I travel a lot for work - like, a lot. Sometimes layovers are long - like, really long. I'm okay with a long lay over - that's right, I'm really okay with a really long layover. Why? Firstly, it means I'm not going to miss my connecting flight. Secondly, because it means I get the opportunity to explore my surroundings and the John F. Kennedy (JFK) airport has a lot to offer.
You might be saying, "Really? You're really going to tell us about your shopping trip to the Lego store in an airport?!" Well, I did shop at the Lego store, and I got the Shang-Chi dragon Lego set (with Morris in it) for my kiddo at JFK but that's not the purpose of this post.
(How COOL is this giant Lego mini figure build though?!)
(Okay, Okay, I'll get to it...)
Two moments of Comics In My Life happened during this particular layover (on my way to Sao Paulo, Brazil...more on that next post). First, while pursuing the books and magazines in the Hudson News convenience stores, I discovered that graphic novels are now being sold in airports. This is a huge step for graphic novels in modern society. Airports only sell what it is hot in the way of reading material mainly because they have limited shelf space and need to turn inventory over quickly. When I saw graphic novels, I did a double take. Not just because they were there but also because of the newness and variety of what was being offered. There was a whole display dedicated to graphic novels featuring new voices/stories, for kids, teens and adults. In an effort to support the normalization of graphic novels being sold everywhere, I picked up two titles that appealed to me.
The Aquanaut by Dan Santat.
From the Back Cover:
"Ever since her father was lost at sea, Sophia has been moping around Aqualand, the marine theme park her dad and uncle created. But Sophia's world is turned upside down when an "aquanaut" breaks into the park's research lab. To her amazement, Sophia discovers that the aquanaut is not what it seems -- inside lives a band of four goofy sea creatures! And when they all realize that Aqualand has evolved into something much darker than Sophia's dad had envisioned, Sophia is determined to help the aquanaut crew free the park's captive marine life before it's too late."
Isla to Island by Alexis Castellanos
From the Back Cover:
"This stunning wordless graphic novel follows a young girl in the 1960s who immigrates from Cuba to the United States and must redefine what home means to her.
Marisol loves her colorful island home. Cuba is vibrant with flowers and food and people…but things are changing. The home Marisol loves is no longer safe—and then it’s no longer her home at all. Her parents are sending her to the United States. Alone. Nothing about Marisol’s new life in cold, gray Brooklyn feels like home—not the language, school, or even her foster parents. But Marisol starts to realize that home isn’t always a place. And finding her way can be as simple as staying true to herself."
Both of these titles (released March 2022) were the perfect reads for my travels - artistically masterful, heartfelt, projects of passion fully manifested, inspiring. If you want a more indepth review or different perspective of these reads, check out the following:
After discovering these titles, of course needed a reading spot (and some dinner) and found the perfect spot - the Palm Restaurant. The JFK location is not the original location but it does feature some of the iconic artwork that made the original Palm a must visit location. You might not realize it but comics are literally all around you when you at the Palm.
According to the Palm website:
"The Palm's legendary tradition of caricatures originated in 1920s New York, when some of its first patrons - talented cartoonists from the nearby King Features Syndicate - virtually paid for their supper in original art on the walls of The Palm's first restaurant; then a speakeasy. These artists would draw lively scenes of the restaurant's clientele - neighbors, family as well as celebrity patrons - that came to be known as the hieroglyphics of New York City life at the time."
When I inquired if the illustrations were originals or replicas, the waitstaff didn't know but for me, it honestly didn't matter because the comic/cartoon history was being preserved even if it wasn't in its original form. Upon further research, sadly the original Palm closed in 2015 and since all of the drawings were directly on the plaster of the walls, they were unable to be removed or preserved. Something makes me think that the ones featured at the JFK location are replicated from photographs, but I'm just not sure.
Even if you can't make it to the Palm Restaurant located in JFK, there are other locations in Atlanta, Atlantic City, Beverly Hills, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, East Hampton, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Mexico City - Polanco, Miami, Nashville, New York Tribeca, New York Midtown, Orlando, San Antonio, Tysons Corner, Washington DC, and Saudi Arabia.
Something tells me I'm going to try to visit as many as I can to enjoy the uniqueness of each location and soak in the comics culture. Just have to save up a bit for each meal - it is a high end steakhouse after all.
Which Palm would you like to visit? If you've had the chance to visit one, drop me a comment - I'd love to know what your experience was like.
Up Next: SAO PAULO, BRAZIL!