NYCC – More panels, more pics
Sunday was a fairly quiet convention day, at least compared with Saturday. Oh, there was still the huge entry queue, but it seemed to be all caught up by around 10:30 or so. However, the energy level was definitely lowered from Saturday’s intensity, so the veteran con-goers among us opted for what we considered really important — reconnecting with good friends, using panel attendance as an excuse to do so.
Yes, there are more photos, and a little bit of a panel review:
When the legs and back gave out for the last time, we forewent the exhibition hall and Artists Alley for good and made it just in time for the late start of the Political Cartoons: The Next Generation panel. Alas, no Wil Wheaton at this next gen, but we did get Ted Rall (moderator, standing), David Rees, Neil Swaab, Mikhaela Reid and Ward Sutton. As Rall came armed with stats, I found this panel far more informative than expected. I had no idea the state of cartooning for alternative weeklies — and for newspapers in general — was so dismal!
For instance, in 1900 there were 1200 newspapers with on-staff editorial political cartoonists; by 1980 that number had dwindled to 280, and less than three decades later we’re down to only 40! Likewise, alternative weeklies were once the lifeblood of cartoonists who were "too mainstream for indies and too independent for the mainstream," and there are only 175 of those papers left in the US. In such politically-charged times, one would think political cartooning would be more in demand, but editors tend to like to play things safe and go with popular opinion instead of challenging it.
Rall observed, "If you want to see more liberal cartoons in the papers, you should hope for another Democratic victory in 2008." There was also a lot of good discussion about how cartoonists can make money using a web-based model; the panelists noted the number of sites which have gone from micropayments to ad-supported models, and agreed that serializing graphic novels is a far better profit model than much of what’s currently out there. They also hoped to see some sort of central website repository specifically highlighting alternative cartoonists. And lo, the Mighty Web shall save us all!
As might be expected, the Dave Cockrum tribute was fairly low-key but heartfelt. Birthday boy Clifford Meth (in the hat at right) moderated a panel of Dave’s friends and coworkers which included (l to r) Louise Simonson, Chris Claremont, Paul Levitz and Joe Rubinstein. Cliff passed on the welcome news that the Uncanny Dave Cockrum Tribute hardcover (featuring lots of new stuff, including some more Cockrum artwork) will be released by Aardwolf soon, and everyone had wonderful stories to tell of Dave’s generosity, self-effacing nature and enormous talent. Anyone who could consistently inspire greats like these panelists was a person well worth knowing and remembering.
After the panel we caught up with Cliff and two other old friends to whom I’d wanted to introduce him, each of whom had known someone else close to me who’d passed away recently. Throughout the weekend we’d been seeing old "convention regulars" and becoming aware all over again how important we all are to each other in our short and hectic lifespans. These moments are the important ones, they’re what invest comic conventions — and indeed our lives — with meaning. We should never be too busy to just sit with folks and chat, and I’m grateful I got to see pretty much all my comics industry friends, old and new, during the weekend.
With that feeling in my heart, I reverted to the time in my life when I first felt like part of a community, and had to stay till the last panel, which Cliff would be attending.
Jews in Space The Jewish Side of Comics featured moderator Steven Bergson (standing) and panelists Neil Kleid, Danny Fingeroth, Stan Mack, Rabbi Simcha Weinstein and Arie Kaplan. Alas, we needed to make our bus connection so we left about halfway through, but it was nice to have that sense of community reinforced and, because of that above all, this year’s NYCC ended on a very high note.
Note to all 2008 NYCC attendees – I know it’s in April next year, so the weather should be more tolerable, but do consider queuing up at 11 AM instead of, for instance, camping out overnight. It’s not like you get a prize for being first in line, and as long as you have your badge stuff will still be there even if you’re the 20,000th person in the door.