Posted by on May 23, 2011 in Blog | 0 comments

I had a great time this weekend (my birthday weekend!) visiting Olympia, WA for the comics fest. It’s organized by Chelsea Baker who also let me stay at her house and sleep on her futon, and who also draws a terrific daily auto-bio comic that you should check out – it’s totally addictive.

The guests of honor at this year’s Fest were Paul Chadwick, Megan Kelso, and Larry Gonick! Paul Chadwick is extremely charming in real life, a very soft-spoken fella who put up with our sycophantic fawning with dignity and generosity. Megan Kelso is really funny and smart and I’m mad that I missed her panel on feminism in contemporary comics. But the reason I missed it was so that I could attend the hour-long panel with LARRY GONICK!

I sketched Larry while he was giving his slideshow. Until yesterday, it was literally impossible for me to picture the man as looking like anything other than his authorial proxy, the Einstein-haired professor who narrates most of his non-fiction books. The actual Larry Gonick is tall and lanky.

During Q&A, I asked him what he thought was the proper role for a modern Marxist in the world of comics. Larry, who used to be a card-carrying socialist, gave the laudable and succinct answer “to sit back and reconsider,” before launching into a pretty weird biology lecture about kin selection. From what I gathered then and later at the book-signing, he thinks Marxism’s exclusive focus on the economic aspects of life overlooks the importance of genetics and evolution in shaping history. If this is really his view, then I think he’s skewering a straw-man Marx, perhaps his parents’ Marx or the Marx of 1970s San Francisco. And why the evolutionary-biologist perspective? Perhaps this is the logical worldview of someone whose “history of the universe” begins with the Big Bang and the Primordial Soup. I worry that a biologically-based view of class struggle can end up being even more mechanistic-deterministic than allegedly “purely economic” orthodox Marxism.

Anyway, that’s a minor quip. I’m not even sure I understood him properly. And I still agree with Gonick’s politics 1,000x more than last year’s guest, the insufferable libertarian Peter Bagge!

Spent Sunday exploring the sweet town of Olympia. Hey, do y’all remember the comic I did about a time-travelling Olympian back in May of 2010?