19 April 2012

(Not) At the Boston Comic-Con This Weekend

Because I’ll speak at the SCBWI New England conference this weekend, and don’t have the option of an alternate life, I won’t be at the Boston Comic-Con. Physically, that is.

In spirit, I’ll be represented by two publications. First, the Boston Comics Roundtable has issued Hellbound II, its anthology of horror comics, as a handy paperback. Heretofore the collection was available only in an “art edition,” with handmade paper covers and box. The new paperback has all the chills of the first state at a fraction of the price.

Among the stories in Hellbound II is “RobMeBlind.com,” by me and Andy Wong. Formally I’m the scripter and Andy’s the artist, but this was a true collaboration. The inspiration was an anecdote that Andy told at a roundtable meeting. I went home and wrote a script spinning off that. Andy drew my script, turning four pages into five. I suggested ways to clarify the word balloons and darken the art, and Andy inserted what worked for him. (And finally I used my leverage as the book’s proofreader to push for the last page to be hidden by a page turn.)

Jen Vaughn at the Center for Cartoon Studies’ Schulz Library just reviewed the collection, and I’ll quote my favorite passage:
Often the failing of a horror anthology is that you you read WITH the intention of being scared and thus, thumb through the pages bravely. A well-written comic is not necessarily terrifying until at night, it twists itself in the dark of your room, and you can suddenly recall images.

A particular story that follows that logic is RobMeBlind.com, which is about thieves who utilize location-based smart phone apps to figure out when people are gone from their homes. The clever crafting by J.L. Bell and Andy Wong left me awake blinking at my ceiling (possibly at the easy ability people have of giving away information for temporary celebrity). And the dark woodcut panels of E.J. Barnes in Patrick Flaherty’s story The Plague exemplify a great use of comics to set the mood for the story. Hellbound 2 is perfect for the horror fan or lover of hand-made objects, especially if those objects are a skin suit made from their victims.
Also at Boston Comic-Con, Jesse Lonergan will be offering a samizdat collection of images of robots from Boston Comics Roundtable members and other friends. I sent him a sketch of a robot singing, “R. U. R. or R. U. Ain’t My Baby?” Cartooning is outside my comfort zone, but how often will I have the chance to honor Karel Capek and Louis Jordan in one image?

2 comments:

Richard Bensam said...

“RUR or RU Ain’t My Baby” is not only the best Capek/Jordan homage that ever was, it's the best Capek/Jordan homage that ever could be. Bravo, sir, bravo.

J. L. Bell said...

Thank you kindly.