03 April 2006

Emerald City Comic Con!

I attended the Emerald City Comic Con this weekend with my wife, sister, and brother-in-law. It was pretty awesome for me, and by awesome I mean that I wish I could go to a convention like that every weekend. I think the others liked it as well, but it probably wasn't quite as intense for them as it was for me. I got a bunch of sketches and a few action figures and comics. I met a lot of neat creators and basically just geeked out for two dys straight. They practically had to throw me out at the end of both days. I'm glad it turned out so well because it was my big trip for the year and it would've been disappointing had I blown my big trip on something lame. The convention was anything but lame. The Penny Arcade guys were there and my brother-in-law went crazy at their booth buying like $50 in stuff. Gabe did a sketch for me, and he and Tycho both signed it. That was pretty awesome, and they also did a panel on Sunday that my brother-in-law said was pretty good. I didn't attend, as I was chasing sketches down on the floor. I got artwork from a lot of artists, which was a stupendous experience for me.

Right after I hit up the Penny Arcade booth, I ran over and got in line for Tim Sale. He was extremely friendly and seemed very happy to be doing sketches for the fans. I guess he is a local, so he was churning out the sketches the whole time as a way to say thanks to the fans in his home turf. The wait was sort of long, but totally worth it because he took the time to talk to you and socialize while drawing your sketch. I got a sweet Catwoman from him, shown below.

After we talked to him, my wife and I headed over to Darick Robertson's line, which was long as well. He kept the line moving pretty fast, though, so it wasn't long before we were at the front. I really wanted a New Warriors sketch, with my top three choices being Namorita, Firestar, and Nova. He did a Nova sketch for me, so that was awesome. Just a couple hours into the convention and I already had two of the sketches on my "short list" of ones I really wanted.

At some point around this time, I wandered back over by the Penny Arcade booth where I noticed Scott Mills was set up with his stuff. I have always wanted to pick up something from him, but I've never actually done it. He had a few of his pieces laid out and I chose this one.


I love all the little stuff he comes up with and someday I want to get a Hulk drawing from him. From what I could see over the course of the convention, he wasn't getting nearly enough business for how cool his stuff is. So get out there and find some of his stuff!

I had preordered a Ghost Rider sketch from Clayton Crain before the convention and decided to go see about picking it up from him. He spent about five minutes trying to tell me that it was no good and that he'd redo it if I wanted him to. I braced for the worst, but then he pulled out this awesome sketch of Ghost Rider on a motorcycle. I had only been expecting something like a head sketch, so I was blown away. Clayton Crain is such a humble guy. If I could draw something like that, I would totally be showing it off. Apparently it was pretty common for him to tell people who ordered sketches from him that he wasn't 100% happy with them and that he'd do it again. You can tell he puts everything he's got into his work. Anyway, here's the sketch:

I think after this we walked around some, got lunch, and attended the costume contest. Probably the highlights of that were a little kid dressed up as Jango Fett and a guy who dressed as Two-Face. My wife also picked up a Roman Dirge book (we already had it, but hadn't brought it to the convention). He wasn't at the designated signing area, but we saw him on the other side of the booth and he was gracious enough to sign it for her and draw a little sketch, even though it wasn't one of his designated signing times. That was very cool of him.

At this point I had either received the sketches I really wanted or ruled them out because of cost, availability of the creator, etc. So I decided to try to discover new people who I could get sketches from. When I saw a Deadpool sketch that Patrick Zircher did for a friend, I knew I had to get something from him. I had no idea who I could have him draw, though. Then I had a flash of inspiration and asked him to do Cloak and Dagger. He seemed to really like the idea and said that they are really fun to draw just because of the costumes and the things that can be done with the contrast between black and white. We talked a little about how underused they are. He wanted a reference for the costumes, as he hadn't drawn them in a long time and wanted something to look at just to make sure he got it right. He told me that if I didn't want to buy a book, I could just tell him what booth it was at and he could go borrow it when he was ready. I couldn't imagine sending him off to run an errand like that and so I ran off to the first quarter-bin I saw and got a Cloak and Dagger comic. The guy running the booth laughed when my wife handed him a quarter and made a big announcement that he'd just made his smallest sale of the day. We took the comic back over to the artist alley and watched Mr. Zircher try to decide how to draw a Hulk and Abomination sketch for someone. He was commenting on how the person had asked for the two biggest Marvel characters and given him the smallest piece of paper ever to draw them on. Around that time Kurt Busiek wandered over and said he should draw Hulk eating some cheese. From there the cheese ideas got pretty wild. We listened to them talking for a while and then wandered off. When we came back, he had started on my sketch and we watched him work on it. It's mind-boggling to me how artists can come up with these ideas and then just draw them out. I just don't have the mind for it, I guess. The sketch turned out awesome and Mr. Zircher gained a fan in me. He's a great guy and a top-tier artist. I can't say enough good things about him or this sketch. A lot of people who saw this sketch commented on how awesome it is.

Around the same time, my wife and I decided we really needed a Wonder Woman sketch, so we went over to Stephen Sadowski and begged him for a sketch. He agreed and drew up an extremely nice Wonder Woman for us. He also teased my brother-in-law for being a native Idahoan.

At some point during the day, I noticed a Fantastic Four vs. the Super Skrull print at Erik Thompson's booth. I went back later and he had the original art to the print up for sale. I couldn't say no to something that awesome, so I bought the art and a copy of the print. It was sweet action.

The next day I woke up a little late due to confusion about daylight savings time and I jumped in the shower, packed all of my stuff, and apparently angered the rest of my fellow travelers as I attempted to oust them from bed to prepare for another day of comicky goodness. After many glares and mutters, I finally got them all up, cleaned, and in the car. When we got to the convention center it was revealed that I, the man who had claimed to be all ready to go and just waiting on everyone else, had forgotten my cell phone at the hotel. There was a little to-do over that, and my wonderful, awesome, beautiful, and long-suffering wife went back to pick it up so I could get into the convention and pursue my dreams. I really can't explain in words how great my wife is, but she certainly didn't get the fair end of the deal when she married me. My brother-in-law attended the second day of the convention with me and my sister and wife went to the fish market.

I didn't quite match my productivity of Saturday, but I still got some awesome sketches. I went over to where Doug Mahnke was and listened to him and Ed Brubaker talk a little about Spider-Man and comics in general, and then when there was a pause in the conversation, I asked for a Superman sketch. He apologized for having me stand there for so long, but I really enjoy hearing the creators talk to each other. It seems like you always learn something new when you listen in on their conversations. It was very cool of him to interrupt his conversation to draw a sketch for me.

One of the people I really wanted to meet at the convention was Karl Kesel. I am a huge fan of his Fantastic Four work and I really wanted to meet him. He wasn't at the convention in 2004 and this year he wasn't there on Saturday. On Sunday he was at the booth, though, so I got in line and when it was my turn I basically told him I loved him and that I want to have his babies. It was quite the fanboy moment. Although I'm sure he was creeped out by my profession of love for his work, he seemed genuinely flattered and drew up a sketch of the Ever-Lovin' Blue-Eyed Thing for me. It was neat to finally meet him and find out that he's such a nice guy. If you want a good look at his writing talents, pick up the recent Fantastic Four Wedding Special. He nails the characters dead-on.

The last sketch I got was from David Hahn. My wife really wanted a Red Riding Hood (from Fables) sketch, so I was tasked with getting one for her. I don't really know anything about Fables, but I saw on his little placard that Mr. Hahn had drawn two issues of the series and so I resolved to ask him if he could draw a sketch for her. I admitted that I don't know anything about Fables, but it would be great if he could do a sketch for her. He asked if I wanted it inked and I sort of hemmed and hawwed, because from his price scale it would probably be $50 and I was about $15 short of that figure. He said, "I'll pencil it out and if it needs ink I'll ink it. Either way it'll be $25." I could have jumped for joy right there, but I restrained myself and said that would be great. Later on I dropped by and he was inking it with a sweet pen that looked like a felt tip marker with a really flexible tip. It was almost like a pen-paintbrush hybrid. I asked him a little about how it works out and how easy it is to draw with, citing my inability to get paint on miniatures with a brush in any real form of straight line. When he finished it up, he said she came out a little sleepy, and Karl Kesel leaned over and said it wasn't sleepy so much as world-weary. That seemed to work for him, and he personalized it to my wife, handed it to me, and said something that sounded like, "It'll be five dollars." That didn't sound quite right, so I asked him the amount again and he said, "Just five dollars. I'm glad I got to do that for you and help a brother out." Another awesome creator hooked me up. My wife was so excited about the sketch and when I told her the story about how he only charged five dollars she was even more happy, not because I saved so much money, but because he had done something so nice. The sketch is great. I think we'll put it up on the wall in a frame.

All in all, it was a great experience for me. I'm still excited just thinking about it. Even though my sister and brotehr-in-law aren't comic fans, they found a lot of stuff that they enjoyed, like some anime stuff, a lot of anime-styled art, and some animation software. My brother-in-law has been on a big Photoshop kick lately, and so computer animation is his next step. They bought a bunch of stuff like DVDs, prints, and t-shirts. He also attended the webcomics panel and afterwards suggested to Gabe and Tycho that they should podcast panels that they do, as apparently that one was quite entertaining. They thought it was a great idea and he was stoked that his idols liked his idea. We also saw something unfortunate. There was a guy in a ninja suit, who must've been a real ninja assassin. We saw him sneak up on Brom's table, but then he disappeared and reappeared behind Brom's table. Brom didn't even know he was back there, and the ninja silently chopped Brom up. The ninja was so fast and so stealthy that Brom didn't even know he had died. He acted normal for the entire convention, even though the ninja had clearly killed him. Then just for kicks, the ninja stole Brom's wallet and bought some art from Brom with his own money, then posed wth Brom for a picture. That picture is probably hanging up in the ninja lodge now, with a caption like: "He doesn't even know that he's dead." So if you read about Brom's mysterious death in the newspapers soon, you can be one of the few who knows the real truth. Ninjas are crazy dudes.

1 comment:

  1. I just wanted to say that I enjoyed your report. I went to Comic-Con last year and had a similar experience running around and just generally geeking out. You got some great sketches!