All photos by Luis Allen
Sure, the glitz and glamour of the big labels, with their video game consoles and upcoming movie tie-ins, were enticing at WonderCon (check out yesterday's post for more costume awesomeness and our sociology nerd analysis of the convention). But of course, this being San Francisco and this being the Guardian, we found the "small press" aisles of the convention a little more enticing. Below, three of our favorite independent comic projects from around California.
When he was but a young thing in the East Bay, Age Scott's teacher assigned him his final in comic book form, trying his best to get Scott interested in schoolwork. “I asked him what it had to be about, and he said 'whatever you want.'” He wound up making a seven page book about a hip-hop mouse, his classmates started asking him for copies, and Scott realized that this whole comic book thing could work for him.
Fast forward twenty years, Scott is still making it work. A self-dubbed “raptoonist,” at WonderCon he was hawking a series of titles about his characters Won and Phil, “hip-hop heroes.” I checked out Won and Phil: Dedicated to the Rap Generation, which turned out to be a choose your own adventure story, wherein the reader gets to decide the duo's journey throughout the game. Sign with Death Row, Wu Tang, or Rocafella? Follow Old Dirty Bastard when the cops bust into the studio or hang back? Have beef with other emcees, wind up in the mental hospital, side with Jay-Z or Damon Dash? It's all in there.
She had me at “fish people,” the hoodie-wearing gang of squat fish-men that show up halfway through Emily C. Martin's SF-based graphic novel adventure, Otherkinds. “They're in an antagonist role in this story,” Martin tells us. “But eventually I want them to be protagonists.” The fish men steal a nautilus from Steinhart Aquarium, and “imply a connection with a huge under-Atlantis beast,” says the Sonoma County comic artist, who includes an illustrated guide at the back of the book that talks about each of the fishmen's real-life aquatic counterparts. I love the fishmen so much that their good-evil status doesn't concern me, and briefly consider buying one of the buttons with the characters that Martin was displaying on her table.
Tucked away in the Moscone Center's labyrinth network of halls and conference rooms, we stumbled across a panel of young men and women who were using comics to connect with their community. Students from a charter school in the San Diego area had started making comics and holding classes in the art for younger kids. The group produces full-length graphic novels with names like La Sombra de America and Wings of Freedom that benefit youth programs and organizations that help build community across the border. The Chula Vista kids were all wearing black buttondowns, they had the funniest PowerPoint presentation of the conference (as far as I'm concerned) and most importantly, these wonderkids are using their powers for good.