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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Saratoga Springs Comicon 2008 -- Well, the second annual Saratoga Springs, NY Comicon has come and gone (read my report from last year's Saratoga Springs Comicon here), and I had a great day there today. The majority of my day was spent hanging out with cartoonist Fred Hembeck and two of his longtime friends and former FantaCo staff, Rocco Nigro and Roger Green.

I was a customer at FantaCo in the very early 1980s and remember buying comics weekly from Roger and Rocco, sometimes comics published by FantaCo that were created by Mr. Hembeck himself. FantaCo, as I have mentioned before, was a formative experience for me in developing my ideas of what a good comic book store is, and although it's been gone now for a decade, not too many days go by that I don't fondly remember my time hanging out there and investigating the very wide world of comics that the store carried.

Two highlights of the day: Fred Hembeck sketching Iron Man for me (see below), and chatting about all sorts of comics gossip I can't repeat here; also, going out for Thai food with Roger and Rocco, and talking all things comics, the state of the world, and even a developing idea for an Albany comics event that could come together later this year if the stars line up right. More on that as (and if) it develops.

Fred was there signing copies of his new Hembeck Omnibus published by Image Comics, and of course I bought a copy and got it signed; in fact, I had the honour of being the first to buy a copy of the book. It's safe to say that folks were excited to meet Fred Hembeck, and he is every bit as nice as his blog would lead you to think. That's also true of Roger, who is a fantastic storyteller (I never get tired of his FantaCo reminiscences, and always enjoy when he writes about those days on his blog). Rocco has a lot of great ideas about comics promotion and retailing, and it was a blast to talk over theories and ideas with all of them. I can't remember a better comics-related day I've had in a long, long time.

If I had one wish for the Saratoga Springs Comicons that seem likely in the years ahead, it's that a concerted effort is made to bring both graphic novels and artcomix/alternative comics into the proceedings. The Hembeck Omnibus -- highly recommended for the many, many hours of fun it will give you, by the way -- but that's the only book I bought. I would have loved it if there was a dealer or two focusing on graphic novels of the type that have exploded into the comics market in the past decade (think Fantagraphics, Drawn and Quarterly, Pantheon, etc.), but there was none of that, and no manga to speak of, either. I realize that Saratoga Springs is a smaller market than Albany, or the bigger cities that host larger cons, but the only attraction so far, two years running, has been the chance to catch up with friends. I had plenty of money on me today, and would loved to have spent it on some comics of the type I enjoy. The organizers of this event could really take a leaf from the pages of events like MoCCA, SPX and APE. The superhero nostalgia is fine, and I don't mind it at all, but a lot of readers were not catered to at this event, two years in a row now, and that's a lot of money I haven't spent that I wish I had been able to. End of criticism.

In any case, I took lots of photos today, and here's an assortment of the very best ones. And also one of me with R2D2 taken by Fred Hembeck himself! Click on the images to see a bigger version.

I admit I have no idea what expression is appropriate for a photo of this kind. Thanks to Fred for taking it, though!

Here's the little guy all close up.

More Star Wars folks.

Apparently this really is one of the five Batmobiles from the 1960s.

A shot of the room. Seemed like a bigger crowd this year.

Fred Hembeck and the Batmobile.

Fred works on a Daredevil sketch.

Fred works on my Iron Man sketch. >HIC<

Iron Man a little further along.

Just about done!

Roger and the Batmobile.

Fred Hembeck, Roger Green, and Rocco Nigro.

Visit the Saratoga Springs Comicon blog.


Blogger Rick said...

It is nice to see another area of New York state exposed to what looks like a nice event, David. Looks like everyone had a nice time.


22 June, 2008 18:34  
Blogger David Wynne said...

I LOVE that first photo. It's like you and R2 are forming a rap group or something.

23 June, 2008 02:27  
Blogger Alan David Doane said...

We tried, but he wanted to do all the beeps and bloops and refused to collaborate.

23 June, 2008 03:00  

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