Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Heroes Con Wrap-Up
(Scan courtesy Tim O'Shea - thanks, Tim!)
Heroes Con Day 0 (Thursday)
For once I've had the foresight to bring my laptop with me to a convention, so I might actually be able to get a report out. Even remembered my camera! Go me.
Okay, so I arrived on Thursday afternoon, only slightly late, and got the shuttle in from the airport to the hotel with none other than Brian Bolland, who I'd never met before - we must have been on the same flight, but I didn't recognise him. What a nice man! This is a good start. Our driver is Billy Reed (not "Billy", "Billy Reed") - an old friend of Shelton Drumm's, he says - and his wonderful accent is already relaxing me.
I check in to my hotel and get to my room - five seconds after I sit down there's a knock at my door and a frantic lady comes in looking for her telephone charger, wondering if it's still here - this had been her room until she switched it, and she left it here. No sign of it. I sit down again, phone home just in time to say goodnight to the kids (Ahh, Skype! You save me many hotel phone bills), and there's another knock at the door - this is getting on my nerves now, as all I really want is a shower. It's one of the hotel staff asking if everything's all right. I tell him yes - off he goes. I have my shower - and now I know why the lady switched rooms. There's no cold water. Both taps run hot. I decide I'll live with it and take a shower jumping in and out of the boiling cascade.
Refreshed and slightly pink, I go and get my guest badge. I run into some of the Boom! Studios crew as I leave, so we go and get some pizza. This will be dinner - I'm trying to lose a few pounds at the moment, so I eat lightly, but the food is good and it sticks to my ribs. Speaking of ribs, Boom! head honcho Ross Richie gives me a bear hug, presumably in appreciation of the Eisner nomination, and it feels like he cracks a couple. (He's a big guy.) I go and set up my table afterwards, walking funny.
So far I've run in to a few familiar faces: Paul Maybury, MK Reed, Alec Longstreth and David Malki off the top of my head. Con organiser (and brilliant cartoonist) Dustin Harbin is running around like a chicken with no head, but he makes time to look at my Heroes Con Art Auction contribution and makes all the right noises. I'm relieved. My painting skills are really rusty and there were several occasions when I thought I'd ruined it.
The mobile phone I bought at the airport, swallowing back a lifetime of antipathy towards the damn things in order to make my presence here in the USA less of an inconvenience for others, appears not to work. It's entirely possible I'm just doing it wrong - I've never even looked at one of them up close before - but even so, I'm less than happy about it. I'd hate to think I threw away my principles for no reason. Always have a reason for throwing away your principles, I say.
End of Thursday - I try to watch a video on my laptop and fall asleep in the middle of it. So much for dropping in on the hotel bar later. That will have to wait until Friday.
Heroes Con Day 1 (Friday)
Awake ridiculously early - I'm still on London time. I manage to kill an hour or two writing before I go and get some breakfast (and technically lunch as well, as what I'm about to eat has to last me until dinner). At breakfast I see Irwin Hasen smooth-talking the waitress, the sly old dog. He doesn't look a day over ninety. The convention kicks off at 11 - I'm there at 9:30 to have a look around and say hello to a few people, buy some sketch pads and so forth, but I've barely had time to introduce myself to Muppet Show's "Family Reunion" artist Amy Mebberson (at last we meet!) before I'm getting sketch requests, and that's pretty much it for the rest of the day - I've got a list going before the doors open to the public.
Which doesn't mean I don't get to see a few people, as I'm pretty easy to find. Off the top of my head, I see Mr Phil of Indie Spinner Rack, Evan Dorkin, Andy Mansell, Jamie Cosley, Steve Leiber (fleetingly as I rushed past his table), Mike Maihack, Chris Schweizer, Richard Thompson, Mike Rhode, Dave Roman & Raina Telgemeier. At the table next to me, lo and behold, it's the lady who switched rooms with mine yesterday, who as it turns out is Jill Thompson. Well I never.
At 4:30 there's a panel conducted by Dustin Harbin with me, Jim Rugg and Drew Weing talking about The Craft of Making Comics. Dustin freely admits this is entirely for his own benefit, it wasn't really put together with an audience in mind; despite this, we get a respectable crowd by my (admittedly very low) standards, as the last panel I did at TCAF was attended by, like, five people. It's an interesting talk, albeit a bit of an esoteric one. A fair bit of thinking out loud on my part, I know that. I often wasn't sure what I was going to say until I'd already said it. I kind of liked that, though.
Back to the table - as I pass the Boom! booth, I'm told I have a dinner invitation from Ross Richie. I gratefully accept, put in another 90 minutes at the sketches, and am delighted to see I'm only a few away from the end of the list.
Waiting in the hotel lobby for my dining companions, I see Tom Spurgeon at the bar talking to a few cartoonists, among them Jim Rugg and Sammy Harkham. We chat about Thor, of all things, and about New Zealand (Sammy lived there at one time). Then Mark Waid grabs me and I'm off.
Dinner is great. Apart from the Richies, we're accompanied by Mike (Boom! staffer), Mark Waid and Peter Krause. The wine flows and an enjoyable evening filled with scurrilous comic industry tales passes by. We then head back to the hotel - I intend to have a drink and socialise at the bar, but I don't see anybody I recognise. I decide to go back to my room and catch 30 winks, then come down later. At 2am I wake up in my clothes with a headache and write that idea off for another night.
Note to self: Bring Camera Tomorrow.
Heroes Con Day 2 (Saturday)
Okay, I forgot my camera again.
Busy day sketch-wise, and I sold some artwork, too, which means the trip is officially now paid for - everything else from here on in is a bonus. I had a sketch list going most of the day which I just caught up on as the show was closing. I finally got to meet Chris Samnee (there with his wife Laura). What a nice man! Nice and TALENTED - he gave me one of his convention sketchbooks which is amazing. Saw a few more faces today who I'd missed yesterday, including Craig Fischer, Greg Means, Johanna Draper Carlson, Paul Tobin, and at this point I know I'm going to slight someone I left out, so let me just cut my losses and apologise in advance. The business of the day means, paradoxically, that I have a whole lot less to report - as it was just a case of drawing my socks off all day. I sold out of some books, both ones I expected to (I only brought a few Fred the Clown, Art d'Ecco and Knuckles collections due to baggage weight restrictions) and ones I didn't (Mugwhump minicomics are gone?!). All good in terms of what I can take home with me - I don't want to be paying excess baggage rates, after all - but it leaves me a bit underprepared for Sunday, not to mention Kids Read Comics next week, though I'll have Muppet books to fill the gap for that.
Show over, I join Mr. Phil, Alec Longstreth, Greg Means and MK Reed for dinner. I wisely take the salad option tonight. Then back to the hotel for the art auction, where my piece gets a respectable $400 - I ogle at the art a bit (and not at the ladies dressed as fishnet-era Zatanna who are showing it off, oh no), then chat and sip beers with Tom Spurgeon, Chris Pitzer, Evan Dorkin, Craig Fischer, Greg, MK, David Malki, Dustin and various other bods for the rest of the night.
At about 1 am I turn in, surprised I made it that far.
Heroes Con Day 3 (Sunday)
Bit of a lie-in - another Skype call home - and then it's off to work once more. Sunday is much slower than Saturday for me, although still pretty respectable. I shift some more books, some artwork, some sketches (no list today) and managed to say hello to a couple more people (Robert Goodin being the only one I can remember right now). Robert asks me to contribute to his Covered project - I say I've been wanting to for months but haven't been able to find the time. I pick up a print of his version of an issue of Walt Disney's Comics and Stories which cracks me up every time I see it. Forgot my camera again.
Managed to earn enough to officially call the trip a success from a financial standpoint, at least - though my suitcase doesn't feel any lighter because it's full of stuff people gave me (or which, in a few cases, I actually bought). Just as importantly, I had a good time; it's an amazingly friendly show, everyone's super-nice.
The traditional after-show party was great, as always. This year the food that was laid on wasn't pizza, it was actual dinner-type food - though vegetarians like me were pretty much left with coleslaw and houmous. Oh, and beer. Let's not forget the beer.
Managed to get some quality chatting time in with Jeff Parker, Steve Leiber, Evan Dorkin, Ed Piskor, Guy Davis, Rosemary Van Deuren, Chris Schweizer, Heidi MacDonald, Mr Phil, Robert Goodin, a brief outside-the-lavatory-door chat with Liz Baillie, and some conversations with friendly strangers. I buy a couple of Dustin's mini-comics and a Laura Park mini I haven't seen before. Catch the second-to-last shuttle back to the hotel, crash, happy ZZZs.
Tomorrow I catch a Greyhound bus to my next stop on this two-stop tour, Kids Read Comics in Dearborn, Michigan. But that's a story for another day. (And oh, what a story.)