Paul Ryan 1949-2016

2016 is being a real sonofabitch. David Bowie, Lemmy, Dave Mirra, Harper Lee. And now comics artist Paul Ryan. Although I’ve enjoyed the work of all these people, Ryan is the only one I’ve ever met.

May 9, 2010 was Avengers Day. The event Siege had recently concluded and a new Avengers #1 was hitting stands. My local shop, That’s Entertainment, invited former Avengers artist Paul Ryan to meet fans, sign books, and draw. I won’t act like we had some grand relationship; our conversation consisted of small talk and a simple exchange.

“Could you do a sketch for me?”
“Sure, who would you like?”
“Who’s your favorite bad guy?”

And off he went.

Dr. Doom by Paul Ryan

The sketch is still one of my favorites.

As time goes on, the comics industry keeps losing more of its veterans. Except Stan Lee. Stan Lee will never die. (You hear me, God?!)

What I want to say is, make sure you recognize these people while you still can. Even if you don’t have something to get sign or want to buy anything from them, if you see someone whose work you appreciate at a convention, let them know. No one has ever regretted telling an artist they enjoy their work. And no artist can ever hear too much praise.

Boston: Get Out and Love This City

I was flying from Denver to Dallas when all the shit when down yesterday.
The guy next to me asked, “You have a connection to catch?”
“Yeah, heading to Boston.”
“What’s going on there?”
“It’s home.”
“I got an email from my son, who lives there. All he said was ‘I’m fine.’ Didn’t know what he meant.”
I pulled up Boston.com and read all about it. And kept reading as I took the SkyLink through the airport and caught my plane. To Logan, which you may remember as an airport of … infamy?

These are hard times. Every time a person, or a group, or a giant squid attacks a city, its citizens near and far bond together. But it’s not a time to shut down.

Stop crying. Get off your couch. That’s what these assholes want, whoever they are. And that’s not what Boston does. You love this city? Find someone you care about, hold their hand and get out and fucking love this city.

What can you do?

Boston, baby!

From Avenging Spider-Man #10 by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Terry Dodson.

Kitchen readers have heard of Kelly Sue DeConnick and Carol Danvers AKA Captain Marvel before. Carol is Boston’s premiere superhero. So on a more serious note, Tumblrer Flatbear has called on the Captain Marvel’s fans, collectively known as the Carol Corps, to donate to the Red Cross. A similar campaign was undertaken by DeConnick and husband Matt Fraction for Hurricane Sandy relief. Part of this is entering a special name in the “Make this Donation in Honor of” box. For Sandy, the code was “I’m Great at Boats.” For Boston, it’s “Carol Corps.” Donate money. Donate blood. Donate what you can.

There were a lot of feelings going through my head as I flew back to Massachusetts yesterday. Confusion. Anger. Disappointment. And I may be what you call “emotionally unavailable,” but I didn’t even think to be scared. I’m from Boston.

Let’s Pretend, Happy End – Garbage at the House of Blues, Boston 3-26-13

We’re sitting in Tasty Burger, trying to convince Mike that he knows who Garbage is.
“‘Stupid Girl?’”
“I know that song, but I don’t think it’s Garbage. A guy sings it.”
“Yeah. You might be thinking of the Neil Young song. Or Cold.”
“Yes! Cold!”
“Yeah. No. What about ‘Only Happy When It Rains?’”
“I know ‘thunder only happens when it’s raining.’”
“Yeah, I don’t think they’re going to play Fleetwood Mac.”
We decided to leave Mike to his ignorance of 90s alternative rock.

As we entered the House of Blues, one thing became obvious. The House of Blues in Boston is a terrible venue. We admittedly got our tickets a little late, so we were on the mezzanine level. This is the second of three levels and is general admission, standing room only. The mezzanine forms a horseshoe around the room, with the open end at the stage. And If you aren’t at the railing (inside edge of the horseshoe), you probably can’t see the stage. I’m only 5’10”, but I was the tallest member of our troop. I had trouble looking over people’s shoulders, never mind the girls I was with. The House of Blues does have large monitors showing the band, but if you paid $40 to watch a concert on a big screen TV, get out of my way. Eventually, we split up a bit and managed to find some spaces at the back of the room. I wedged between people well enough to see the stage, but there was a horizontal beam supporting the third floor right in front of us. There was a video projected behind the band, but I can assure you I never saw it.

ANYWAY, you didn’t come here to hear me bitch about the House of Blues. What you came to hear is that Garbage was incredible. Like … so good that they reminded me how good live music can be. I go to a lot of shows, but this one stood out. The band opened with “Automatic Systematic Habit,” the first track on their newest album Not Your Kind of People. (First song off the new album has always been the bast way to open a set.) I’ve listened to the new album once or twice without much excitement, but hearing the song live was a wake up call. Or at least a “You didn’t forget about us, did you?”

Garbage at the House of Blues, Boston

Nice support beam, huh? Photo stolen from my friend Hang.

One thing that set this show apart was how active Shirley Manson is on stage. She’s a rock star, something that we’ve sadly lost since the 90’s. (Seriously. Name a musician that has emerged since 2000 that you can honestly call a rockstar. Chris Martin? Jack fucking White?) Her physical performance is part dance, part victory march. And for close to two hours, she never stopped. It made me realize that in a live setting, I much prefer singers who aren’t also playing instruments. She’s surely more interesting to watch than Dee Dee from Dum Dum Girls or Tim Kasher were when I saw each of them recently.

But the guys in the band are no wallflowers. Duke Erikson and Steve Marker couldn’t stand still either. They never took off their guitars, but that didn’t stop them from going over to their keyboards when need be (“don’t worry baaaaybaaay”). Also, Butch Vig is a boss drummer. This guy has produced albums with bands that included Jimmy Chamberlain and Dave Grohl, so that’s no surprise. Finishing the rhythm section was Eric Avery, soon to be touring with Nine Inch Nails. As a touring bass player, I can say he was perfectly adequate. (Sorry, Eric.)

The setlist alternated between tracks from NYKoP and their older albums. A wise move, as no one had a chance to say “I think I’m gonna run to the bathroom.” The performances of those new songs made me excited to go back and listen to the album. Perhaps I just needed it to hit me as a wall of sound with no distractions for it to connect with me. No one but the most hardcore, b-side-philiac (or Bleed Like Me fan) could have been disappointed with the setlist. It was heavy on tracks from Version 2.0, but that’s my second favorite record of all time, so no complaints here. The set included everything you’d expect: hits like “Only Happy When It Rains” and “Push It,” fan favorites like “Cherry Lips” and “Hammering in my Head.” Possibly the biggest surprise of the night was “Cup of Coffee,” a sad number from the underappreciated Beautiful Garbage.

Late in the set, Shirley invited a special guest on stage. It was Steve’s daughter, Ruby. It was her 13th birthday. As the crowd sang to her, I wondered why her name sounded familiar. Then it clicked. On some old version of Garbage’s website, I remember reading that Steve and his wife had had a daughter, named Ruby. That was 13 years ago. If singing along to songs from an album that I bought when I was in eighth grade didn’t make me feel old, that did.

As the band took an encore break, the guy next to me wondered aloud the songs the band would come back out to play. “Stupid Girl.” “Special.” Maybe something else. That something else was “You Look So Fine,” the closer of Version 2.0. I had one dream request and this was it. Sometimes at concerts I do this thing where I close my eyes and just listen. I shut out the light show. I ignore the girl that keeps elbowing me. I just listen. It’s the closest thing I know to religion.

Garbage at the House of Blues, Boston

Bad quality, but even a bad picture of a goddess is better than a picture of your cat. Or your kid.

As the band played the coda to the song, Shirley starting singing some familiar lyrics. “Now here you go again/You say you want your freedom/Well, who am I to keep you down?” It dawned on me. That’s what makes a great show. Everything you had expected and an extra something you never could have.

aPAXalypse now! – My weekend at Penny Arcade Expo East

As anyone who has read this blog before knows, I’ve been going to comic conventions for years. In September 2008, I saw one of Tim Sale’s convention sketches in the back of Captain America: White #0 and needed to start meeting these artists and collecting their art. (Note: Four and a half years later, we still haven’t seen issue #1. Tim Sale, what gives?) Since then I’ve traveled across the US and even into Canada for comic shows. But they’ve always been that, comic shows. And I’ve always been in front of the table. Until this weekend.

I’m friendly with a bunch of the employees at my local comic shop, the always recommended That’s Entertainment. So when they needed some extra help at their booth at this weekend’s PAX East, they asked me. Gaming isn’t really my thing, so I was a little apprehensive, but I’ve been trying to say “yes” to things more often (job interviews, trips to the bar, girls).

I ended up behind the table for Friday and Sunday of the show. For eight hours a day, the booth was packed. I hardly had time to eat a snack, let alone leave the booth. But even stuck in our 10’ by 10’ box, the thousands of people we saw taught me a few things about conventions, gamers, and nerd-dom.

Gamers Are Super Friendly – At comic cons, even if everyone doesn’t read the same books, they can bond over comics as an artform. Gaming is a pastime, as well as an artform, and a social pastime at that. And so, gamers are very personal. These aren’t sweaty, bug-eyed people slouching around, getting Cheeto dust on everything. And they aren’t the hate-spewing teenagers you hear over your headset during a round of Call of Duty. (I mean, they are, but they hide it well in person.) I’m not surprised by any of this (after all, I frequent comic cons), but I was surprised at how much they want to talk about themselves, about you, about your shop, about the con. I talked to people from New England, old England, Ohio, Texas, Nova Scotia, and all over. In the line at the food court, we talked about the lack of choices and the impending diarrhea after consuming convention center steakbombs and energy drinks.

Also at the foodcourt was the greatest thing ever. A Ron Swanson/Super Mario Bros. Mashup. Unfortunately, they had run out of breakfast meats. Ron is disappointed.

Raon Swanson Super MArio Bros. Mashup

Everyone Is into Something and Someone Is into Everything – We’re all geeky for something. All of us. Whether it’s something mainstream like the NFL or my personal arenas of Star Wars and Marvel Comics. But without proper discourse, you can never tell what those things are going to be. That cute girl with the nosering? She’s really into Godzilla. That jacked black dude? Roots hard for House Stark. That chubby Canadian girl? Resident Evil is still her favorite game. My point being, this was my newest “don’t judge a book …” moment. On the other side, it doesn’t matter how niche something is, someone digs it. I sold an Earthworm Jim action figure this weekend. That game came out in 1994! But it hasn’t been forgotten by that guy. One exception to this rule: I couldn’t convince anyone to buy our copy of Home Improvement for Super Nintendo. (Still the best Tim Allen-based video game.)

Gamers Come To Spend – At an event as large as PAX, you want your booth to have something special. It’s not too hard to find a copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 (best game of all time), but what about one complete in the box? At PAX, you can find it, if you’re willing to pay. And the crowds were certainly ready to pay. I sold a copy of the Sega CD game Snatcher for $150 cash. The customer didn’t even flinch. Another guy was interested in Suikoden 2. I told him it was $120 and his wallet came right out. But spending isn’t just about big price tags. We had some less expensive things like toys and Game of Thrones posters. I was told “Shut up and I take my money” plenty of times this weekend.

You Can Find Sweet Deals – At comic conventions, the cheap stuff you’re going to find are long boxes filled with dollar books or $5 trades. And they’re all junk. Old copies of the Beavis and Butthead comic or tie-ins to World War Hulk. A waste of time to even browse through. Like I said above, I sold Snatcher for $150. As I type this, the leading eBay bid for a copy is $250. That $150 isn’t cheap, but for that guy, it was certainly a bargain. And on the last day of a con, no one wants want to haul all that stuff back home. Let’s make a deal!

So my first non-comic show was a great success. Who knows where I’ll end up next? After all, Boston Anime Fest is just a few weeks away.

New York Comic Con 2012

New York Comic Con was … decent this year. Good guest list. Placing Artist Alley in its own aircraft hangar was nice. But there were so many people. And so many people stopping in the middle of aisles to take pictures. And so many swords bashing me in the face. Thanks Deadpool.

The only thing I can show you that no one else on the internet can is my new art!

Let’s go!

In the seven years since the current volume of X-Factor started, there have been a lot of artists on this book. Like dozens. So I’ve seen a lot of interpretations of the characters. Some artists draw Rahne Sinclair really well in human form. Some draw her really well in wolf form. But Emanuela Lupacchino does both. I was talking to Peter David and his only reply was “You don’t have to tell me.” Lupacchino lives in Italy, so seeing her at an American con is rare. So when I saw she was going to be at the show, she was the #1 (and possibly only) commission I needed.

Wolfsbane by Emanuella Lupacchino

My first convention was the 2008 Baltimore Comic Con. One of the commissions I wanted was Mike McKone, who had a great Teen Titans run. The character? Raven. Unfortunately, he was behind on his pages, so he wasn’t drawing at the con. But now, four years later, I caught him early in the show.

Raven by Mike McKone

No disrespect to Mark Brooks, but I was actually in line at the Marvel booth to see Kieron Gillen. While in line, Brooks was doing sketches. I like his work, so I said my standard “your favorite villain.” Almost always, the artist has to think about it. I’ve gotten Two-Face, Captain Cold, Dr. Doom. But never Sabertooth. Until now.

Sabretooth by Mark BrooksLee Bermejo is just awesome. At the DC Booth, he was doing sketches for fans. His favorite villain? A common one, the Joker. Sick, dude.

Joker by Lee Bermejo

And to finish of this post, I’ve got an older piece of art. Back in April, I saw Katie Cook at the Boston Comic Con. This was my only piece from the show and I guess I never got around to scanning it. For those of you who don’t know, Katie draws a webcomic called Gronk.
“Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the New England Patriots have a player called Rob Gronkoski. We call him Gronk. So I was wondering if you could draw Gronk in Gronk’s jersey.”
Gronk by Katie Cook

New York Comic Con 2011

I wasn’t a big fan of last year’s New York Comic Con. With 70,000 people crammed in an under construction Javitz Center, it was more like being pulled along a river of people than strolling around a comic convention. You could hardly walk around anywhere other than Artist Alley. It was a three-day show, but I didn’t bother going back Sunday. Too stressful.

For that reason, I wasn’t planning on going this year, but after a few months, I get antsy and need that atmosphere. I called my boy Ronnie up and told him I was coming down.

I’m really glad I did.

Construction was finished, so despite a rumored 105,000 attendees filling three huge rooms, everything was very accessible. With the exception of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s ridiculous lines, I managed to get all the autographs I wanted. I got three great commissions. I met someone who has meant a lot to me since before I could speak.

Me and Oscar the GrouchAnd more than all that I had a once in a lifetime experience. But we’ll get there, first – the sketches.

One commission I wanted to get was a Batwoman by Amy Reeder. Sadly, she was only doing a couple a day, so I was too late to sign up. But Artist Alley is huge. There were plenty of other options.

Readers may know that my favorite book last year was Young Allies. So when I read that David Baldeon was going to be there, he shot up my list. And he drew a great Nomad for me.

Nomad by David BaldeonNext was Scott Kolins. Between recently finishing reading the Flash run he did with Geoff Johns and my love for villains, I was hoping he could do one of the rogues for me. He said Captain Cold was his favorite. Check this out.

Captain Cold by Scott KolinsLast was Dennis Calero. He had done a quick Multiple Man sketch for me back in 2009, but this was a full commission. He said Two-Face was a favorite of his. I didn’t have Two-Face in my book. It was destiny. And he killed it.

Two-Face by Dennis CaleroANYWAY. On Friday, after the show, I went to dinner with Marvel’s Vice President of Creator and Content Development, C. B. Cebulski, their Chief Creative Officer, Joe Quesada, and Editor in Chief, Axel Alonso.

Yeah.

The NYCC people offered a “Wanna Go on a Date with Marvel?” event. Ten fans had dinner with three of Marvel most visible employees at WD-50, a restaurant owned by Wylie Dufresne (yeah, the guy from Top Chef Masters). It was a nine-course meal with wine pairing in the wine cellar. It was the fanciest meal I’ve ever had. And so much fun.

Marvel MenuNot exactly the pulled pork tacos I had Thursday night, huh?

For five hours, the 13 of us (nine fans [one didn’t show up], three Marvel guys and the Marketing Director from NYCC) sat around, ate, drank and talked. About everything. Marvel being part of Disney. Great NYC restaurants. I talked to Alonso about the NBA. Joey Q talked about being on the set of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. We were mostly strangers, but the conversations just flowed. Some artists that were drinking upstairs stopped by. Joe (Mets fan) and I (from Boston) made fun of Alex Maleev for wearing a Yankees cap. It was just a fun night surrounded by people who all love comics. Aspiring writers. Aspiring artists. Readers. Bloggers. It was a great group of people. The ticket cost a few shekels, but I’m so glad I spent them.

After dinner, a few of us went dancing around the corner at a bar called Idle Hands. The Phonogram guys were spinning that night, but they had already finished. Nonetheless, the music was perfect:
Pulp – Disco 2000
The Smiths – This Charming Man
Depeche Mode – Just Can’t Get Enough
Human League – Don’t You Want Me
The Clash – Train in Vain
It was like someone had borrowed my iPod. After a few songs, it was quickly 2:00 AM. And my drunk legs had a trek back to Jersey.

Saturday was spent mostly poking around the rest of the con, picking up my sketchbooks, and seeing Cobie Smulders at the Marvel booth. (Robin Sparkles for the win!) I do want to mention that I picked up a book created by a couple of the girls from the Marvel Dinner. Check out Meridien City, new from Alpha Girl Comics. I picked it up to support some new friends, but it really is a quality book. It follows a homicide cop on a foreign planet with only certain livable areas – the rest of the planet is too hot. When bodies pile up around the outskirts, it’s her job to find out why. There’s a deeper hook, but I’ll leave that to the reader.

Meridien CityAfter the show, I had some BBQ and met up with an old friend from my London days. ($6 for a High Life? Really New York?) And then I went Marvel’s Chesterfest 2011. Take your neighborhood bar. Fill it with comics pros. And give everyone X-Men coasters. Yeah, it was awesome. A few more drinks, a little deliberation about approaching Jason Aaron (I left him alone), and it was time to call it a weekend.

Yes, I skipped Sunday again, but when you’re good with your budget and time, two days is plenty for a convention. It was a great show and I have no question I’ll be there next year.

Habibi!

I’m gonna stop bitching and just post when I want to post. I don’t need to be profound every day. If I wanna say something, I’m going to, when it’s fresh.

First … I met Craig Thompson!

You should all read his book Blankets if you haven’t. And Good-bye Chunky Rice. He’s a great cartoonist. and he just came out with a new book called Habibi. (Habibi is an Arabic word, a non-sexual term of endearment, like friend or darling. Use it at home!)

Last Wednesday, on his 36th birthday, he had an event at a theater in Harvard Square. He showed some of his drafts for the book, talked some, then took Q&A. Even though I showed up 15 minutes late (damn traffic!) it was great. Then he signed my book and did a sketch of Dodola for me.

Dodola from Habibi

I wish I had brought my copy of Blankets too.

I expected him to be more shy, maybe more self-important, but he was just a nice guy. I told him how I’ve given Blankets to girlfriends and even my mom (she liked it) and asked him if he ever thought of working in color (he likes black and white, but is considering having someone color one of his future books).

Then I complimented his vest and left.

It was good.

Man, I love parentheticals.

New Art from C2E2 and Boston Comic Con

I’ve been to a couple conventions in the past few months, I so figured I should eventually show off my new acquisitions.

ART!

C2E2 – This may be new my favorite convention. It may be smaller than the big shows, but that just means it’s more manageable. It didn’t have a flashy guest list, but I got to meet dozens of creators over the two days.

Captain America by Sean Forney. I just saw this guy in the aisles and liked his style.
Captain America by Sean Forney

Nightcrawler by Skottie Young. Uh … awesome, much?
Nightcrawler by Skottie Young

Superman by World Wrestling Entertainment Legend Jerry “The King” Lawler. One of the greatest heroes of all time drawn by one of the greatest wrestlers of all time? That’s a two-fer.
Superman by Jerry "The King" Lawler

Tara Chace by Brian Hurtt. Possibly the best drawing in my sketch books. You can’t even call this a sketch. This is a full blown commission. Unbelievable. It’s blows my mind that artists can do something like this, but when they show it to the person who asked for it, they say “Is that good?” Holy hell yes it’s good! Also, Brian knew my name by the end of the first day. May have to do with him having the same one. Maybe not.
Tara Chace by Brian Hurtt

Thor by Sean “Cheeks” Galloway. People hated on the Teen Titans strip from Wednesday Comics, but I liked Sean Galloway’s art. I asked him for a Thor with a big ol’ beard. Well done.
Thor by Sean Galloway

Boston Comic Con – BCC has grown by leaps and bounds since the first one I went to about three years ago. It used to be in the basement of a convention center, now it’s taking over a huge room at the Hynes, in the heart of Back Bay. As it’s gotten larger, to guests lists have been incredible. This year alone had Frank Quitely, Darwyn Cooke, J. Scott Campbell, Art Adams and dozens more. I wasn’t really there to shop, so I finished everything in one day, but it was a fun day.

Gwen Stacy by Tim Sale. I love Tim Sale. His minimalist sketches are really classy. I had him sign my hardcover of Spider-Man: Blue and got this sketch for my friend Jane’s birthday.Gwen Stacy by Tim Sale

Juggernaut by Declan Shalvey. Readers know how much I love the current run of Thunderbolts. Regular artist Kev Walker does a great version of Songbird, but Declan Shalvey has impressed me every time he’s filled in, especially with his Juggernaut. Look at the drawing! All the gray tones, the white out he used for smoke. There’s even sections where you can see his fingerprints in the dust. Pens and brushes be damned! Also, it’s incredible. A new favorite among my friends.Juggernaut by Declan Shalvey

Wolverine by Ming Doyle. Ming Doyle is a local Boston artist. She’s a hip lady with a great style. When I saw her art, I knew she was the one to get Wolverine from. He looks grizzled, haggard and ill-tempered, just like Logan should. Wolverine by Ming DoyleX-Factor #215, pages #7-8 by Valentine de Landro and Pat Davidson. As I said about Thunderbolts, readers know I love X-Factor. One of the main reasons is how far into the future Peter David plans. The Madrox/Layla marriage has been in the works for years. As I flipped through Pat Davidson’s original art pages, I saw this, the proposal scene. I had to have it. At $50 for the spread, it was a steal. I’ve got my fingers crossed I can one day find De Landro’s penciled pages.

X-Factor #215, Pages 7-8

New York Comic Con 2010

I realize it’s been two weeks now, but I’ve been dreading this post. Long story short: I found this year’s NYCC to be too big and too overwhelming. 96,000 people? I don’t care how big the hall is, that’s a lot of people. 96,00 people means the main floor is an ocean of people, carrying you with them down each aisle and through each booth. It’s almost to hard to browse. If you’re not going to a table for a specific reason, it’s not worth fighting your way though the crowd. You wanted to see the Marvel booth? Too bad. It’s packed like the floor at a Gwar concert. But with more costumes.

By the end of Saturday, I had bought three books (reviews … to come) and a t-shirt, gotten a bagful of signatures and received five sketches. All for under my budget. I didn’t even go on Sunday.

So before the con, I posted a list of things to check out. How’d it go?

Podcast Alley – I got to meet the guys from Comic Geek Speak for the third time. Nice dudes. Always fun to talk to. I finally met Adam (Murd), which means I’ve met all the geeks.  I also bought a sweet shirt from them: “Tosche Station Power Converters – Worth Whining About.” Easily the nerdiest shirt I own. Good times.

Free Stuff – Marvel had a generic selection of posters and preview issues, but once again DC had a good spread. Recent issues of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and DV8. Also, What’s Next issues of Jonah Hex, Hellblazer and more. A smart way to expose people to your properties.

Speed Dating – Yeah. About that. My speed dating session started Saturday at 2. I got there at 1:45. At 2:15 someone came out of the room and told us they had already started. REAL NICE. When was the last time something at a comic convention started early? So speed dating was a bust. Too bad. It sounded … interesting.

The Cultyard – Remember that sea of people I was talking about? Well, it flooded the Cultyard. I walked by once and it was too crowded to step in to. Too bad.

ART! – I can’t say I was disappointed with the art I manged to pull.

The White Violin from by Gabriel Bá

The White Violin from The Umbrella Academy by Gabriel Bá

Tara Chace from Queen and Country by Leandro Fernandez

Tara Chace by Leandro Fernandez

Tara Chace from Queen and Country by Clara Speed McNeil

Tara Chace by Clara Speed McNeil

Penny from Phonogram by Jamie McKelvie

Penny by Jamie McKelvie

Siryn by Valentine DeLandro

Siryn by Valentine DeLandro

I didn’t realize until after the show, but all five of the characters are female. Interesting.

The only other person I was hoping to get a sketch from was Nicola Scott, but her list for the weekend was full less than two hours into the con (WHAT?). Oh well, one for the future.

Everything Else – 1) I got Jeph Loeb to sign my Daredevil: Yellow hardcover. Now my favorite story is signed by the writer and artist. Awesome.

2) Nicki Clyne (Cally from Battlestar Galactica) is super nice. I went up to tell her I loved her on the show. Her smile and “Thank You” were so genuine I just wanted to take her home and love her* be her best friend forever.

3) I talked to Kieron Gillen about the (hypothetical) future of Phonogram. Specifically, what Emily Aster would think of Lady Gaga. The next miniseries would have had a theme of identity as it relates to music, focusing on Emily/Claire. And she would have loved Gaga.

4) Quotes of the weekend:

Some dude in the men’s room.: “Nice lightsaber.” – It’s probably a common compliment at a con, but dude, there’s better venues for it.

My buddy Ron, while looking for a bar: “What does that sign say under ‘The Continental?’ ”
Me: ” ‘Five shots of anything $10.’ That’ll do!!”

___

So yeah. It was fun, but it was nicer last year. Having such a big floorplan means you spend a ton of time just going from place to place. I think Fan Expo Toronto is still my favorite con I’ve been to. I’m planning on checking out C2E2 next year. Always nice to try new things.

Any one else at the show? Did you have the same experience or am I turning into an old man too early?

*Sexist comments redected.

Five Things To Do at NYCC

It’s days away now, but with the entire Javitz center filled with fanboys and otaku, you really need a gameplan. Here are five things I wouldn’t miss this weekend.

5) Podcast Alley – I listen to four comics podcasts: Comic Geek Speak, IGN Comics Smash, Word Balloon, and 4th Letter’s Fourcast. While Comic Geek Speak is the only one of those at the con in an official, exhibiting capacity, NYCC has given a good dozen podcasters their own area on the floor. Like sex, comics are so much better as a community activity than a solo one. Meet your favorite hosts and buy some swag from them to help support their show (which they probably offer for free).

4) Free Stuff – I won’t deny it. I love walking around the con seeing who’s giving what away. Free books are a good way for smaller publishers to get their name out, so you can often find sampler issues or even full comics by a creator trying to get their name out there.

DC always puts out a nice selection of new books, posters, pins, and recently rings (Lantern, Flash, etc.). Last year, Marvel also had giveaway hours that included hardcovers, toys, apparel and even some art. Careful of those crowds though. A tip: send a small child to the front of the crowd. The giveaway guy is always a sucker for kids.

3) Speed Dating – Do you want to tell the best story at your next party? The same group that hosted speed dating at the recent Star Wars Celebration (“Lookin’ for love in Alderaan places” is the best tagline I’ve ever heard.) is back! Spend two hours: The worst that could happen is you don’t make a connection. The best that could happen is you meet someone who likes to dress up like Sailor Moon (or Tuxedo Mask). Pre-registration has closed, but you can still register at Room 1A20 on Friday or Saturday. I don’t want no one to get too excited, but I’ll be there Saturday from 2-4.

2) The Cultyard – Now this is something I haven’t seen in the past. I’d describe the Cultyard as a corral of urban artist. Here, art can mean fashion, toys, animation, anything. It’s more hipster than nerd, but with comics “becoming more mainstream,” maybe the groups are blurring. One specific artist I want to mention is Tara McPherson. She did a recent Women in Comics event at my local shop, where she sketched a nice piece for me:Sketch by Tara McPherson

The scan doesn’t do justice to the pencil work, but you get the idea. And speaking of sketches …

1) ART! – I’ve said before that my favorite part of convention is meeting artists and getting sketches. Let’s see a few pieces that I got last year:

Batman by Rags MoralesBlue Beetle by FancoEcho by David MackRobin by Todd NauckWonder Girl by Franco

Batman by Rags Morales, Blue Beetle by Franco, Echo by David Mack, Robin by Todd Nauck and Wonder Girl by Franco.

So yeah, lots of art. Some people will do a quick sketch for free. Some charge for more involved pieces, but where else can you get custom art like that? And sketchbooks area great thing to show off when someone scans your shelves.

The con begins in four days.

See you there!