Tuesday, February 28, 2006

PaneltoPanel is up and running!

Hey, the big news today is that John Rovnak's new online retail comics venue is up and running! Why worry about arabs running the ports? We've got John on duty with top-notch comics service!

John and his wife Michelle, twixt baby feedings and all the banalities of day-to-day living in the Green Mountain State, have been chipping away on the PaneltoPanel (hereafter referred to here as P2P -- no, it wasn't a Hamlet line!) site for months, designing and constructing, tweaking and twonking, and at last -- John wrote me yesterday to announce, "The day is finally here, PANEL TO PANEL.NET has hit the world wide web!!!!"

"After months and months of hard work, phase one of the ultimate online comics source has begun," John writes. "And please remember, that there’s a lot more to come.  More images, more reviews, more products.  Everyday more, more and more!"

Check it out, pick up that rare Visions of Frank DVD today, and please, spread the word!

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must add that I'm writing the occasional review for P2P and will be steering many of my projects (and that of friends) into the P2P lineup, sweetening the buys with illustrated signature plates and such available only through John. Why? Well, John and I go way back. I first met him at the beginning of the 1990s when he was just a pup, a mere whelp, busily managing a comics shop called Comics Route up in Manchester, VT -- but the amazing thing was, John wasn't yet out of high school! Post-high-school-graduate John quickly guided Comics Route from a fairly remoted location north of Manchester into a new locale in one of Manchester's downtown (well, as downtown as Manchester gets) shopping plazas, building it rapidly into the best New England comics shop outside of the Boston area. John reached out to creators on a regular basis, building bridges between creators and his customers, hosting many signings and gatherings (that's where I met Budd Root of Cavewoman fame among others, and fostered long-term friendships with folks I never would have otherwise done so with, including cartoonist extraordinaire Mitch Waxman of Plasma Baby infamy).

So impressed were Rick Veitch and I with all John did and continued to do that we approached John back in '94 when it was time to pull together the planned Vermont stop in the national Spirits of Independence tour. John seized the opportunity and ended up hosting one of the liveliest (and most professionally managed) of all that year's tour stops, based in Manchester's historic Equinox hotel (ah, bagpipe players on the lawn, Tyrant beer and birthday cake for one and all!). It was a remarkable weekend, and John only built upon that event for Comics Route's subsequent success.

In time, though, life pulled John further north. He sadly closed up his Manchester shop -- a sad day for all of us in VT, who'd come to depend upon Comics Route. But John didn't ditch his steady customers, maintaining a vital personalized mail-order service from then to now. I've been lucky enough to be among his customers, and my enthusiasm for the launch of P2P is based on solid experience as John's customer for many years. John's one of the best in the business by my 30+ year experience, and I don't tout his experience or professionalism lightly. Shop with confidence!

Enough of my ballyhoo. Click on
  • PaneltoPanel.net
  • and start exploring.

    Librarians and educators: In part due to my early suggestion last summer, John has also constructed P2P to service your field and needs, too. This is a resource you should tap and nurture, and we (John and I) will be preparing reviews of key, recent, and upcoming works to address the needs and questions particular to school and library issues. Check it out!

    OK, back to our regularly scheduled blog...

    It's teaching day at CCS, and I'm giving an illustrated presentation to the CCS Board of Directors tonight, so I best get to work. I'm also pitching in with the White River Junction Independent Film Festival organizing -- my key coup was mediating the inclusion of Coke Sams' brilliant 'lost' musical Existo into the programming as a midnight movie, with Coke's blessing and participation -- with a lunch meeting at 11:30 before I get into my teaching day. One of the weekend's pleasures was a long two-hour phone chat/interview with Coke -- best-known in some circles as one of the Nashville creators behind the Ernest (the late Jim Varney) phenomenon of the '80s and '90s -- which I'll be transcribing for publicity for the festival, and running full-length in an upcoming book project.

    So, anyhoot, work to do, no more time to blog -- off I go!

    See you tomorrow, with the promised followup to Head Trauma and background on Lance Weiler's first (collaborative) feature...