As an editor of several comic features, I interact with cartoonists on a daily basis. As a reader and fan, I'm exposed to their work and talent every day. Most of that interaction, however, occurs over the computer or phone, so I love attending events like New York Comic Con, in which cartoonists, fans and industry folk like myself get to mingle in one massive space.
Working the booth at NYCC gave me — and roughly 100,000 others — the chance to put faces to the names of the people whose work we've read so often and admired for so long. Among those was 9 Chickweed Lane / Pibgorn creator Brooke McEldowney,whose bright prints and self-published books were a hot item with fans.
I also got to meet Rob Harrell, whose work I first encountered in the now-retired Big Top and who now writes and illustrates the classic Adam @ Home. Rob signed on Sunday, which is NYCC's family day, and quickly had a long line of people to get a free signed print. Someone even brought up their copy of that day's New Jersey Herald funny pages with a colorful Adam@Home Sunday prominently displayed and said "Hey, that's you!"
Ruben Bolling, the longtime creator of the fantastic Tom The Dancing Bug, attracted longtime readers and new fans alike. (Side note: When I first got hired at Universal, I was given a giant stack of Ruben's "Super Fun-Pak Comics" as a reading assigment and I've been a devoted fan ever since.)
We had some others sign as well, including John, Lisa and Kate of Zachary Nixon Johnson, who drew sketches, passed out flyers for the website Pink Raygun (which has some amazing jackolantern templates up right now) and made a sign offering mental help for 5 cents. And the crowds showed up en masse for two extended signings by Matthew Inman, author of the hilarious Oatmeal series including the recent release, "Why Grizzly Bears Should Wear Underpants."
In addition to spending some time with our cartoonists, the GoComics team also got to interact with the people who make our operation such a thriving one — our readers. We met fans of classic strips such as Calvin & Hobbes (at least one person saw the Calvin books behind me and asked if I was Bill Watterson, to which I could only shake my head and try not to laugh). We met teachers, educators and English-as-second-language instructors who said they regularly use our strips in the classroom. And during our portfolio review sessions, we got to meet some of the up-and-coming cartoonists and artists whose work is likely to gain a bigger audience in the future.
In summary, New York Comic Con was a great place to get out and mingle with cartoonists, readers, artists, costumed teens, older readers, younger readers and even some guy who was dressed up as a British phone booth. Here at GoComics HQ, we're always aware that behind the computer screens and comic panels there are actual people at work, as well as people of all ages and backgrounds reading, but there's nothing like some good old personal interaction to really drive that home.
See you next year!