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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

2010 New York Comic Con

As promised, here is the Aquaman Shrine's official report from the 2010 New York Comic Con!

sgThe firs thing I did once arriving at the Jacob Javitz Center was find the press room and pick up my press badge. That was done easily, with a minimum of fuss (always a good sign) and once I had my shiny press badge dangling from my neck I hit the con floor.

The first thing I usually do when I first walk in the door is hit Artists Alley to find someone to get an Aquaman sketch from. But AA wasn't in its usual spot in the hall, and, try as I might, I couldn't find it, at all. Confused, I decided to walk the floor some more figuring I'd have to stumble on it eventually, right?

My first stop was at the Moonstone/Captain Action booth, where my pal Ed Catto was hanging out. A couple of months ago Ed had asked me to write up a one-page piece on the Aquaman/Captain Action connection, which ran in Captain Action: Season 2 #2:
(I'm only showing a small part of the piece because I want everyone to go out and buy the book!)

Ed asked if I could sign some copies of the book, which I was happy to do, though it felt a bit weird--me, autographing something? But my ego quickly conquered over that feeling, and after I signed a couple of copies, Ed had me pose with the lovely and sweet Lady Action:
(I realize no one will be looking at me in this photo)

After that, I visited the booth of my oldest friends, Kubert School (rah) brethren Chris Wichtendahl, who was promoting the approximate seventeen thousand projects he has going at any given moment. I asked him (and his lovely girlfriend Misty, who I was meeting for the first time) where the hell Artists' Alley was, and he decided to get up and show me where it was.

Turns out the con decided to give AA its own room at the show, which was cool because it meant a lot more space. The only downside was, to get to it, you had to go down this twisty-turny alley that reminded one of the place Joe Chill shot the Waynes. But once you made it through there (after fighting off some Morlocks), you ended up in AA!

Chris and I stopped by the table of another Kubie vet, artist Dan O'Connor. I hadn't seen Dan in over twenty years(!), but it was sort of amazing how it seemed like very little time had passed. We traded artist horror stories (of which Dan has too many) and generally caught up.

While we were talking, my pal and Aquaman Shrine Patron Saint Paul Kupperberg stopped by and said hello, and he showed off his super-awesome sketch book. Momentarily considering running off with it, I decided that was not the way to go so we posed for a pic together instead:
Hmm...I wonder how Paul would look in a Captain Action costume?

Shortly thereafter, Chris went back to his booth and I wandered AA some more, looking at the various artists tables. I didn't have a lot of money to spend, sketch-wise, which means bypassing some of the really big-name people who were there whose work I love.

But I got lucky--I happened to see the work by an artist I was not familiar with, a guy named Josh Ellingson. Josh had a really beautiful, clean, crisp style, so I asked if could do an Aquaman piece for me. He readily agreed, and left to let him get to work.

While I was wandering, I saw The Master--Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. Some day I hope to get a sketch from him, but for now I had to come up with some other reason to go and bother him with my fanboy ramblings. I did just that, by explaining the Shrine to him and getting him to sign this:
...yes, a F.O.A.M. certificate signed by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. Off to the framing store!

After shaking The Master's hand and thanking him, I made my way to the DC booth and took some pics of the toys on display, including the new Aquaman and Mera figures:
...wow, three members of the Aqua-Family in one toy assortment. That has to be a record.

While wandering some more, I took pics of a lot of the cosplayers, and there were some really good ones:
...I told these two I was happy to see them getting along well enough to go to a con together. That is one adorable Star Sapphire!

After making my way through the aisles of book publishers (where I made some great contacts re: my Hey Kids, Comics! book) I stopped at the Stone Arch book, where superb artist and all-around cool-guy Art Baltazar was signing copies of the DC Super Pets sneak preview they were giving out. Art was doing little ten-second sketches in each book, and I got an original Aquaman (and seal!):
...I cannot wait to get my hands on these books, they look so damn cool!

I then went back to Artists Alley, where Josh had finished his Aquaman sketch. As expected, it ended up being all kinds of awesome:
...I love this happy Aquaman and his squid pal. A great piece!

Afterward, I stopped by the Sequart booth where my pal, Richard Bensam, was promoting his new book Minutes to Midnight: Twelve Essays on Watchmen. I was happy to see the book was selling like the proverbial hotcakes, and even happier to learn that he was hard at work on a piece for my Hey Kids! book. Ginchy!

By about the mid-afternoon, with the hall very crowded, I began to get a little tired of being there, so I started working my way out the door. But not before I met up with F.O.A.M.er Joe Slab, who had just finished attending a panel with Geoff Johns.

We met (appropriately) at the DC booth, and we talked about the secret mission I had clued a couple of FOAMers in on: a week or two ago, Dan Didio agreed to pose for a picture with a FOAM certificate if someone asked him to at the con. Considering that a magnanimous gesture, considering all the shots he's taken from fans (including me), I really wanted to pull this off, somehow.

So I asked a couple of FOAMers who I knew would be at the show to bring their certificate and have it at the ready in case they saw DD at the show. Not being a panel guy, I didn't have that opportunity, but Joe did, at a panel that took place after I had left. On my ride home, I got a text from Joe saying he got the photo!

I was thrilled with Joe's enthusiasm and extra effort for the Shrine, and on Saturday morning this was waiting for me in my inbox:
This made my day--partly because of Mr. Didio (all is forgiven, sir) and partly because of Joe. His is truly a Friend of Aquaman!

But Joe wasn't the only FOAMer who was snapping pics of this historic moment. Joshua Rainey was there, too (in his AquaHoodie!) and got an ever clearer shot:

I had to skip the show on Saturday, but I returned Sunday, and that turned out to be a good thing: various people who were there on Saturday told me the hall was packed beyond belief, to the point where you simply couldn't move, at all. That kind of stuff drives me crazy, so I'm glad I wasn't there. Sunday seemed pretty crowded too, but there were spots where you could break from the pack and get where you needed to go.

Sketchbook-wise, I decided to do something a little different: instead of looking for another artist to get a sketch from, I went back to Josh Ellingson and asked him to do a second piece for me, this time of Mera. Josh was a little unsure what Mera looked like, but I had thought ahead and brought a comic for reference.

With my book once again in Josh's hands, I focused on meeting up again with Chris, Dan, Ed, and Richard, as well as with some first-timers: I got to meet F.O.A.M.er Derek Richardson for the first time, while he was in line to meet J.Michael Straczynski. Derek was the generous soul who purchased a whole mess of stickers for me to distribute to other FOAMers for the big comic con sticker giveaway!

I also met up with the Schafer family--Mac, Katy, Hunter, Hannah, Tory, and Skye. They are one big Aqua-lovin' family, having sent in numerous items to the Shrine, both official and homemade. Katy took a pic of me with Mac and the kids, and then it was my turn:

Hunter even had a gift for me, two brand-new artistic efforts by him of Aquaman and Mera:
I dig the fingerless gloves--makes complete sense!

(On a separate note: these look like the kind of pieces that were in my portfolio when I applied to the Joe Kubert School. Hunter, you are way ahead of the curve!)

Having said my goodbyes to the Schafers (who were going on a tour of the DC offices the next day; gee Mac, could you be my Dad?), I had a little more time to kill, so while meandering I snapped some more cosplay photos:
(I apologize both you, the Shrine readers and to Power Girl for this lousy photo--it was a great costume and I'm not doing it service here)

I did see a couple of other amazing costumes that, for one reason or another, I didn't get pics of--a Kingdom Come Superman, several other Wonder Women, a couple of Green Lanterns, even Cloak and Dagger(!).

There was one cosplayer that left even an old hand like me a little startled--a woman in trenchcoat, covered from head to foot in bodypaint, looking sort of like a Rogue-colored Navi. But I couldn't help notice--she was topless. I did like a double take, trying not to stare but I couldn't believe that this woman was walking around the con in an open trenchcoat, a tiny pair of panties, and that was it. I can only hope she never got anywhere near the Schafer family.

Realizing that would probably be the most surprising thing I would see at the NYCC, period, I made my way back to Josh Ellingson's table, where he handed me back my sketchbook, this time with a new Mera in it:
I love(d) it, and its a perfect companion piece to the Aquaman. I thanked Josh again for his great work, and made a beeline for the door.

On my way back to the Port Authority, I couldn't help but notice something. On my way to the con, somewhere around 38th street, I passed by a guy, looking the worse for wear, leaning none-too-steadily on the hood of a car that I'm pretty sure wasn't his. He had what looked like a bottle of something (Mr. Pib?) in a paper bag at his feet. Okay, nothing terribly alarming here.

But I happened to walk the same streets back, and there was the guy, in the same exact position, four hours later. He's probably still there as you read this.

All in all, I had a really good time at the show--I met up with some old friends, met some new ones, and made some what could be important contacts for my Hey Kids! book. And its all because of the Aquaman Shrine--and what all of you have helped make it become--that I got to get in, for free, early, which for me is a big plus when doing these shows.

Never in my wildest dreams when I absent-mindedly started this blog on a quiet night in 2006 did I think it would still be going strong, four years later, with no signs--or intentions--of stopping. The Shrine's audience is bigger than its ever been, and the number of F.O.A.M. members is now a small army.

The Aquaman Shrine doesn't generate any income for me (I don't run ads on the site, never have, although that is something I have considered), so due to some financial limitations, I had to scale back some of the more...grandiose plans I had for the Shrine in 2010. Some ideas got, er, watered down, some plans got put off entirely.

But without me asking, all you AquaFans have really stepped up to the plate. If some piece of Aqua-News breaks on the web, I'll get half a dozen emails about it within minutes. Some new Aqua-Item comes out, I can rest assured I'll be getting photos of it so we can talk about it here. The sheer scope of what the Shrine now covers is staggering to me, and its almost entirely because of all of you.

My sincerest, deepest thanks for all of your continued interest and enthusiasm in the Aquaman Shrine. 2011 will be Aquaman's 70th year(!!), and I am hoping that we'll be able to capitalize on that, with some really cool stuff I have in my head that maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to make happen here.

Semper Aqua!

Post Script: In recognition of their extra-special efforts in service of the Shrine, F.O.A.M.ers Joe Slab and The Schafer Family are hereby awarded the Aquaman Shrine's Special Citation of Merit:
Congrats everyone, and thanks again!


Siskoid said...

Storm rather than Topo?

If Tiny Titans is any indication, our favorite squid will probably appear eventually.

Orin's dad said...

Rob, what a cool story. Sounds like an awesome con! Thanks for sharing it all with us. Great sketches, fun stories, cool pics...what a great time!

Joe Slab said...

Happy Anniversary rob! and the Aquaman Shrine...the daily devotional to the King of the Seven Seas that never seems to miss a day!

the Shrine is truly an exceptional piece of work--like the Library of Congress for Aquaman fans! The way you involve members in the experience is very cool and I wish you continued success and growth in 2011!

Joe Slab

David said...

Sounds like a great time, and young
Hunter's pictures are fantastic!

Lady Action is quite a dish, but once you've got a flesh-and-blood person in the role, you realize how unfortunate a name it is.

Luis said...

Great review of the con. And to say you have a FOAM signed by García López, well, that's the most awesome thing of all.

Aaron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aaron said...

Nice to see some of my fave characters represented - I've always thought Star Sapphire had one of the nicest villainess costumes.

Mac said...

Rob! Happy 4th birthday to the Shrine! It has brought our family a lot of happiness and creativity!


IADW said...

That looks like an awesome time Rob. Flash gets a white Lantern figure too. Is there a figure in this range I'll be able to leave on the shelf?

Dennis Doucette said...

Rob! What is the new Aqualads color scheme? In the comics it seems classic red yellow blue. but that figure looks orange yellow green...

drawmein said...

Great post on the con. Thanks.

Also, happy Anniversary. I very much enjoy checking out the shrine daily. Keep up the great hard work!

Bribaby said...

Glad you had such a blast. Thanks for sharing your sojourn.

And I bet giant kangaroos hate being dressed up in clothes by their owners like any other pet.

Derek Richardson said...

Rob, it was a great pleasure to finally get the chance to meet you in person. I apologize for the terrible reception my cellphone had while in the Javits Center. Periodically it would alert me to incoming texts from 2-3 hours previous. :(

It's a rare combination that finds someone who is passionate, committed, and ably skilled all in one package. The Shrine would not exist without all of those factors, and we would not be here if not for you. You are the reason the awesome FOAM network exists, and we are all happy to be a part of it.

Semper Aquas! :)