Last Saturday at Jet City

That is to say, the Jet City Comics Show in Tacoma.

We love the Jet City show for two reasons-- first of all, it's just the right size for us. It's a one-day affair down in Tacoma, and though it gets bigger every year it doesn't appear that it's going to mushroom up in size like the Emerald City Comic-Con has.

And second, most all our friends from ECCC are usually working this one too, but we are not; it's too early in the school year. So we get to go and just hang out and enjoy ourselves. We didn't have a lot of money to spend this year, but we did have a little set aside for shopping, since Julie was determined to do something for my birthday. My former student and now colleague Lindon and her boyfriend Cal wanted to go as well, so that made it rather a family outing for us.

As it turned out we really didn't shop that much. Mostly what we did was wander around and take pictures, so I'm just going to run those and talk about each one.

This band was playing right outside the entrance and weren't just endearingly eccentric, they were also pretty good.

Apparently they were trying to raise the funds to go to a competition out of state or something. We didn't really have any money to kick in, but we wish them well. They seemed to be doing all right out of the crowd.

We got there fairly late in the day so we missed seeing some people, but we made it a special point to seek out Pete and Rebecca Woods since we've missed them at the last couple of big shows we've both been at.

It was very nice to catch up with them and we spent a fair amount of time talking about schools and teaching. I gave Rebecca a bound set of galleys of the Holmes book I worked on, which she was WAY more excited about than it probably deserved. You can see that Pete is working on a pen-and-ink piece... as it happens, he put the finished drawing up online later. Here's how it turned out.

I don't think it was a commission, I think he was doing it just to keep limber. But it was really cool to watch it taking shape.

On the opposite side of that row Mike and Casey from Radio Vs. The Martians had a table. As usual, we were instantly off on a long conversation about all sorts of nerdy things; really, the podcast itself is just a slightly edited and distilled version of the back-and-forth all of us have been doing at fan gatherings for years. From left to right that's Casey, Mike, and then Sam Mulvey, who owns the podcast studio and is often a panelist as well.

This was the first time they'd been officially tabling at a show and we were laughing about how they had the tallest banner in the room. They had been giving away "Best Of" CDs that had three episodes of the show, but those were long gone. The candy bowl was still half-full, though, so we nibbled on mini-Snickers while we talked about Stephen J. Cannell. Somehow, despite a truly terrifying breadth of knowledge regarding the worst action movies and cop shows ever made, apparently Mike had never heard of the insanity that was Broken Badges.

So I was trying to explain that. But you really can't.... you just have to see it for yourself. Somehow we went from that to Mike and I trying to put across to Casey what Steve Gerber's DEFENDERS run was all about. Trying to explain Nighthawk's Brain and the Elf With A Gun is really damn hard to someone who's never seen it, incidentally-- not because the concepts are so difficult but because you can't stop laughing long enough to catch your breath.

Casey asked, "So this was around the same time as the Planet of the Apes comic with the brains in the jars and all of that stuff you were telling us about?"

"Exact same time," I told him.

Casey considered it. "So they were pretty much on drugs all the time then."


We laughed pretty hard over that, but if you asked my wife, she'd say the funniest moment of the day came while I was talking to Paul Ryan. I had never met him before and I told him, "I've been reading your stuff since D.P.7."

"That's the only book that was totally mine," he said, a little wistfully. "All 32 issues."

Then we explained to Julie what the comic was about, and Mr. Ryan and I took turns talking about how it was actually a more realistic take on super-powers... and how they had been the first ones to do the riff on a super-speedster's metabolism making it necessary for the guy to eat all the time. That led us to the Flash, and Mr. Ryan and I got progressively more excited talking about the new show. That yellow blur, that has to be Zoom, right? HAS to be! But it's not Eddie, that's too obvious-- what about Wells, what's his thing? And Grodd! And the Treadmill, how cool was that? I KNOW, right?? Oh my GOD!! We were just completely nerding out over it for about ten minutes. Julie thought it was hilarious.

I ended up getting a Phantom print, since the newspaper strip is his current project.

I have it here in the office where I can see it as I type this, and it still makes me smile to think of the two of us just letting our respective inner fanboys completely geek out for a moment.

It's always nice to meet someone who's been in the business that long and hasn't gotten jaded.

We also said hello to David Lasky and Megan Kelso. Ms. Kelso remembered my students as being 'really terrifically engaged' from seeing them at the Olympia Comics Festival a couple of years ago, which is much nicer than 'hyperactive hellions,' which is what I remember them being that year.

And I made it a point to let Jamal Igle know what a hit Molly Danger is with the young people we know.

Molly Danger, by the way, is one of the coolest things I've seen this year and deserves to be a huge hit. If you haven't checked it out yet, you really should. It's just FUN.

We never did catch up with some folks, sadly. Our friends Kurt and Rob had already left by the time we arrived, and somehow in our wanderings we never did happen across Tyler Chin-Tanner from A Wave Blue World.

We saw some interesting art on display, too. Julie was quite taken with this fellow and his display of Groots.

Julie, who some of you may remember was a potter at the art studio where we met, was fascinated with the process of casting resin sculptures like the Groots. Mr. Clifford does hand-finishing on them afterward, as well. I wish I'd gotten a better picture because they really are cool and each one is unique. Too expensive for us, sadly, but he was kind enough to talk to us at some length about the process anyway.

We did do a little more shopping. Our favorite back-issue dealer was there, Randy's Readers, and I always have to get something from Randy. My back-issue hunts are down to almost nothing these days-- just Marvel magazines from the 70s, the DC 100-pagers, and a few of the really oddball Marvel short-run books that have never been collected. Unfortunately for me, Randy had only brought the normal-sized Marvel comics that day; no magazines and no DC at all. Even so, I found #1 of The Human Fly... a very strange comic based on a real guy-- sort of. (You can read that story here.)

The Marvel book ran 19 issues and I guess I have about seven of them. #1 had eluded me, though, and it was nice to knock it off the list.

That would have been it but Julie nudged me and said, "Get something for Moses' little boy."

She meant her co-worker's son who's in the hospital awaiting a bone marrow transplant. He's very sick and Moses had asked Julie if we had any old comics we were getting rid of, his son was a big fan of Batman and Spider-Man. Of course, this melted my bride and she has been after me to load the kid up. I'd already sent a care package of stuff from the house but Julie wanted to do more, and here was Randy with a bunch of the good stuff-- cheap. We explained the situation and and Randy said, "I'll make up a pile of dollar books, sure."

"Marvel Tales," I told him. "The thick ones."

Randy knew instantly what I meant and he had a bunch of them out in a flash.

After all, if we didn't make sure the kid got the good stuff, who else was going to do it?

And that was our day at the show. Low-key, but we sure had fun. We rounded up our own kids, which is to say Lindon and Cal, and headed out for dinner.


Jet City really is a great little one-day con. It would be perfect for my students, especially since we aren't going to be able to do Emerald City any more, it looks like. If only it came a little later in the school year.

See you next week.

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