Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Leavin' the Big Easy Behind

Hurricane Katrina may have been the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. We pretty much saw a city wiped out before our eyes. Sure, New Orleans will rebuild, but it will be a long haul and what emerges from the rubble will not be the same Big Easy that we had known.
Last summer, my nephew Tommy and his girlfriend drove down to Louisiana to help out with the clean up after Katrina. They passed through Columbus on their way back to their home in Edinboro, Pa, and I wish I'd asked them more about what it had been like down there. Unfortunately, my time spent with Tommy that day was shortened by the fact that while my sister had been trying to call me for hours to tell me he was in town, I wasn't answering my phone because I was actively and aggressively avoiding Atomic Tomorrow publisher Kevin Scott.
We all watched with horror the mess in New Orleans, but until this weekend at SPACE, I hadn't realized--actually, I'd forgotten--that I actually knew someone directly affected by Katrina. Vernon Smith is a comics artist whose works include The Adventures of Dexter Breakfast and Port Authority, and who, until last summer, lived in New Orleans. It was only when he made a remark about "massive flooding" at the Launch Party the night before the show that I remembered that. He is among the many New Orleanians (is that right?) who have not returned to the city. Apparently, he doesn't plan to go back. He told me that he'd been considering leaving New Orleans for some time and Katrina provided him with a "kick in the pants." Natural Disaster as motivational tool...now there's looking on the bright side of things.
Vernon is currently living in Mississippi and mulling over where he wants to settle permanently. He's considering four cities, though the only ones I remember are Austin, Texas and Columbus, Ohio. Both are home to large annual small press comics shows, though I, of course, advocated for Columbus. I wouldn't have stayed here for almost a decade and half if the city didn't have some good points. Furthermore, this town is a home to an ever growing community of cartoonists, comic book artists and writers, as well as SPACE and Sequentially Speaking, a "support group" for comics creators and readers founded by Blink creator Max Ink. We ( I'm a charter member) meet the third Sunday of every month, and, Vernon, when (not if, but when--trust me) you decide to settle here, you're more than welcome to join us. Oh--so are those of you reading this who aren't Vernon Smith.

1 comment:

thebigcurve said...

i'll be damned if i go to one of your comic geek meetings!