Tuesday, June 23, 2009

HeroesCon 2009 - Day The Third

The third day of the convention began late for us. Hil and I packed and checked out before heading over to the convention center, stashing most of our belongings in the car. We got to the convention center by noon, and faced a dilemma. There were four different panels starting, and I wanted to sit in on three of them. One panel boasted Brubaker and Epting. Another panel promised a panel-by-panel examination of Brave And The Bold #4 with Mark Waid and George Perez. The third panel was the premier of the Longbox Project, a digital comics initiative.

We opted for the Brave and the Bold panel. We settled into the room and waited for the discussion to begin. While the premise sounded very interesting, we were disappointed when the moderator dominated the discussion. In an hour, we scarcely covered four pages of the comic, with a total of four questions for two awesome creators that didn't come directly from the guy who was supposed to be moderating the panel.

On the show floor, I spent most of my remaining cash to get another sketch from Comfort Love and Adam Withers - this time for Hilary. We were both so impressed with my Hercules sketch, that I wanted to get one of Hilary. It came out beautifully, and I'll post it later - provided Hilary's okay with it.

We bounced around a bit, meeting Mark Waid and George Perez for signatures. Ironically, I got Perez to sign my copy of the Brave and the Bold #1 one year after Mark Waid signed it to the day. I finally managed to track down Zack Kruse, writer of The Contingent, and bought the third issue of his book from him. Returning to the PKD Media booth, I picked up a copy of PKD Media Presents, taking one last chance to meet Shawn Pryor.

We walked the con floor a last bit, collecting a few more signatures. Creators were already leaving, and I found I'd missed Ethan Van Sciver. I did wait in line, though, for Bill Sienkiewicz and got him to sign my copies of the issues for the Demon Bear saga. He seemed particularly happy that my issues were pretty clearly read. I did make a point, though, of stopping by Chris Giarusso's booth. He was giving away free head-sketches, so he drew me as a mini-Marvel Captain America.

But by about 4pm, it was time to leave. I'd made a donation to the HERO Initiative while George Perez was signing, and was down to my last dollar. Rather than try to dive into the markdowns to pick up a few last issues, I gave my last dollar to the CBLDF.

Returning to the car, we began the short trip back to Columbai. This was easily the best weekend I've spent at HeroesCon yet. I was thrilled to meet some folks from the forums, and to get to meet Bryan Deemer, Pants and Murd from CGS, and to get some sketches that were a little more personal. We kept in-budget, and I was within $10 on my rough estimation of the hotel bill.

We're planning to save money again for the show next year. Ideally, we'll be able to save up enough to make a trip North to SuperShow. My one regret is that I turned into a pumpkin after-hours. The shifts in my sleeping habits had a stronger effect on my than I thought. But I want to give thanks to everybody I did meet! I had an excellent time.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

HeroesCon 2009 - Day The Second

The first thing I did upon entering the convention hall today, was to go see Adam and Comfort about my sketch. I have to confess, I was particularly excited about leaving the book in their hands for it's inaugural sketch, and I'm thrilled with the result. I give you, thanks to Adam Withers and Comfort Love, Jason-as-Hercules! I'm completely in love with this sketch.

After meeting with them, My friend Phillip, who occasionally comments on my blog as 'p' and I decided to try Claremont's line. The line itself presented no difficulty, but the lack of Claremont made things a little trickier. We waited here for about forty minutes before giving up. It was disheartening, but Phillip had a limited amount of time. And I wasted a good bit of it, trying to navigate the convention. Booths I thought I new how to find eluded me. After a small amount of shopping, we retired for an early lunch, which allowed Hilary to rejoin us.

Returning to the convention, we first stopped in to see Matt Fraction. Matt's probably one of the nicest and wittiest folks you'll meet at a convention. And while HeroesCon recognized that, providing him a queue similar to those given to Brubaker, Epting and Bendis, he didn't have much of a line. He chatted with us as he signed our books, but we didn't want to monopolize his attention.

We made another attempt to get Chris Claremont's signature on some of our books. Once again we were stymied. While Claremont was there at this point, we were forced to learn something very important about signing lines at comic book conventions. The length of these lines is not determined by the number of people in the line... it's determined by the number of books they're carrying. Another twenty minutes with no movement prompted us to abandon our place once again.

We'd separated from Hilary, so we largely bounced around. We found our way to PKD Media, where Phillip got his copy of Mercury And The Murd signed. We also made some more purchases from twenty-five and fifty cent bins, until Hilary finally caught up with us. I was growing a bit tired, so Hilary and I bid Phillip adieu and returned to our room for awhile to soak up some air conditioning and some water. Hilary had gone through her own odyssey after our separation, catching pictures of storm-troopers, super-heroes and ghostbusters.

After resting in our room, we decided to make one more pass at the convention floor to try and get a few more signatures. And we struck gold. We were in and out of Bendis' line in ten minutes... if that long. In relatively short order, we also hit Claremont's table, got my copies of Pax Romana signed by Jonathan Hickman, picked up my sketch book (where Thom Zahler of Love and Capes drew me as a Green Lantern) and returned to Jonathan Hickman's booth, where he sketched me as Nick Fury. For free. Have I mentioned that Jonathan Hickman is awesome? Next year I'll have to remember that the last hour of the con can be truly magical.

Unfortunately, that was about the point where I ran completely out of gas. Due to my vampire lifestyle, I had trouble getting to, and back to, sleep Saturday morning. Despite my wishes, I completely turned into a pumpkin Saturday night.

Now it's Sunday morning. Our hotel bill arrived in the wee hours of the morning, signalling the beginning of the end of our stay. We're not sure what our departure plans are, but I want to make at least one more run at the show. I've still got a few books I'd like to get signed, and I think I've got cash for one last sketch for the year.

It's 8:21 AM local time, and Hilary's still sleeping. When the alarm goes off, we'll start packing up and finalizing our plans. But for now, it's been my best HeroesCon yet. I've met a few of the CGS guys, I got to chat with most of my favorite creators. I've spent a fair bit of my con budget in support of independent creators , and these sketches are the best memento I could ask for.

Friday, June 19, 2009

HeroesCon 2009 - Day The First

Hil and I checked in over at the convention center, and took our place in line. This year, the convention actually had two lines: one for attendees who purchased advance tickets, and another for those who didn't. The trick is, that those of us who bought tickets before June 14th were allowed onto the floor half an hour early.

However, the advance-ticket line itself was formidable to say the least. Looping around the interior of the convention center, there were still a good number of people entering. With that in mind, we headed straight over to the table where Ed Brubaker would be signing. I was saddened when he had to cancel from last year's convention, and I had a heavy load including my Captain America Omnibus.

There was a bit of confusion as to whose line we first got in, since Brubaker was seated next to his collaborator on Captain America, Steve Epting. This year, a few of the most popular signers actually have a queue to direct the line. I had a few moments to speak to him as he signed mybooks, and he pointed out something in the script to Captain America #25 (re-printed in the Omnibus). At the end of the script, a block of text is blacked out, and labed as 'Censored', and Brubaker told us that this block of text ties back to the revelations in Captain America #600. A small line was also forming for Brian Michael Bendis, who hadn't yet arrived. And while I was tempted to try to get Bendis' autograph quickly as well, we decided an early lunch was called for.

I returned to the convention a short while later to do a bit of shopping while Hilary retired to take a short nap. I attended the Pint of C.B. panel, where Marvel made a few announcements. Afterwards, I headed down to the convention floor where I discovered not only quarter-bins... but dime bins as well, with some help by Adam Murdough of Comic GeekSpeak. While wandering the floor, I also met Thom Zahler of Love and Capes and Shawn Pryor of PKD Media (and writer of Mercury And The Murd) and bought some of their wares.

All told, in that stretch I bought nearly a hundred comics, and most of them for little more than a song. So after carrying my bounty back to the room, Hilary and I returned to the convention floor, hoping to get signatures from Jeff Smith and Matt Fraction. Unfortunately, the line at the Cartoon Books both was capped. My copies of RASL 1-4 remain unsigned. For now. We decided to wait on seeing Matt Fraction until tomorrow. Instead we found our way to the booth shared by Adam Withers and Comfort Loves, co-writers and co-artists of the independent comic The Uniques.

The Uniques
is truly worth mention for a few important reasons. For starters, there isn't a publisher. It's created and published by Adam Withers and Comfort Love, a couple from Michigan. The couple write and draw the book themselves, publishing it on the internet. If you want a physical copy, you can order one on their website via a print-by-order service. The art is gorgeous, and after two issues the story looks like it's got a lot of potential. I bought the first trade from them, as well as handing over my new sketchbook. Hilary provided a theme idea for my sketchbook that I love. It'll be a book of sketches of me... as different comic book characters. I think Adam and Comfort are starting it out with me as Hercules. I look forward to sharing the sketch.

The first day was fun, and I'm a little frightened at the diminishing stack of bills in my wallet, but there's plenty of con left. I'm off to bed to finish recovering for tomorrow.

HeroesCon 2009 - Day Zero

With all the excitement of Christmas Eve, June 18th finally came. After polishing off my last hours at work, I began the sporadic hurry of final preparations for the show. But eventually everything was packed, and the house shrank into the rear-view mirror.

I opted against a nap yesterday morning, hoping to get one after arriving at the hotel. Sadly, there wasn't really time for it, but we did check in with a little time to relax prior to the CGS meet up for dinner. Hil and I waited in the lobby looking for a gathering of folks we didn't know, which is always an interesting feeling, but before long we saw the group coming together. After a brief introduction period, we piled into vehicles for the trip to the Golden Corral for the Feast of Pants.

At this point, I want to thank Phillip Duncan (Owner/editor of Superheroes-R-Us and AllAboutDuncan online) for providing a ride to the restaurant. Dinner was great, with a lot of conversation and some decent food. This is my first trip to HeroesCon actually seeking to meet some of the folks from The Comic Forums and I wasn't disappointed. Everyone was friendly and open which helped keep me social. Hil may have a different opinion, but I think I was handling being so tired pretty well.

Afterwards, there was some more discussion in the parking lot, followed by some comics trading hands in the parking lot of the Golden Corral. What happened next was very interesting. We traveled to the restaurant in three separate vehicles, and each one found it's way to the Target across the street independently. Phillip needed to pick up a couple things, and at dinner I realized I needed to pick up a sketch book. My book from last year is (still) sitting next to my monitor at home. Phillip actually made a stop he didn't have to in order to help me replace it, for which I'm grateful. We also managed to pick up a new camera for Hil, so tomorrow's post (or whenever I get around to posting more about the con) should have pictures.

Returning to the hotel, I purchased a good chunk of James Robinson's Starman from Phillip which means the show doesn't open to the public for over seven more hours, but I've already purchased a big handful of books.

My plans and thoughts for the show are basically these:
  • I plan to pick up a few sketches, starting a themed sketchbook. I have no idea what this theme will be, but I'll try to figure something out before I hand it to anyone.
  • I plan to pick up something new. Two years ago, I started looking at Marvel's cosmic books. Last year it was the bronze age.
  • I plan to meet creators and get some nice signatures & sketches - these have been the best mementos.
  • And lastly, I plan to spend some time talking to folks. Not just creators, but other fans.

I'm excited for the morning to get here. Maybe that's why I'm awake.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Discovering Jack Kirby

Recently, I ordered a stack of reading copies of bronze-age Marvel books off eBay. The books were cheap, and I've discovered over the past year that I seem to really enjoy the sensibilities of that era of comics. I'm also (finally) discovering how awesome the work of Jack Kirby is.

I know, I'm late to the Kirby party. I started reading comics in 2000, and have read mostly current stuff, occasionally venturing as far back as the 1980's. But when DC began publishing Final Crisis, and so many elements of Kirby's Fourth World seemed important, I bought the first two volumes of the Fourth World Omnibus to take a look at the source. Those two volumes astonished me for how quickly and easily they read, especially for books that contained such massive cosmic sagas.

But this stack of books from eBay contained some big surprises. Several of the books offered re-printings of older Marvel stories. I found myself devouring an issue of Marvel Double Feature, or Marvel's Greatest Comics for the Captain America and Fantastic Four stories they contained. As a rule, I tend more towards writers than artists, but Kirby's work is very strong and very distinctive. The Fantastic Four story (one of the original Lee/Kirby... number 87 to be specific) took on a life of it's own. I couldn't stop turning the pages, and for the first time I think I began to understand why the title was as successful as it was.

But the book that surprised me the most was an issue of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Where I expected a quick movie tie-in, I found instead a completely different take on a licensed book. Instead, Kirby (writing and drawing) painted a dystopian future where human-kind had destroyed their environment, and submerged themselves in fictions to escape the horror they had made of their home. And in this setting, a man from the year 2040 encounters the Monolith from the original story, which sends his life shooting off in a very different direction. This wasn't the story I was expecting to read when I opened the pages, but now it's something I want more of.

With HeroesCon drawing near, I don't imagine I'll have enough of a budget to purchase an early Fantastic Four issue, but something like 2001? Maybe. I plan to keep my eyes open, that's for sure.