As my plane descended, I looked out at the layer of smog over Anaheim. Although I am not repelled by Los Angeles as many of my friends are, I found this view to be somewhat disconcerting. My first two conventions of the year, Emerald City in Seattle and Linework NW in Portland, were surrounded by the colors green and blue. WonderCon would be set in my mind as brown and tan.
Coming from the southwest, these are not necessarily bad color associations. I consider the desert to be a clean place. Even though I’ve lived in Portland for eight years, I still find the lush environment to be strange, alien. You don’t have to fight for life in the Pacific Northwest. In the desert, everything is hard-won.
That turned out to be a metaphor for the convention itself. There was no shortage of attendees (I later read that WonderCon sold out of badges), but sales were not correspondingly high. It was a good show for me saleswise, but not stellar. In the desert, life is hard-won.
When I work harder for each sale, it makes me appreciate the connection with the reader. Somehow, in the midst of the hubbub and hullaballoo of a large convention center, in the shadow of Disneyland, people told me that my books were terrific. That counts as a minor miracle, I think.
The best part of the convention was spending time with cartoonists. Alec and Greg and I ate at a Hawaiian restaurant, where we talked about how few people Alec wants to see on Facebook (about ten) and how many cats I’ve seen on my rides home (up to eight). Kevin Woody took me to Downtown Disney since I didn’t go into the park itself. “Have you heard of Downtown Disney?” I asked. “I live in Southern California. I’ve heard of Downtown Disney,” he replied. He advised me not to get into the cult of pin-trading.
I also met a guy who works at Warner Bros. He asked me to do a little signmaking in exchange for DVDs. My first work for Warner Bros. was this sign, advertising the guy who wrote Die Hard:
In Portland, you meet graphic designers, web designers, baristas, and guys like me who do whatever pays the bills and ends at 5. In Anaheim, I met people who work for Disney, Sony, Paramount, and Universal animation departments. I tried my best not to say the words gosh, golly, or gee-willikers, but I think they could read the expression on my face.
I’m not entirely sure if I’ll return to WonderCon next year. It was certainly a well-run show, and I got a good experience out of it. Maybe it was that layer of smog sitting over everything. If Disney can find a way to lift that cloud, I’ll definitely be back.