Pipeline Chicago 2003: Day Two


The header above is a lie. This journal begins at the end of Day One.

The Wizard Fan Awards began its usual 15 minutes late. Hosted by Zeb Wells and Mike Cotton, the Fan Awards are the far less serious awards show of the summer. How much less serious? Well, it started with another Zeb Wells parody video of superheroes getting the whole "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" treatment. After that, the cast appeared on stage dressed as Hulk, Supergirl, Namor, Spider-Man, Northstar, and Thor. They proceeded to do a dance number, highlighted by Spider-Man doing a dead-on step-for-step reenactment of that Dancing Spider-Man GIF file that's been making the rounds on the internet lately.

In the end, the awards were much more sedate than I had remembered in previous years. It seemed like many of the award presenters just wanted to get up, do their thing, and get out. The usual foul-mouthed shenanigans were toned down. The highlight of the evening came when a guest presenter -- the winner of a contest -- popped the question to his girlfriend. (She said yes.) Poor Paul Jenkins had to present the next award.

Sam Raimi accepted the award on videotape from the set of SPIDER-MAN 2 for the first movie's win as the Favorite TV/Movie presentation of the year. It ended with Doc Oc's claw grabbing him and pulling him off-camera.

After DC won two early awards (Batgirl as Favorite Heroine and Lex Luthor as Favorite Villain), the hosts remarked that it might just be DC's year. Nope. The tide turned quickly. ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN was the belle of the ball, winning awards including Favorite Series, Writer, Hero, Supporting Character (Mary Jane Watson), and Letterer.

Alex Ross won for Favorite Painter based on his work on BATTLE OF THE PLANETS. Jimmy Palmiotti begged for there to be a different winner as he opened the envelope, but then was forced to give the award to Ross, anyway. Whoops.


Talked to Scott Dunbier at the DC booth for nearly a half hour this afternoon about a lot of things, very few of them related to comics. I've had a lot of fun at this convention talking to people about things aside from comics. Having seen many of the same people a couple of weeks ago in San Diego, neither they nor I have much new to say. So, we chat about family and home lives and day jobs and all the rest.

Finally met Robert Kirkman at the con this year. Jim Valentino referred to him as the Image Comics "cottage industry." Whenever they need a new title, they know they can just go to Kirkman and ask him which of his 27 ideas for books he'd like to do next. Picked up the INVINCIBLES trade from him while I was there, and talked about some of that prolific future work. CAPES looks promising, but it's not the type of book you should "wait for the trade" on. It's only three issues to start and it's neither the most commercial idea in the world, nor the most veteran team on it. Mark Englert is doing some nice artwork for the book, but this is his debut on a series of his own. I've read the first issue and it's a lot of fun if you're looking for the humorous side of superhero comics. This title revolves around a professional superhero corporation, and incorporates a lot of familiar-feeling characters as they go through their day-to-day lives, working 9 to 5 stopping crime.

I had an impromptu interview with Mark Alessi this afternoon about the Comics on DVD initiative. I don't have time to type up my notes for it right now, but look for that in a future Pipeline, probably next Tuesday.

Artists Alley really filled out from the last time I saw it early on Friday. Most, if not all, of the tables were occupied, and most of them had people talking shop, gathering sketches, and picking up new books. Let me just give one piece of advice to the "unknowns" in Artists Alley: Use this as a promotional appearance. Get people aware of your name and of your book. Don't charge for sketches. I know you have to pay for the booth in Artists Alley at this con, but it's just not smart. I saw more tables with signs advertising sketch prices that were completely devoid of fans than those that attracted people that way. The number of people who just want as many sketches from as many people as possible is not enough to keep you afloat when you're charging for sketches.

Also: Be sure to have a name card displayed at your table. If people are supposed to read your nametag to figure out who you are, they most likely won't care to bother.

Some CrossGen artists even set up in Artists Alley to get away from the madness that can be the perpetually busy CrossGen booth. They were much more accessible there, as well.

I talked to Jeff Parker of INTERMAN fame today. Picked up the sketchbook he had for sale. Discussed the world of on-line comics reviewing and reporting. As a bonus, I don't think I committed any of the social sins he mentioned in his San Diego Con write-up earlier this year. I look forward to reading his con report from Chicago next.

Stopped by the SHOOTING STARS ANTHOLOGY table when I heard Chuck Dixon was signing there. I found a PUNISHER hardcover he had done in the 80s in the dealer's section, and bought it for him to sign. Also met the whole editorial crew behind SHOOTING STARS ANTHOLOGY, whose names I won't mention for fear of forgetting one or misspelling them all. I'm writing this in my hotel room at 1:30 a.m. I'm too tired to research this to get it all right. Just go to the Dixonverse message boards and you'll find most of them there. =) Copies of the second issue were available at the table, featuring a new story with Tim Truman art at the end. It's a very busy layout; they crammed a lot of story into a few short pages. It still looks great.


I attended only two panels today. The first was titled "Brian Bendis Drops Bombs," a solo performance by today's leading comics impresario. The room was literally standing room only, to the point where Bendis waved some fans up to sit on the dais with him. I got in too late for even that (being a mere five minutes early) and so ended up kneeling behind the back row of the room so as not to block the views of the people leaning against the wall. Bendis was as entertaining as ever, but I don't have any breaking news from the panel for you. I left after a half hour. I'm not getting any younger and spending those thirty minutes crouched down was killing my joints.

After that, I walked out the pain on the con floor, returning only for Brian Haberlin's presentation at the Wizard School on comics coloring. Some microphone problems and noise from the hallway took away from it, but it's always interesting to observe the process. He's selling three instructional CDs at his booth this weekend and is soon to be starting a new web site at www.digitalarttutorials.com. I'll be picking up one or two of those CDs tomorrow. I have no sense of color whatsoever, but I'm curious about the process and the details of what goes into it. I left the panel after about an hour and a half, but it was scheduled for another hour and most likely went the distance. Haberlin was just introducing the world of digital painting when I took off for one last hour on the con floor.

Wrapped up the day with a visit to the IDW booth and a brief chat with Comics' Most Affable Man, Beau Smith. Beneath that tough exterior lies a heart of gold, and more tales of Wynonna Earp, I'm sure.

After that, it was back to dinner, the bar, the Marvel Hospitality Suite (where I finally met fellow CBR columnist Mark Millar), and the hotel room for this write-up.

I'm wrapping it up here so I can get some sleep tonight. It's already 2 a.m., and I know that there's a poker game going on somewhere else at this hotel that's just getting started. Lucky them. I'm too tired to be holding or folding. I'm going to sleep.

Tuesday's column will feature reviews, including a special and possibly exclusive preview review of Steven Grant's adaptation of Frank Miller's ROBOCOP 2. I'll wrap up coverage of this convention next week, assuming there's anything left to say about it.

In the meantime, there's still Various and Sundry to keep you busy until I get back. Thanks for reading!

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