IÂ just came back from Artistâ€™s Alley (or â€˜Artistâ€™s Aerieâ€™ as I saw Heidi describe it this morning, referring to its location on the fourth floorâ€¦). Navigating that was exactly like navigating the entire show last year: hot, sweaty, crowded, and the result of exceptionally poor planning. The fourth floor has the gaming tables and the major autograph areas. To get to those areas, you need to walk through one of the three Artist Alley aisles. But, this being Artistâ€™s Alley, some people might want to, you know, stop and talk to the artists at their tables as well. Now, having just described what is supposed to happen, can you tell me if you see any problems with that â€˜systemâ€™?
Itâ€™s a fucking nightmare.
If you are trying to access the autograph or gaming areas, you essentially have to walk half a city block through something akin to the ball-pit at Chuck E. Cheeseâ€™s; that lovely mass of humanity akin to a sea of brightly coloured plastic ballsâ€”except made of flesh and covered in sweat. And if youâ€™re not trying to get one end of the hall from the other, and maybe talk to people who paid a lot for their tables and would like to see you some books? You are either swept along with the tide, or constantly bumped on all sides by people doing their best to get by you. Hasnâ€™t the person at Reed Expo responsible for this ever read WHY WE BUY? I can only be bumped on the ass from behind so many time before I just give up on standing where Iâ€™m standing, and guess what?Â I did. I only saw two of the corridors. Sorry if you were up against the left wall, youâ€™re not getting any of my money and itâ€™s not my faultâ€¦ Maybe Sunday.
So what did I get to see? I saw an artist alley that had almost nothing in common with the kinds of artist events I really enjoy, like SPX or MoCCA or even my own TCAF, which was really disappointing. I didnâ€™t discover anything new either, which is always a little sad. To be fair, a number of artists had individual or group booths on the main convention floor, but I was still kind of surprised at some of the quality of the work available for saleâ€¦ Not to mention the artist alley tables that were selling t-shirts and toys rather than comics related art. The show really doesnâ€™t seem big enough to turn into an arts-bazaar, and I have to wonder if there was any kind of vetting process or criteria for securing an Artist Alley table.
For the most part, Artist Alley was all about catching up with artists whose work I already enjoyed. I bumped into Raina Telgemeier (Babysitterâ€™s Club), Abby Denson (Tough Love), and Matt Loux (Sidescrollers) on a little break from the ruckus, holed up in a corner. Eric Canete is a personal favourite of mine, and it was good to see him getting back into comics in the artist alley (following his recent run as cover artist on the Image Comics series NYC Mech, heâ€™ll be doing a Marvel project later this year). I picked up a new sketchbook heâ€™s done, which is pretty nice. Brendan Buford had a new volume of his anthology series Syncopated Comics out at his table, and it looks absolutely lovely with some truly excellent production values, and a great array of talent including Jim Campbell (Krachmacher), John Martz (Drawn.ca) and Brendan himself. Expect a full review of that one soon.
Jim Campbell and Brendan Buford show off Syncopated Comics, which is not this washed-out looking in real life.Â
Fellow Torontonian Rob Walton is set up at the show, selling copies of the new complete collected edition of his series Ragmop, which is about the dinosaurs and The Pope and the secret conspiracies at the heart of the Universe. You should totally pick that up. And speaking of NYC Mech, I ran into writer and artist duo Ivan Brandon and Andy MacDonald, who’ve had a truly horrifying convention experience that I am not at liberty to discuss… Poor, poor bastards, but gentlemen both.
I also bumped into Mike Huddleston and Jim Mahfood as I scrambled to get out of AA (just like Britneyâ€¦! Hmm. Maybe thatâ€™s too soonâ€¦) and it looks like both artists are going to be at TCAF this year, and weâ€™re going to work out some sort of live-art event. Last time out Mahfood rocked some awesome mural art to a live show by Kid Koalaâ€¦ Who knows what might be up this year? Although I would really love to see Koala come backâ€¦
Then I was all like â€œI am so over this shit,â€ and so Iâ€™ve been sitting in â€œThe Blue Loungeâ€ for the last hour typing this up. Transcontinental, the printers who print comics and things and who provided me an open bar on Thursday
afternoon evening set up this like quiet, chill lounge area for â€˜comics professionalsâ€™ to hang out, and since Iâ€™ve got three badges on them that all say that Iâ€™m a comics professional? You have no idea how nice it is to sit in a quiet blue room and drink free bottled water and listen to music on your lap top. Well, you probably do, thatâ€™s not THAT big a deal out in the real world, but it made my convention experience considerably better. Thanks, Transcontinental!
Alright, off to upload this and then Iâ€™m gonna tackle the convention floor. Wish me luck.