Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Fort Wayne Weekend

Last week was a long one. I was working in Chicago from last Monday until I flew home last Thursday. Tracy and the kiddo had school events planned Friday night and Saturday morning and had tickets to the Jake Shimabukuro show Saturday night, so less than 24 hours after arriving home from Chicago I was on my own again, this time out the door on my way to Fort Wayne. I took the day off work Friday to recover from the business trip, pack, and drive to Indiana for the much-anticipated Summit City Comic Con.

The three hour solo trip breezed by quickly with a combination of podcasts and the new Black Keys album, and soon enough I was pulling into Chad and Heather’s drive. My base of operations for the next few days, the Seewalds were putting up not only me, but also Matt and Sarah Kramer, and Mike and Aimee Sims.

Summit City Comic Con was conceived and realized by Zack Kruse and the folks at Discount Comic Book Service, so the pre-show party was at the DCBS store. (Since I’ve been using DCBS for my monthly books for over a year now, it was nice to finally see what is I guess, technically, my LCS in person.) We made a couple of appearances there between some nasty passing storms. The first visit was early in the evening to take advantage of the sale the store was having. After stepping out for dinner, we returned later for drinks and conversation. I love hanging out with Dave Wachter and Amber, and guys like Steve Bryant and Shawn Pryor and Zack. It was good to have time to visit outside the con itself, where we could catch up and visit.

Saturday began with a made-to-order breakfast at Casa de Seewald, then we made our way over to the Grand Wayne Center to get set up and ready for the one-day con. From a creator’s perspective, things were well-organized and smooth. Zack and his host of volunteers (which included Chad) were greeting guests at the entrance and directing us to our tables, and throughout the day they were continually coming by to see if we needed anything.


Sales-wise, May has been good for Deus ex Comica. I did as well at Summit City as I did on Free Comic Book Day at the beginning of the month. But more than that, I got to hang out with so many cool creators and fans. Not sure what I did to deserve it, but Zack placed my table in the best possible location: I was between Ryan Stegman and Mason Easley, and across from Mike Norton and Art Baltazar. It was a plum spot, and I am forever grateful to Zack.


Hard to complain about eight hours of hanging out with Ryan. Fresh off the official announcement of his Marvel exclusive contract, Ryan’s the most down-to-earth guy you could imagine with a great sense of humor and perspective on his fortunes. We had a blast talking about comics, sports, travel, and heckling each other at every opportunity.


During a lull in the afternoon, I walked across the aisle to Mike’s table and had the opportunity to get to know him better. I had briefly met him at Wizard World last year, but was able to talk with him for a long while at Summit City about all-ages comics (a topic I love) and he was interested in hearing about Deus ex Comica (or at least humored me with polite questions).


I also had a chance to wander the floor every now and again when I could recruit Chad to man my table. (Both Ryan and I were impressed with Chad’s sales skills. At one point I was chatting with Steve Bryant at his table, and I looked over at my table to see Chad closing a sale for one of my books! I immediately had to run back over to thank the guy and sign the copy for him.) I really wanted to say hello to Jim Rugg and let him know how much I enjoyed Afrodisiac. I’m always still amazed when someone I don’t know personally knows about my book, so I was kind of floored when Jim said he’d heard of it. We talked about Pittsburgh (where he lives), the local comic shops there, and his AdHouse books publisher. Very cool guy, very cool conversation.


As I was making my way over to Jim’s table, I was stopped by Jay Sternitzky who asked me if I was the same guy who is on the Marvel Noise podcast. When I told him I was, he said he’d heard my voice and recognized it immediately and that he really enjoyed my contributions to the podcast. He also insisted on hooking me up with a copy Short-Stack: Tales of a Super-Human Plumber #1, the comic he writes and letters and that his brother draws and colors. I glanced through it, and it’s visually stunning, along with the Summit City exclusive ash-can of Jay’s other book, The Skeptic. I’m looking forward to sitting down to give them a good read.


Between the pre- and post-show parties and the con itself, I also had a chance to meet a bunch of forum and Twitter folk, like Jim Nelson (How have we not met before now?!), Jonathan “Jonny the Homicidal Drummer” Westhoff, George Cavalenes, and Mike Schwartz.


The ever-present Chris Neseman stopped by our tables multiple times throughout the day to scare off customers. In the final hours of the show, Chris hooked me up with Patrick from Challengers Comics + Conversation, who was attending the show as a vendor. Patrick graciously agreed to take some promotional postcards for Deus ex Comica for his Chicago store and ended up buying a copy of my book, too. I’m looking forward to stopping in to see him on my future trips to the Windy City.


I have always enjoyed talking with Steve Bryant. We had a chance to catch up and talked at the pre-party the night before about selecting my Athena Voltaire original art page that is one of the incentives at the level I pledged to his Kickstarter program. When I could get away on Saturday, I had fun picking out my page from Steve’s Athena Voltaire portfolio. He actually had the page I chose with him, handed it over to me, and told me to go ahead and take it now. What a great piece of art and well worth the money pledged to his cause.


After the show wound down, I packed up the considerably lighter stack of my books, thanked Zack on the way out for a great day, and headed back to Chad and Heather’s house to say good-bye to Mike and Aimee and decompress before heading out for dinner, then over to the after-party at J.K. O’Donnell’s. The place was hopping by the time we got there. Shawn and I had a chance to compare notes on the successes of the day and make plans to take over the world… or at least figure out how to help each other out as we find our places in this medium we love.


Chris, Steve, Jim, Zack, Dave, Hilary, Amber, Andy, and I’m going to forget people if I continue this list… were all there, too. It was a good ending to a fabulous day.


The next morning, after Star Wars pancakes courtesy of Williams-Sonoma and Heather, I packed up my car, said my good-byes to the Seewalds and Kramers, and headed east toward home a little bit exhausted, but it was the kind of exhaustion that can only follow a really good weekend.

4 comments:

Andy Jewett said...

It was a great day and I was glad I got to see you at least, certainly sad that we didn't get to talk more... but that seems to be the way these things go for me. Mostly stuck behind the table (which is a good thing). Glad to hear the book is doing well.

Amber Love said...

It's impossible to recap all of the great moments but you sum it pretty well. I can't believe you had the star wars pancakes! I just tweeted about the molds yesterday.

AB said...

No matter how briefly, it's always good to see you, Andy!

I somehow missed your Star Wars/Williams-Sonoma tweet the other day, Amber. Tracy and I picked up the pancake molds a couple of Sundays ago. It was great that the Seewald's had them too (along with the cookie cutters)!

dukeislife35 said...

great to meet you...Like I said hope we get to hang out for real some day..outside the armpit state that divides us

-Jon