Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Smart Alex On the Road: Con-templation

Time to rest after Nampa, Idaho's Fandemonium may be a scarce commodity before the next convention, but sharing the highlights is always worthwhile.

The Pros (in either sense of the word):

Jacob Bear and Steve Willhite hosted an informative panel on the basics of making a comic book. They provided a wealth of helpful tips on how to visually direct the flow of a story, when and how it's appropriate to break panels, how to work well with writers and editors, when it's acceptable to "cheat," and suggestions for lettering software.

They spent most of the rest of the convention in the artists' alley, taking commissions and offering a variety of sketches, prints, and books. (Coming up soon, by the way, will be a review of FUBAR: European Theater of the Damned, which Steve Willhite helped illustrate.) The artists' alley also featured purveyors of manga sketches, stickers, buttons, and clothing items and accessories, most notably writer, costumer, and panelist Tanglwyst de Holloway. In fact, the artists' alley was so populated, creators spilled over into the dealers' room. Writer Valerie Finnigan spent most of the weekend there with her friends from Fat Dog Comics promoting a variety of projects, especially Hero by Force and Untold Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan. The dealers' room featured some of the more usual and unusual offerings. My favorites included Everett Comics, Phoenix Fire Games, and one table that my friends and I had a hard time figuring out, but served up a delicious weighted companion cube cake and a host of excellently costumed characters from all over pop culture. There is a reason I took most of my pictures there.

The Cons

I unfortunately could not stay for all the after-hours fun. I was not allowed to pet the adorable creatures the Brothers Thir13en brought out. (Yes, I understood the legal mumbo jumbo. Yes, I know the germs those critters carry. Yes, I know how to wash my own hands and take responsibility for myself. And yes, I still followed the rules.) The presentation of the Real to Reel panel could have been better. But still, I look forward to returning next year. They're promising even more fun for "the end of the world."

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