Saturday, June 23, 2007

Lobsters, moose and cartoonists

Three of our area cartoonists -- well, none of whom was actually born here, which, in local parlance, means they're "from away," but all of whom live in Maine now -- were in Portland Saturday for a panel discussion of cartooning, as part of the "Maine Festival of the Book."

From left, it's Wiley Miller, of "Non Sequitur" and "The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Basil", Corey Pandolph of "Barkeater Lake," who is also stepping in for an ailing artist at "The Elderberries," and Lincoln Peirce, of "Big Nate."

An interesting session -- I'm so used to people who are absolutely nuts about comics talking that it was interesting to hear more ordinary citizens asking questions. I'd like to drop some big bombshells but the only news that emerged was that Wiley's got a second kid's book coming out in February and that Corey's going to be continuing on The Elderberries a little longer. Most of it was news like the reason Lincoln does so well at capturing the mind of a sixth grader is ... well, you can guess how he explains that. To which Wiley added that the normal mindset of a cartoonist also makes them really good at Trivial Pursuit, which doesn't surprise me in the least. And that was largely the mood of the session -- some good information in response to the questions and quite a few dry jokes and laughs.

For my part, what I enjoyed was that Wiley and I have known each other on-line for several years but had never been in the same room before. It was nice to finally get face-to-face. As it happens, for the past two or three years, he's been living about eight miles from my step-daughter, Paige, but we've never quite gotten it together -- the one time we did set something up, I arrived in York Harbor just ahead of a horrendous blizzard and did well just to get out of town, never mind stopping to visit anyone else on the way. Of course, now that he's doing the kids' books as well as his regular cartoon, he doesn't get out of the studio very often, so it really doesn't matter where he lives. He's a stone's throw from Brook McEldowney who divides his time between Pibgorn and 9 Chickweed Lane and so is also driven by deadlines and the two of them have never managed to get together.

Incidentally, I didn't buy any books from the guys today, for the simple reason that, when I get ready to make my annual Christmas purchases, I prefer to do it on-line so that the artists have more time to do nice signings, rather than the hurried stuff at an event like this. I highly recommend that -- I've given signed copies of cartoon collections each year and the cartoonists have been wonderful about it. (It doesn't hurt them, of course -- two years ago, I gave signed copies of Hilary Price's collection of pet cartoons, "Reigning Cats and Dogs," complete with little sketches of the giftee's dogs, and included a copy for my assistant at the paper. That copy began to make the rounds at the office and totally disrupted work for most of an afternoon -- several people logged on to Amazon to get their own copies while they were supposed to be doing something else.)

It's not a bad way to support cartoonists.

On the way home, I stopped off in Freeport to get a pair of shoes at LL Bean -- I've bought shoes from them by mail order before, but it seems sensible to try them on, since I was going right past the place anyway, and had a gift card that's been in my wallet for several months now. While there, I spotted this food stand on the street and had to get a shot of that sign front-and-center.

Presumably "vending executives" wear three-piece suits and sell "lobstah rolls" out of their briefcases.


Brian Fies said...

Nice write-up. How big was the cartoonists' audience?

I've experienced a disconnect similar to the one you describe when seeing a cartoonist talk to a "civilian" audience. I'm often surprised by questions a non-comics-immersed person will ask, as well as what they'll react to. Most recently, I went to a talk by Greg Evans at which he sketched his "Luann" characters. He drew two circles for eyes and an appreciative murmur went through the crowd, as if Paul McCartney had just hit the opening chord of "Yesterday." I looked around: "You're all impressed by THAT?" And yet they were--watching a cartoonist draw was like a magic trick to them. It's a refreshing perspective.

ronnie said...

"Lobstah Rolls" LOL!

I never cease to be astonished that the accents change the second you roll over the NB-Maine border. How on earth does that work?

Sorry I was unable to make this event as it was - relatively speaking - 'in the neighbourhood'.

Thanks for the report. Yes, I can guess how a cartoonist is able to fathom the mind of a six-year-old fairly well, as it happens :)

Anonymous said...


It isn't "like a magic trick", it is a "magic trick" for those of us that can't scribble a recognizable stack of post-it notes. I've got tons of drafting training, but I can't draw free-hand to save my soul.

Not that it is worth saving....[grin]