Monday, April 23, 2007

WonderCon / APE Aftermath

I never got around to recapping my whole WonderCon experience, as things just got so crazy at the time with work and Pride High. But it was an incredibly fun experience. It was my first convention and I was playing the soundtrack to "Bring It On" as I arrived. Some of you already know this, but for those who don't, "Bring It On" was the only DVD I owned for years. I'm somewhat of the anti-packrat. After years of living as a nomad I've gotten into the habit of throwing everything away that I didn't truly need. So right now, I've got three DVDs: Bring It On, Pandemonium, and Shortbus. But back to WonderCon.

It was my first time meeting people from Prism Comics, who have been incredibly supportive of Pride High. In addition to getting the word out there about my comic, they also allowed me to have space at the convention for free! There, I also met fellow creators, including Lynx Delirium (Fairies Tell) and Tony Lawrence (Western Nightmares).

WonderCon was a bit of a nailbiter. I was set to debut Issue 3 of Pride High, but it kept getting delayed with UPS. The issues were *finally* delivered only 2 hours before I was set to sign copies at the Prism table! Pride High sold well, and people were really receptive to the whole concept of gay and gay-friendly teen superheroes.

Fast forward 6 weeks and the next convention was already in town. The Alternative Press Expo (APE) was a bit larger than I expected, given that it was specifically for alternative, independent press. LGBT representation at this convention was a LOT greater than at WonderCon. Whereas WonderCon only had the Prism table, there were eight tables of LGBT interest at APE!

In addition to seeing many of the same creators from the Magnet Reading back in December, I had the pleasure of meeting Tim Fish (Cavalcade of Boys), Robert Kirby (Curbside, Book of Boy Trouble), Paige Braddock (Jane's World), Sina Grace (Books with Pictures), Mikhaela Reid (Attack of the 50ft Mikhaela), and last but DEFINITELY not least, Brian Andersen (So Super Duper).

Mikhaela was the first creator that I had a chance to have an extended conversation with at APE. We talked about her experiences as the head of her high school GSA, as well as our lives as out queer students in college. It was great to meet someone else from Harvard with a passion for creating independent comic books.

Near Mikhaela's table was Sean Seamus McWhinney, the writer of "Catering Whore." I met Sean at Whatever the previous week, and loved his bittersweet tales from the world of freelance catering. He also worked on "Piki & Poko," one of my favorite cartoons that unfortunately disappeared from the internet.

While I was talking to Sean, Tony ran over to tell me that someone was looking for me at the Prism table. It was none other than Spanky from LA, the talented artist behind the Pride High APE ad. Great guy with a STRONG grip. Artists!

Robert Kirby's work, Curbside, was the first comic I purchased at the expo. As I thumbed through I noticed references to Stephen Merritt, Team Dresch, and Tribe 8. Robert was pretty busy at his table, but I got a chance to talk about our shared love of great music.

Lynx Delirium was unable to make it to APE, but his partner David was there. Late on Saturday, he was reading a big, oversized pink comic book. I looked over his shoulder to see "So Super Duper" by Brian Andersen. The comic totally had me at the cover. I asked David where he found it and was directed to the far corner of the convention center. I ran over and introduced myself to Brian who said, "hey Tommy." I was surprised, as I didn't recognize him. He clarified, "I'm a fan of Pride High! I've seen your picture!" Awesome! We chatted for a moment, I bought a copy of So Super Duper... and 15 minutes later I was back at his table.

The story follows "Psyche" a closeted gay hero who is added to an elite supergroup for the purpose of adding diversity to the team. The comic book is a an exaggerated parody of the superhero genre, combined with a humorous critique of the closet. I loved the comic so much, I spent half of Sunday sitting at the So Super Duper table!

I also attended the queer comics reading and queer comics panel, both of which were great. Andy Hartzell of Fox Bunny Funny was the highlight of the panel for me, as his work easily ranks in my top 5 comics ever. And at the reading, Paige Braddock was particularly entertaining with her excerpt of Jane's World that featured jealous girlfriends with mullets and strip checkers ;). Both events were organized by total geek-hunk Justin Hall (True Travel Tales), who invited me to take part in next year's panel!

I spent both Saturday and Sunday night reading Tim Fish's "Cavalcade of Boys." The book threatened to turn both nights into all-nighters. It was a serious page-turner and I absolutely loved Tim's look at gay romance. The characters became very real to me. Their choices, good and bad, had me holding my breath. Once I realized I only had about a fourth of the book left, I decided to take a break. I wasn't ready for the story to end, yet!

I had just purchased Shortbus that night, so I popped it in the DVD player and sat back for a wild ride. It was an AMAZING film, but I didn't really give myself much time to truly digest it, as I dove right back into Cavalcade. I'll probably watch the film again tonight. CoB reminds me of a Bjork quote. "Sometimes you read a book and you understand it. And sometimes you read a book and it understands you." Reading Cavalcade of Boys was the perfect end to a great weekend! Now it's the final stretch before Comic Con in San Diego!

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