John and I are back from Web­comics Week­end! I’ll try to give as com­plete a syn­op­sis as pos­si­ble with­out boring you with too many details.

But first, a bit of bad news: I know I said that we “are ded­i­cated to fin­ish­ing the cur­rent arc in an unin­ter­rupted fash­ion”. I know it! So it is with a heavy heart I report that a frus­trat­ing last-​minute com­puter issue has forced us to resort to a filler strip for tomor­row.

To mit­i­gate future issues, we’ll be work­ing to build a buffer of strips; this will hope­fully keep the comick­ing process a little less volatile—a little less sus­cep­ti­ble to the whims of the Dig­ithalia, Muse of Algo­rithms, Com­put­ing, Free and Open Source Soft­ware, and Pinochle.1

Anyway, on to Web­comics Week­end! The jour­ney began in earnest on Friday when John and I left for the fes­tiv­i­ties. As we lacked a vehi­cle with which to get there, I had my knap­sack packed and walk­ing stick in hand, ready to tackle the scenic 100-mile hike to beau­ti­ful Northamp­ton, Mass­a­chu­setts. John looked at me quizzi­cally, waving two small pieces of paper in front of my face. He was bab­bling in some incom­pre­hen­si­ble Cal­i­for­nia dialect about “tick­ets” and “grey­hounds” and “buses”. He finally con­vinced me that hiking was per­haps not the way to go, and to make a long story short (too late!) we got on a bus that quickly (3 hours) whisked us away to west­ern Mass­a­chu­setts.

After check­ing into the Northamp­ton Qual­ity Inn, we made our way into town. We hit up the comic shop (where John bought the most recent volume of Scott Pil­grim) and grabbed a bite to eat (at Local Burger and Fries—you’ll never guess what we ordered) before decid­ing to embark upon the Offi­cial Web­comics Week­end Bar Crawl.

It was a mem­o­rable night, albeit some­what ham­pered by twin dif­fi­cul­ties:

(1) Though we are both of legal age, we don’t drink. (I know: Mad­ness! Insan­ity! But it is truth.)

(2) The number of times either of us has ever entered a bar of our own free accord can be counted up on one hand. One man­gled, war-​torn hand. With stumps where its fin­gers have been shot off. What I’m saying is, we’re not exactly bar people.

Given points (1) and (2) above, it is per­haps unsur­pris­ing to learn that our great­est suc­cess of the bar crawl occurred not at any bar at all, but at the local ice cream shop. There we ran across a very cool group of Web­comics Week­enders from the Boston area. We fol­lowed them to the nearby Hay­mar­ket Cafe, the base­ment of which was pop­u­lated by a ver­i­ta­ble bonanza of cre­ators: all the Half­pixel guys, K.C. Green, Spike, and a heck­uva lot of people I couldn’t place but whom John some­how rec­og­nized. (Per­haps he will be able to amend this entry with a more com­plete list?) [Edit: I can only remem­ber rec­og­niz­ing three others: David Malki !, David Willis, and R. Stevens. Shoulda writ­ten it down! -John]

The Boston group struck up a chat with Spike, and John and I ven­tured out into the brisk night to seek fame and for­tune. How­ever, since I can see your head gently bob­bing down­wards and your eyes begin­ning to roll behind your droop­ing eye­lids, I’ll spare you the details and cut off my nar­ra­tive of the night there. (For the three of you who are truly curi­ous how the night con­cluded, it should suf­fice for me to tell you that The Princess Bride is a good, good movie.)

Sleep, then Sat­ur­day. Since we had no vehi­cle and the fes­tiv­i­ties were over 4 miles away, we hitched a ride with two fairly awe­some dudes: Jason (a.k.a. The Mid­night Car­tooner over at Dig­i­tal Strips), and Alan, cre­ator of the wrestling web­comic Rival Angels. They were head­ing over early to vol­un­teer help for the event; on a whim, John and I decided to help out, too. In fact, if you attended the week­end, there’s a good chance that one of us handed you your wrist­band! I may have even answered a ques­tion of yours with a, “Hmmm, I think…. you know, actu­ally, I don’t know where that is,” or “I think that’s in room 212, but I actu­ally have no idea what’s going on so you might want to ask some­one else,” or “Tape? I know we had tape here just a second ago. Crap.”

High­light: help­ing reg­is­ter Ran­dall Munroe, who was sur­rep­ti­tiously attend­ing the event. We even had a short con­ver­sa­tion about swim­ming pools and dig­i­tal watches. It was very excit­ing stuff, let me tell you.

Once the panels began, John and I each per­formed the dra­matic trans­for­ma­tion from Vol­un­teer to Attendee. We headed up to Panel Room A, where we spent much of the rest of the day absorb­ing insights from var­i­ous web­comic lumi­nar­ies. During the “How to Make T-Shirts” panel, Chris Hast­ings coaxed the audi­ence to launch into a minute-​long fit of manic hys­te­ria for the sole pur­pose of making the people in the panel next door jeal­ous. During the live Webomics Weekly pod­cast Dave Kel­lett claimed, while sit­ting right next to Scott Kurtz, that he had never seen an office comic he liked. (Accord­ing to Mr. Guigar, the Half­pixel crew is cur­rently accept­ing appli­ca­tions for a new fourth member.) And during the live draw­ing event, I asked Kris Straub to draw the Shet­land Pony from Hark! A Vagrant, which some­how mor­phed (with the help of David Willis) into an adorable two-​headed mon­stros­ity.

At some point we headed over to Topatoco—which is arguably the t-shirt cap­i­tal of the world. There we came across Sam Logan, cre­ator of Sam and Fuzzy. He and John shared a bond, a deep bond, a bond with ori­gins in the ancient frosted wilder­ness of Canada, the deep and immac­u­late ter­ri­to­ries of that vast moth­er­land, a subtle pro­fun­dity spoken word­lessly through minute ges­tures, an inef­fa­ble affect, the incom­mu­ni­ca­ble twin­kle of an eye. I, having no Cana­dian blood cours­ing through my veins, kept it to a simple “Hi!” and a sheep­ish smile.

During the live draw­ing event, our ride noti­fied us that they were headed back to the hotel. We regrouped with them, made our way back to the Qual­ity Inn, then went out and grabbed some Mex­i­can food with them. We hung out for the rest of the night, and it was good.

Sleep, then Sunday. Unfor­tu­nately, our bus departed at 11 in the morn­ing, so we couldn’t attend the Sunday fes­tiv­i­ties. Even so, we man­aged to get one last dose of web­comicky good­ness: while check­ing out, we ran into Krishna Sada­si­vam of PC Wee­nies and chat­ted with him for a few min­utes. Then we rushed off to catch our bus; before long, we found our­selves back in Cam­bridge. John took his leave back to Cal­i­for­nia and, bar­ring a few kinks in the travel process, returned safely. I stuck around my dorm room, did a little work, got some sleep, started writ­ing up this post about the week­end, and… well, here we are.

Final ver­dict? A resound­ingly great time. I’m already look­ing for­ward to going back next year. Many thanks to Mered­ith and every­one else involved for putting together a fan­tas­tic and mem­o­rable event!

1 “Pinochle?” you ask. Well, with the econ­omy the way it is, the Guys In Charge had to let go some of their talent. Someone’s got to pick up the slack.


Discussion (4) ¬

  1. Albone says:

    Hey, you left out the part where we hung out at the first leg of the LICD get together. XD It was a great time hang­ing out with you guys and I hope to do it again some time.

  2. John says:

    Aah, so we did! Great hang­ing out with you as well, sir—maybe next time we can coax some more sto­ries out of Sohmer.

  3. Elithrion says:

    As a fellow person who does not drink, I feel your pain.

  4. Bengo says:

    With Half­Pixel one of the most con­tro­ver­sial groups in web­comics, I would think you’d want to follow that story about a replace­ment member with a bit more vigor. If it’s true, you’re sleep­ing through quite a scoop.