Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
And now I’m gonna write about it!!! You gotta problem with that?!?
So there I was, heading off to San Diego for SDCC (or CCI?) 2010. Many things had to come together for me to make it this year. First, I had to make sure that Jonah was feeling charitable and could get me a press pass. As Jonah thinks of me as the crazy cousin that he needs to lock in the attic so I don’t embarrass him at fancy dinner parties, this is always a bit dicey, but he came through! Then I needed to make sure plane fare wasn’t too high. Usually flying from Phoenix to San Diego isn’t all that much, but who knows how much they jack up the prices for us poor nerds when it suits them? At the same time that I was trying to find a plane ticket that wasn’t too high-priced, I needed to find a place to crash for one night. Last year I went with the entire family, but this year we decided to go to Lake Havasu instead, so I’d be going solo. I figured going for two days and one night would fill my convention needs, so I asked around for a place to stay. The guy who works at my comic book shoppe usually goes to the con, but this year he decided that he was going very late in the day so he didn’t have control of the hotel room, and one of the people he was staying with said he wanted only the four people who were there the entire time to stay there, shutting me out. Oh well – he’s a misanthropic bastard anyway, so that’s that. I got in touch with world-famous author Jake Bell (whose books I reviewed here) in the hopes that his head hadn’t swelled too much and that he would remember the little people and help a dude out. He had to back out of going to the con this year, but he put me in touch with Shannon Denton, who was staying with Wes Hartman of Antarctic Press. Wes said it was okay if I stayed there, so I was set! Pass, room (well, floor with a pillow, but I’m tough!), plane ticket – off I went! That’s why you come to this blog – to read about my travel arrangements!
I arrived in town on Thursday morning and immediately wondered if perhaps we had been diverted to Portland or London. It wasn’t that it was overcast (which it was), it’s that it was cloudy and downright cold. I’m standing there, waiting for a taxi, in my shorts and sandals, as I had just flown in from a place where you can actually find small dogs roasting on the sidewalk if their owner stops to chat to a neighbor for a few minutes. It’s insane! Luckily, like the geek I am, I spent the entire day inside a cavernous space instead of outside doing manly things, so by the time I stumbled out of the convention hall many hours later, heady with the spices of body odor and mass consumerism, the weather was quite fine (I recoiled like a vampire, I tells ya!). But early in the morning, it was quite weird how cold it was.
I got to the convention, went in, and was immediately overwhelmed, as I often am. After getting oriented, I headed east, toward the furthest reaches of the hall, where sat Artists’ Alley. I love strolling around Artists’ Alley, because, well, it’s awesome. It was early in the day so there weren’t too many freaks around, but I did get a few cool pictures of Deadpool dancing with some tweens. That was … odd, to say the least. I reached Artists’ Alley before many people showed up, but that’s just how I roll! So. I chatted briefly with Rich Koslowski, creator of The King (which you really should get) and artist of the just-released BB Wolf and the Three LPs, which looks awfully cool. I’ll get around to reading it pretty soon! I wandered over to Anina Bennett and Paul Guinan’s table and spoke with them for a minute or two. I feel guilty because I’ve had their monstrous history book, Boilerplate: History’s Mechanical Marvel, for almost a year and I haven’t read the damned thing yet, much less reviewed it to give them some publicity. I wrote about it last year, but in case you missed it – Boilerplate is a robot made by Nicola Tesla who gets involved in all the major historical events of the late 19th and 20th centuries – he’s like Forrest Gump, except more life-like (badda-boom!). The book is absolutely gorgeous, with Guinan using various technology tricks to insert Boilerplate into photographs from the era. I bought a couple of prints from them, because for some reason this year I was in love with prints. I only bought three, but it wasn’t from lack of desire, as I shall reveal!!!!
Next stop was at the very end of the convention center, where some bastard had put Steve Lieber. (Hey, according to Wikipedia, Lieber shares my birthday – he’s exactly four years older than I am!) I suppose it’s to Lieber’s credit that he didn’t throw a tantrum, which would have (in my head) included him picking up something heavy and shouting, “Don’t you pricks know who I am?!?!?!” Lieber is far too nice a guy to do that, though. He was, of course, selling copies of Whiteout, and he had a hilarious sign on top of the stack of books for anyone who wanted to ask him about the movie:
He said those were the questions everyone asked, so he just printed up the answers and voila! He also had Underground in trade paperback – if you didn’t buy Underground in single issues, you really should get the trade. It’s a very good series. Would I lie to you? He also told me to visit two cartoonists over in the Small Press Pavilion. They both work with him at Periscope Studio, and he said they were fantastic. Now, as a co-worker, what the hell else is he going to say, but he told me a bit about their work, including the fact that one of them wrote a web diary that is extremely filthy, so I was sold! Who can say no to Jovial Steve Lieber? Not you, I tell you! I will get back to those two cartoonists, believe you me.
I found Chris Burnham working quietly on a sketch at his table. He was, no lie, sketching Hellboy battling a stack of pancakes. Why? BECAUSE IT’S AWESOME, FOOLS!!!!! I chatted with him about the awesomeness that is Officer Downe, which probably has less redeeming social value than any comic of the past five years. I asked him how far into his pitch Joe Casey had to get before he was onboard with it, and he said Casey had him at the name, because he loves a good pun. Officer Downe is a completely insane ultraviolent romp, and I encourage you to check it out. Burnhan’s art is amazing. I feel bad because he some excellent sketches for sale and I didn’t buy one. I was going to go back later and get one, but I didn’t. I don’t know if he’s reading this, but I apologize, sir. If you still have the Rocket Raccoon next year, I will snap it up! Damn, I wish I hadn’t forgotten.
I moved on and found Carla Speed McNeil sitting quietly at her table, chatting with a fan about all sorts of things. She had every trade of Finder spread out in front of her, and she said that it had been picked up by Dark Horse, who will republish them in omnibus format starting early next year (the first four trades in one volume, the second four in another). She also talked a bit about her story in issue #3 of Girl Comics, the one were Kitty turns 21. I asked her if she had any problems doing a 21st birthday for a major Marvel character in an anthology comic, and she said they told her Kitty was well past 21 already, so this is a flashback. Huh. Anyway, the first piece she turned in was not exactly rejected, but editor Jeanine Schaefer told her to tone down the alcohol consumption a bit. McNeil said Schaefer told her she was sure she’d get phone calls saying it glorified teen drinking (even though, you know, no one was actually a teenager in the story), so McNeil changed some of the stuff. If you’ve read the story, you know it’s kind of saturated in alcohol anyway, making me wonder what the original looked like! I told her that I got the first two trades of Finder a while back and … well, I didn’t get them. I like McNeil’s art and the world she set up (it’s a science fiction story) is keen, but it didn’t make much sense, at least to me (it has been demonstrated that I’m not too bright, though). She asked what kind of stuff I liked – “light” or “dark” comics – and handed over a trade based on my answer. She told me if I didn’t like that, she’d done all she can. I am looking forward to reading it, though, because Finder is the kind of book that I root for, even if I’m not a huge fan (and I certainly hope to become one after reading this). The link up there lets you check out the comic and buy stuff, if you want to.
Artists’ Alley was still kind of quiet, but David Petersen was there, sketching away. He said that all he had to do for Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard #4 was his own parts, so it’s still on track. He talked a bit about the process of making Legends of the Guard, including the annoying information that Sean Rubin, who wrote the first story of issue #2 (“Potential,” about the mouse fighting the bear), had never written a comic before. And that’s a really freakin’ good story. Damn these people with talent!!!!! He also had a sketch book with some more famous characters “mouseified.” Good stuff!
By then I was ready to move on. Here’s the problem with being at the con for a limited amount of time: missing people. There were plenty of artists I would have liked to talk to (including Tim Vigil, because I really want to find out what’s up with Faust, the least defensible comic in recorded history), but they weren’t there when I was there, and by the time I made it back to Artists’ Alley later in the day on Friday, I was exhausted and didn’t really feel like chatting with too many people. It’s vexing. But, such is life. I started walking back toward the center of the hall. If you’ve never been to the convention, it’s huge, of course, and they keep moving Artists’ Alley further away to accommodate all the video game/movie/television crap. This year they moved Artists’ Alley to the easternmost spot in the hall, but a few artists said it was better than last year, when they were almost hidden behind some video game stuff and those who wanted to see the video games didn’t care about the artists and the comic fans didn’t know where they were! But it’s still annoying that the artists are separated from the actual publishers by so much crap. I know the video game/movie/television people are driving the bus these days, so they get prime real estate right in the middle, but if you look at a map of the floor (which you can find at the Comic-Con site), the layout makes no sense. The tiny presses are to the west, right next to all the retailers, and they get bigger and bigger toward the center, where the Big Four sit, then we get all the non-comics stuff, and then, way on the other side, we get the artists’ booths and tables. It’s a very stupid layout, unless you’re kowtowing to the non-comics people. Oh, wait a minute …
But enough ranting! I wandered around a bit and talked to Ted McKeever about Meta 4 (another good book). He had an interesting story about his Legends of the Dark Knight arc (“Engines,” in issues #74-75) and why Batman isn’t the star of the book – McKeever had no idea how to write a convincing Batman! So he focused on the young boy whose perceptions of Batman changed throughout the story. And it worked very well, didn’t it? Then I looked at the time and saw that the DC Comics Writers’ panel was letting out. Why did I care about a panel that was over, you might ask? Well, I happened to know, thanks to being on Jonah’s e-mail list, that CSBG’s very own Sonia Harris was covering that panel! (Why, you might ask, was one CSBG blogger covering panels and not yours truly? Every year Jonah asks us if we’d like to cover panels. Every year I offer to cover one if he needs me. Every year he ignores me – I’m the crazy cousin, remember? I don’t know if it’s that he thinks I’m an idiot who can’t cover a panel correctly, if he thinks I won’t pay attention, or if I will mock any panel I cover, but I would imagine it’s a combination of all three. You know, I can’t say he’s wrong. Anyway, I’m perfectly happy not covering panels. But if he ever needs me, he knows where to find me!) I always like meeting people with whom I’ve interacted on-line, so I went upstairs to check it out. Now, I didn’t actually know what Sonia looked like except that she had red hair, based on the tiny photo that accompanies her blog posts. But that was enough for me! I found her pretty easily, actually – I just looked in the front rows for someone who wasn’t a big fat slob with Cheeto-stained fingers!!!! After that, it was no problem whatsoever! I stalked her out of the hall, not even sure it was Ms. Harris, and I kept trying to see her name tag without getting too close and freaking her out. Finally I just said, “Sonia?” and she turned around, surprised that anyone knew her name. I introduced myself, she was terribly happy to meet me (or she’s good at faking – I can never tell!), and we had a nice chat. Here’s the lovely and vivacious Ms. Harris wondering when this strange man will stop talking to her:
We had a nice conversation, but she had to get onto writing about the panel she had just seen. So we made plans to meet later. I, being the slacker I am, had nothing to do but wander back into the convention hall. But my crafty plan of working my way west methodically from Artists’ Alley to the other end had been turned topsy-turvy by going upstairs and meeting Sonia, so I was all discombobulated. Would it have dire consequences????? Only time would tell, as Asia once sang. So I headed back into the fray with no plan. Where could I go? Why, to say hello to Mr. Richard Starkings, of course!
There are a few places at the con where I feel very comfortable. One of those places is the Elephantmen booth, because Starkings is such a cool guy and he always makes me feel welcome. The fact that I love his series doesn’t hurt, either. This year, Justin Norman (otherwise known as Moritat) was not there, as he was busy working on The Spirit for DC, but the new artist on the book, Axel Medellín Machain, was hanging out. There was a dude standing in front of the booth with an elephant mask on and a young lady dressed as Miki at the booth – I think the young lady brought in more customers than the elephant-headed dude. That’s probably not surprising. I always try to get the costumed people doing something other than posing, and I was able to get her with her coffee (see above). Of course, we had to do some posing as well:
Starkings told me some interesting things about the series which I don’t think I’m able to share, but he also talked very briefly about the movie, which I hope will look cool because the technology is certainly there. He also mentioned that he hoped Marian Churchland won an Eisner for Beast (update: she did) because then people might seek out her work on Elephantmen, which is collected in a handy trade. As much as you should check out her work on Starkings’ comic, you really need to get Beast. It’s phenomenal. I chatted with John Roshell, Starkings’ partner in crime at Comicraft, for a while, as well. More stuff I probably can’t repeat, but nothing earth-shattering. It’s not like I’m a real journalist or anything!
Next it was onto another spot where I like to hang out for a while talking shit – the AiT/Planet Lar booth. Larry is such a groovy dude, and after quite some time off, he’s finally publishing more stuff. Yay! While I was there, I met some people I had heard of and people I hadn’t. Jason McNamara, writer of stuff, was there, and I finally got to meet him (and him me, as he seemed pretty keen on saying hello). McNamara has written The Martian Confederacy (a new volume of which is coming soon!), First Moon, and Continuity, all of which are worthy of your attention (and I was disappointed that I didn’t get to meet Paige Braddock, artist of The Martian Confederacy, who was at the con but didn’t have a booth, so it was hard to find her). I have to say, McNamara is flingin’-flangin’ hilarious. I think he was drinking way too much Red Bull – he was talking a thousand miles an hour and everything he said cracked me up. He was telling us about a certain artist he knows, and the stories about this guy were almost unbelievable. He wouldn’t lie, would he? I mean, he’s a writer – they never lie, do they? I also met Stephenny Godfrey, yet another comic creator from goddamned Perth, who has written and drawn one of the most unique comics I’ve ever seen. It’s called Panorama, and it’s 1½ inches high. Yes, I just wrote that. Each “page” is 8 inches long, and there are 20 pages taped together, so you can pull the entire thing out to read as one long strip, which is 13 feet long. Given that it’s called Panorama, it’s an amazing way to present the comic (and it looks great, too, even though each page is tiny). Here’s Godfrey holding the comic partially unfolded:
Godfrey is a hell of a cool person, and she was telling me about her next project, which sounds very neat. I was there when she changed the name to something much cooler than it was, so although I had absolutely nothing to do with it, I can at least say that! But that was on Friday, when I was crashing at Larry’s booth after a day of walking. Back on Thursday, Ryan Yount stopped by. Yount, as you should know, is the co-creator/artist of Scurvy Dogs, quite possibly the funniest comic book of this decade. Many bloggers on this here site (including yours truly) have sung its praises, and Yount, after some years out of the industry, is getting back into it. The possiblity of new Scurvy Dogs stuff with Andrew Boyd is almost too awesome to contemplate, although I kind of hope they leave it where it is and do something different like American Space Ninja (in Space), the ash can of which Yount passed on to me. Scurvy Dogs is probably the one comic I will tell anyone to buy without knowing or caring what kind of comics they like. It’s just that good. In fact, on Friday some dude came by and was buying another of Larry’s books and I told him to get Scurvy Dogs as well, and he did! I hope I didn’t steer him wrong. But anyone who doesn’t like Scurvy Dogs isn’t really worth knowing, anyway. You know it’s true!
While I was at the AiT booth, Jason McNamara introduced me to a couple of folk who were doing a comic that will be distributed exclusively through the iPad. It’s called Operation Ajax and it’s from Cognito Comics, and it looks way cool. The book is about the coup in Iran in 1953 that put the shah on the throne, an overthrow engineered somewhat by the CIA. The comic has been getting some press around town, and I must say that it makes me want an iPad. The art is very good, looks “hand-drawn” as opposed to computer-generated, and of course I like the idea of the story (which stretches back to British Petroleum discovering oil in Iran and through the wars until the coup). Check out their site for more information.
I moved on to the Man of Action booth, because it’s always fun to see those gentlemen. I didn’t get to see Joe Kelly at all, because whenever I stopped by, he was off doing something. Steven Seagle was kind enough to give me a copy of the new hardcover of The Crusades, his Vertigo book with Kelley Jones. I told him I got the first issue (which was a special, not a #1) but then never saw another issue until something like #6 or 7, so I just never bought it. He told me DC was planning to release some softcover trades collecting five or so issues, but he kept bugging them to do a hardcover with a bigger chunk of issues. They finally gave him the rights back so he could do it himself. The cool thing is that this has “Urban Decree” (the special) and issues #1-9, so it basically has 11 issues (“Urban Decree” was a long issue) for 30 bucks. Seagle said he wasn’t going to make any money doing this, but he wanted to do a hardcover with, basically, a softcover price. He and his cohorts are raking it in with their cartoon stuff anyway, so he can afford to do the hardcover. It was way cool of him to pass it on to me – I look forward to reading it. Duncan Rouleau, meanwhile, promised that the fifth and last issue of The Great Unknown was done, so they’re going to resolicit it and get it out soon. In case you wondered where it was!
I was off again (I’ll get back to Joe Casey and his mind-control tricks!), wandering into the Image section, which I always like to visit. I said hello to Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, because they’re so awesome. McKelvie was slacking off as usual, letting poor Gillen do all the work selling their stuff, even Suburban Glamour, which is McKelvie’s alone! Sheesh, that slacker. Gillen has some stuff coming out from Marvel, while McKelvie mentioned his story in that X-Men Heroic Age anthology that came out recently and I completely missed. Yes, I’m going to buy it solely because McKelvie drew a story in it – it’s not like the story Gillen wrote will be any good! Gillen, whose story is drawn by Steve “Dear Lord, Why Is His Beast So Ugly?” Sanders, said (referring to the late, lamented S.W.O.R.D.) that they should have kept making Henry’s nose bigger, à la Power Girl’s boobs, until it dominated every panel he was in. Just another reason to lament S.W.O.R.D.‘s demise! Gillen is also getting married next year. Tell him congratulations next time you see him! While I was at their table, a dude stopped by and started talking to Gillen. KG thought I knew him, but I didn’t – it turned out to be Chris Sims, blogger extraordinaire! Sims was there covering the con for Comics Alliance, and I chatted with him for a few minutes then and a bit later when I saw him again. He is, of course, a fun guy. Did you think he wouldn’t be?
Around the corner from everyone’s favorite starving creators were John Layman and Rob Guillory, writer and artist of Chew. They were still having problems getting the hardcover of the first ten issues of the series, but they had T-shirts! I had to have one!
Next to them was Kody Chamberlain, creator of Sweets, the first issue of which just came out. I talked to him about the book a bit, and although he didn’t have much information about its sales, he’s been hearing good word of mouth. I mentioned that one reason Sweets works so well is because while the story, at least in issue #1, feels like a simple cop drama, the art helps get us into the story until his writing picks up. He told me that he consciously made the tropes in issue #1 familiar to ease people in, and he plans to go all sorts of wild ways with the story in later issues. While reading Sweets, I had an idea about a post dealing with why comics are awesome. I know people reading this know that, but I wanted to tell you one reason why. So look for that in the future. It’s all thanks to Kody Chamberlain!
I made it over to the Gestalt Comics booth eventually, where I met Justin Randall, creator of Changing Ways (which I reviewed here). He has six volumes of the book planned out, so I can look forward to weird-ass horror stuff for a few years to come! Colin Wilson was signing stuff at their booth, but I didn’t get a chance to say hello to him. I did get a chance to say hi to Tom Taylor, the new writer of The Authority, who also has some work coming out from Gestalt. Both Randall and Taylor were very swell guys, and I’m looking forward to more of their work. I kept seeing Taylor around the con, too, which was odd (given that there are 150,000 people there). At one point on Friday he was in the DC area sitting next to Kurt Busiek. He had a placard in front of him with his name on it, and to it he had affixed a piece of paper on which was written “Oh God, it’s Kurt Busiek!” with an arrow pointing to his left. Good stuff, there.
It was getting late in the day and I still hadn’t checked out a lot of the small press area, so I moseyed on over there. At the SLG booth I found Ross Campbell selling his stuff. Campbell, of course, is a favorite of our own Kelly Thompson, who featured him not once, not twice, but thrice in recent months. He lists her first in his “thank-yous” in Shadoweyes, his latest comic. Campbell was chatting with Amy Reeder Hadley, who is not only doing covers for Supergirl these days but will be the artist on Batwoman when J. H. Williams III isn’t. Williams is writing the entire thing, but of course he needs time off on the art because he’s, well, detailed. I like Hadley’s art, and it’s cool that she’s getting a high-profile gig like this, but I wonder if people who really love Williams’ art will enjoy someone whose art is rather different. We shall see. I bought Campbell’s Shadoweyes, by the way. Kelly’s preview piqued my interest, but the book is absolutely gorgeous. I had a nice conversation with him, as well. Near the SLG booth was the Top Shelf area. I missed the Immonens at the booth, another signing I regret missing (as Moving Pictures is quite the brilliant comic), but I did get to talk to Matt Kindt, who’s a hell of a nice guy. I haven’t read his Vertigo comic, Revolver, yet, but I really can’t wait to dig into it. I admit I was gushing a bit about how awesome his stuff is, because, well, it is. He mentioned that he’s been working fast on other stuff, and he plans to have three new things out next year. He said he’s just worried that he has so many ideas that he won’t get to all of them before he dies. I also mentioned that after his story in Strange Tales last year, I think he would kill on a Black Widow series, and he told me he has a pitch all ready to go, if only Marvel would ask him. Tom Brevoort reads this blog occasionally, so if he has any power whatsoever to get a Matt Kindt Black Widow mini-series greenlit, he needs to do so!!!!!!
It was late in the day, so I began moving toward the exit. I did wander by Amanda Conner’s area (she was sharing it with a bunch of other artists), but she was just about to take off, so I didn’t buy one of her amazing prints. She was never there the next day, so I didn’t get a chance to pick one up either. She had a three panel print of Catwoman, slowly unzipping her costume seductively before, in the last panel, pulling out a pearl necklace from between her breasts, that would have been pretty keen. Jimmy Palmiotti was hanging out there, and he vaguely referred to the creator-owned series he’s doing with Conner, which may or may not be out soon. Who knows? I’ll be there for it, though!
I had an interesting evening. We went over to the downtown mall to grab some food, and I stumbled across an old acquaintance of mine, Corwin Gibson, who used to work and now works again at Atomic Comics in Phoenix. Corwin writes and draws a web comic, Galaxy of the Damned, and he has a mustache. I mention this just because it seemed to dazzle some people. I told him I was going to see what Sonia was doing, so we headed over to her hotel (the Hilton), where she was typing up something about a panel she had seen late in the day. See? Jonah is a vicious taskmaster!!!! She joined us at the Boom! party in the lounge, where I finally met Chip Mosher, the marketing director of Boom! Chip is relentless in promoting his products, and he’s like a whirlwind in real life, too. He looks like he could play linebacker and he’s one of the few people manly enough to pull off a bright pink shirt (despite my painted toe nails showing that I’m comfortable with my sexuality, there’s no way I’m manly enough to pull that shirt off), and he’s terribly enthusiastic about everything. I didn’t even talk to him for that long (it was way loud in the party, and there were people he had to meet) and it left me a bit dazed. I’d be scared to be stuck in an elevator with him – he’d probably bash through the walls, Hulk-style!
We headed over to the CBLDF party, which was held on a terrace at a downtown hotel. That was pretty cool because it was outside, so we could hear each other better. I learned later that Paul Pope, of all people, was the DJ. That was strange. Lots of people were there, but I was content to sit and drink, because I was beat. They finally threw us out at midnight, and I called it a day. I know some people go until 4 in the morning, but I can’t do that shit. I could barely do that shit when I was 21, much less almost two decades later. I needs my sleep, man! The worst part of the night was sleeping on the floor, but that’s what you get when you crash in someone else’s hotel room. I only got about five hours of sleep, and then it was time to go once again!
So that was Thursday. Yes, I’m long-winded. Deal with it! I promise that my account of Friday will be quicker, mainly because I saw many people I’ve already written about and I wasn’t at the con as long. I reached the con early enough to get a decent photograph of the floor with very few people populating it, which is always odd because of how crowded it gets later. I finally made it over to the small press area, which is often where the fun stuff happens. The creators are making such insane comics that even if the quality isn’t great, the dynamism often is. And there are some very good comics, to boot, which is always cool. First of all, I was walking by a booth and I spotted the trade of Cover Girl, the Boom! series from a few years ago. What that was doing in the small press area I could not imagine, but I looked closer and saw that world-famous blogger and braggart (as his business card proclaims) Kevin Church was hanging out. Church is a versatile writer as well as a blogger, and he always finds damned fine artists to work with on his web comics. I’ve been meaning to pick up the print versions of some of them for a while, but he was nice enough to pass them along to me. He’s keen like that. If you enjoy reading stuff web comics, head on over to his site and dig in! I also stopped by to chat with Steve Bryant, creator of Athena Voltaire. He’s working on that but he also wrote a new comic called Cipher: The Sorceror Pope, which takes place in the present but has quite a bit to do with Sylvester II, who was pope from 999-1003. I’m sorry, but anyone who can work Pope Sylvester into a comic book gets my attention! I was glad to see that Bryant’s Kickstarter campaign worked rather well for him, because that means we get more Athena Voltaire, which is always a good thing. If you don’t believe me, perhaps you should buy some of the trades. Finally, I spoke to Steve Earnhart, creator and writer of Hard-Bullied Comics. I’ve been waiting for the final issue of the second series to come out, but Steve did me one better by giving me the trade, complete with its own CD. Hard-Bullied Comics is always a wildly fun read, and I look forward to finally reading the second mini-series (I’ve been sitting on the individual issues for a while, waiting for it to be done). It’s interesting being reminded how small the world of comics is – the previous night at the CBLDF party, I introduced Steve to Corwin, and they “knew” each other from the Bendis message boards. It’s always neat when shit like that happens. Or at least I think it is. Steve also knew Sonia, but then, everyone seems to know Sonia!
Speaking of which, I then went out to lunch with Ms. Harris, who tore herself away from the wonders of the convention floor to get some food. It’s rather amazing how little one thinks of food when one is swimming through the crowds at San Diego. I often go the entire day without eating (not that I need any food, really, as my gut often tells me) and only rarely drinking water. You just get so swept up in it that it’s hard to break away and, you know, do things that help you stay alive. Sonia and I had a nice stroll through downtown to the restaurant, and it’s something everyone attending the con should do – get outside. It’s very relaxing!
Back in the hall, I finally got to meet the cartoonists that Steve Lieber was telling me about – Erika Moen and Dylan Meconis. (I’m screwing with the chronology a bit – I met them in the morning, but had no money to buy their books, so I had to wait until I went out to lunch to hit an ATM.) Moen was selling the two volumes of her online diary, Dar!, while Meconis was offering Bite Me! – a story about vampires in the French Revolution – and Family Man, which is about a German theologian in 1768. All of these books look great – Moen’s is occasionally extremely filthy and very hilarious, while Meconis is a better artist (sorry, Erika!) and, of course, writes about 18th-century German theologians! I’m sure savvy people have been following these two on the Internets for years, but I’m just not as hip as you are, but now that I’ve met them, I’ll be keeping up with what they do next, as I’m completely smitten with them (I just love being smitten). Moen’s book is about how, as a lesbian, she fell in love with a man and got married (she says it’s like Chasing Amy but in real life), and it’s uncomfortably honest about her life. She’s also working on a script by Jeff Parker (who also works at Periscope in Portland) which she describes as a murder mystery … with dick and fart jokes. I’m sold! Meconis and Moen have been friends for a long time, and Lieber told me he remembers when they showed up at the con as teenagers and he couldn’t believe how good their work was. They’re only in their mid-20s, and Lieber said he’s looking forward to seeing how good they get as they figure out what they’re doing. You can tell they’re long-time friends – they almost function as a comedy act, with Meconis as a put-upon and harried Bud Abbott and Moen as a raunchy Lou Costello. While Moen was talking about all the horrible, horrible, hilarious stuff in her books, Meconis was shaking her head as if she were Moen’s mother, hoping her kid wouldn’t say anything more about the anal sex but knowing that’s probably not going to happen. A fine pair of creators they were!
I wandered around a bit more, trying not to buy anything and failing miserably. My bag was pretty full at the end of Thursday, so I left it in the hotel room in order to stop myself from buying too much. Yeah, like that’s going to happen. Actually, I was pretty good at not buying too much, but a lot of people gave me stuff for free. I’m really not above exploiting my position writing for a well-known blog to get free stuff! Actually, I never ask for any of it and I’m perfectly willing to pay for it, but I’m also not going to say no if someone wants to give me their work gratis. My biggest fear is that I won’t be completely honest when I’m reviewing things if I get them for free, but I hope that doesn’t come into play too much. I don’t know – you guys can keep me honest. But I do appreciate it when creators give me their work – I now have a ton of comics to post about on the blog, but I’ll get to it! I did dump a bunch of books at the AiT booth because I just couldn’t carry it anymore, and I kept moving. I stopped briefly at the Oni booth to watch Brian Hurtt sketch and found out from him and Cullen Bunn that The Sixth Gun, their impressive new supernatural Western, is an ongoing (I thought it was a mini-series). That makes it more imperative that you don’t wait for the trade! Support the book! I also talked to Brian Churilla and Jeremy Shepherd at the Archaia booth, where they were selling the hardcover trade of The Engineer (a bargain at ten bucks!). Churilla is drawing the new Marvel mini-series, The Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet (written by Atomic Robo‘s Brian Clevinger), the first issue of which features this splash page and which will be difficult to tradewait for, as I try to do with my Marvel mini-series these days. We shall see in August when it comes out. He and Shepherd are also working on a sequel to The Engineer, which would be pretty cool. (Churilla mentioned that some people were a bit put out by his portrayal of Satan in The Anchor, the recently-cancelled Boom! series. There was consternation that Satan didn’t look more “traditional.” I told him those people were, well, dumb. It’s freaking Satan, for crying out loud! Have you ever seen Satan? So why couldn’t he look the way Churilla draws him? After I got home I looked again at Satan, and it’s a pretty neat version. Yet another reason to buy the trades of The Anchor.)
Late in the day I ended up back at the Man of Action booth, where Joe Casey used his dastardly mind control tricks on me to get me to buy the second celestial edition of Gødland. Damn Joe Casey!!!!! He offered to let me know whether Chad Nevett’s theory about Friedrich Nickelhead is correct or not, but I didn’t want to know! He also pointed out why I should buy the second celestial edition of Gødland, even though I own all the issues. It has quite a bit of extra stuff, with some Internet interviews from a few years ago plus the afterword, twelve digressions on Gødland, written by man-about-town Tim Callahan, who proves once again that he’s far smarter than I am (he might not be smarter than you are, but he’s certainly smarter than I). The twelve digressions are rather fascinating, so I’m kind of glad my brain is weak and susceptible to Casey’s mind control! Tim missed the con this year, so I couldn’t say hello to him in person, but reading the afterword of the second celestial edition of Gødland at the airport that night made me feel like he was right there, blinding me with the light shining off his bald pate. Oh, Tim, you were missed!
That was just about the end of the day as far as I was concerned. I went back to the AiT booth and hung out a little because my feet hurt, and then it was time to go. Whenever I leave San Diego, I feel a mixture of relief and regret. It’s usually the only time of the year I see many creators, who might not be friends but with whom I’m very friendly. I always miss some people I really want to see, which stinks (in addition to the people I’ve already mentioned, I didn’t see Ryan Kelly this year, which would have been keen). (Plus, every year some people don’t attend – this year Antony Johnston didn’t come, which was disappointing, nor did Brian Wood, and I wanted to see if he’d punch me in the face.) I also ended up not getting a fantastic Cliff Chiang print which was a riff on the Pretty in Pink movie poster with Phoenix standing in front (colored pink) and Cyclops and Wolverine standing behind her (here is the original – just substitute the other characters in and pretend Cliff Chiang drew it!). As I mentioned, I was keen on a lot of prints this year, but even though I got a few, I really don’t have any wall space to hang them, so it’s probably just as well that I didn’t buy any more. But I’m also relieved to leave, because it’s a grind. Last year was better because I was there for three days and had a place to stay and a family to hang out with, so I wasn’t there every single hour of the day. But when you don’t have a hotel room and nothing else to do, you’re kind of stuck at the con. That’s why it was cool to get out and have lunch with Sonia. Next year I plan on taking the family back (and staying longer; we’re doing a realy family vacation, with grandparents along as babysitters!), so I don’t think I’ll be as burned out as I was this year.
As usual, here’s the list of books I either bought or was given. It’s always bigger than I expect!
Abyss volume 1 by Kevin Rubio and Lucas Marangon from Red 5 Comics. I stopped by the Red 5 booth on Friday at some point, and Paul Ens (I think it was him; I’m having trouble remembering) gave me this and a few other trades. That was very cool of him.
American Space Ninja (in Space) by Andrew Boyd and Ryan Yount.
Cipher: The Sorceror Pope Part One by Steve Bryant and JunBob Kim. Kim’s art is really keen, and only crazy people don’t like Bryant’s writing!
The Crusades Book 1: Knight by Steven Seagle and Kelley Jones.
Dar! volumes 1 and 2 by Erika Moen.
Dead or Alive by William Harms. This is a novel about zombies in the Old West. Not necessarily my thing, but it was free!
Dylan Meconis’ comics: Bite Me! and Family Man volume 1.
Elephantmen: Dangerous Liaisons vol. 3 hardcover (collecting issues #16-23) by Richard Starkings and many artists. I already own these issues, but Starkings gave it to me anyway. He used my little blurb about why Elephantmen was the best ongoing of 2009 on the inside flap of the dust jacket, which is immensely flattering and a bit ego-inflating. Gaze upon my works, ye mighty, and yadda yadda yadda.
Elvis Van Helsing by Steve Kriozere, Mark A. Altman, and Jason Baroody. New stuff from AiT/Planet Lar. Yay!
Finder: Dream Sequence by Carla Speed McNeil.
Freakshow #1 by David Server, Jackson Lanzing, and Joe Suitor. I’m not sure if this is my kind of thing, but Server and Lanzing were so enthusiastic about it they sold me on it. It’s not coming out until January, so I’ll wait on a review until then so it’s fresh in your mind!
Gødland Celestial Edition 2 by Joe Casey and Tom Scioli.
James Heffron’s comics: The Further Adventures of D. B. Cooper: The Dragon’s Triangle Book One and Riders to Moreau. I reviewed Heffron’s It Tolls For Thee last year, so he gave these to me. The first one looks like a fun adventure, and the second one has Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders ending up on the Island of Dr. Moreau, which might be crazy enough to work. I’m looking forward to digging into them both.
Kevin Church’s comics: The Loneliest Astronauts, Lydia, and She Died in Terrebonne #1 and 2.
Love and Capes volumes 1 and 2 by Thomas Zahler. I’ve read a couple of issues of this series, always enjoyed it, but never got the trades. Luckily, there was Zahler in my time of need!
Neozoic volume 1 by Paul Ens and J. Korim. Another Red 5 book.
Panorama by Steph Godfrey.
Rob Hanes Adventures: Archives and issues #1-12. Randy Reynaldo was selling these in the small press area. I saw that a trade was just offered in Previews, and I think I may have ordered it, but I also think that what was at Reynaldo’s table was more than what was in Previews. Oh well. If I end up with duplicates, that’s what contests are for!
Shadoweyes by Ross Campbell.
Steve Earnhardt’s comics: Hard-Bullied Comics volume 2 and The Villain volume 1.
Supernatural Law – Tales from the Vault and volume 1 of the ongoing by Batton Lash.
Top Cow First Look by various creators. Joshua Fialkov gave this to me when I ran across him. He has a cool-looking story in it. This is a preview book for some of Top Cow’s upcoming stuff, and it’s only 5 bucks for over 150 pages.
The Trouble with Katie Rogers by Des Taylor. This was a total impulse buy. I saw this in Previews when it came out a few years ago but didn’t get it. It’s about a tough day in the life of a cute publicist. Sounds like it’s right up my alley!
So that was my experience at San Diego. If I missed anything, I apologize to those I slighted. I also apologize for not breaking any big news. That’s what the Mothership is for! I bring you minor but crucial news nuggets, like the fact that Kurt Busiek doesn’t like getting interviewed on camera and the only reason Jonah was able to do it was because the interview took place on the yacht and Busiek, apparently, has a weird love of yachts! Where else will you read about that, I ask?
Last but not least, I thought I’d play “Guess the comic book professional” again this year! Some of them are obvious (especially with what else is in the picture), some of them are not, some I had to crop because it was too easy (and some I couldn’t crop, hence the obviousness of the answers), some are mentioned in the post, some are not, some were taken without the subject’s knowledge, but it’s all in good fun. So get guessing!
Who knows who’s who? Don’t be shy! And sorry for going on so long!
Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.