Event reports

Storm Troopers on a Sunday: The GraniteCon 2008 report

May 23rd, 2008 by Daniel Barlow · 3 Comments


The first thing I saw when arriving at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, NH last Sunday morning was a giant Jabba the Hut puppet in the lobby. The second thing I saw was Storm Troopers getting dressed in the men’s room.

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Trees & Hills drawing party at CCS from Feb. 23

March 4th, 2008 by Daniel Barlow · 1 Comment


Cat Garza of White River Junction, Vt. works on the latest installment of his “Year of the Rat” comic as he snacks.


Here’s a view of the main teaching room at the Center for Cartoon Studies.


Megan Baehr of Putney, Vt. colors one of her comics.

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First wave of Hourly Comics highlights

February 2nd, 2008 by Daniel Barlow · 1 Comment


Hourly Comics Day has come and gone! I’m lazy and I haven’t scanned my comics from yesterday in yet. And Colin Tedford will hopefully be posting his soon too. Until then, here’s a few hourly comics from Trees & Hills folks and a few other we like a lot.

(The art above is from Tim Hulsizer’s comic this year)

Tim Hulsizer (NSFW)

Lucy Knisley

Dean Trippe

Box Brown

John Campbell

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Sketches From The Stars & Skulls Craft Fair

December 10th, 2007 by Colin Tedford · No Comments

The Stars & Skulls Crafty Craft Fair (in Holyoke, MA Dec. 2) was fun, and I sold a decent amount of comics. Nice people fed me weird chocolates, and other nice people fed me soup. I saw three mohawks, two of which appear below (the little kid wandered off too quickly). Here are some sketches from that day, for those of you who weren’t there:

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New Stars Release Party Sketches

December 10th, 2007 by Colin Tedford · No Comments

I don’t have a camera, but I’ve finally starting sketching from life somewhat regularly, so here are some drawings from the New Stars release party at Comic Boom. We have: pastries Dan Barlow brought (sent by Phayvanh Luekhamhan), Marek Bennett making music, the Sputnik pinata, and Comic Boom owner Corey Milotte doing important work.

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"New Stars" Launch Party Photos

November 20th, 2007 by Marek Bennett · No Comments

Presenting some unofficial PHOTOS from the event!

Here, Colin & Megan deal with a big crowd around the display table…

And here, the chief architects of the Trees and Hills Sputnik Project reveal their handiwork to the press. The elegant basketball-sized device boasts a gleaming aluminum coating, and a core of unknown composition, possibly enriched candy.

Thanks to Keene’s own COMIC BOOM for hosting the event!

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Vermont cartoonist Ed Koren honored by state leaders

October 28th, 2007 by Daniel Barlow · No Comments

I had a great time Friday evening at the ceremony to honor New Yorker cartoonist Ed Koren.

October 27, 2007

By Daniel Barlow Vermont Press Bureau

MONTPELIER – Amid a stream of congratulations, playful verbal jabs and thunderous applause, Edward Koren became the first cartoonist to be given the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts Friday evening.

Koren, a Brookfield resident who has drawn cartoons for the New Yorker magazine for four decades, was praised at the Vermont Statehouse by Gov. James Douglas, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch and others for his ability to poke fun at modern life in Vermont in his single-panel creations.

As Koren prepared to take the crowd of nearly 200 people gathered in the House chambers through a sampling of his rustic cartoons, he noted that he has always been suspicious of awards that involve the words excellence and the arts.

“That is, until right now,” he quipped.

Presenters and speakers mined Koren’s talent of drawing hairy and furry monsters in his cartoons and his strong civic mind, including his ongoing stint as a member of Brookfield’s volunteer fire department.

Margaret “Peggy” Kannenstine, the chair of the Vermont Arts Council board of trustees, joked that she was happy to “honor the most renowned firefighter from Brookfield.”

She went on to mention that Koren is part of the growing community of cartoonists who call Vermont home, noting that two years ago the Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction opened its doors.

“It feels good to have welcomed Mr. [Garry] Trudeau to Vermont in the same week that we are honoring Ed Koren today,” Kannenstine said, referring to the Doonesbury cartoonist who held a fundraiser at Junction opened its doors.

“It feels good to have welcomed Mr. [Garry] Trudeau to Vermont in the same week that we are honoring Ed Koren today,” Kannenstine said, referring to the Doonesbury cartoonist who held a fundraiser at CCS on Monday.

Letters from Vermont’s two U.S. senators were read by staff members to congratulate Koren. Sen. Patrick Leahy’s letter noted that Koren is “clearly the most talented artist in the Brookfield Fire Department.” Sen. Bernard Sanders’ letter called him a “cartoonist of the first order.”

Welch, Vermont’s freshman representative, attended the event and noted that he was proud to hang a Koren original in his Washington, D.C., office, which was given to him soon after his election to the office last year.

Welch, without describing the cartoon, said that it is “provocative and politically incendiary” and that anyone who wants to see it is free to “come down and take a look.”

He then praised Koren’s cartoons for giving people a “greater understanding of who we are together.”

Tunbridge filmmaker John O’Brien, a close friend of Koren’s, upped the humor ante in his remarks, which included showing off early nudes that Koren had drawn at the dawn of his career and reading from a paperback science fiction novel that shares its title with Koren’s last name.

In his remarks just before Koren was awarded the prize, Douglas, who picks the winner based on recommendations from the Vermont Arts Council, noted that he was “no stranger to cartoons,” especially those that satirize him and appear in local newspapers during legislative sessions.

When he discovered there was a cartoonist among the award candidates, he prepared his “trusty pair of scissors” to remove him from the list, Douglas joked – until he found out that cartoonist was one of Brookfield’s most famous residents.

“Ed’s work is a classic reminder of what it means to live in Vermont and be a neighbor,” Douglas said.

Koren, who read punch lines from more than a dozen of his cartoons that were displayed on an overhead screen in the House chambers, spoke very little during the ceremony.

But he beamed with pride and smiled strongly as he and his wife, Curtis Koren, sat near the speaker’s podium.

“I don’t think I would be here today if I was an editorial cartoonist,” he told the crowd, which, as expected, exploded with laughter.

Koren joins other luminaries who have received the Arts award since it was first offered in 1967, including writers David Mamet, Grace Paley and Howard Frank Mosher, and filmmaker Jay Craven.

Contact Daniel Barlow at Daniel.Barlow@timesargus.com

Categories: Event reports · Events · General News

Back from SPX

October 15th, 2007 by Daniel Barlow · No Comments

This was my first Small Press Expo in Maryland and I gotta say I’m impressed. Smaller and maybe less as quirky as MoCCA, the show still felt like busy, friendly and really, I dunno, happening and hip and other encouraging h words.

Elsewhere on the Internet, you can find all the pictures of gorillas winning Ignatzs and a brief, busy party called the Nerdlinger Awards with a bathtub full of ice and drinks, but these are the images that stick in my head for SPX 2007.

Flew out of Manchester, N.H. And into Baltimore with Marek Bennett After a maze of buses and subways, got picked up in D.C. By his friend, Karen, who works over at a famous think tank. After the midnight tour of the city, we called it a night around 1 a.m. That would be the most sleep I get all weekend.

It was odd at first to be set up by 11 a.m. and then not have people start shuffling in for another three hours (the show, on the first day, began at 2 p.m.). Still, gave me time to say hello to a few people and eat an apple on the grass in the sun.

The Trees & Hills/ Mimi’s Doughnuts table was near the front door, the first table in on one of the center aisles. Pretty great location, especially considering I Know Joe Kimball, the collective of Center for Cartoon Studies students and graduates who debuted the Dead Man’s Hand western anthology (which I and several other Trees & Hills regulars are published in), were right next to us. The Center for Cartoon Studies was nearby too, along with the SUNDAYs collective, another group that has sprung from CCS.

We were debuting NEW STARS, our new mini-comic anthology with comics inspired by the Sputnik launch 50 years ago this month. Marek had a new copy of his Mimi’s Doughnuts Zine, which also featured a story about Sputnik. We did a package deal of the two for $6 and that seemed to seal several sales.

Several times I had people come up to the table because they had heard about NEW STARS and sometime over the weekend Matthew Reidsma
sold out of all but one of his contributor copies because people just saw it at his table and wanted to buy it.

The book sold pretty well, I think, because of the hook of its theme (I’ll forever have the pitch, which I probably repeated 1,000 times, stuck in my head) and because of the gorgeous cover image by Gregory Giordano

Tim Hulsizershowed up Friday afternoon with Meagan Frappiea, finally sealing the wonderful fact that I both had a hotel room there to sleep in and my own bed in that hotel room. Tim got me into a great party over in Sara Bauer’s hotel room, who thankfully had a corkscrew for the two bottles of wine that I wanted to share with people.

One thing I noticed was the the attendees were mostly looking for square-bound collections of comics or graphic novels. We did well with out self-published mini-comic anthology, but even when I did my buying, it was more for the collected books of creators I know than new mini-comics, which I usually try to do at these events.

There just seemed to be so many cartoonists who last year had minis and this year had professional and beautiful collected books. Great for them and an interesting trend, I think, because I suddenly found myself spending money on say, Julia Wertz‘s FartParty collection from Atomic Press, than buying an armload of $3 minis from a bunch of great new creators I never heard of.

We did great on the second day. Within the first three hours I had surpassed the previous day’s sales. I bumped into The Beat’s Heidi MacDonald and gave her a copy of NEW STARS. She told me she posted my press release a few days ago – it’s right over here. I had no idea because I felt like I hadn’t been on the Internet at that point since 1996.

I drank wine at the Ignatz Awards (Dead Man’s Hand was nominated for the debut comic award!) and met comics writer Matt Rhodesand his wife, Shannon, with whom I would later spend a good part of the evening with chatting about Alan Moore, Amsterdam, tattoos and the nature of the universe. Somehow I ended up in Kevin Dixon‘s hotel room talking about Fats Domino and Alf.


With a flight scheduled for the early evening, I only sat in on on the day’s first panel on media and comics, which distributed vital info on things like sending your comic to a magazine to be reviewed or how long your press release should be. Already being in that biz, little was knew to me, but I did catch a glimpse of my Internet dream girl Whitney Mattheson, the blogger behind USA Today’s Pop Candy.

SPX felt more social and even communal than MoCCA, mostly because this show is much smaller and is held in a hotel, where most of the exhibitors are staying too. It’s also a really energizing convention; Marek and I chatted on the way home Sunday about future plans, both for our comics and the Trees & Hills comics group.

I know I’m going to forget people, but shout-outs to Dave Kender, the founder of The Boston Comics Roundtable and Bellen’s Box Brown, two people I was hoping to spend more time with.

Next year: camera, blogging during the conventions, more comics for sale and a vow that I will go to bed at a decent time one of the nights.

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Message from SPX

October 13th, 2007 by Marek Bennett · No Comments


Colin! Emergency! NEW STARS selling out!


Huge crowds… milling about… must talk to every customer…


CCS Alumni holding our right flank… Much mob interest in their work, too… “Dead Man’s Hand” nominated for Outstanding Debut Award…

Boston comics group also here in force… Must get to their table…

Dan going back to hotel room for reserve copies of anthology…


“Field Guide” anthology also sold out! Marek sold out of ADULT MEDIUM T-shirts!



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Trees & Hills makes its MoCCA debut!

June 26th, 2007 by Daniel Barlow · 3 Comments

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N.H. cartoonist Marek Bennett mans the Trees & Hills / Mimi’s Doughnuts table at the 2007 MoCCA convention in New York City on June 23. Thanks to Matthew Reidsma for the photo.

We met a lot of people who previously had never heard of the Trees & Hills comics group. And we sold and gave away lots of comics, including our new 52-page anthology, Field Guide to Cartoonists of Vermont, New Hampshire and Western Massachusetts.

Trees & Hills members walked away from MoCCA 2007 tired and partly bruised, but with open eyes and excitement for the future. Here are a few thoughts, three days after the end of the show.

1)Location: The Trees & Hills/ Mimi’s Doughnuts table was located on the seventh floor of the Puck Building, six floors up from the three other MoCCA rooms. This meant we got about one-fourth the traffic that the other floors saw, but the incoming natural light and breathing room turned our floor into a nice island away from the bustle of the convention.

Reviews are a bit mixed on this. Marek Bennett (Mimi’s Doughnuts) preferred the location. But he’s a true natural with relating to people and sold what appeared to be a good number of comics and a few shirts. Trees & Hills co-founder Colin Tedford and I felt that the access that the downstairs floor would have given us outweighed the nice, upper floor atmosphere.

2)Comics. We got Trees & Hills comics into a lot of fan’s hands, including an editor at DC Vertigo, several small press publishers, The Beat’s Heidi MacDonald (who later posted a picture of me and listed the anthology title on her blog), Brian Wood (a former Vermonter) and lots of others. This was clearly a success and at least one big indie publisher expressed interest in a graphic novel one of our cartoonists is working on and I was told by a major publisher that I should pitch to them.

3)Vermont Comics. The Green Mountain State was well represented. The Center for Cartoon Studies had two tables at the show and their SUNDAYS anthology sold out on, appropriately, Sunday, and was one of the true buzz books of the show. Rick Veitch (Army @ Love, Rare Bit Fiends) was right around the corner from our table and he had some nice original pages for sale. Alison Bechdel had a huge line for sketches, which nicely occurred directly behind our table.

We did expect to sell more comics. For me, the show did highlight the oddity that – at this level of the comics industry at least – we are almost all operating at a loss. But its the love that keeps us doing it, even if sales are fractions of costs.

Still, the networking and the crackling energy and excitement and the after parties (monsters dancing on stripper poles!) made it all worth every cent. On the second day of the show, I happily put down the $325 to lock in our table for next year.

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