Fuse #8

Monday, February 26, 2007

Comic Con-fabulation

On Saturday I had the great good fortune to have free access to something wholly new to me. Comic Con. A convention of graphic novel enthusiasts, video game fans, gamers, geeks, and the like. Nerdapalooza? Entirely. But a heckuva lot of fun for someone who's entire range of convention knowledge begins and ends with ALA. If I was walking in looking for people resembling librarians, however, I was in for a surprise.

The entire convention was housed in the Jacob Javits Convention Center, a building vying for the much desired Ugliest New York Structure Award. Built entirely out of what look to be Ray-bans the concentrated windows meant only one thing. Inside it was hot as an oven (sans the "whole shack shimmy"). Packed to o'erflowing comic enthusiasts, some of whom could learn a thing or two from this miraculous invention called deodorant, the temperature outside the building was -2 while inside it hovered around 94 degrees.

If you can get over the humidity switcheroo, however, it's a marvelous place to visit. Especially if, like myself, you are NOT a comic book geek (I make no excuses for my other forms of geekyness, of course). Inside were lots of costume-wearing babes and fellers. The babes were always in tip-top shape. The fellers, making some kind of statement I guess, were inevitably packing beer bellies. Walking in there was a very large gaming area. You could play the American Idol game (sing on key or you're toast), the newest Dance Dance Revolution, the newest Guitar Hero, or a host of other games I'd never heard of. On the second floor were artists signing all sorts of stuff. Aside from Raina Telgemeier (she did the new graphic novel Baby-Sitters Club books) and Fun Home author Alison Bechdel(who I was way too chicken to talk to) I didn't know a single person there.

My sights, however, were intent on finding the publishers I loved. I learned too late, and to my cost, that had I come on the Friday before I could have had the whole place to myself between the hours of 10 and 4. That's when the "professionals" were allowed to wander around on their own. Maybe next year then.

Okay. Now the real info. Whence the swag? Which is to say, who was giving it out and who wasn't?

Basically, if you're accustomed the loads of free books available at ALA Conventions, the Comic Con seems pretty skimpy in comparison. There were lots and lots of graphic novels and comics being sold, sure. But free stuff, by and large, was only being done by the major publishers I already knew. Scholastic, for example, fell over themselves to give me stuff. I got two paperback copies of the graphic novel Baby-Sitters Club series (the third one Mary Anne Saves the Day is out in September), the Goosebumps #2 Terror Trips, and a handout that talks about upcoming titles. I was particularly intrigued by a Holly Black book called Good Neighbors, something by a Greg Ruth called The Woodland Chronicles, and Walker Bean by Aaron Renier. Eyes are to be kept peeled for these.

Penguin's booth was sporting two bound ARCs (I've never seen anyone take the time to bind an ARC before) of The Midadventures of Benjamin Bartholomew Piff. I heard the premise for this book at Listening Library's presentation at the Random House Summer 2007 preview last week (summary of THAT pending). It's a neat idea. There are three rules regarding birthday wishes and until now, no one has ever successfully obeyed all three rules. Benjamin Piff, as it happens in the first, and there are two books of his adventures thus far. So that was nice.

Little, Brown & Co. (which is to say The Hatchette Group) didn't have anything for kids. Ah well. You know who did, though? Random House. And man oh man did they weigh me down with goodies. First of all, check out this cover:

They don't hardly make 'em like this no more. How was I going to pass that up? The colors, by the way, are probably going to be brighter on the actual book. And if I was going to take Wildwood Dancing then I certainly should take Tomorrow's Magic. Apparently this was a book beloved of Tamora Pierce who was shocked to find it out-of-print. It's magic in a post-apocalyptic future. Music to mine ears. I also got me a copy of Billy Hooten: Owlboy, which has a rather adorable cover. When I first heard about the book I wasn't too interested. Then I saw the Jeff Smith blurb on the cover. Turn out that the illustrator did the prequel to the Bone series. Thought I'd give it a go as a result. Still, it's a straight to paperback title, so we'll see how well it actually holds up. The fellow giving out this stuff was so nice that he double bagged my swag, then tied a third bag into a makeshift handle so I wouldn't hurt my hands. Aw.

I actually ended up with some comic booky comics as well. I mentioned the Mouse Guard books before in the past. They look like Redwall via .... well, actually they just look like Redwall. They had five free Mouse Guard comics which was cool and all, but they haven't been bound together yet. Lackaday. I can't imagine my library system adding unbound comics to their collection, so I guess I'll just have to wait until they're made library-friendly.

One series I am very interested in getting my hands on are the Flight books by Kazu Kibuishi. Villard Graphic Novels is not forthcoming with their goodies, and there weren't any copies of Vol. 1 in sight. Insofar as I can tell the series is A) Gorgeous and B) Kid-friendly. I'd really like to confirm that second suspicion, however, so if anyone has any Flight info on them, I'd be grateful.

Apparently there was a First Second booth squirreled away somewhere, but I missed it. *growl* On my way out I saw a panel discussion which included the artist who will be drawing the new manga version of Erin Hunter's Warriors series. No free copies though, so no word on whether it's good or not.

That's all, folks. I'll do a roundup of what I saw at the Random House Summer Preview session sometime this week.

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At 3:27 AM , Blogger Camille said...

I really want to see Mouse Guard.

At 10:09 AM , Anonymous jules said...

I'm about to finish Wildwood Dancing, and I can tell you that the solid writing inside is just as nice as the cover art.

At 10:48 AM , Blogger Adrienne said...

The Flight books are awesome, and some of the stories are kid-friendly. Overall, though, I feel better with them over in the teen section.

My fellow Children's Librarian at WPL was at Comic Con on Saturday, and if it turns out that he didn't manage to get a copy of the second volume of the Goosebumps GNs, I'm going to have to speak sternly. I've really been wanting to see Amy Kim Ganter's story. (In related news, Ms. Ganter has work in the Flight anthologies, too.)

At 11:47 AM , Blogger Alkelda the Gleeful said...

One of my favorite pieces of ALA swag was a gold-toned frog pin in conjunction with Wildwood Dancing.

At 8:04 PM , Blogger Saipan Writer said...

I'm a bit jealous. I will (probably) never get to a comic con or any other similar gathering. Remoteness has its rewards, but picking up freebies and getting ARCs isn't one of them.

I review children's books for the local newspaper, and I usually end up using my own money to buy books to review. (Because it's a very tiny place, book publishers and publicists aren't usually all that interested in my piddling reviews, and I'm tired of poorly done PODs, so I don't review them at all).

I'm a bit jealous, but I still love hearing about it all. Thanks for the report.

At 10:59 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Well, don't worry. Someday I'll move away from here and never see another cool ARC or comic again. Then I can talk about my wild ARC-laden youth to my grandchildren.

That's the dream anyway.

At 10:54 AM , Blogger Kurt said...

The first Mouse Guard series is actually going to be coming out in a bound format in April.

Seeing them did inspire me to go back and read some Redwall lately.

At 2:06 AM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

You read Redwall, Kurt?
Gah. Yet another thing I should think to ask you when we hang out in person.


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