The elections are over and President Obama has won an historic second term. The Affordable Care Act—yes, Obamacare—is here to stay, even if some Republican lawmakers are still in denial.

The Affordable Care Act is a huge, sprawling, encompassing piece of legislation that forces some people to find health care coverage of pay a fine, forces states to open competitive marketplaces, and brings literally tens of millions of new clients to the health-care-insurance industry. It is a piece of fundamental social architecture, like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Social Security, and Medicare. Those all seem to be working for Americans, and so will the ACA.

This year’s New York Comic convention at the Javitz Center was the biggest yet—in terms of both attendance and available floor space. Artists Alley was in a part of the center I never knew existed—the north pavilion—which turns out to be a lovely, large space, although it’s about a fifteen-minute walk from the main show floor.

I always visit Artists Alley when I go to a con—you never know who you’re going to meet, discover, or see for the first time in ages. I got to spend some time with Dwight Zimmerman and Wayne Vansant (Vietnam: A Graphic History and The Hammer and the Anvil: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln and the End of Slavery in America). The guys had a table and seemed to be enjoying the con.

Also found the table of Z File’s favorite dark fantasy writer/scripter Steven A. Roman, creator/author of the novel Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zweiback, and creator/scripter of Lorelei, the latest volume of which has a spiffy new cover painting by Esteban Moroto.

The one book I walked away from the con with is an amazing volume of graphic nonfiction by the gifted cartoonist John Backderf, commonly known as Derf. (You can follow his “The City” comic strip in Funny Times monthly.) Derf’s new book is called My Friend Dahmer. And, yes—it’s that Dahmer. Derf was a high school classmate of the notorious mass murderer Jeffrey Dahmer, and his stories are absolutely fascinating and compelling reading. The book features some of Derf’s best artwork and, as always, his storytelling is dead-on . . . although perhaps that phrase is a bit too on target.

The main convention area was the usual twelve-ring circus. What you see is many new, small boutique-type companies with one or two products or a small line of specialty items. Most will be gone by next year, replaced with a new set of folks with ideas they are determined to make into “the next big thing.” I wish them all good luck. It is difficult to create something of quality, and even harder to then try to sell it. But we keep at it, because it’s better than working at a day job.

Howard Z.