Monday, August 8, 2022

Veni, Vidi, Cartooni

I had a swell time at Saturday's Cartoon-A-Thon at the Charles M. Schulz Museum. Special thanks to museum education director Jessica Ruskin, who worked very hard to pull it off. I got to hang out with friends, many of whom I haven't seen in at least a few years, sell some books, and best of all talk to folks about comics and storytelling and their lives. I think in whole it was a fine celebration of the art, craft, entertainment and importance of cartooning, which I gather was the point. A good day! Here's some pictures.

Practically the first two people I ran into were Jeannie Schulz and Raina Telgemeier. It was a great day already and I'd just gotten there!

My daughters Laura and Robin came by with Karen, who took many of these pictures, to support their old man. A local bookstore had copies of A Fire Story to sell so I didn't offer that book, but sold some copies of Mom's Cancer and Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? When I can, I like to bring pages of original art so I can talk shop with people interested in how comics are made. A lot of people really like seeing how a drawing on paper gets turned into a page in a book, and I love talking about it!

An overview of the museum's Great Hall, lined with a gauntlet of cartoonists. My chair is the empty one at the left; I'm at bottom center, circling around the table to tackle the nice startled lady in the purple shirt, who is local historian and journalist Gaye LeBaron. We're acquainted and I just had to say "Hi."

Heroic local independent bookseller Copperfield's had many of the participating cartoonists' books for sale, including mine.

On my side of the hall, I sat beside Schulz Studio artist Bryan Stone, "Gender Queer" creator Maia Kobabe, bestselling "Hazardous Tales" creator Nathan Hale, and "Poorly Drawn Lines" cartoonist Reza Farazmand.

Across the way were (from right) one of my favorite cartoonists Tom Beland, Schulz Studio editor and "Kid Beowulf" creator Lex Fajardo, Schulz Studio writer Jason Cooper, and way back in the green shirt, cartoonist Denis St. John. More cartoonists were farther to the left, including "Prince Valiant" artist Thomas Yeates. 

The day kicked off with a presentation in which former museum director Karen Johnson presented Jeannie Schulz with a book that had been secretly compiled to mark the museum's 20th anniversary. Jeannie seemed a bit nonplussed by the attention, maybe even annoyed, but remarked, "This makes up for a lot of things that burned in my house," which touched me. To create the book, museum staff asked many people to write or draw what the museum means to them. A drawing of mine is in there....

....and this is that drawing. I thought to myself, "Why does someone start a museum? What do they hope to achieve?" I think the answer is: They want it to continue long after they're gone. So I imagined a time two centuries from now, when our descendants are living in their Jetsons future and kids will still gather at the museum to read the first "Peanuts" comic strip.

Before Jeannie was given her book, Raina Telgemeier was given the Sparky Award, bestowed by the Schulz Museum and the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco for significant contributions to cartooning and "embodying the talent, innovation, and humanity of Schulz." Well deserved.

You'll notice that trophy doesn't have Raina's name on it. Because it arrived at the last minute, she later had the fun of applying the plaque herself.

Raina did two ticketed book signings that sold out.

Me, Raina, Lex.

After the main event, the museum hosted a taco party for Cartoon-A-Thon participants and guests. "Pearls Before Swine" cartoonist Stephan Pastis didn't take part in the event but showed up for the free food.

I'm not posting pictures of the taco party because I think everyone there understood it wasn't a public event. Instead, here's a picture I took of a bottle of the museum's house "Flying Ace" chardonnay, bottled by Jeannie, which I got signed by cartoonists Raina Telgemeier, Stephan Pastis, Paige Braddock, Bryan Stone, Lex Fajardo, Thien Pham, Reza Farazmand, Nathan Hale, Thomas Yeates, and Maia Kobabe. What I like best about these events is the "world's colliding" aspect of them--cartoonists whom you wouldn't expect to have much in common stylistically or thematically can always talk shop. You may recall I had a similar souvenir from the museum's 15th anniversary event that did not survive my fire, so this is a special memento for me. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Schulz Cartoon-A-Thon!

I'll be at the Charles M. Schulz Museum next Saturday, helping them commemorate the 100th anniversary of Mr. Schulz's birth and the 20th anniversary of the museum, which I've been a proud member of since it opened. There'll be special guests, fun activities, Snoopy, and more than a dozen cartoonists at tables arrayed through the museum's Great Hall, which is where I'll be. 

This photo's from the 15th anniversary event, to give you an idea of what I expect the Cartoon-A-Thon to look like. I'm near the right edge of the photo in a black t-shirt.

I've done similar events there before, most recently for the 15th anniversary, and they're fun for both participants and guests. A local bookstore will be selling copies of "A Fire Story" but I haven't decided if I'll sell copies of my other books. I like money as well as any red-blooded American capitalist, but I'd really rather just sit and draw and talk to people about comics than guard a cash box. Maybe I'll bring a few for credit card purchases. I dunno.

I love having this museum 10 minutes from my home. I think it's just the right size and design for its subject: classy, graceful, not too small or big or grandiose. The staff and volunteers are great. Plus it's set right in the middle of the places Schulz worked and loved, his studio and ice arena (although Schulz helped plan the museum, he died before it was built). You can still feel his spark in the place. I've told this story before: whenever I'm working on a story and get stuck, I go to the ice arena's Warm Puppy Cafe--the same place Schulz ate his daily English muffin--buy a basket of fries and a Coke, and sit in that comics cathedral until I figure it out. Hasn't failed me yet. 

I love the place and will always do anything I can for it. If you're in the area, check it out.

Monday, August 1, 2022

The Intellectual Life (#12)


A Peek into the Intimate Intellectual Life of a Long-Married Couple, Part 12:

Karen and I are driving through the countryside and see a large herd of cows.

Karen: "Cows."

Brian: "Mooooo."

Brian (louder and deeper): "MOOOOO!"

Brian (in a lovely tenor): "MOOeeeeuuuaaauuuoooOOO!"

Karen looks at Brian quizzically.

Brian: "That's a cow trying to sing 'Oh What a Beautiful Morning' from 'Oklahoma.'"

Karen: "That's oddly specific."

A minute passes.

Brian: "The real question is how a cow would have heard the soundtrack to 'Oklahoma.'"

Another minute passes.

Karen: "MooTube."

Celebratory high fives and fist bumps all around.

This has been another peek into the intimate intellectual life of a long-married couple.

(Cartoon is "The Far Side" by Gary Larson. duh.)