NAME DROPPING FOR DAY TWO
I promised myself this year that I wouldn't buy as many comics as I have in previous years. I didn't want to ship a box of comics home to myself again. It's too expensive and it takes too long to get across the country, even with the wonders of UPS and the Big Brown Trucks.
Today, though, I wasn't feeling sociable right away so I went to the dealer's area and some of the company booths. I picked up a few things, including some COWBOY BEBOP soundtracks, Humanoids albums, and AiT/PlanetLar t-shirt swag.
The big score was at the Palisades booth where I picked up a con exclusive Swedish Chef figure. He's really cool, with a hat that stays on top of his head magnetically, and two lobsters with guns to defend themselves with. It's the best $20 spent at the con. This is my kind of con toy exclusive. You don't have to wait in line for two hours and supplies aren't limited to a certain number each day. Lines got so bad yesterday that they lined up chairs for people to sit in as they waited.
Visited the AiT/PlanetLar booth again, only to have a mini-CBR convention staged there, as Steven Grant and Matt Fraction both showed up for signings. Ryan Yount drew a great pirate in my sketchbook, which I have his permission to scan in for a future column. Keep an eye out for it. Larry and Mimi, of course, were wheeling and dealing with both Hollywood types and the usual assortment of con-goers. They always have a kind word, a firm handshake, and a smile for all those who stop to talk, though. They're good people doing good work. It's an amazing display of books they have up for sale at their booth now. I've seen the books coming out slowly over the past couple of years, but was surprised to see nearly all of them together like this at a con. There's more than I had remembered.
Also caught up to Tom Beland at the booth at the end of the day and had the chance to talk Montreal Expos baseball, as the team prepares to move all their home games to his adopted home island of Puerto Rico. In the meantime, he's still working on TRUE STORY, and the next issue is already eight pages longer than he had planned for. The man doesn't know how to stop.
Found Erik Larsen at the Image booth, at last. He has big plans coming up for Dragon once again. Like most such changes, he's out of his mind for doing it and realizes he's making his own job needlessly difficult. There's something to be said for doing what you love, though. He showed me the proofs for the next issue, which include my first letter in a number of issues. That was pretty cool. Mark Englert's MIGHTY MAN backup begins in the issue, and Larsen inks it. Englert's art so obviously owes a lot to Larsen's that it's tough to find the dividing line on the backup story.
Talked very briefly to Keith Giffen (literally, 10 seconds), and Mike S. Miller, who had his little nine month old baby smiling at everyone in the world and loving life. His art on the new GI JOE/TRANSFORMERS book is pretty cool, but I haven't actually read the thing yet. He told me his trick to drawing robots, "No straight lines. All French curves." He says it drives the inkers nuts. He also had a preview edition of George R.R. Martin's THE HEDGE KNIGHT at the con, which was selling like wildfire at Martin's booth.
There are a lot of interesting-looking videogames at the convention, too. One PlayStation setup has the player standing in front of the TV and slapping characters on-screen by flailing your arms about. You appear on the TV screen as part of the game during this. At the TRON booth, there's a working edition of TRON 2.0. It's a really friggin' cool looking videogame. Finally, there's a big SPIDER-MAN 2 booth where you can playtest the system and swing your way through the city. Looks great.
I've never seen so many costumes at one con before. Last night's sight of the day was a pair of DANGER GIRLS chatting with two guys in GHOSTBUSTERS uniforms. Today, a group of ULTIMATE X-MEN characters to make way for a group of Stormtroopers to pass by. Lara Croft looked on, bemused, guns in both hands.
It was a great ceremony this year. They rejiggered things to speed it all up, dropping the Inkpots and distributing the other awards throughout the night inbetween the main Eisners.
The best addition was that of Neil Gaiman as keynote speaker. He gave a great speech that was both "rah rah" for comics and realistic about all the things that might and could happen next. It's the first time I've ever seen him speak, and I was impressed at just how good he is at it. He captures the audience and reads the speech well without sounding like he's reading the speech. It's slightly formal writing, but he makes it sing with his delivery of it. It helped that he didn't have the sunglasses on, making frequent eye contact with his audience. Later on in the night, I saw that he had taken off his leather jacket and put the glasses back on, though. When the audio for it goes up on CBR in the days ahead, I'd strongly urge you to listen to it.
Frank Miller was a presenter for three awards, and gave a short speech on the importance of the graphic novel in the future of comics, due to the economic problems inherent in the smaller format today. He makes a great point, and Kyle Baker echoed it later, only to then give away the Eisner Award for Best New Series.
Congratulations to Brian Bendis for winning Best Writer and Best Continuing Series with DAREDEVIL. Both are well-deserved, and I'm sure both got some people very angry that such a ::shock:: mainstream and ::evil:: Marvel book dared to win a coveted Eisner.
Hey, Fantagraphics and Chip Kidd can't be nominated for EVERY category.
Todd Klein also gave a stirring but short acceptance speech about the state of lettering when he won his 10th lettering Eisner. He talked about learning the art of hand lettering from fellow nominee John Workman and the art of computer lettering from the other nominee in the category, Richard Starkings. Then he talked about how difficult it can be for classically trained letterers to find work today. Excellent points, delivered succinctly.
There's only one thing that tarnished the night, and it's the topic of my complete off-topic rant and rage. You may skip ahead to the next section if you don't want to bother reading through this all.
I am a chain chewer of gum. I run through packs of Trident like you wouldn't believe. It all started when I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 11. I had to learn to control my eating habits, and part of that included chewing gum as an acceptable substitute. It keeps my mouth moving without ingesting any additional calories or carbohydrates. But I've always been discrete about. I chew with my mouth closed. I always throw my gum out when I'm done. And I've never - not once - ever stuck a piece of gum under a desk, table, or chair.
So to the nitwit who left his piece of gum under the chair in Ballroom 20 this afternoon, I only have two words for you that Jonah won't allow me to use as part of this column. The second word is "you" and the first one rhymes with "duck." I now have a screwed up pair of new dress pants to take home with me that were comfortable and fit well. But then I sat down at the table at the Eisners tonight and got gum wedged on the back of the left leg from some jerk who decided to stick his wad of blue chewable goodness under the front edge of the chair.
You insufferable fool. You're at a convention. Don't tell me you or a friend didn't have a scrap of paper or a corner of the schedule book to stick your gum in during a panel until you could throw it in the garbage later. Screw you.
THE MADNESS OF HOLLYWOOD
This afternoon, Jonah and I traveled over to Ballroom 20 to do some technical prep work for the Eisners later that night. Ballroom 20 is the room where all the major Hollywood events happen. It is where Halle Berry and Angelina Jolie will be tomorrow morning (today, as this is posted). In the middle of the afternoon today, however, they were showing movie trailers. Simple movie trailers. They're all available on Apple.com for your viewing pleasure. But the room was filled to standing room only crowds so that people could watch trailers that have been available on Apple's Quicktime web site for weeks.
Is this really a room I want to dare get near tomorrow morning when some of Hollywood's favorite cover models are going to be in attendance? No thanks. The only bad thing is that there's another panel I want to attend at 10:30 upstairs in another room. On Saturday morning, there will be a line for same-day registration and a line for the Ballroom all in the general vicinity of the rest of the panel rooms. This could get ugly at 10:30 a.m.
It took place in a room half the size of last year's, yet filled the room up with easily three times as many people. I have to think that Jim Lee was responsible for that, but I also hope that word of mouth caught on because the four artists up on stage delighted the crowd for nearly an hour and a half with improv cartooning of the highest order. Mark Evanier challenged the assembled artists - Lee, CBR's own Scott Shaw!, Kyle Baker, and Sergio Aragones - to a series of tests and challenges, with hilarious results. If any of the pictures I took of the projector screens turned out, I'll be sure to post them in a future Pipeline Photo Parade in the coming weeks.
You haven't lived until you've watched Sergio Aragones take an innocent cartoon drawing of a duck and turn it into an old evil witch. Granted, he took awhile to think about it. But his solution was ingenious.
Shaw! also drew a very successful image of The Incredible Hulk as a barber, decapitating his client. Then he drew Fred Flintstone in seven seconds.
The reviewer for The Pulse that I mentioned yesterday is actually "Jess Lemon," and not Jess Nevins. Nevins is the guy who writes those annotations for books like LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN. As far as I know, those two are not one and the same. (But, really, who knows?)
And thanks again for being so forgiving on these con reports. They're often written at 1 and 2 a.m. after more than 15 hours of general con mayhem. I'm so very very tired, but it's a good feeling. I'll sleep when this is all over.