Comic Revolt with David Gillette: Building Community
My dear readers (I hope that I can use the plural form of this),
I apologize for the lateness of my column. Many of you probably became angry yesterday with my failure to satiate your ravenous appetites for my indelible and unparalleled insights into the mysterious world of comics on the cutting edge and turned to the dismal coverage of the Democratic Convention to fill the void.
As I sit here in a delirium induced fit of writing fueled by more carbohydrates and caffeine than nature ever intended our species to consume, my halcyon hazed thoughts are considering how damn wonderful the comic community is on so many levels.
Now I know what you’re thinking, dear reader — what does this have to do with innovative, outside of the box approaches to creating comics? In my somewhat humble (and caffeine compromised) opinion, the creators that are innovating at the highest levels seem to be those who continually engage with the community at large.
All kidding aside, it’s the growing number of people that don’t treat being in the business as an exclusive club. Don’t get me wrong. I have found that most every creator that I’ve met is genuinely friendly and cares about their fans, but there are some that have gotten out of the convention circuit mentality of photo ops and signings to reach out to their fans in wonderfully unique and thoughtful ways .
Last night, I took a trip up to Berkeley, California to drop in on the very personal and intimate story night done by the amazing creators of the Madefire comic book app (that’s why I’m so bloody tired) where they not only hosted a gathering of comic fans, but treated them to pizza, beer, and some very real discussions about the art of telling great stories.
You didn’t have to be somebody important or connected to talk face to face with these amazing people. Folks like their new editor Ben Abernathy welcomed people warmly, offering visitors food and drink, and engaging with them in a way that made people feel part of the creativity.
Driving back, I thought about the different ways I’ve seen the comic community engage and come together like the Aurora Rise benefit that Steve Niles, Matt Fraction, and Mike Mignola so generously became involved with. Not only did they give, but the benefit continues to raise money for the victims of the tragic shootings.
Again, there were these amazing creators face to face with the community, sharing stories, tears, and love that elevates and enriches the medium of comics in ways that continue to make the community a place where people exchange ideas and drive the discourse in ways that I haven’t known in my younger years.
Even the pricey Morrisoncon is taking the idea of community and discourse to levels you won’t find at the average convention with the various discussions and activities that Grant Morrison has arranged where comic fans can talk with rather than be talked at by an amazing group of creators.
Maybe the lingering vibes of peace and love form the Bay area have rubbed off on me, but all of these things I see happening are so fresh and innovative on so many different levels that I can’t help but think these ideas about community building will continue to grow the comic medium in an exponential way.
Maybe I’m just happy to see that the comic community is becoming less anonymous and more like a village where people can put a face and a voice to their favorite creator or biggest supporter. After covering conventions, signings, and traditional publicity related functions, it’s just a breath of fresh air to see comic creators find new ways to authentically connect with their fan base and make a more inclusive community.
Now carry on my lil’ droogies.
With high regards,
David “DG” Gillette