This is the event write-up and photo diary that got so big, it took me two weeks to pull it all together. First I went from Long Beach Comic Con, to The Walking Dead premiere in Los Angeles, then to San Francisco for the Alternative Press Expo, and on from there to the annual APE Aftermath party at Isotope Comics. Here’s what happened…
This was my first year at Long Beach Comic Con and it was great. I liked that it was in an area of my new hometown in Southern California which I haven’t visited yet, and it turns out that Long Beach is beautiful. The weather was gorgeous right by the ocean and the convention, although small, was perfectly formed. The crowds were minimal and every interesting comic book author I wanted to talk to had plenty of time and space.
I managed to score Jim Mahfood’s book Scum of the Earth, The Hero Code, an atmospheric comic book by Jamie Gambell and Jonathan Rector, as well as the stark offshoot book The Black Wraith by G Brett Williams and Michael Harris. There were plenty of long boxes of back issues to rummage through, and when the convention closed these were supplemented by the giant $1 used book store across the street, which had a massive collection of their own long boxes for sale. I bought a couple dog-eared single issues of Joe Matt’s Peep Show (the perfect gift to make my married friends laugh), and the 4 issue series Vertigo Pop Tokyo (packed with delightful Seth Fisher art that was a must-own I was glad to finally find).
The Walking Dead Premiere
After Long Beach I had an evening free to attend The Walking Dead premiere at Universal Studios. I’ve never been to a one of these kind of events and I didn’t expect it to look like all those Hollywood premiere events you see on TV, but I was wrong. In a sea of people in fancy evening dress I felt pretty underdressed, but then I spied the man himself; Robert Kirkman. And he wasn’t wearing a tuxedo so I felt better. It was a fabulous night, even if you don’t count getting to see an episode of The Walking Dead on a big screen (which was as chilling and action-packed as you’d expect).
After the screening they bussed everyone out to the Walking Dead Maze and an outdoor street set which had been decorated to look like a Walking Dead set (i.e. fancy party meets post-apocalyptic ephemera, which is a hilarious combination for many reasons). Being shaken up enough by the scary screening, I found a comfy couch with Eric Stephenson of Image Comics and focused on harassing him about writing more issues of the excellent Nowhere Men (fruitlessly, I’m sad to say), while wolfing down steak and teeny tiny lemon meringue pies.
The next day I drove to San Francisco for one of my favorite conventions; The Alternative Press Expo. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the focus on independent and small press publishers gives the convention a unique flavor. This year has to have been the best to attend, since it was located in one of the larger pavilions at Fort Mason, which is located right by the sea, with a view of Alcatraz right outside. I picked up great books like the epic No Straight Lines: Four Decades of Queer Comics, edited by Justin Hall, and Last Gasp’s Janelle Hessig illustrated and self-published an oddly detached list of conquests by Brontez Purnell called The Cruising Diaries, and from AdHouse Books I managed to snag the limited hardcover version of their Project: Romantic compilation.
There were some very positive news items that had people buzzing, including the fact that Fantagraphics are picking up Ed Luce’s lovingly self-published book Wuvable Oaf. And I was excited to learn that Jim Rugg will soon be publishing a second printing of his Street Angel compilation, this time using a very light pink paper with a dark purple ink, and in addition it is going to be serialized on Boing Boing in this format over the next months, so check that out for a preview of the new colors.
Surprise finds included Josh Frankel’s disturbing little three book series Water Column, Kelly Martin’s Doctor Lollipop, and Katie Longua’s hilarious one-shot book Munchies. As well as comic books, I found a few odd things I “needed”, like a creepy little sculpture called a Sickling (which I plan to repaint in a more sickly way), some nifty buttons of gold teeth and shiny black bones by artist Josh Ellingson, and a Diorama Comix, which is a teeny, tiny, hand-drawn scene in three dimensions, all set up inside of a slice of packing tube.
On Saturday night it was time for the traditional after party that Isotope Comics always have during APExpo, and this year the guest of honor was Ed Piskor who was signing copies of his Hip Hop Family Tree. As always, Kirsten mixed a series of popular cocktails inspired by the guest star’s comic book, and DJ Bearzbub played a perfect selection of classic hip hop. This year was another great party with a fantastic mix of people in attendance. I loved seeing all of my friends who I’ve missed since I moved to Southern California and meeting lots of new ones. Somehow I managed to get into an in-depth discussion with Eric Reynolds of Fantagraphics about the psychology of Love & Rockets, which was incredibly enjoyable. I dragged my little brother along too and he even bought me some comics which he said I have to read and I’m pretty excited about it. He got me The Auteur by Rick Spears and James Callahan, and Southern Bastards by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour, which I’ve been wanting to check out. Almost everyone accidentally stayed until 2am, when we were all falling down but very happily so. It was a great end to what will probably be the last Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco and I’m glad we gave it a good send off because the city will be poorer for the loss.
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