Monday, April 03, 2006

Emerald City Comicon Report 2006 - Part I

Emerald City Comicon 2006
It's time for the fourth annual Emerald City Comicon report. As usual, I'll have forgotten the exact order events happened, and no doubt will forget people who I really ought to mention. I'm sorry in advance for any inaccuracies in this report, and please, if you see an obvious mistake feel free to correct me. Old reports are here: 2003, 2004, and 2005.

In addition, there are simply too many photos with Torvald the Troll for a single blog entry. I'll post a few of them in this entry, but most of them will be showing up on this page as I get the opportunity to post them. If I mention a photo in this entry, it will be on the Torvald page with commentary eventually.

Saturday morning dawned early and I got going without checking my computer at all. I'd posted my April Fool's Day jokes Friday night to make sure they got maximum impact on the actual day, and so I didn't feel the need to put something on either blog while I was off trying to have fun at the con.

In my bag I carried The Troll and a stack of Doctor Who books for Kirk Jarvinen, who is not only a fellow Doctor Who fan, he also is an Aquaman artist. I also had The Sword of Atlantis with me, and I was really hoping Qwest Field security didn't look too closely and decide I couldn't enter with it. I was also wearing a one-off t-shirt I'd had made with my now favorite ever Aquaman panel on it:

Killer Shark

After I met with my sister ("almost twin or evil twin") in Factoria, we tore across the Lake on I-90 and ended up parking in the Event Center garage ($9, ouch). We arrived at the entrance to the con a little after 10 am, and there was still a line to get in. One reason for that was that they were searching every bag. People without bags were being allowed to cut in line, so I had Lisa go ahead. Luckily, security didn't even ask about the sword (which was wrapped in two sheets of posterboard), so it wasn't a problem.

I decided that the first thing to do was to get rid of the sword, by giving it to its new owner. So Lisa and I headed off toward Artist Alley to find Kurt. After looking at the bewildering rows of people, we realized we needed to consult the program guide. But lo! Jim Demonakos walked by at that moment and I called, "Hey Jim! Where's Kurt Busiek?" Jim gave me a funny look, then pointed across the aisle. Kurt was, quite literally, right behind us. "Thanks, Jim!" He waved and wandered off. Con organizers have lots to do, so silly fangirls asking how to find people can only be a major annoyance. Sorry Jim!

In any case, Lisa and I approached Kurt's table, and he happily pulled out the alternate cover to Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #40 that I needed. And I presented him with the wrapped sword, saying, "I have a gift for you!" He gleefully opened it and immediately started to pose. As did his kids.

Kurt has the SwordLike Father Like Daughter!

Kurt examines the SwordThere Can Be Only One!

I also pulled out Torvald the Troll, who immediately met his match in the form of Kurt Busiek's new Sword of Atlantis...

There Can Be Only One!

The troll ought not to be too worried, though, as Kurt was threatening it with the back of the blade...

Moving on...

My next task was to drop off Kirk Jarvinen's books. They weren't really heavy, but anyone who has wandered around a con with a bag on their shoulder knows exactly how heavy things that aren't heavy can get after just a couple of hours. Unfortunately for me, he wasn't at the Mercury Studios table, where I expected to find him. He was on his way, I was informed by Steve Lieber, looking for parking. The guys at the table had no problem taking the books off my back, however, and putting them in Kirk's spot to await his arrival. Whew! Less than a half hour at the con, and both my main tasks already accomplished! Yay!

The next half hour or so was a mix of visiting people and just getting a feel for the layout of the con. Lisa and I wandered happily, and ended up back in Artist Alley where I noticed that the huge line waiting for Adam Hughes had finally vanished into just a couple of folks. Time for the troll!

Now, as much as I want an Adam Hughes sketch in my Aquaman sketchbook, I realize that he's immensely popular and his sketchlist fills up within ten minutes of the start of a convention. I just don't move fast enough to get a sketch from him. So getting a picture of him with the troll may well be the closest I get. But, it was fun, and the picture turned out great.

I was mildly antsy to see if Kirk had got the books, so we eventually wandered back to the Mercury Studios table and met Kirk for the first time. He showed me a piece he was already working on for me (and my eyes popped out of my head), then I asked him to pose with the troll... poor man.

After that... well, things flew by fast. We hit the freebies table and got some free Heroclix, and stopped very briefly by the Illusive Arts table where I was not immediately recognized because Anna wasn't around. We visited the Madison and Denny Middle School table (as mentioned here) and got a troll picture. Then I ran into Aqualad, Speedy, and Kid Flash. From the Teen Titans cartoon. No, really. I didn't get pictures of most of them, but it occurred to me that I would never hear the end of it if I didn't get a picture of the gal dressed as Aqualad. Who was carrying around a green dolphin.

Moving on, I started to get various folks to pose with Torvald the Troll. Mercury Studios folks David Hahn and Steve Lieber posed, as did Donna Barr and Roberta Gregory. I also got Cheyenne Wright to pose... then started to question him about his webcomic and its recent lack of updates, much to the amusement of Phil Foglio, who was standing nearby (and to whom I'd given a print-out of Torvald's poses with him and his family from Anglicon). I finished by telling Cheyenne I would be happy if he updated just once a week. That's all I ask. Once a week...

Lisa and I had walked past the Farscape booth a couple of times. Lisa was dismayed to see that there was a charge for both autographs and for photos, because she had been thinking of getting an autograph for her friend who is obsessed with Farscape. Not as dismayed as I was. Torvald's first pose was with Virginia Hey of Farscape, and part of the reason I was continuing to take pictures with the troll and people was because of her. I was definitely hoping for pictures of Lani Tupu and Gigi Edgley, but I wasn't willing to pay for them.

However, I had sort of anticipated the problem. When I put together my montage of Torvald photos (a copy of which I gave to Phil Foglio in the previous paragraph) I included the pictures of both Virginia Hey and David Franklin, both from Farscape. So I went up to the booth and showed Lani Tupu and his handler (who I remembered from Anglicon) the montage of Troll photos. The handler recognized me, and definitely recognized the troll, and when I mentioned that I didn't have any money for a photo she said "NO! No, no charge for a photo with just the troll! You can get a photo with Lani and the troll!" Lani, remarkably bemused but completely game, posed for the photo.

Torvald and Lani Tupu

Now I want to pause for an aside right here. I want you to understand that I don't expect anything for myself from any artist or writer or actor... I expect them to be there promoting themselves and their work. I expect a certain amount of schmooze, and I expect them to be selling stuff. That's what they are there for. If I'm not willing to pay, I don't expect anything more than a smile and nod. Had Lani and his handler turned down my request, I would not have been upset. Mildly disappointed, but I know how the business works. My con reports read like I'm running rampant around the con floor... and I am! But I have a great deal of respect for the people who make the con possible. Every single action, the sketches I get, the posing for photos... all of it, is a gift. I write about them because I'm very very pleased with the gifts they give me.

Right... now that I've sucked all the fun out of the blog entry, back to the grind. Gigi Edgley hadn't arrived yet, and they weren't entirely sure whether or not she would arrive on Saturday, as she was having plane problems. So I promised to check back again and we wandered off into the retail section.

I stopped by at the booth of my local comic shop and said hi, and got my LCS owner to pose with the troll before heading back to Artist Alley. Once in Artist Alley I saw my chance to talk with Alex Maleev, who is an Aquaman cover artist. Unfortunately, I didn't think to pull out the troll... but I did ask him for a sketch. He drew one, and it will be showing up on this blog later.

Next up were the wonderful Karin Yamagiwa and Suzanne Kaufman, who I've seen every year since 2004, when they both did Aquaman sketches for me. Karin has gotten married since I last saw her, to Dev Madan, who started out my first Aquaman sketchbook, so she's now Karin Yamagiwa Madan. They posed with the troll, chatted a bit, and Lisa bought a couple of buttons from them.

Next to the Dangerous Duo, to their right from the fan point of view, was Ian Boothby, a writer of some renown for his efforts on Futurama and The Simpsons. He also was willing and able to pose for a photo with the troll. Sharing his table was Pia Guerra, and next to her was Kurt Busiek. When I mentioned something about giving Kurt the sword, they both scolded me, saying he was hitting everyone with it. Kurt, overhearing, poked at Pia with it.

Torvald and Ian Boothby

I retreated to Kurt's table to avoid Ian's mock reproachful looks, and Kurt told me a cute story about his daughter. She was poking him with the sword and Ann told her to stop. "But Mom, it's not even sharp!" Right, said Kurt, it's a pretend sword. Daughter continues to poke Kurt, and when Ann told her again to stop she said, "I'm only pretending to do this!"

Wandering around some more, I got pictures of the troll with Tom Peyer and Gail Simone. I then stopped by to visit a few web comics artists and went ahead and Trolled them too. First up was Liriel of Bad Blood, a webcomic that has been on my "to read" links list for about a year now. I can't remember who recommended it to me, but I just haven't seemed to have the time I want to devote to it. However, I have every intention of getting caught up with it by next year's con! It's a vampire story set in Seattle. Right up my alley.

Another strip I learned about was Scooter and Ferret, which looks fun. Scott and Georgia posed with Torvald too, and I'm adding their strip to my reading list.

As we were wandering out of Artist Alley we spotted Mark Brill, who has been in my sketchbook forever, and stopped him in the middle of the aisle for a troll picture.

Next up was another visit to the Illusive Arts booth to see if Anna had returned. She had, and it didn't take long for her to register who I was. She came out of the booth to give me a hug, then I got her and Greg Mannino to pose for a troll picture.

Torvald with Greg and Anna

I also had them put aside a trade paperback for me, since Eric wanted to buy one. I also seriously considered the necklace, like Dorothy wears in the book, but I wasn't sure about it. I figured if they still had them when Eric and I got there on Sunday I would consider it again.

Well... what can I say. I think that if I were to take a con logically and start at one corner and hit every booth in order and visit with everyone as I go, I'd probably end up walking a lot less and having a lot less fun as well. Somehow, after Illusive Arts, we ended up at the Image booth where I got a picture of Jay Faerber. I mentioned again that it was the first volume of Noble Causes that was in the goodie bag for ECCC two years previously that had gotten me addicted to the book. Ah, nothing like a free book to hook me!

Next vict-- er, troll picture was of Batton Lash. I told him I've been enjoying the webcomic and described the issues I have with the way it's presented. My main issue is that it cycles back to the first panel of the day when you hit next, instead of making next not an option when there aren't more pages. I also wish the RSS feed had only a link, and not the first panel. Batton said he'd look into it... but as he pointed out - it's a new thing for them. A lot of webcomics are still feeling their way.

Speaking of webcomics, my next visit was to John Lustig, creator of Last Kiss Comics. He, too, got trolled. We headed back to the Farscape booth to see if Gigi had arrived, and found a handsome little fellow to pose Torvald next to on the Buffy/Farscape fans booth.

Torvald and Rygel

Gigi's plane problems were significant enough that she wasn't going to arrive until Sunday, so we moved on. Both of us were beat, but we wandered into Artist Alley again and found Matt Haley willing to pose for a trollograph. After that we wandered a bit, dazed and confused. I think we visited Kirk Jarvinen again and met his wife Pamela. And at some point we decided it was time for lunch.

Which is where I'm going to stop for the moment. I didn't intend to write a novel about the con, but that seems to be where I'm headed. I'm going to post this as a rough draft, so things may change as I write the rest of the report.