Tom Spurgeon of Comics Reporter recently tweeted something along the lines of (paraphrasing from memory) ”A bunch of attractive female 25-year-old cartoonists and a bunch of dumpy 45-year-old male cartoonists are about to have dinner” while covering a comics convention. This is something I've thought all along but he beat me to the punch by taking the incentive to write it down. I snooze I lose.
When I started in college majoring in cartooning, the male/female ratio was about 20:1 and people thought if you did comics that either meant Snoopy (what most people think Peanuts is called), superheroes, or porn. The euphemism “graphic novel” is bandied about now giving the medium more credibility. But of all of those things, what's changed the most in the past few years is a more even gender ratio. No longer is there the ghettoization of “women in the comics”. Coming to this realization, my first thought was “Why wasn't it this way when I started?”
Last year, there was a story arc on Girls where one of the characters is babysitting for a middle-aged man. He has issues with his wife so he starts hanging out with the girls and going to their parties, trying to fit in. It was a big wake-up call when I realized that character was me. I think my best work is ahead of me, but try to keep my distance in comics circles. I know when I was 25 I'd be creeped out if someone in their forties was hanging around at convention after-parties. Sometimes I feel self-conscious even having web pages of younger artists on my sidebar.
Is continuing to draw comics and trying to be liked at conventions the cartoonist's mid-life crisis?
All this is a roundabout way of mentioning I'll be at the Grand Comics Festival this coming weekend, selling comics and original art. I may lament the bygone era of comics, but plan to continue to stay active even if lost.
Also in attendance will be R. Sikoryak, Meredith Gran, Jess Ruliffson, Hic & Hoc Publications, Jen Tong, C.M. Butzer, Box Brown, Andrés Vera Martínez, Lauren Zukauskas, Kriota Willberg, Jonathan Baylis, Sophia Wiedeman, Blaise Larmee, Ellen Lindner, Jess Worby, Nick Abadzis, Alden Viguilla, Dre Grigoropol, Molly Brooks, Alexandra Beguez, Fay Ryu, Anuj Shrestha, Birdcage Bottom Books, Drew Alderfer, Estrella Vega, Colleen Frakes, Josh Bayer, Barry Bruner, Tom Motley, Andrea Tsurumi, Keren Katz, and Kenan Rubenstein.
I hate to say I haven't heard of half the other exhibitors. Hopefully the convention will remedy that situation. Convention malaise has gone from “the same people I've been seeing the past twenty years” to “that person can write their own name already?”
The Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival, which has become the major non-franchise convention in New York, has dissolved after four years. The GCF is small now, but hopefully it will fill this void in the coming years. Then the current crop of cartoonists will have ones a generation younger than them to complain about.
I hope this doesn't come off as disinterest, ego, or condescension, just trying to adjust to the prevailing reality.
And also, please buy my stuff.
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