Saturday, March 21, 2009

Weekends and Webcomics

Massachusetts has been a state of great births, the greatest of all being this country after a bunch of tea was thrown into Boston Harbor. This weekend finally saw the creation of something equally as important and groundbreaking. The first annual New England Webcomics Weekend!

Surrealy, I found myself driving myself and several friends back to our Alma Mater, UMASS Amherst. Yes, folks, it was here we wiled away our days at UMSFS and laughed mightily at our medical ethics professors (A common refrain from him: Eat your phone!). Arriving at just past 7 pm we parked our butts at the Hanger for some sumptuous chicken and relived a little of those carefree days, listening to grad students complain at the table next to us and snickering behind our hands with our 9 to 5 jobs.

After dinner, it was time to get to Northampton (or NoHo as the locals say) where the pub crawl would be taking place. We left the car at Modern Myths and took off toward the Toasted Owl to get our drink on and hobknob with the famous webcomic artists and writers.

Enter the bar, look around, hmmm....don't see anyone I recognize. It's just 8 pm so maybe they haven't got here yet. I have my Berry and am looking at Jeph Jaques tweets, it says he's at the Dirty Truth. We go over, but, weird, I don't see him there either.

We end up at Herrel's, but I'm too excited to eat any ice cream. We meet up with these guys from Chronillogical and strike up a facinating conversation about the time/space continuum and where the webcomic people might be. We all decide to head out to Haymarket.

At Haymarket, we are directed downstairs where FINALLY we discover the Webcomics Weekend people! They are very accomedating, and give us all stickers. While I'm thanking the sticker-man, I notice Spike sitting at the table nearby. Scott has to practically push me into the chair next to her. She is, of course, completely charming and unassuming and tolerates my fangirl questions with calm and wit.

Reluctantly decide after twenty minutes that I should probably try to find other webcomic people. Unfortunately, we end up back at the Toasted Owl but still can't find anyone else. Probably because I don't know what anyone looks like :P

Next day after horrible sleeping at Econolodge, book it down to the Eastworks at ten AM. End up at Spike's table first, and immediately slap down some cold cash for a signed and sketched Book 2 plus a picture!!

Move on to Scott Kurtz table where a huge line is forming. PVP is probably the most famous and oldest webcomics here. I get a sketch from Kurtz's bromactic interest, Kris Straub. Because I'm super nervous, I tell Scott Kurtz "Draw anything you like. Even a penis is okay." The thing is, I say this and Scott gives me a strange look. He repeats what I said to Kris, and then proceeds to draw an anatomically correct Scratch Fury. Bitchin.

Move upstairs to find Jeph Jaques (been looking for him since last night!). Find him in Topaco tshirt room and ask for sketch, repeating request made to Kurtz. He laughs, and gives me a sketch of Hannalore with a penis on her shirt and a speech bubble "I hate this shirt." Jeph relates to me that Hannalore is just a slight exaggeration of himself, which is impressive since Hannalore showers about fifty times a day.

Final highlight of the day was Scott and I got to see Randall Monroe, an "unofficial guest" and the creator of XKCD. Scott doesnt read a lot of comics, but he does read XKCD and meeting this guy was a real honor for him.

Finally, we decided it was time to leave, but not before we exchanged contact info with the Greg/John, Chronillogical creators, since we'd really hit it off with them and wanted to keep in touch.

All in all, it was a blast, and I absolutely, positively, can't wait for next year.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Magic of Decks

So I called my parents yesterday.

Me: Hi Dad! Can I talk to Mom?

Dad: Amanda, what do you know about this Storm card game?

Me: A card game? Like Magic: The Gathering?

Dad: Yeah, that's it!

Me: Where did you hear about Magic?

Dad: This kid at work was talking to me and he was explaining how he was building a deck.

Now, my Dad is from a generation where men made stuff using their hands, their own tools and it was practically a sin to pay a professional for anything. He's an electrical engineer who always believed he was also an electrician/plumber/exterminator. I remember a fun day when our kitchen floor flooded because he was trying to fix the dishwasher. Or that time he tried to de-freeze the roof with hot water from the faucet. But my Dad was always very good at math, and when it came to structures, he knew his shit. When I was but a babe, he built an extension onto the house that was our "family room." Later on, he built the sturdy decks onto the side of my parents' house and to this day we spend most of our warmer months hanging out on them.

So when this kid started talking about decks, my father thought he was in his element (pun intended).

Dad: I couldn't hear him so well because of the machines in the room. I asked him what kind of wood he was using and he yelled something about electric bolts...

At this point I am in tears. The perfect confusion of the event had me literally on the floor, my father on the other line huffing with annoyance at my screams of laughter. The thing that really got me was that two different conversations were taking place and for at least a few seconds, neither of them realized what the other was talking about.

These two men, two generations, tried and failed (hilariously) to communicate. It makes me wonder what will happen when I am an older person, still talking about blogs and twitters, while kids 20+ years younger snicker because I don't have my telepathic AOL implant. Will we still be able to talk or relate? Should we even bother? Of course we should. After all and sooner than I like to think, I'll be in the same boat as my parents are now. I like to use instances like this one to peer into my future once in a while, and I'm looking forward to my own geriatric faux pas.

I'll bet that kid got some solid advice about sanding and cement foundations, though.

Friday, March 6, 2009

I wish I was a history nerd

You guys gotta check out Kate Beaton's "Hark! A Vagrant" comic/random historical drawings.

Kate's work is one of the many things where I hit myself because I'm wondering why I didn't think of it. Imagine an illustrated Lord Byron, one of the greatest British poets of all time, daring people to find places he hasn't put his penis. This is witty and topical because if you know anything about historical British poets (my goodness, who doesn't), you would know that Lord Byron was a crazy playa who slept with just about everyone in England (and most of Italy and Greece). That guy's dick's been places that probably haven't been unearthed by mankind yet.

Kate has hit on a fantastic niche, where she basically takes the history major she's mastering in and uses the material from that to make the funny come out from all orifices like that Viking hat on SNL. She also has a cute side comic called "Younger Self" starring herself at her current age, and the 7ish year old self from when she was a kid. Usually these comics entail the younger self berating the older one for "being boring" and "liking dumb things" while the older one hesitantly reassures her she will one day stop being shaped like a potato. Ultimately, theirs is a relationship that everyone has with themselves, not love/hate but mostly love/annoyed with.

Her comic site isn't really finished now so it takes some digging to get to all the drawings. She has a nice store too.