The Daily Fandom Interviews The Long Con’s: Ben, Dylan, & EA!
Shareca Coleman and Brandon Daniels·
Check out our review of The Long Con Vol. 1here. Pulling from all your favorite fandoms such as Star Trek, Robocop, and The Legend of Zelda; The Long Con is a convergence of all things geeky wrapped in a dystopian comic convention. Hilarity and a high-octane adventure ensue.
The Long ConVol. 1, out February 13, 2019, is definitely a comic worth picking up. We at The Daily Fandom were ecstatic to talk with some of the creative minds behind the book: writer Dylan Meconis, writer Ben Coleman, and illustrator Ea Denich.
The Long Con, Question #1:
We know none of the members of The Long Con creative team are strangers to comic conventions. But that begs the question: How did your experiences there give rise to The Long Con?
DYLAN: The comic’s premise was directly inspired by my time exhibiting at San Diego Comic-Con in 2010. I’d already exhibited dozens of shows on my own and had done SDCC before as an attendee and as part of larger artist collectives. But it was the first time I’d worked a show that big for five full days, selling just my own work. It was hilariously grueling, and because I was largely stuck behind my table, I spent much of the time observing the crowds. The cell networks were all hammered, and the exhibit halls didn’t have any natural lighting. So, in a way, it was like being totally cut off from the outside world. You get pretty punchy after awhile. I started to muse on what would happen if the outside world actually did go away.
BEN: Dylan is an absolute convention veteran of the group, so her expertise represents the bedrock upon which the con is built. Em and I have each done a fair number of cons ourselves though, so we try to add fun incidental details where we can.
EA: I’m not super experienced with cons, but in recent years I’ve gotten to go to a couple small anime cons and the mother of all cons, SDCC. I’ve been as both a guest and a spectator, so it’s given me plenty of fodder on all sides!
The Long Con, Question #2:
With all the diverse backgrounds that went into making The Long Con, Vol. 1, who brought each fandom to the table and how did you manage juggling all of them in the story and jokes?
DYLAN: I was raised by old-school Trekkies who encouraged my love of cartoons and let me freely ingest any media that involved spaceships or vampires. So I’ve been an active participant in fandoms for everything from Disney movies to Sandman to Battlestar Galactica, and I’ve recently been diagnosed with an adult-onset case of Supernatural (I have zero regrets).
But I think my best reference is my long resumé in the subculture of nerdy media creative professionals — everybody whose jobit is to foster fandom. I can make in-jokes about video games I’ve never played and can recognize cosplay from manga I’ve never read. I also know where the secret VIP bathrooms are in the Washington State Convention Center. So I’m sort of the team’s generalist. As for balancing stories and jokes, we developed a “this bit stays in” system. If a bit of script or art from another team member makes one of us crack up, we tag it with “LOL notice” and we do anything we can to keep it in. All the other gags are expendable.
The Long Con, Question #2 — Fandom Meets Comics?
BEN: I was very much the target audience for a lot of media from the 80s to the early aughts in that I’d read, watch or play pretty much anything that had a spaceship or a robot or chunky cyber-goggles in it. I liked Star Trek because it usually had at least one of those things in there. But I also devoured stuff like Earth 2 and M.A.N.T.I.S. and, like, the Wing Commander novelizations.
A lot of that stuff was made either in imitation of or in opposition to Trek, but I think that’s just the language of pop sci-fi we’ve inherited. As much as there’s a loving parody of the big franchises in there, we also want to invoke the genre underdogs who *could* have made it big. I mean how cool would it be if the 5th SeaQuest DSV movie was currently in theaters?
EA: I hate to admit it, but I am definitely the “Anime Kid” of the group.
DYLAN: The fact that you are saved us from having to hire an “Anime Consultant,” frankly.
The Long Con, Question #3:
We have noticed that many members of The Long Con creative team are specifically huge Star Trek fans. So, if The Long Conhad to be matched with a StarTrek TV show for a geeky binge night, what series would that be and why?
DYLAN: Spiritually, it’s probably the best fit with Next Generation, especially those awkward, hilariously uneven early seasons where they were struggling to both please Gene Roddenberry’s oddly calcified vision and find a voice that actually connected with new audiences. But if you ask me what Trek I personally would want to marathon, the answer will always be Deep Space Nine. That show has consistently meant so much to me that I’ve never done any fan work for it because it feels too personal.
BEN: Another thing we tried to do is fill out the margins a little bit. Trek on TV was at its height in the 70s and 90s (and now, arguably). The movies kinda filled in the rest. So it’s been fun to think about what a long-running sci-fi franchise would have done with a purely ‘80s show (we went with a mix of Max Headroom and Murphy Brown). And for the early aughts (my personal favorite) we had no choice but to blend together the haute couture of The Matrix with the subtle sensuality of Baywatch Hawaii.
EA: Um, I’ve only ever watched OG Star Trek, so something to do with that? Dylan and Ben can confiscate my “nerd card” now.
DYLAN: I mean, look, I’ve watched exactly 2.5 anime shows, so I think we all average out to a standard level of nerd.
The Long Con, Question #4:
Most of the people working on The Long Con have at least dabbled in digital comics at one point or another. How does working with a sizable publisher like Oni Press differ from the strictly digital domain?
DYLAN: The individual-monthly-issues-and-then-a-collection release schedule is obviously quite different! I’ve published my own work as page-a-week webcomics on my own webspace since… hoo boy, my senior year of high school in 2001. The instant gratification and direct connection to the audience is pretty delightful, but if you’re doing a long-form novel, it can create really strange pacing for a lot of readers.
Folks will apologetically tell me that they check in on my digital comics twice a year to read a whole bunch of pages at once, and I have to reassure them that that’s…totally fine! For The Long Con, I’ve enjoyed getting to publish truly substantive whole “chapters” at a time and see the responses, while still knowing that it will come together as a unified story at the end.
EA: This book is my first ever comic with a publisher like Oni Press, so everything from beginning to end has been a learning experience. It’s one of the things I’m super grateful toLong Con for, I’ve learned a ton in the last few years working on it!
The Long Con, Question #5:
While, hopefully, no comic con suffers from the same post-apocalyptic fate as The Long Con, where do you hope to see comic conventions go in the future? How would you like them to grow?
DYLAN: I’m looking forward to better integration between the comics world and the larger book publishing world. There’s still a strange, uneasy divide between the two, and I think both could really benefit from absorbing some wisdom from each other; comic cons could stand to be a little less physically overwhelming and a bit choosier about how they curate their vendors and programming, and book world events could stand to be a bit more fun/inclusive and general audience-focused.
BEN: I don’t think the one-size-fits-all approach of modern mega-cons is, in fact, a good fit for everyone. Having more eyeballs on your product is generally a good thing, but if your product is hidden away in some annex and the eyeballs are mainly there for Jason Momoa, that’s not always the best synergy. What I’d like to see is a mix of con formats (celebrity-focused ones included) that are the best at what they do and can promote outsider talent in a way that promotes a healthy ecology for the next generation of cons.
EA: I’d definitely have to agree with Dylan and Ben’s answers: As an artist, my perspective on cons is a little different than a guest who is there for fandom stuff. It’d be great if the link between art and comics was a little stronger there, as an example I love attending panels with industry veterans and artists. I’d love if more emphasis was placed on stuff like that.
The Long Con Is Out Now! (And, #6 Coming Soon!)
With The Long Con on store shelves, hopefully real-life conventions will improve just a bit faster. Our thanks to Dylan, Ben, and Ea for chatting with us. Be sure to pick up The Long Con Volume 1 in comic book stores on February 13th and in bookstores now.
And don’t forget to check out Oni Press to learn about all the other sensational stories being produced by creators like Dylan, Ben, and Ea.