The New York Comic Con was held at the Jacob Javits Center this past February 6–8, and with the number of TV, movie, and video game panels/booths available it’s quickly starting to rival the San Diego Comic-Con in size and scope, though it still lacks the prestige and probably will so for years to come. They’ve had trouble nailing down a date for their first four years, and the next installment will take place in October of 2010, a date they assure us will be steady for the next few years.
Buried in amongst the industry panels and Hollywood premieres were a few nuggets of intellectual or artistic goodness; there was a panel on “Asians and Superheroes” that talked about the role of Asian characters in general in superhero comics, promoting a new anthology that comes out in April featuring the work of numerous creators like Bernard Chang and Gene Luen Yang.
Saturday saw an actual nonfiction comics panel called “Telling a Story With Imagined Pictures,” featuring various panelists who worked on nonfiction narratives for publishers like First Second and Random House. Present at the panel were:
- Michael Crowley, author of 08: A Graphic Diary of the Campaign Trail
- Mike Dawson, creator of Freddie & Me: A Coming-of-Age (Bohemian) Rhapsody
- Sabrina Jones, creator of Isadora Duncan: A Graphic Biography
- George O’Connor, artist of Journey into Mohawk Country
They answered a lot of questions about the creative process, especially the research involved in depicting real events. Both Crowley and Dawson noted it was difficult depicting events that people would have their own memories of. A lot of fact-checking was involved; Jones studied dancing and old travel guides to get the visual look of the book right, and she later had her dance drawings fact-checked to make sure they were correct. O’Connor had a different problem in that photo-reference wasn’t available for his subjects. He mentioned that the book has a whole scene depicting Mohawk armor, except that no visual records existed of the armor for him to accurately depict it. Instead, he had to rely on the cartoony visual style of the book to cover up the specifics of the armor.
When asked about the editorial process for graphic novels, all agreed that their editors have been largely hands-off, and speculated that it might be due to the newness of major publishers (like Random House) to the graphic novel scene.