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Metapost: Fear and loathing Fun and games in Bethesda

OK, so this is one of those metaposts where I go out into public and talk to people and sometimes pose for pictures with them. If you hate these posts, stop reading now! Really, you won’t enjoy it, I promise you.

So anyhoo, this past Saturday I went to Small Press Expo in Bethesda and it was great fun! I met many people and moderated a panel and acquired so many comics/graphic novels/what have you that I literally threw my back out carrying them home in my shoulder bag.

The panel, featuring comics luminaries Bill Griffth, Keith Knight, Ted Rall, and Nicholas Gurewitch, went pretty well, I think. I set clear goals going into it: I didn’t want the discussion to become so acrimonious that it resulted in physical violence, and at no point did I wish to completely run out of things to say and stare silently and slack-jawed at the panelists. I’m pleased to announce that I met both of those goals! Also, we had an interesting discussion about contemporary comics. A couple faithful readers whose names I didn’t catch introduced themselves to me there; take my word for it that they were extremely attractive and well-mannered. They seemed concerned about whether or not I had secured a ride down; I actually ended up taking the train, which was just as well, as it was the day of the Baltimore Marathon and it would have been impossible for anyone to drive to my house anyway.

The real action was out on the show floor, however. I spent some quality time chatting up the fellows from Blank Label Comics, including David Willis of Shortpacked!

…and Dave Kellet of Sheldon:

We’re all flashing the gang sign invented by my friend Maria for a gang of incredibly dorky white people. David Willis is the designer of the Margo Warhol t-shirt, so you know he’s a gentleman and a scholar. Incidentally, both Daves are required to follow up on their drunken agreements to the unreasonable demands I lobbed at them (that Sheldon take advantage of its new Web-only format and produce at least one triangular cartoon, and that Shortpacked feature Cobra Commander more often).

But Dave Willis wasn’t the only Comics Curmudgeon merchandise logo creator in attendance! Also there was Monica Meehan, aka faithful reader mon-ma-tron, who designed the Aldomania logo, and her husband Bram:

They were there hawking their super-awesome Raised By Squirrels series.

I also spent a good chunk of time at the table shared by Julia Wertz of the The Fart Party, Shannon O’Leary, the mind behind Pet Noir among other cool things, and Joe Sayers. My failure to get a picture of/with them was a lapse on my part and in no way a statement about their photogenic qualities. They were super-nice and let me eat one of their donuts! And, at a different table, I chatted up David Malki, who was lying low at SPX, but once long ago he took on San Diego’s Comic-Con in an epic struggle that was captured on film.

As a last pic, here are a pair of faithful readers: Aaron (aka zinco) on the left, and Propiniac on the right, who is none other than “Sarah Culp” in this TDIET. That’s right: I actually got to touch someone who successfully submitted a TDIET! I’m not worthy!

In sum, it was a good day and well worth a couple of hours of quality time spent on Amtrak. And, as a final note: Dear lady wearing a Finger Quotin’ Margo shirt: I saw you out of the corner of my eye while I was talking to someone else. When I looked up again, you were gone! I searched the room for you but never saw you again. I’ll always remember you, though.

Update: Gah, I knew I’d forget somebody. Lloyd Dangle of Troubletown: Also a pleasant fellow who spent some quality time talking to me, plus he gave me a free package of Airborne that he drew a cartoon for the box. Yay Lloyd!

36 responses to “Metapost: Fear and loathing Fun and games in Bethesda”

  1. Uncle Lumpy
    October 14th, 2007 at 8:45 pm [Reply]

    I’m pleased to announce that I met both of those goals!

    The soft bigotry of low expectations? I think not! The awesome majesty of low expectations!

  2. Poteet
    October 14th, 2007 at 8:46 pm [Reply]

    Great photos! Congrats on meeting your goals and having fun!

  3. Skullturf Q. Beavispants
    October 14th, 2007 at 8:56 pm [Reply]

    Looks like a blast, and I always enjoy seeing these kinds of pics.

  4. bats :[
    October 14th, 2007 at 8:58 pm [Reply]

    It’s always good to see Our Fearless Leader, Pope Josh, out and among the hoi polloi…that he’s a real person (even riding on Amtrak!).
    Looks like an exciting weekend!

  5. Forthillrox
    October 14th, 2007 at 9:10 pm [Reply]

    Good to know I wasn’t the only one wearing a “FQM” shirt yesterday. Though I was about 400 miles to the northeast…

  6. Rainbird
    October 14th, 2007 at 9:11 pm [Reply]

    Josh, what makes you think we don’t read your metaposts, and of course they were not boring. How cool that you got to meet the Fart Party artist. I love her stuff.

    Huntingbyrd, who is busy doing her homework at the last minute, looked at the page, and said “That’s Josh? He’s cute.” Just thought you would like to know.

  7. Rainbird
    October 14th, 2007 at 9:13 pm [Reply]

    Now, Josh, we need for you to show up at A.P.E. on the West Coast.

  8. huntingbyrd
    October 14th, 2007 at 9:14 pm [Reply]

    ug thats your NEW hobby huh?Embarrassing me on the internet! oh well as long as you don’t do it in public i’m fine.
    though your sort of right *sigh*

  9. the boy
    October 14th, 2007 at 9:15 pm [Reply]

    Oh man, the Raised by Squirrels people are awesome. I met them when the Family McCloud hit up Albuquerque on their tour, and my girlfriend bought the Squirrel’s books. Great stuff, fun people, and they were handing out free two-page comics collective collaborations. Glad you got to meet them

  10. Urban Garlic
    October 14th, 2007 at 9:32 pm [Reply]

    I’d just like to confirm that everything Josh said in his metapost was true. I was at the panel, and was one of the faithful readers whose name Josh didn’t catch, even though he carefully repeated it back to me after I introduced myself, an excellent memory tool I myself always forget to use. At that point, he was busy wondering if the panelists were going to show, probably.

    It was a good panel, the luminaries there actually had differing opinions on some questions, and the discussion was quite interesting. I thought that Keith Knight and Ted Rall had some kind of awesome smackdown while Keith covered the microphone, but I asked them later, and it had just been a minor elaboration about the different ways of getting money from web sites.

    Also, Josh rose to bravely defend Mary Worth against the sniggers and titters of the unbelievers, so props!

    I, of course, forgot my camera, but here is a crummy cell-phone picture of the panel. L to R is random foreground back-of-head, Ted Rall, Keith Knight, Nicholas Gurewitch, Bill Griffith, Josh, and random other foreground back-of-head.

  11. TB Tabby
    October 14th, 2007 at 9:41 pm [Reply]

    “Of course I have a .38 Special…because I’m Caught Up In You, Niki!”

    That’s right, I thought of that bit of RMMD snark JUST NOW. Better late than never…right?

  12. fritz
    October 14th, 2007 at 9:43 pm [Reply]

    Josh, I thought you did a pretty good job but you should have pushed the mike towards Bill Griffith more because most of the time when he was speaking the mike was pointed at you.

  13. Skullturf Q. Beavispants
    October 14th, 2007 at 9:56 pm [Reply]

    So, does Bill Griffith make any sense when he talks, or does he just spout nonsensical stream-of-consciousness verbiage?

    (Sorry, I guess that’s a little bitchy of me…I know there are ZtP fans on here, and I hear the strip has a fairly long history of which I’m unaware except for the most recent part, but I just feel the need to be a dissenting voice.)

  14. Josh
    October 14th, 2007 at 9:58 pm [Reply]

    #10 Urban Garlic-

    Hi again! I’m sure I did repeat your name back to you, which is a well-known mnemonic trick that never fails to fail to prevent someone’s name from falling through my mind like a stone through a wet paper bag. I really have a terrible problem with remembering people’s name that is only going to get more embarassing as I go to more events like this. I can often remember almost everything about a conversation or series of conversations with a person except their name, which means that I know enough about them that it becomes really inappropriate to ask them what their name was.

    Half the people who I mention in this post I only was able to name because I took their work home with me and I was able to consult it. When talked to the pair of faithful readers in the last pic, I knew I’d be able to find taxigirl’s handle in my archives because I knew I’d remember the exact TDIET she had described to me, but I had to desperately enter Aaron’s name as a note into my cell phone as soon as I walked away from them because otherwise I’d have forgotten it (and even now I’m 5 percent worried that I got it wrong).

    And Fritz #12, I’m sure you’re right. I sort of stopped worrying about the mikes because I thought Bill G. was talking pretty loudly, but then again I was sitting right next to him…


  15. Josh
    October 14th, 2007 at 10:01 pm [Reply]

    #13 Skullturf — He’s actually a remarkably friendly and cogent guy who does look pretty much just like Griffy (though with grey hair and no vest). If he did happen upon a certain entry on this site that described ZtP as “Cathy for the postmodern set”, he gracefully made no mention of it.


  16. Zinco
    October 14th, 2007 at 10:08 pm [Reply]

    No, you got my name right. Don’t worry.

  17. Zinco
    October 14th, 2007 at 10:18 pm [Reply]

    Oh, and, um, she’s not taxigirl. She’s Propaniac, if anything.

  18. Josh
    October 14th, 2007 at 10:23 pm [Reply]

    #16/7 Zinco — Argh! You have shown my feeble boasts to be a lie. Curse you, mutiple phone-related TDIETs! I’ve tweaked it to link properly and fixed her name (and added your handle).


  19. Gadge Cubic, Mole Preener
    October 14th, 2007 at 11:08 pm [Reply]

    And Keith Knight wears that dorky hat that he often depicts himself as wearing in “The K Chronicles”! Cool. I’ve heard some folks say Bill Griffith can be rather self-important – good to hear he isn’t always that way (or maybe you’re just being polite). I still like “Zippy” – I think the last couple years have been an upswing of sorts, following a couple years where he was seriously losing it (the endless series of “here’s my nice drawing of a bizarre roadside attraction and Zippy standing next to it” cartoons). I still think Matt Groening should just retire “Life in Hell” (or “Life Is Swell”) – bickering rabbits, bickering Akbar and Jeff, or the damned swami gag are all getting terribly old. You’d think he’d died and his son’s drawing the thing now or something, it’s that lame.

  20. sally
    October 14th, 2007 at 11:24 pm [Reply]

    Hey Josh,

    I actually live in Bethesda, but was too lame — no, too busy dealing with the bushel of apples my kids picked this weekend — no, make that lame again — to attend, but I’m glad you had a good time, didn’t try to drive, and didn’t end up here during one of Bethesda’s innumerable street festivals that would have made parking even more impossible than usual!

    Oh wow. That sentence was long even for me. Sigh.

  21. Dicky
    October 14th, 2007 at 11:30 pm [Reply]

    Lord, help me, but I find Dave Kellet hot in that picture. He just reminds me of a guy that I really liked in college… just with black hair and grey.
    I may have to add his webcomic to my list.

  22. Deena in OR
    October 14th, 2007 at 11:42 pm [Reply]

    @19…IIRC, the chances of Matt ever having a son are pretty remote. Don’t think he swings that way.

  23. Josh
    October 14th, 2007 at 11:57 pm [Reply]

    #23 Deena — Matt G. was married (to a lady) though I believe they have been divorced for a while now. He has sons named (no joke) Homer and Abe. Not sure if they’re old enough to have taken over Life in Hell yet.

    I just found out at the panel I moderated about the change in name to Life is Swell, actually. There was some talk amongst the cartoonist that it’s hard to think of life as hellish when you’re as rich as Matt Groening.


  24. Jym
    October 15th, 2007 at 2:41 am [Reply]

    =v= Hey, Bill Griffith is a nice guy. He used to live two blocks away from me in a neighborhood obsessed with (finger)nails and oat bran. As for Matt Groening, his ex-girlfriend is ex-best friends with my ex-girlfriend’s sister, so that should tell you how he swings.

  25. Dave
    October 15th, 2007 at 6:56 am [Reply]

    This is, indeed, why we all love you so much, but you and Davis Willis together look like the biggest dorks in the history of dork-kind.

  26. Chris
    October 15th, 2007 at 8:22 am [Reply]

    I live in neighboring Arlington, Virginia, but had a prior commitment that I couldn’t break. Very sorry to have missed this.

    Have been a Zippy fan for over 2 decades, own a lot of the old comics (including the brilliant one where Zippy runs for president), but i have to agree that the strip has sucked for the last couple of years. The roadside statues, the travelogues, and this recent Dingburg crap is just irritating.

    I met Griffith at the downtown Borders 20 years ago, and he signed several of my books. He and I see eye-to-eye on just about nothing, but he certainlys seems to be a very decent fellow.

    Hope he can regain his game.

  27. Shortpacked
    October 15th, 2007 at 9:41 am [Reply]

    Man, I am SEXY.

  28. Todd
    October 15th, 2007 at 9:59 am [Reply]

    Hey Josh,

    I saw you at the SPX, but I was otherwise occupied with attendees. Wish I had the time to see your panel or at least chat you up. Maybe next year.

  29. teenchy
    October 15th, 2007 at 10:18 am [Reply]

    # 27: So “Damn you” Willis actually does look much like his Blank Label forums avatar! I must admit that I found SP! via this forum and, while I really don’t understand all the action figure references, I do enjoy the strip. I guess it helps that I’ve worked in retail and that Amber reminds me (in appearance, though not behavior) of my wife when I first met her.

    In any case, the Expo looks to have been a good time, and I wish I could’ve been there to hear the panel.

  30. mckenzee
    October 15th, 2007 at 11:28 am [Reply]

    Hey, I’m the kilted one who said hello right after the panel. It was so cool seeing five of my heroes at one table.

    Yeah, my standards are pretty low.

  31. The Dane
    October 15th, 2007 at 1:04 pm [Reply]

    Is that an MMW shirt you’re wearing? If so, rad. If not, close to rad.

  32. Josh
    October 15th, 2007 at 2:14 pm [Reply]

    #31 The Dane — I am not cool enough to know who or what MMW is. The shirt is just a Captain America tee that I got at Target.


  33. The Dane
    October 15th, 2007 at 2:38 pm [Reply]

    #32 Josh — Don’t worry, that’s almost as good. MMW is a edge-jazz trio based out of New York. They’re fun and cool and hip and other stuff. And they have a t-shirt that is a Captain America shield (much as the one you’re wearing) with their logo in black in the center of the white star.

  34. Nate
    October 15th, 2007 at 4:20 pm [Reply]

    Was at the show and the panel, and enjoyed both a great deal. I thought your setup questions for the panel were decent, but that it might have been better to make the questions a little less conventional to draw in Gurewitch (who was pretty obviously bored with the whole notion of appearing on a panel, through no fault of your own), or to find the middle ground between Rall’s experience-based negativity and Knight’s relatively uninformed optimism about the web.

    You definitely didn’t need to push the microphone towards Griffith more, though … he managed to speak as much as the other three panelists combined without any real prodding.

  35. mon-ma-tron
    October 15th, 2007 at 9:03 pm [Reply]

    Josh, you look appropriately frightened of me and my enormous neck. That, and the death grip I have on your arm.

    Nice to finally meet you in person. You did great on the panel.

  36. Bryce
    October 21st, 2007 at 12:09 am [Reply]

    I have that Captain America t-shirt that I got from Target too!

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