Brooklyn Book Festival 2012: The Sex Panel (and more)

On Sunday I attended the Brooklyn Book Festival as I have done in years previous, but this year I didn’t get to attend it as rigorously as before. Last year I attended many panels, taking copious notes and providing tons of articles.

This year I only made it to one panel, titled “The Sex Panel” it was a discussion in comics in sex and featured an amazing array of talent moderated by comics journalist Heidi McDonald.

On the panel were Bob Fingerman (writer of the most excellent horror inspired novels BottomFinger Bottomfeeder and Pariah, writer/artist of Minimum Wage, From The Ashes and a collection from Eros called Finger Filth, as well as Monkey Jank and Otis Goes Hollywood), Leela Corman (artist/writer of Unterzakhn as well as the illustrator of various books pertaining to sex and sexuality), Gilbert “Beto” Hernandez of Los Bros. Hernandez/Love & Rockets fame (who also wrote/drew the hardcore porn Birdland, the first ever collection from Eros) and Molly Crabapple, (the founder of Dr. Sketchy’s and artist of Scarlett Takes Manhattan).

The panel started with slides showing the work of the artists. During the slides much was discussed and explained, but truthfully there were just amazing soundbites and quotes and I feel it best to share those.

Leela Corman
“It’s always fun to draw hairy men.”
“My editor thinks there’s too many breasts, I’m really in it for the lingerie”

Bob Fingerman
“No matter how hard I try, I always end up swimming back into the sewer.”
“If there are any furries here and I’m offending you… Good.” (on a story about confurrences, where a real bear crashes and has sex with everyone while they think he’s just someone in costume)

Beto Hernandez
“I messed up that bottom panel, I made his dick too small.” (on a Birdland page)
“That’s my furry story but I’ll never be able to top Bob” in which Bob replied “Don’t try.”

“I do sex comics because I can”
“I do boy sex comics because I can”

Molly Crabapple
“Boobs are awesome”

She also told a hard to quote story about being majorly influenced by Toulouse-Lautrec and achieving his career of working in a nightclub as an artist was an aspiration which she achieved working for burlesque club “The Box”.

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After the slides came the first question “The first time you decided to work blue”

Leela Corman: “Sex is a commodity”

Bob Fingerman: “I was hardwired.”

Talked about how there was a neighborhood bully who would beat him up if he draw him a naked chick. He traced an image of a cave woman from a toy box and just took off her top. He also said he had a cigar box since he was six years old that was full of dirty drawings he would do.

Molly Crabapple: Her first commission was for Screw magazine, “if someone will let you do porn, then you can do whatever on the page”

Gilbert Hernandez: When Mario and he were kids (8 years old) they saw Playboy and started drawing naked ladies. Beto wanted to get them accurate, but he got caught and in trouble and stopped. Yet when they started doing Love & Rockets it just progressed till the point of Birdland. Beto sas he did no research for sex drawing, just pulling it out of his imagination. By issue #3 (Birdland was serilizaed as regular comics before being collected) he was bored with it.

Bob discusses working for a lot of men’s magazines and that he had a different experience than Molly in that they wanted porn and NOTHING but porn and any creative deviations were frowned upon.

Molly mentions that she also did work with Playgirl, but she went drinking with the editors and they liked her, so her history may be biased.

Heidi then presented the question “When do you go to far?”

Leela was told no penis because of international publication.

“Male Penis is the deal breaker”

Bob talked about cesnoring himself when he worked on Shugga which came from working for Cracked and made him need to do a huge purge, but he felt even on that book he went way too insane.

He proceeded to talk about toning down Minimum for the a new collection. He says a lot of readers only saw the book as a lot of sex and missed the actual story.

“Maximum Minimum Wage, now with less Naughty bits.”

“Violence & Sex is creepy, sex is a happy place, that’s why the tits are so big in my comics.” – Gilbert Hernandez

As this point in the panel there were many audience questions which intelligent and provided great insight but were both hard to quote or capture in context.

One of the final questions were to Molly Crabapple who had recently become a twitter trend through the efforts of major writers like Warren Ellis and Neil Gaiman after being arrested and detained for 11 hours as part of an Occupy Wallstreet march. She was asked about the connections between her world of burlesque and OWS.

She talked about loving the image of a sexy woman in crazy heels marching changing the image of an activist.
“a sisterhood of the odd”

Before the panel closed out so the creators could participate in a signing, Leela Corman had the quote of the evening talking about sex in books and popularity of it, in context to everything.

“At least they’re reading ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and not ‘Left Behind’ “

After the sex panel, I joined Dean Haspiel on the steps of Borough Hall to listen to Jimmy “J.J.” Walker and BernNadette Stanis (of GOOD TIMES fame), which provided a great clip I’ll be showing sooner than later.

To end things, here’s a shot of Dean, dream chronologist Jesse Reklaw and myself.

(A special thanks goes to Hannah Means-Shannon and Josh Frankel as well)

BBF2011: Funny Ha-Ha-Comedy in Comics

This panel featured four very talented comics creator with various pedigrees and creators of very different types of comics all that would fall under humor in the format of sequential storytelling.
Keith Knight, a syndicated strip cartoonist he is famous for his The K Chronicles a (th)INK strips. Jennifer Hayden, creator of the strip Underwire which appeared on Act-I-Vate and the upcoming graphic novel The Story of My Tits. Kate Beaton, the creator of the obscenely popular strip and now collected edition “Hark, A Vagrant” and Michael Kupperman, writer/artist of Tales Designed to Thrizzle and the upcoming graphic novel “Mark Twain’s Autobiography: 1900-2010”. It was moderated by The Beat‘s Heidi McDonald.

The panel started out with each panelist talking about their past and why they use comedy in the majority of their work.

Jennifer told about a panel in Underwire which showed the aftermath of her accidentally hitting a deer. It displayed her thoughts on the deers defecation upon death. She received polar opposite reactions to this one panel, some found if it sad & poignant, others laughed out loud non-stop. She loves how one can use humor in comics to hide or explore tragedy easier and also allow one to say the things on the page one wouldn’t/couldn’t say in person.

Kate Beaton detailed how Hark, A Vagrant came out as started out being comics editor on her college paper and having to fill the page. She originally planned to become a professor, but the comics just spiraled. She loves how even though her strips use lots of comedy and jokes people still explore the real history afterward.

Michael Kupperman made the announcement of his and Kate’s soon to regular comedy show at Luca Lounge in Manhattan. This should be definitely something to check out if you can.

Keith talked about his history as a cartoonist and the development of the strip, but the best was his statement that “if it doesn’t make you laugh, at least it makes you think, and it doesn’t make you think, at least it makes you laugh, but when both…”

Heidi’s first official question was if they were the class clown/how did you find out you were funny? Which of course all the panelists found awkward but found good answers to.

Keith kind of dodged the questions, but dropped some pontification. On the other Jennifer stated she was the class clown and the family clown. As a kid she would stuff her dad’s tie in a drink or in his mouth. She grew up around very stuffy people and hated it, so she used humor in way of rebellion.

Kate also said she was the class clown out of necessity. She said she was a pudgy little kid, so the best defense was to be the funny kid. Being the one people looked to for funny gave her power and control unlike anything else she could ever feel and that if someone is meant for comedy they figure it out early on.

Michael just said “What they said”…

Heidi asked Kate specifically (but open to all) that because she handles obscure history if there was anyone/thing that can’t be funny. Kate stated people are always asking for Hitler, she doesn’t know why. She said some people from history are so tragic that you want to try and tackle the story, but it just doesn’t work out. She gave the example of Angelique, the famous Canadian slave accused of arson, who was hanged and burned for her crimes in the 1700′s. She felt that the story could not be approached from a humor standpoint and abandoned trying to make a comic strip version.

I personally would love to see Beaton try to tackle this one again, she could make fun of the fact that in 1700′s Canada was like 1600′s America and so on.

Heidi asked Jennifer abut how her family felt about using them in her strip. Jennifer stated she has to tread carefully and only recently found out her husband didn’t want to be in them and then was flabbergasted when he finally started reading and was “Wait, I’m barely in this anyways! Where am I?”

A story she decided to skip was the the experience of birth control and condoms discussion when her kids went off to college. Find it funny she has no problem telling us in a panel, but not in a strip.

Heidi then asked Keith about the experience of being a very controversial strip cartoonist who has had his strip pulled and banned in many markets.

Keith then went into a very intense and detailed story about a strip he did which made fun about current race relations. This particular strip made an uproar at a university and the university requested he come and talk about the strip. In reaction to the strip a small segment of black students were actually walking around campus with nooses around their necks. He needed to state that at this same university prior to this someone called in a prank terrorist threat on black students, so it wasn’t his strip that caused the problem, there already was one and the politics of that university were prone to that particular strip meant for the whole world. He also finds it funny how in black communities when a situation like this arises the media makes an effort to talk to the craziest person they can find and that’s how you get viral Youtube sensations.

The last question to get any real answers was on Influences.

Kate had stated a few, but she didn’t talk into the mike so it was hard to hear her, but I did catch her state Stephen Leacock, who I previously was not familiar with. He was a Canadian writer and scientist and Kate loves her home town Canada a lot obviously with wanting to write about Angelique and mentioning Leacock. Yup, she’s from Nova Scotia, dontyaknow?

Kupperman cited Monty Python, SCTV and the Smithsonian Book of Comics.

Hayden mentioned growing up on Archie and MAD, but really grew on Doonesbury and also Asterix and as she got older Charles Dickens. She also cited Maurice Sendak.

Knight cited Peanuts, Bill Watterson, Parliament Funkadelic and The Young Ones.

The Q & A and final questions provided nothing further, but it was a satisfying and enjoyable panel with colorful insights.