Comics Disassembled: Ten Things of Note from the Past Week in Comics, Led by a Great Opportunity

It was a relatively quiet week in the world of comics, and sometimes, that can be a good thing. So this week, Comics Disassembled – my weekly look at ten things I liked or didn’t like from the week of comics – will be a bit more random, but no less in-depth. And it all starts with a look at an event I love from afar, even if it’s one I’ve yet to attend myself.

Attendees to Alaska Robotics Mini-Con’s Comics Camp, from the Alaska Robotics Mini-Con site

1. Comics Camp, Now Accepting Applications

One of the most beloved and illustrious comic conventions you can find in the United States comes from a place that’s about as unexpected as you can get. It’s Alaska Robotics Mini-Con, a one-day event in Juneau, Alaska, making it an event that’s near and dear to my heart even though I have yet to attend. Despite Juneau’s relatively small nature – it’s the state’s capital, but it only has 32,164 residents, meaning you could fit something like six Juneaus into the entirety of San Diego Comic Con – this might be the convention that has the highest hit rate with creators. Everyone who goes loves it, and it’s quite the list. This year’s edition includes Kate Beaton, Gale Galligan, Kazu Kibuishim, Ryan North, Raina Telgemeier and more, and the non-headliners that go are just as exciting in their own way. The team at Alaska Robotics – Patrick Race and Aaron Suring, as well as others, I’m sure – really do this thing right. (I talked to them about the event a few years back as the first edition approached)

But the most attractive part of the event is the Comics Camp that follows, a three-night retreat in the rainforest of Southeast Alaska with no cel reception but a whole lot of fun and chances to learn from your peers. Those same names who go to the con go to the camp, and having talked to folks who go to it each year, it is basically rocket fuel for your average creator, acting as all of the inspiration you need for a year in just three evenings. I’ve heard tales of fire breathing by noted creators, incredible presentations and tutorials, outrageously gorgeous views of nature, and the opportunity to make incredible, unforgettable connections. It is, near as I can tell, the absolute best.

And hey, if you’re a comic book creator and you find this all appealing, you could go! Applications for Comics Camp are open! See if you can make it happen, because it sounds like a blast. I might even try to make my way down for the convention this year, if only to check it out myself and to be dazzled by the brilliance of this event Race and Suring have developed.

2. Tom Lyle, Passing On

Artist Tom Lyle was known as a Robin and Spider-Man artist, as well as the co-creator of Stephanie Brown/Spoiler and the designer of Scarlet Spider’s most famous costume, and this week, he passed away at the age of 66. While those creations were important for some, what I’ve largely known him for is his position as a professor at the Savannah College of Art & Design, or SCAD as it’s mostly known for. He seems like a beloved figure amongst everyone that went there, and given that it’s SCAD – one of the most important sequential art institutions in the country – that’s a whole lot of people. It was lovely seeing the outpouring of support for his work and legacy this week, and it’s clear he’s someone whose impact as a teacher of future generations of artists was every bit as valuable – if not more so – than his efforts as an artist.

It was a surprising death, as Lyle passed away from complications related to an unexpected brain aneurysm. Naturally, that’s left his family with high medical costs and the debt that comes with it – yay American health care! – and because of that, they’re in need. If you can spare something, consider helping the Lyle family’s GoFundMe efforts, as Lyle is someone who dedicated his life to comics and the people who will be making them far into the future. My heart goes out to everyone who knew Lyle, as I’m sure it’s a tough time right now, but it seems like he was a good man who did a whole lot of good for the world.

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