I started my Saturday off with a visit to the Air and Space Museum to see Nick Abadzis. His appearance there was sadly under promoted and very much overshadowed by the National Book Festival.
But it was good for me since I got to talk to him for quite a while. I think he was pleased to see that I already had Laika (I bought another copy for my brother while I was there). He was lovely and gracious and had wonderful responses for my questions.
I’m still not in the proper state of mind to write seriously about Laika, but it’s probably my favorite book that I’ve read this year (old or new). He told Laika’s story so beautifully without making it overly sentimental. I can barely think about this book without getting a little misty. I’m going to do my best to be coherent about it before the 50th anniversary of Laika’s flight in a month.
While I waited for his presentation on the creation of the book, a NASA employee struck up a conversation with me about Laika. He hadn’t heard of the book before, but he’s worked with Oleg Gazenko so he knew the story (I believe Abadzis gave him his email address because he’s been trying to get a copy to Gazenko). I did my best to sell him on it, and we discussed graphic novels in general. I said that I think books like Laika are wonderful because they can open up a bigger audience to the sorts of stories that graphic novels are telling (I think First Second does an amazing job with this overall).
Abadzis’ presentation was interesting – a great glimpse at the creative process and how he shaped this story. I think it’s really a shame more people weren’t there to see it (he has several other dates along the East Coast in the next week and a half before his appearance at Small Press Expo. He will also be on PRI’s The World tomorrow for the anniversary of Sputnik I.)
After that, I wandered over to the National Book Festival to wait for Gene Yang’s appearance. As I noted before, he is really funny. He didn’t read from American Born Chinese because you can’t read from comic books. He told us instead that we shouldn’t make comic books because they take forever, they don’t make you rich and they won’t make you sexy. However, he said it’s easy to become a comic book professional – all you have to do is draw a comic, make a copy, and then sell it to someone (even if it’s your mom) and you’re a professional. He also commented on how comic book creators are almost always accessible and happy to talk to fans. He was a lot of fun and I’m glad they had the good sense to bring him to D.C.
All in all, a very cool experience with two really cool creators.