Hey, Fest of Al Folks!
I’m Kelly, a cartoonist from Philadelphia and the creator of WEIRD ME, a comic about my teenage years as the moderately successful webmaster of a “Weird Al” Yankovic fan site. It’s my awkward (and true) story about coming of age while carving out a corner of the internet frontier in dedication to our one and only king of parody.
It’s also totally embarrassing.
How did all of this get started? Why was a self-taught html-based website the only outlet for my newly discovered obsession? A very long story short: I had an unstoppable crush on Liam Neeson thanks to his appearance in Star Wars - Episode I: The Phantom Menace, discovered a certain someone had made a hilarious song about the movie, discovered that same person had made his own hilarious movie, but I wasn’t able to find it.
Long ago, in 1999, UHF was not available. It was long out of print. The only way to find a copy was to rent it from a store or find it used on whatever the heck “eBay” was. A VHS was hard to come by, and a DVD version (still a very new format) was out of the question. Movie studios had sold the rights for the movie, and it had been shelved. Forgotten.
I COULD NOT LET THIS STAND.
I decided that it was my duty to take civic action and create a petition! A petition to demand a re-release of UHF on VHS, and -- dare I be so bold? -- demand a DVD release!! With special features!!!
With fiery purpose, and sheer dozens of people with me, my website was born.
Needless to say, my petition single-handedly brought UHF back into physical media existence (no it did not but please humor me), and my Weird Al fandom launched into the stratosphere! From minor notoriety, to jet-setting for concerts with my very accommodating mother, to briefly earning a stalker, WEIRD ME is a celebration of all the wonderful, lucky, and, well, weird things that I experienced thanks to Weird Al.
But why is this comic embarrassing? Is it the fully illustrated verbatim concert reviews I wrote when I was 13 that are included in the book? Is it the teasing I endured from my junior high peers? Is it the way too personal letter I wrote and definitely never should have mailed to Weird Al??
No, it’s because I admit that I fell off the fan wagon. For a little while, I didn’t want people to know the Weird Al part of my life had existed.
WEIRD ME is about celebrating your fanhood and your passions, but also about not being ashamed of what was most important to you and how it impacted you. It’s about realizing those things are still important to you. It’s about reclaiming a forgotten part of your past and reinvigorating yourself with it. It’s about getting to tell people, YEAH! I was so unbelievably driven by this person and his music that I taught myself WEB CODE on the weekends and then made a 200 page BOOK all about it!
THAT’S how much I love Weird Al. That’s the kind of fan I’m happy to be again. And I have a feeling you all sorta get where I’m coming from.
I am SO excited to be a featured exhibitor at Fest of Al, and I can’t wait to be able to bring WEIRD ME to the fest’s attendees! I’ll have lots of copies of the book available, along with some sweet Weird Al-themed swag that you can grab for free! One of my favorite perks of having made this book is that it’s been an open invitation for Weird Al fans to tell me their favorite stories about listening to his music, seeing him live, meeting him in person -- and we all get to revel in just how cool this person is, and how we all share such great taste.
Please come say hi to me at the show, check out WEIRD ME, and definitely ask me if Weird Al knows about the book. I have a really great answer.
Also, if you couldn’t tell, projects are kind of my thing, so I have one more to share with all of you. I’m the co-editor and publisher of an award-winning all-girl comic anthology called Dirty Diamonds, which gives female and femme comic creators a dedicated space for sharing their stories. We’re running a Kickstarter campaign RIGHT NOW through August 8th to fund the publication of our latest issue - Dirty Diamonds #9: Being!
It’s a huge 224-page book all about finding what drives you at your core, figuring out exactly what it is that makes you who you are, and the importance of being true to yourself -- which 100% speaks to my journey in WEIRD ME.
Grabbing a copy of Dirty Diamonds also means you are directly supporting the 65 comic creators in the book, since this campaign ensures that we’re able to PAY everyone for their work! Support independent publishers and artists by pledging to the campaign, grab yourself some incredible comics and lots of great rewards, and please help spread the word about our project!
I’ll see all of you in Denver, and in the meantime, dare to be stupid! :)
P.S. - Make sure you’re following @festofalcon on instagram. I’ve TAKEN OVER for the week and you can see absolute boatloads of comics and stories that I’m posting!