50 Reasons to Stop Sketching at Conventions
Writer/Artist: Stuart Immonen
Publisher: One Horse Leadworks
Price: $5.95 US
As creator Stuart Immonen notes in the back of this book, 50 Reasons first saw life as a daily web comic in 2004, allowing the super-hero artist to flex a different set of artistic muscles. He later adapted and collected the toons to create this small, attractive volume, and it’s been for sale on Immonen’s website for some time. I’d noticed it and heard good things about the book, and I’d been meaning to order a copy. Recently, I spotted it on the shelf at my local comic shop, and I was thrilled to see this odd little product reach a wider set of readers by more conventional means.
I’ve been to a few comic conventions in my time, twice making it to the granddaddy of North American cons, Comic-Con International San Diego. I’m a fan of cons, and I’m very much a fan of con sketches. I’ve a small, themed sketchbook to which a wide variety of industry artists have contributed. Among them is Immonen himself (offering up a weird but fun caricature of Kurt Busiek, torturing the artist during their Gorilla Comics collaborative period). But there are awkward, annoying and even ugly sides to conventional culture, and Immonen does an excellent job of conveying those elements in a succinct manner.
Conventions are tiring affairs for even the casual attendee, but for those who work at the cons and appear as guests, it’s real work. Not only are creators trying to promote their work, they must also contend with crowds of people that include many who are oblivious to the feelings of others. Some are fans, some aren’t and some are downright disinterested. And far too many are distracting at the best of times and disconcerting at others.
Immonen adopts a much different visual style than what we’ve seen from him in the past. And I’m not talking about the shift in his work from the softer tone apparently in his Legion of Super-Heroes and Superman work from a few years ago to the more angular look more recent projects such as NextWave and Ultimate Spider-Man. There’s a simple style at play here that some might even describe as crude. But there’s a recognition that this project was originally crafted as a daily web comic. Detail does not reign supreme in such an endeavor. Nor is it needed. Immonen manages to convey the various sentiments and emotions he intends with great clarity. There’s also a hint of a Peanuts influence at play that’s quite charming.
The writer/artist warns his audience from the start that despite the frustration that serves as the foundation of this collection of comic strips, there are a lot of positive experiences to be had at comics conventions. That sentiment manages to make itself felt (just barely) in this book, mainly in the form of Cartoon Stuart’s efforts to be pleasant and accommodating to the various antagonists that populate this book.
The overall tone of the book is understandably negative, but I’ve seen the kinds of people Immonen profiles here. There’s no denying it: his biting remarks are on the money. The thing is that one can recognize these odd personalities and just plain rude people from outside the con circuit. While the behavior might manifest a bit different in the context of a comic convention, the attitudes can be found anywhere and at anytime. We’ve all been in Immonen’s shoes in some way, and we’ve all yearned to tell off offending parties, as his cartoon persona does in this book. The thing is that we’ve all probably been one of the rude ones and oddities, at least in someone’s eyes.
50 Reasons is a thoroughly amusing book, though it’s also a little depressing in its own way. It’s easy to see that’s there’s far too much truth in the extreme situations Immonen presents here. Here’s hoping that the right people recognize their own actions in the various faux pas explored in this book. 8/10