Monday, January 28, 2019

LumaCon 2019: The LumaConniest

I had my usual wonderful time Saturday at my favorite event on the comics convention circuit, LumaCon. Held in a sprawling community center in Petaluma, Calif., it's everything you want your con to be: low key, family friendly, free admission, and organized by librarians trying to spark and guide kids' passions for graphic literature. Guest artists get a gift basket and, if you know where to look, a free bottle of IPA donated by the excellent local brewery Lagunitas. They make us feel welcome.

I think my daughters Laura and Robin find LumaCon nearly as charming as I do, since this year they got roped into organizing the costume contest when they weren't watching my table. I didn't even have much to sell but sat at a table anyway, just for the opportunity to talk to enthusiastic kids about making comics.

My table set up, on a tablecloth borrowed from my girls. I've got copies of my books (just one each, not for sale). Front and center is a stack of double-sided posters of my original "Fire Story" that I sell for a few bucks to cover printing costs. Postcards advertising my forthcoming graphic novel (thanks, Abrams!). A portfolio of original art pages from the graphic novel so I can talk about how drawings get turned into books. On the little tablet I loop a slideshow about my various projects and how I made them (the photo that happens to be showing now is of my family in the early days of "Mom's Cancer").

It never fails: a kid comes up to the table with a parent or grandparent in tow. The kid and I are talking about comics, and I look up to see the realization dawning on their adult that, "Oh! Comics are a real thing that grown-up people actually do!" Sometimes you can see their faces shift from vague embarrassment to beaming pride. Their kid just got ten times cooler. That never happens at a bigger con.

Of course this year, like last, I talked to a lot of folks about the fire. I had one copy of my Fire Story graphic novel to show off, and wanted to let everyone know it comes out March 5 and I'll be doing a lot of local signings and such (to be announced soon!) to support it. I think I sold a few advance copies.

My other great reason for doing LumaCon is hanging out with my cartooning friends.

Pics and Captions:

One of LumaCon's heroic librarian organizers, Nathan Libecap of Casa Grande High School.

My pal Jason Whiton, whose 700-page book on Mort Walker is the finest biography and tribute the late cartooning legend could have hoped for.

Paige Braddock, whose new "Jane's World" collection I bought. Twenty years of Jane! Somehow I missed taking a photo of pal Lex Fajardo ("Kid Beowulf"), whose table was directly across from Paige's. 

Cartoonist Shaenon Garrity ("Skin Horse") and her husband Andrew Farago, author/editor and curator at the Cartoon Art Museum (CAM) in San Francisco. Their young son Robin was there, too, but dived under the table when he saw my camera. Andrew and I talked about a "Fire Story" exhibition we'll do at CAM in the spring, and then I bought the "Zombie Gnome" book Shaenon and Andrew did together because who wouldn't?

Thom Yeates has drawn thousands of comics and characters in his distinguished career, and is now the artist for the comic strip "Prince Valiant," whose pedigree for top illustration talent is unmatched . . .

. . .  which is why I was thrilled to buy a page of "Prince Valiant" art from him, which will hang in a place of honor on my Wall O' Art, just as soon as I have a wall. 

Tom Beland, whose graceful liquid linework I admire and envy, gave a chalk talk. Tom recently transitioned from ink-on-paper to full digital drawing with greater ease and enthusiasm than anyone I've ever seen. Pixels or pens, his art and storytelling are beautiful.
It's not a comics convention without some Jedi and Rebel scum stinking up the place.
Craft tables. Lots of kids made and decorated cardboard shields and such.

Contestants line up on stage for the cosplay competition.

Younger cosplayers didn't compete, but took part in a costume parade that weaved throughout the convention.

Why I love LumaCon. BTW, I always ask parents' permission before photographing their kids. Unless, like, they're in a costume parade or something.

The man on the left is a hero because he stands for the best ideals of liberty and justice. The man on the right is a hero because he stands on two-foot-tall stilts.
One of the main purposes of LumaCon is to mix young people interested in comics with older people actually making comics. These girls' table was next to mine. They offered homemade stickers for $1 each, and they sold about a million of them. I could learn a lot about product development and marketing from them.
Out back, live-action role players (LARPers) chased each other around with swords and staffs, with supervision.

Cart of deadly (?) swords ready to fortify LARPing legions.

So went the fifth annual LumaCon, and the fifth I've attended. It occurred to me this year that the event is starting to build some history for itself. Nathan Libecap told me that some of the students who attended the first LumaCon as child fans are now coming back as high school teens selling work of their own. Maybe in another five years, some of those same kids will be tabling as published professionals! What a neat legacy that would be.

Meanwhile, I'll keep coming as long as they'll let me. It's a great day with people who love comics for all the right reasons.