Regan Jaye Fishman on KingCon II

KingCon II

Coming up November 6 and 7 (plus special events the evenings of November 4 & 5), the Brooklyn Lyceum (located at 227 4th Ave at President) will host the KingCon II, an independent comic, animation and illustration convention. The cost will be $7 day/$10 weekend (kids: $3 day/$5 weekend). To get the scoop on the con, I recently email interviewed the con’s co-director Regan Jay Fishman. Also the Lyceum’s program director Eric Richmond was kind enough to chime in with in-depth details about the special panels on Thursday (November 4).  My thanks to Fishman and Richmond for their time.

Tim O’Shea: This is the second year of King Con, expanded from two to four days. As noted in the comments section of the Beat’s coverage of the announcement, the venue will be warmer this year. What other improvements or changes (adding an Artist Alley, for example) have you made based on feedback from last year’s attendees?

Regan Jaye Fishman: We have added an Artist Alley! We have also removed some risers to make for more room downstairs, Made the panels fifty minutes instead of a full hour to allow for changeover time, signings will be in the mezzanine instead of upstairs and the con has been extended by 30 minutes each day so that panels aren’t STARTING the SECOND people walk in the door.
Also, I will not be sporting a constant expression of abject terror.

O’Shea: You co-directed last year’s KingCon with Mike Zagari, but this year you’ll be co-directing with Daily Cross Hatch’s Brian Heater, in what ways do you think Heater’s contributions influenced the con’s planning so far?

Fishman: Mike Zagari was a great help to us last year, and he had fantastic panel ideas, many of which explored the how-tos of comic creation and publication, and dealt extensivley with digital media. Mr. Heater’s panels explore many of the different genres of Comic writing and illustration and his deep connection to the independent comics community helps cement the mission of KingCon, which is to give the independents, especially the Brooklyn-based ones, their much deserved spotlight.

O’Shea: The show has been expanded to four days, partially to facilitate panels. Can you talk about the panels  that King Con will host?

Fishman: This year’s Panel Programming includes:

  • A Spotlight on Chris Claremont, legendary x-men writer, moderated by Fred Van Lente
  • Graphic NYC Presents… a conversation with celebrated New York artist Kyle Baker (Plastic Man, The Bakers, Nat Turner)
  • Zuda: What Happened? a retrospective look at the three-year life of a web-based comic
  • Understanding Israel: A Spotlight on Sarah Glidden, author of the graphic novel How to understand Israel in 60 days or less
  • The Daily Cross Hatch Presents: The Cross Hatch Podcast Live featuring a streamed conversation with Julia Wertz, Robert Sikoryak and Lisa Hanawalt
  • The Funny Pages: Comedy in Comics featuring Lisa Hanawalt, Bob Fingerman, Michael Kuperman, Neil Swaab and Emily White
  • Hips, Lips, and Pencil Tips: The Sexual Female as Feminist Focal Point a conversation with female artists Paige Pumphrey, Laura Lee Gullidge, Jennifer Hayden and Molly Crabapple, moderated by Rachel Kramer Bussel
  • Kids’ Stuff: Making Comics for All Ages featuring Nick Abadzis, Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman and Colleen AF Venable
  • King Con Presents: Carousel, featuring R. Sikoryak, Emily Flake, Michael Kuperman, and more
  • Pulp to the Future: the past, present and future of pulp comics with Adam L Garcia, Ed Catto, Mark Halegua, Derrick Fergusen, Chris Kalb
  • Bored to Death — Jonathan Ames and Dean Haspiel (moderator Jeff Newelt) will discuss the HBO series written by Ames. The character “Ray” played by Zach Galifianakis is loosely-based on Dean who draws all the comic art for the show. Special sneak preview screening of clips from the Comic-Con themed episode that was shot here at the Lyceum in May.
  • Plus Opening Party / Live Comix Reading with Dean Haspiel, Paul Pope, Jeff Newelt, Jen Ferguson, Seth Kushner, and Joe Infurnari. DJ Pulphope (Paul Pope), DJ CrossHatch (Brian Heater) + Bands til midnite!

Also, Rick Parker, a legendary cartoonist and parody artist will lead a live drawing workshop, and Papercutz publishing will give a reading of their latest Smurfs title, complete with face painting and Smurfy giveaways.

O’Shea: There’s also two panels on Thursday night. Eric can you delve into those?

Eric Richmond: [The first panel is] The Death of Print Journalism: The needs of the many

Well, it has been nigh on two years since the print industry collapsed as we know it.

Papers closed (San Jose, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco).

Papers gone on-line only (Ann Arbor News).

Papers went to a few days a week (Detroit Free Press).

People leaving papers to form various on-line entities.

Freelancers banding together to feed the declining newspaper and the rising on-line sphere.

Small papers who carved out an on-line presence and were gobbled up by the very same publications that were collapsing of their own dead weight.

Papers went into bankruptcy.

Unions busted.

Why??? Because it was time.

The whole industry had been propped up for decades by being in a growth market and by an artificial scarcity of distribution. And whomever controlled distribution got rich… filthy rich. The internet killed both of those. Dollars were no longer growing as people could actually figure out better which half of their marketing dollars was well spent. And scarcity of distribution is a thing of the past as anybody can once again be a news and information source. Access to news and information is instant and the tools are ubiquitous. It is the best of times(for those shut out by the old way) and the worst of times (for those left out in the game of newspaper musical chairs).

Greater overall advertising dollars may be on the horizon but it will be spread much more evenly against an exponentially larger number of sources. Pay by the impression. Pay by the click. Pay by the sale. Little drips and drabs of monitored ad dollars will add up to a larger pie. But no one will ever own those markets in remotely the same way again. More players. Fewer dollars per player.

Does it level out such that more people can either make a living or cover their costs?

In some ways it is back to the 1700s or square one except that it is now nearly impossible to corner any market. Do something well? There are recent unemployed college grads by the thousands sleeping on couches in their parent’s basement in places like Philadelphia who will do it for cheaper (free) and they WILL drive you out of business unless you stay one step ahead and NEVER rest on your laurels. Think Google. Once they got a leg up they have pushed innovation and pushed many initiatives that normally and ad-machine wouldn’t bother to do except for to be involved in information means to be a shark… swim …. or die.

Those that do not rest on their laurels will pass through this test. Others will not.

How does this affect comics?

Sort-of like how Napster altered music. It is every artist for himself. Sort of….

Find out Thursday, November 4th @ 7PM.

O’Shea: The second panel to be also held on Thursday (at 9 PM), what can you tell me about it?

Richmond: [The second panel is] The Wants of the Few: Atlantic Yards, Comics and the Changing Face of Brooklyn

Was it the right place?

Was it the right time?

Was it the right process?

Atlantic Yards continues to fulfill the major media expectation of Brooklyn as a backwater where the people don’t matter.

Laws that seem pretty clear are ignored.

Captains of industry (well real estate) rule the day.

The common man is marginalized so that they an tear down middle class housing to build rich person housing while promising that they “might” throw a bit of affordable housing out there. All at the promise of more tax revenue that is clearly a bald-faced lie.

Judges make rulings that only seem appropriate if you believe everyone is already in the bag since the rulings grasp at any straw to not actually deal with the issues at hand.

Kind of make comics irrelevant if the actions of the leaders and monitors of gotham are already that much of a caricature.

And, lastly, where is the urban grit and spit in your eye that propelled comics to a position of status anyways? Will everything look like a cheap glass tower that charges ore for less?

Maybe the comic industry should start the pullout from an urban psyche if that urban core is just like Des Moines.

O’Shea: Is King Con partially aimed at focusing on local talent that might get unintentionally marginalized at larger shows like NYCC?

Fishman: Yes yes yes!! That was the literal mission statement of the first one and something I have steadfastly worked to keep correct.

I really admire the guy who saves up all year to go to SanDiego and NYCC just to be there, even as a relatively small fish in a massive pond. I want KingCon to be the the place where those folks get to feel the MOST love, the BIGGEST welcome, because they are the heart and soul of the industry. Fifty, sixty years ago stuff like Action Comics started with the same spirit. Sure people will always want the glossy mainstream stuff and the blockbuster movies it often becomes, but those who truly love Comics as an art form live for the storytelling, the heart, the touch of human hands, as it were, that can only be found in talent pools like the one be have thriving here in Brooklyn.

O’Shea: How did you settle upon selecting Chris Claremont as one of the main guests. Who are some of the guests from last year that you’re glad to see returning for 2010?

Fishman: The first comics I ever read in my natural-born life, were the X-men classics repros of the Dark Phoenix saga, purely on accident because I was like 11 and I thought the flaming lady with no irises looked cool. I was hooked for life. I cried, I told my mother I wanted fire-hair, I started wearing alot of turtlenecks. I didn’t think in a million years I could get him, but I thought, “well Its my Show! How am I NOT inviting the man basically responsible for me reading comics in the first place! Absurdity!” I mean…there was no harm in trying. Lo and behold, he’s local, he’s really nice (as is his family) and all he asked of me was real, full-sugar CocaCola (which, after, WEEKS of pleading with the management, he’s getting)

…urrrm, Jeff Newelt, Brian Wood and Dean Haspiel were (and are) instrumental in pushing the con forward, and yet again their participation has proved invaluable. Jonathan Ames, of course, is always a pleasure to have, pants or no. I am super excited about Bob Fingerman, even though he never seems to understand why, and Rick Parker manages to make me laugh like a drain everytime he shows up in my Facebook feed…
….Tim Hamilton, Simon Fraser, Mike Cavallaro, Cliff Chiang, Paigey Pumphrey…Kalman Spiegel….Josh Adams, Robert Pollack, Dave Roman, Raina Telgemeier, Bobby and Peter Timony… all wonderful people, and good friends to both myself and the Con…

OH! and OF COURSE Mike Zagari, and Matt Manning, both of whom, besides being uber-talented, knew me long before a comic-con was even a glint in my eye, (and every article of clothing I owned was pepto-bismol pink,) (ps both Matt and one of my other tablers, JT Yost, had babies this year so big congrats to that!!)

O’Shea: What inspired the development of the King Con Drawbridge Sketchbook Competition?

Fishman: Nate Schreiber had the idea, and we discussed it over drinks and a shameful amount of fried chicken after one of Dean’s signings. I was absolutley enamored of the concept. I feel like its such a natural extension of what Drawbridge is AND such a wonderful way to make folks feel excited and part of something. I kind of love the idea of art reaching out to art with no heirarchy, no ego, everyone’s got a shot. If I had to pick one thing I want this con to be about for the entirety of its lifespan, its the ‘analog file share’ of creations and ideas, and I was blown away last year by some of the art made on the spot by attendees. This borough is bursting at the seams with really gifted folks. I feel so lucky to get to spend any time at all in their presence.

O’Shea: For exhibitors, is there still space available?

Fishman: VERY VERY limited, but if you have something awesome, email, I’ll see what I can do.

O’Shea: Is there anything you’d like to discuss that I neglected to ask you about?

Fishman: What I’d like for dinner, and where babies come from? The answer to A: always tacos, the answer to B:…is best left to another interview.

KING CON II PEOPLE Nov 6 &7, (with accessory events Thursday and Friday evening 4th & 5th)