Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Emerald City Comicon

Time for the second annual Emerald City Comicon Report (the first annual report can be found here). As with last year, I'm glad we bought the tickets ahead of time. I just wish we hadn't had to go through TicketMaster to do it.

Anyway, this year it was my little sister Lisa and me at the con. Hubby-Eric was off to Oz... Leap Y'Oz to be precise. Lisa and I got to the stadium at about 9:30 am, looked for parking around the stadium and, not finding any free parking, used the North lot even though parking cost more than a single ticket to the con. Ouch. The line to buy tickets was really long, and the line to get in wasn't much shorter. By pure luck, a friend of mine from Doctor Who fandom happened to get in line behind us, so we chatted a bit while waiting for the doors to open (Hi Gil!).

Once we got to the doors, we were mildly surprised to see that bags were being searched. Since I had a bag and Lisa didn't, I sent her ahead to check out the freebies and score a giveaway bag (if she could) while I got my bag searched. There was only one guy searching bags, and he was being careful and complete, so the line to get in for folks with bags was pretty big.

Eventually I was in the door, and Lisa handed me a giveaway bag that she'd gotten for me. We looked toward the freebies table... at the huge mass of humanity all trying to get to the freebies table, and made a decision to head immediately for Artists' Alley.

We did NOT run. Speed-walk, yes. Jog, maybe. We didn't run.

There was no line for Stan Sakai. Yet. So I asked permission to post the Usagi sketch he drew for me at San Diego 2001 (he said yes) then Lisa asked for a sketch, which he drew. Then I realized Lisa had brought one of my Usagi Yojimbo trades for reading material. We pulled it out, and asked him to sign it. He didn't just sign it, he drew another sketch in it. WOW! We thanked him profusely, and moved on. A note: a line formed while we talked with Stan, and for the rest of the con there was a long line of people waiting to see him.

Now I'm going to confess something here. Things happened quickly. I'm unsure of the order. Both Lisa and I were collecting sketches and talking with people and ... well, this is going to be a general retelling of where I went instead of a real timeline. I simply cannot remember the order in which I met people. I think I was expecting a smaller con, and was in a mild state of shock.

Also, I usually can go by the order of the sketches in my sketchbook to figure out who I saw. At this con, I was getting sketches, signatures, and permissions... so the order is frustratingly out-of-reach. It probably doesn't matter much to you, but it bothers me that only hours after the event I can't remember everything I did and everyone I saw.

The headliner for the event was Stan Sakai, but there were a number of other awesome guests. The big one that I never got a chance to talk to was Brian Michael Bendis. I sort of wanted to get in line for him, but the line was enormous and what was I going to say to him? "Hi Mr Bendis, I liked the infamous ape issue of Powers, would you sign my green book?" Naw, better to let the fanboys and girls that had comics go into the line.

I did get to talk with Todd Nauck for a bit, and get permission to post his Aquaman sketch. I think Lisa got a Spider-Man sketch from him. I later heard him talking about how long it takes to draw a book. He said that towards the end of Young Justice he was so familiar with the characters that it usually only took about two weeks. He said WildGuard took longer because of the number of different characters in it.

While Lisa got her sketch, I went over and got in line for Jeff Johnson. Jeff was doing Green Lantern the last time I met him, and was the artist of the second sketch I ever got. I asked him for permission to post that 1998 sketch, which he gave, then asked for a new sketch in my sketchbook. Jeff Johnson is the first repeat artist of Aquaman sketches (Matt Haley is the first repeat artist, but one of his was Batman). Later, Lisa wanted a sketch from Jeff, and I suggested she get Boon. I didn't realize that she didn't know anything about Way of the Rat, so that's another series I'm going to loan to her. She did get a sketch of Boon, and Jeff and I talked a bit about how good Way of the Rat was, and the fact that it was cancelled.

The next artist we visited was Phil Noto. I don't know who Lisa got for her sketch, but I got a basic Aquaman based on the T-shirt I was wearing. Several artists ended up using the t-shirt as a model, which I found pretty funny, all things considered.

At some point in there I got an autograph in my green book from Ford Gilmore. I also talked to Jay Faerber and got his autograph, then got a sketch from the fellow sitting next to him, James Francis. James is the first artist to turn my sketchbook upside-down to sketch, as he's left-handed and it was easier to draw that way. When Lisa asked for a sketch from him, she handed him her sketchbook already turned upside-down (he drew Cyclops and Wolverine for her). Jay and James are currently working together on a comic called Dodge's Bullets, which I got a preview of... and just finished reading. I think I might have to hunt this one down, as it's set in Seattle.

After meeting Jay and James, I got an autograph from John Layman. When I looked around for Lisa, she was in line to meet Kurt Busiek, so I joined her. She pulled out the Conan Preview that came in the grab bag to get signed, and asked me what to say to him. "Tell him you like Astro City" I said. "Doesn't he do Arrowsmith, too?" she asked. "Yes" I said. "Ok, I'll tell him I like Astro City and Arrowsmith". So she did, while she got Conan signed. I got my copy of Conan signed to me and hubby-Eric, then had him sign my green book. Before he signed it, though, he looked at me and at my shirt and said, "You're Tegan!" I blinked a few times, admitted it, and he told me he reads my Rapid Reviews of his work. Kurt Busiek reads my blog. Wow.

As if shocking me like that wasn't enough, Kurt then proceeded to draw an Aquaman sketch in my autograph book! And yes, I got permission to post it for you.

Still stunned, I got in line for Jason Pearson, but he said he was charging for sketches. As I had no cash, I apologized for taking up his time and started away. But Kurt turned to him and said something, and I was called back. Jason went ahead and did the sketch for me for free. Because of Kurt. That's another one I owe Kurt.

While I was talking with Kurt, he said his favorite version of Aquaman was the Jim Aparo one, because Aparo really gave the sense that Aquaman was underwater, with the hair waving and such. I admitted that my favorite is Ramona's version, and that I'm quite fond of Nick's, also. He confused me by saying he liked Lee Elias' Aquaman... but Elias did very little Aquaman that I know of, so he hit one of those gaps in my knowledge. I'm going to have to spend some time checking that out. I also said I enjoyed JLA/Avengers, and he accused me of liking it just for the Aquaman bits, which isn't quite true... but the Aquaman bits sure add to my enjoyment!

Moving on... we left the main guest tables and started to work our way around Artists' Alley, dropping back in on the main tables if there was a short line and we could see somebody quickly.

Lisa started by asking Matt Clark for a sketch, and he asked her to come back in five minutes, as he was just finishing up another sketch. So we went around the table and met up with Jeff Parker, who did a sketch for me at San Diego 2000. I got permission to post it, and pulled out the only book I actually brought with me to the con to get signed:

Lisa commented that she hadn't read The Interman yet, so I promised to loan it to her. Jeff signed it with a sketch, and then attempted to draw a gorilla for Lisa's sketchbook. But the gorilla wasn't working, so he asked her to come back after he'd had a chance to warm up. She agreed, and went back to Matt Clark. He drew a Batman for her.

The next sketch I got was from Paul Guinan, and I really wish I'd remembered to thank him for his work on Chronos. I loved that book.

Lisa got a sketch from Steve Lieber, then purchased the first two volumes of Whiteout. I've been wanting to read Whiteout for awhile now, Lisa is going to make that possible. Of course, she gets to read them first. I have already posted my Aquaman Sketch by Steve Lieber.

Going to another set of tables, I ran into Roberta Gregory but forgot to ask for her permission to post her Aquaman sketch. I then went to Scott Alan's table and told Lisa that he was the first to let me post a sketch. I pointed to the Justice League print he had available, and said that's what made me have to get a sketch from him. As I admired it, he offered it to me. I apologized, and said I didn't have the money (I forgot to bring any cash to the con, I relied on the generosity of Lisa for the stuff I just HAD to have). He said that was ok, and gave it to me! He then did a sketch of his headliner Mr Man for Lisa.

Continuing around the table, I spotted Brian Snoddy, and asked permission to post his sketch. He said yes. Lisa and I wandered around the third table and met two remarkable artists. Suzanne Kaufman and Karin Yamagiwa. Suzanne's work was reminiscent of Edward Gorey. Karin draws really really small. I challenged them to do Aquaman, and Karin turned in a wonderful (tiny) rendition of Aquaman. Suzanne drew one of her monsters with waterwings instead. Lisa got standard characters from both of them.

Continuing around the table, we met Clayton Hollifield, or clayholio to you, and after some persuading he did an Aquaman sketch for me. At this point, Lisa and I both realized we were exhausted and hungry, and went to find a place to sit down.

We sat for a bit, went through the grab bags and left stuff we didn't want on the table for someone else to pick up. Then we decided to hit the dealers tables, not to mention the freebies tables, and see what we could find. We found a couple of things at the freebies table, including Vertigo pins. I have a pretty good collection of the small DC pins, but I didn't have the Vertigo one yet. I also found some promo cards for the latest Aquaman series.

Food was way too expensive. $3 for a bottle of water is a couple of dollars too many, even at a con. I know it was the Seahawks Stadium forcing the prices to be so high, but I would rather go hungry than get cheated that seriously.

We then wandered the dealers tables, looking for those precious last Golden Age issues with Aquaman stories in them. I found some that were close, and one dealer had a bunch before the ones I need, but nobody had any issues that I wanted. It's hard to find reading copies of Golden Age books.

We headed back toward Artists' Alley, visiting the publisher booths. I harassed Dirk Deppey ("Bring back Journalista!") and met Jeff Nicholson, who says the next issue of Colonia is coming out in July, then bi-monthly for two more issues.

Lisa got a Boris the Bear sketch from James Dean Smith while I got an Aquaman sketch from Bill Morse. Then Lisa bought me a nice print of Boris as Aquaman. I remembered then to ask Roberta Gregory for permission to post her sketch.

Then I went to find a place to sit while Lisa got her promised sketch from Jeff Parker. I sat near an exit and noticed that people were getting hand stamps. So when Lisa came back I suggested that we take all of our piles of stuff to the van and dump it off before coming back. We got stamped and went outside, and glory of glories, there was a street vendor serving hot dogs and pop and bottled water. We bought a dog and a bottle of water each, at a quarter of the price of the food inside, and went to the van where we had a little tailgate party as we removed everything non-essential from our bags and looked through all the cool stuff we'd gotten.

Jeff Parker's sketch for Lisa was a brown bear catching a fish, and it's spectacular. I couldn't quite figure out how he'd done it while sitting in a convention setting with people talking all around him. Jeff is just a really neat guy. When I asked him when the next volume of The Interman was coming out, he said that he was doing a shorter book with several different artists first, an anthology. I said I'd keep an eye out for it.

We also found the first volume of Noble Causes as a freebie in both our grab bags. There was also a magazine: Undefeated. It looks to be about six months old. Most of the rest of the freebies weren't worth keeping, but getting a free volume of Noble Causes was sure nice!

After our rest, we went back in with only one bag and our sketchbooks. We weren't sure how much we would do, but it was worth trying. We didn't end up staying long. I harassed Dirk a second time, and then got permission to post the sketches from Phil Foglio and Cheyenne Wright. Lisa got a sketch of Krosp from Phil, and I also got permission from Kaja Foglio to post her autograph from my green book. I played balloons with Phil youngster. Phil scolded him for throwing balloons at the customers, but I took responsibility, then promptly hid behind Lisa as he scolded me.

I managed to convince Dave Johnson to do an Aquaman sketch, and he naturally did the Justice League version. Yum, very nice! J.G. Jones promised to draw an Aquaman for me next year if he comes to the con. But the lines were too long this year.

There was a table of middle school students who had put together a sketchbook they were giving away, and were selling their own comic books. I didn't notice them in the morning, when the table was manned by young men, but in the afternoon when the young women took over they were very obvious and quite loud. Their advisor kept telling them to "stop scaring the customers".

I spotted Siya Oum at the Committed Comics table, and went over to ask her what had happened to her website. She gave me the new address, and thanked me for updating it. Lisa bought a print there from Camilla D'Errico of a girl sitting in the rain... gorgeous watercolor that Lisa plans to frame.

I got an autograph in my green book from Howard Chaykin. He seemed ... bemused... to be signing an autograph book instead of a comic.

Whatever Dirk says, I only harassed him twice.

More happened, and I'm sure I'll remember other bits and pieces over the next few days. But I've spent enough time on writing this up. So, what d'ya think?