Bleary-eyed and barely cognizant, I drove into our driveway late Saturday night, back from a day at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Fest in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  What a nice day it was! This was my first opportunity to exhibit at this show and I really enjoyed it.  I’d characterize this convention as simple, down-to earth, unpretentious and slightly rough at the edges; in all the best possible ways.  I’ll take that over the bombastic spectacle of the Javits center any day. BCGF is much more my style.

Both the location and the venue contribute to the accessibility of the show; rough-hewn, working-class artsy Williamsburg and the Catholic school cafeteria vibe of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church. But the laid-back approach of the organizers, embodied most overtly in free admission, is felt all through the show. When I arrived at the Church on Saturday morning, aside from signs pointing exhibitors A-G downstairs, there was no evidence of convention organizers other than a table filled with convention program guides. No one seated at a table dutifully checking everyone in. Upon spying a somewhat official-looking gray haired man taping up a few signs, I asked if he might know where check-in was. Lo and behold, Gary Groth turned around, a bemused smile crossing his face, “your guess is a s good as mine”. At that point  I had the sense the tables were up for grabs!

(spoiler warning: this is the first of several name-drops of comics-world celebrities! be prepared! but hey, what are these con reports without sightings of the comics world stars?)

Once the public began arriving, the day sped by quickly, as most days usually do when a show is as busy as this one. There was hardly a lull in the ongoing parade of people walking past the table, and while the numbers around my little corner of the show waxed and waned, I was never alone for very long. And that is certainly some measure of its success. There is a celebratory vibe around this show, and it was pointed out to me that it may have something to do with the chill in the air and the holiday season. Surely,  If you want to buy a loved one an original piece of art for your particular holiday-there’s no place better to do it than at this convention. There’s so much wonderful material on view; mini-comics, books, prints, posters, etc.etc., it takes a disciplined consumer to resist the urge to take out the wallet at every table.

A few friends came by and said hello. The day began with a visit from Ben Katchor, accompanied by Kim Deitch, both of whom I revere. I’m honored to be able to say that Ben Katchor is familiar with my work, enough that he recognizes me at these events, and that he told me he uses “pood” as a teaching tool! He was joined by several of his students at my table; we talked a bit about “pood”, and then we were then joined by fellow-poodster, and one of my favorite cartoonists, Andres-Vera Martinez! Andres had a working proof of his new book, “Little White Duck”.  Wow! I can’t wait to see this book in print. The pages are beautiful!  We all commented on the excellence of Andres’ work,  I think the students had a valuable experience-and then everyone went on their way to take in the rest of the show. Can you imagine being an art student with Ben Katchor as your guide through the show?

David Mazzuchelli stopped by to say “hello”, and nice guy that he is, insisted on buying three issues of “pood”, despite my entreaties to just take ‘em. He told me I might catch his cold as we shook hands, I told him if I did I’d make sure I told the world on my blog. You heard it hear first.

There were lots of folks dropping by to chat, and it was nice, I didn’t have to explain “Monsters” or “fandancer” to them. This crowd got it, and they bought it too!  I sold out of “Monsters”-and sold at least half of my allotment of “fandancer”! And that’s good-because I brought twice as many “fandancer” as “LoM”!

My partner-in-pood, Kevin Mutch, and our buddy, rising comics star, Max, also stopped by. It’s always great to hang out with Kevin. He’s a fountain of info and smart, funny opinions, as his upcoming interview with  TCJ writer Marc Sobel will reveal. Image comics writer and fellow-poodster, Adam McGovern was there too, always ready with a witty quip or two. I finally met my favorite comics blogger, Tom Spurgeon, who was much taller than I ever expected!( or maybe I was much shorter than he expected, I’m not sure which).

I was able to take one brief spin around the convention floor, other than that I was glued to my table. The place was packed, crowds stood 3 or 4 deep at almost every table upstairs, and the downstairs was pretty busy too. I was simultaneously sad I didn’t have a day to look at all the great work on display, and thankful I couldn’t stop and spend money I don’t have!

So that, and lots of enjoyable conversations with people whose names I didn’t get and therefore can’t drop, made for a fun day. I had to make my exit an hour or two early, so that I could make the 4 hour drive back to the homestead in upstate NY at something resembling a decent hour, and before I began to succumb to yawning and dozing off. Sunday, deb had her own show to do at the Golden Oak Golf Course in Windsor, NY.  We had to get up early unload the comics from the van, and then load the crocheted hats and scarves! and yes, she had a great day!

And that’s my convention report! Now, what are you waiting for? go read Tuesday’s “Plastic Babyheads!”