Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mighty King Con comes to Brooklyn

By Joe Maniscalco

Captain America is dead. Batman too. And the traditional axiom of “truth, justice and the American way” has never been more amorphous in the world of comic books than it is right now.

“Comic book readers are super-literate and they are treating comic characters as multi-dimensional as they are,” Regan Jaye Fishman says. “You can’t sell super-duper white bread morality anymore.”

Fishman is one of the chief organizers of “King Con” - the two-day comic and animation convention set to invade the Brooklyn Lyceum November 7 and 8.

The event will feature some of the borough’s most high-powered comic book writers and artists, as well as a plethora of vendors, exhibitors, panelists - and, yes even aerialists.

The Lyceum, located at 227 Fourth Avenue in lower Park Slope, is that big -- The Dresden Dolls, Yo La Tengo and Fiona Apple have all played here.

“Brooklyn has been yearning for this for such a long time,” Fishman says. “Brooklyn has so much independent comic book talent based here - it seems really silly not to tap into that.”

Dean Haspiel, founding member of Gowanus’ DeepSix Studios and creator of the webcomix collective known as ACT-I-VATE, will be among the King Con’s long list of comic book literati on hand to discuss the state of superheroes and lots more.

“Wether it’s an alien from another world or a kid bitten by a radioactive spider, the duality of living through the day being extraordinary will always be an interesting story to tell,” Haspial says. While Spidey and the rest of the gang are still immensely popular, Fishman points out that mature comic book readers dealing with the realities of today’s world can no longer indulge in the fantasy of “one good guy who’s going to make everything okay.”

“We’ve moved far away from the standard superhero,” Fishman says. Today’s comic book heros are likely to be just as troubled as you are - maybe even more so.

Think Harvey Pekar of “American Splendor” fame. Haspiel calls “Billy Dogma” - one of his most popular creations - “the last romantic anti-hero” confronting the id, ego and high romance.

“It’s more honest for a superhero to lose than to win,” Haspiel says. “When Barrack Obama became president he was not the solution. He was handed the bag with the idea that he’s looking back at us to help make changes. It’s not the one person - it’s the many.”

The King Con is expected to be so big that organizers are talking about holding off-site programming up and down 4th Avenue where the Brooklyn Lyceum is located. Along with Haspiel, other Brooklyn comic book creators expected to attend the King Con include Brian Wood, Molly Crabapple, Matt Manning, Bob Greenberger and the aforementioned Harvey Pekar with his Pekar Project.

“The lack of a Brooklyn based comic convention always surprised me,” writer, artist, and convention co-organizer Mike Zagari says. “Now with King Con Brooklyn’s flourishing and emerging writers and artists finally have an event to call their own.”

The King Con grew out of the ‘09 Zine Fest held at the Lyceum earlier this year.“I had no idea when I presented the idea how overwhelming the response was going to be,” Fishman says. “Indeed the response has been powerful, and the event promises to be a landmark event, not only in the history of the building but in Brooklyn as well.”

Lyceum owner Eric Richmond calls the King Con the “natural next step.” “The Zine Fest brought in so many comic artists and writers, it was clear they needed a showcase of their own and that the Brooklyn Lyceum was an ideal location.”

There might even be some capes in the crowd.

“We’ve still got out sacred cows - 50- to 75-year-old characters that still have the ideology of the uber-mench dressed up in spandex dealing with the drama of the world,” Haspiel says. “I do think it’s important to have that.”

The King Con runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. both November 7 and 8. Single day tickets are $7. Weekend tickets are $10. Single day tickets for children under 12 are $5. Weekend tickets for kids are $7. The Brooklyn Lyceum can also be reached at 718-857-4816.


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