than ever.  Thank you, K, for being my second brain, and making my experience ten times better and more fun than it would have been without you.  Can’t wait for next year.  😉

In summary, this was the best, most inspirational experience I’ve had in comics in AGES, just ages, and I left feeling so amped on comics.  I’ve already started on new projects and I hope y’all will be with me for those.  It’ll be well worth your hard earned three dollars.

Mwah,
–Amy

*I’m actually a big nerd for spreadsheets.  I heart them.  I volunteered to budget track.

**She will stay anon, unless she directs me otherwise!