July 28th, 2010


San Diego (snappier title later)

Overwhelming and exhausting. In a good way. In an amazing way. That was San Diego Comic Con for me. I spent much of it with legs wobbly from so, much, freaking, walking over a small chunk of downtown and harbor-side San Diego, soaking in as much of the experience as I could and being amazed that some people do the event for almost a week.

It is such a whirlwind, and by nature I’m fairly introverted (with an ability to compensate for that, thank goodness) so the So Many People energy was something that I sometimes tuned out. So I could be by myself -- in a good way, mind you -- while surrounded by tens of thousands of people. And then tune back in to appreciate many, many, many sexy geeks. (And sexy non-geeks, like that waitress at the Toscana Café at breakfast Saturday morning…yum…)

It helps to know people at events like this. Needed islands of familiarity. That’s why I gravitated a lot to the Boom! Studios booth, because kradical and I know each other. I also ran into several Portland-based artists and found some safe haven with them -- and, I hope, safe haven for them. (I’ve earned my reputation as a friendly face, and I‘ll try to keep that.) At a huge event like this, you’re not likely to meet your new best friend, but you can touch base with those who are already your friends.

It’s good I decided to act poor in the exhibit hall, because SO. MUCH. STUFF. So I wasn’t a good customer while there, but I was a good visitor.

(Also a good gawker. And just the sightings in passing blew my mind. There’s Berkeley Breathed, who created Bloom County! There’s Matt Groening of Life in Hell, The Simpsons, and Futurama! There’s two guys dressed up like Darth Vader and Boba Fett if they were pimps!)

Among the people I visited? Frank Darabont and Drew Struzan! Darabont is the filmmaker who made The Shawshank Redemption; Struzan is an illustrator who, among many things, has painted many, many movie posters: every Star Wars ad painting since the Special Editions in 1997, the painted poster for the first Harry Potter film, and in the “Oh, neat!” category, at least for me, 1986’s Adventures in Babysitting. His style: dramatic, in a way I like. AND I MET THEM. They were signing posters for a project of Darabont’s, the AMC series adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s zombie apocalypse comic book The Walking Dead, and I completely lucked into the signing. They sat in a booth made up to look like a house that had been overrun by zombies; fake corpses were laid out behind them, and blood streaked the walls. This made me happy. Struzan avoided shaking hands because he was later going back to where his less-than-two-days’-old grandchild was waiting. I thanked Darabont for the scene in his film version of The Green Mile when the guards are leading John Coffey through the forest surrounded by fireflies. I also got to pose for a picture with them. As I moved around to be behind them for the shot, I bumped into one of the fake corpses, and out of habit I looked back at it and said “Excuse me.”

And Frank Darabont said “Did you apologize to the corpse?”

More to come. With fewer corpses.

Later! I can provide photos of what happened. :-D
Cartoon Chris

San Diego: "Professional"


My TFAW-provided pass said “Professional,” as that was the all-access pass. Or at least all access that I was willing to wait for, and as the waits for some of the big Hall H panels are ridiculously long -- I heard later about people waiting between four and eight hours for Kevin Smith’s panel, and I like Kevin Smith, but I’m not going to wait that long for him -- I intentionally didn’t use the pass as much as maybe I could have.

I didn’t want to present myself as something I’m not. So if anyone had asked me about it, I was prepared to give the answer “I’m pretending to be a professional!”

(There’s a whole Larry King thing about being a professional I could recite right now. But I won’t. To some of you, it’d be fall-out-of-your-chair hilarious. For most of you, it’d make you go “Huh?” But I digress.)

My neckband was red, provided by Showtime and with the Dexter logo repeated on it. Those red bands made many people at Comic Con look like they had the V graffiti on their chests.

At the Eisner Awards Friday night, I got turned around a bit because of the Professional pass. The Eisners are named for Will Eisner, who figured out a lot of the tricks that modern comic book writers and artists now use when writing and drawing comics (he figured this stuff out while writing and drawing the offbeat, cliché-tweaking superhero comic The Spirit and also while drawing how-to comics for the Army during World War II). Eisner’s ridiculously influential, and these awards, the comics industry’s equivalent of the Oscars, are named for him because of that. It’s a big deal ceremony. Professionals had one entrance, closer to the front stage. Everyone else entered from near the back. One assistant pointed me towards the pro entrance. Another assistant turned me around because she asked me “Are you a presenter or nominee?” and of course I was neither, so I got sent back. Entered from the back. SO DID BERKELEY BREATHED. Yeah, that Berkeley Breathed. It’s not like it was a punishment to enter that way.

Never did get mistaken for a professional. Didn’t even get mistaken for Simon Pegg. I did get to see the amazing and theatrical Jill Thompson pretend to faint when she won an Eisner. (She’s worked with wrestler and good guy Mick Foley. She knows how to be theatrical, how to throw herself into a performance. Literally.)