Everybody loves Twitter. Having already conquered the blogosphere and the myspacesphere, I decided that Comic-Con 2012 was the perfect opportunity to make myself known in the Twittersphere. I commenced Tweeting without reservation for five days.
Arriving Wednesday afternoon, I taxied from the airport to my hotel, washed the plane grime from my face, and strapped on my backpack, my new banner (pictured above), and wheeled three heavy boxes of books the half mile to the San Diego Convention Center. I was sweaty when I arrived. Sweaty, but ready for the next five days. There was no line for my badge, one of the many perks of being an exhibitor, and I was ushered into the convention center by the smiling Comic-Con staff.
Preview Night was only three hours long but I met nearly as many people as I would in a normal day of any other convention. It was merely a hint of the madness to come.
Eating breakfast the next morning, I was struck at how the local San Diegans attempted (with varying degrees of success) to live their daily lives in the midst of this massive event. Some eyed us interlopers with curiosity, others attempted to ignore us entirely. My hat is off to the waitresses of the Gaslamp Quarter, many of them dressing in old superhero t-shirts or donning fake glasses. They earned every penny that week.
Every single morning at 9, the convention hall opened to the public. Invariably the first people I saw running by were those intrepid souls attempting to purchase some exclusive toy that was made in limited quantities and only sold at certain booths at the convention. The announcement not to run was played for the first half hour of the show; nobody paid it any attention.
It only took me fifteen minutes to spot my first Wookie. The costume of the year this year seemed to be Adventure Time. So many people dressed as those characters.
This is true. A man approached my table and as we chatted my eyes wandered down to his badge. Badges listed not only a person’s name but where he came from, an interesting bit of information I enjoyed learning. This time, however, my attention was fixed on the man’s name: Charlie Brown. He had a sketchbook; he was asking cartoonists to draw Charlie Brown in their own style. I obliged, and here is the result:
Slave Leia, usually a Comic-Con favorite costume, was not as popular this year. Maybe I just missed all the Slave Leias. Maybe they all hung out by the LucasArts booth (UPDATE: they did). I was not disappointed to miss them. It’s awkward to see women dressed that way. Comics aren’t about that anymore – not the good ones anyway.
One costume I highly approved of was Girl Tintin. I saw two this year and they were both very cool. It’s kind of a Peter Pan thing, and not demeaning. I like to think of Tomb of the Zombies as my version of a Tintin adventure, with Kate Crane as a female Tintin.
My tablemate Reid and I saw him walk by, then turned to look at each other with the same awestruck expression. We equivocated for a while, but in our guts we knew immediately we had seen one of the most popular guys at Comic-Con.
A very drunk Abe Lincoln gave us quite a lot of money for a bit of double-sided tape.
Reid couldn’t stop laughing at the cover to the Events Guide, which featured not only a very healthy looking Tarzan but a zebra butt (hint: center right).
Ruben Bolling is one of my favorite cartoonists; I cannot recommend Tom the Dancing Bug enough. It was truly an honor to receive this book from him.
I bought only a few books this year. Baby’s in Black (by Arne Bellstorf) is a true tragic love story about Astrid Kirchherr and Stuart Sutcliffe. Stuart was in The Beatles before they hit the big time; he was a friend of John’s from art school. Sadly, he died from a brain aneurism in 1962. This book is one of the very best comics I have ever read. Beautiful black & white illustrations, understated and melancholy tone, Baby’s in Black is a rare and precious achievement. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Reid is a huge fan of dinosaur artist William Stout, with good reason. The man’s a genius. He’s also been at every Comic-Con since year one. Reid showed William his drawing of Bigfoot, at which William said, “I know the guy who made that suit.”
My neighbor Jeff Shuetze draws “a geeky comic about a nerd in Hollywood.” He did killer t-shirt and print business; I’m looking forward to diving into his online comic.
My second celebrity sighting. Staying in the convention hall all day long was inconceivable, so I’d take a lunch break to enjoy some of San Diego’s beautiful weather. On my way out I saw a crowd of hundreds of people, all of whom had their cameras raised high above their heads. When I turned to see what all the hulabaloo was about, I saw Robert Downey Jr. standing on the Marvel stage with a bunch of little kids all dressed as Iron Man.
Jeff took an unhealthy liking to my table mascot, Smokey Bear. At one point I looked down at my table to find Smokey conspicuously missing. Determined questioning of my neighbor revealed him to be the culprit. Jeff is a great guy, but he has a terrible poker face.
One of my proudest additions to the table was this custom-made cash box by Cody Acevedo. He took the old cigar box I was using and transformed it into this work of art. Not only does it look great, but it holds money. Maybe not Rmoney, but mini-comics money for sure.
Was this the funniest exchange of the convention? It was certainly close.
Comic-Con has always been an exciting adventure for me. This year, my first as an exhibitor, was a high-water mark for me as a cartoonist. Thanks to my friends and neighbors, both old and new, for making Comic-Con such an essential event for all cartoonists.
More to come in writing, but here is a visual log of my five days in San Diego. As it was my first time as exhibitor, I took some pictures of the booths without the huge crowds surrounding them. It is an unadvertised treat to be able to wander the convention hall with only my fellow exhibitors around.
For a minute-by-minute recap of Comic-Con, I highly recommend reading my Twitter feed, as well as those of my friends and neighbors Reid Psaltis, Jeff Schuetze, Victoria Ying, Mike Yamada, Tammy Stellanova, Chet Phillips, and Dave Kellett.
Starting Wednesday, I’ll be in San Diego at the hottest little convention around. San Diego Comic-Con is the most American convention because it is the biggest. This year marks my first as an exhibitor. Find me in the Small Press Pavilion, tantalizingly close to the concession stand and only a BAM POW away from Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse.
If you’re searching for me in the sea of talented Small Press exhibitors, I’ll look something like this:
I will be selling books like these:
So stop by, shout hello (it’s kind of loud in the San Diego Convention Center, what with all the studios promoting their Geek-Approved movies) and escape to everyone’s favorite fake National Park. Hope to see you there!
This weekend marked an important passage for my marriage. In 2006, I married Isis (not on the fifth day of May). We were married in a tiny mountain town in Colorado, which, as fate had it, was the very same tiny mountain town Tom Cruise and his blushing finance Katie Holmes had recently purchased a house. Later that year Tom and Katie had their very own shotgun wedding.
This means we are officially a more successful couple than Tom and Katie. I never expected to win any awards for my marriage, but I carry this trophy in my heart for the rest of my days. When things are looking grim and life keeps handing me lemons, I’ll know deep down that I am a better husband than Tom Cruise.
I bear no ill will to either Tom or Katie (or the ghost of L. Ron Hubbard). I wish them only the best in their future endeavors, be that more Mission: Impossible movies or another Michael Chabon adaptation. I just hope that, the next time I run into Katie Holmes, she doesn’t think I stole all her good marriage mojo.