Emerald City Beckons to You.

Three hundred sixty-seven point five three three zero two.
That’s how many times better the Emerald City Comic con was, as compared to the lackluster Wizard World Los Angeles show a couple of weeks back. This is what happens when you base a comic show around a diverse lineup of guests, give the show a local flavor with area artists and writers coming out to show off, get a venue that’s roomy but not like junior trying on his dad’s coat and place it in an area where you’ve got a lot to do after the show.
Okay, so that last part is a blatant lie. There’s not much to do right next to Qwest Field. Sure, there’s the Yelling Kielbasa Guy (who makes a better sausage than you’re going to find on the inside–but I’m tasting the grilled onions thirty-six hours later) and the Pyramid Brewery. But there’s not much else unless you’re going to take a cab to downtown or have a car of your own. That much, this show had in common with WWLA. But the vibe was 180 degrees away from the oversize desperation of the Top Cow and Spike TV booth-dominated show floor in LA. I think the biggest single booth there was Image or Slave Labor’s, both laden with wares and artists eager to talk with fans and get some comics into the hands of readers. This is a good thing.
Biggest lines at the show on Saturday? That’s easy. Tim Sale/Matt Wagner/Bob Shreck/Diana Schutz doing signings and portfolio evaluations respectively. There’s no no shortage of grist for the mills, no siree. Plenty of people wanting to get into the business. Hell, some of ’em had completed western/horror OGNs to shop around. Pity them the most, my friends. Pity them the most. Plenty of portfolios with fresh art, plenty of minicomics by local artists. Some of ’em were even pretty good.
Spoke with the nice folks at Mercury Studios first off. Steve Lieber is a sketching machine. “Fantastic four in a snowball fight? — Can do!” “Fantasy elf woman? — Can do!” “Thelonius Monk-inspired organic robot right out of the pages of MAGNUS? — You bet!” Also met with David Hahn and was inspired by his inspired use of blacks on the BITE CLUB pages he had out to see (this work looks great in black and white.) He’s also a heck of a nice guy to boot. Chatted with Paul Guinan about the finer points of artistic forgery and hoaxery, by way of Orson Welles’ F IS FOR FAKE.
Did some wandering of the stocks. There was a bounty of cheap comics to be had. Some expensive ones, too. Cosmic Monkey Comics took the lion’s share of my cash, but then they had copies of ROGAN GOSH and #20 (the benefit issue) of PUMA BLUES. But I’d been looking for both for a very long time, so I was a happy little geek. Picked up copies of the latest (gulp!) SUPERMAN books on the say-so of Graeme McMillian. Haven’t read ’em yet, but if I find that they’re not any good, I’m going to kill him. Kill him dead.
Ran into Ed Brubaker signing books over at the Splash Page Art booth, where Sean Philips was sketching. Chatted with Ed for a bit, got a look at his new project, which looks just wonderful with Sean on art. I’m really looking forward to it. And I have to say that I wasn’t completely sold on his DAREDEVIL run. The first issue was solidly written, but didn’t *move* the way I’d hoped. However, I’m completely sold on it, having read the third issue via photostats. This is gonna be good stuff and I have to say that I’m sorry I doubted where it was going.
Flipped through the pages of SLEEPER art (as well as some of Chris Weston’s INVISIBLES and Cameron Stewart’s CATWOMAN pages) and cursed the fact that I had to do things like pay artists and mortgages and things. Really, I think that money would be better spent on setting up an original comic art museum, but my family seem to think differently.
Oh, and on Saturday I ran into something that may indeed be a major turning point for STRANGEWAYS, but I really don’t want to jinx it by talking about it in public. But really, could be a very big thing if it comes through. Hopefully by summer I’ll have some news on that front. Earlier, would be ideal, but I’ve had to learn patience in this business.
Alas, no post-convention drinking or sushi for me. Just a simple dinner with the family on the shores of Lake Union and a pretty amazing sunset to go with it. Not bad.
Too bad my daughter decided to wake the room with a bloodcurdling scream riped from the bowels of Hell at 5:30 the following morning (with not much sleep the night before.) That turned Sunday into a sort of zombie shambling affair. Though I did run into Mr. Parker finally. That’s Jeff The Interman and Marvel Adventures Parker. He’s a good egg and the big two could use a couple more like him, able to write stories that kids and adults both can enjoy. I know, the comics industry is FINE with the readership that it already has! We don’t NEED to worry about recruiting new readers young! Even so, the ability to do so is a good thing. Heard a couple of plots for the upcoming AVENGERS book he’s working on and they sound pretty damn funny. I know. Funny funnybooks. We don’t need any of those either, but again, having ’em around is nice.
Bought a bunch of cheap comics on Sunday (Chaykin’s SHADOW and the Simonson/Muth/Williams MELTDOWN and some issues of SHADE and some Charlton horror comics for a total of about seven bucks.) I loves the cheap comics. Ran into John Layman and cursed that I hadn’t brough his run of GAMBIT for him to sign. I joke. But his first PUFFED miniseries is still well worth reading.
I’m sure I’m skipping stuff. Oh yeah, the fire alarm that got tripped on Saturday that fazed precisely no one. People continued milling and buying as if nothing was going on and there was just the soothing sound of distant bees on the springtime air. I managed to take in precisely zero panels (of which there were only five or so) and only got one sketch, from Corey ‘El Rey’ Lewis of SHARKNIFE and PENG! fame. I meant to ask him if PENG! had gotten its title from the Stereolab album or not, but completely spaced on it.
All in all, a great show, and a good way to kick off a weeklong vacation. Of course, it’s now a working vacation, due to some stuff that happened during the show, but I’ll take it where I can get it. Pictures may be forthcoming, but I don’t think I snapped a one at the show at all, sticking to subject matter like the rescue mission in Pioneer Square and sunsets through taxicab windows and the skeletons of decayed piers. Oh well, I’m sure someone else likes that sort of thing…

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