Whether you know it or not, Minnesota is one hell of a hot bed for comic book artists and graphic novelists, and along with that hefty pool of talent comes a pretty wicked fanbase. How else can you explain the fact that numerous comic specialty shops in the Twin Cities persevered through the height of the recession? Local comic culture is alive and well, and over the next month there are plenty of opportunities for you to jump on the bandwagon. This Saturday marks the 9th annual Free Comic Book Day, an international celebration designed to show fan appreciation and raise awareness of comic book culture in general. Numerous locations in the Twin Cities are participating by doling out select freebies while supplies last. Also, coming up May 15th & 16th, the Midwest Comic Book Association (MCBA) puts on its annual SpringCon at the Minnesota State Fair Grounds, where thousands of comic book nerds from near and far descend to scour the 80,000 square foot Grandstand in search of coveted comic creations. Punctuated by special guest speakers, panel discussions and vendors of all stripes -- not to mention plenty of peeps in wacky costumes -- SpringCon is not only THE place to beef up your collection, but it's also the end all, be all of comic aficionado meet ups. This week, the Dressing Room chatted up MCBA co-director, Nick Postiglione, who filled us in on Free Comic Book Day, the Con, and what makes an "epic" comic book...
The Dressing Room: How did Free Comic Book Day come about? How long have the Twin Cities been participating?
Nick Postiglione: For years comic book retailers across the country had been discussing developing a method to universally promote the hobby and our individual stores. One of the barriers has always been the fact that each and every one of our respective stores is unique. Different theme, different selection, etc. It was decided that the one thing we all had in common was our passion for comic books and graphic literature and what better way to share that passion than to share the vehicle of that passion.
There are lots of comic artists and graphic novelists in Minnesota. How do you think the scene here compares to other cities?
Minnesota is known industry wide for having an unusually high number of professional comic book artists and graphic novelists based on our population. It is generally believed to be the result of our high literacy rate, education level and climate (trapped indoors for months at a time). Pound for pound Minnesota has one of the highest rates of comic book creator production and fan based consumption rates in America today!
What components make up an epic comic book?
Oddly enough, some of the characteristics of an "epic" comic book are the same as those found in other forms of story telling. A strong story concept, adoption of characters or circumstances, an interesting or compelling journey and an ending of sorts. The one thing that does set an "epic" comic book apart from other mediums is simply this: when you read a book, your mind fully envisions all of the elements. When you watch a movie, the film does all of that for you. The unique structure of graphic literature falls right in between those two mediums. The paneled structure of comics requires the reader to fill in the between the panels as you move your way through the story. In addition the very medium itself offers much less restriction in terms of barrier to entry. Everyone has a story to tell.
What are the hot new comics of 2010?
Really? Every month the majority of comic book stores order over 700 comic book titles and that doesn't include the ones produced regionally or locally. Comic books cover the full spectrum from action & adventure to tales of personal journeys, from the epic to the mundane, the funny to the heartbreaking, the spiritual to the wicked and the list goes on to beyond our current event horizon. Let there be no doubt, as the numbers of and varieties of graphic literature continues to grow, expand and become more and more generally available, this medium has barely hit its stride yet! The world is going visual and we're riding on top of that wave!
Why do people get so into collecting comics?
This might be a better discussion for a professional think tank. Theories range from wanting the complete story, to perceived long term investment value, a long term collection being somewhat of a life long nostalgia machine, to wanting to just reread them and the theories go on and on. Ultimately, the majority of comic book and graphic literature readers are more interested in the story than any questionable investment value. Readers are the economic engine driving the world of comic books.
SpringCon hits the State Fair Grounds May 15-16. What can people expect?
Opportunities. Personal interface with comic book creators, inkers, letterers, colorists and comic book publishers. Explore the world of comics, it's history and the various journeys of those who work in it. Learn how you can participate in comic books, hone your own skills, and network with others of similar passion. Develop an understanding and appreciation of the unique process, power and beauty of graphic literature. Spend some your hard earned coin with the various hucksters from all over the United States who offer treasures of all sorts. Win one of over 500 door prizes that will be given away. Have fun in a place that welcomes new participants, long time fans and everyone in between in a safe, casual and celebratory environment that truly offers something for everyone -- everyone is welcome!
For a list of locations and more info on Free Comic Book Day, which happens this Saturday, May 1st visit www.freecomicbookday.com.
For more info on the Midwest Comic Book Association's 2010 SpringCon, which happens May 15th & 16th at the Minnesota State Fair Grounds, visit www.midwestcomicbook.com