People from Brooklyn have a seriously warped self-image. They swear Brooklyn is the greatest place on earth, but give no rational justification. If you bring up the other outer-boroughs in NYC, they will insist that the Bronx sucks, Queens is lame, and Staten Island is a disgusting toilet. There is nothing more infuriating than when a Brookynite screams the name of their borough with that annoying cockiness that gives you the urge to vomit, immediately.
As much as I despise much of Brooklyn, I have a love/hate relationship with the borough.
For every overpriced entertainment venue, there is a free cultural event. Even though I often have to ride a standing room only train for an hour, there is free entertainment in the form of the best people-watching in all of America. Although every time I ride the B82 there is a schmuck blasting his music so everyone has a free concert, I am glad that the bus is often taking me to visit my cousin Ari. Despite the fact I get extremely sick of eating street meat and digesting hot dogs, I know my girlfriend’s got Jamaican food cookin’ at her apartment. Most importantly, like all of NY, Brooklyn bleeds comic books.
Comics have a deep history in Brooklyn. Many characters lived in the borough including Captain America, who lived in Brookyln Heights, Thor, who resided in Bay Ridge, and Jean Grey, who lived at the bottom of Jamaica Bay (where she first became Phoenix and later was found alive in a weird cocoon). Since the beginning of the art form, Brooklyn has been the home of some of the industry’s top comic creators.
This Sunday, September 22, is the eighth annual Brooklyn Book Festival. Only in Brooklyn would a festival spotlighting books pay such great respect to the comic medium. Best of all, it is ABSOLUTELY FREE! I am geeking out big time for all the comic icons appearing at the event. It is a who’s-who of the most popular names in graphic novel history- Jules Feiffer, Rutu Modan, Francoise Mouly, Audrey Niffenegger, Paul Pope, Jeff Smith, Faith Erin Hicks, R. Kikuo Johnson, Mariam Katin, Ben Katchor, Lucy Knisley, Ricardo Liniers, Raina Telgemier, Gene Yang and Art Spiegelman!
They are even awarding the events biggest honor to a comic creator! Adrian Tomine (Optic Nerve, a bunch of New Yorker covers) is the first cartoonist to be spotlighted as a “bookmark” at the festival. This award is given to authors whose culture and art is deeply connected to Brooklyn.
The panels are a nerd fest. A crap load of them are about comics and comic themes. I am even more excited that many panels are not comic focused but feature comic creators on them! Holy crap, comic creators are being treated with the same respect as their prose brothers and sisters. Will Eisner would be ecstatic!
Some of the spotlighted panels are:
The World (According to Cartoonists): Border Crossing Comics. Adrian Tomine (Optic Nerve #13), Rutu Modan (The Property),Dash Shaw (New School), and David Prudhomme (Rebetiko) all explore characters crossing borders -national and personal, real and imagined. Discover how these award-winning cartoonists translate the world through art and story. Moderated by Kent Worcester. Featuring screen projection. Special thanks to Cultural Services of the French Embassy and Office of Cultural Affairs, Consulate General of Israel. - 12:00 P.M. at the ST. FRANCIS AUDITORIUM
Art Spiegelman and Jules Feiffer in Conversation: Pulitzer-Prize winning graphic novelist Art Spiegelman‘s newest release, Co-Mix, is a career retrospective that covers his work from Raw to Maus to the New Yorker (and Garbage Pail Kids in between). Joined by Jules Feiffer(Out of Line: The Art of Jules Feiffer), also a Pulitzer winner, they discuss their long careers in comics art and future plans for their work. Featuring screen projection. Moderated by Benjamen Walker, host of the WFMU radio show TOO MUCH INFORMATION. - 4:00 P.M. at the ST. FRANCIS AUDITORIUM
Comics Quick Draw! Three cartoonists face off in this fast-paced battle of the sharpies. Drawing from audience suggestions, the award-winning and reader-adored Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Platypus Police Squad: the Frog who Croaked), Eisner Award-winner Raina Telgemeier(Drama), and Printz Award and National Book Award-winner, Gene Yang(Boxers & Saints) will battle with pen and pad. And, everybody wins; finished art will be gifted to some of the lucky young people in attendance. Moderated by Calvin Reid (Publishers Weekly Comics World). – 11 A.M. at the Youth Stoop (Borough Hall Plaza/Columbus Park)
Seriously, check out the list of other panels by clicking here. Also, there are many “bookend” events taking place at Brooklyn clubs, book stores, parks, theaters, libraries and alleyways throughout the week. It is incredible!
I cannot wait to go. I am so excited I feel something coming over me… Oh please no… Imma do it… BROOKLYN!
Here is their website baby!