July 2009

Taking The Initiative

Friends,
Firstly, here's the schedule of where I'll be and when, for any of you folks lucky enough to be heading for The San Diego Comicon this year from Thursday 23rd-Sunday 26th July. I say ' lucky ', but that term usually applies to those not actually working there - it can be really exhausting at the Con if you're in the biz doing the best you can for the company. Me, I usually take it slow there, because I'm lucky enough to be able to. I do a limited number of things and leave the rest of the time to catch up and drink with some nice people I don't always get to see elsewhere.
This year's a bit different for me, though : as well as my regular signings with my friends at DC and Dark Horse, I'll be at the Hero Initiative booth, and the Cartoon Art Museum table, to do sketches for donations to their very worthy causes.
Hero Initiative is a charity formed to help workers in the comic business who stumble on hard times. It can happen to any of us, however well we try to insure ourselves against emergencies and ill-health, so it's a great thing that Hero's around to help. I contributed a couple of pages - excerpt below - to their new benefit book, Hero Comic, out on the 29th July. I imagine Diamond will be happily distributing it, but ask at your local comic store if they'll be having stocks in and then you can do the cause some good yourself : ) I'll be there at booth 907 on Thursday from 3.30-5.30 with some superb sequential artists including the greats, Gene Colan and Howard Chaykin.
The Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco is one of the flagship galleries exhibiting sequential art in the USA, but it still needs regular donations, large and small, to prosper. They're at table 1930 and I'll be there from 4-5 on Friday, 24th.
At DC I'll be signing from 11-12, Friday, and 4-5, Saturday.
And at Dark Horse from 6-7 on Thursday, and 1-2 on Sunday.
It may be that I'll be at another station for some further hours during the event, but this isn't yet a certainty.
Secondly, after San Diego, I'll be heading off to Chicago for a signing on Saturday, August 1st, at two branches of the excellent store, Amazing Fantasy.
I'll be at the La Grange Rd branch from 11-2, and at Torrence Ave from 4-6. Check out their site for more info - www.afbooks.com.Hope to see you there : )

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European Journey

Friends,
I've been fortunate enough to have travelled throughout Europe over the years, largely through invitations to one festival or another. I've enjoyed staying in every place I've visited and enjoyed meeting the people of the area I've visited - always glad of the widespread use of English, because I've struggled with learning the only language I've so far tried to master, French, and haven't risked the damage to my brain that trying to learn any other language might entail. One thing I've learnt easily from all these trips, which stretch from France to Serbia, is that people are the same everywhere - generally good and kind and just needing the opportunity to earn a living and have a reasonable stress-free time of it. It may sound trite to say that, but I think it's something we should all keep reminding ourselves about. I say this because in the past couple of months I've come across some easily-expressed prejudice against nationalities and racial types from people who are not malicious in their intent, but just jokingly critical. But joking and prodding can be the beginning of serious discrimination.
I've just come back from a great trip to Gdansk - the birthplace of Solidarity and the fight of the shipyard workers, led by the famous Lech Wallesa, to form a free union and ultimately topple the tyranny of Communism in Poland. It was also the birthplace of the Second World War, shelled mercilessly by the Nazis as they began their invasion. One of the things I saw on a tour of the city was the monument below, which celebrates an amazing example of heroism and resistance to that invasion against enormous odds - the defence of the Post Office by the clerks who ran it day-to-day, who held out for 14 hours against the German armed forces. Only four survivors left the building, and they were executed shortly afterwards.
Part of the whole belief system of Nazism was the designation of other races and nationalities as less than themselves, thus making them easy to persecute. And it all began with simple humour. A few harmless jokes, which led to more pointed derision. Then, on to blacker things... So, let's all be good to each other, eh? And stop it before it starts.
Next posting I'll have some info on my San Diego Con plans if I can arrange them by then, and a following signing at Amazing Fantasy in Chicago.
Hope you're all having a terrific Summer : )

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