The New England Webcomics Weekend, organized by Meredith Gran and Rich Stevens, seems to have been a rousing success, and almost inevitably a rallying point from which many, many new things will spring. A few hundred people attended; in the future, a thousand will have been there.
Gary Tyrell was swept up in the magic, which was brought about in part by a conference-style group meal the modern way:
The day ended up with the greatest thing that’s ever happened in webcomics — rather than trying to decide where to take fifty creators and volunteers to eat (and split the bill) — the Topatoco secret weapon known to the web at Tallahassee Econolodge (real name witheld to protect the innocent) arranged for a dinner spread (and beer!) to be brought in to the Eastworks building and got the money collected well in advance. As the collected creators ate in a building constructed in the 1880s, the possibility arose that everything might collapse and webcomics would be wiped out with only Kate Beaton, John Campbell, John Allison, and Penny Arcade to carry on and rebuild our lost civilization (you read it here first — Kate Beaton is the Secretary of Agriculture of webcomics).
The feeling of community that’s so often found in webcomics was almost tangible in the room; I watched more sincere mutual admiration going on than ever I’ve witnessed. Looking into their eyes, I could see every creator in the room getting fired up and determined … If this person thinks so well of my work, I have to absolutely bring my best work and be worthy of this respect. I saw the basis of decades worth of weekends, conventions, symposia being laid, and every person in the room felt privileged to be there at the start; in 15 years when the new up-and-coming talent wants to know why the assemblage of webcomickers has sushi at the Saturday night gathering, the answer will be “Because we did it at NEWW ‘09.”
Rick Marshall has a more factual account:
- While the rest of the day’s panels drew slightly smaller crowds (with the exception of the “Print vs. Web vs. Bear” panel, which was well attended), most creators I spoke with seemed thrilled by the day’s outcome. Those who attended with an eye toward selling books and other merchandise generally broke even or turned a decent profit (Templar, Arizona creator Spike sold out of the 100-plus books she brought with her midway through the day), and those creators who were more keen on the networking and social aspects of the event seemed thrilled by the results. On the other side, I didn’t hear a single complaint about the event by any of the fan attendees, either. There was none of the grumbling concerns about crowds, lines or creator accessibility I tend to overhear at other shows, and to be honest, I couldn’t find anyone who had a negative comment about the event — no matter how much I eavesdropped.
This is only the beginning, we’re sure. In the meantime, there’s a The Webcomics Weekend 2009 Photo Pool Pool, from which we ganked the above.