Posts Tagged ‘san diego’


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 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 photos

How you know you found California:

Your hotel elevator has a mysterious button labeled “Seismic.”

How you know you found Comic Con:
Stormtroopers outnumber civilians by a 5:1 ratio.
Comic Con 2010 was, the second time around, just as dizzying and exciting as ever.

This time, I brought some friends to enjoy the trip.  


As I was the grizzled veteran, I gave handy tips which were summarily dismissed by the ladies.  The last I saw of our female companions, they were headed toward Hall H (the largest of the conference rooms) to see American royalty (movie stars, not cartoonists).  That left me and my partner blogger Nate McGraw alone to fend for ourselves in the pop culture jungle.

The real Gostmobile
Audrey Hepburn as Catwoman, with boobs
Bedazzled Stormtrooper

Comic Con is all about neat toys.  But it is also about people dressed like neat toys. 
(Among other things.)

I had many more celebrity sightings this year than last, because I am a star magnet.  Also, I stayed for all four days instead of two.
This first doesn’t really count, as I “spotted” Berkeley Breathed in the panel called Spotlight on Berkeley Breathed.  For years I had a totally incorrect conception of what the man looked like.  When I was a kid, I had a Bloom County collection in which the author photograph was of a Hell’s Angel on his Harley.  Had I been a discerning adult, I would have immediately gotten the joke.  As it was, for years I went around thinking this cartoonist looked like something out of a Hunter S. Thompson book.
This is what Berkeley Breathed really looks like, from about 50 rows back:

On my final day, I happened upon an unusual book signing: Frank “Dark Knight Returns” Miller and Dave Gibbons.  I centered this photo on Frank, but upon seeing it later I realized that dude on his left totally drew Watchmen.  Comic Con!

Nate and I chose to pose in front of our respective alter-egos.  Nate’s Iron Man to my Snoopy.

San Diego, as usual, brought perfect weather.  Not that it mattered much to those of us choosing to spend glorious summer days inside a crowded convention center.  Still, we got outside for meals.  Not pictured here: the bus on which David Hasselhoff was dancing and singing “Hooked on a Feeling.”  No joke.  Our waitress had bought a disposable camera just for this weekend, and asked us to snap a picture if he got close enough.

Before I go, I have an important announcement.  This blog is proud to be the first to publicly “out” The Man of Steel himself:

That’s it for now.  Tune in tomorrow, dear readers, for the text-heavy version, including my scintillating narrative about how I borrowed someone’s grocery store card to get 50 cents off my tube of toothpaste.
An essential Comic Con experience: being last in line for something and having to hold this sign.

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


new convention poster

Those of you who have seen me at conventions will no doubt be familiar with the Falling Rock Show Poster.  It is patterned after the brochures you get upon entering any of this country’s grand national parks or monuments.  For the very first time, I will be exhibiting at Comic-Con in San Diego (July 11-15).

My poster, while serviceable for smaller shows, was not going to cut it in the San Diego convention center.  Therefore, I have ordered a 4 foot wide banner and stand that will be as a beacon for the comic-hungry masses.  May it draw them toward me and may they be satisfied by my humble offerings.

Of course I wanted to take this opportunity to revisit the poster itself.  I redrew the pictures of Ernesto and Carver, inking them with a brush and coloring the background with watercolor.  The result, I think, is even more dynamic than the original.  Introducing the design for my new show banner:
I hope to see so many of you in San Diego! Just look for this banner and you’ll find me.


meet me in san diego

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!

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friday robots

Just because I’m at San Diego ComicCon doesn’t mean you miss Friday Robots!
And hey, if you are in San Diego right now, stop by my table.  O-5 in the Small Press Pavilion.  It’s always nice to see a friendly face.


san diego comic-con in pictures

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.


comic-con tweets with commentary

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).

I am so jealous of Katie Cook, who is not only a very talented cartoonist but apparently gets visited by Patton Oswalt.

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.