Sunday, July 31, 2011

Comic Con Report

After a whirlwind two weeks, I'm finally getting around to writing about my experiences at the 2011 Comic Con International. I went with my friends Greg Beda and Alan Groening.

We left on Tuesday, July 19th after a delay at the rental car place, which was a drag. They told Alan to pick up his car at a different time and through some sort of miscommunication, actually rented out the car we had reserved to someone else!

After that was straightened out, we were on our way. We got down to San Diego the same day, but decided to stop short at about 30 miles north because we were tired and the fact that we didn't officially have a place to stay until Wednesday night (The Doubletree). Along the way we ate at Harris Ranch Steak House. Pricey, but good.

On Wednesday, we finished our trek. Alan drove us to the convention hall and Greg and I got our exhibitor passes. Alan and I couldn't get out pro passes until 3pm for some dumb reason.

After getting the passes, Greg and I wheeled our stuff to our table and did a basic set up. Then, we met up with Alan and the three of us went to lunch. Afterwards, Greg went to the hotel, followed shortly by Alan, who now got his passes.

I decided to stay at the Con and set up because it was Preview night and I had to get the boxes I had my friends Linda and Skeet bring down separately to save on car space. Turns out I didn't need them, but I didn't know how well my books would sell. I could have gotten by with four boxes of books, but I had eight.

Wednesday night went very well and I sold a few books. Before the show I made a quick circle and said hi to a few people I know including Jerry Beck and a few different dealers.

After a night's sleep in the Doubletree, the Con started in earnest on Thursday, which started off really slowly. I also went round to some booths such as the Archie booth, the IDW booth and the Shout Factory booth. The three booths would be visited by me numerous times over the next couple of days.

I got the Archie book that Craig Yoe wrote and Greg and I contributed to signed by virtually everyone in attendance that worked for Archie including Dan Parent, George Gladir, Victor Gorelick and Jonathan Goldwater over the next few days.

Thursdays sales picked up by the end of the day, but not until I had purchased a large amount of "Dennis the Menace" comics. My collection is virtually complete.

On Friday, it was deader than Thursday and I decided for the first time in over a decade to take in a panel. This was the "Mad Magazine" panel and I brought my 2-volume "Cracked Mazagine" book set to give to Sam Viviano who works for "Mad" as Art Director and was indispensable in getting me in contact with Jack Davis, Al Jaffee and Angelo Torres, all of whom worked for "Cracked" at some point in their careers.

The panel featured Sam as well as Sergio Aragones, Peter Kuper, John Ficarra, Dick De Bartolo and a couple of guys who work on the new "Mad" cartoon show for Cartoon Network. They showed some clips from the show, which I felt were very funny. Then Ficarra did the equivalent of a stockholders meeting and used funny slides to tell the story of what "Mad" has been doing in the past year and when the next year holds for them.

Then the panel was opened up to questions. The highlight of the panel was when Peter Kuper ("Spy vs. Spy") picked up my "Cracked" book and said, "Oops, I'm at the wrong panel. This is a "Cracked" panel." I managed to get a photo of him doing this.

Afterwards, I exchanged pleasantries with Ficarra, Kuper and DeBartolo and then split back for my table.

Friday I said was exceptionally slow so Alan, Greg and I decided to do free sketches for tips to pass the time. I did a few Underdogs and many of The Beatles which I took photos of, because I knew that I would probably never see them again.

Saturday was Archie panel day and most of the Archie people that I mentioned appeared on the panel except George Gladir who seems to be a wandering spirit on his own time-frame and schedule. Turns out George was only there on Thursday, but he did come back on Sunday as you will find out shortly.

Sales were back up on Saturday and I purchased a few pages of original art. I got an Archie page, and some full color drawings of Hot Stuff, Spooky and Richie Rich from Dan Parent. I would have bought his Casper, but I didn't like the pose, and told Dan so. I said next time I will buy the rest of his Harvey drawings if he draws Casper again in a better pose. He also had Little Dot, Little Lotta and Wendy.

Craig Yoe was at the Archie panel for the "Archie" book, and I exchanged my Beatles book for his "Archie's Madhouse" book despite the fact that I helped him out on it. I guess I can't always get freebies for my work in lieu of pay. I also wanted to get his 3-D book, but he didn't want to trade for anything else, including the "Cracked" book. Surprising, but true.

I also bought some other original art including a Charles Rodrigues "Shut-Ups" page from "Cracked", a Vic Martin double-page spread from "Wacko", a Ray Billingsley page from "Crazy", a Mr. Howell production drawing from "New Adventures of Gilligan's Island" and a Casper production drawing from "Casper and the Angels".

I also got a few Two Morrows mags and books I had missed because they had a lot of their stuff at 40% off! I even bought an extra copy of the old "Comic Book Artist" issue that I wrote the major Harvey Comics article for.

Back at the table, the guy next to us had some incredible prints of paintings he had done including one of Casper with Velma from "Scooby-Doo", a 3-D looking print of Snoopy flying the dog house and a "Famous Monsters" parody cover called "Fabulous Monsters of Discoland" with Lincolnstein.

On Sunday, George Gladir made his return and showed up unexpectedly at our table. No one else was there, even Greg, who is a huge Archie fan. George posed for a picture with my "Cracked" book (his major accomplishments in life are writing for Archie and for "Cracked") and then he split. It was like a TV show or something as Greg showed up just as George was out of sight.

He did come back about an hour or so later and I asked George if he would stay for a bit. He said he would and Greg sat with him while I ran off to get Victor Gorelick and Craig Yoe. They all ran down to our table and I took various photos of the three of them together. Then after everyone departed, I took George to see Dan Parent at his table and took their photo, leaving George at that point.

Also, somewhere along the line Matt Groening came by. Alan phoned his mom and Matt spoke with her. She didn't believe it. I'm still not quite sure if Alan and Matt are related or not, yet they do share the same last name.

And, in my rushing around, I did pass a group of people and was wondering who they were escorting. I took a look and saw William Shatner in the center of the group being hustled to a panel or something. He looked just like he did on "$#!+ My Dad Says!"

I kept going back to the Shout Factory booth because they had postcards advertising the upcoming "Casper" DVD set that I wrote the booklet for and did commentaries on. I passed them out at my table. The DVD should be out on October 11.

I made a few last sales and trades. I got a "Smurfs" book in trade which is quite nice and the guy who runs Stand-Up Records, the label that gave Lewis Black his recording career start, bought a set of "Cracked" at the last minute, requesting that I ship them to him after the show.

I know somewhere along the line I spoke with Bill Morrison and John Lustig and Joe Staton and Roy Thomas and Walt Simonson and Neal Adams and Raphael Navarro and got autographs and/or photos in most cases.

Breakdown was relatively painless but we had to make a couple of trips to the parking garage at the Hilton as I had so many book boxes. We left a bit later than Greg and Alan have in the past, but a lot earlier than I have left when I have worked with Lee of Lee's Comics.

The three of us wanted to make it to Gorman, but only made it as far as Norwalk before we crashed for the night. Monday was all driving and it took forever as we stopped at many places along the road and Interstate 5 north whittled down to one lane for a time.

We finally got to San Jose about 5 or 6pm. I debated whether I would go to work on Tuesday, but in the end decided not to, opting to get some rest and do some follow-up emails and work on some pending projects including getting ready for a second round of Shout Factory commentaries, this time on "Tennessee Tuxedo" and "Underdog" as well as preps for the Archie Art Show at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco.

Incidentally, that show runs through December 4 with a reception coming up on August 7.

Overall, the show was very good. I made some good contacts, bought some good original art and comics, saw a couple panels and sold a few books, at least enough to pay for my share of the table and hotel.

I still plan to post some more pictures on Facebook and on Photobucket. Stay tuned.

No comments: