I had promised Rachel I wouldn't buy too much more, given how ridiculously large my reading pile has become, but after one more walkthrough of the room, I ended with two full bags of new stuff. Two of the most exciting books I picked up were an advance copy of Alison Bechdel's Fun Home, which I can't wait to read (it was featured in this week's Time Out Magazine), and Jason's new graphic novel, The Left Bank Gang. Not only is any new Jason book a treat, but this one is once again colored by Hubert (who also colored Why Are You Doing This?).
And of course, I also ended up getting a bunch more mini-comics. I won't list them all here, but I'll just mention a few of the highlights which included Jesse Reklaw's new issue of Couch Tag (#3), Jamie Tanner's latest, called simply Mine, Cool Name Pending (or at least I think that's the title), a nice looking collection of short stories by newcomer Julia Durgee, and Pater Contrarius, an older silent mini comic by C. Malkasian, who I'm told has a graphic novel coming out from Fantagraphics in 2007.
I also noticed this year (and maybe this was the case in years past and I just missed it, but it really stood out to me this year) that many creators are really experimenting with the formal elements of design, packaging and production. I saw comics with hardwood covers selling for $60, while other comics were designed to fold out into three dimensional cubes. Comics were sold in brown paper bags with sketches all around. Many of the mini-comics sported brightly colored silkscreened covers, while others were bound together with rubber bands and even, in one case, shoelaces. There were creators selling comics in wax sealed envelopes, manilla folders, halloween candy bags and even origami shapes. I even saw creators banding together to sell packages of minis together in 'box sets" (which was a great idea). It's a very interesting trend, in which the book itself becomes an art object, rather than simply a comic book. I know there are some creators who have been doing this for a while (Eleanor Davis comes to mind) but seeing so many variations in one place at one time really stood out to me.
So what else?
Bries Press is a company with dozens of gorgeous books just begging to be translated into English. Anybody who remembers Philip Paquet's incredible adaptation of Louis Armstrong's autobiography (perhaps the best biography in comics?), would be very impressed with the creator's new book, Yume. Unfortunately, the book is only available in Dutch, and the publisher has no plans to translate it anytime soon.
After a long chat with some very cool guys who are currently enrolled at The Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont, I learned about several interesting biography projects forthcoming from Hyperion Books, including:
- Harry Houdini written and laid out by Jason Lutes and illustrated by Nick Bertozzi. The pages I saw looked absolutely amazing.
- Henry David Thoreau illustrated by King Cat's John Porcellino, and
- Satchell Paige written by James Sturm and illustrated by Rich Tomasso
Maybe I just missed the news on these (which is entirely possible) but this was the first I'd heard about any of these three projects and as you can imagine, I was very excited.
Another item to look forward to is the Big Questions collected edition by Anders Nilsen. According to Drawn and Quarterly, Nilsen has two more issues to finish the story, and then a hardcover collected edition, which will include the long out of print first six minis as well as the Drawn and Quarterly issues which started with #7, is due sometime in 2008. Like most people, I've only read the D&Q issues, which are stunning to say the least, so this is definitely something to look forward to.
Finally, exhausted, and once again loaded down under the weight of my new comics, I decided to attend Dan Nadel's slide show about his new book, Art Out of Time. The slide show was a great introduction to his book, but I felt like a few members of the audience were pretty disrespectful. If you don't share Nadel's appreciation for these obscure strips, that's fine, but it's rude to sit and make fairly obvious comments mocking the presenter, snickering and laughing under your breath. I'm a fairly laid back guy, but that really pissed me off. To his credit, Nadel either didn't notice, or paid it no attention, and gave a pretty good overview of some of the strips he selected and what he found fascinating about them.
I guess that's it. I think its safe to say the 2006 convention was a great success, and that based on the enthusiasm of the publishers and established creators, as well as the passion and experimentation of the literally hundreds of new cartoonists trying to establish themselves, that the future of comics is definitely bright.