Sunday, January 28, 2018

LumaCon 4, Supervillainy 0

I looked back through my previous three LumaCon posts to try to avoid reusing any superlatives for my favorite comics-related event of the year, and decided to use them anyway. Yesterday was the fourth annual comics convention organized by librarians in Petaluma, Calif., and I had a great time. I hung out with old friends, met a lot of young artists and comics fans, got a nifty gift basket, and even sold a few books and miniposters. After spending all my earnings buying other people's books and art, I felt pretty good walking away even.

I love LumaCon because it's small and sincere. Admission is free. They have a bake sale. It's aimed at, and I think to some extent organized by, kids. One of its big attractions for me is walking in and finding a pro who's been making comics for 20 years sitting beside a 12-year-old showing off their first homemade comic. LumaCon has a very different feel than any other convention I've attended. It's gentle, encouraging, entirely positive. Everybody's just there to have fun.

There's something else about LumaCon that I haven't quite been able to put into words before: because it's free, it's easy for folks to just drop by and check out. Curious people who might have been driving past and happened in, or parents whose kids love comics and want to find out what it's all about. There's an outreach aspect to it that encourages everyone to be on their best behavior.

I didn't have much to show this year. The fire destroyed all of my original art and my stock of Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow books. However, I have replenished my supply of Mom's Cancer. I printed up a miniposter of A Fire Story. Best of all, my daughters Laura and Robin dropped by to help, and brought their pinback button-making machine. For $1 they'd turn any quarter-sized drawing you brought them into a button. They also sold a few with my drawings on them. It was the hit of the day.

My "Fire Story" miniposter, printed on the front and back of 11x17 glossy cardstock. I made them mostly so I'd have something to put on my table. I sold a lot of these at $3, just enough to cover my costs.
A good look at my table manned by Laura and Robin, with their button-making apparatus on the table in front of them. Laura's styling a Captain America dress, while Robin favored an Iron Man dress under a "Stark Industries" jacket. Every day is a Civil War with those two. The boy in green is poking at my little "Best of Brian" slide show. Miniposters are to the left behind his head, Mom's Cancer peeks in at lower right. I only realized when I walked in to set up that I don't own a tablecloth anymore.

Behind Robin in that photo above is my friend Jason Whiton, a teacher and writer who sells a great range of mid-Century pop artifacts: secret agent adventures, mod styling, Thunderbirds, etc. Our mood dampened mid-afternoon when Jason got a text telling him that cartoonist Mort Walker ("Beetle Bailey") had died. Jason grew up knowing the Walkers and other great cartooning families in Connecticut, so the news was quite a blow. For my money, Mort's 1970s book Backstage at the Strips is still the best description of the cartooning life in its Golden Age.

A Pokemon family, all at appropriate scale.

He was a lot less intimidating without the helmet.

My pal Art Roche and his wife Elizabeth sat across from me. In addition to publishing his Knights of Boo'Gar with Andrews-McMeel, Art works at the Schulz Studio.

More cartoony friends: Donna Almendrala, Paige Braddock, Paige's wife Evelyn, and Lex Fajardo. I also reconnected with creators like Maia Kobabe, Izzy Ehnes, and a few civilian friends who came around. 
I bought this charming little watercolor of Paige Braddock's "Stinky Cecil."
These girls insisted that I take their picture. Their dads said it was OK.

There was a Doctor in the house. Three or four, in fact.

Cosplay parade underway.

This is why I love LumaCon. They had an entire room set aside just for people to sit and draw. No talks, nobody buying or selling anything. Just drawing.

My friend Brian Narelle. Brian is a cartoonist, teacher, writer, filmmaker, and something of a gentle roving philosopher of life.
You might have seen Brian a while back as Lt. Doolittle (left) in the cult sci-fi film "Dark Star," which is worth a look if you don't know it.
I didn't take any photos of cartoonist Tom Beland this time around, but I did buy this neat piece of original art from him. Tom has a beautiful, expressive, economical, graceful ink line that I really envy. 
Another stiffly posed portrait with Nathan Libecap, one of LumaCon's main organizers. He's a high school librarian who does it all for the love of kids and comics, and I think that attitude suffuses the entire event. 
Nathan (in orange cape) also moderated a panel that Lex and I did in the afternoon, attended by a couple dozen interested and/or sleepy attendees. The pony-tailed gent sitting right in front of me is comic book artist Brent Anderson, who was soon cajoled to join the discussion because when the guy who draws "Astro City" is sitting in the front row, it'd be stupid not to use him.
Finally, an overview of part of the exhibit hall. Laura and Robin are manning (personing?) my table at center, with Jason behind them. There were also activities happening on the stage behind me, in the lobby outside, and in smaller rooms throughout the Petaluma Community Center and even outdoors.

After four years of LumaCon, organizer Nathan told me he finally felt like he was getting the hang of it. Everything seemed to go all right. I advised him that the only thing I feared was that it would get too big and ruin everything I love about it. He agreed. They'll fight to keep it right-sized.

Somewhere around 3000 people came the last couple of years. As far as I could tell, they were the right people coming for the right reasons.