Convention Confessional Vol 2

Posted: Tuesday, March 14, 2006
By: Steve Saville

Cover of Convention Confessional Vol 2 Creator(s): Robert Reilly
Publishers: Self Published
From: USA
Price: $3.95 (4.95 Can)(US)

The first volume of Convention Confessional received some very enthusiastic reviews so I was pretty excited to receive a copy of volume two to review. You see I had to be personally convinced that a comic centred around the activities of a fairly small, and primarily obsessive, group of individuals [creators of small press comics] had any sort of popular appeal. I mean I’ve been there and I struggle to see how those endless sessions spent behind a comic convention desk watching that sea of humanity hurry past with eyes fixes straight ahead could transfer to an interesting comic.

Convention Confessional [volume two] continues to chart the adventures of Rob and Steve, two young comic creators, as they struggle through the American comic convention circuit. I repeat that this hardly seems like fertile material for a riveting comic.

Full marks to Rob Reilly then for achieving the impossible. The fact that this comic does work is down to two factors. Firstly, Rob is fully aware of the importance of presentation. This is a smart looking comic. The layout is varied and well designed and the art- work crisp. The lack of background in many of the frames does help to create a nice feeling of space on the page. The fact that the setting does not change that often means that this absence of background detail is not an issue, in fact it allows the focus on the characters to intensify.

The second factor is that while the spiteful, petty, critical, lecherous and immature behaviour of Rob and Steve takes place within the confines and context of a comic convention the repercussions of their actions reach out beyond those walls and effect events in the ‘real’ world. This allows the stories contained in this volume to have a universality that is able to be related to by all of us. The convention hall could be any self -contained setting where humanity gathers, it could easily be an office, an apartment block or a school.

The smart- arse behaviour that seems so amusing within the convention hall backfires because of the effects it has on life outside. So the cruel criticism of a fellow creators comic has tragic consequences and the Superman character who is a great joke within the convention is not quite so funny in the outside. The message being that of ‘for every action there are consequences.’

The two main characters are well developed both visually and through the well- chosen dialogue. Their witty put downs of all who surround them is reminiscent of the female protagonists in Ghost World.

There is a real sense of crafting evident in many of the elements contained within this comic. The “spoofing” of Kingdom Come is particularly effective. The way the chapters build slowly towards a climax [one which, almost, inevitably involves costumed super heroes doing battle over Robs attempt to end his sexual frustration] is also well done. The cyclical nature of the narrative where the consequences of an opening exchange closes the comic gives Convention Confessional a satisfying feel of “completeness”

There is bitterness here, a bitterness and a sense of frustration but this is not a comic created by a bitter person and so it never gets too bleak, in fact the over riding feeling that emerges is one of joy, the joy that comes from creating a great comic.

In a Word: Confident.

If you have a comment or question about Small Press then feel free to contact me