Sunday, April 20, 2008

New York Comic-Con 2008: Not a Full Report, But Some Highlights*

The Third Annual NYCC is over, and I need about five days to recover. Good thing I'm on vacation this week. Oh wait, I'm teaching a workshop at the Norman Rockwell Museum every day until Friday. No rest for the awesome.

And teaching a comics workshop at the Norman Rockwell Museum is pretty awesome, I have to say. Even if I constantly point to the walls as the kids are drawing and say, "you'll never be as good as this guy anyway, so don't bother." Just kidding! They will be even BETTER than Rockwell. What comics did that guy ever do, anyway?

You know who does comics, though? Jeffrey Brown. Here he is, signing the only two things I bought all weekend: The Incredible Change Bots and Little Things:

See how he hides behind his massive piles of Top Shelfy comics so I can't see what he's up to? He's sneaky. I assume he wrote profanity in the margins of random pages. I just haven't come across those pages yet. But I could not resist buying some books from him anyway.

Still, you also have to wonder how I could go to a ginormous convention and buy only two small books. (Well, I guess I also bought Comic Book Comics #1 from Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey, so I bought three things, honestly.) I could have bought more. I had money in my pockets. I saw stuff I wanted. But I thought, "eh, I don't even have the time to read all the stuff I already own." What's that about? Am I becoming more rational?

Probably not.

Although I did treat this year's con as more of a business trip (sort of) than a fanboy fun fest. I networked. I mingled. I said, "I like your stuff" and handed out my crappy, cheaply-printed right before the convention business cards that I forgot to order in advance. So I didn't really go in with the mindset of a shopper. Plus, I knew I'd be there all three days, and I wasn't in a rush to buy anything the first day. Then, Saturday was too busy to shop around, and by Sunday I'd lost any interest in what I'd wanted to buy on Friday. Three days at a convention equals me buying less than one day. That's the math involved, apparently.

Instead of buying stuff, I attended a couple of panels. Like this Vertigo panel, which was more of a really quick overview of Vertigo's upcoming projects and Karen Berger deftly advancing the slide show without giving away too much. She'd show an upcoming Scalped cover and say, "Scalped. I really like this cover." Then move on. She had a lot to get through, and she had to let Grant Morrison (who's not seen in the picture because the podium was blocking his glorious bald pate anyway) talk about some of his upcoming work. He's doing War Cop which is some kind of riff on the military-as-video-game mentality, and he's doing more Seaguy of course--with Seaguy as the world's foremost Bull Dresser--and he's doing a comic about Dr. No's daughter being hunted by James Bond (except without using their names, of course, or else DC would violate some trademarks and Charles Atlas would come back from the dead and punch Grant Morrison in the face).

The Morrison stuff sounds great, but I was hoping that the other panelists would have a chance to speak about their work, and very few of them did. Jason Aaron, on the far left, did not get to say a single word. We all know Scalped is the best Vertigo comic on the stands, and the applause from the audience was loud when the Scalped slide flashed on the screen for a few seconds, but he must be in the Marvel-exclusive penalty box, because he didn't get to participate on this panel at all.

So, afterwards, I went up and punched him in the face.

My Teenagers from the Future book was proudly on display. Selling like Ritalin at a middle school dance. The book sold out. Sold. Out. And it won't be available again until we get it though the bookstore channels and onto and Barnes and Noble in June or so. It will be worth the wait, though.

Just ask Mike Phillips, seen here posing with the books. (Needless to say, I punched him in the face.)

I also had a chance to speak with, at length, Johanna Draper-Carlson and KC Carlson. KC tried to help me pull together some essays for the book, and he was curious to see the printed book, so he stopped by the booth. I did not punch either of them in the face, because they were really interesting and cool. I'm glad to have met them this weekend.

They were so nice, in fact, that I didn't punch anyone in the face for at least 15 minutes.

Grant Morrison, signing at the DC booth. This was late Friday, I think. But before the fans arrived at 3:00, he was just hanging out at the booth, talking with Len Wein (who jokingly asked Grant for 10% of his earnings for all the recent Len Wein-inspired stuff he's been doing at DC recently). I have interviewed Grant a couple of times, but I hadn't met him in person, and when he saw me, he was incredibly gracious and enthusiastic (as he always is about everything, apparently). I know that as a bald guy, I had a kind of Grant Morrison haircut going on, but when I saw him in person I realized that I was also the same size as him, and he even said, "I'd better be careful, or people are going to think I'm you." I told him about what I was working on recently, and bumped into Geoff Johns and Dan DiDio too, who all joined the conversation about Teenagers from the Future. I thanked Geoff for The Legion of Three Worlds, and told him that it was perfect timing to help sell my book. So, once again, I was in too good of a mood to punch anyone or anything.

Then, later, when I saw people standing in line for hours to get their books signed by Grant, I ran down the line and punched each one of them in the face.

My wife and kids joined me for Kid's Day on Sunday, which meant that I could shift from business and punching-in-the-face-mode to father-and-husband mode. I did a mediocre job with that, since I ditched my family at least three times to hang out with people who are more famous then they are.

But I'm pretty sure they had a great time. It's a comic book convention! What kid doesn't like overweight men spray painted gray and dressed in a Colossus costume? What kid doesn't like hardcover collections of "The Erotic Art of Rob Liefeld"? What kid doesn't like Podcast Alley?

My wife is smiling in the picture above because it's early in the day and she doesn't realize how often I will abandon her so I can talk to people who used to write fan letters to a comic book I sort of liked fifteen years ago.

My daughter didn't seem to care about what was going on anyway, because she got a free Scooby Doo digest from the DC booth and she read the heck out of it. She read that thing cover-to-cover, laughing at all the right bits. As much as I want to say something sarcastic here, I just can't, because this is what the Kid's Day is all about. Kids reading comics. And she did exactly that.

Soon, I'll move her up to the Archie stuff.

Next year, I think she'll be ready for Tim Vigil's Faust.

Mo Willems! He heard about all the face-punching and made a scary face so I would be intimidated. It's an animal defense mechanism called "mimicking," and it keeps weaker prey from being attacked by predators. He's obviously mastered the technique, as you can see here. Also, his panel, sponsored by MoCCA, was the best panel of the weekend. My kids laughed, played along with his antics, learned how to draw a cool pigeon, and left excited about books and creating their own books. I'm very glad we got a chance to see him in action. His new book is called The Pigeon Wants a Puppy and it's better than 99% of everything that was on sale at the convention. If you have kids and you aren't buying the Mo Willems books, you are obviously a horrible person who will never receive the love you so desperately crave.

Right before we walked out the exit, I had my wife capture this moment of my son and I saying farewell to a convention that we all enjoyed. I made a few contacts, my son bought a few Ugly Dolls, and we all bonded over the Pigeon's ridiculously fallacious puppy assertions. As we calmly prepared to leave, others, like the guy to my left, ran through the convention aisles, seeking that final "big deal." That fabled first issue of Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man at half off the $45 cover price. Or that new Vampirella bust, slightly defective, at a shockingly low $235. We, as a family, had moved beyond such trivialities and were ready for the long ride back to Massachusetts.

We joined hands to create a giant fist with which to punch the Javits Center in the face. But instead, we gave it a big hug. We love you NYCC. You were almost perfect this year.

*Please note, the punching I referred to in this post is a metaphor. I didn't literally punch anyone in the face over the weekend. Instead, I used ninja stars.


nadir said...

what a great spunky write up. though next time, more face punching please.

having not been to a convention since i was in jr. high, reports like this vs. the normal he said/she said reports sort of makes me want to try them out again, after 20+ years.

Matthew E said...

I told him about what I was working on recently, and bumped into Geoff Johns and Dan DiDio too, who all joined the conversation about Teenagers from the Future.

They have anything interesting to say about it?

Sold out, that's what I like to hear.

Timothy Callahan said...

Johns and DiDio didn't get to stick around, because the DCU panel was about to start, but I'm sure they would have talked for hours if they'd had the time.

They basically said, "oh, that's really cool." And, "Oh yeah?" and "cool."

Not much depth of conversation when everyone's in a hurry to avoid getting punched in the face.

matt st. pierre said...

Very entertaining write-up, sir. Sounds neat.

I had wanted to go but, alas, UFC 83 was that Saturday, and my cousin was fighting. And he won. So my Saturday was equal amounts of awesomeness, although way too adrenaline goes through the body when investing that much interest into something.