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Comic Arts Brooklyn Is the Only Comic Fest That Matters

VICE art editor Nick Gazin reports on all the highly excellent comic book offerings at Comic Arts Brooklyn this past weekend.
November 9, 2016, 5:00am

There are dozens of comic cons, art-book fairs, and small-press expos these days—but the only one that needs to exist is Comic Arts Brooklyn, a carefully curated, free, single-day event that takes place yearly at Brooklyn's Our Lady of Mount Carmel church gymnasium.

The man in the center of the above photo is Gabe Fowler, the event's organizer, standing on the threshold of greatness. The doorway behind him leads to a cellar full of some of the greatest comics talent the Western world has to offer.

Last year, the major guest whose art adorned CAB's poster, program, and T-shirts was Dan Clowes. This year the major guest was Dame Darcy, whose comics appear on this site every Thursday.

Dame Darcy is a counterculture legend and deserves to be recognized for her greatness more often. I applaud Gabe for giving her the distinction as the show's primary guest.

This is Tyler Boss, an up-and-coming superstar of illustration and comics who does a lot of things for VICE. He's holding up three copies of Rick Altergott's perfect book, The Doofus Omnibus. When I took this photo, I realized that the major theme of CAB was showcasing new talent while also reminding attendees of the great stuff that wasn't necessarily given attention in the past. Although I'm certain that Gabe hates me a lot, I think we are of one mind on how we understand art in time.

This is Nate Doyle, who gets a little bit better with every comic he makes. He's turned major corners with the latest issue of his comic Crooked Teeth.

This is Matthew James-Wilson, who makes Forge Art Magazine and is a VICE production assistant and contributor for this site. This kid is the future of comic historians and curators—he's 20 and already crushing it. Matthew James-Wilson's existence fills me with hope for the future in an often bleak world.

Here's all the cool stuff that Matthew was presenting at his table. God, I love this kid so much.

Here's an artist Matthew was putting out named Brie Moreno, holding up her zine.

Oh, what's this? Just Charles Burns and Gary Panter hanging out. Charles Burns made Black Hole and a bunch of other great comics and famous record covers and posters and logos over the years, and Gary Panter is Gary Panter. I'm not going to list off his accolades anymore. If you do't know who these people are by now, then that's your fault.

Here's some recent SVA grads who might become somebodies at some point. Can't recall their names.

I bought this metalhead's comic. His name is Tom Toye, and this comic is called E.A.R.F.O.P. (Entering a Room Full of People).

Here's Dame Darcy doing a tarot reading for a fan in a bi-corner hat with an official set of tarot cards that she designed herself. Dame Darcy's romantic ideal is Adam Ant, and she really likes men who wear tri-corner hats. We watched Barry Lyndon together recently.

This is Doug Allen, who drew a comic called Steven for many years. Steven really needs to get a proper hardcover collection like Dame Darcy's Meat Cake recently received. Steven was a weekly comic strip about an angry young boy named Steven who's aware he's in a comic strip and was created to be totally unmarketable. His big catchphrase is, "No." Steven himself doesn't care about being entertaining, so the backup characters are constantly trying to take the comic over from him and make it about them. So far only some of the strips have ever been reprinted, but it's time for a proper Steven book.

This is Heidi MacDonald, the reigning queen of comics criticism since the mid-80s. She was the comics editor of Disney Adventures when I was eight, and now I do the job she did, but for VICE.

She's wearing a pin based on the controversial Milo Manara cover from Spider Woman. We discussed recent Marvel Comics cover controversies like the one where J. Scott Campbell drew a teenage girl too sexy on a comic book cover. We both agreed that the mistake wasn't on the artist's part, although people went after Campbell online. Marvel just needs to not have guys who do pin-up art also do covers for comics intended for young women. Heidi's the coolest.

This is world famous graffiti legend-turned-painting legend and animator Todd "Reas" James holding up his new book of barbarian drawings. I found that he also did the "Hi! My name Is Slim Shady" name-tag design that blew up in the 90s.

This is the multi-talented VICE comic artist Leslie Stein holding up her little water color tablet. She's also in a band called Prince Rupert's Drops.

Here's sometimes-VICE comic artists Lala Albert and Patrick Kyle hiding behind their creative fruit.

Many comic conventions have dealers who sell old comics, but CAB only had one and he had the best obscure old comics and books dealer that you could ever hope to find. Here's VICE contributing illustrator Heather Benjamin holding up a comic she found that made us both bellow in excitement.

It was the end of the day and people had been picking through the back-issue bins fiercely, but I still got this Oh, Wicked Wanda! book for a mere $20. Oh, Wicked Wanda! was a fully painted comic that appeared in Penthouse Magazine as a response to the popularity of Playboy's fully painted comic, Little Annie Fanny. Instead of a blond woman with giant boobs, Wicked Wanda is about a lesbian dominatrix with an army of militant lesbians. It's kind of like Rocky Horror Picture Show, if it was about a lady instead of Tim Curry.

This is the new Michael book by Stephen Maurice Graham out from Space Face Books. I'm credited as the editor of this book. Isn't that neat? You can read Michael on VICE.

This is Anya Davidson, who used to do comics for VICE, and may yet again. I thought she hated me, but she says she doesn't! Hooray!

I asked Anya if she liked Mad Magazine at all, and she was like, "Do I like Mad Magazine?" and revealed her Alfred E. Neuman tattoo through her convenient tattoo window.

This little skater guy was acting like he was too cool for comics, but I saw him getting in line for a Heather Benjamin autograph.

This mind bending silkscreen is by Gunsho.

I ran into performance artist/photographer Bad Brilliance, who I last ran into the NY Art Book Fair, and once more he kissed his girlfriend. All was full of love.

If you missed CAB this year you can visit Gabe's comic store, Desert Island in Brooklyn and mark it on your calendar for next year.

Follow me, Nick Gazin, on Instagram if you want to keep abreast of my doings.