FILLED WITH THE MILK OF HUMAN KINDNESS
Maybe this is just the whisky talking, but I just couldn't be happier with the state of comics right now.
Last year at this time, I was bemoaning to myself about how all the luster had seemed to have left the biz. Sure, I was excited to be a writer and a publisher, and I couldn't seem to have any more enthusiasm for the industry and for the form itself, but I wasn't around when Marvel was disappointed with the sales of Punisher War Journal #1 and its measly 500,000 copies.
My expectations were right down there, so anything seemed good to me. Somedays, just a look at the ol' bookshelf, with a few spines looking out at me with my name on 'em, and a few other critical darlings sporting the name of my company…
…well, it'd be disingenuous of me to say I'm nothing but thrilled.
Most of my pals, though, were all decrying The End Of Comics As We Know It…
…and I felt just a little bad about that because I, for myself, was secretly looking forward to it.
The End Of Comics As We Know It can't come soon enough for me, what with its implied promise of a new system…
…and it seems that we're almost there.
Last year's WonderCon was a mess and a shambles and sparsely attended. This year's WonderCon was an orgy of appreciation for comics. Upbeat, friendly, skies-are-gonna-clear-up-put-on-a-happy-face; the whole place was awash in good tidings. Michael Chabon had won the Pulitzer for The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, fans prowled the aisles with fistfuls of cash, previously ignored books were in the limelight, deals were being made, hands shaken, contracts signed…
…and the whole thing paled in comparison to the smorgasbord that was Pittsburgh.
Last week, I attended the Pittsburgh Comicon for the first time. I thought I had become a little jaded with the whole con thing; after all, I've been attending shows for an embarrassingly long while…
…but I'd never been to Pittsburgh.
My old pal Pat Donley, general manager of the superior chain of comic stores, New Dimension Comics, picked me up at the airport, wearing his official AiT/Planet Lar shirt and carrying a sign with my company's logo on it. In addition to making me laugh my ass off, I have to say ol' Pat warmed the cockles of what's left of my heart with that one. I felt like Mick Jagger, there, for a moment…
…until we made it to the Comicon the next day…
…where I was treated like visiting royalty.
I went up to the administrative table to pick up my badge first thing Friday morning, and when I introduced myself, Renee George, the VIP liaison for the show, beamed me a thousand-watt smile and handed me my badge and said, "Oh, yeah, Larry; I know that name! Here you go, welcome to Pittsburgh, happy to have you here, hope you enjoy the show."
I defy anyone to have a crappy time after that sort of welcome.
I went to the New Dimension Comics booth, where the lads had set up a little pocket of AiT/Planet Lar goodness, along with their superior selection of Golden Age books, the "men's magazines" from the Fifties (that seemed only to attract Charles Burns, Joe Linsner, and the Hernandez Brothers), and the unavoidable "dollar boxes" you hear so much about nowadays, and I signed books for a while, as well as helping to sell a few Ministry of Space T-shirts…
…but then I went around the floor and saw what I could see.
I particularly enjoyed hanging out with our man Augie De Blieck, Jr., and his faithful pal Dani, whom I seemed to run into nearly everywhere I went. Perhaps it's those stunning CBR shirts we were wearing. Who can say?
A very high point of the show for me was talking to one of my heroes in comics, DC Marketing poo-bah Patty Jeres. Patty is one of those folks who knows what time it is without looking at a clock, I can tell you that, and if she hadn't just got a well-deserved promotion, I would lead the charge for getting her a raise, because she and her folks are doing the Lord's work, and that's a fact.
A highlight of Saturday for me was hanging out at the hotel bar with Image publisher Jim Valentino, Diamond Comics Brand Manager Chris Schaff, and then later with New Dimension Comics owner Todd McDevitt. It seems to me that, at conventions, a whole lot of actual business gets done while folks have a glass of beer or a shot of whisky in their hands.
At one point on Saturday night, Diamond folks Chris Schaff and Jim Kuhoric, Electric Girl creator and publisher Mike Brennan, retailers McDevitt and Donley, and Augie and Dani and me were all in the same place at the same time, solving the problems and curing the ills of the comic book industry.
And that is the appeal, to me, of the new (and apologies to FDR) deal in comics:
…a coupla folks with a dream of how things should be run can roll up their sleeves, get a few like-minded people on their side, and put on a show.
It's enough to fill a cranky bastard like me with the milk of human kindness.
Your vehement and reactionary, well, reactions to this column can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Make sure to tell us all, over at the Loose Cannon Message Board exactly why you're excited about comics. Because I know you are. But I want to know why.
Comics I'm digging: click here, and then hit the link to The Monarchy #3, and you'll see Doselle Young and Warren Pleece on top of their games. Ol' Cousin Do showed me some scans of #3 and #4, and I really think this book is coming into its own. Miss it at your peril.