New York Comic Con (Feb. 6-8, 2009) Report…sorta

For weeks, I’ve been promising to write up a convention report. A funny, insightful, comprehensive–scandals, rumors, wild parties–report that would singe the eyebrows off of readers. But I never seem to have enough time. So I’m just going to start writing. Let’s see how far I get before I give up and go back to work:

Thursday, Feb. 5:

Arrive at JFK Airport about 6:30 a.m. on a red-eye flight from Seattle. Considering I’ve only had about 90 minutes of sleep, I’m feeling fairly perky. (Meaning I’m not drooling and I can keep my eyes open for several seconds at a time.)

Sidney Hussein Svandrandard & Kathleen Standard

Sidney Hussein Svandrandard & Kathleen Standard

I grab a cab to Brooklyn where I’m going to be staying with my friends Rick Vorndran and Kathleen Standard. This is my first time at their place and so it’s the first time that I meet their cat–Sidney Hussein Svandrandard.  Sid is obviously in charge and I’m relieved that he doesn’t hate me–yet. But that will change.
After I drop my bags off, Rick and I take the F Train together into Manhattan. Rick goes to work. I head over to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center to pick up my exhibitor badge–plus make sure I’ve got badges for Rick and a friend, Cynthia Parke. Got ’em.

Rick Vorndran & Cynthia Parke

Rick Vorndran & Cynthia Parke

Alexandra Nader

Alexandra Nader

Rick, Cynthia and another friend, Alexandra Nader, are going to be giving me breaks again this year so that I won’t be tied to my table every minute of the convention.

After picking up the badges I walk a few blocks for the first of several business-related meetings and meals I’ll have during my stay. This one with a clothing manufacturer who’s licensed some Last Kiss images on promotional material for a new line of clothes. It’s a friendly meeting and some additional joint ventures are discussed. We’ll see where this goes.

Afterwards, I head back to Rick’s and Kathleen’s place to try to catch a little sleep before I go back downtown for a dinner hosted by my new online publisher–Uclick/GoComics. I let myself into the apartment and there’s Sid on guard-cat alert. I don’t know it at the time, but apparently Sid is asking himself some serious questions and he’s not liking the answers: What is this bozo doing here by himself? Can he be trusted? Have Rick and Kathleen left town? Is he living here and taking care of me while they’re gone? If so, does that mean he’s giving me those nasty medical treatments I hate? Is he the Anti-Christ or just a jerk?

Sidney on guard in case Satan shows up.

Sidney on guard in case Satan shows up.

(The answers, by the way, were: Nothing good. No. Apparently yes. Yes. Yes. Both.)

I need to look up something on the apartment computer and duck under a desk to turn on the power strip, but before I can do anything I realize that Sidney is on the desk looking down at me. He starts to growl. (Yes, cats can growl.) I get up to pet him and try to calm him down. Sid hisses at me.

So I back off and head into the living room. Sid follows me–jumping from piece of furniture to piece of furniture so that he’s always elevated. Confident that I can win Sid over, I try to pet him again. He takes a swipe at me. More growling and hissing. Now things are getting a little freaky. I always get along with cats.

Finally inspiration strikes (before Sid does). I give Sid some cat treats (Greenies.) No more hissing. A few minutes later I give him more. Then I flop on the couch to get some rest. Later Sid jumps on the couch and climbs on top of me. Much sniffing goes on. I keep my eyes closed until Sid jumps off and walks away. We apparently have a truce.
Uclick/GoComics dinner:

Shena Wolf, Uclick's Comics Producer

Shena Wolf, Uclick's Comics Producer

That evening I trudge off for the GoComics dinner on the Upper West Side at a Malaysian restaurant (Penang). I finally get to meet my GoComics editor Shena Wolf. Also at the dinner are various Go staffers and freelancers. I spent most of the evening talking to Richard Starkings–owner of Comicraft (makers of the world’s best comic fonts) and also the creator of the HIP FLASK and ELEPHANTMEN comics. We talked about fonts (of course), comics, vegetarian diets (I’m still a meat eater, but I’m trying to cut back); and the wonders of Facebook. (Richard thinks I should place a new Last Kiss comic on my Facebook page every day. That’s a bit ambitious for me, but I’m now trying to post a comic there two or three times a week.)

Richard Starkings and me the next day at the convention. (I'm the good looking one on the right.)

Richard Starkings and me the next day at the convention. (I'm the good looking one on the right.)

One of the talented people across the table from me at the GoComics dinner was Harold Sipe, writer of the graphic novel, SCREAMLAND. Later at the con, Harold gave me a copy of his book. One of the nice things about being a comics pro–besides the vast fortune you make–is that often other pros give you copies of their work. I do the same thing. You like sharing what you create with friends and/or people you admire. Now sometimes this can be uncomfortable. A friend or even someone you just met gives you his comic and you look it over or read it…and it stinks. What do you say?

Screamland ©Harold Sipe and Jason Casanova

Screamland ©Harold Sipe and Jason Casanova

Fortunately, I absolutely loved SCREAMLAND. It’s both a funny and touching approach to the old Universal movie film monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, the Mummy & the Wolfman.) What if these guys were real creatures of the night, but also has-been movie stars trying to make come backs in modern Hollywood? Which is scarier and more inhuman–the monsters or Hollywood? It seems like such an obvious and natural approach and yet no one has ever done it before. Harold and artist Hector Casanova pull it off brilliantly. I hope there’s a sequel. Lots of ’em.

Other folks at the dinner:

GoComics dinner: In the foreground: Brooke McEldowney who does the comic strips <a href=

In the foreground: Brooke McEldowney who does the comic strips Pibgorn and 9 Chickweed Lane; Brooke’s daughter, Nicola McEldowney. Background left-to-right: writer/artist David Hine (X-MEN, SPAWN, POISON CANDY); I’m sorry to say that I can’t remember the name of the bearded man on his right; next to him is Go VP of Product Development Jeff Webber; and on the far right Harold Sipe–writer of SCREAMLAND.

Friday, Feb. 6–first day of convention:

Instead of having a full booth as in the past, I’m in Artist Alley this year with a half table. This is a tiny, tiny space and I’m afraid no one will be able to find me even though I’m on the end of an aisle. Then it turns out that they’ve added a table to the end of the aisle and that I’m now next to a young horror artist, Ben Templesmith. I’d never heard of Ben before, but apparently he’s super popular. Most of the time he’s mobbed with fans. Unfortunately, they block the aisle much of the time making it impossible for anyone to get to my table.

That’s not Ben’s fault. But it sure made the convention difficult for me.

Fortunately, Ben’s off making appearances some of the time and even when he’s there the crowd thins down a bit so some people were able to navigate the aisle and find my table.

Okay, I know I’ve barely talked about the actual convention yet, but I’m out of time and has anyone actually read this far? No? Well, in that case let me wrap this up with a photo of a couple of pros I’m always happy to see. And some concluding notes:

joestatonpaulkupperberg

Joe Staton (left) is one of the nicest people in comics–and I think one of the most talented. In addition to being the artist of everything from ALL-STAR SQUAD to SCOOBY DOO plus the webcomic  Fem Noir, Joe is  co-creator of one of my personal favorites E-MAN. Paul Kupperberg is the prolific (possibly even legendary) writer of  SUPERMAN, THE WORLD OF KRYPTON, GREEN LANTERN, CRAZY MAGAZINE, THE WEEKLY WORLD NEWS, and tons of others. He regularly dispenses words of wisdom about comics, Jerry Lewis and other critical subjects on his blog, And Then I Wrote…

Crud. I’m completely out of time. So here’s a one-sentence wrap up. Lots more friends, fans, an important meeting with a greeting card publisher that could change my life and, most critically, Sidney the cat and I are now friends on Facebook.

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6 Comments

  1. John…you forgot about us!!! You’re even less handsome in person.

    Tim and Karen Lasiuta

    Madpeople at large.

    Reply
  2. Sorry, Tim. I just ran out of steam. There were lots of folks and experiences I really wanted to talk about. I don’t think I can post your photo in comments, but here folks is a link to the lovely and talented comics scribe Tim Lasiuta and his charming wife, Karen: http://www.lastkisscomics.com/BlogForum/TimKarenLasiutaSm.jpg

    Reply
  3. Fantastic blog on the NY con. I went to a NY con once back in the late 80’s but have not been to one there since. Would like to try this one out someday. Hope you sold some stuff. Shoulds like you made lots of great contacts though.

    Reply
  4. Glad you enjoyed the report, Allen. This con is probably very different from the NY con you went to years ago. It’s run by Reed Exhibitions (the same folks who do Book Expo America). It’s the fourth year for the con and it’s undoubtedly the second largest con in the U.S. I heard (but have no way to confirm) that attendance at the con went up 15 percent from last year and was at 77,000. That seems a bit high to me. But it’s definitely huge–though not nearly as big as Comic Con International in San Diego. One nice thing about the con is that it draws a different crowd and to some extent different guests than the San Diego con. And since many of the big publishers are in New York there are lots of pros.

    Reply
  5. Loved your NY blog John, and chuckled largely over your encounters with Sid.
    In my catsitter experience, getting round a cat like that can take days or weeks so giving him Greenies was definitely the smart shortcut.

    Glad you made useful contacts despite the aisle blockages and am excited by the hint about new greeting cards. I want to check your merchandise out but havent had time since returning to Sydney to navigate the site. Love your tote bag which would great for gifts, accompanied by a Last Kiss card of course.

    Also enjoying this week’s strip (I remember it in its previous lifetime) and waiting for next episode. All best from the antipodean fan.

    Reply
    • Glad to hear I did the right thing, Laura. I’ve lived with cats a good part of my life, but you’re the expert!

      Reply

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