Monday, May 18, 2009

Report: Maine Comic Arts Festival May 17, 2009

Above: my friends Meghan and Brian Moore, with their son (attired in a lovely, striped CMYK sweater) enjoyed the Festival. It was great seeing you guys!

Just like all politics is local, all cartoon events are localized around, obviously, me. I can't give you an overview of the Maine Comics Arts Festival except to say that I thought it was busy and friendly and well-attended. This was the same feeling I got from last year's Small Press Expo. A good thing in these economic free-fall sorta times, huh?!

Above: Look! Heidi MacDonald, from Publisher's Weekly's THE BEAT, dropped in to catch all of the comics goodness at MECAF.

From opening until closing, I had a steady stream of people dropping by the table I shared with John Klossner. It was great to hang out with him and Juana Medina, who drove all the way up from RISD.

I talked to a lot of other people who were selling their comics at the tables, and some felt they did well and others did not. I heard that one cartoonist sold out.

The crowd, as well as the participating artists and writers, skewed from their 20s to their 30s. There were a lot of families attending. What I saw: attendees -- families, couples, fellow creators -- would come over to a table and pause to at least look. And I don't mean they just slowed down. I mean they actually stopped and to see what was on the table. Most everyone said they were walking around all of the tables more than once to take in everything.

Above: "Kubby" and my friend Jeff Lok shared a table.

Aside from having a table and selling some of my own mini comics (more on those later), I moderated one of a series of afternoon panels.

The comic strip cartoonist panel went well. "Surviving as a Print Cartoonist" was the title and the panel was comprised of syndicated cartoonists Norm Feuti, Corey Pandolph and Lincoln Peirce, with me, Mike Lynch, moderating. Despite opening on a black cloud Joe Btfsplk note of gloom about the decline of newspapers, they all agreed on writing cartoons that make you, the cartoonist, laugh, is the only way to go. Countering the decline of the traditional print syndication model, all of these syndicated cartoonists have a Web presence.

I still believe that people love cartoons. We must have had 40-50 people in the audience, but more kept trickling in and the size about doubled by the end. Questions from the audience were welcomed.

"How do you deal with rejection?" was one of them. Unfortunaltely, it's par for the course. I mean, Chester Gould was rejected on about 100 other comic strip ideas before DICK TRACY was sold to a syndicate.

Guessing what editors like is a no-win, added Lincoln.

Here's Mike Peterson at his Nellie Blog, offering his take on the event.

"They weren't trying to discourage people from giving it a try, and Mike, who works with editors regularly as a freelancer, did a nice job of directing the conversation into helpful areas and adding his own advice, but there just isn't that much positive vibe to share, and it was a somewhat grim presentation.

"What saved it was this: Towards the end, they got away from nuts-and-bolts and began talking more about how, discouraging as the prospects are, it's still something they want to do. Hard as he scrambles to make a living, Corey said, 'I still can't believe I get paid to do this,' and both Norm and Lincoln delivered variations on that same theme."
The rest is at his blog. Thanks, Mike.

Above: "I Stayed Up All Night Drawing Comics, And So Can YOU!" 24 Hour Comics: A Reading and Super-Fast Demo with Marek Bennett.

It was great to visit with Marek, Joe Staton, Bill Woodman, Wiley Miller and so many other of my friends and colleagues who spent part of the partly-cloudy Portland, ME Sunday afternoon at the Festival.

Above: the syndicated cartoonists and their table: Corey Pandolph, Lincoln Peirce and Norm Feuti.


John R. Platt said...

It was great meeting you, Mike! Thanks again for the encouraging words. I'll have my second-ever batch of cartoons out to editors soon!

Hey, Wiley was there?!?!?!? No fair! He should have had a table!

Mark Anderson said...

Looks a good time had by all. And I hope you had that sold out cartoonist whacked.

Marek Bennett said...

Mike --

I made a conceptual breakthrough with this show! The secret to selling out is... only bring one or two copies of everything!

Thanks for your notes; it was good to see you, but I don't think I managed to get a copy of your mini yet...

-- Marek

PS. One of my panel's audience artists drew some fragments of your panel into her comic... q.v.

M. Scott Ricketts said...

Really enjoyed meeting you, Mike.

Damn, I was so busy at my table I never got to meet Wiley Miller!

Barry Corbett said...

Hi Mike,

Great seeing you guys at MCAF. I wanted to attend your panel discussion but Brian won the coin toss. Did he heckle you?

Colin Tedford said...

Mike, it was good to see you again. I failed to acquire any of your minicomics (or talk to half the cartoonists I wanted to), but we'd still like to get some for Trees & Hills. I'm thinking of taking advantage of my over-the-internet day job to do a tour of New England soon to visit people & stock shops I don't normally get to, so I'll keep you posted.

Anyway, what a great show! Rick & his crew should be very proud.