Scott McCloud in Albuquerque

'Round about this time last year, Scott McCloud announced a 50-state tour for his new book Making Comics. I kept an eye on it as it came together, noticing that New Mexico wasn't filled in.

Years ago, I read Understanding Comics when it came out — and was blown away. First off, the structure: talking about comics by setting the author in a comic, talking about comics. So obvious and so well-executed. But his analysis was eye-opening, even for a lifelong reader (the space between the panels — of course that's where the action happens) and his case for "sequential art" as a truly unique form of communication was really compelling. I've been recommending it for years, for casual readers and comics creators. And I've watched over the years as it's cited across a range of disciplines, from presentation planning to interface design.

So I got in touch about 7000 BC sponsoring his visit to the Land of Enchantment. And it quickly became apparent that it was out of reach for our little organization. But I started looking for help, relying heavily on Jeff's connections. Over the course of the year, I stayed in touch with Scott, who was really great about trying to find ways to accommodate us.

Around the beginning of this year, we hooked up with VSA North Fourth Art Center and The Art Center Design College, giving us the means and the venue to make it happen. Though it was all finalized, contracts signed, and ready to go last Monday. Nine days before Scott was due to come to Albuquerque to present.

Scott and the family left Manhattan, Kansas on Monday to make it Albuquerque on Wednesday. I took the day off work to make any preparations and meet them. It's a long, not terribly interesting story, but things starting going awry first thing in the morning. By noon, I was about 3 hours off schedule and well into a day of perpetual motion. But I made it into town, along with a few other 7000 BC members. Arriving late afternoon, Scott met us at North Fourth to check out our exhibit Strip: Undressing Comics. We met his wife Ivy and oldest daughter Sky and spent about an hour looking at the work and discussing process.

We dashed over to Garcia's Kitchen for some food — where it quickly became apparent that, though we needed the energy, it was going to throw off our already-disrupted schedule. But we all raced to the school and made it more or less on time, and met up with Monica and other 7000 BC members.

Because the publicity had started so late, we were worried about the turnout. But it was respectable, probably more than 100. We had a table set up at the back of the room, and met a bunch of people, sold some of the group's work.

The presentation began with Sky, who gave a wonderful, funny, energetic recap of the tour. Then Scott took the stage for about an hour. He discussed history, regional differences, future of comics, his personal history — it was broad and fast and funny and insightful. He answered questions, signed books. We met more folks. And then wrapped up and a bunch of us, along with the McClouds, went to the Frontier Restaurant (a real Albuquerque landmark) for some dinner and conversation. It was great to finally unwind and talk with our guests more informally, with less care about schedules. That whole thing wrapped up about midnight. And once we finished with everything that needed doing, we got back home around 1:45.

So, thanks to Scott and the whole McCloud family for working with us to make this happen, and for putting on such a great presentation. And best of luck with the final stops on the tour.

And me, I'm off to New England this weekend. I'll be starting at Andy and Liz's for a couple days, then finishing out the week back with my parents.


Raphael Della Ratta said...

Wow, I didn't realize the pre-planning that went in to that little adventure.

Nicely done, Mr. Phelps.

Raphael Della Ratta said...

HEre and I got G2NM tech support to fix my account and I must content myslef with week-old posts?!