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Emerald City Comicon Recap!

This past weekend, I was a guest of Seattle’s Emerald City Comicon, along with my Halfpixel.com cohorts and “How To Make Webcomics” co-authors Brad Guigar, Scott Kurtz and Kris Straub…and the show could not have been more fun.

Photo © Kathy Ann Bugajsky

The convention was awesome. So many fantastic webcomics creators, so many fun Sheldon readers, and such an amazing show all around. But before it escapes into the wisps of time, I thought I’d recap it for you.

Emerald City is one of those rare comics conventions in the U.S. that’s run by people who truly love and understand comics…and who can also pull off logistical miracles to put on a fantastic experience for readers and creators. In fact, they do it so well…the show’s growing to three days next year.

For most of my day at the convention, it’s a huge hug-in with Sheldon readers: Meetin’ folks, gettin’ to know them, and offering up free sketches. Based on the photos Sheldonistas sent me, it appears that this is the angle most people will remember me in: The top of my head, as I sketch. 🙂

Photo ©Matthew Gravelyn

Photo © Natalia Smiley

I seriously got like 19 of these shots from kind readers. But I can only show so many pics of my increasingly-greying hair. So….

Oh wait! Here’s one that someone sent in from a side angle:

Photo © Kathy Ann Bugajsky

Anyway! Let’s talks about the sketches themselves! Because you Seattlites asked for some really funny, really inventive stuff. First off, there were a lot of requests for “Drive” sketches in folks’ “Sheldon” books, which totally surprised me and made me smile to no end. But then there were a lot of just weird and wonderful “Sheldon” sketch requests as well, like these two. Sheldon in Kirk’s chair, and Oso as a sandworm from Frank Herbert’s “Dune”:

Both photos © Lauren

Then there were a lot of smilin’ Halfpixel groupshots, like this one:

Photo © Nic Covell

Or odder ones, like this attempt to make a U2 album cover:

Photo © Jen Mau

And then there were just a lot of fun pics with readers…like pretendin’ to flex and stuff:

Photo © Vanessa

After the first day of the convention, we headed up to the hotel room, where Scotty let me test out his 12″ Cintiq. A Cintiq, for those not familiar, is essentially digital paper. As you can see from the glow below my hand, it’s a screen you can draw on. I’ve been thinking of getting one to use creating “Drive”, as it would speed up my process and perhaps let me get 2-3 installments out each week. But they’re expensive: One-to-two grand! And I’m immensely, immensely cheap. So I’ve been putting it off and putting it off. But Scotty was really nice to let me take his Cintiq out for a test drive, so my inclination to get one is increasing. We’ll see.

Photo © Kris Straub

At night, most every webcomic creator you’ve ever heard of would gather for socializin’ and laughin’. Here’s a particularly good shot Scotty took, for example. In the shot, I can spot Aaron Diaz,
Rich Stevens,
KC Green (standing, orange),
Jeph Jacques (sitting, behatted),
Kate Beaton,
Meredith Gran, and
Brad Guigar’s knee.

Photo © Scott Kurtz

This con was a great one for meeting webcartoonists who I’ve never had the chance to chat with at any great length. Talented folks like Dylan Meconis, Christopher Baldwin, Kate Beaton, Jeph Jacques, KC Green, and Chris Hallbeck.

On Sunday, the Halfpixel lads and I gave a talk on webcomics to a packed, packed room. Here’s a shot of us before we got settled in for the talk:

Photo © Kathy Ann Bugajsky

And, in a reverse shot, a pic of the audience itself. It was 300-400 people, and they were a great group…super ready to laugh. Although this shot, now that I look at it, makes it look like they’re the most sullen group ever. We must not have started talking, yet. *rimshot*

Photo © Strauby, again

Ooo! I just noticed there’s a dude 3-5 rows in recording the talk on video! If you’re reading this, send me a copy of that video: We’d love to make it publicly available, if that’s cool.

Anyway, here’s some great shots from the talk:

Both photos © Kathy Ann Bugajsky

One final thing to note: Sheldonista Conn McQuinn, upon seeing my “Dilly Duck” print at the convention, mentioned that he had recently spotted a “squee” in George Herriman’s “Krazy Kat”! He kindly followed up by sending in this scan:

Cartoon © George Herriman, 1940

Exclusive Prints for Emerald City Comicon

For Emerald City Comicon this weekend, I created two exclusive prints. If you’re coming out to the show, make sure you check them out. Since the show’s in Seattle, there’s of course one for coffee lovers….

And for folks who liked this strip about Fantasy Football and Dungeons & Dragons, there’s this print…

How Tall is Arthur?

I gotta a funny series of e-mails from Sheldonista Philip C., yesterday:

How tall is Arthur? Many times you said 14 inches, but on Sept 27, 2003 he was 8 inches.

And then this e-mail:

On October 31, 2003 Arthur is now 10 inches.
You’re doing this on purpose.”


This weekend! Emerald City Comicon!

It’s here: My favorite comics show of the year: Seattle’s Emerald City Comicon. I’m a guest of the show, this year, with my fellow “How to Make Webcomics” authors, appearing in booth #102. And if you’re in the area, I KNOW YOU’RE COMING, right? RIGHT? 🙂

If you are coming, I need to ask you two things:

1.) At the show, Sheldon original art will be available for $25 off the normal price, but I need you to E-MAIL ME with the date or description of the strip you’d like. I can’t bring all 3,000 original strips to the show, so I really need you to e-mail me before I fly out.

2.) If you’re coming, we’ve put together this handy-dandy Sheldon Guide to Emerald City Comicon. Just click here for the big version that’s ready to print.

Festival of Cartoon Art

If you’ll indulge me a moment of excitement, I wanted to share some particularly fun news with you: I’ve been invited to be a speaker at Ohio State’s triennial Festival of Cartoon Art.

This, to me, is a dream invitation. You see, I’ve known I’ve wanted to be a cartoonist ever since I was a little, little boy. And more than that, I’ve always known I wanted to study the flip side of cartooning, as well: The history and the theory and the philosophy and the potential of cartooning. And one of the things that got all that started for me — that really got my dreams fired up for that holistic take on comic strips — was this incredible, insightful talk given by Bill Watterson in 1989 at, of all places, this very same event.

At the 1989 Festival, Watterson spoke of the incredible potency in comic strip cartooning: This rarest of arts that let one artist, one voice, speak to millions. This artform that lets the personal outlook shine through, where so many other mass media arts do so by committee.

So to be invited, some twenty one years later, to speak at the very same gathering of professionals and academics, is magical to me. (It’s humbling beyond words, too, in a stomach-churning way…but let’s focus on the magical aspect of it.)

Because, the funny thing? The thing I want to talk about? Is actually that very same Watterson speech from 1989. Or rather, to offer a loving and respectful rebuttal to it, from 21 years on. I want to speak to his concerns about the space allotted comic strips in newspapers; about zombie comic strips still being drawn long after their original creator had died; about why so many features have stale, interchangeable voices; or why so many are merely advertisements for dolls and greeting cards; or why comic strips in general have been on this slow, downward trend of diminishment in American life for the past 20-30 years

Because basically, I’m going to talk about this incredible change of fortune for the comic strip. I’m going to talk about Webcomics.

I’m going to talk about how this process of removing the middle men — the disintermediation from syndicates, editors, newspapers, distributors, publishers and their ilk…and the resulting freedom it allows — has given comic strips this amazing new lease on life. A renaissance that will produce some of the most personal, powerful work that comics have ever seen. It’s already happening: And with features and cartoonists who do not have to homogenize their unique voices; who do not have to give up their copyrights, trademarks, or any semblance of decision-making in torturous syndicate contracts; who speak with pure, unfiltered voices, writing comics that never would’ve been possible under previous methods of distributing art. And who, most importantly, are producing amazing, amazing work.

The short of it is: The medium of newspapers may be dying, but the artform of comic strips is not dying with it. In fact, the future for comic strips has never been brighter.


I know Watterson lives a very private, quiet life, now, and I respect that choice to the nth-degree. But I know he lives in the neighborhood of the Festival, and I’m kinda hoping he comes: Both because I’d like to shake his hand and thank him for that speech in 1989…and because I want him to know that the generation that came after him was listening.

Sunday’s Strip

….is sorta the story every year between my peach tree and I. I wait, and I wait. Testing the peaches, giving it a few days, testing them again. Waiting a bit longer.

And then, within four hours of them ripening, it’s like all of God’s creation has swooped into that dang tree and stolen every peach off of it. I literally had a squirrel look me square in the eye and hiss at me, one year, when I tried to shoo them all off.

My peach tree is forever the 1985 Christmas rush on Cabbage Patch Dolls.

Sheldon on Facebook!

Facebook users, good news! I’ve set up a Sheldon page in Facebook that should prove awesome: It’s got a direct feed when the new strip goes live each day, updates from the blog, and lots of other stuff. The intent is to replace the “group” page that was set up many moons ago with something that is better all around.

Even after a year or two of being on Facebook, I’m pretty new to its possibilities, and I’m still learning my way about it. So please feel free to offer any suggestions on how to make the page better.

(And I know for a fact there are a few Facebook employees among the Sheldonista readership: Feel free to chime in on features I should add, guys!)

Still Got It

Sheldon reader Bob F. e-mailed me with this pic, today:

Dear Dave —

I am 52 today.

Came downstairs this morning to find this next to the coffee machine, courtesy of my son John.

Made my day. Happy birthday to me!

Happy B-day, Bob!

Come, my friends, let us high-five at these conventions!

The comic convention season is startin’ up, muchachos, and I have some cool conventions coming up in the next few weeks. So let’s talk about them! More importantly, let’s meet up at them, and exchange suitably hip high-fives!

SEATTLE: Emerald City Comicon!

Emerald City is pretty much my favorite convention all year. And Seattle — and Seattlites — are a special kind of awesome. Looking at my server logs, there’s an inordinately huge “Sheldon” readership in that part of the world, so this convention is like coming home, for me. I love it: You gotta come.

When: March 13-14
Where: Wash. State Conv. Center
Booth: 102
Exhibiting With: Halfpixel! Kris, Brad, and Scott.
Link: ECCC show site

CALGARY: Calgary Comic Expo!

Anytime I talk to someone about the Calgary show, they have nothing but awesome things to say about it. And it’s growing and growing every year. But, the SINGLE GREATEST THING about this show? It’ll be my first appearance in Canada ever! Ever! And who knows how often I’ll be able to get up there..so you best come out and say “hi”!

When: April 24-25
Where: Roundup Centre
Booth: (Don’t know yet!)
Exhibiting With: Halfpixel! Kris, and Brad
Link: Calgary show site

Note: With huge apologies, I had to cancel my San Francisco Wondercon appearance due to two family-schedule conflicts! I’m incredibly sorry about that: Next year, I’ll be there! Promise!