PITTSBURGH COMICON: DAY THREE
Don't get me wrong. I love doing comicons. It's just that you need some time to decompress from them. Getting home from Pittsburgh Sunday at midnight, spending an hour unpacking and getting everything in order so I could get up five hours later to go to work for what would turn out to be a nearly ten hour workday is just not conducive to good health. I'm convinced of that. I'm a wreck, and all those trade paperbacks I picked up this weekend are begging to be properly shelved.
Sure, I could have left Pitt a little sooner, but why ruin a good thing? Besides, Sunday was the big costume day and there are plenty of con geeks to make fun of then! There was a second Space Ghost at the convention on Sunday, but he had the smarts to wear something closer to sweatpants than spandex. Nonetheless, I hear that Evan Dorkin did a double take on Saturday when that day's SG passed by his table in artist's alley. Leave it to CBR's own Larry Young to put it most succinctly: "Spandex is not a right. It's a privilege."
I had the chance to chat with Dorkin for a couple of minutes on Sunday afternoon. He's got a ton of stuff in the pipeline and ready to go, from a SIN CITY pin-up that'll show up if Frank Miller ever does another mini-series, to stories in that upcoming Bizarro Comics hardcover and more. Catch him at a con and you're likely to see the photocopies. I talked to him for a bit about FIGHT MAN, which I reviewed here on Friday. He said that there was a sequel planned called FIGHT MAN 2099, but that it never happened for various reasons. In the story, Fight Man would have been out on parole and back to his unfortunate deeds again. Dorkin went on to describe the story in pretty vivid detail, which I thought was interesting since the book was never done and must have been a proposal more than six years ago. But it's a really funny tale. Maybe some day it could be done. Marvel seems to have a sense of humor about itself nowadays. The trick would be in convincing Dorkin to do it with them.
He also mentioned that he's writing (with Sarah Dyer) a two-part story for SUPERMAN ADVENTURES. They will probably be the last two issues of the series. He didn't know that ahead of time, so he didn't get the chance to do a more momentous issue. He said that if he had known in advance, he would have handled it differently to give the characters a chance to say goodbye. (That's figuratively. In BILL AND TED'S comic book, they said it literally.)
I met Tom DeFalco in artist's alley. He was splitting time, it seemed, between the Image Comics booth and the tables of Pat Oliffe and Ron Frenz, his most recent artistic comrades-in-arm. (Oliffe had one arm in a sling when I saw him at his table.) I talked to DeFalco for a bit about RANDY O'DONNELL IS THE MAN. I reviewed it here back on Friday. Click on the link if you missed it. He showed me the color proofs of the book like a proud father. The book is colored (by Bob Sharen, if memory serves) just as brightly as I hoped it would be. The bright costumes jump right off the page towards you, while the backgrounds remain slightly more earthen, to help sit back just a bit. It looks modern without being overly computer-rendered.
DeFalco told me that he planned to include a couple of pages about how to produce comics at the end of each issue. It's something he thinks a lot of people are interested in. The first couple of issues will include some writing tips from him, and from there he'll probably talk about the art and the inking and the lettering and coloring and all the rest. It's not necessarily going to be a breakdown of a given page from the comic, but more along the lines of general advice. Given that the book is aimed towards a readership that would be at the age when most people think about doing comics for a living, it should be a perfect addition to the book. For process junkies like myself, it always makes for nice reading.
The Image Booth was always buzzing with interesting people. If you've never met Image Comics' marketing director Anthony Bozzi, you're missing out on an experience. The man is a fountain of energy, secondly only (possibly) to Marvel's Bill Rosemann. Man, put those two in a room and I wonder who'd tire out first… I finally caught NOBLE CAUSES' creator and writer Jay Faerber behind the table. We talked some about plans for the series and comics in general. (He got bonus points for being able to comment on a recent Pipeline column without provocation. The whole concept of "Banter Comics" seems to have struck a chord with many people.) He also gave me the OK to post two images that were created for the Pittsburgh Comicon by the series' artistic teams here. These drawings were copied onto some heavy paper stock, and were being signed by all involved for the fans.
I stopped by Duck artist extraordinaire Patrick Block's table in Artist's Alley. He's still optimistic that Disney comics will see print in America relatively soon. He has greater faith in Disney lawyers than I do. For those who haven't kept track of such things – the Disney comics license for such characters as Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck has been sitting in limbo now for as long as I've been writing this column at CBR. There's an on-going effort to purchase the license and get the editorial process going again, but the licensor-in-waiting is still butting heads with Disney Legal over terms. You'd think that Disney would want to have its own characters in comics in North America. Such is not the case, it seems. Disney's being stubborn and obstinate, based on everything I've heard.
In the meantime Block was selling an Italian hardcover book of a story he drew from the late Carl Barks' layouts. It was Barks' final story. It's a beautiful book, with the Italian language version of the story on the right hand pages and the English version on the left hand side. Block imported a few copies from Italy when he heard of it, and the only place you can really find these in America is to get them from him if you spot him at a con.
Hopefully, the American license will be granted and the material – such as Block's story – can be seen in America. It's amazing to think how much new material has been produced overseas that hasn't been seen in America yet. Just because we can't get them here doesn't mean that Patrick Block (with his wife, Shelly) and William Van Horn and Don Rosa and Caeser Ferioli and David Gerstein, et. al., have stopped working. When those gates open up, we should be getting some great stuff rushing in.
Block was also the most prolific of the "Quick Sketch" artists at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund raffles over the weekend. I'll be talking a lot more about those this Friday.
As a whole, Sunday was quiet. How quiet? The place was so empty, I thought I heard the theme song from THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY in my head when I saw a lone figure at the far end of artist's alley. Tumbleweed brushed by my feet when I walked in at 11:30. There were times when Brian Bendis didn't have anyone in front of his table. I remarked to my friend, Dani, as we passed by Bendis that he was "so last month's Wizard." That was probably the copy of Wizard that was picked up by the cleaning crew at the Harvey's after Frank Miller's speech. (Those ripped pages were the most in-demand collectible of the con.)
George Perez's booth, which almost always held a steady seven to ten people in front of it, was often down to a person or two. It's probably my biggest regret of the con that I never made it over there. We diabetics have to stick together, you know. =)
It's another odd thing that no matter how much you cram into three days, you always end up missing someone or forgetting to do something. I could name a half dozen other booths that, in retrospect, I wish I had stopped at. Such is life. I still have San Diego and Chicago in my future, so I'm pacing myself and will have to be happy with that.
On the way out, we ate at a place called Pup a GoGo in the Monroeville Mall. No, there were no strippers. It's just a vendor in a mall food court. I'm still curious as to how that place got its name. It sells hamburgers and hot dogs, mostly. Are there any locals out there that can inform a New Jersey guy like myself as to where that name derived?
And while we're at it, what's with the friggin' highways in Pennsylvania? Is there any five-mile stretch that ISN'T under construction? Any part of it where traffic doesn't stop every half hour to merge two or three lanes into one? Do you have any idea how annoying it is to drive for five miles on a single lane road with high concrete dividers on either side of you? It was right after that where the open road hit again for all of about a mile before the traffic came to such a dead stop in front of a tunnel that a lot of people turned off their engines and got out of the car to stretch while waiting.
Let's think of our friends to the North for a second, too. A special Hall of Shame nomination to the dealer with the Quebec license plates who parked his truck and trailer in the hotel parking lot across four or five spaces. Not fifty feet away was a sign asking people not to park their trailers in the hotel parking lot. I didn't have a spot in my own hotel to park in when I got back from breakfast on a busy Saturday morning and had to park at the mall and walk over. Sheesh
There have been a lot of Pipeline columns here in the past week, so I wanted to give you a rough breakdown of what's been going on, for your reading pleasure:
Come back here on Friday for some final thoughts on the con. Yes, there's yet another column to be milked out of all this, if only because I haven't read a single comic that came out last week yet. That makes it tough to do reviews. =)
More than 200 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically. The first 100 columns are still available at the Original Pipeline page, a horrifically coded piece of HTML. Those columns are even migrating over here in drips and drabs. Eventually, they'll all be on CBR.
This year, you can still catch me at the Chicago Comicon (i.e. WizardWorld) and the San Diego Comicon (i.e. the Comic Con International: San Diego). I might even show up at the Small Press Expo in Maryland later this year, but that's very tentative.