Cartoonists in a church. All hail the fun that is the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival! Last Saturday, the main event of the festival, ( free to the public), was held at Williamsburg’s Lady of Mount Carmel Church, overflowing with toon aficionados.
Simultaneously, panels were being held a few blocks down at The Knitting Factory. The first panel of the day, The Architecture of Comics, featured Chris Ware, Richard McGuire, and Art Spiegelman. The place was so packed for this talk, you couldn’t even get in the door. It was rumored even Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons, couldn’t get in. This is the third year in a row that Groening came to the event to buy comics and hang out.
Forget about Comic Con. No super heroes here. The two floors were jam-packed with fresh-to-death graphics and biting humor. And art just dripping with amazing: Killer Acid (www.killeracid.com) really spoke to me. Their motto is “Fried Our Brains So You Don’t Have To.” They are like martyrs really, with their demon pizzas that look cute enough to eat, but too scary to consume. Also appropriately featured was the work of Matt Crabe whose very twisted, (and twistedly awesome), art mimicked the format of church hymns. “With these graphics,” he told me, “You’re making your own mythology. I just do what I want with it.”
I wanted to purchase Tom Kaczynski’s graphic novel Beta Testing The Apocalypse, but it was sold out. “The title is touching a line from one of the comics,” he explained. “Theres a line in here called “The Cozy Apocalypse’ and I used it for the title of the book. I feel like every couple years we come up with a new apocalypse we need to worry about. So this book kind of pretenses a bunch of apocalypses for you.”
Chris Ware’s new book Building Stories was building up quite a storm. There was a book signing line so long for him, that they had to cut it off early. Despite his sea of admirers, he remained humble and shy. I asked him how felt about the response to his book. “I’m very flattered and surprised.” He said that he was inspired by “any cartoonist or artist who is serious about what they do.”
I was also psyched to meet Art Spiegelman, the artist behind the 1991 classic graphic novel Maus. I never thought he would speak to me, let alone say the word “tits,” but he did when he described what he doodles when he’s not drawing for work. Tits, among other things, without thinking about it. He joked, “It’s like, oh shit, I drew dogs again. I don’t know why!”
Although Saturday was the main event, Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival was hardly limited to that day. It was days long, chock full of galleries and events stationed around the borough. There was also a shitload of amazing screenings, such as this trippy diddy from 1981:
The Hungarian animated film entitled Fehérlófia (Son Of The White Mare) was fascinating, and inspiring.
The fest really is an amazing event put together by Desert Island, PictureBox and Bill Kartalopoulos, designed to educate, entertain and inspire, all made up of four parts: galleries, films/performances, lectures, and artists and publishers selling and showing off their nifty publications. Bill Kartalopoulos stated that he likes Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival to “showcase the very best of what’s current and vital in comics and related art forms.” And making it free to the general public, he added, “helps us reach the broadest possible audience of potentially interested people and hopefully generate more enthusiasm and excitement for all this awesome work.”