a few weeks ago, we found ourselves in the middle of a comic con for the first time ever, upon the insistence of our 10 year old daughter. i had no idea how she even knew there was a comic con nearby (turns out there was a tv commercial) and i didn’t really know what was involved. but i was excited about a few things, namely:
- major people-watching prospects. awkwardly gawking at the elaborate costumed people at the renaissance festival was so much fun, imagine how awesome the cosplayers at comic con would be!
- another excuse to get my toddler son in his seriously overpriced spiderman halloween costume.
- seeing my friend fenny werk werk werk her little asian sweatshop booth. how many of you can say you have a friend who is a comic con regular and creator of handmade awesome interesting things?
what i definitely did not expect was:
- encountering stuff that would make me so emotionally moved that i would have a mini-breakdown in the middle of artists’ alley.
- finding a cute and clever comic cookbook of korean banchan side dishes.
but that’s basically what happened. it was cray.
we only hung around for a few hours and spent the whole time checking out booths, talking with people about their work, admiring the most detailed cosplayers (the glittery gold fire princess was amazeballs!), and buying a few cool things like an independently produced kids’ book about the overproliferation of cats in halloween costumes and prints of snake eyes from g.i. joe, the pokemon eevee, and the dog from okami den.
there were a million bazillion indie artists offering drawings of superheroes and popular comic characters or cartoon network characters (3598723 versions of groot, 87987983745 versions of spiderman and 235987 versions of finn and jake, for example). there were also a ton of artists offering on-the-spot commissions, lots of awkward eye-contact-avoiding artists who had a weird-slash-ineffective way of attracting sales (more on that from fenny here), and a handful of folks with — frankly — some creepy shiite.
but despite the proliferation of captain america drawings and batmen and rocket raccoons, i was drawn most to artists offering original works, or twists on popular characters, with distinct styles of their own. for whatever reason, i often found these people to be women. i’d be curious to know how their sales were compared to the folks who just copied existing characters, but i can only hope they were rewarded for their originality.
one of those artists was robin ha, who came up with this “banchan in two pages” comic cookbook with recipes and drawings of several popular korean side dishes. i heart this concept so much. i’ve been wanting to do an infographic recipe on this blog for quite some time and haven’t gotten around to it, but a RECIPE COMIC! OF KOREAN FOOD! — how brilliant is that?? i was so excited to stumble upon robin and her booklet of recipes. the recipes are simple to do at home, sprinkled with a little education and a little humor, and i just love how everything is drawn out. you can even find more recipes on her banchan recipe blog. i just used her seaweed salad recipe with some minor alterations. and check out this seafood scallion pancake recipe. awesome.
then there was the author whose work brought on unexpected and highly embarrassing tears of i don’t know what. sadness? funnyness? recognition? we first stepped up to laura lee’s table and a short comic book about life with tupperware caught my eye. it was random, but even with a skim i could see it was amusing and entertaining in a self-depracating-isn’t-this-crazy-yet-real-and-funny kind of way.
she has two graphic novels that looked like they would speak well to teenaged girls (and maybe that’s why i liked her too since im basically a 14-year-old stuck in an adult life), but the thing that caught my attention the most was a collection of artwork in a mini book that she said was more of a personal side project of illustrations and thoughts that she put together while feeling her way through an existential crisis and depression called “drawn thru: drawing through depression.” as i flipped through the pieces in this little booklet, i swear someone started cutting onions near me… there were a couple of drawings that just struck me, (if you know a piece of my backstory i guess that explains why) and i knew i had to buy that book. (and it was only $5. what a steal!)
in particular, this page is where the room started to look blurry. what the what? i can’t explain it. damn those onions!
so as she continued to explain the concept of the book (in a very lighthearted and smiling manner i should add, even though you might think “drawing through depression” means heavy subjects) i wanted to say “wow, this really speaks to me” but instead i had to wipe my eyes and be like OKTHXBAI. my husband was so alarmed that he started to shoulder hug/rub my arm and i was so embarrassed i had to say DOGGAMIT STOP IM TOTALLY OK OMGTHISISSOEMBARRASSING.
but i do love this book so, and again, i think the approach is brilliant. i also am planning to cut this page out to stick to my office corkboard. and this is also why i’m feeling inspired to draw it out, although not quite as beautifully, from my own experiences and thoughts.
so to sum it all up in a one-sentence review, i would say that baltimore comic con was like a fun bowl of beautiful onions. with kochujang. i think that makes sense.