Comic enthusiasts gathered in Williamsburg this past weekend for the first annual Comic Arts Brooklyn, which turned out to be the hippest comic festival ever – well, depending on your definition of hip. (Let’s face it, everyone enjoys a good Prince Robot IV costume from time to time.) The gathering of laid-back and stylish artist types seemed more like a mixer for Brooklyn’s coolest creatives than a comic convention.
Thrown by Desert Island, the festival was held at Mt. Carmel Church, with lectures at the Knitting Factory, and an after party at Union Pool. Why anyone would decide to throw a party at Brooklyn’s busiest bar on a Saturday night is a mystery to us, but perhaps the festival’s organizers were looking for a place to recreate the chaos of Chalmun’s Cantina… or maybe they just wanted good tacos.
Though the line to enter Union Pool grew steadily throughout the night, it paled in comparison to the day’s earlier scene outside the Knitting Factory as C.A.B. attendees waited to sit in on a discussion between Paul Auster, Art Spiegelman (Maus, Garbage Pail Kids, and roughly a million other amazing artworks), Paul Karasik (The New Yorker) and David Mazzucchelli (Asterios Polyp) on the illustrated adaptation of Auster’s novel City of Glass.The panelists bantered about everything from the book’s 9-panel grid to their lack of influences. “There was a time when you could keep up with everything, because nothing was happening,” said Spiegelman, in between drags from his electronic cigarette.
The most inspiring moments from the discussion came from Auster; asked about his arrest in the ‘60s for protesting, the existentialist writer explained, “I was not an activist, but when the time came to do something or not do something, I chose to do something.” One can only assume that was a suggestion to today’s youth, considering that Auster then compared that time of “great intensity” to the current “psychotic” state of America.Auster also mentioned that City of Glass had been turned down by 17 or 18 publishers before finally getting picked up by a small press that offered zero advance for all three novels of The New York Trilogy.
Watch the video above (produced by Kathryn Dill and Anders Melin) for more from the festival, and watch the clip below (shot by Kristy Ann Muniz) for some raw footage of the City of Glass conversation.