July 25, 2014

Fact Checking the Kolinsky Sable Brush Ban

Kolinsky sable paintbrushes, a favorite of many comics artists, have recently become difficult to obtain in the U.S. due to a mysterious import ban. But what's really going on here? And is artists' hunger for sweet, springy sable brushes sending these adorable weasels the way of the dodo? 

In a word, nobut the actual answer is more complicated than that. I pored over pages and pages of confusing legalese to try and get to the bottom of it, and here's what I've found so far:

April 15, 2014

Comic Sans vs. WATCHMEN

Or: what a difference good lettering makes.

The web is having fits this week because a designer named Craig Royznski decided to make an updated version of Comic Sans called Comic Neue. At this point, hating Comic Sans has become as tiresome as using Comic Sans. I think the new version is an improvement, but even though he has made it available for free, it won't solve the main problem with comic sans- namely, all the less-than-tech-savvy people who see it in a drop down menu in whichever office program came with their computer and pick it simply because it's there.

Anyway,  it got me thinking about the original Comic Sans, which was based (rather loosely) on the lettering in the Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen. Curious, I decided to swap the lettering in a random panel from Watchmen, and see how both comic sans, and its newly made-over counterpart stood up to the original.
The difference between the original lettering and comic sans turned out to be more subtle than I expected. Printed small, the cutesy irregularities that make comic sans so bothersome at poster size become less noticeable. Still, you can see how much more tense and lively the original lettering is.

Even though Comic Neue looks much cleaner as a font for fliers and documents, it looks completely lifeless on a comics page. Re-designing comic sans was a PR coup for Mr. Royznski, but it has even less to do with actual comic lettering than the original.

Here is a comic sans comparison in a slightly larger panel:

The original lettering has a more distinct slant, which gives it movement that the packaged font lacks. When you layer them on top of each other, you can see just how subtle the difference is.
But those tiny descrepancies in shape are the difference between lettering that feels like a natural part of the story, and lettering that feels like subtitles, pasted on as an afterthought.

So download Comic Neue for your Grandmother, buy your lettering fonts at Blambot, and go read this amazing interview with Dave Gibbons.

March 19, 2014

MoCCA Festival!

Happening this April 5th and 6th in NYC!

The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Arts Festival is an annual event that takes place over a weekend in New York City, hosted at the 69th Regiment Armory, 68 Lexington Ave. The Society of Illustrators has been organizing the event since its acquisition of the Museum in 2013.

For Participants

Who can participate?
The mission of MoCCA is to promote the understanding and appreciation of comic and cartoon art. They take pride in promoting independent comics, and there are a mix of artists, publishers and institutions represented.

How do I get a table?
Applications go out in August. Everyone is welcome to apply as long as they are selling some sort of printed comic book, graphic novel, zine, ect.

How much does it cost to exhibit?
During standard registration half tables range from $210-$290, full tables range from $330-$420. Early-bird prices, student prices and Society of Illustrator Member prices are all reduced.

Technical stuff
Are tables provided? Yes
What size are the tables? A whole table is 6' and a half is 3'
Are chairs provided and how many per table?  Two chairs are provided for whole table, 1 chair for half.
Are there setup restrictions? Union rules? We are not union.  The Society staff will set up the Exhibitor Hall on Friday morning, and artists can then set up their merchandise on Friday afternoon.
Is there security at night? There will be security the entire time that we are in the space, including night.
Are there electrical outlets for booth use? Electrical outlets are very limited and we do the best we can to provide one when requested.
Height restrictions on signage? Signage should not exceed pipe and drape, which is 8 feet high.
Can you bring food/water? You can bring food and water, but there will also be options available in the "MoCCA Eats Cafe".
Can things be hung from ceiling? Nothing can be hung from the ceiling, it is a few hundred feet from the ground and would take a scissor lift to reach.
Is there a freight entrance? There is a freight entrance that is open to exhibitors and vendors only.
Can books/merch be sent ahead to convention site? Books and merchandise must be sent to the Society before hand. Nothing can be sent to the convention site.
Any lights/sound regulations? There are strict lights/sound regulations in place.
Is there wifi in the building and is it free? Wifi is not available to the general public.

For Guests

How much does it cost to attend?
Tickets cost $5 per day and can be purchased at the door.

What kind of events will take place?
There will be on-site programming on both Saturday and Sunday.  There will also be live demonstrations by artists in the Wacom Demo Lounge.  The Society has organized the first annual Comic and Cartoon Art Week during the week of April 1-6 (more info here).  Events include lectures, panels, book launches, parties, and the Festival.  There will be the opportunity to meet many artists.

What kind of items will be available for sale?
Books, art, collectibles and more will all be available.  Artists, fans, and the public will be attending the Fest.

With the exception of early Saturday morning, we do not anticipate large lines. There is no cosplay, and the exhibitor hall is handicapped accessible. There is also a Kids Zone for guests and their families.

Social Media
Twitter: @MoCCAFestNYC
Facebook: facebook.com/moccafest
Tumblr: moccafestnyc.tumblr.com/
General Info: societyillustrators.org/Mocca_Event

March 14, 2014

Gem City Comic Con

A while back, I sent out some questionnaires to a whole bunch of convention organizers as part of a project that I will introduce shortly. The answers were great, and I'm happy to be able to share them here!

One of my first respondents was Jesse Noble, who runs the gem city comic con, which is happening this April 5th and 6th in Dayton, Ohio.

What is the history of this event? 
I started the convention in 2006 to help me sell a collection that I bought on a lark. My expertise in the matter was nil.

Where is it located? 
Dayton, Ohio! It started in the Wright State University's Student Union we are now in the Nutter Center arena.

Who runs it? 
For good or bad I do. With help from some friends.

Is it associated with a particular store, museum, school, or organization? 
We have a number of sponsors. Bell book and comic, Super-fly comics, Teleproformance, Fearless Readers online.

Are any famous or notable artists involved in the planning?
No, but Mark Waid, and Christy Blanche (Supermooc) have been very helpful over the years!

Who can participate? 
Everyone. We do not discriminate, but if Marvel wanted to set up a booth, I would sell them one.

How do I get a table? 
We don't really have a official panel. Creator Tables are sold on a first come basis.  Contracts are on the website until all the tables are spoken for. That said, if you are a jerk I might be sold out when you call. We tend sell out VERY early. The 2014 show was sold in July.

How much does it cost to exhibit?
Creator tables cost $40 before Jan 1, $50 after. You get one table two chairs two badges.
Vender spots are $400 before Jan 1 $450 after. The space you get is roughly 10'x10' with two six foot tables two chairs and two Badges.

Technical stuff
Are tables provided? Yes
What size are the tables? 6'
Are there chairs provided and how many per table? Two per booth or creator table 
Is there security at night? Yes
Are there electrical outlets for booth use? limited
Height restrictions on signage? No
Can you bring food/water? Sure
Can things be hung from ceiling? It's 100 feet tall, but yes.
Is there a freight entrance? Two truck bays and roll in from the parking lot.
Can books/merch be sent ahead to convention site? There is a docking fee, but yes.
Any lights/sound regulations? Only if people complain...
Is there wifi in the building and is it free? Yes and yes
Is the building air conditioned? yes

How much does it cost to attend?
What is the ticket price? $8 single day and $15 weekend in advance, $10 and $18 at the door.
Are tickets difficult to come by? Not unless the printer runs out of ink.
Are there volunteer opportunities that will get you in for free? Yes but I tend not to ask for volunteers, enlisting an army of friends and family instead. 

What kind of events will take place? 
We have panels, costume contests, venders, gaming tournaments, Creators, a charity auction. No media guests.

What kind of items will be available for sale?
comics, toys poster t-shirts, art, non-sports cards.
What kind of customers are your exhibitors trying to attract? 
People with money!
Is there a giant line? No, we move them through fast. about 5000 a day. 
Should you get there early? Nah, just come on out when you're ready.
 Is cosplay out of place or will you fit right in? If you enter the cosplay contest you get in free! 
Are there restaurants nearby? It has the same 25 restaurants as any other mall district in America, but about 10 miles away there are 60 great little places you can eat at.
 Is it handicapped accessible or kid friendly? Both. We keep the aisles wide. And we love kids so much I had two!

Social Media 
Twitter: GemCityJess