After two days, I'm beginning to see repetitions on last year's convention happening this year.
The first artist I saw in Artist's Alley was Steve Lieber. The same thing happened last year. This year, however, I didn't have him do a sketch in my book. There's no way he's topping the beauty he did last year that has since intimidated all sketchers since.
(Big news tonight: While WHITEOUT got shut out last year, it did win this year for best graphic novel - reprint. I couldn't be happier for Steve and Greg Rucka. Congratulations, guys!)
One of the 'finds' I had last year was MAYBERRY MELONPOOL. While I had heard of it on the internet before, I hadn't read much of it. The first collection of strips was available last year, and this year there's a second collection. I quickly snapped that up. Even got a picture of one of the really cute puppets of the characters. Hopefully, we can run that picture in a future Pipeline.
The other big find (for many people) was HEROBEAR AND THE KID. This con year, the second issue has at last come out. I quickly snapped that up, and will probably go back for the gorgeous prints he's selling. If I'm feeling particularly fanboy-ish, I'll go for the t-shirt, too. I'm making a decision to acquire a comics-themed t-shirt collection this year.
Erik Larsen was late in getting to his booth last year; this year I didn't even see him until he showed up late for a panel the first day. Let's see what happens tomorrow when his Image Central panel begins at 10:30 in the morning. He's a bigger fan of sleep than schmoooze.
Last year I bought four pages of VEXT art by Mike McKone and Mark McKenna. This year, I've already bought three pages of SUPERMAN art by McKone (inked by Alquiza), and will probably go back for some more gorgeous VEXT pages. (Speaking of which - McKone has my sketchbook. I dropped it off in the morning for a sketch. I spent the rest of the day - from 11:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. - in panels upstairs. So poor McKone had to lug my sketchbook back to his hotel tonight until he sees me tomorrow. So my apologies in advance, Mike!) I did get to see a few penciled pages from the forthcoming BIG TOWN project that McKone and McKenna are doing. They're gorgeous. It's still early in the project, so I can't vouch for what the story will be like, but the artwork is stunning.
It's kind of frustrating to have spent the whole day in singular rooms with people. It means that I'll be spending the two busiest days of the con on the con floor with the teeming masses. Let's hope they shower first, for a change.
It started at 11:30 with the WildStorm panel. This year's was slightly less rambunctious than last year's. Scott Lobdell wasn't there. That explains that. However, Mark Millar, Frank Quitely, Scott Dunbier, John Cassaday, Jeff Mariotte, John Leyman (hope I spelled that right from memory), Joe Casey, and Doselle Young were all there. John McCrea showed up just after the panel concluded and let out a streak of curses. I don't think he was particularly upset that he had missed the panel. It's just the way he talks through his thick accent.
By the way, is it just me or does every panel I attend have a mandatory 1/3 U.K. quota? They may be British or Scottish or something else, but they're all from an area not too far off the Greenwich Median Line. I wonder if Warren Ellis and Grant Morrison and Garth Ennis haven't just led this new charge of British creators to comics. Is this the next British wave? (Hold your e-mails; I'm not saying this is bad. I'm just saying it is and I'm curious if there's something to this. Is it a trend? Is it a reawakening of interest by Americans for the British comics scene? Vice versa? Or is it all just coincidence? Maybe I should just let THE COMICS JOURNAL ask such questions.)
All I know is that there will be a lot of badly lagging comics creators next week when they fly home from San Diego. I hope they can meet deadlines sometime soon.
Later was the Eisner's Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition Panel: Ellen Forney, Lawrence Marvit, Tony Millionaire, Ariel Schrag, and Judd Winick. (Much to everyone's surprise tonight, Winick did not win. Millionaire did. Go buy SOCK MONKEY today!) Oh, and the host of the panel was the intrepid Beau Yarbrough, who did an excellent job working with creators who sometimes - well, sometimes their minds just seemed to be elsewhere. Of course, that might just be that small press or indy vibe I don't tune into too much. I'm trying to fix that. I picked up all four issues of Marvit's SPARKS at the Slave Labor Graphics booth and should be reviewing it here sometime in the future. It looks really cool and has a neat concept to it. If it weren't for this award nomination, I never would have heard of it.
Following that, I had a wonderful discussion with ace letterer Tom Orzechowski, who ran to the panel to find me. (Hey, when a pro whose work I've admired and gushed over in public seeks me out, I'm humbled. I'm having more fanboy moments this year than I can count.) He's a really nice guy, who slightly resembles a human cartoon, but more reserved. I know he's going to kill me when he gets home and reads this, but there's this mental image in my head of some classic pirate when I think of him. If I ever figure out a way to explain that vibe, I'll do so here for you. We talked about everything from X-MEN to WILDC.A.T.s to classic comics creators and more.
I also ran up to Todd Klein after the Eisners to introduce myself tonight. Had a very small and quick chat. In the middle of all the hubbub - and with the d.j. beginning to pore on the loud music -- it was a tough place to carry on a real conversation.
Hmm, all of this today and Chris Eliopoulos yesterday. Has anyone seen John Workman Jr. in San Diego? I meet him and my weekend is complete. ;-)
Back to the panels: Then there was the Marvel Writers panel, the J. Michael Straczynski panel, the Superman panel, and the Gorilla panel.
The JMS presentation was sad, in a way. BABYLON 5 is over. CRUSADE is over. The fights to save either show are over. It's not like the life has suddenly been sucked out of the show. Heck, new life gets put into the show in September with the widescreen daily reruns. It's just that there's no crusade (pardon the pun) for the fans to be rallying themselves around. Most disappointingly, there was no BABYLON 5 music video shown this year. (How geeky do I sound for writing that sentence? Trust me - if you're a B5 fan who's been to these presentations before, you'll know what I mean.)
Thus, it became a true "Spotlight on JMS" panel, in which he spent most of his hour talking about the art of writing and how staying true to himself has led to where he is today. He talked about writing for television. He talked about his upcoming comics projects. Under the umbrella of Joe's Comics, he plans on putting out any sort of short comics mini-series he wants to. He mentioned even doing, somewhere along the line, a book with text on one page and paintings on the facing pages. Also, he wants to do 2 and 3 issue mini-series, a hard sci-fi series, etc. He's got enough ideas to keep his imprint happy for awhile. I have to get to the Top Cow booth tomorrow to grab a copy of the MIDNIGHT NATION preview book so I can review it here next week.
THE COSTUMED PEOPLE
There were Klingons, as well as a sudden rash of Star Wars and Phantom Menace characters.
I was only slightly weirded out by the guy dressed as The Crow with his girlfriend dressed as Sailor Moon - in flip-flops. I was extremely weirded out by the guy in the full Crow costume and face paint, tugging at his leather-clad bra-less vixen.
And you wonder why I've never read THE CROW?
WHAT I HAVEN'T TALKED ABOUT TODAY
The Eisner ceremonies. More details on the Superman, Gorilla, and Marvel Writers panels. Look for some stuff on that next week when I get back and have the chance to write it all down. If I did it tonight, I'll get absolutely zero sleep.
TOMORROW - DAY 3
I'm planning on staying out of as many panels as possible tomorrow after the schedule I had today. I guess this means I'll be skipping Chris Carter's X-FILES presentation. I just need to spend more time meeting/greeting/autograph-and-sketch seeking. Plus, I haven't spent all that much money yet. JMS talked of dropping four grand in the dealer's room yesterday. I haven't dropped $100 there yet. And while I don't plan on getting to JMS' level, I don't want any space leftover in my luggage when I go home, dangit!
There is, however, an Image Central meeting first thing in the morning and Scott Shaw!'s Oddball Comics at night. Inbetween, maybe I'll get to the Warner Bros. Film & Animation panel.
And if anyone runs across Olav Beemer, let him know I'm looking for him! I know he's at this friggin' con somewhere. Two days in, I still haven't found him!