Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Steel City Road Trip Redux

I really had a good time at the Pittsburgh Comicon last September. I got to meet Stan Lee and give him a copy of my book, I found some good deals, I got to hang out with Dave Wachter, and Tracy and the kiddo were there. At the time, we were fresh off our first big con experience, having just attended Wizard World Chicago a few weeks prior. I’m lucky that not only do Tracy and the kiddo appreciate (and share to varying degrees) my geek tendencies, but they also enjoy attending cons.

Traveling to Chicago on business evokes weird nostalgia and the feeling of something being just a little “off” because Tracy isn’t there with me in the city we love. And there were similar moments this past weekend at the Pittsburgh Comicon, newly returned to its traditional spring date. Especially on the con floor, talking to Dave, seeing some other creators we’d talked to here six months ago, or finding a title in a $5 trade paperback sale I thought one of them would dig.

None of this, however, is to take away from just how great a time I had at the con, this time travelling with John (you can find his take on the day over on his blog). He had hooked us up with the Science Fiction Alliance of Pittsburgh who offered to put us on the “How to Get Published” panel and provide passes to the con and all, so I was game.

As is tradition for me at a con, we first made our way to Dave Wachter's table to say hello, but he had a crowd surrounding him, so we decided to breeze by and run the perimeter of the floor. Circling, Pat Olliffe’s table caught my eye, and I asked him to sign my copy of Peter Parker #1. We had an interesting conversation about how poorly Marvel did in publicizing this title when it was published online only and how he was glad it was seeing a second life in print.

Next up was con headliner Roy Thomas. John was already in line when I caught up to him. He was really excited to meet Roy, and I overheard bits and pieces of the Star Wars conversation they had that was obviously enjoyable to both of them. When it was my turn, I had my copy of Marvel Visionaries: Roy Thomas hardcover signed by him and told him how much those classic Avengers issues meant to me. I had the Marvel Illustrated Books The Origin of the Vision, which reprinted Thomas’ Avengers #57, #58, and #83 in black and white. As a kid, those were some of the first back issues I remember buying at mall comic shows after reading that book because I needed to see them in color.

The other heavy hitters for me were Joe Sinnott and Herb Trimpe. Trimpe’s table was next to Roy’s, but he didn’t show up until after 11, so he was just getting settled as we were finishing up with Roy. There is so much good stuff I associate with Trimpe (I mean, the guy penciled the very first appearance of Wolverine!), but primarily he means “G.I. Joe” to me because of his beautiful work on issue #1. But I didn’t bring anything for him to sign and never made it back over to his table as the day progressed.

Joe Sinnott, on the other hand, was great. I approached him early with my copy of Avengers #250 and its great Al Milgrom cover he inked. Joe said he remembered the cover and that it was one of his favorites. We talked a little bit about that era (which he seemed to recall fondly), and I thanked him for the great memories. I stopped back at his table a couple of times throughout the day and again before leaving to admire and watch him work. He still has it!

After getting those few signatures out of the way, it was time to see friends and meet up with some new folks. Dave had a lull at his table by the time we made our way back around to him. I couldn’t resist picking up his 2009 Monsters! sketchbook and asking for a Fin Fang Foom headshot inside the back cover (that I knew the kiddo would love). I recently commissioned him to reproduce the cover of Marvel Team-Up #122. Although it’s not yet finished, he brought it to the show to give me a sneak peek at it. Oh, man. It’s gorgeous. I’m positively giddy about getting the final piece at Summit City Comic Con next month!

While hanging out at Dave’s table and scaring away all his legitimate business, John picked up the con preview of Dave’s Eisner Award nominated web comic, The Guns of Shadow Valley, complete with a done-on-the-spot back cover head sketch, and I finally got to meet Amber and visit with her a bit.

John and I then decided to work our way through the other tables and meet some of the other creators at the show. I stopped at the N3RDCAST table because my eye went immediately to Dave’s Guns of Shadow Valley contribution to the sketch jam piece they were giving away, but ended up chatting with Kwip for a bit about Deus ex Comica, and he bought a copy from me almost immediately. Always a cool experience to sell a copy of your book to someone who you can just tell will appreciate it. Just down the aisle from Kwip was Shawn Pryor. Shawn, who I only knew through Twitter, is one of the nicest guys you could meet. I picked up a copy of his Mercury and the Murd collection, which included a free CD of music. I’m really looking forward to seeing Shawn again at Summit City and hopefully having more time to hang out with him.

There were a few local forum friends in attendance outside of me and Dave, including Alec Berry and Mario Muscar. John and I spent quite a bit of time with Alec talking about the craft of writing and journalism as a career. Great kid. Wish I’d been that focused on my writing and had my creative head on straight when I was his age! I also met Bryan Deemer and Adam Murdough from Comic Geek Speak by way of the commission Dave is doing for me.

Our “How to Get Published” panel was right in the middle of the day, up against the “Legends of the Marvel Heyday” panel and belly dancing lessons, but we had a nice turnout and it was fun talking about my experiences as a self-published author. The other author on the panel, Paul Anderson, is a teacher who has also been published. Paul gave a nice rundown of some positive habits and techniques on writing and revising so that when you do submit to a publisher it’s polished and your very best work. John and I talked about how to leverage self-publishing/DIY options, the process to get self-published, and things to consider when headed down that path. We didn’t have a lot of questions from the audience, which surprised me given the size of the crowd (20 to 30 people), but it was another good experience to have under my belt.

The afternoon highlight was some bargain hunting and getting to catch up with Bryan J.L. Glass. I’ve known Bryan for a few years now, and his enthusiasm for the industry never ceases to amaze. We must have spent a good 20 or 30 minutes talking with him and Judy at their table about everything from movie and TV options to the state of cons, and got his impressions of the previous weekend’s C2E2 experience and some coy hints about the soon-to-be-officially-announced work for Marvel on the horizon for him. (And I am really looking forward to watching him play in that great big sandbox!)

A few weeks back, I picked up 30 or so issues of early ROM from my local comic shop’s quarter bins, and so now I have some holes to fill. (Nice to have a reason to go through the single issue boxes versus just flipping randomly through them.) I was able to find a handful of issues I was missing, along with picking up a trade paperback for the kiddo and a half-priced hardcover I was looking for.

After goodbyes to friends, including the opportunity to have a longer-than-expected chat with Amber over at Joe Sinnott’s table, the day ended for John and me with a nice ride home and a conversation that could only be had by two old friends, wandering from 3-D technology to politics to everything in between. It was the perfect end to a great day of comics, friends and heroes.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Losers v. The A-Team

I am, without a doubt, a child of the ’80s. I have an appreciation for most all of the pop culture touchstones of that ten-year stretch, even the ones I didn’t necessarily care for at the time.

Despite never having been a fan of The A-Team, I would typically still be open to the movie reimage coming out this year, but I am much more excited about the movie adaptation of The Losers. I just read volumes one and two a couple of weeks ago, and the premise struck me as similar to that of The A-Team: An Army Special Forces group/CIA black ops team is forced underground by a government they trusted while serving the country they love. I don’t see a lot of movies in the theater these days, but if pushed to choose between the two, I’d most certainly pick comic book goodness over the tug of Regan Era nostalgia.