Posted by Bob Greenberger on November 8, 2009
I wasn’t sure what to expect from King Con when I was invited to attend, but it came as a most welcome distraction after a rough political week. Held at the Brooklyn Lyceum, it most reminded me of the smaller NYC cons of the 1970s although the dealers’ tables were all replaced with artists’ tables. There may have been one pure retailer in attendance. Instead, the tables were filled with people who work for DC, Marvel, or smaller houses and it was a most collegial atmosphere.
The Lyceum is a rundown structure that I am told hosts Opera performances in the area occupied by writers and artists while the panel floor was normally used for weight lifting. While downstairs was crowded and warm as a result, the spacious panel floor was unheated and many panelists and attendees wore coats to keep warm.
I arrived just before Noon yesterday and immediately caught up with Matt Manning, my co-author of The Batman Vault. I spent the next hour or so wandering the small space and checking out the wares. There was quite a lot on display, much of which I was unfamiliar with so started chatting up authors and artists such as Charles Soule, who wrote Strongman, a well reviewed graphic novel from Slave Labor Graphics.
I headed upstairs and caught most of the panel dedicated to Act-i-Vate, a collective website. The 11 panelists discussed their strips and how they got involved, and how this medium allowed them to find print homes for their projects. They also talked about their first print anthology, The Act-i-Vate Primer, now on sale, and I was fascinated by all the people, most of whom I was unfamiliar with. The one I did know, was Dean Haspiel, who was a major help with The Howard Chaykin Retrospective.
Afterwards, there was a panel dedicated to Harvey Pekar and the new Pekar Project, which sounded like a tremendous way to expand Harvey’s unique brand.
While waiting to begin the Batman panel, I was “backstage” and caught up with the fabulous Christine Norrie, my former assistant at DC, and a pretty amazing artist. I also had a few minutes with my Iron Man editor Steve Saffel, which is always a treat.
The Batman Panel was moderated by another old friend, historian Peter Sanderson, and he came very prepared with excellent questions which had Matt, I, and the legendary Denny O’Neil riffing on themes and history that we may not have discussed otherwise. Overall, it was an excellent discussion but you can tell the audience the con attracted by the fact that the previous two panels were filled to overflowing while our crowd was maybe two-thirds the size.
I was greeted afterwards by my former Weekly World News art director Kristine Schmidt so we had time to play catch up before a final turn around the crowded dealers’ floor.
Driving home, I felt good to be out and about amongst peers and fans. It was a welcome distraction and a good experience, making me think back to the days when pros and fans could more easily congregate and chat at the shows before they evolved into full-blown entertainment extravaganzas.
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