Saturday at the NYCC didn't start off as promising as Friday had. I was stuck waiting in line for an hour just to get inside, even with a Professional Badge. Only Exhibitors and Press got to cut right in. I should have just called the Sequart guys and had them bring me out an Exhibitor badge in retrospect. I'll have to keep that in mind for next year. But once I got inside it was all cool. Busy, but cool, especially because I had two old pals waiting for me on the convention floor. Erin and Chris, two of my former students, drove down to attend the show (and pick up copies of my book!) It was great to see them. I see Erin every once in a while because she tutors at Word Street, a local non-profit writing center that I help run, but she's always cool to hang out with. And I haven't seen Chris since he graduated. They both seemed to have a good time at the Con, even though they couldn't buy as much as they would have like with their limited funds. Hopefully, they'll be able to come down next year with a bigger pile of money so they can really go crazy.
One of the things I decided to do on Saturday was start a Legion sketchbook. I actually left a brand new sketchbook with Paul Azaceta, who was doing free sketches for anyone who bought the excellent Image book, Grounded. Paul was too swamped Friday evening to get anything drawn for me, so he hung onto it overnight and came back Saturday morning to find a two-page spread featuring Superboy in the foreground and a plethora of flying characters behind him. It was a great way to launch my new sketchbook, so thanks Paul! And to continue the Legion theme of the sketchbook, I patrolled Artist Alley looking for former Legion artists and found Joe Staton looking like he was ready to draw me something nice. I had to leave my sketchbook with him too, since he had a bit of a backlog, but I ended up with a nice Lightning Lad headshot from the man. It was cool to get a Bronze Age Legion artist to contribute the second sketch in the book.
Of course, I really wanted a Keith Giffen sketch too, but no matter how many times I stopped by his table, he was nowhere to be found. Next year, hopefully, I'll be able to corner him for a contribution.
Unwilling to wait in any long lines or pay more than a few bucks for a sketch, I stopped by Rick Veitch's booth, figuring that he might be cool enough to draw me a free sketch. He seemed willing, at first, until I mentioned that I'd like it to be a Legion of Super-Heroes character. He scoffed. He made faces of disgust. He waved his hands in protest. "No. God no. Ugh," he said. "Come on," I said, "you can do Chameleon Boy. He can transform into anything. So anything you want to draw you can just label 'Chameleon Boy.'" He still refused, but with less vehemence. Perhaps the sight of the single tear running down my cheek made him relent. Not really. But he did agree to do the sketch, mainly because he had a nefarious plan. He said, "Okay, I'll do a quick one. Does Chameleon Boy have any special markings or anything?" "Just antennae," I said. "If you put two antennae sticking out of anything, it would be Chameleon Boy." So I watched Rick Veitch as he drew his version of Chameleon Boy: three flies buzzing around a giant turd (complete with antennae). He wrote "Chameleon Boy" under the pile of feces, and signed his name beneath it. It's really the perfect Rick Veitch drawing. It succinctly captures his disdain for traditional superheroes. It made me laugh. It's quite a contrast to the Joe Staton Lightning Lad piece. And how many people in the world own a Rick Veitch Legion drawing?
Kevin Colden, brilliant young artist and book-cover illustrator, was the final contributor to my Legion sketchbook for the day. I gave him, at his request, some reference to use, since he's not a big superhero fan, and let him choose a character from a giant group shot of the assembled Legion. The source of the reference was a photocopy of a page from the Legion of Super-Heroes Sourcebook published by Mayfair Games. I copied the page for just this occassion, and because the book is from 1986, the image featured Supergirl with her classic headband look. Kevin was smitten by her elegant ensemble, and he drew me a full sketch of the 80s Supergirl as the fourth and final drawing in the book. He told me that it was his first EVER convention sketch. I'm proud to have been a part of that moment, because with Kevin's talent, it certainly won't be his last convention sketch.
Artist Alley was too jam-packed to move by that point in the day, so I returned to the floor of the convention and spent the rest of the day manning the Sequart booth, signing copies of the Grant Morrison books for happy customers, and picking up 50-cent copies of Legionaires issues that I was still missing from my collection. I got to hang out with Tom McLean, writer of the other new Sequart book, X-Men: The Movie Trilogy and the Comics for a couple of hours, which was cool, and hopefully I'll get to see him in San Diego if I ever make it out there. (Doubtful for this year, what with my 10th wedding anniversary coming up this summer, but next year I should be able to make the trip.) I also got to meet RAB from Estoreal who was a fan of my Morrison stuff. We mostly talked about Adam West, though. I'll be interested to see his review of my book when he gets a chance to read it. It was fun to meet my audience, because for most of last year, as I wrote the essays that became the book, I really felt like I was writing it for myself and maybe one other weird guy in the world. By the end of the convention, I realized that I had an audience at least TWICE that size. And if I double my audience every day for the next year, I think that would equal the poulation of the world. Or something.
By the end of Saturday, I was pretty exhausted. I didn't end up visiting a single panel, as it turned out, and that's something I'd like to remedy next time. The panels seemed pretty decent this year, and by all reports they were quite under-attended. But I did have a good time just hanging out with people, getting those few Legion sketches, and picking up some back issues.
I also got some cool things that I'll review at some point--The two newest issues of Action Philosophers for example, which has been a consistently fun read. I also picked up the first four issues of Pirates of Coney Island, a book I've been looking forward to since last summer, but was never able to track down. And, always a sucker for TwoMorrows books, I grabbed the two newest Modern Masters books (with Kevin Maguire and Charles Vess, respectively) and that copy of Best of the Legion Outpost that I've avoided buying for years (I needed it for a top secret project I'm working on, though--but don't worry, you guys will find out about that project soon!).
When Judy finally called to say that she was swinging uptown to pick me up (she'd been hanging out with her family, and our kids, in Little Italy all day), I was ready to go. I was comic-booked out. But still energized by the whole experience. All in all, I had a great time, even if I did have to wait out in the cold for a little while that morning. Can't wait for next year, when NYCC will be held in the much warmer month of April. Now I just have to get to work on my next book!