The first ever King Con Brooklyn was billed as “a Brooklyn comic and animation convention.” It was held on November 7TH and 8TH, 2009, at the Brooklyn Lyceum on 4TH Avenue in Park Slope. I was only able to attend the first day, Saturday.
The show had over 60 guests, many of them independent and small press creators. The most prominent of these was Harvey Pekar, author of the American Splendor autobiographical series. A number of the artists who have drawn Pekar’s stories were in attendance. There were also a handful of more mainstream creators, including Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, the writer/artist team who crafted some of the classic Batman and Green Lantern stories of the 1970s.
Among the creators I talked with and/or spotted were Dean Haspiel, Fed Van Lente, Denis Calero, Kensuke Okabayashi, Peter Kuper, Steve Ellis, and Cliff Chiang. I was surprised to see Simon Fraser there. He’s the Scottish artist who draws the “Nikolai Dante” feature for the weekly British comic book anthology series 2000 AD. I know he was living in Vienna for a while. It turns out that Fraser moved to NYC a few years back. It was nice to see him again. Another interesting creator was Rick Lacy, who has done character design work for the Venture Brothers animated series. Among the show’s characters he’s designed are the sexy assassin Molotov Cocktease and the tyrannical Baron Underbheit (or, as I like to refer to him, the Doctor Doom of the Midwest).
I enjoy collecting sketches, and I have several sketchbooks I usually lug to conventions, in order to try and obtain drawings from various creators. Often I find that independent and small press creators do some of the best sketches. They can bring a totally different perspective to established characters, and approach the job with real enthusiasm and creativity. I was able to get a few sketches at King Con. Dean Haspiel, who has worked on American Splendor, did a sketch of Harvey Pekar for my girlfriend, who couldn’t make it. I had Pekar sign it, as well. Simon Frasier did a fun sketch of Nikolai Dante for me. James Rodriguez did a Spider-Woman pencil drawing in my Avengers them sketchbook. And I got a sexy illo of Molotov Cocktease by Rick Lacy.
Far and away, though, the best sketch was by Ben Granoff, artist on a comic book titled We Were The… Freedom Federation published by Bag & Board Studios. Granoff drew an absolutely amazing illustration of Patriot from Young Avengers in my Avengers theme book. The amount of time & energy he put into the piece was astonishing, and the finished art was beautiful. Granoff definitely has real talent & potential. I hope to see more from him in the future.
The exhibitor space where the creators had their tables was on the lower level of the Lyceum, while upstairs were a series of panel discussions. I mostly stuck to the lower level, meeting the various artists & writers. If I had one significant complaint, it was that the exhibitor space was a little too cramped. By midday Saturday, with attendance at its peak, it became difficult to move through the aisles.
I was hoping to get a couple of books autographed by Denny O’Neil, and was told that he’d be signing after a panel discussion on Batman upstairs. Well, that panel wrapped up, and there was still no sign of O’Neil anywhere. I spotted writer Matthew K. Manning, who had also been on the panel, back at his table downstairs. I asked him if he knew where O’Neil was. It turned out that O’Neil was doing a signing upstairs, at the back of the panel room. Only it seemed that no one knew about it, because when I got to the top floor, there was only one other person waiting to meet O’Neil. I mentioned that I’d had a bit of trouble finding him and, sure enough, about 15 minutes afterwards, back downstairs, I saw O’Neil setting up at the table next to Matt Manning. Considering the convention organizers were announcing the start of panels throughout the entire day, I think they should have also informed people that O’Neil was originally doing his signing upstairs. After all, he was one of the most well-known, prolific creators at the convention. I’m sure plenty of people would have liked to meet him. Well, at least I did finally locate him.
One thing I appreciated was that on the lower level there were a bunch of benches. And on the ground floor, there was a café area where people could buy food & drinks, and sit down. So if someone was tired and/or hungry from circulating around the convention, there were places to plop down and grab a bite to eat.
As far as accessibility went, the Brooklyn Lycum is located right next to the Union Street stop of the R train. There are also several busses that pass nearby. So it was definitely an easy event to get to.
All in all, despite a few minor flaws, King Con Brooklyn was pretty well organized and highly enjoyable, with a line-up of very talented & diverse creators. It reminded me of a smaller, Brooklyn-based version of the MoCCA Art Festival held annually by the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art. And, in certain respects, I enjoyed King Con more than I did the recent Wizard World Big Apple comic convention. King Con simply had this more intimate, comfortable, relaxed feel to it. I hope that the show returns again next year.