Posts Tagged ‘comic con’


off to comic-con land

California will be one cartoonist heavier for a couple days because this blogger will be at Comic-Con. That’s right! I’ll be chatting it up with the biggest names in the funny biz, angling for autographs and insider information. I’m also bringing a truckload of my latest book for trading, so if anyone you know has a hankering for Falling Rock, find me wandering the Comic-Con floor. Just look for the redheaded kid with a little bit of knowledge and a whole lotta heart.

Kid Shay! He’s going places.peanuts-beautiful-kid

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back from san diego!

L1010107 L1010079L1010129I will post at length about the wonder that is San Diego Comic Con, but I just wanted to let you all know that I’m back at the ol’ drawing board.

I won’t say who, but I met a few of my heroes. Hint: none of them were wearing capes. (At the time.)

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comic con 2009 super all-star collector’s edition

This year marked my first pilgrimage to NerdFest 09, also known as ComicCon. ComicCon is the largest comics convention in the world. It was the biggest thing I’ve ever seen. You could fill the Grand Canyon with the geeks, dorks, and nerds attending ComicCon. If you stacked all the comics from ComicCon, the pile would reach Saturn. Big is not a big enough word. Neither is huge or gigantic. Galactic may work, as it has the ring of science fiction. Essentially, ComicCon is the San Diego convention center overrun with comics and comic-related phenomena, spilling out into downtown.

In addition to the convention on the ground floor, the second floor hosted a continuous stream of panels and talks by some of the best cartoonists around. Sure, if you wanted to see James Cameron and Peter Jackson gab about movie stuff, you’d have to wait 2 1/2 hours in the sun. But for a brilliant cartoonist like Richard Thompson all you had to do was find the right room. I don’t have to tell you people’s priorities are messed up. On the other hand, James Cameron gave people 3D glasses. How can a newspaper cartoonist compete with 3D glasses?

I attended two panels: Richard Thompson and Stephan Pastis. Each was an hour in which the cartoonist showed a PowerPoint presentation of his work then answered questions.

Richard took us on a journey through Richard’s Poor Almanack, his weekly for the Washington Post, and the origins of the daily Cul de Sac. Cul de Sac, as I’ve mentioned before, is the best comic strip in papers today, bar none. His humor is wry and goofy at the same time, which is probably why I identify with it so strongly. He’s also one heckuva artist. Unsurprisingly, he began his career as an illustrator and, as he put it, started sneaking words in until he arrived at comics. Instead of deciding beforehand he wanted to make comics, he slowly realized comics was the best means of expression for him. It was similar (yet backwards) to my own discovery: writing came first and I slowly added pictures.
(Below is neither Cul de Sac or Falling Rock. It is an original Pogo Sunday, which I was happily allowed to photograph for free. Buying it would have put me out about 500 bucks.)
Stephan was cheered for getting his PowerPoint presentation up and running. It was somewhat surprising they had any technical difficulties at all. I would think you could page the convention floor for help: “ComicCon attendees: is there anyone in the crowd with IT experience? Does anyone know how to work a computer?”

It was not surprising to hear Stephan got his initial inspiration from Peanuts and Dilbert, as that aesthetic permeates Pearls Before Swine to great success. He told a very funny story about angering an entire country: Turkey. In one strip, he named a llama Atatürk. This is seen as sacrilege: like a Turkish cartoonist naming a doofus character Washington Lincoln Jefferson. The scandal culminated in Stephan’s receiving an admonishing letter from the Ambassador of Turkey.



In addition to panels, a good place to meet cartoonists was at their booths.

Jeff Smith signed at Cartoon Books. I was truly surprised when he recognized my comic book. I had sent him a copy a while ago, after I missed seeing him at Stumptown in Portland. The man must have the memory of an elephant, because he said he owed me a letter and made his inscription “To the creator of Falling Rock…” If there’s any cartoonist who is able to make comics accessible to readers of all ages and that don’t necessarily read comics, it’s Mr. Smith. If you haven’t read Bone, Shazam, or Rasl, do it. Now. Now!

Keith Knight (The K Chronicles) generously talked about self-syndication and gave me a badly needed boost to continue promoting Falling Rock. One booth over, Bob the Angry Flower creator Stephen Notley (in full flower regalia) signed my copy of Everybody vs. Bob the Angry Flower. While I was talking to Stephen, Keith interjected some tips aimed at Stephen about how to get Bob into more papers. Keith is not only a great cartoonist but a savvy businessman AND he looks good in a hat. Triple threat.

Kevin McShane, creator of ToupyDoops. When I first got to college, I checked the school paper to size up who I’d have to compete with for space. ToupyDoops was THE strip. Everyone knew it and loved it. Kevin turned out to be a great guy in addition to a talented cartoonist, and my strip, Atticus and Glen, wouldn’t have been as good if I didn’t have ToupyDoops as friendly competition. I was pleasantly surprised to see him again and glad he’s still cartooning.

Steve Lieber, Whiteout. I’m excited to read this murder mystery set in Antarctica. Steve also passed along a preview of his upcoming story Underground, about a cave in a state park in Kentucky and how differently the townspeople and park rangers see it. The townspeople want to open it to tourists and the rangers want to keep it closed for preservation. Values clash! Ed Abbey would have liked this comic, I think.

Scott C.’s Double Fine Action Comics. I’ve been following Scott’s blog for a while now, really enjoying his watercolor prints. Meeting him in person, he struck me as an older, taller, cooler, more successful version of myself. Action Comics is a web comic he later collected into a book. His day job? Video game designer. He also has a beard. Triple threat!
I made new friends; perhaps they saw a guy not dressed as a stormtrooper and thought “he can’t be in the right place.” Christian Ward, whose series Olympus is fantastic and not done with watercolor (but don’t tell anyone). Stephen McCranie is an Albuquerque cartoonist and is as talented as he is tall (he’s tall).
Of course I had to wander the movie side of the convention. It was there that I got all my cool swag, including: a Green Lantern ring that lights up (I’m thinking of going back in time and proposing to my wife with this Green Lantern ring.), a gigantic Watchmen swag bag, a Transformers seat cushion that does not transform into a robot, a light-up Astro Boy pin, an Adventureland key chain that lights up, and a few other buttons and posters that do not light up.

There were no less than two captain chairs from the deck of the USS Enterprise at the Con. One was part of a raffle. Yes, you could win Captain Kirk’s chair. Every time I walked by, someone was getting their picture taken while sitting in the chair. I was recruited for employment at Stark Industries. I saw Kenan Thompson (of Saturday Night Live) walking into a restaurant and subsequently getting stopped for pictures. Seth Green (of Robot Chicken) was doing some kind of webcast from the convention floor.
A few celebrities I did not see but were there: Kristen Bell, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, Sigourney Weaver, Johnny Depp, Tim Burton, Henry Selick & Neil Gaiman (promoting Coraline’s DVD release), Eliza Dusku, Denzel Washington (?!?!?!), and more! Since I’m already good friends with Denzel, why try to get together at the busy Con? We’ll just have a beer back at his place in Indiana.
Finally, the ComicCon experience would not be complete without a stack of new reading material to take home:

Neptune, by Aron Nels Steinke. He was not able to attend ComicCon in person, but Aron’s book made its debut in San Diego. Having finished reading it, I wholeheartedly recommend this book to people who A) have either read comics before or not, B) like books or don’t, C) think Dick Cheney should run for President or think he’s the Great Satan. All political joking aside, Neptune is, like Jeff Smith’s Bone, accessible to anyone. I hope it becomes a huge seller so I can sell my signed copy on ebay for 50 million dollars. Which reminds me, I saw an issue of Spider-Man #1 at ComicCon. That shouldn’t be out in the open. It belongs in a museum!
Owly: Tiny Tales, Andy Runton

The Gigantic Robot, Tom Gauld

Little Mouse Gets Ready, Jeff Smith

Lonely Heart, Tara McPherson


comic con 2010: watterson’s spirit

A full rundown of Comic Con 2010 will appear at this here blog within the next day or so.  To tide you over until then, I present a series of sketches Bill Watterson sent to Berkeley Breathed – they were cartoonist pen pals back in the heady 1980’s.

Berkeley gave a funny and subversive talk, attended by hundreds of nerds, geeks and dweebs of all stripes.  Since Comic Con is home to Exclusive Limited Editions in all media, where better to show off a bunch of Watterson sketches received by snail mail in the 80’s?

This is probably the closest ol’ Bill will ever get to Comic Con.comic-con-watterson6 comic-con-watterson5 comic-con-watterson4 comic-con-watterson3 comic-con-watterson2 comic-con-watterson1
This last sketch, of a buck naked Ronald Reagan, was Bill’s response to a story told by Berkeley in which Berkeley received a phone call from the President as he emerged from the shower.  Reagan had seen a picture of his wife, Nancy, in a Bloom County Sunday strip, and wanted to thank Berkeley.  Too stunned to think of anything better to say, Berkeley replied “Mr. President, I think you should know I’m not wearing any pants right now.”  The President must have found this charming, because he invited the cartoonist to a State Dinner.  (That time, Berkeley wore pants.)

More fun cartoonist stories to come!


comic con 2010 in words

san diego convention center [Blogger’s Note: Although there were many superstars at Comic Con, one actor was notably missing.  Alan Rickman did not, to my knowledge, attend Comic Con.  Sadly, my meeting with Sir Rickman has yet to occur.]

I can hardly believe it’s been more than a week since Comic Con.  The yearly festival of comics and media geekdom was, my second time around, still just as vital as ever.  Comic Con excels at two things, mainly: facilitating fans’ meeting hundreds (possibly thousands) of famous and yet-to-be famous cartoonists, and providing a ground for the exchange of ideas and products related (sometimes tenuously) to sequential art.  Uh, and recently it’s become a place where Hollywood previews movies based on comics.  If you want to meet the cartoonist who created your favorite strip or book, or if you want to see the starlet who will be starring in the movie based upon your favorite strip or book, Comic Con is the place to be.

This year, as I mentioned before, I was joined by my wife Isis and my good friends Nate McGraw and Alex.  It was their first ever trip to California, which was totally crazy to me, but some people just grew up on the wrong side of the country (or continent).  The ladies took off almost immediately to stand in line for movie panels.  Nate was gracious enough to let me lead the way though pop culture wilderness. L1020100L1020149

I’m dividing this post up thematically, as giving a blow-by-blow chronological account would bore all of us.  As it is, only three readers have gotten this far in the post.  Thank you!  Read on for the exciting part.

Panels
If the convention floor is the meat of Comic Con, the panels are the vegetables.  It is the panels where you can hear cartoonists blather on for an hour about their favorite pen nib. True bliss.

Nate and I kicked off Comic Con with the Spotlight panel on Jeff Smith.  Jeff created Bone and Rasl, and is a genuinely nice and funny guy.  His slide show covered new projects he’s been working on, and in the question and answer section he mentioned the upcoming Bone movie(!).

We also sat in on the Keith Knight Spotlight panel, in which Keith spoke about his weekly comic strip and his new (-ish) daily strip.  Keith is a great speaker, a natural entrepreneur, and above all a very funny cartoonist.  He brought something up that I found intriguing; his weekly comic, The K Chronicles, was essentially a blog before blogs even existed.  When I read it that way, it makes complete sense.

Nicholas Gurewitch, the mad scientist who created Perry Bible Fellowship, is someone either destined to be a Hall of Famer or a delirious bum who dies in a gutter.  I’m not sure which.  His question and answer section sounded eerily like a Bob Dylan press conference from the 1960’s, in which he would answer the question with a riddle, or he’d answer the question he wanted to be asked.  My favorite answer was to the question, “Do you get your ideas directly from life?”  He responded, “If we can only write from what we experience, then yes, 100% of my ideas come directly from life.”

We saw about half of a Krazy Kat panel.  They showed some home movies of George Herriman with his (then) baby granddaughter.  It was pretty cool to see one of my cartoonist heroes come to life, since we are separated by almost a century.

Berkeley Breathed put on a freewheelin’ panel, documented by this post and photographed in this post.  I may be the only one, but based on the test footage he showed I’m glad Opus never got made into a movie.

Ray Bradbury is almost 90, but he spoke to hundreds of us and seems entirely lucid, if nearly deaf.  Honestly, if it was a choice between ears and brain to go first, I’d choose ears every time.  It was a real joy hearing the very first Comic Con guest speak at Comic Con 41.  His responses to to questions were in depth and often funny.  Not sure why he hates the internet and Obama.

On a panel called Writing Animated Feature Films, four screenwriters discussed the projects they’ve worked on and how they managed to get through them.  I say that because apparently, in Hollywood, the writer is almost as low on the totem pole as the caterer (actually, they probably receive less respect than the food dude).  Between them, I found both Dean DeBlois and the writer who worked in TV (whose name I could not find in the Programming book, sorry!) to be the most straightforward about their work and what it takes to be creative while working with a group.  In all, it was a very informative panel and something that you wouldn’t normally see outside of a writing seminar.

Nate and I found the Nerdiest Guy At Comic Con at the Avatar Press panel.  We were there to hear Max Brooks, author of World War Z, talk about how to survive the coming zombie apocalypse.  The NGACC asked a dozen questions, and even filmed himself asking one question, as well as Max’s response.  Max cut him off after that.  We were thrilled to find the NGACC and wanted to ask him out for a drink afterward, to hear him monologue, but thought he might misconstrue our affection as ironic, so we didn’t.

The zombie panel leads me to the next segment of this overly-long post:

Zombies and Vampires
Last year, Twilight brought the vampire lovers to Comic Con en masse.  Seriously, there were like 80,000 teenage girls there for one reason (hint: it wasn’t sex).  This year, despite the popularity of True Blood – which Isis described to me as softcore porn with vampires – zombies ruled the convention.  There was a zombie walk, zombie panels, and two (count ‘em) booths devoted to the comic series Walking Dead.  This made me feel good about my book-in-progress, as it is about zombies.  I can’t wait to be a millionaire.L1020156

Celebrities
Last year I was at Comic Con for two days, while this year I stayed for the whole bloody affair.  I got to see more celebrities wandering the convention floor this year, which was pretty cool.

Scott Adsit plays Pete Hornberger on one of my favorite TV shows of all time – OF ALL TIME – 30 Rock.  I saw him wandering the convention floor and ran over like a panting doofus.  I was smart enough to give him my new Falling Rock collection, but I wasn’t sure how best to convey how awesome I think he is.  This was the second time this year I’ve seen Scott – he made an unscheduled appearance at Stumptown.  Scott, the next time I see you I promise to be more eloquent.

I saw Seth Green two times: once signing autographs, and once wandering the convention floor with his wife.  He would have been swarmed if he got noticed, so I didn’t try to say hello.

Nate and I saw two mega-stars while eating lunch on Thursday.  David Hasselhoff was apparently promoting a new reality show.  He stood on the roof a double-decker bus, along with a group of dancing girls, shaking his tanned body and singing “Hooked on a Feeling.”  His bus was flanked by Knight Rider cars.  Kind of the definition of “publicity stunt.”  Soon after, our waitress shrieked and ran down the sidewalk.  She saw Emilio Estevez.  She got her picture taken with him, then came back and told us how bummed she was that she had to work the entire weekend.  Despite my description, she was a perfectly good waitress.

Although I didn’t see her personally, Isis and Alex told me that they saw Helen Mirren wearing a Harvey Pekar shirt.  Helen Mirren, if you read this blog know this: you are totally awesome.  Please visit Falling Rock National Park anytime.L1020221

Cartoonists
I know.  You’re wondering what all this has to do with comics.  While Comic Con has become more about pop culture in general, it does manage to retain its comic-centeredness.  Most of the convention floor is devoted to booths about comics, either hosted by the creators or the publishers or retailers.  I ran into a number of cartoonists either by accident or by visiting their booths.  The number of serendipitous meetings leads me to believe there is a great positive energy generated by Comic Con.  I won’t try to explain it, but I know it is there.

A partial list, with links to guide you: Greg Means, Stephen Notley, James Sturm, Jeffrey Brown, Nate Powell, Bill Amend, Steve Lieber, Katie Cook, Paul Guinan & Anina Bennett, Raina Telgemeier, Stephen McCranie, Rudy Solis, Dylan Meconis, Dave Kellett.

Although long, this post feels like a snapshot of the full days and nights.  A complete write-up would probably feel more like Ulysses and less like a blog.  As an event, Comic Con is probably the biggest and best I’ve ever participated in.  As a place to meet and spend time with creative and smart people, Comic Con is probably second only to college.

Thanks for reading, and see you in San Diego next year.L1020228


APE 2010

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Kenan told me to sit this way.  He called it the Trump Pose.

As my friend Brian used to say about Alternative Rock, “Alternative to what?”  The Alternative Press Expo, in San Francisco, is a showcase for comics, zines, trinkets from Shangri-La, relics of saints, baubles, broaches, brocades, elfish magic tricks, a pie-eating contest, and mythological animals.  It is the alternative to everything boring, dull, and stupid.  It is the epitome of aweseomness, daring, and the new.  This was my second year exhibiting at APE and I daresay my best.  It was a real party.
I was seated in the midst of genius: my tablemate, Reid, a way better artist than me and also taller by at least 4 inches, was debuting his book Cryptozoology.  Turns out his instincts were right on.  He got a number of folks remarking on how cryptids were this year’s “in” theme.  Although it certainly wasn’t Reid’s intention to cash in on the zeitgeist, he ended up making four billion dollars and got a movie deal.  No seriously, he did well and made some new friends, some of whom were even nice enough to stop and talk with me too.

To our left was the table that could barely contain Kenan and Neil.  To my great delight we got to spend time together after the show; our little collective made me feel like a real artist.  We partied like it was some year that ends in the numbers 9, 9, and 9.

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My neighbors, Kenan and Neil

Saturday night the four of us went to a Chinese restaurant.  You enter through the kitchen, go up a flight of stairs, and sit in a tiny, narrow dining room.  The server was an older lady who was trying, apparently, to have a heart attack that very night.  That or a broken leg; she kept running around and nearly tripped down the stairs.  It was especially strange since the crowd was not all that large and did not necessitate a server who literally threw our chopsticks at us as she sprinted by.

Later we went to Isotope, a very cool comic shop a few BART stops away.  Every year they give the Isotope Award to a deserving minicomic.  This year’s winner was Pete Hodapp for his comic The Possum and the Pepper Spray.  As you can imagine, if you put that many cartoonists in a room and serve alcohol, you get a wild party.

Of course the joy of APE is not confined to The Concourse in San Francisco.  On my drive down I paid a visit to the majestic redwoods.  These trees are powerful.  I’ve met them twice now and still don’t feel like I have spent enough time with them.  Perhaps next year I can make more time for the trees.L1020486 L1020517

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Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, just chillin’.

After the redwoods, I made a beeline for the Charles Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa.  I’ve never seen so much original Peanuts art before; the linework and design that went into each individual strip was almost unbelievable.  Schulz drew huge!  27.75 inches by 7 inches for a daily, 23.25 inches by 15.75 inches for a Sunday.  That’s a lot of ink.

There is a tile mural in the grand hallway.  It is composed of about ten year’s worth of strips, made into tiles, and when you stand back they form an image of Charlie Brown trying to kick a football from Lucy.L1020531
Next to the museum is the ice skating rink Charles Schulz visited every day.  After a morning of cartooning, he’d have lunch and watch the skaters; he was a huge hockey fan and even played in the National Beagle League for three seasons, from 1953-55. (He eventually quit in frustration after he kept losing his puck to the Puck-Eating Tree.)L1020552
To my great amazement, a little red-haired girl was taking skating lessons inside.  I am not making this up.L1020556
On the Friday before the convention, Kenan and I made a trip down to Monterey to visit their great aquarium.

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Seahorse watching.

The aquarium stood on the site of an old sardine canning factory.  They left standing one wall of the old plant, and had several of the machines used for the production of canned fish on display.  These machines will show up as Friday Robots in the future, have no doubt about that.L1020711
Now it’s that part of the post dedicated to LINKS!
A number of old friends were also exhibiting at APE, listed here in no particular order.  Visit their websites! Read their comics!  Live your life without regrets!

Keith Knight
Stephen Notley
Raina Telgemeier
Dave Roman
Alec Longstreth
Greg Means
Matthew Ocasio

I managed to make a number of good trades despite being tied to my table for the majority of the show.  This just goes to show you how much talent there was; had I spent the whole weekend browsing I would have filled boxes with awesome comics.

Spitball Press
Octavio Rodriguez
Karen Knighton (Karen also works for the website Ringtales, which you should check out  for their animations of daily comic strips.  I’ve never seen comics animated so well.  The way they do it, it works.)
Kevin Woody
Russ Kazmierczak, Amazing Arizona Comics
Ako Casuera, Cactus Girl
Jen Tong, prints
Jonas Madden Connor

Finally, links are coming back to me about…me.  Here are a couple early reviews:

A Comic a Day
Neil’s Oh Boy, Comics!L1020476


tucson comic con 2010

 tucson wash    Saturday November 6 marked the Third Annual Tucson Comic Con.  There were so many highlights, it was like one giant flourescent day.  Tucson never had anything like this when I was growing up, which made it especially great to be a part of now.  For being a city full of talented, creative people, Tucson is short of events to showcase said talent and creativity.  Many, many thanks to Mike and his team for pulling this off so well.  (You can see Mike here, on the left with his epic beard.)
tucson comic con4
Unlike the Hotel California, you can actually leave.
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I, too, have domineering stage parents.
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My new favorite convention pose.
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His favorite pose.

I got YouTubed!  Wait for me, I’m at the end.  Thanks, Victoria.

Awesome trades!  People you should check out:
Kelly McBrady
Jack Crawford
Tavis Maiden
The Fine Gentlemen at Spazdog Press
Kozak Komiks

I hope to return next year when the Comic Con will be at the Tucson Convention Center.  Comics cannot be contained!


stumptown 2011

Last weekend I exhibited at the Stumptown Comics Fest right here in Portland.2011-stumptownThanks to all the fine folks who stopped by table C-13 1/2 to chat or buy books.  This being my third year as exhibitor, I saw some familiar faces which of course expanded my ego to an embarrassing size.  If this is a taste of fame, I’m going to need a bigger skull.

Where would I be without my convention comrades?  Kenan, Neil, Reid, and Matt all made the show feel like a weekend-long hangout.  The highlight of the show was a jam comic that we all drew for Matt’s birthday.  Not only did we each draw a page, but we got such luminaries as Farel Dalrymple and Brandon Graham to contribute.  It might be the best comic about a guy who gets locked out of his car and falls asleep, ever.

I met Portland mayor Sam Adams, who was wearing a faded flannel Columbia shirt – very appropriate, as Columbia Sportswear is proudly located here.  He neglected to buy any of my books, which means he has lost my vote next time.  Just kidding!  Forcing a politician to buy something in exchange for a vote is probably illegal.

Scenic Byways continues to sell, climbing up the charts all the way to number 4,465,987,098.  If you missed your chance to pick it up at the Oregon Convention Center, it’s still available online.

Thanks also for all the trades!  I’ve yet to begin my reading from Stumptown and MoCCA, but the pile of comics beckons me and I dare not resist much longer.

My next convention is none other than the San Diego Comic Con in July, where I hope to get my book into the dainty yet masculine hands of John Lasseter.


in case you missed it

I was interviewed by fellow cartoonist Palle Schmidt for his blog, Writing With Pictures.

 

Palle and I met at MoCCA in April.  He was nice enough to offer me an interview as part of a series he is doing on his blog.  Much to my surprise and delight, we ran into each other again at San Diego ComicCon.  He was there promoting his new graphic novel, The Devil’s Concubine.  Getting to know Palle was one of the highlights of ComicCon; he is not only a talented cartoonist, he’s a professional illustrator who knows how to market his work.  I mostly listened to him and hopefully I’ve picked up a few things.  (The re-categorizing of this here blog was at the top of my list when I returned from San Diego.)

 

Thanks for the interview, Palle!  As for the rest of you, check out his book.

 


APE 2011

The Alternative Press Expo in sunny San Francisco has come and gone once again.  This was my third year tabling at APE.  Although the show had some stiff competition in the form of a free bluegrass festival in Golden Gate Park, attendance was good and the Concourse hummed with the good vibes of people talking about their comics.
Representing Portland along with me was my tablemate Reid.  The only thing missing between the two white guys with beards was a pot of Stumptown coffee.

Reid was not only my tablemate this year, we also shared a ride to and from San Francisco.  On our way down we stopped in Arcata, California, a small college town that borders the woodsy home of the elusive Bigfoot.  It was in those woods in 1967 that Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin shot the famous video of Bigfoot lumbering across a clearing, looking back with what can only be described as utter indifference, and continuing on her merry way.
How do I know the gender of Bigfoot?  It was one of many facts I learned in the Willow Creek China Flat Museum, located in the business district of Willow Creek. Reid and I had made special plans to stop at the museum on our way to San Francisco, and we were not disappointed.  The Willow Creek museum celebrates the town’s history and has an entire wing dedicated to the ongoing study of Bigfoot.
I recommend stopping there not only for the wealth of Bigfoot-related evidence (mainly casts of footprints, historical newspaper clippings of men holding casts of footprints, and a beautiful painting of Mrs. Bigfoot), but for the lovely ladies who run the museum.  We arrived at the museum right at opening; one elderly woman was turning on the lights.  “I’ve got to go wake up Bigfoot,” she said as we entered.  Soon after two of her friends came to keep her company.  They are all in a quilting club; the museum had notices of their quilting events hanging beside maps of Bigfoot sightings.  It was an incredibly cute experience, talking to these women about Bigfoot.
The Bigfoot museum looked like a run to the grocery store compared to the strange restaurant we went to in Chinatown.  Sam Wo, a restaurant I cannot recommend highly enough, was where Reid, Tyrell, Matt, and I chose to eat on Saturday night.  Let me take you through our journey and attempt to illustrate what kind of place this is.
You enter Sam Wo through the kitchen.  Walk in the door, there you are.  March right through where all the food is being prepared and up a narrow flight of stairs.  There is a smallish dining area with maybe seven tables.  A tiny Chinese woman is the only server, and she cannot move quickly enough.  It is as though someone is constantly rushing her along.  That person does not exist.  The customers are patient (presumably they do not want to be the cause of her inevitable nervous breakdown).  The folks preparing the food downstairs work quietly; I never once heard them give her an order.  No, this server is the one running the place, and she is a force of nature.
When we got upstairs all the tables were full and we thought we’d have to go someplace else.  Not so.  The server told us that the upstairs is closed some of the time – apparently she decides when to open the third floor.  She unlatched a chain and ushered us, along with two other groups, up another flight of stairs.  The layout of the third floor is similar to the second.

Once we were all seated the server barreled up the stairs, threw dishes and chopsticks at all three tables, and then shouted numbers at us.  “You are table one, three, and four!” she said as she ran back downstairs.  A few minutes later she ran back up to take our orders.  Table one was a couple and she almost wouldn’t accept their order.  “That’s too much food!” she said.  They had to assure her that that was what they wanted.

There is a dumbwaiter extending to all three floors, although if anyone could carry trays of food up and down stairs all night you can bet it would be this woman.  By the time we got our food she had become a legendary figure, much more real than Bigfoot and in some ways scarier.  Don’t ask her for your green tea before it’s ready.  I made the mistake of going downstairs to see if we could get our drinks and she yelled at me to go back upstairs.  I felt like I had a Chinese grandma.

Our meal was complete but we still had to figure out how much we owed.  The receipt was in Chinese and had been torn.  Were we expected to remember how much each of our dishes cost and add them up ourselves?  Reid was finally able to extract a grand total from the server and we made the wise decision to tip generously.  It was one of the most bizarre, fun dinners I’ve ever eaten.

But what about the convention?  I was in San Francisco to sell comics.  This year, possibly because of the bluegrass concert, a hiphop concert, and the Castro Street Fair, I did not do as well as in years past.  I still made table, so the trip was definitely worthwhile, but I am beginning to wonder if I’ve tapped out my market in the Bay Area.

It might be time to investigate other comic conventions.  Next year I will be attending MoCCA in New York for the second time, and would like to try SPX in Bethesda and TCAF in Toronto.  I also put in my application for ComicCon in San Diego, fingers crossed.  If I can get in there, that will be wild.

Thanks again, San Francisco and APE.  I had a wonderful time.

Check out the comics of these talented and super friendly people.  I love that I have convention friends all over the country.
Monty Borror
Kevin Woody
Noah Van Sciver
Greg Means
Keith Knight
Stephen Notley
Miriam Libicki