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Saturday, April 19, 2008

New York 2008 Comic Con Report, Part 1

I decided to forgo my usual Comics Weekend posts this weekend, instead for the next two days I'll be sharing my experiences at the 2008 New York Comic Con. Since the con organizers were nice enough to let me in with a press badge, I figure the least I can do is give the show some attention here, especially since it was the Shrine that got me in in the first place.

After finding my way to the tiny Press Room (located somewhere beneath the Earth's crust--I swear, I had to make it past some Mole People to get to it), I hit the first speed-bump: they had no listing for me or the Shrine to receive a press badge. Luckily, I brought the email I received saying I was approved for one, so the con volunteer politely and quickly handed me a generic badge. I was a tad disappointed that I didn't get a badge saying "The Aquaman Shrine" over the "Press" banner, but what are you gonna do?

One of the pleasant surprises this time around is that the con organizers moved Artists' Alley from the tiny cramped room it occupied last year into the main room, giving it a lot more space. Nicely done. It seemed so odd to have 100x as much space devoted to the comics as the people who made the comics in the first place, so I'm glad they fixed that this year.

I had made an extra effort to get to the con right as it opened, 10am. I wanted to use the few "Professional Only" hours I had (10am-3pm) to maximum advantage by getting as many interviews and/or sketches lined up, before the massive throng of autograph seekers made it impossible to get to talk to someone for more than five seconds.

Unfortunately, I was a little too organized for my own good, since none--not one--of the artists/writers I wanted to see was at their tables at 10am! I walked from table to table, searching out my quarry, only to look up and see an empty chair. *sigh* Dang artistic types.

This continued for a better part of two hours, so I spent that time searching the dealers' aisles, looking for AquaStuff or comics I needed. I didn't find much of the former (except for some cool 1970's DC stickers, ghastly overpriced at $25.00), but I did find a bunch of fun b/w magazines for very good prices. An issue of Rampaging Hulk for two measly bucks? Sa-weet!

Anyway, I kept trolling through AA, until around noon I saw my pal Joe Staton, who since I first met him at the last NY Con, did an interview with me for
TreasuryComics.com and hooked me up with his pal, writer/editor Nick Cuti, who has done two interviews with me. I shoved my sketchbook in Joe's face, barely before he had time to sit down, and finally my Sketchbook Sweepstakes were on!
The con at that point became a series of me walking by the tables of people I wanted to meet, then wandering out into the main area, but not for too long since I didn't want to miss one of my "targets" just having sat down. As you can see, the Jacob Javitz Center is a big space. Some of the Trophy Booth Babes hired to wear corsets and ten-inch fetish heels--I don't know they got around, having to walk so far to get to their booths.

In the meantime, I came across a guy named
Geoff Grogan, who was selling his own treasury-sized(!) monster/collage comic, called Lookout!! Monsters. It's kind of like the Universal Pictures Frankenstein crossed with the work of Peter Kuper, if you can imagine that. Anyway, it was way cool, so I picked up a copy and Geoff agreed to do an interview with me for Treasury Comics about it. He was very friendly and a pleasant surprise at this year's show.

Soon after my pal Rich Buckler showed up at his AA table, and I soon Aqua-Commissioned him as well. Rich is someone I can always email with a question related to some comic I'm talking about on one of my blogs, and he always takes the time to answer. Even if I didn't hire him for a sketch, I just wanted to shake his hands to say thanks.

Someone I hadn't initially scoped out was
Art Baltazar, the writer/artist behind Tiny Titans. Since I love that book, I went over and introduced myself to Art, who could not have been friendlier. We talked about TT, and when I told him about the Shrine, he told me was a fan! Great Neptune!

I then asked Art for a TT-inspired Aqualad sketch, which he whipped up before my eyes. It's adorable, and will show up here on Monday!

I took another walk around (Craig Hamilton, Patrick Gleason, Frank McLaughlin, Peter David, Jon Bogadanove, and Kevin Maguire still nowhere to be found) and came across this odd "Cartoon Car" exhibit thing they have on display. Its an old-timey roadster painted fender to bumper with comic/pop culture characters like Superman, Tarzan, Mickey Mouse, Homer Simpson, Snoopy, etc. It even featured the Golden Age Starman, so I figured the Sea King must be somewhere on there. Perhaps the section on the driver's side door, featuring all water-related characters?:
...nope. No Aquaman! What the frak?

Anyway, after that disappoinment, and one four-dollar Snapple later, I headed back to AA, and--aah! There was another one of my targets--former Aquaman artist
Patrick Gleason. I introduced myself to Patrick, and, like Art, he could not have been nicer. I put myself on the list Patrick was compiling of Sketches To Do, since I really liked the square-jawed, chiseled profile Patrick gave Arthur.

And like Art, when I told Patrick about the Shrine, he said he was a fan, too! Wow! He said he read my recent posts talking about the issues he drew, and that he liked the blog a lot. Wow. He agreed to do an interview--yay! (I also rounded up another Most Wanted Interviewee, but I'll keep that a secret until I can conduct it and put it up here--cue cryptic laugh)

Then I made a brief stop at longtime Marvel cover painter Bob Larkin's table (who signed one of my b/w mags and agreed to an interview for
All in Black & White For 75 Cents!). Like the other guys, he was extremely friendly and receptive to doing an interview with me. I think I may have misjudged people's responses to these things--I always feel like I'm being a bit of a pest, asking these people to take time out of their busy day to talk to me--for free--about their old work, but I was on a real roll here!

At that point, I had commissions going from Joe Staton, Rich Buckler, and Patrick Gleason, and I didn't want to burn through my two-day budget all in one afternoon, so I decided to take one last trip around and then head home (plus I had some freelance art obligations I needed to attend to). I came across the massive Mattel booth and snapped a pic of the (drooool) DC Super Friends Aqua-Sub:
Not only that, but here's a shot of the two new DC:SF figures, Hawkman and Cyborg:

I made one last trip to AA--still no Hamilton, McLaughlin, David, Bogdanove, or Maguire, so I went back to see if Joe Staton had finished his sketch for my book (the other commissions I decided to have done on separate pieces of paper, that way I could get more than one per show).

Unfortunately, I had told Joe I was going to be at the con until the early evening, so my earlier-than-planned 4pm departure meant he had not yet done the piece. So--*gulp*--I left the book in Joe's hands, and made plans to pick it up tomorrow. That gives Joe more than enough time to do the piece, and while I'm sure he will protect my book with his life, not having my baby in the same city with me means I'll sleep uneasily tonight.

On my way to leave, I made the rounds of my missing artists one last time, contemplating my own stage play, Waiting for Craig Hamilton. But then I saw someone I didn't expect--the master, the one, the only, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, whose work has graced this blog so many times it could be its own sister blog.

I knew he'd be at the show, but after talking with him last year, I knew he probably wasn't doing sketches (understandable, considering how meticulous his work is). And since I'm not a big autograph collector, I didn't have him on my "To Get" list. But...there he was, doing a sketch! Hmm...

So I wandered over to his table, and he was so involved in his piece (of Wonder Woman) that he never saw me, so I never had a moment to introduce myself and wonder, just maybe, was he doing sketches this year? Visions of an original Garcia-Lopez Aquaman danced--swam--in my head.

But since I'm very shy about bugging people, I continued to stand there, waiting for an opening. Then another con attendee, not nearly so patient or polite, stepped in front of me and all but demanded the master illustrator sign what looked like a pile of comics.

I've always found this extraordinarily rude, since its clear that no one needs ten comics with the same autograph--most likely, nine of them will show up on eBay. And since artists don't charge for autographs, it seems the height of rudeness to demand multiple John Hancocks from them.

But JLGL, being a gentlemen, uncomplainingly signed them, and then went back to his drawing, me still standing there like a broomstick. I considered being more bullish, but then I realized--I had spent a good portion of my con budget already. What if JLGL said yes to a sketch, and then quoted me a price I couldn't afford?

I hate saying no in that situation, since it makes it seem like I'm saying "Your art isn't worth that much to me", when of course a Jose Luis Garcia Lopez original is worth whatever damn price he wants for it! So I reluctantly walked away. Maybe next year.

*Whew*! So that was today. I'll be back in the Big Apple tomorrow for more hi-jinx and adventures at the 2008 NY Comic Con!


Rick L. Phillips said...

Man that is so sad that you didn't know if you could afford a Garcia-Lopez Aquaman. What if he isn't there next year? Maybe you should have seen who picked up the Wonder Woman and saw how much they paid him for it. Who knows maybe you would have had the money. Of course I don't know if the con will be tomorrow also or if you or Mr. Garcia-Lopez will be there but if so You may want to try again.

rob! said...

well, i only had about $40 left for the whole day, and i knew there was NO WAY Jose would charge less than that...i mean, a sketch from him should run $100 at the very minimum!

i always take the risk someone will not be there next year, but that's the problem of collecting these sketches--its a pricey hobby, and every time one "big one" gets away!