By Michelle Steen
This year marks the 8th year of CrockerCon, the Museum's annual comic book convention, which showcases local artists, creators, and more. I posed a few questions to the ever-friendly and generously bearded Eben Burgoon, co-founder of CrockerCon. We talk about what Eben does, what’s happening in the Sacramento comic book scene, and how everyone can get involved and support local artists impacted by Covid-19. Spoiler alert: It involves entertainment and lots of family fun!
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
In one sentence, tell us who you are!
I’m Eben Burgoon a seasoned independent comic book creator known for B-Squad, Tiny Wizards, and Eben07, as well as a guest speaker and arts educator with workshops on storytelling and comics that have sent me around the world.
What a great sentence. Where can people find you online?
Via EbenBurgoon.com, you can find me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I’ve also started livestreaming workshops and art activities through YouTube, Twitch, and my artist page on Facebook. I’ll be doing livestream workshops every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday through April (2020).
Tell me about CrockerCon. Why a collaboration between a museum and the comic book community?
CrockerCon is a celebration of the art and story that is poured into comics. It's also about creating an experience where people who are curious about the busy hands of artists and writers conjuring their favorite characters with ink and paper can meet each other. I’ve always viewed it as a bridge, where the fans of comics can become a fan of the Museum and the fans of fine arts can gain appreciation for the medium of comics. Each year, people fell a little more in love with CrockerCon until it became an annual event.
I think your forgetting something important.
Of course! [The program’s popularity] led to us to develop CrockerCon's own mascot — The CROCKERTRON, a robotic defender of the arts, first imagined by artist Sean Sutter in 2015 and then annually re-imagined by artists in our community. The latest was done by Robert Love. [Michael Calero (2016), Nate Flamm (2017), Melissa Pagluica (2018), and Dan Bethel (2019) created the other iterations. Robert's version will debut in 2021. - Ed.]
My hope for CrockerCon was to create a space that would facilitate connections to this medium, as well as inspire a whole new generation of comic lovers and makers. I believe the deepest and truest purpose of art creates space for our human connection through our beauty, our flaws, our sorrow, our laughter, our fears, our love, our joy, and our weird.
Watching what happens at this event year after year is amazing. I'm not talking just about the community; seeing a museum as well-regarded as the Crocker take an affirmative stance that comics are art means the world to me.
What should people know about comic artists and creatives right now?
The people who make their livelihood from comics are definitely struggling to find clear ways to overcome the devastating economic effects [of Covid-19]; many are adapting on the fly to bring more and more online. Many of the comic shops are local, small businesses. Gathering spaces, artists, and creatives in general have seen opportunities and book sales evaporate as events are postponed or outright cancelled.
I firmly believe art is essential in these times.
I believe the deepest and truest purpose of art creates space for our human connection through our beauty, our flaws, our sorrow, our laughter, our fears, our love, our joy, our weird.
Without the fruits of the arts we would starve in other ways at home. Make comics. Read comics. Make time to experiment with art forms and styles you haven’t explored. It’s so easy to just get locked in a state of consuming entertainment and art that we do not make time to create our own art. You can process through a lot of the trauma and hardship of this through art.
My hope is people will get a gift card at a comic shop and find ways to help these local artists or get involved in some of the things they do. Watch their livestreams, leave encouraging comments, and be vocal about the work we love and that we want to see more.
And as a bonus, we can entertain our kids with something more local and personal than a streaming service. Can you share a preview of what might be planned for next year and CrockerCon?
It’s my hope that in 2021, as we rebound from the challenge of these times, CrockerCon will get onto more people’s radar. We’re already laying the groundwork to create a “Sacramento Comic Book Week”. The goal is to have CrockerCon be the signature event that marks a weeklong celebration of comic books in the Sacramento region by partnering comic shops and creatives with art institutions, restaurants & bars, comedy clubs, and more in the spirit of week-long celebrations like Beer Week, Bacon Week, and even Wide Open Walls.
That sounds like so much fun, and I can’t wait to hear more. It gives me and others something to look forward to in these challenging times. Thanks, Eben.
Thanks for chatting. "See" you at CrockerCon!
CrockerCon 2020 is still happening, albeit with a few changes! Using the hashtag #CrockerCon on Instagram, join us on April 17 at 4:30 PM for family-friendly games, a cosplay contest, and a panorama of local vendors. The winner of the contest gets bragging rights and Museum admission for four people or ArtMix tickets for two adults.