Monday, March 29, 2010

Planet Comicon

Since I didn't mention in the blog

Upcoming Projects:

Matt Kindt- Revolver (in April Previews)
Tony Fleecs- Jeff Steinberg: Champion of Earth (w/ Josh Fialkov from Oni Press)
Nathan Fox- FLUORESCENT BLACK (TPB expected this summer)
Tone Rodriguez- Shadowhawk (March Previews)

This will be a bit of a scatter shot post. I don't do well recalling things anyway. But I wanted to summarise my experience, both so that I could have something to look back on and so I wouldn't fill my twitter up with giddy one line nonsense.

The journey to Planet Comicon was uneventful, aside from my wife going on about the car and strange things it was doing. Neither of us knows a thing about cars, so when the car started randomly dying it just added a tinge of uneasiness to the whole affair.

We took our time, basically not rushing to get to the con, she had seen something about the weather, that it was going to get worse as the day went on. So, I suggested we do the other things on our list first and hopefully be inside for the worst. We stopped at a Target, at this point, I was antsy for the con, but not really making it known. I want my wife to enjoy what was going to be her only time off, too. Plus I picked up a great Ghostbusters shirt on the cheap. It was fitting because it is designed like a comic cover.

At about ten thirty we began the parking search. Which would have not been a poor experience except. One of the first spots we found was taken by people that decided to laugh at our expense while rushing in to it. You want to be happy about getting a space? Fine. But don't gloat about getting it over on someone. We waited patiently for a different spot, so believe it or not, asshats you didn't really pull a fast one.

Got advanced two day passes. So, boom right through. Passed a droid (like R2, but green... so um, not. Not my nitpickiest Geek moment of the con, btw) Wife stops to take pictures, already we are wishing we'd brought the boys. But it was our first time coming to Planet Comicon, and we just didn't want to risk there not being enough for them to do. Right as we enter the floor, I know it is not what I expected. We were inundated with long boxes, and that would be my biggest criticism. I would have liked to come in and see creators, I think. That is a very personal change though. And this con has gone 10 years without my input, so if it isn't broke, don't fix it. I will just expect it next year. However, it's worth noting that the one bad experience I saw on twitter mentioned that they were disappointed that it was only a room of dealers. And, as I was saying, honestly, had I not known different, I would have been disappointed and spent a good bit of my first impression thinking the same thing.

Now, as I said before, I don't have a play by play. I really wish I did, because too much will get lost. For instance, I remember my first sketch, but I also remember it was after we sat down for drinks. So, what did I do before that? Did I seriously just wheel around the con floor anxiously glancing for name tags and such? I remember being disappointed to find only Sean McKeever's coat & being sad. He was the one I set aside to see and get things signed and talk Young Allies. Oh my gosh, I know what I did! Not only did I wheel around anxiously. I would say, "Oh, there's so and so, they did this." to my wife over and over. And I would protest line length or sketch price. And sort of keep going. The poor woman, she was great at faking disinterest, or I wasn't picking up the cues.

Here comes the nitpicky geek. we are admiring costumes while drinking sodas. Mostly ooohing and aaahing the kids. This is very much a parental thing. We do it at malls, on the street, in parking lots. Babies, toddlers and tots are our kryptonite. Actually, thank goodness we are always together in our kid watching, I am pretty sure I would get assaulted otherwise. That's when we agreed next year our boys were coming along. So, as we are moving along. She said, "Oooh, there's the Flash." I corrected, "No, that's Captain Marvel... similar costume, except for that sash, the insignia is a bit different, and usually there is a cape to the side, but not for this fellow..." As I am pondering the lack of cape, I instantly realise I should not have gone that far. Cause she said, "Except for the frilly belt, he's the flash." I surrendered, "Pretty much."

Somewhat refreshed, I am in pursuit of Bill Morrison. Or as I was referring, "The Simpsons Guy", I read an article where he stated he was doing free sketches(ended up being 5 dollars but awesome deal!). So, I wanted to get in on that before he came to his senses. I was also making mental notes of who I might come back around to see. Before that though, I saw Tony Fleecs, I must have seen a banner first or something, because I spotted his name around the corner. Shot over to his table, rambling about hearing about him on a podcast and he was the guy to see for sketches (on and on) I am a bit incoherent even when I am not excited so I know I was just rattling on like a moron. And then he asked me something like "How I was enjoying the show?" Or something equally easy to answer and I went on and on about local talent and wishing Chris Samnee was here... and I'm not realising that here I am rattling on about this other artist and the sketch he did, all the while Tony is doing a great sketch for me. I. AM. A. MORON.

I wish I would have picked up a card or something from everyone, because to many times I had to shy away from an actual purchase. Met and talked to Matt Kindt. Going on faith that our paths can cross after Revolver comes out. Got to see a copy though, and it is going to be a great book. I really wish I hadn't jumped at 5 trades for $20 when I was in that initial shopping area. I got ten great trades, but I didn't jump so much at others books.

Another problem was that people would crowd tables, and I don't mean I can only see at the side. I mean a crowd would just envelope a table. You can't see who is there folks, especially from a wheelchair vantage point. So I know I went by some people I would have liked to have seen. How do I know? I checked my list of people that I wanted to make sure and chat with when I got home. I did talk with maybe half. Still, I met others I wouldn't have, but I digress.

A trick I just started and I will do from now on is to ask, "What do you have coming up." Because yeah, I am cheap, but I also do 90% of my shopping preorder, so believe it or not, my best chance to get your work is at a later date. I am never going to have the cash on hand, but I can always work someone into an order. And now, I have my Ipod Touch, so I really do get to make note of it right there.

I think from there I moved on to Chris Sprouse, well or rather, his wife Xan Sprouse, and I talked about how I knew his work from the ABC Primer. And then she said they were continuing Tom Strong's story with a new series starting on June 2nd. "My birthday!" I lit up. And funnily enough she lit up, and we chatted from there. The only thing to buy was a sketchbook, I like Chris Sprouse art and I had a nice enough time I didn't want to walk away empty handed. So, I picked up a sketchbook and asked how much is this? "10 dollars" I visibly winced. Now, I'm sorry, I understand that these sketchbooks are probably costing that much, but they just don't look it. They look like something you should be getting for free. And I think that is why often when a table isn't manned I see people start to take one until another table across corrects them. I mean honestly, if I showed this to family members they would be baffled at why I paid that much. It just looks like something you would hand to someone before you have the final product ready. I mean honestly, how can you have beautiful full color comics for three to five dollars and then these dinky generic looking sketchbooks for 10 to 15 dollars.

So, Chris Sprouse walked up then, he wasn't there before and I don't really know why. Signed my book and passed it back, and Xan mentioned the birthday thing, and he just seemed... out of sorts. Not sure. As many have said before, you never know what's going on with a person when you meet them for a moment. They can't be "on" all the time. And for the record, I love the book, glad I bought it. Even though what I type next might go against that.

Determined am I now to see Sean McKeever, I feel a bit like the distracted protagonist. No more lollygagging, time to get to it. So, I get there. And wait. Only slightly thinking, my shit is more important so move it along people. It helped that next to Sean was Nathan Fox of "Pigeons From Hell" And I am perusing his wares. Probably Spider-Man caught my eye. But not long that I see this striking white covered tome of a book. I pick it up without thinking. Do a quick flip through and say, "Sir, this is a hell of sketchbook!" In that praising way that says, I am going to barely be able to come away from your table without buying this. He wanted $25 for it. Now I am a cheap bastard. I can't afford not to be. But even I was thinking, my god, I am robbing this man if I only pay $25. And I hemmed and hawed. Back and forth.

Finally my turn with Mr. Sean McKeever and I gush. I say, "Sir, I am very much looking forward to Young Allies. To the point, that I changed an order to be sure I get the Firestar one shot that ties in." I continue on about how it was around the time of Gravity that I found my way into comics full force. So this series was special to me. Because I am pulling away from comics more and more, and this feels like a way for me to come back to it as he does. It was a wonderful talk, so glad I seeked him out. Oddly enough at the time I had nothing for him to sign. Gravity got left behind unintentionally in a rush out the door. It made for a nice icebreaker though. And my wife had found a copy of Gravity #1 at the con, so he did end up signing it. If Mike Norton comes back around to KC again I can get the dynamic duo. Now, I mentioned before about asking upcoming projects. And Sean said, "Well, I have an independent book coming out," I perked up. "But I can't talk about it yet." Dejected, was I, for sure. But he assured me that there would be news about it, with so many of the indy projects you have to know something or it goes unnoticed. I follow him on twitter though, and he said for sure he would talk about it there.

At this point, I lost track of my wife, I forgot that she mentioned earlier needing something for Bill Morrison to draw on. So she had taken the backing board from Gravity ( a nice impromptu for sketches that you didn't bring your own supplies for btw) to him for a sketch. I tracked her down and got 30 dollars. I went up to Nathan Fox's table, snatched his sketchbook, handed over my cash and said, "I couldn't resist picking this up." Now to give you some idea, it's comic sized just in dimensions. So that already takes other sketchbooks down a peg. The page count is 160 and it is used to full effect. No long paragraphs about process and technique with a little cropped panel in the corner, this is cover to cover art. Value. Most expensive book I bought, highest value. And I barely blinked an eye. If you see Nathan at a con, pick this up, throw in the five bucks for a sketch inside. I don't even know what character he drew and I love it. And again, not to knock the Chris Sprouse sketchbook. I will just say this, if others want to keep doing the photo copy sketchbooks, it just makes this one look all the better, and I bet that gets Nathan sales.

Even if I don't read his books, and he is a horror artist, so more often than not I probably won't, I will still go to his table every year he is there, for a sketchbook and sketch, even if it goes up to a higher price, because I know quality and value are there. Even though I didn't even think to glance at the sketch inside. (Stupid of me). Moreover, he is a cool fucking dude.

Speaking of cool fucking dudes, there's Bill Morrison. He was only just into the sketch when I made my way back to my wife. And I hear over the PA system. "Willie's Wenches show is about to start." This along with Sean McKeever is one of my big things to do. I love renassaince... and I love raunchy renassaince. As it turns out though, wrong choice. It turns out that after 5 hours on the con floor, you aren't really in the mood for Shakespearean cheerleaders. I never would have guessed, but even more heartbreaking, in my haste I missed out on seeing a great sketch being done. So great in fact, it pulled other artists away from their table. And I wasn't there for a bit of it. Only decided to leave just as I meet my wife in the hallway. Big ol' bummer, throw it on top of the list of careless fan-crazed moments.

We decided to leave, and thanks to car troubles we would not return Sunday, sadly. Another regret is not at least getting cards or something from folks like Matt Kindt and Bryan Edward and others I talked to but didn't fill the wallets of. Guaranteed next year I am coming back hoping to see familiar faces, talk about their projects which I heard about the year before, and maybe make sure to be less absent-minded.

Swag: 2 sketches, 2 sketchbooks, Sam Noir Vol 1, Essential X-Men Vol 3, Welcome to Tranquility Vol 2, Shenanigans, Iron West, Flink, Imaginaries, The Authority: Hawksmoor, Tellos Vol 1 and Fantastic Five