Anyone following MTV Splash Page on Twitter already knows that I spent the last three days in Western Massachusetts at Webcomics Weekend, the first-ever convention organized by -- and specifically focusing on -- webcomic creators and their work. The event was organized by "Octopus Pie" creator Meredith Gran, and hosted at the Easthampton complex where several of the 'Net's most popular webcomic creators have their studios.
With hundreds of fans and creators attending the event, there was more than enough for recent converts and longtime fans to see, hear and do during the two-day convention, and enough evidence to suggest that this first Webcomics Weekend event could indeed become the first of many down the road.
For those who weren't able to attend (registration was free, but organizers had to cap the list after the first 700 attendees signed up), here's a quick recap of some highlights from the weekend, as well as some webcomics with a presence at the show that you might want to add to your regular reading list.
Among the prominent webcomic creators attending the show was "PvP" creator Scott Kurtz, whose gaming-focused series is also collected and published in print form by Image Comics and was previously adapted into a 12-episode online animated series. The always outspoken Kurtz joined fellow members of the Halfpixel webcomics collective -- Brad Guigar ("Evil Inc."), Kris Straub ("Starslip Crisis") and Dave Kellet ("Sheldon") -- for a frank discussion of their print and online comics experiences during a live recording of their Webcomics Weekly podcast.
Other panels included the popular "Print vs. Web vs. Bear" (in the end, everyone copped out and said it was a tie), "How to Make a Memorable T-Shirt" (featuring a panel of hosts that accounted for half the webcomics traffic on the 'Net), and a variety of other scheduled events with varying degrees of snark.
Finally, along with all of the webcomics-focused panels and events, there was a pair of screenings for the just-released "Nerdcore Rising," the documentary about the rise of "Nerdcore" hip-hop that follows the first nationwide tour of Nerdcore's founding father, MC Frontalot. A well-known webcomics fan, Frontalot's current tour prevented him from making an appearance at the show -- but the celebration of the geek culture spotlighted in the film seemed entirely appropriate for the weekend event.
For those who new to webcomics, here's a list of other comics and creators attending the event that you can consider recommended reading material from yours truly:
One-shot comics you can jump into without reading prior strips (though that's always recommended):
- "Dinosaur Comics" by Ryan North (recycled dinosaur clip-art, but never the same joke twice)
- "Wondermark" by David Malki (retro-tastic imagery plus over-dubbed dialogue equals hilarious results)
- "Boy on a Stick and Slither" by Steven Cloud (the philosophical ponderings of a boy on a stick and a snake... trust me, it's great)
- "Diesel Sweeties" by Rich Stevens (this webcomic is cooler than all of us)
- "explodingdog" by Sam Brown (readers send words, Brown illustrates them -- with beautiful results)
- "The Creatures In My Head" by Andrew Bell (a new monster every episode!)
- "Cyanide and Happiness" (irreverent and controversial strip by a quartet of creators)
- "The System" by Rosscott (those figures on street signs have lives of their own, too)
- "xkcd" by Randall Munroe (these stick figures make me feel dumb most of the time... but I still like 'em)
- "A Softer World" by Joey Comeau and Emily Horne (dialogue and photos... with a subversive twist)
Ongoing stories with archives of material you can catch up with at your leisure:
- "Goats" by Jon Rosenberg (surreal, beer-goggled adventures in a cartoon multiverse)
- "Templar, Arizona" by Spike (a journalists' chronicle of the quirky people and happenings in a fictional city)
- "Shortpacked" by David Willis (a tale of toy store employees and the products they love -- a bit too much, sometimes!)
- "Questionable Content" by Jeph Jacques (indie music and relationship drama... and robots)
- "Girls With Slingshots" by Danielle Corsetto ("two girls, a bar and a talking cactus")
- "The Adventures of Dr. McNinja" by Chris Hastings (yeah, the title pretty much says it all on this one)
- "Anders Loves Maria" by Rene Engstrom (relationship drama by rising Swedish webcomic star)
- "Overcompensating" by Jeffrey Rowland (semi-autobiographical, but removed from reality, whiskey-soaked daily journal)
- "Unshelved" by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum (library humor!)
- "PhD Comics" by Jorge Cham (graduate school humor!)
Happy reading, folks -- and if you like what you see, keep an eye out for next year's show! I'm looking forward to it already. And be sure to let us know if you'd like to see more webcomic coverage on Splash Page!