I generally think its bad form to open up with an apology, but this blog entry would be better with pictures.  I should have taken more.  The ones I did take kinda suck.  Sorry!  Forgive me!


The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library opened up its vaults and pulled out goodies for an open house on Friday night.  Originals from everybody from Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon to Frank Miller’s Daredevil to Al Jaffe’s Mad fold in covers were on display to inspire visitors.  It was a real demonstration of how lucky we are to have the Billy in town as a resource. 

So… Are there people out there who still don’t know about the Library?  I hope not…  When I suggested that not a lot of people in town know about it Ed Piskor admonished me that “ignorance is no longer a valid excuse.” He’s right. You better get learnt!

I did.  After hearing the story of the Library at numerous presentations given by Caitlin McGurk over the past year or so, I finally took the tour of the facilities.  I saw the stacks and the files and the drawers-n-drawers-drawers full of original cartoon art, newspaper strips and comic books as well as the giant machine that they use to photograph and catalog the collection.  I think it’s called the SCANZMOTRON 5-MILLION.  At least that’s what I’d call it.

By the way… I believe that the Cartoon Library is still looking for volunteers to help out with their moving preparations on Saturday, April 27th.  Drop them a line to see if you can help!  I’ll be there!

Courtesy of the 2 Headed Monster facebook page.
I started the morning with a nice sit down conversation with Tom Spurgeon, who I’ve been pestering on-line for about three years now. (Partially because he seems to be one of the few comic journalists who has opinions on outside the box thinking on not only comic creation, but also marketing and distribution, but mostly because he is the only comic journalist who occasionally replies to me.  The sin of empathy is often punished with a full inbox.)    

We mostly talked about Columbus and the horrors of comic distribution.  At one point Tom told me that one of my peers told him that I was a “Comic Book Scene Unto myself” or some such.  I’m still chewing on that a little.  On the one hand it’s a compliment, on the other it sounds kinda lonely.

And besides, it ain’t true!  My favorite thing about Saturday was sitting next to my friends from Two Headed Monster Comics and watching as they really came into their own as a local publisher.   They not only had two new books out (The long-time-coming Radio Free Gahanna #3 and the Next year’s Girl Trade Paperback), but they had eager fans hungry and ready to buy ‘em!)

Congrats guys!  Keep on keeping on!

Saturday dinner was Pizza and Beer with Derf, Sean Ford, Robert Loss and Bob Ray Starker at Hound Dogs Pizza.  Good conversation all around, although I’ll admit that I wanted to see Derf and Loss settle their argument about the quality of local Columbus music at five paces out in the parking lot.  (Derf always cheats in those conversations anyways.  “Akron had Devo, the Cramps and the Dead Boys.”  Yes, yes. We know.  Northern Ohio is the gold standard.)

Saturday wrap up presented me with a choice. The event set up by the aforementioned Caitlin McGurk titled “S.P.A.C.E. Cartoonist Polymaths After Party Pageant” at Kafe Kerouac or the “Drinks and Jam” back at the Ramada Inn where the convention was held. 

A no brainer.  Beyond my love for alliteration, I really hate the Ramada Inn that hosts SPACE.  There’s almost no cell phone reception which costs me sales when my square reader fails.  The carpet is loaded with friction activated stink molecules that aerate as people walk by.  It’s the one thing that I would change about the event.

Kafe Kerouac is one of my favorite spots in town.  With historically awesome places like The Monkey’s Retreat, Larry’s, Staches and Crazy Mamas now vanished from the Columbus landscape, Kerouac is one of the few bright spots in trash culture left.  I gather there was some controversy over the imagery used to promote the Pageant at its original venue, I turned off the notifications on the event and missed it all.  Just as well.  Kerouac was the best choice.

Eamon Espey and puppeteer Lisa Krause’s interpretation of his “Ishi’s Brain” from Eamon’s recently published graphic novel “Songs of the Abyss” was a really interesting cross media media experience.  Using both marionettes and a shadow puppets along with a some clever set props to set the tone for a story that was equally rooted in Day of the Dead imagery as Erich Von Daniken inspired science fiction.  The opening strains of Leela Corman’s score for the puppet show made me scared that I was venturing into omigod-make-it-stop the realm of Neil Young’s score for “Dead Man” or Liquid Sky’s incessant beep-beep-beep-boop-boop-booping…  But it quickly settled down into an excellent accent for the weird little tale.

Not Kafe Kerouac. Courtesy of the Smacks! Facebook page.
My nine to five and dog have colluded to make me an early riser and general square, so I started to pack up and leave after Eamon and Lisa thanked the crowd.  Thankfully, Mark Rudolph pulled me aside and let me know that I really should stick around to see JT Dockery perform with Brine Manley as The Smacks.  I’ve learned to trust Mark’s tastes working with on Nix and so I stuck around.  So glad I did!

The Smacks! turned out to be a blues based punk two piece similar to a lot of the acts I loved in the 90s like the Country Teasers, Bantam Rooster and Mr. Airplane Man, the kind of band that makes up for lack of instrumentation by being loud, gutty, obnoxious and (most importantly) curt.  The Smacks! Delivered on all points with a six song set that beat the shit out of the audience for maybe 20 minutes and then was done.

I gotta take a second to thank Caitlin McGurk for setting up the event at Kerouac.  While it’s obvious that she’s been a terrific addition to the Cartoon Library, her presence is a boon to the commix community here in town.  Also, it’s fun to say her last name like an angry J. Jonah Jameson “McGURRRRRK!”

Bob Ray Starker and Tom Williams in the hospital waiting room after getting smacked in the Sex Apple by the Smacks!
Did Sunday happen?  I was still woozy from the SMACKS! 

I vaguely remember offering to reprint Mark’s “Closing Doors” graphic novel about a record store going out of business and talking to JT about maybe using the Smacks! song “Sex Apple” for a 7” record and romance comic combination.  If both of those things happen, Sunday may in retrospect be the best thing about SPACE 2013.

Every Monday I’m tasked with picking up lunch for Staff meeting for my coworkers.  While the nice folks a the Brown Bag Deli in German Village were packing up our order, I struck up a conversation with the kid behind the cash register.  I told him that I was tired from spending all weekend at the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo, to which he replied:

“Hey I don’t want to be a creep, but…”  Long pause.

Oh geez, I thought.  What is this leading to?

“Well… You’re Jeff Smith, right?  I just love Bone…”

Hah!  Scene unto myself indeed!



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