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New York City trip summary (about comics, what else?!)

This week, I was fortunate enough to travel to New York City (on my school’s dime with excused absences, no less!) I spent most of it sampling every sushi place I could find but I also did nerd things a-plenty.

  • Nintendo World

Formerly the Pokemon Center of Time Square, now Nintendo World. It was good, geeky, filled with a zillion cute plushies. (There’s not much more of merit to say about it; it’s just a really neat store.)

  • Midtown Comics

A two-story tall comic store. It might not sound like a big deal to some people, but as a person with little to no access to comic stores of any kind, this was heaven. I ended up buying tons of comics more than I expected to because the plan for them had been to wait for the tradeback volumes to come out because I didn’t have a comic store nearby when lo and behold they were there in front of me.

  

  • Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art

The MoCCA was having featuring artists from ZAP! Comix, as well as the Center for Cartoon Studies.

 

First of all, it was fucking incredible to see the original artwork from Robert Crumb and others. ZAP! started a revolution in comics, truly, and was the first step to shaking off the Comics Code Authority. In the meantime, however, they produced some of the most vile, sexist, racist drivel in the name of freedom of expression. The linework was unparalleled, though the subject matter made my stomach churn more than once. (There was masturbation and ejaculation, the world’s most racist portrayals of black women, rape, and more.)

For those who were curious, here’s two examples of what I mean. They’re not safe for work or, uh, weak stomachs maybe.

There was also an amazing page from ZAP about the Grateful Dead album AoxomoxoA, a personal favorite of mine. The cover art was done by Rick Griffin, a regular ZAP artist.

 

The CCS gallery featured Robyn ChapmanGabby SchulzT. Edward BakChris WrightAlec LongstrethMax de RadiguesDavid LibensBlaise LarmeeJulie DelporteConnor Willumsen,  Nicole GeorgesSophie Yanow, and Noah Van Sciver. I got to have a Skype call with Alec Longstreth for a class earlier this semester, so that was neat. As with the ZAP exhibit, I was struck by the unpolished nature of some of the pieces, framed on bristol board with hand-written annotations in pencil on the sides.

  • Valiant Comics headquarters

This was the really cool best-thing-to-see. A quick email to Valiant (who I’ve written about briefly) was all it took to get a tour of their facilities (read: one extremely cramped office building) set up. The staff there (several editors, marketing people, and the publisher) were extremely polite and took time from their schedules to chat with us about what they did in their job. The office was, as said, immensely full of boxes (especially since we went on a Tuesday, and Wednesday is New Comic Book day, when things are released in stores). There were promotional items, boxes of backlogged comics, posters, and stacks of paperwork everywhere. In short…I fell in love with it.

It was everything I hoped to see of a comic production area–a small crew, working their asses off on something they cared about. It wasn’t fancy and I fucking loved that. They also gave us (myself and two other students) a bag of free comics–including one the day before it came out–and told us we were welcome to email them with any questions we had about the business. It was incredibly inspirational and increased my faith for the comic industry to be more than just a money machine.

 

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2 thoughts on “New York City trip summary (about comics, what else?!)

  1. Sounds like you had a really good time in NYC on many levels! Your mention of R. Crumb’s work was a blast from the past for me. Like thousands of other kids coming of age in the early 70s, I wore with pride my Keep on Truckin! T-shirt that featured his three-dudes-with-big-feet artwork from the original Zap Comix.

    According to at least one source cited by Wikipedia, Crumb blamed his legal battles for royalties over that pirated comic as the reason his artwork turned more toward his perverse sexual desires later on. I knew nothing about that back then — honest!. I just liked that cartoon, like so many other teens. I believe I bought the T-shirt from a head shop on Main Street in Arkadelphia named The Frog’s Ribbet. (Honestly, it was upstairs from where Java Primo is now.) And as I believe I’ve mentioned before, we actually had two newsstands downtown back then — both featuring a wide array of comic books. But apparently nothing like you found in NYC.

    BTW, I found the Keep on Truckin’ artwork but apparently can’t share it here easily. The curious can see what I’m talking about at: http://www.zubeworld.com/crumbmuseum/kot.gif (top image was on t-shirt) … I was surprised to find it referred to a cool old blues song rather than the old Grateful Dead song, Truckin’, which I now reckon came later.

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