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.)
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, 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?
(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.
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.)
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?
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:
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:
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.