April 2011

04/15/2011

Hellos & Goodbyes

by Matthew Hawkins

As usual, lots of ground to cover and not nearly enough time. So I’ll try my best to keep it short and snappy…

Don’t Forget & In Case You Didn’t Know Already

First thing’s first: for those who have yet to pre-order their copy of FORT90ZINE4ANSWER, you officially have less than 2 weeks left to do so!

And thanks again to those who have lent their support already, it means a lot to me. As noted in my first Kickstarter update for donors (got another one coming up soon, if not already), I honestly should have set my goal higher, but was afraid of not making even half that amount. So the tremendous outpour of support (again, made my goal in less than 48 hours) was a genuine surprise!

$500 basically covers the most essential of printing costs and not much else, like compensation to the various contributors that are lending their talents. The rest I figured would come from sales of the final product, but whose to say how I’ll do up in Toronto? Though I’m hoping for the best. Hence why, the more pre-orders the better! So for those who know already that my birthday is this upcoming Monday and are wondering what to get me, spreading word of the zine would be the best present of them all! BTW, speaking of the Great White North…

I’ve casually mentioned it here and there, and was even highlighted in the Electric Ant Zine’s roll-call, yet I don’t think it’s been formally stated around these parts quite yet. So basically: in early May you’ll find me doing my east coast Attract Mode thang at Canada’s ultra prestigious indie comics affair known as TCAF!

Not only will the show serve as the official debut of my latest zine, it’s also where I’ll be retiring the very first edition, aka fort90zine #1, as well. Reason? Basically, the screen-printed cover is a bitch to reproduce (truth be told, my girlfriend is the one who does most of the hard work, and I feel super guilty each and every time I ask for help), so it’s about time I threw the towel. But before I toss the screen into the fire, I’m producing one last batch, with the final few sporting a special “commemorative” cover as part of the incentives I’m offering on Kickstarter.

I asked Mar? to help promote AM’s presence by contributing a piece to the TCAF Comics Page, by being part of the festival’s program, and which many of you might have seen already

I’ll of course be side by side my gal pal Katie, whose contribution has also been blowin’ up Tumblr

BTW, what will surely be the book of the show is the new porn anthology that’s being orchestrated by fellow zinester extraordinaire Ryan Sands plus his partner in crime Michael Deforge, and which Katie is a part of! Here’s a tiny taste for those who might have missed it.

Both Katie and I are super psyched for the chance to finally experience TCAF, a show we’ve heard nothing but awesome things about, though we’re mostly excited to be in it’s host city, if only because of this classic SCTV sketch. Here’s part 1 btw, and yes, we’ll be singing both the folksy and rock versions the entire time, get ready Canada!

Oh, and one last reminder: the deadline for my Grasshopper Manufacture art contest is also coming up real soon! A little over two weeks in it’s case. Must say, I haven’t been getting as many entries thus far as I had been expecting or hoping, though perhaps everyone is simply utilizing the time that remains (which obviously is not the worst idea in the word).

Hadn’t planned on showing any of the entries till the big reveal of the grand prize winner, but can’t help myself; here’s my favorite entry thus far, from Luca, an artist of Italy, who shares the same fondness for Flower, Sun, Rain! It’s Toriko Kusabi, plus her pink alligator Christina, btw…

… Was mostly looking for something more traditional, illustration-like, but hey, super cool fan art is super cool far art! Hopefully the above will serve as a bar for everyone else to strive towards or surpass. Remember: the contest is far from over. Also, I hope everyone takes the time to check out the technical specifications in the contest post, as it pertains to size, desired file format, etc. Again, the deadline is May 1st. Keep ‘em coming!

The Day-Glo Dancing Bear Girl & The Poorly Lit Comic Show (MoCCA 2011)

It should also be noted that TCAF is the number one reason why I skipped out on the MoCCA Art Fest last weekend. Yet, there were definitely others; I still recall the look on Dave Roman‘s face when I told him I’d be skipping out during dinner few weeks back. He seemed almost heart-broken. And you know, MoCCA was something truly special to myself at one point; among many other things, that’s where I met the love of my life! Hence why it’s so painful for both myself and Katie to witness what the show has become in recent years.

But before getting into all that, let’s start with the best part of MoCCA Art Fest 2011; I got to hang with Lamar all weekend, since he was crashing at my place. Dude arrived in NYC the Friday night before, and because I was uncertain of what comics oriented shindig to best head towards, I asked if he’d instead be up for an night of playing video games. Which he naturally yes! Took him to the Denim Club, aka Dave Mauro‘s residence, where his two Astro City cabs were waiting for us. The definite highlight came while Lamar and I were playing some Turtles in Time (not the superior SNES version, but the arcade original sadly), in which dmauro exclaimed: “Want me to order a pizza & also download a copy of TMNT 2: Secret Of The Ooze? I WILL make this happen!” Which he did. It was a magical night indeed.

The next day was the big show, and… Pretty much the only reason I went was to say hello and hang out with some friends (as well as say goodbye to one in particular, which I’ll explain in a bit). Otherwise, I seriously would not have bothered. A part of me immediately wondered if I’d feel heartbroken over not having a table once in the thick of things. In the end, that didn’t happen. If anything, I was able to enjoy myself to the degree that I did because I wasn’t chained to a table in that dingy as hell armory.

As MoCCA Art Fest 2011 approached, it looked as if it would be limp, which pretty much turned out to be the case. I can’t recall a comic show ever having such the stink of death leading up; pretty much everyone I knew going in was less than enthused, mostly due to the ever-increasing degree of ineptness that the MoCCA staff has become synonymous with. There’s so many things to highlight, though that poster they produced… the one in which, whatever reason, was devoid of any mention of female creators… is certainly up there. For many, it was basically a formality, especially for those also heading towards TCAF, which was everyone was actually excited for. Not gonna lie, the only reason why I exhibited the past few years is because it’s convenient; if one lives in New York City, how could you NOT do MoCCA? But once it became crystal clear that it’s far more profitable to spend a good amount of the time and money to travel great distances to sell mini comics and zines instead of your own backyard, as illogical as it may sound… the choice was pretty clear.

Turned out many felt the same way, hence why numerous familiar faces were also absent. Perhaps as a direct result, there were also no exciting new “must get” books at this year’s MoCCA; every year, there’s at least one thing that makes someone tap me on the shoulder and go “Oh my God, have you seen XYZ?” Hell, there was hardly anything new, period (actually, that’s not entirely true: Dave Roman did pass along the latest comic from that 5 year old who did an entire Batman comic by himself, this time involving a robot invasion). Those who did bite the bullet and got a table yet again quickly realized that, more so than any previous year, not having something new hurt the bottom-line greatly, though I didn’t heard anyone having spectacular sales in general. Sure the place was somewhat packed, but it’s basically the same batch of attendees year after year… mostly other cartoonists, there to support their pals. MoCCA’s inability to reach out to a new audience was again demonstrated, though the fact they also forgot to celebrate how it was the 10th edition of their most important fundraiser is an epic fail if there ever was one.

Once again, the Puck Building was sorely missed. After the show as over, myself, Katie, and Lamar were walking around downtown, and we happened to pass by the MoCCA Art Fest’s former home. We all became bummed, as memories of the glory days immediately rushed to our minds. And I’m sure many will roll their eyes and says it’s in the past, so get over it. Well, the fact that many still think of the past so fondly is basic proof that the current administration has completely dropped the ball. It’s their responsibility to make us excited about the here and now, and they’ve done absolutely nothing to that effect.

It’s the big things, like them constantly losing people’s checks and the complete lack of communication if they’re able to magically process your payment. Though it’s the little things as well, like how MoCCA volunteers no longer casually stop by to ask how everything is going and how ghetto the nametags for all the exhibitors were (when you pay $400 for a table, you expect something to reflect the heavy price tag… which mind you is more expensive that San Diego Comic Con, without question the biggest comic show in the US). I could on and on, like how ridiculously expensive it was to actually set foot inside as an attendee, along with how broken their ticketing system was. For $20, I got my hand stamped for that Saturday, and a vague ticket as proof that I could be there the next day; at one point later that day, I found myself next to a pile of Sunday tickets, completely unguarded. If I was a less than honest person, I could have easily nabbed one and saved Katie the $12 the following afternoon.

But anyway, the overall show can be best summed up by repeating the sentiment that another longtime attendee stated rather plainly: what was once something special, a distinctly NYC affair, has basically become just another comic show. Nothing more, nothing less.

Though it wasn’t total doom and gloom. Again, got the chance to catch up with some folks, which is always welcomed. Like Miss here, whose now a mom!

Unfortunately, as it’s been the case for the past couple of years, all my MoCCA pictures came out like shit due to the horrible lighting at the armory (yet another reason why I can’t stand f’n place). Moving on, here’s Mia, who made her long awaited behind the table at a show debut…

Here’s Steve with an original color guide from an old issue of X-Men that we won, or something like that…

What MoCCA or small press comic show would be complete without Dave and John?

… Though the Comics Bakery this time around was a total sausage-fest this time around, with the addition of Travis and Zach behind the table. Raina was another absent face, though mostly cuz she was at some conference that same weekend.

Speaking of the fairer sex, here’s a blurry pic of Colleen and Marianne

… I feel pretty bad cuz they offered me the chance to submit something for their First Ladies anthology, which I was hoping to use as my big return to the world of comics, and ESPECIALLY cuz the one I randomly chose was the very best, that being Betty Ford. But alas, had to turn it down due to my cramped schedule.

It’s Sally Bloodbath and Matt Wiegle! These two are pretty rad people…

Time for something courtesy of Lamar’s much nicer camera (and which didn’t make it his own post-MoCCA report); myself and Chris Duffy…

… As Travis would later point out, I pretty much make the same stupid face in every picture I appear in. Gotta work on that.

Again, the reason why I was able to actually enjoy MoCCA, despite what it’s become, was because I didn’t have to table-sit. And since Lamar and myself were able to go as we pleased, I took him to some local game shops downtown that Saturday afternoon; he really wanted a Famicom game, any one, to get proper measurements for a project he’s working on. Here’s one that caught our eye…

… Via that relatively new store that’s on the second floor of St, Mark’s, near 2nd Ave. Oddly enough, the lowest price we could find for random, no-name Fami games were at VideoGamesNewYork. Which is funny considering how expensive pretty much everything else is. I also discovered the secret to playing import titles on a Saturn doesn’t like with a mod chip but a simply voltage mod that one could easily do themselves (and which I paid almost $200 to be done to my very first system in Chinatown back in the day, but hey, that’s Chinatown for you). Well, I personally don’t have the technical proficiency, nor the tools, but I’m sure someone I know does… though I mostly loved the semi-condescending and sarcastic tone of the clerk who passed along said valuable info. Hey, he’s a game store clerk; they all have to be like that I guess.

At one point I brought up the idea of possibly going to Brooklyn, to check out Chinatown Fair 2.0, aka Next Level Arcade, which was finally opening it’s doors to the public. Here’s a report of the place a few weeks into operation and here’s some footage, either at some tournament or simply one of the many invite only functions that’s been going on. Pretty bustling! Though as the article explains, it’s not technically an arcade but a “game center” due to the ridiculous laws we have here in NYC. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time, so instead Lamar and I stopped by Toy Tokyo. Here’s another fave pic of mine that didn’t make his rundown…

Soon it was time to head back, to figure out what dinner plans were amongst everyone else. Which naturally turned out to be a return to Shake Shack! Here we are in line with Alan and Alisa

… And here’s Alisa and Lamars totally ghetto cell phones! Two peas in a pod, those two…

Instead of out eating in the cold, we were all invited to enjoy our burgers and shakes in the warmth of the First Second office, which is located in the Flatiron building (better known as the Daily Bugle building in the Spider Man movies). Even more so than the gorgeous view of the city (we ate in the boardroom, which is located right at the very end corner), the definite highlight was Rya Sias recommending to me some magical sounding film called Message From Space that, unfortunately, I have not been unable to watch due to my aforementioned jam-packed schedule.

Sunday was a chance for Katie to finally join Lamar and myself, who had to spend all of the previous day helping out at Japan Society’s big benefit concert…

Was a pretty low-key afternoon, as day two of MoCCA generally tends to be. Barely got the chance to scope out books due to constantly running into friends and catching up! Anyhow, while on the way out comes the obligatory wacky vehicle related to a show sighting…

Here I asked Lamar to display the little pill capsule he carries around with him that holds stuff like aspirin. Looks straight out of Dr. Mario!

Cuz Lamar wanted to check out the UNIQLO shop, that’s where we went next. Discovered a big assortment of Monster Hunter attire!

Not much of a fan of Naruto myself, but Lamar is, and he was in heaven…

Afterwards we went for some ramen and curry rice, and then it was back to our place. Katie and I showed him The Room, and needless to say, his mind was blown. Afterwards I did my usual thing whenever a guest with eclectic game tastes stays over: fired up the finest and most wackiest import games for the PS2 that I’ve been able to track down. Much like how Adam was able to really get into Dog Of Bay, Lama found his true calling in life, which is a little something called Super Galdelic Hour.

Though ultimately, it was Lamar’s enthusiasm for the wide variety of headphones that I found the most heart-warming…

… Dude is definitely on the ball re: NYC asses.

Instructions For Chiptunes Aficionados & Cat Lovers

BTW, here’s my haul from MoCCA 2011…

… Honestly haven’t had a chance to check most of it up, with the exception of Katie Turner‘s Japanese Heroes and Let’s Wrassle by K.C. Green. I also got this totally sweet print from Dave Roman…

And check out what Lamar made for me!

The subject matter was inspired by an in-depth Twitter conversation that centered on anime hotties involving myself, Mia, and Corey Lewis. I was SO into Kei as a kid (alongside Cutey Honey). Oh, and to echo sentiments from that conversation, just for the hell of it, re: Evangelion, I was totally an Asuaka guy at first, but eventually became a Rei dude. Sorry, the short blue hair could not be denied, plus seeing multiple clones of her, all naked and covered in goo, perhaps played a significant part.

BTW, Lamar also made a thanks for letting me crash gift for Katie as well…

Well, since I’m sharing pics of stuff recently acquired, may as well pass along the following…

… While gathering goods from the prize package for the aforementioned contest, I decided to get a few goodies for myself, such as the Hopper’s Edition of No More Heroes 2. Included is the game, a music CD, No More Heroes 1.5…

… Which is a film that supposedly takes place the during the three years between the first and second games (and which I have yet to watch; yes, I am THAT busy), plus a mini magazine filled with art and the like…

… Along with a second copy of the erotica comic, for myself of course! I also snagged a second FSR rain shirt, just for myself (which was the one everyone say Hilary wearing in the contest post). Oh, and because I was getting stuff from Japan anyway, figured I’d also pick up TwinBee and WinBee from the latest Shooting Game Historica series…

On a totally different note, guess what else recently showed up?

… It’s a zine by Nick Maynard that details the steps involved in making Game Boy music! The quality of the package, especially it’s production, is rough and warm, extremely DIY, and absolutely warms my heart. Hate to be a hater, but any zine that was clearly assembled by hand is an instant win my book. Anyhow, those interested in picking up a copy can do you here (though I’m hoping to snag a few copies for TCAF).

This also recently arrived up in my mailbox the other day…

… Mostly because of this. Unfortunately, my VCR has begun chewing up tapes (with the last victim being my God 3.0 DMT compilation, sad to say), which led to me looking for a new deck in the midst of 2011. But I found one! Well, Dave Roman is giving me his spare at the very least, and a screen at long last shortly afterwards.

Trading Coasts

As noted during the MoCCA portion of this blog post, I went to the show to mostly say hello, but also farewell. And things have been pretty rough here in NYC for a while now… I think I first started bitching about I’m barely scarping by as a games journalist, Jesus, at least over a year now. But it’s been an especially depressing time in the Big Apple as of late due to so many awesome folks choosing to head west for greater opportunities, or simple flat-out stability. Honestly can’t blame any of them.

At this point I’ve completely lost track of how many pals in the past few weeks alone have made their way to California, though I know the latest one, that being my b-fry Hilary Florido. MoCCA was her chance to see all her east coast peeps one last time before entering the final stages of packing and moving (yesterday was actually Hilary’s final day in New York; thankfully we got to hang proper before having to say goodbye, including one last shot of sake at our fave Japanese joint Hagi… make that six).

Anyhow, one last buddy pic for the road was taken at the show, but due to the once again crap condition of the armory, here instead is us circa November, basking in the glory of the Attract Mode NYC opening (at Hagi, naturally)…

… Hilary shall be dearly missed. Though on the up-side, the reason for the exodus in the first place is a super sweet gig at Cartoon Network, which I’m very much happy and extremely proud for her to have gotten. CN has been snatching up the finest in the world of indie comics as of late, so she’ll be surrounded by some truly superb people.

Speaking of, another bonus is how she’ll be working alongside Adam, who also landed a job there! As Hilary joked when breaking the news of the move, she’s basically switching sides of the Attract Mode team, at least location-wise. Anyhow, take care Papermouse.

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Hot on the heels of the Grasshopper art contest (btw, we’re officially one month minus one day shy of the deadline, so don’t forget) comes my next big push: to help make the 4th installment of the fort90zine as a whole happen…

Everything you’ll need to know can be found on the Kickstarter page proper. I guess it’s a way for me to offer the issue in a vaguely pre-order fashion, along with the chance to pick up some super cool extras. Though any amount you could possibly pass along would be sincerely appreciated.

Oh, and a big hearty thanks to Topher Florence, otherwise known to the world wide web as DocFuture, for the absolutely amazing video. Isn’t it, like, the greatest thing ever? And for those who want to know what the title is all about, it’s a reference to this.

UPDATE: As already pointed out by my good pal Jenn De La Vega, less than 48 hours into the drive and I’ve already met my goal! Thank you to everyone who lent a hand, it’s supremely appreciated. Though I could definitely still use help all the help/as many pre-orders as I can get. Exact reasons are spelled out here.

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