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A Post about Webcomics Weekend

John and I are back from Webcomics Weekend! I’ll try to give as complete a synopsis as possible without boring you with too many details.

But first, a bit of bad news: I know I said that we “are ded­i­cated to fin­ish­ing the cur­rent arc in an unin­ter­rupted fashion”. I know it! So it is with a heavy heart I report that a frustrating last-minute computer issue has forced us to resort to a filler strip for tomorrow.

To mitigate future issues, we’ll be working to build a buffer of strips; this will hopefully keep the comicking process a little less volatile—a little less susceptible to the whims of the Digithalia, Muse of Algorithms, Computing, Free and Open Source Software, and Pinochle.1

Anyway, on to Webcomics Weekend! The journey began in earnest on Friday when John and I left for the festivities. As we lacked a vehicle with which to get there, I had my knapsack packed and walking stick in hand, ready to tackle the scenic 100-mile hike to beautiful Northampton, Massachusetts. John looked at me quizzically, waving two small pieces of paper in front of my face. He was babbling in some incomprehensible California dialect about “tickets” and “greyhounds” and “buses”. He finally convinced me that hiking was perhaps not the way to go, and to make a long story short (too late!) we got on a bus that quickly (3 hours) whisked us away to western Massachusetts.

After checking into the Northampton Quality Inn, we made our way into town. We hit up the comic shop (where John bought the most recent volume of Scott Pilgrim) and grabbed a bite to eat (at Local Burger and Fries—you’ll never guess what we ordered) before deciding to embark upon the Official Webcomics Weekend Bar Crawl.

It was a memorable night, albeit somewhat hampered by twin difficulties:

(1) Though we are both of legal age, we don’t drink. (I know: Madness! Insanity! But it is truth.)

(2) The number of times either of us has ever entered a bar of our own free accord can be counted up on one hand. One mangled, war-torn hand. With stumps where its fingers have been shot off. What I’m saying is, we’re not exactly bar people.

Given points (1) and (2) above, it is perhaps unsurprising to learn that our greatest success of the bar crawl occurred not at any bar at all, but at the local ice cream shop. There we ran across a very cool group of Webcomics Weekenders from the Boston area. We followed them to the nearby Haymarket Cafe, the basement of which was populated by a veritable bonanza of creators: all the Halfpixel guys, K.C. Green, Spike, and a heckuva lot of people I couldn’t place but whom John somehow recognized. (Perhaps he will be able to amend this entry with a more complete list?) [Edit: I can only remember recognizing three others: David Malki !, David Willis, and R. Stevens. Shoulda written it down! -John]

The Boston group struck up a chat with Spike, and John and I ventured out into the brisk night to seek fame and fortune. However, since I can see your head gently bobbing downwards and your eyes beginning to roll behind your drooping eyelids, I’ll spare you the details and cut off my narrative of the night there. (For the three of you who are truly curious how the night concluded, it should suffice for me to tell you that The Princess Bride is a good, good movie.)

Sleep, then Saturday. Since we had no vehicle and the festivities were over 4 miles away, we hitched a ride with two fairly awesome dudes: Jason (a.k.a. The Midnight Cartooner over at Digital Strips), and Alan, creator of the wrestling webcomic Rival Angels. They were heading over early to volunteer help for the event; on a whim, John and I decided to help out, too. In fact, if you attended the weekend, there’s a good chance that one of us handed you your wristband! I may have even answered a question of yours with a, “Hmmm, I think…. you know, actually, I don’t know where that is,” or “I think that’s in room 212, but I actually have no idea what’s going on so you might want to ask someone else,” or “Tape? I know we had tape here just a second ago. Crap.”

Highlight: helping register Randall Munroe, who was surreptitiously attending the event. We even had a short conversation about swimming pools and digital watches. It was very exciting stuff, let me tell you.

Once the panels began, John and I each performed the dramatic transformation from Volunteer to Attendee. We headed up to Panel Room A, where we spent much of the rest of the day absorbing insights from various webcomic luminaries. During the “How to Make T-Shirts” panel, Chris Hastings coaxed the audience to launch into a minute-long fit of manic hysteria for the sole purpose of making the people in the panel next door jealous. During the live Webomics Weekly podcast Dave Kellett claimed, while sitting right next to Scott Kurtz, that he had never seen an office comic he liked. (According to Mr. Guigar, the Halfpixel crew is currently accepting applications for a new fourth member.) And during the live drawing event, I asked Kris Straub to draw the Shetland Pony from Hark! A Vagrant, which somehow morphed (with the help of David Willis) into an adorable two-headed monstrosity.

At some point we headed over to Topatoco—which is arguably the t-shirt capital of the world. There we came across Sam Logan, creator of Sam and Fuzzy. He and John shared a bond, a deep bond, a bond with origins in the ancient frosted wilderness of Canada, the deep and immaculate territories of that vast motherland, a subtle profundity spoken wordlessly through minute gestures, an ineffable affect, the incommunicable twinkle of an eye. I, having no Canadian blood coursing through my veins, kept it to a simple “Hi!” and a sheepish smile.

During the live drawing event, our ride notified us that they were headed back to the hotel. We regrouped with them, made our way back to the Quality Inn, then went out and grabbed some Mexican food with them. We hung out for the rest of the night, and it was good.

Sleep, then Sunday. Unfortunately, our bus departed at 11 in the morning, so we couldn’t attend the Sunday festivities. Even so, we managed to get one last dose of webcomicky goodness: while checking out, we ran into Krishna Sadasivam of PC Weenies and chatted with him for a few minutes. Then we rushed off to catch our bus; before long, we found ourselves back in Cambridge. John took his leave back to California and, barring a few kinks in the travel process, returned safely. I stuck around my dorm room, did a little work, got some sleep, started writing up this post about the weekend, and… well, here we are.

Final verdict? A resoundingly great time. I’m already looking forward to going back next year. Many thanks to Meredith and everyone else involved for putting together a fantastic and memorable event!

1 “Pinochle?” you ask. Well, with the economy the way it is, the Guys In Charge had to let go some of their talent. Someone’s got to pick up the slack.