Comics and graphic novels have always been a part of the Brooklyn Book Festival, held this past weekend on a beautiful fall Sunday September 18 at Borough Hall and surrounding sites. But this weekend the Brooklyn Book Festival 2011 seems to have really ramped up the involvement of comics artists at the one-day literary festival, incorporating cartoonists into a wide range of literary panels along with prose authors in addition to all-comics and youth comics panels.
Indeed Meg Lemke, acquisitions editor at Teachers College Press and a member of the BBF youth committee, told PW that the festival worked to incorporate comics throughout the show’s programming. And Lemke was the moderator for one of the hottest tickets at the show, Comics Writ Large and Small, a public interview with three of the most acclaimed cartoonists of the moment about their newest works: Craig Thompson (Habibi, Pantheon); Anders Nilsen (Big Questions, Drawn & Quarterly) and Adrian Tomine (Optic Nerve, D&Q). The event was held at the St. Francis College Auditorium, a block away from Borough hall and one of several additional venues (which included projection capability in order to show off comics and visuals) added to the festival to accommodate the growth in attendence.
And the show is definitely growing. The plaza at Borough hall was jammed with visitors from the time this reporter arrived around 10am on Sunday to moderate—if that’s the word—a panel on drawing for kids featuring three cartoonists. The panel, Comics Quick-Draw!, was more of a tongue-in-cheek sports event than a conventional panel—it was a packed outdoor tent full of parents and young kids, who were asked to tell the cartoonists to draw any kind of crazy thing—like, say, aliens eating bagels on the moon!—and the intrepid cartoonists did their best to comply. Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy), Raina Telgemier (Smile) and Laura Lee Gulledge (Paige by Page) were great troopers and expert draughtspeople and the kids were screaming with delight by the end of the session (they also bum-rushed the stage at the end to claim the drawings). Comics aimed at kids were well represented with a combination of panels and workshops throughout the day featuring such cartoonists as Nick Bertozzi and Sarah Glidden.