Festival Activities, 2

A week has passed since the festival and I’ve not posted any more information about it. This is partly a result of being preoccupied with several other things, including organizing yesterday’s workshop… which seemed to go very well, by the way. See previous post for an update.

I thought that the festival was simply great. I attended many more panel discussions than I had before, and that may have been a good thing since it meant that I mixed outside and inside a bit better than I have in the past, meaning that I was less likely to get tired from the heat or from simply being on my feet all day. I ran into several friends out enjoying it, some themselves on their way to or from panels or presenting at stages. It works really well at USC, and it seems that people were really enjoying the new layout, and the better access to the festival overall afforded by the numerous public transport links I saw people enjoying (had to miss a 200 bus on the way from MacArthur Park to the campus because it was full of people heading to the festival before 10:00am on Saturday. Nice to see.)

Possibly the most interesting panel for me was one where three writers of graphic novels were being asked about their work. (Moderator: Deborah Vankin. Panelists: Joyce Farmer, Karl Stevens, C. Tyler) You might recall me mentioning that I’m working on a graphic novel, and so this was interesting to me since it was nice to listen to other people discuss their processes of going through the same things I’m going through now in terms of the struggles of the lone writer/penciller/inker (they also do all aspects of the piece – nice to see). I was amused upon seeing Carol Tyler since I had not realized who she was the night before, at the LA Times Book Awards (I think she was there because she was one of the nominees in the graphic novel category) where I’d spotted her looking at some posters while I was waiting in the lobby with a friend. We thought she was interesting because she had a pencil stuck in her hair at an odd angle, as though it was once put behind her ear while she was working and then later got brushed into the body of the hair while she was getting ready. I had found it a nice detail, since I felt a bit of a kinship with her (although I figured she was a journalist) as a fellow notebook scribbler. Perhaps. So it was amusing to me to see her at the panel the next day and realize that she writes and draws graphic novels, and so indeed we had more in common than I’d guessed… I wonder how long it was before she found the pencil….

The panel was great largely because there was so much in the way of disagreement amongst the panelists on various things… They were from very different styles, movements, and eras, in some respects, and it showed in their approach to the various questions, and made for some comedy at times…. Carol Tyler’s facial expressions when someone else is speaking can be quite amusing… One thing that was surprising to me (and a little disappointing) was how defeated they all seemed on the issue of publishers, distributors and location and availability of their work in bookstores. I asked about it, and they reiterated all the usual (and understandable) complaints about how graphic novels are viewed by the general public, and by lots of bookstore owners/managers, and the sort of incorrect and misleading classifications that result… but my question was more along the lines of “what are you trying to do about it?”. They just seemed to accept that it was the way it was and there was nothing they could do about it. Some of us in the audience pointed out that maybe things have begun to change (given the number of excellent high profile works that have broken out to the general audience in recent years, the role of film in raising awareness, the role of entities like the LA Times Book Awards…). They did not seem optimistic. Oh well…

Anyway, I will revisit this issue later I expect. I am not looking forward to my own battles over this issue concerning my own Project, but I do think that things are changing and that some pushes in the right places can help make big changes. Here’s to helping with the pushing….

So, more pictures. Well, I’m going to experiment with a new plugin for the blog and see whether an album I uploaded on Picasa can work as a slideshow embed here. Let me know what you think. They should be below. Enjoy!

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-cvj

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