7/30/2007

Nerd Prom recap

One would think that if you're paying nearly $200/night for four nights for a hotel room, the internet access would be free. Unfortunately, that was not the case in San Diego and I wasn't able to check my email, post to the blog or upload any photos to Flickr. And I probably won't be able to do that last one until I'm sitting in my motel room Wednesday night, because it looks like the admittedly spotty Wi-Fi I've been using here is down (I'm using Sarah & Josh's desktop for this post) and all the photos are, of course, on my laptop.

Regarding the following post, you'll have to pardon my exhausted mind. Wednesday morning through Sunday night are all a blur to me, a great amorphous blob of fractured memories and half-heard conversations. The cacophonous din of the convention hall and hotel lobbies still echo inside my skull. I don't remember what happened when, so the following will in all likelihood be rather jumbled.

We arrived in San Diego Wednesday afternoon, around 2 o'clock. Cody, Mike Nelson and I drove down in Ross' Pathfinder, while Chip Mosher, BOOM!'s new director of sales and marketing, and Daniel, the other intern, drove the U-Haul van, which they had filled with, as it turned out, way too many boxes of comics and graphic novels. This was a new experience for all of us, preparing for a convention of this magnitude, and setting up a booth the size of the one we had, and hopefully next year will go more smoothly.

Wednesday night is Preview Night at the San Diego Comic-Con. Generally the quietest night of the convention, this year the hall was packed from when it opened at 6 o'clock to when the wonderful disembodied voice of the PA woman gently prodded attendees toward the exit three hours later.

A quick aside, I love that disembodied voice. She was equal parts good-humored sarcasm and stern enforcer of the "No running" policy. By the end of the weekend, I wanted to get her autograph and give her a hug, but I had no idea where she may have been located. For all I know, she wasn't even a real person, but the ghost of some convention worker who had been crushed beneath the throng of attendees years ago. Whoever she was, I want to give a shout out to the Great Disembodied Voice of Comic-Con.

Thursday involved a great deal of running around (hell, the whole weekend involved a great deal of running around). We were striving to get the booth fully ready before the hall doors opened at 10 o'clock, and I think we did a pretty decent job. Then again, as I said above, the whole weekend is a blurry mess, so I honestly can't remember getting the booth ready, other than helping to get the vinyl banners hung up on the display's velcro walls.

I think we all felt rather quickly like animals in pens at a zoo. From Thursday to Sunday, we spent about nine out of 10 hours inside the tables, surrounded by curious onlookers who would stop and flip through our wares before asking if the comics were free. "No," we'd say, "they're cover price." That became our mantra in response to the most asked question of the weekend, our unofficial motto and a rallying cry all in one.

The company had a pretty big announcement Friday afternoon at its panel. I'm immensely proud of myself for not leaking the news on the blog weeks ago, because it's pretty exciting, at least amongst industry folks. Whether it truly matters to comic book fans won't be known for a little while.

Oh, the announcement? Mark Waid, fan-favorite writer and longtime architect of the DC Universe, co-creator of the best-selling graphic novel Kingdom Come, is joining BOOM! Studios as Editor-In-Chief. I think that news, more than anything else, is what made my decision to return to Omaha to finish my final year of school more difficult than it might have been. I mean, what comic book fan, what aspiring writer, wouldn't want to work with one of the most influential writers of the medium's last 15 years.

I met a lot of creators throughout the weekend, and caught up with a few that I'd met at previous conventions. Kody Chamberlain, artist for one of BOOM!'s best known original titles, Tag (optioned by Universal Pictures in 2006), as well as a number of projects for IDW and the upcoming Punks, had a couple of signings at our booth. He's a great guy, really laid back. He was a calming presence amidst the madness. He drew for me this really amazing zombie samurai. I'll scan it and post a picture when I get back to Omaha.

Rahsan Ekedal is the artist for BOOM!'s Warhammer mini-series Forge of War. He's a pretty young guy, 26, I think, and his art is fantastic. I guess he was "discovered" at last year's San Diego convention, or maybe it was WonderCon, up in San Francisco. Either way, Forge is his first professional comic book work and he'll only get better, y'know? He sketched a great-looking half-Mexican/half-Japanese samurai for me (I seem to have a thing for samurai variations, don't I?). He was fantastic around the booth, doing two signings a day for the entire four days of the convention, plus another on Preview Night. He was a real trooper.

Rahsan's girlfriend, Shannon, was with him, too, and we all had a chance to talk and hang out a bit Thursday night at the Hyatt's lobby bar, along with the entire BOOM! crew and various other comic book creators. I was going to give them a call while I was up in San Francisco later this week, but I decided that since I'm so strapped for cash right now, not to mention exhausted from the convention, I'm just going to start back for Omaha Wednesday morning. (Apologies to all my peeps in and around San Francisco. I know we'd been planning to hang out for a while now, and I feel shitty about this relatively last-minute change of plans. I'll be back out this way again soon, either during the school year or after, I promise).

The Warhammer editor for BOOM! is a great guy named Joe Abraham. He also draws the comic book, Hero Squared. He's very funny and a great artist. He was around the booth a lot, helping and hanging out. He did a cool samurai/ninja dude sketch for me.

One of the biggest thrills for me was hanging around John Rogers, and getting to know him a little bit. The Kung Fu Monkey was just a joy to be around. He has a lot of great stories about Hollywood and writing and all the crap associated with the industry. He's a good guy and I can't wait to read his blog about the madness that is the San Diego Comic-Con.

I ran into Ben Templesmith, artist of IDW's 30 Days of Night (the film adaptation of which comes out in October), whom I've known for about five or six years now. Maybe six or seven. We met through email when he was just starting out at Todd McFarlane Productions, and now he's got thousands of fans around the world. I'm glad I got the chance to say "hey" and get him to sign my hardcover copy of FELL, the Image book he does with Warren Ellis.

Speaking of Ellis, that wily bastard. I don't know how many signings he had scheduled throughout the weekend, but I managed to miss all of them. We were so busy at the BOOM! BOOth that we were each only able to get away for maybe an hour a day. And since it's been about 10 years since Warren's been to America, he was surely mobbed everywhere he went, which, to be honest, I'm not sorry I missed out on. Still, I'm a little bummed I didn't get to meet him.

Sitting next to Templesmith was this great writer named Antony Johnston. He wrote this cool little book called Frightening Curves in, like, 2000 or 2001, and I mentioned how much I enjoyed it and he gave me a promo poster for the new book he and Templesmith are doing, called Dead Space. They had a little promo booklet for the comic, too, and it looks fantastic. I can't wait to read it. Johnston also writes a book called Wasteland for Oni Press, which I cannot recommend highly enough.

I met Matt Fraction, writer of Image's Casanova and Marvel's Punisher War Journal and co-writer of Marvel's Immortal Iron Fist, along with Ed Brubaker, whom I also briefly met. Fraction seems like a very cool guy, laid back like Kody Chamberlain. He lives in Kansas City with his wife, the very pregnant Kelly Sue, whom I unfortunately didn't get to meet. She seems like a really fun person, when she's not suffering from morning sickness. I'd been meaning to go to that little comic book convention in Kansas City for the past couple years, to meet them and get some autographs (I don't know why, but I really like collecting autographs), but it just hasn't happened yet. I meant to mention to Fraction that he and Kelly Sue should come up to Omaha to do a signing at Krypton Comics sometime (after the baby is born, of course), but it completely skipped my mind. Maybe I'll drop him an email about it.

The artist of Casanova, Gabriel Ba, was also at the convention, with his brother, Fabio Moon. They're from Brazil and incredibly talented. I got a couple sketches from both of them, too, which, again, I'll scan and post later.

The Brazilian brothers had a mini-comic out called 5, which has contributions from three other creators (hence the title), including Demo artist Becky Cloonan, whom I saw at the Image booth on Sunday. She's really nice and as cute in person as she is in the few pictures I've seen.

I also got to say "hi" to Jamie Rich, former Dark Horse and Oni Press editor, and one of my favorite writers. His Cut My Hair is one of my favorite books, and his new one, the title of which escapes me, just came out. He signed the copy I bought, as did the cover artist, the lovely Joelle Jones, who, like Becky Cloonan, is just amazingly cute and nice. And a great artist. She illustrated Jamie's 12 Things I Love About You and they're working together on a new graphic novel, a noirish detective yarn.

I had emailed Jamie a couple years back, when I was first starting to go back to school. I was doubting myself and my future, and when I look at his career, he's forged a path that I wouldn't mind emulating, from editor to novelist to comic book writer. And he lives in Portland to boot, somewhere I've yet to visit but think I'd really like. Anyway, we talked for a little bit, before I had to get back to the booth. He was very nice and encouraging and told me I should ask Chip Mosher about the time he passed out drunk in front of the Marriot last year. Chip?

Speaking of Chip, all weekend he was wearing this awesome white jacket, of which I think I have one or two pictures. You'll see it when I post the weekend's photos to the Flickr site. He looked like a cross between Sonny Crockett and a lounge singer. Personally, I think he slept in the jacket.

On Saturday we hosted a huge signing for some of the cast of Sci-Fi Channel's Eureka, which BOOM! co-founder Andy Cosby created. Three of the cast members were there: Colin Ferguson ("Sheriff Jack Carter"), Ed Quinn ("Nathan Stark") and Neil Grayston ("Douglas Fargo"). The line was huge. They, along with Andy and Johanna Stokes, who's written a couple episodes for the show, must have signed for at least two hours. They were all really nice and down-to-Earth. They all seemed to be enjoying meeting their fans and posing for pictures. I'm sure they must have been exhausted by the end of the signing, but you couldn't tell by looking at them.

Sebastian Jones is the co-writer for this comic BOOM! publishes, called Salvador. He was around on Thursday and then again Saturday, with Salvador creators, the Polish Brothers, filmmakers whose last project was The Astronaut Farmer, with Billy Bob Thornton. Sebastian was super nice and charming. Must've been the British accent. Great sense of humor. We had a great time hanging out with him at the booth and at the Hyatt Thursday night.

The screenwriter of Ray, James L. White, writes a book for BOOM! called Hunter's Moon, and he came down from L.A. for a signing on Saturday. He was very warm and kind, and maybe a little overwhelmed. He's an older gentleman (not that he's old) and I doubt he'd ever been to anything like Comic-Con before. We sat him with Daniel (the other intern)'s attractive friend Elaine in the hopes that she might induce people to come over and get an autograph.

A few of Cody's friends from Chicago flew to San Diego to lend a hand with the show, and they were all really nice and cool to volunteer. One, Reuben, is an artist and graphic designer. His stuff is pretty good, what I saw of it, and he went around showing it to people, making connections, when he wasn't in the booth. Another friend, Shannon (different from the Shannon previously mentioned), is still in town. She came up with Cody and Mike and I last night, and she's flying out tomorrow night. I think we're going to see The Simpsons Movie tonight.

Shannon was pretty great around the booth. She's got a really good sense of humor and she must be a wonderful actress, to act like she cared that much about our comics when speaking with the multitude of people who stopped by the booth. We were all pretty loopy by the time the convention ran down last night, and she kept me laughing, even at the dumbest, most inane comments.

That's what really made the weekend bearable, all the great people we had around the booth. When you're spending upwards of 12 hours a day with someone, you better hope you get along well, and I think most of us around the BOOM! booth were on a very similar wavelength.

Marvel unveiled on Saturday the Iron Man armor for the upcoming Jon Favreau-directed film starring Robert Downey, Jr. I never ventured in for a closer look, because the Marvel booth, which was right across the aisle from us, was always overcrowded with hordes of fans. But Sunday night, after everyone was kicked out except for exhibitors, we got to take a closer look at it. Stan Winston designed it and it looks absolutely amazing. It has a really wonderful steampunk quality to it. There are a couple pictures I took with my phone on Flickr already, and I'll get more that I took with my real camera up when I can.

Last weekend I bought a graphic novel at Golden Apple called Phonogram, which had been getting some really great reviews, and I met the creators, writer Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie, at the Image booth. Both are really nice fellas, and Jamie did a very great headsketch for me on Sunday as the convention was winding down.

Friday night me and Cody and his friends hung out for a little bit with a guy named Rich Stevens, who does a Web comic called Diesel Sweeties (really funny stuff), and some of his friends. Before we got to their hotel room, we went on what Cody's friend Sarah called a "bum tour of San Diego," because we weren't entirely sure where the hotel was. So we just wandered around downtown for a little bit. "What better place to be a bum," I said, "than San Diego?"

There's an artist who's done some work for BOOM! named Cynthia Martin. She knew Cody way back when he was a youngin'. She was friends with his dad, and when she saw Cody at the convention, she nearly fell over from shock, because it had been so long since she'd seen him. What was even more bizarre, though, was when she and I were talking and we discovered that we both live in Omaha. How crazy is that? This is such a small industry, y'know? We're gonna hang out when we both get back home.

I volunteered to help out at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund auction Saturday night. Since I was so busy with BOOM! during the day, that was really the only free time I had to offer them. I don't know if they really needed my help, but they were happy to have it. I always enjoy volunteering for the Fund, because I figure it makes up for the fact that I don't have a lot of money to donate to them. I did buy their new T-shirt, though.

And I was wearing that shirt on Sunday when I met Cory Doctorow, of Boing Boing fame. He noticed the shirt and thought it was pretty neat. I directed him to the CBLDF booth so he could get one, after, of course, I told him how much I enjoyed his writing. He was super nice.

Looking over this post, it appears that all I did was meet people and get autographs and sketches. Not true, however. There was a lot of work being done at the booth. A lot of comics were sold and connections made. People kind of just flocked to our booth, because of all the press BOOM! has been getting lately. When you sell a few projects to studios in a matter of weeks, as BOOM! did earlier this year, people tend to take notice, I guess.

Well, I've been at this for a couple hours now and I think all my laundry is finished. I'll let you stop reading for now. If I remember anything more, I'll be sure to throw it up here when I have a chance. I know I'm leaving out a lot of stuff, and probably a number of people, too. Sorry about that if you're one of them!

Everyone take care and I'll talk at you more later.

3 comments:

S. said...

but i DID care about the comics.

mick said...

I wish I could have been there.

Kody Chamberlain said...

Where's the scan, slacker! :D