Tag Archive for dave roman

The D.C. Area Comics Scene for May 21


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The D.C. Area Comics Scene for May 14

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The D.C. Area Comics Scene for May 7


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Have comic news or events related to the D.C. area to share? Email me by 4 p.m. Tuesday. More information is here.

Kids Read Comics! 2012

Even when you love comics, it’s often hard to not feel discouraged. The focus is so firmly on Marvel and DC that when anything else gets attention, it feels like an afterthought. So much of the discussion seems to be based around anger and negativity, that even I have to remind myself why I love and want to celebrate comics.

But I also know I’m bringing my adult baggage into this — that comics are somehow separate and special from everything else and that I need to defend them to the world. When I’ve gone to events like Kazu Kibuishi at the National Book Festival or Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman at One More Page Books, the children in attendance don’t see comics as something that’s “other” — they just see them as things they love.

That’s why at Kids Read Comics Celebration, it was impossible for me to not feel hopeful. This event breathed passion and love. It was full of people — creators, parents, children, bloggers, friends — who were there to be excited about comics and to share their excitement.

Kids Read Comics! took over a couple of floors of the Ann Arbor District Library, which was a great, family-friendly space for it. It provided a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere — more like hanging out with friends than being at a con. (The fact that it was inside was also a welcome relief from Saturday’s 100+ degree heat, but at least it was cooler on Sunday.)

Chris Houghton during Comics QuickfireAnd maybe because of that, while the artist alley was often quite busy (it was easy for the space to fill up) I did hear from a few that they weren’t selling too many things. Still, making money didn’t so much seem like the motivation in participating. Rather, here were creators of a diversity of ages and backgrounds just desiring to share their work with kids and their families. If they sold a few books, that was probably a bonus more than anything.

Truly, though, the focus of Kids Read Comics! was on the programming, which was extensive and almost all interactive. There were only a few straightforward panels listed. Instead, most were short classes, workshops or events attendees could participate in. I attended Saturday morning’s Comics Quickfire with my family, which took suggestions from the audience to make a 1-page, 4-panel comic. It was fast, silly fun but also showed how easy it is to make a comic, no matter how ridiculous. Host Dave Roman was a delight and knew how to engage the audience. My (older, I must point out) brother offered two suggestions — that the foot belonged to Shaq (you can kind of see that in the photo — and look, it made sense) and then a “puppy wearing sunglasses” as one of the 10 things the artist needed to draw in the final round.

I also attended Raina Telgemeier’s Turn Your Life into a Comic! workshop. While it was mostly aimed at children (the aim was to make a comic based on the grossest thing that happened to you, and if that doesn’t appeal to kids, I don’t know what does), the way she broke it down was insightful and beneficial even to me. I think too often just knowing where to start is the challenge and she made it easy.

Raina Telegmeier explains allI then went to the live Comics Are Great! talkshow/podcast taping. I enjoyed that Jerzy Drozd figured out who I was based on a few details (mostly that I mentioned Big Planet Comics — Drozd and I do follow each other on Twitter but we hadn’t met until then). I think he thought I was kidding when I said Comics Are Great! is one of the two podcasts I listen to, but it is! I always love listening to it and I always learn something.

It was a fun, casual discussion and definitely what I expected from it — I think Comics Are Great! is always smart and enlightening and I liked the way the discussion grew organically. It was approaching the end of the day, though, and I think everyone was getting tired (Roman tried to get me to go to mic to ask a question and I said I wasn’t going to be able to think of anything). Still, it could’ve continued on much longer than it did and it only ended because there was another event following it.

I didn’t get to go back on Sunday (when the weather was actually nice!), but I’m happy I got to see the people I got to see (especially Roman and Telgemeier, since they won’t be at Small Press Expo this year).

When I got back to my brother’s, I read Sally Carson‘s “Skids” mini and I realized what I loved about comics — it makes me feel like I have friends everywhere, even if it’s just through the connection we have through something that’s printed on a page or posted online. It made me remember that none of that other negative stuff matters. That’s the power of comics — the sense of community and the unabashed joy of creation. I loved seeing people of all ages being excited by this and wanting to share it and be apart of it.

Saturday was my birthday and I can’t think of a better way to have spent it.

Review: Teen Boat!

teenboatTeen Boat! (2012, Clarion Books) is about a teenage boy who turns into a boat named Teen Boat (in case, you know, the title didn’t immediately tip you off to that), Originally a series of (Ignatz Award-winning) minicomics, creators Dave Roman and John Green pull in amazing amount pop culture influences (Turbo Teen is an obvious reference point, as are teen dramas like Dawson’s Creek) into something that’s still fun and original. Trust me when I tell you that Teen Boat! is really one of the best things ever.

Teen Boat is mostly a typical teenager — he has a platonic best friend, Joey, and is in love with the exchange student Niña Pinta Santa Maria. He tries to impress the cool kids and he gets into trouble. He runs for class president and gets a part-time job. And yes, quite often he turns into a boat.

Roman and Green clearly had a so much fun making this — there’s a giddiness to the writing and the goal seemed mostly to make each other laugh first. They throw in pirates just because, why not? The characters travel to Italy mostly so Teen Boat can fall in love with a gondola (and the silent montage sequence of the date between Teen Boat — in his boat form — and the gondola is probably one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen). There are explosions and mysteries and monster trucks. The writing is quick and clever and Green’s art has an animator’s eye for character design and expression. The rich primary colors do give a new dimension to the art that wasn’t present in the minis.

Despite all the references that are packed in here, Roman and Green just use those as a starting point. They provide a bit of a backdrop and texture, but the book doesn’t rely on them for its humor. If you’re too young to be familiar with them (or just don’t catch them), the book is still a delight.

I have one tiny complaint, though, but I want to emphasize it’s tiny. I don’t think the new material has quite the same energy as the material that appeared in the minicomics. I think this is probably only something you’d noticed if you’ve read the minis and that’s not to say I was at all disappointed. It’s all such great fun I just almost felt like I needed to complain about something.

Buy this book! Read it! Laugh! Tell your friends! I absolutely love that things like Teen Boat! exist in this world.

And just to link to it again, here’s Abby Denson‘s Teen Boat! song: