BALTIMORE COMIC-CON: Death Wish Coffee Presents – Comic Creators Consuming Coffee Panel | FanboysInc

BALTIMORE COMIC-CON: Death Wish Coffee Presents – Comic Creators Consuming Coffee Panel

By Jeff Ayers

BALTIMORE COMIC-CON: Death Wish Coffee Presents - Comic Creators Drinking Coffee Panel

This panel coverage of Balitmore Comic-Con 2015 is sponsored by Death Wish Coffee.

I was fortunate enough to meet the lovely Amy Chu (Girls Night Out) at The Comic Depot in Saratoga Springs, New York and conduct an interview. I found out that she loved coffee, so I introduced her to our sponsors, Death Wish Coffee. It is always funny how things work out, as Amy was moderating a panel at Baltimore Comic Con appropriately called “Comic Creators Consuming Coffee”, and asked for Death Wish to sponsor the panel, with our help. As Amy proclaimed at the start of the panel on Saturday, “You can see what happens when comic creators interact with the world’s strongest coffee and then we will be talking about stuff”.

BALTIMORE COMIC-CON: Death Wish Coffee Presents - Comic Creators Drinking Coffee Panel

From Left to Right: (Front) Amy Chu, Sean Von Gorman, Rafer Roberts, Heidi MacDonald. (Back) Greg Pak, and DW and The Incredible Jeff from FanboysInc.

“Probably really fast” joked illustrator Sean Von Gorman (Pawn Shop, Toe Tag Riot), who was also on the panel along with writer/artist Rafer Roberts (Plastic Farm), writer Greg Pak (Batman/Superman, Hulk), and Heidi MacDonald (The Beat, Publishers Weekly). You honestly couldn’t ask for a more delightful and diverse group of panelists to talk about their work in the field of comics, as well as their love of coffee. Well, all of them except for Pak, who is a notorious tea drinker. The audience was instructed to ‘boo’ him from the ever-hilarious Gorman before the start of the panel, to which Pak took the good-natured abuse with a laugh.

The allure of sitting in a panel like this is that the audience gets to see a playful and often revealing side to the people who work so hard to bring us the stories and art we love in comic books. So many comic creator related panels are pigeon-holed to be about a specific series, or in some cases a specific creator’s body of work. “Comic Creators Drinking Coffee” offers the convention-goer a more relaxed atmosphere to take in a wealth of information from the ones that are on the front lines of comics.

Once the panel officially got underway, it started off with a subtle bombshell, that more or less was announced on this panel. When Amy introduced herself, she revealed that starting next year, she will be writing the Poison Ivy solo series for DC Comics. That is wonderful news for this up and coming writer, who has certainly honed her talents on her own self-published books, as well as recently writing a very cool Wonder Woman story for DC’s Sensation Comics.

The conversation immediately went into the realm of coffee however, as Heidi asked Amy how she brewed the coffee for her panel. Because she was informed she couldn’t brew the coffee directly on stage, she desperately tried to grind the beans herself, while heating the water in her hotel room coffee maker and finally using her trusty aero press. There is a lot more that goes into a coffee drinking panel than one might realize!

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Case in point at how fun and intimate a panel like this can be: after the initial introductions were finished, Amy poured a few shots of black coffee for the crowd and personally walked them out to people. It really set the mood for the rest of the hour, because of how personable and accessible all these creators were throughout the panel.

Roberts explained that he might be the biggest coffee drinker of the bunch, telling the crowd that on a normal 16-hour drawing day he will consume about a pot and half of coffee during that time, and even forget to eat.  Ever the funny man of the group, Sean Von Gorman asked if Roberts drank right out of the pot, because it would be less dishes in the end. Roberts immediately opened up and shared a personal story with the crowd, exclaiming “It’s kind of gross. I will use the same cup for multiple days in a row, because it never doesn’t have coffee in it, so it’s never done being drank out of!” This was a fun loving bunch for sure.

The best thing about this panel is it really gives you a window into the process of creativity. Amy famously said at one point, “for comics creators, coffee is food”.  That is very true in many cases (again, not in Pak’s, but we still love him and his work). With writers and artists alike having to make deadlines all the time, many turn to caffeine to help them get through the rough parts. Thankfully, everyone on this panel is now aware of the delicious power of Death Wish Coffee. MacDonald said at one point, “Coffee fueled The Enlightenment. This is a fact.” While I couldn’t find the exact sources to back up her statement, we all believed it whole-heartedly at that time. It has definitely fueled a lot of creativity over the years, and creative ideas and the sharing of ideas.

Von Gorman brought up a great point considering the old comic artists back in the day. He told the crowd how he loves going through the original pages at comic shows, and seeing how some of the luminaries of the craft always seem to have coffee dribbled on the pages, or the ultimate seal of approval, the coffee ring at the edge of a page. He wasn’t joking either, as any Comic-Con-goer can rifle through original artwork that vendors might have and be able to see the coffee stains on the paper.

As Amy was refilling the aero press during the panel, Sean Von Gorman asked her what her process was. She equated it to a metaphor about making comics, “Doing it on the fly, under deadline and under pressure. The end result is not as much as you thought it would be! But it works, and [hopefully] people like it”. As funny of a statement as that is, it seemed to ring true with all the panelists, as they continued to talk about their own process throughout the panel.

There were so many wonderful nuggets of creative insight on this panel, and you can listen to the full audio and even see some video from the panel very soon on FanboysInc. Some of the best takeaways though were from Greg Pak, who said that to just, “Do your thing, and stick with it. Stick around.” He went on to say that it can take ten years to really hone your creative outlet, and be ready for the big time. Amy Chu added that Twitter is valuable tool in this new landscape, not only to get noticed and make connections, but when you tweet, you are confined to 140 characters. That means you are basically expressing yourself within a word ballon in a comic book. Finally, Heidi MacDonald added that her site, comicsbeat.com, has a wonderful resource to help you break into comics, and survive once you get there.

Make sure to check out all our extra content on this panel, and remember to enjoy your caffeine, especially Death Wish Coffee, while you are being creative.

Jeff Ayers

Both my parents instilled in me at an early age the awesome power and incredible wonder of the written word. My father sat with me when I was four years old and taught me to enjoy reading with classic comic strips like SPIDERMAN, PEANUTS, B.C. and, later, CALVIN AND HOBBES. My mother exposed me to such classics of literature as Poe, Tolkien, Stoker and Doyle, and I started my own comic collection with allowance money from mowing lawns. I liked Wolverine before it was cool, I watched as Superman died and returned, and huddled under the covers as I turned the pages of SANDMAN. Reading is like oxygen to me, and all genres and formats are welcome and devoured equally. I am the co-host of The DW and Incredible Jeff Show, CEO of Permian Productions, and a reviewer at Graphic Novel Reporter. I am 34 and live in scenic Saratoga Springs New York, where I haunt coffee shops and dive bars and the best comic shop anywhere, The Comic Depot.

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