First off, I'm embarrassed to admit that I missed one panel in Tuesday's column. That would be Saturday's "Continuity in the 90s" panel, at which Mark Waid, Kurt Busiek, and Erik Larsen presided. Joe Kelly and Grant Morrison never showed up.
Never fear; all voted in favor of continuity. I have to admit I'm not such a huge continuity freak. Internal consistency is key as far as I'm concerned. The universe-wide continuity doesn't bother me so much. So long as this month's issue of WOLVERINE isn't contradicting what Wolverine did in the title last month, I won't gripe in about Wolverine also being in space that month over in X-MEN, for example. That's one of the things the creators agreed to. You might have to work at it, but in the end, you can find somewhere to squeeze the stories in if you want to. Let some obsessive types do it. I don't mind and I don't want to think that hard.
I'm not an encyclopedia of continuity for any universe. If something Erik Larsen writes in NOVA about Red Raven isn't to the letter with what happened to the character 15 years ago in his last appearance, I won't complain. I can't keep track of that, and I'm not going to be a stickler. Just keep the person in-character, and everything generally tracks for me.
The most interesting point, as far as I'm concerned, was something that came up quickly at the end of the panel. It gets ludicrous when you have 30 years of history behind you. How can you have Doc Oc losing to Spider-Man for the fiftieth time in the same way? There comes a certain point when you just have to use selective memory and ignore a lot of stuff. Don't contradict it; just ignore it. Nothing wrong with that. Because, as Kurt Busiek pointed out, every comic is someone's favorite. You don't want to insult that fan, but you can walk around that line and often get away with safely ignoring some random bit of business.
I considered sitting here and drawing up a list of people I met at the con, but I'm afraid it would be long and boring. So let's just hit on a few of the highlights.
The first tip I'll give you now: if you want to meet creators, brave the con floor on Saturday. I noticed many creators there at their booths on Saturday afternoon who weren't there on Thursday or for much of Friday. On the other hand, since Thursday's not as busy, you might get the chance to talk more and spend more time with the creators who are there at that point. Take your pick.
On to the creators:
I finally met Erik Larsen in person. That's the highlight of the convention for me. Long-time Pipeline readers know I'm a big fan. Erik's published most of the letters I've written to him about SAVAGE DRAGON for 60 issues now. I've followed him since his days on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and have since managed to go back and pick up his other works in books such as DOOM PATROL and TEEN TITANS.
I'm sure everyone out there has that one creator they really like, that they've followed, that they've enjoyed, but haven't met. I'm lucky enough that my favorite creator is (a) still alive, (b) does conventions and (c) is so damned friendly and accessible. He sat at his table all 4 days pounding out sketch after sketch for fans, taking any and all requests. (The only exception was SuperPatriot. Dave Johnson's gun-work on that character has made him too difficult for Erik to draw. =) It's amazing to watch the Larsen machine pound out Dragon, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Wonder Woman, God - one after another. Spanning two pages in some sketchbooks. Directly in pen. I think more people visited his booth for sketches than autographs.
It was also fun to see some passers-by realize that an Image founder was still drawing comics and was easily accessible to his fans. You won't find Jim Lee or Todd McFarlane or Marc Silvestri doing anything like this. Erik's just a big fellow geek at heart, willing to talk to anyone about just about anything. Trust me; I've seen him at work.
It's worth catching him at a convention to see how he holds his pen when he draws. It's indescribable, but I'll give it a shot. He holds the pen under his hand instead of through it, using his thumb as the pivot point.
For those of you who've been hounding me on this point, I've taken a look at all the PCR's and P2's I've written since coming to CBR. Erik Larsen, in that time frame, has written or drawn more than a dozen books. I've reviewed his books in 4 different columns, one of which was barely a three-sentence paragraph. (If you count the infamous Your Man @ Marvel column, that jumps up to 5.) In that time, I've written something like 30 columns. I don't think I'm overdoing it.
I had Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale sign my copy of the BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN hardcover collection when I caught up with them at Sale's table. Sale already had a commissioned sketch list a mile long to do that weekend, and I'd be amazed if he got them all done. Sale seems either painfully shy or somewhat aloof, both there at his table as well as at the Eisners. Diana Schutz and Jeph Loeb did all the talking for him there.
Sergio Aragons doesn't do con sketches anymore, because he's sick of people turning around and selling them on eBay the next day. That sickens me. I love to collect sketches and autographs as a great way to remember meeting an artist, or as a momento or as just being a big fan. I thought Aragones might be over-reacting. I took a look at eBay tonight. You'd be amazed how much San Diego stuff is up for bids over there. From autographed books only available at the con to sketches done at the con to the actual con program book. Aragones has a point, and I don't blame him one bit. It's a real shame the true fans have to suffer for the thoughtless few.
This is not a slight on eBay. This is a rant against those morons who use it that way. I've picked up some terrific stuff on eBay and currently have a bunch of bids in on stuff I hope to be able to review here in the coming months. (You'd be amazed how many dealers sell complete runs of series. =)
But to be so callous as to sell a sketch Sergio Aragones did expressly for you?!? Even worse: To spend time at the con standing in line to get the man to do a free sketch expressly so you can turn around and sell it? That's unethical.
By the way, I never met Aragons or Mark Evanier at the con. I saw them accepting their award at the Eisners, but didn't want to brave the autograph lines at the con and had to skip the GROO panel. Maybe next year.
I caught Joe Kelly just as he was sitting down at a booth to sign for M. REX. I quickly picked up a poster and bought a copy of the preview issue for him to sign. Had the chance to introduce myself and talk to him for a minute before the line got too huge. He is just as nice a guy and just as funny as you might imagine him from his writing. (This was later also borne out at the Superman panel later in the weekend.) I'll have a review of that preview book sometime soon, I'm sure.
Met Jim Krueger, whose forthcoming work I was talking about here just a couple of weeks ago. He even had preview copies of both books: FLY BOYS and ALPHABET SUPES. I've read them both and will review them here sometime in the next couple of weeks. He also threw a couple of FOOT SOLDIERS at me, so I'll let you know how those read, too.
Skipping back in time: The first creator I actually talked to at the con was Steve Lieber. I had met him previously at a convention in Philadelphia 3 years ago, where he did a nice Hawkman sketch for me. I'm still not sure if he somehow snuck a look at my badge or just has the most amazing memory of anyone I've ever met, but he immediately shook my hand and said 'Hi' by name. Pretty cool. I had him break in my new sketchbook with a Carrie Stetko drawing. He 'noodled' away on it for a long time and it's easily the highlight of my sketchbook. Heck, I even had a theme right then and there: My sketchbook is comprised of drawings of people at the South Pole. Look out Cliff Notes! ;-) I also got the chance to pick up a piece of art from WHITEOUT later that weekend.
Yes, I started an original art collection. This is sure to be the death of me. Mark McKenna was there with a stack of pages of original art for $5. I picked up four nice VEXT pages. They're great pages with some great art, but there aren't any superheroes in costume on the pages, so McKenna couldn't sell them for a higher price. It's a shame, too, because the art on there is the best McKone and McKenna have ever done, I think. The pages I picked out even work nicely as single bits of business, so they'll eventually display well in my room.
I later picked up a page from Darick Robertson of art from TRANSMETROPOLITAN. It has a really nice Spider panel at the bottom. (Go ahead and look -- it's page 13 of the 23rd issue.) Darick, I should also mention, spent the time while drawing a rather nice page of Nightcrawler, talking to a mother about the state of comics today. He patiently yet passionately explained that not all comics are for children. (After reading two word balloons on a page of TRANSMET art there, she flinched and agreed with him.) He also managed to point out a couple of examples of books she might be able to enjoy, such as SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATER.
Talked to Todd DeZago at the TELLOS booth. He's another nice guy, eager to talk about his work on the new title, which is about as well put together as any comic title is these days. I listened in as he explained the necessity of doing multiple colors and Dynamic Forces editions of the book. Basically, it has to do with cheaper and free advertising. It's a game you have to play -- as annoying as it is -- to afford advertising space in books like PREVIEWS and WIZARD. Don't worry; he assured all within earshot that when the TPB comes out in a year, it will contain all the pages and alternate covers. (The deal with DFE requires one year before reprinting. It's the same sort of thing that happens with Wizard 1/2 books.)
Spent some time at the ASTRONAUTS IN TROUBLE booth with writer Larry Young and editor Mimi Rosenheim, who both autographed issue #3 for me. They're both in the category of "good people," and I'll be writing more about the book in a future column. I even ran into letterer Willie Schubert while at the table. Aren't I the name-dropper? (Well, that's the point of this column, isn't it?)
Alas, I don't have any good stories about creators I got drunk at the bar in the hopes of getting the inside dirt from them. I'll leave that to Rich Johnston. I can't really tell you any good scandalous stories. There are a couple of funny stories that I can't get into too much detail on right now. They might be more appropriate at a later date.
And, oh yes, I did meet Rob Liefeld. But that's the subject of next Friday's column.
In the end, I can't really grouch about any of the creators I met. Maybe all the really mean and nasty ones stayed home. Some might not have been as forthcoming and extroverted as you would hope for, but none of them were mean. It was really nice to meet all these people whose work I've admired or followed in the first ten years of my comics collecting hobby. The industry might be contracting, but it seems as if it's the good folk who are staying committed.
Come back Monday for a more standard Pipeline Commentary and Review column. I have a stack of books from the past three weeks to review, some preview copies from the con to look over, and some oddball bits of commentary to throw in.
(I'm ripping off Beau for this final header.) Special thanks to Joe Torcivia and his wife, Ann, for making this trip such a breeze. For the travel arrangements. For getting my butt off the Eastern seaboard. For putting up with me when I just wanted to Get To The Con. For letting the little boy in me sit on the window seat on the flight out so I could see everything from the air for the first time.
I can't wait to do it again next year.