After the conference is over it's always hard to believe it actually happened. A week ago I hadn't even left and now I'm sitting at the same desk, working on the same projects, and yet my memory tells me that over the past six days I returned home, saw some of my most valued colleagues, met one of my favorite comics artists, mounted three long days of programming, saw a display of archival treasures (including an original Little Nemo), paid warm tribute to Will Eisner, and got to talk about comics and Citizen Kane with the man who created the Joker.
SPX was missed, Bethesda's restaurant options even moreso--but what Capitol Hill lacks in dining it more than makes up for in sheer beauty. (Once you learn to ignore all the antiterrorist barriers.)
Besides the aforementioned and jaw-dropping display of comics art, holding our tenth annual conference at the Library of Congress also did great things for our accessibility and visibility with the general public; ICAF 2005 was a watershed for attendance and press coverage. We got not one but two pieces in the Washington Post, including a prominent feature in their free Express paper (couldn't find a link). And then there was this article in the George Washington University student newspaper (the Hatchet--great name). That's me brandishing
a list of 57 known communists an anthology of early twentieth-century comics scholarship. Paul Grist was so excited that giant word balloons and sound effects literally burst out of his skull.
I knew we'd made the big time when we got our first newspaper article in which a columnist grouses curmudgeonly about a conference on comics (exclamation points liberally added) being held at the Library of Congress. The author of the Express piece demanded to know, "Has Congress been alerted? Wasn't it just a few years ago that Congress held hearings to investigate the corrupting influence of comics on America's youth? What's next, Marilyn Manson for House speaker? No wonder this country is going to hell in a handbasket." Ladies and gentlemen, our sneering mass-media coverage cherry has been popped.
In jest, I hope, and it did end up being a pretty positive article. The important thing is, we got billed above Jethro Tull.
Seriously. Above "Ian Anderson's mincing, Middle Earthian prog rock" to be precise.
(But I'm pretty sure he got the larger dressing room.)