A few weeks ago, I made a little trip to the Queer Comics Expo at San Francisco’s Cartoon Art Museum. Located just around the corner from SF MoMA, the museum is a modest space with a few different galleries. There were exhibits dedicated to The Punisher, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and a permanent “history of comics” gallery filled with awesome early examples of newspaper comics. I was especially drawn (haha) to the early Nancy, Popeye and Archie comics. It always amazes me how much information artists can pack into simple line drawings. The Turtles exhibit was fun too. Most of the pieces hanging were storyboards from the early animated kids show.
The Expo was pretty small potatoes but I preferred it to WonderCon’s craziness. In all, there were only about 10 tables so I had a chance to meet a few other artists and check out their work. I enjoyed meeting Jon Macy who was there representing his graphic novel, Fearful Hunter: a trippy adventure about a young druid who lives in the woods and falls in love with a young werewolf. It’s like a queer version of Twilight but with more reverance about its pagan source material.
I also got a copy of Alex Woolfson’s Artifice, a gay love story between a young man and a “synthetic” human who’s been ordered to kill him. The novel is a fun sci-fi with a Yaoi twist. Yaoi, I learned, is a gay love story that has its origins in Japan and is marketed mostly to women. I tore through the book in a couple days. Naturally, I was interested in Alex’s use of sci-fi to tell a gay love story and the book has all kinds of fun homages to classic sci-fi movies like Alien. The paperback version of Artifice was funded through a very successful Kickstarter campaign in 2012 and, as you can tell from his website, Alex has done a masterful job of connecting to his fans.
Alex recommended that I post my entire comic online for free – especially for this first issue. I think I’m going to do this. It’s important, especially at the early stages, to reach as many potential fans as possible. I’ve already accepted the fact that I’m going to lose money and posting this first issue is no different than, say, HBO posting their series pilots on YouTube. I’m going to need to reach as many people as possible to get them interested in my comic and an online version is the best way to do this.
My friend Ed Luce was also there representing his Wuvable Oaf comic. I bought a few more items for my collection including a San Furrancisco mini-comic and the two volumes of the Gory Details series. Ed was also giving out complimentary vinyl singles of “Fearce” which is a song by Ejaculoid, the band of Eifel, Oaf’s (hopefully) new boyfriend. Points to Ed for original queer indie comic swag!
Fantagraphics recently announced that they will be releasing a graphic novel edition of Oaf comics next year! Congrats, Ed!
Other fun events were a great panel discussion as well as model drawing opportunities.
Before I left town, I also had a chance to check out The Walt Disney Family Museum in The Presidio. The museum was, in true Disney fashion, state of the art and spotless. The first few galleries contained a cacophony of different interactive installations that featured animated short films with voice over by Disney describing his early years in Kansas and Missouri. After seeing Saving Mr. Banks so many times at work, it was fun to hear Disney’s real voice. Tom Hanks really nailed Disney’s cadence and accent.
Upstairs, the museum goes into more detail about Mickey’s creation. Basically, Disney got screwed out of his ownership of Oswald the Rabbit, a previous creation. He came up with Mickey on a train ride from New York to Kansas City and he vowed never to let go of Mickey’s rights. Some of the early examples of Mickey’s shenanigans reveal a much more mischievous little mouse who like to torture a lot of the other animals around him. Of course, I prefer this version of Mickey to the watered down nice guy he turned into.
One interesting detail the exhibit goes explains is how the animators had to record the whole soundtrack — including the sound effects and orchestral music — at the same time since multitrack recording wasn’t invented yet. Their studio was the first to synchronize animated picture to sound. The first attempt at their first synchronized short, Steamboat Mickey, didn’t work and they had to go back to the drawing board, so to speak (I can’t stop with the animation puns!)
They had a few examples of early Mickey merchandise which was displayed right after the story of Disney losing the Oswald character. Disney’s expert marketing machine had its origin in Walt’s determination to remain independent by liscensing Mickey on pretty much anything. Makes me wonder: should I make Bakersfield, Earth neckties?
The remaining galleries went into depth about character development (Goofy, Pluto, etc.) as well as innovations Disney studios pioneered with feature length animated movies, color and a multi-plane camera that could shoot numerous cells at different distances simultaneously to give different shots a depth never before seen.
All in all, it was a supercalianimationexpialidocious trip!