The biggest news in the last few weeks was Long John‘s appearance at this year’s Art Mix | Crocker-Con, an event wrangled by former Eben07 co-creator, Eben Burgoon, and held at the Crocker Art Museum, an unexpected but brilliant space to hold a small-scale local comic book convention.

Last year was a unbridled success for me––I had printed the Long John Preview Edition books at the last minute and they sold rather well. This year’s event was only the second event I have been able to take the Long John Volume I books to (since February’s Free Comic Book Day event), and it lived up to last year’s precedent brilliantly.

Crocker-Con 2015 Table Setup

Crocker-Con 2015 Table Setup (click to enlarge)

What I like about Crocker-Con is that it is an event that mixes demographics in a way few other cons really do or can. Being at an art museum, all members of the museum get in for free (as they do to all events), so in the thick of people dressed up in cosplay and kids wearing anime or Deadpool shirts there are also some more reserved people with tastes refined for what would could be called “high” art but took a chance on this little comic book show. At the very least, they came to see what kind of talent lives locally and the quality of work they could produce. So, one customer can ask me to draw an obscure character from the popular anime, Attack on Titan, and the next can ask me about the history of thematics in westerns and how I have incorporated––or upturned––those expectations in my own book. It makes for a cognitively challenging evening, which kept me from getting bored, wanderlust, or upset (conventions and me have a wobbly history).

Though I was trapped behind my table the entire night and couldn’t walk around and do the standard meet-and-greet, I was pleased to be tabled next to local comic creators such as  Michael Dorman as well as Kyrun Silva and Rick Eaddy from Big Tree Comics. They’re a fun crowd and I can’t wait to see them at the next event.

Dan doing his thing at Crocker-Con 2015. Photo by Jessica Fearnow

Dan doing his thing at Crocker-Con 2015. Photo by Jessica Fearnow

The best story to come from the night was actually one I was a part of but whose denouement I didn’t actually get to experience until after the fact, mostly because I was confused for no good reason.

At some point into the evening, Ben Schwartz, owner of my local comic shop––Empire’s Comics Vault––and comic creator in his own right, came up to my table to chit chat. He told me about an older gentleman, in his seventies, that bought one of my books. He told Ben that, as a man in his seventies, the comic book medium was one he always held a tangential interest in but never felt the draw toward nor need to invest in it until he found Long John.

A little exhausted from the night, my first thought was of Ben’s store and how I may need to resupply the stock of Long John Volume I there because I gave him a rather limited supply. Because of that, I guess, I thought Ben was relaying a tale from the store and my book on the local rack there rather than someone whom I had met earlier that evening and handed a book personally.

I joked, “You marked the book up to, like, $12.50, right?”

Ben shot a glance at me. He smiled with a short laughed.

“Right? Because we both could have made more out of the deal,” I said, digging a deeper hole.

He pointed to his table in hasty realization. “Oh no. He came by my booth and I saw he had a Long John book with him. He had just bought it from you.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah. Isn’t that cool?”

“Very,” I said. The fact that the customer had not told me this confused me, but I think the roundabout way the information got back to me rewards me even more, balanced by the exciting possibility that I may have never heard that story at all if circumstances had been different. “Very!” I said with more appropriate enthusiasm.

Ben and I  talked for a bit longer, but it was only after he left and I could finally sit down as the con slowed into the evening that I could actually process what an amazing moment I got to be a part of. There are a lot of things people who heavily involve themselves in a medium take for granted when encountering people outside that ring of familiarity. Because of that, the things running through my mind at first weren’t things like pride and humility, but things like readability, clarity of panel-to-panel imagery, and ambiguous word balloon tails. I almost hope he enjoys the reading experience more than he enjoys the book itself, because there are a lot of other great––and possibly better––books out there for him to find. I’m just glad I got to be the threshold for him as he got his hands onto a new literacy.

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It has been a good while since we’ve updated pages here on the site. I have left it at a good cutoff place for now and I am eagerly (but slowly) drawing, trying to create a nice chunk before I start updating again. I’m going with that model because with my day job being rather involved––for a variety of reasons––I can’t guarantee regular updates as the semester gets moving. Thank you for your patience and I am excited to show you the rest of Chapter 2: Bird’s Eye.