NEWW has come and gone, and the weekend is still fresh in my mind. A cliché, I realize. It’s true though! As I’ve said in many blog posts prior to this one, Sara was there—taking photos, no less!—and she’s been nice enough to cull her favorite pictures into a Flickr photo set. Ain’t that great!
What follows might be considered long and name-droppy. I apologize for none of it. What else is a con report supposed to be, anyway? (Also, there are a lot of dashes, and I don’t apologize for those either.)
After a taxing1 nine-hour drive up from Cleveland, we finally found ourselves in Northampton: small, busy … cold. La Veracruzana provided the evening’s dinner burritos2 before we walked over to Modern Myths, local comic shop and starting line for the evening’s Pub Crawl. Among the coalescing attendees, we met Indigo—not the color, but an aspiring webcartoonist herself3, and a welcome companion for most of the night. Once everyone had a chance to make eye contact and nod and laugh nervously, we headed out. The word “crawl” implies a journey with multiple stops, you might think, but we arrived almost immediately at The Tunnel Bar and didn’t leave until the night was almost over.
Have you ever imbibed at a place built inside of a train tunnel? The doors to the place rest inside of a brick archway, and the interior is slick as all hell. It suffers from an epidemic of incurably comfy chairs. I ordered a Coke (yawn!) and assumed we’d sit around for a half hour or so, making friendly conversation until somebody decided we’d keep crawling, as it were4. Nope! Thanks to a well-timed bathroom trip, we figured out that stuff was happening on the second floor5.
The crowd was small at the start, but big folks (both figuratively and literally) were there: Ryan North, Jeph Jacques, and Joey Comeau counted among them (Comeau having a more figurative than literal bigness). Crowds grow, though, you know. At some point, the lights had dimmed—very atmospheric and conducive to drinking, I imagine—and I realized I’d had some very nice conversations with Tyson Hesse and Josh Lesnick about how great their comics are. Spike was there, projecting a sort of friendly impish aura as she talked, as well as other people I am forgetting, I’m sure.
I was really lucky, though, to run into Diana Nock, who shared important advice regarding print collections, grants, and convention etiquette, among other things. It was pretty embarrassing to look a certified illustrator in the eye and say “I have never read your comic … but … but I have heard really nice things.” Didn’t seem to phase her too much, though, which was a super relief.
Brian Carroll was also there, and one phrase comes to mind when describing him: Brian Carroll is a maniac. The good kind. This is a cryptic way of saying that he’s (very) passionate about filmmaking, and also an energized speaker.
By that time, Sara and I decided to head out to the Dirty Truth, home of a thousand exotic ales. On our way out, we met Stevie—a fan of the comic! The first I’ve met in person, and a good-humored scholar, whose taste in comics is obviously excellent—and Magnus, NEWW’s official photographer for the second year in a row. You should look at this photo set of his, because it is a veritable bonanza of pictorial documentation.6
Saturday and also Sunday
These days were pretty similar. We drove down to Eastworks after sleeping in a little too late—those nine-hour drives, they linger with you—and divided our time between booth-hovering and panel-watching. Standard con stuff, as you’d expect, accompanied by the clear impression that most of exhibitors and attendees did indeed show up straight from the internet.
Especially memorable panels included “Cartoonists Answer your Questions about Star Trek” —self-explanatory, though dangerously close to being TNG-exclusive, if not for Dylan Meconis and her “old money” geek cred—and “QUICK DRAW!”, where audience members shouted suggestions for drawings at a cluster of bewildered cartoonists (fig. 1: “The King of Food“, by Meredith Gran and KC Green). MC Frontalot laid down his trademark rhymes during a pair of super-exclusive secret VIP concerts7 on Saturday night. Who could say no to the king of nerdcore?8
I think that covers the meat of it, but the comments are open if the specifics are unclear. If I’m not mistaken, Meredith Gran and R. Stevens were greatly responsible for the convention’s success, and a success it certainly was. To everyone involved in making NEWW run smoothly: it was a fantastic show!
1 Actually, you know what? Not that bad, it turned out. iPods really liven up criminally unending stretches of road, as you might expect. Also, the off-road McDonald’s we ate at in New York: depressing, and not nearly as nice as the McDonald’ses we saw in Massachusetts. Go figure.
2 Tasty ‘n’ quick ‘n’ cheap: as much as you’d ever need from a Mexican place in a college town.
3 Webcomics conventions are a draw for such people, it seems!
4 Not that this didn’t happen. Among the friendly topics discussed were collegiate regrets and horrid horror movies.
5 A bar with a second floor! Has the world gone mad?! Actually I am sure it is not that unusual.
6 Also, Magnus is not a given name, but a name chosen by the man himself to supplant a more common and boring name. “Magnus.” God damn, that’s a good name.
7 The concerts were actually not all that exclusive. I guess it depends as to whether $10 coupled with “first come first serve” counts as a declaration of exclusivity.
8 The answer is Al-Qaeda.