So, I was Googling words in an effort to name a new book I’m developing, and the tenth hit on Google was a link to Matt Fraction’s blog, which led me (circuitously) to his old Poplife column, from Comic Book Resources. Being easily distracted, I got caught up in Fraction’s circa 2002/2003 musings on comic book activism, and felt a weird little flood of nostalgia. There was this really brief time, when I was first working my way into comics, where I seemed to know a lot of people who were awfully concerned with the future of comics. It’s only been a little over six years since then, but in a lot of ways it feels like an eternity. If I only knew then…
Anyway, one of Fraction’s columns (from 12/02) referenced the first time I remember meeting him, in Hector Casanova’s then current studio/gallery/living space (The Green Door). Matt writes:
Peter, Kel, Xtop and myself managed to get together in a room with about 19 other young comics hopefuls in Kansas City this past weekend. It was really kind of fascinating. Steven Sanders brought his vintage Geiger counter. Hector let me look on his drawing table and I felt butterflies in my bones. B. Clay Moore showed up with a first look at his new book HAWAIIAN DICK, and it looks fantastic even if it printed too dark and too green (according to him). Hector and a guy named John Parker made it happen. There were two factions in the same place at the same time, the Art Institute kids like myself that were more into the gonzo, gung ho creation angle of things, the Art For Art’s Sake kinds, and the other half of the room were all, at first blush anyway, steel-eyed young professionals constructing elaborate cross-network opportunities and so forth. They were, on top of being creators, the organizers of expos and the senders-out of press releases. I had the feeling that if both halves of the room came together, everyone would walk out a whole lot smarter.
The meeting, as I recall, was partly in the service of bringing together factions of the then emerging Kansas City comic scene to help put together a comic art show (which we actually did). I also recall Fraction wore a Santa Claus hat the whole time. In retrospect, I never considered myself a “steel-eyed young professional,” and at the time saw HAWAIIAN DICK as a small blow for art as commerce (at the time, okay? At the time). Of course, more and more I find I’m starving myself in an insane effort to straddle the fence between commerce and creation, and Matt has obviously moved (for now) squarely into the crosshairs of commercial creation, albeit only after crafting CASANOVA, which is perhaps the ultimate example of genre-as-art.
Fraction’s left Kansas City (on the heels of Tony Moore and Harold Sipe), and I’ve lost touch with a lot of the gang I used to raise a fist for comics with, but it’s probably a good idea to jog the memory of those days when the simple idea of Making Comics was new and exciting.
Now I need to get back to — you know — actually making comics.