Tuesday, September 13, 2011

SPX/Dylan Williams/Cartoonist Love

Chuck and I are back from SPX, in the house we live in, which is my mom's house in the woods of Western Mass, in the town of Hancock. This is the house I grew up in, which is weird and wonderful at the same time. It's kind of a magical place, like Moominland in some ways, and I feel really lucky to be here. It's the place where I went to elementary school, with 5 kids in my class, and where my sister and I made fairy houses in the woods, and searched for salamanders, and where I spent a lot of time in the forest by myself, imagining that I'd live there someday.

SPX was both wonderful and awful this year, wonderful because I made some new incredible friends, and got to spend quality time with old ones, but awful because the comics community lost someone who was a vital presence: Dylan Williams of Sparkplug Comic Books.

I didn't know Dylan personally, but you can read some amazing writing by people that did know him well here. I do know that the work he did impacts everyone who self-publishes, and everyone who is trying to make it as a cartoonist today. It's the people like him, and Annie Koyama of Koyama Press, and Secret Acres, and other small publishers and individuals, who give cartoonists hope that the work they are doing is valid and important, and that it deserves to be shared and read.

Something about this weekend also made me think a lot about this community that I've become a part of, and how it's so different from other arts communities. I've been trying to figure out really why it's so different...is it because it's such a new medium, and we're all still struggling together to make it seem legit? Or because cartoonists in general are a certain type of person?

In the end I don't think it's important to figure out exactly why this group of people feels so special to me, and why I feel so supported and comfortable and such love for everyone in it. I mean, like any community of people, there's gossip and cliques and all that b.s. (And in some ways I think it's even worse with us because it's such a small group of people).

But beyond that, when something like Dylan's passing happens, the amount of support from other cartoonists is amazing. I've found that cartoonists are in general some of the most genuine, honest, and generous people I know. Maybe it's because we're storytellers as well as artists? Or because we're so self-deprecating, and at times way too humble for our own good?

Anyway, if you have time, read some of the other responses to Dylan's death. It makes me sad and gives me strength at the same time, to know how much his life and work affected so many people. Now it's time to take that leap that I've been so afraid of lately, to go out to the studio and do some work that I care about, because I love it, and I have to.

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