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November 30, 2014

Comics at Miami Book Fair International


This year, friend of the site David Serchay spent a good part of his November in sunny Miami for Miami Book Fair International --- and much of his attention was firmly fixed upon comics. Here, The Book Report Network president Carol Fitzgerald briefly interviews David on his findings.


Which of the graphic novel programs did you attend at the Miami Book Fair?

I attended:

  • Lives to the Contrary: Al Capp, Andre the Giant and the 80s Hip Hop Pantheon, featuring Denis Kitchen, Box Brown and Ed Piskor, moderated by Joan Hilty
  • Best American Comics 2014, featuring Charles Burns, Ben Katchor, Aidan Koch, Ed Piskor, and Raina Telgemeier, moderated by series editor Bill Kartalopoulos
  • A Series of Battles! featuring Ray Fawkes on Constantine, Conor McCreery on Kill Shakespeare: Mask of Night, and Nick Spencer on Morning Glories
  • Taking You Back to the Golden Age: Mark Evanier with The Art of the Simon and Kirby Studio, in conversation with Charles Kochman, Editorial Director of Abrams ComicArts
  • Fairy Tales Told and Re-told: Van Jensen on PINOCCHIO, VAMPIRE SLAYER, Ted Naifeh on PRINCESS UGG and Heidi Schulz on HOOK’S REVENGE. Russ Kick, editor of THE GRAPHIC CANON OF CHILDREN’S LIT, absent from the panel due to a family emergency.

How did they compare to programs in other years?

Not counting the "School of Comics" programs, this is only the third time I've attended.. I found the attention to comics about equal to what I've seen before. I liked how I would see other comics pros attending the panel --- the audience for Kitchen included Burns, Evanier, and Mimi Pond, who I got to complement about her new book. It was also great seeing the number of children --- mostly girls --- attending the Best Comics panel and holding copies of SMILE and SISTERS, and how many of them were on the signing line (Raina Telgemeier had an earlier panel/signing or there probably would have have been more). The comics area did seem a little smaller this year, though I was told they actually had more sponsors, and I did see other booths selling comics and graphic novels.

Did you spend time with any of the creators? If so, are there any stories that you can share with us?

I brought books to be signed by Conner McCreery, Charles Burns, Raina Telgemeier, Denis Kitchen, Box Brown, Ed Piskor, Farel Dalrymple, Van Jensen, James Kochalka and Mark Evanier. Some of these were at the official signing locations, some at the booth set up by Tate's Comics (which is one of the stores that I normally use), and in Conner McCreery's case, the Kill Shakespeare Booth. Some of these were for individual comics and graphic novels and a few I had sign a book I own on graphic novels for adults. There were some titles that I wanted to bring but could not find, including Burns's BLACK HOLE, a personal favorite of mine.

I chatted briefly with the creators as they signed and discussed “The Flash” TV show with Jensen and Naifeh. Among other things I asked Naifeh his opinion on the mystery of Dr. Harrison Wells of S.T.A.R. Labs, Barry Allen’s mentor. I also spoke a little with Mark Evanier, who I follow both on Facebook and via his blog. He was the creator I had the most titles for, although I spent the most time with McCreery, who I've spoken with several times in the past.

Did you attend any other programming at the Fair? If so, what did you enjoy the most?

The only non-comics panel that I attended was a talk with Judy Blume because, well, it’s Judy Blume. Among the audience were a few notables, including the daughter of Judy’s old teacher and the woman who was the inspiration for Margret of ARE YOU THERE, GOD? fame. It was nice to see Blume again. When I first saw her years ago at ALA, I told her that she was the only person attending that the 10-year-old me would have been excited about. Afterwards, I got a copy of ARE YOU THERE signed for my girls, though since they are just about to turn four it will be a while before they get to read it.

I also had two celebrity sightings --- Jason Siegel, who was at a table signing his new book, and Paul Williams, who walked right past me. After Williams, I texted a friend who, like me, was a fan of the classic “Batman: The Animated Series,” and I told him that I had just seen the voice of the Penguin.

Which books did you most look forward to reading after the Fair?

Brown's book on Andre the Giant (which Iown but have not read), Kitchen's book on Al Capp (the scandals surrounding him are interesting --- they remind me of the current Bill Cosby scandal), Evanier's new book on the art of Simon and Kirby, Ray Fawkes' Constantine run (as well as the new Batman book he is doing with Ben Templesmith), and the volumes of Jensen's PINNOCHIO, VAMPIRE SLAYER that I have not read.