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Boston Comic Con 2013, I could do this all day

I’m starting to feel like a stalker.  We’ve been waiting in line for about an hour, hovering beside Phil Jimenez’s table, and I’ve been cradling this stack of trades in my hand for so long that my arm is beginning to stiffen and ache.  But as the herd gathered by the surrounding tables begins to thin and I see the first of many incredible sketches Phil is doing for his fans, my resolve solidifies and I know the wait will be worth it.

Someone walks by and asks what he’s charging.  “Free,” I say.  They don’t believe me.  I can’t really believe it either.  A sketch from Phil is the only thing I really, desperately want from this year’s con.  After missing opportunities for commissions last year with Phil Noto and Cliff Chiang, I’m determined to not let myself miss getting something from Phil, whose Wonder Woman I love.  I had tweeted at him earlier in the week, asking if he was doing commissions.  He replied that he usually doesn’t, but that he “might be convinced in Boston.”  Hope!  My husband—who is quite the trooper throughout the day as I rant endlessly about the artists I want to meet—drives us into the city early to make sure I’m one of the first few in line for Phil.

Well, we thought it was early.

I have a mild panic attack when we get to the Seaport and see the line—no, the legion—of people stretched out of the building and down several city blocks.  In these moments, I resign myself to the idea that I am going to leave the con at the end of the day sketch-less, because there was no way I was going to get inside and not find a mass of people ahead of me at every artist’s table.  And yet by some miracle, AKA the superior con staff, the line actually winds up moving fairly quickly.  We may have waited outside for about thirty minutes total.

By an even larger miracle, I’m seventh in line for a sketch from Phil.  When one of the con staffers hands me the Last in Line sign, I’m holding back tears of utter relief.

***

We’re into the first hour of being in this line, and Husband and I have formed something of a game plan for who we want to hit up and when.  Once he has safely deposited me in my place, he runs off and does reconnaissance—which sellers are selling what, where certain artists tables are, which food vendors are in the immediate vicinity, etc.  Every few minutes he comes back to me with some information (“Vendor A sold out of Transformers Generations Metroplex”), or I send him on an errand (“Go grab me a ticket for the Scott Snyder signing”).

Scanning my Twitter feed on my phone as I wait, I see a tweet from Terry Moore:

tweet1
“Terry Moore just tweeted that he wants a Diet Coke!”  I shout, showing Husband my phone.  “We should get him a Diet Coke!  Go grab one for him!”

“Okay … what if someone already got him one?”

“Then he’ll have two, I suppose.  He only tweeted this like eight minutes ago!”

“What do you want for a sketch if he asks me?”

I didn’t actually care about the sketch—I had met Terry a couple of years before at a previous con, and I just wanted to do a nice thing for someone who’s given me so much through his characters and stories.  Strangers in Paradise had opened up a genre of comics for me that I didn’t know existed—a type of honest and straight-faced storytelling I think we need so much more of in the mainstream.

“If he asks … I want a Katchoo.  Only if he asks.”

Husband disappears like a good soldier, and a few moments later, this shows up in my feed:

tweet2

Squueeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

I head over after to chat with Terry and get to meet his lovely wife, Robyn.  I ask them how the con is going for them so far, and they seem to be enjoying it.  When Terry gives me my Katchoo sketch, I can’t wipe the smile off my face.  Today is going better than I could have hoped.

I fight my spazzy fangirl urge to ask him for a hug.

***

Back in the line, I chat on and off with a gentleman in front of me named Jeff, who is super friendly and funny, and loves the Teen Titans.  I decide that con people are amazing and I want to do this every chance I get.  I would wait in this line forever if everyone is this cool.

Looking around the con floor, Bill Willingham’s table is next to Phil on the other side from where I’m standing, and it’s a rare moment where there isn’t the usual cluster of people talking to him.  I pass some of my things to the Husband, grab my Fables trades and a few issues of Fairest, and head over.

“You look lonely over here!”  I say.  He tells me that he thought I was standing in line for Phil, and I explain to him that I have a placeholder as I point over to Husband.  Husband motions to the ring on his finger and makes a gesture as though it’s weighing him down; his hand drops to the ground like it’s anchored, and he’s sputtering, drowning in the demanding sea of our marriage.  I simultaneously laugh and fake-curse him.

Bill is as charming and articulate as I expect him to be; myself, a little less so.  I tell him that I sent him a card in the mail a few months ago, and that I loved the Fables post card he sent me in reply.  He asks me what he’d written to me, and I clumsily can’t remember (of course, I recall it the second I leave his table).

“Well I’m glad I made such a strong impression!” he teases.  We talk about Boston and Cambridge, I tell him about where I work, and he leaves me with a humble request/assignment.  (More on that once it’s mission: accomplished.)

Back in line again and I must be glowing.

I could do this all day.

***

Our number is slowly but surely being whittled down, and anyway, it’s not like we don’t have our share of entertainment.  Both the quality and quantity of the cosplay I’ve seen so far has been impressive, from a Rita Repulsa so perfect I need to remind myself she’s not actually actress Machiko Soga, to the gigantic Bumblebee lumbering around the floor, to the two Deadpools who suddenly appear from opposite ends of the aisle, cross paths, and break out into some inexplicable yet hilarious posturing dance fight right beside us that lasts a full three minutes.  Even Phil momentarily pauses on his current sketch to take in all of its outrageous glory.

Did I mention one of the Deadpools was wearing a “sexy maid” outfit?

Did I mention one of the Deadpools was wearing a “sexy maid” outfit?

There are more moments like this throughout the day.  I see Batman walk up to George Perez, his gravelly voice now somehow timid as he asks for a photo.  A security guard Spider-Man in army fatigues happily high-fives me as I walk by him.  The identity of the colorfully-dressed man with the sash eludes me until he puts on his television set for a head and I realize he’s Prince Robot IV from Saga—possibly my favorite cosplay of the day.  This geeky subculture of ours has come together wildly and passionately, and when it’s so highly concentrated in one place, it’s nothing short of beautiful.

When the next fan in line asks for a sketch of Grumpy Cat as Streaky the Supercat, we’re all in stitches at the final result.

Every once in a while, Phil looks up and apologizes for how long we’ve been waiting.  We’re confused about why he’s apologizing—the way we’re looking at it, we’re at this fantastic con, getting to meet creators we admire, and line or no line, we’re having a great time.  Phil is drawing for us out of kindness, not for money—he’s as sweet as I knew he’d be.  My initial worry that we’re “hovering” a little too much fades away, as the setting becomes less of a line and more of a group.  The conversation flows between all of us, and I nearly forget that these people are strangers.  They’re starting to feel like friends.

Husband was unfamiliar with Phil and his work before now, but you wouldn’t guess that by the way he’s talking to him.  When I get back to the table after a quick break, I find them bonding over their love of G1 Transformers.  Phil shows us pictures of a Transformers/DC Universe pitch he did, and Husband is in love.  When Phil tells him that he did the box art for the SDCC Exclusive Metroplex that he’s been so furiously after, I think I see hearts in Husband’s eyes.  I wonder if he’s going to pocket his ring.

***

So much of my love for Wonder Woman is owed to George Perez.  Everything I love about Wonder Woman, George defined, and when I found out he would be a guest at the con, I wanted nothing more than to get to shake his hand and say thank you.

I got so much more than that.

George is understandably so popular that guests had to grab a ticket number to see him.  By some shocking stroke of luck—luck that is highly unusual for me to have when it comes to stuff like this—I managed to grab one of the last tickets of the day.

And George was sketching.  Sketching on the cheap.

I mean, I hear “George Perez,” and I’m thinking that a drawing from a name like that is bound to cost some dough.  I’ve bought commissions off of far lesser-known artists for unreasonable, if not criminal amounts of money.  And here’s George Perez, charging … forty dollars a sketch.  Here’s George Perez, in his bright Hawaiian shirt, drawing with a goddamn Sharpie marker.

SIGN ME UP.

Given that my ticket number was 128 and there were only two people left behind me at the end of the day, the man was obviously a drawing machine.  I got him to draw me a—you guessed it—Wonder Woman within the final hours of the con.  I shook his hand and proposed to him adoringly fawned over his work.  I’m somewhere outside of myself, acutely aware of the presence of this man who influenced so much of what I love, and as such, so much of who I’ve become, and it’s surreal.  He gives me my completed sketch and I thank him—and then I thank him again—and then I shake his hand—and then I thank him a third time.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thank you for today.

***

I’m up.  Phil is drawing for me now; he’s drawing the first of the three Wonder Women I wind up getting that day.  She’s coming along like the beauty that she is.  I’m already picturing her framed and hung up on the wall in our designated “reading room.”

“You’re all she’s talked about for the last week and a half” Husband tells Phil.  I’m not sure why he’s confessing this, other than the fact that he loves any opportunity to embarrass me.  I shoot him a look that says “I warned you not to,” but he just grins back at me with his full set of teeth; I need to change the subject before Husband dominates the conversation.

I tell Phil about a paper I wrote my freshman year of college that was about the depiction of female characters in comics.  It centered on Wonder Woman, and at the time I had reached out via e-mail to several creators for their opinions on certain aspects of the character’s portrayal—namely that of her sexuality, or arguable lack thereof at that point in time.

“You were the only one who responded,” I tell him.

“Did I give you anything helpful?” he asks.

“Well I got an A on the paper, so … yes, and thank you.”

“Oh, good.”

What commences is a more serious and thoughtful discussion than anything so far.  And as we’re talking, Phil is putting the finishing touches on my sketch.  Wonder Woman looks magnificent (that hair!), and birds soar in the background Themysciran sky.  I can’t believe I haven’t paid a dime for this.  He wouldn’t even let us get him some snacks or drinks as he sat glued to his seat.

He gives me the piece, and as I’m holding it up in admiration, and small group of people has formed on the side of me and behind me.  Another person asks me how much for the sketch, and the look on his face expresses his disbelief when I tell him it was for free.

“That is seriously the most beautiful Wonder Woman I’ve ever seen.  You’re so lucky.”

***

There was so much more I got to experience at Boston Comic Con, and so much that I didn’t.  I never got the chance to meet Joe Hill, Colleen Doran, or Bill Walko, or Chrissie Zullo.  I never got to talk to the creator of Our Valued Customers, or meet any new independent artists.  I didn’t see any of the celeb guests or sit in on any panels.  And I left on Saturday night with the onset of one of the worst migraines in recent memory (keep hydrated, kids), and yet I was blissfully happy.
Because I did get to meet Ming Doyle, who showed up to the con dressed as Jubilee and totally rocked it.  Because I met Amy Reeder, who is friendly and adorable, and has a great-looking book called Rocket Girl coming out soon.  Because after some hunting and some patience, I got to meet Scott Snyder, who was easily the most popular guy at the con.  Husband now owns a photo of me with Scott where my eyes are half shut and I look completely drunk, so yay for that.

I met Yale Stewart, creator of my current favorite web comic, JL8, which everyone should be reading.  And I met Aaron Lopresti, who drew me yet another little Wonder Woman doodle in one of the hard covers I’d brought along.  I surprised him when I whipped out this epically ridiculous comic called The Marriage of Hercules & Xena, which is apparently the type of the thing I was into in 1998, and for which he had done some art.  Oh, the lulz.

But I genuinely believe that had I done nothing other than stand in line and talk with Phil, getting to watch his drawing process, listening to his thoughts on comics, and engaging with fellow fans, it still would have been the best day.  Everything else was just delicious, dreamy icing.

A Peter Parker sketch drawn for Husband was Phil’s last for the afternoon, as he had a panel to run to; we expressed our sincere gratitude and said goodbye.  I flashed him a huge smile, and we leaned over the table for a hug.

 

 

20 Comments

Awesome stuff. Thanks, Melissa!

Nice article, sounds like you had a great day.

Any chance you’ll post the Jimenez sketch in question? I’m sure plenty of people would like to see it. It’s cool if you’d prefer to keep it personal though

I hope you weren’t the couple that crowded Phil’s table and kept jabbering on and on and on instead of letting some of us get one item autographed. That was truly annoying. I do get it that people are excited to meet the creators they like, but there are other people at the con that would like to get a few words in as well. Keep it polite people.

Hey, Fiance is now Husband! Congrats!

I enjoyed my time at the Boston Comic Con back in ’11. I understand this one was at a different place. How was the venue compared to the Hynes? And was there any major security “frisking” or anything?

“And yet by some miracle, AKA the superior con staff, the line actually winds up moving fairly quickly. We may have waited outside for about thirty minutes total.”

Oh yeah. When I went, I faced a similar long line, but thanks to having gotten tickets online ahead of time, I was able to get through the line quite quickly. The con staff is great, just from what I saw the weekend I was there.

Ming Doyle was in a Thor costume when I got to meet her there. (Shameless self promotion: here’s my old post on the ’11 show with a photo of Ms Doyle: http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2011/05/10/guest-post-boston-comic-con-best-comic-con-ever-or-bestest-comic-con-ever/ )

Very cool piece. I regret not getting to get back up there yet, but I’m hoping that next spring I can get up to ’14’s show. Glad you had a great time, and thanks for sharing with us.

I went again this year, and had a similarly great time. Here are my highlights:

– @Travis Pelkie: I thought the Seaport worked. The space seemed bigger. I wouldn’t mind if it ends up there again next year.

– Waiting in line was okay because the people there were good to talk to. They were all nice about holding each other’s place in long lines, which proved crucial in the Barry Kitson line. More on that below…

– All the creators I met were very cool. I especially talking with James O’Barr during a lull in his line,

– Aaron Lopresti, Colleen Doran, & Bo Hampton all drew quick head sketches in my books. Lopresti & Hampton did so for free and Ms. Doran did so with the understanding that I would donate something to the Comoc Book Legal Defense Fund.

– J.K. Woodward charged a small fee for head sketches, and he had a long list. Nevertheless, he managed to squeeze me in and drew me a gorgeous portrait of Lee from Fallen Angel. I have no objection to artists charging $50, $100, or even more for head sketches because I think they have the right to make their money with their art. I can’t afford their fees (paid it once last year because I couldn’t not get a sketch by Bill Sienkiewicz & it was worth it), but Woodward charged much less and produced a painterly b&w picture suitable for framing.

– Bob Almond sells original pages he’s worked on for reasonable rates. At the con, he sold them for 1/2 off the price he’d written on the back. I bought a nice page from Heroes for Hire for $35. Score!

– The aforementioned Phil Jimenez drew me an awesome Starman head sketch for free because he really is that amazing. He didn’t skimp on anybody’s sketch, adding tones and a little symbolic background.

– Howard Victor Chaykin. If you ever get to meet him, do so. The guy is funny and cranky in equal measures. He gave me some good jazz recommendations to boot.

– I missed out on meeting about half the artists I came to see, only got to one vendor, and missed all the panels. About 1/3 of the time I was there was spent waiting in one line (and darting out to get quick autographs/ conversations with the artists who were closest). Despite that, I left very happy. Why? Barry Kitson promised a full color head sketch to anyone who would wait for one. I was 4th in line. He drew full color full figure sketches for anyone who bought a certain amount of original art, comics, and/or prints. He also let kids jump the line, which I liked. I had to wait through two full figure sketches, 3 kids’ sketches, and a regular head sketch until I got my turn. It took hours.

I finally got my sketch done. While he drew, Mr. Kitson chatted and answered questions. I got to have an enjoyable conversation, and ended up with a beautiful Black Canary head sketch done in ink and water color.
My favorite part of cons is getting sketches. I’ve never left one with a full color piece, and for free! It made the whole con worth it.

Sounds like the lines are all getting even bigger in the past couple years. In ’11, I was lucky enough to be about the only person in line for a number of people (caught Frank Cho, Terry Moore, Matt Wagner, several others pretty early on first day and with no one else around — and talked to Joe Kubert briefly first thing in the door!), and waited briefly in other lines. The only people I remember waiting any major amount of time for were Tim Sale and J Scott Campbell, as well as Frank Quitely. I think I lucked into catching certain lines at the right times. I also wasn’t getting sketches or anything, just some signed books.

And Chaykin was indeed fun. I waited in line once to get some books signed, and then on the Sunday, I watched him sketching for a little in a lady’s book. He said I had alright hair!

@Danny – I’m debating posting a photo of the sketches and swag I picked up. A part of me wants to keep it private, but I may change my mind later.

@Rob – I’m not really sure who you’re talking about. Anyone who had comics to get signed immediately got to cut the line and go right up to Phil. No one was blocking him as far as I saw.

@Travis – Thanks for sharing your post! I liked the new location at the Seaport a lot better than the Hynes, actually. Felt like there was more room, and we didn’t get our bags searched or anything like that, which surprised me.

@Mike – Sounds like you had a great time! I missed a bunch of those guests. I heard Barry Kitson was great. Nice choice on the Black Canary.

Excellent con report, Melissa!

I sometimes wish we had a bigger con here in Detroit so I could run around getting more sketches. We did have George Perez this year, though. He told my wife that her Wonder Woman sketch was the first one he’d done all weekend and this was on Sunday. Most people wanted Thanos. Joke’s on them. Great guy by the way. Second time I’ve met him and each has been a good experience.

Hi Melissa, loved reading this. Looks like we got some of the same folks to sketch. I posted a few of mine on the blog. I’m envious that you got Terry Moore, he’s on my list of folks to get but his list was closed before the show.

@rob I was in line for a long time with Phil and he asked on three separate occassions that people who only wanted signatures to come up front. That included some folks how had literally boxes of comics for him to sign.

Thanks for the comments, everyone.

@Mike – Glad you enjoyed it!

@P. Boz – The last sketch George drew before I got to him was Thanos. I meant to ask him how many WW’s he’d drawn that day, but I totally forgot!

@Sue – Your Donna Troy is gorgeous; what a great grab! And the X-Men #1 … wow.

Captain Haddock

August 7, 2013 at 8:49 am

Awesome recap! And please pleasssse share the wonder women :)

Melissa, sorry I missed you! Next year maybe. :)

This was really nicely done, Melissa. Your delight came through clearly, and you mentioned a lot of other adventures through the “waiting-for-the-sketch” segment of the narrative. I was there, and you captured the con well. Makes me jealous I didn’t pay closer attention to the opportunities to have sketches done! Looking forward to reading more from you.

p.s. I vote for your posting photos of the swag; especially the sketch you waited so long for! ;-)

Now this sounds like a wonderful way to spend your time at a convention!

Nice. I’m not a comic con kind’a guy, but you really make me want to be. The comaraderie you describe in the line sounds like so much fun. And I guess reminds me of my time behind the counter of a comic shop. I miss that sort of geek chat. I love the structure of the piece too. The way the line snakes through it, providing a sort of spine to the story is really excellent.
I don’t know where to stand on whether you should post the ‘swag’ or not. I like the idea that sketches (especially ones done for free) are for the person that stands in line for them. They’re private and deserve to live in the moment they’re created in and on the wall of the person they were drawn for … I sort of like that idea.

You guys are so sweet!

@Captain Haddock – I love your name. <3

@Bill – Absolutely, next year! I'm gunning for you!

@Hugh & @Sally – Thank you very much for the kind words!

@Robin – You make me feel less guilty about not posting the sketches … although … I suppose I'm being a huge tease in writing up a big post about them and then not giving you the payoff, right?

I had a great time at the show as well. Conversely, though, the only people I didn’t meet that were on my list to meet were George Perez and Phil Jimenez. Due to circumstances outside my control, I wasn’t able to get to the show until after all the tickets for George’s line had already been given out. And with Phil, he was out at lunch for a long period and when he came back, I didn’t want to interrupt his drawing, even though I knew he would sign my books. It just seemed rude. Plus, I wasn’t 100% sure the book I had was drawn by him – the intrnet said it was, but there was no signature on it – so I gave it a pass.

Awesome show, much bigger than any Boston show I’ve been to before.

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