PITTSBURGH COMICON 2002 PART TWO
Two weekends ago, I attended the Pittsburgh Comicon. Two Tuesdays ago, I shared with you my general impressions of the con, as well as a look at some of the panels that happened over that weekend and some other odds and ends.
Today, I'll take a look at the Harvey Awards, some of the shopping to be had in the con hall, and whatever other odds and ends I have left.
As you read this, I'll be in Philadelphia at WizardWorld East, and I'll be sure to do some comparing and contrasting to that event next week in this space.
LOOT FROM THE CON
PittCon is a terrific place to shop. Since I don't have to worry about packing for an airplane ride home, I can buy as much stuff as I want and just pack it in the back of the Jeep. Piece of cake. Alas, I picked up only a small stack of trades from the half-off and 40% off bins, and some pages of original art.
I added two sketches to the sketchbook. George Perez did the Black Canary piece I mentioned last week, and Michael Turned drew up an ice queen from FATHOM to fit in well with the snow/ice theme my sketchbook has developed. They're both beautiful pieces. I can't imagine being able to stand in long lines at any of the other cons to get them. My legs would have been numb long before then. The relatively small size of PittCon makes for easy access to the top names that attend.
I also picked up a few pages of original art. From Rich Maurizio I got a few choice TINY TOONS ADVENTURES pages, mostly featuring Elmyra and some flying squirrels. I also got a page with Baby Plucky and Baby Hamton. There's nothing "going down the hole" in that last page, but the characters did look really cute in the panels. From Michael Avon Oeming, I grabbed the original RED STAR page from the POWERS story in the ONI COLOR SUMMER SPECIAL 2001. (I know I just butchered the exact title, but you all know what I'm talking about here.) From the gang at Fanfare-SE I picked up another Greg Land BIRDS OF PREY page. This one has the added attraction of being "censored." One of the mugs drawn on the table has an image of Pinky from "Pinky and the Brain" on it. That got covered over. (It's classic. P&TB are a Warner Bros. property, and thus a sister company to DC. Yet DC can't show the character in its comic.) I also picked up a nice DETECTIVE COMICS page with Gordon and Batman on it by Shawn Martinsbrough.
THE HARVEY AWARDS
This year, I thought ahead far enough to buy tickets in advance to the Harveys. It's a more formal affair, for those who choose to get dressed up. I like the idea of the formality -- I'm obviously getting old -- so it was suit and tie for me. From there, it's up in the air as to which table you sit at, and Dani and I got seated at a table with three professionals and a couple of lone comic fans. Next year, I'll probably do my darnedest to see if I can hook up with anyone else I know that's planning on going and getting a full table of 8. It'd be much easier and more comfortable that way.
Dinner served was chicken over angel hair pasta in a light cream sauce, with stuffed shrimp and some vegetables. Delicious stuff, particularly after the great dinner rolls. The dinner was served rapid fire so that the official Harvey ceremonies could begin properly. Evan Dorkin served as emcee and was much funnier than the room seemed to think. I loved the story he told in which he wanted to learn more about Dave Sim's background in preparation for Sim's nomination for Best Letterer. He went to google.com and typed in "Dave Sim background" and all he got back was information on Gerhard. To me and two or three others, that's comedy gold. Sadly, the other dozen tables in the room didn't seem to agree.
Dorkin also parodied Miller's keynote speech of last year by producing a copy of Diamond PREVIEWS and vowing to rip it up on stage. When the 500 page monster wouldn't budge, he changed to blaming THE COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE. When he had a problem with that, he finally ripped up the COMIC SHOP NEWS.
Dorkin won a Harvey for DORK, and thanked Sergio Aragones for not being nominated before giving a heartfelt plea on behalf of small press and humor comics.
Tony Millionaire started off with the most nervously read keynote speech I've ever been a witness to. It was a sweet remembrance of his family and childhood and what made him into a cartoonist. I'm sure it reads really well. I felt nervous for him through the whole thing, though.
After that, the ceremony stretched out for another couple of hours. The problem is the same one that the Eisners have. Each category is introduced and the nominees and winner read by a special guest presenter. More time is wasted in bringing up a new presenter with each category than you really need. Just have the emcee announce each category, or have dual emcees, to give the main emcee a break. I bet the whole thing could end before 11:30 that way.
Of course, you'd probably end up with less horribly uncomfortable and needlessly negative moments like, oh, Chris Yambar's presentation. You could have heard a pin drop through most of his unnecessary blather about the screaming of the trees in the rain forest in reaction to Frank Miller's DK2. Some might call it a bold political statement in the face of DC's Bob Wayne and DK2's editor Bob Schreck, sitting at a table just off to one side of the dais. Others might think it needlessly uncomfortable and inappropriate at a ceremony designed to honor greatness in cartooning. Jaws dropped.
Afterwards, Dorkin cracked as wisely as he could muster, "You're going to be as popular at DC as Ted Rall at a firehouse."
You've all, no doubt, seen the award winners by now. If you weren't a Fantagraphics book or 100 BULLETS, you were in deep trouble. The winners got more and more predictable as the night wore on. The Eisners, at least, mix it up a little bit more.
The whole presentation of the awards was handled by an outside firm this year, who did a great job on the look and feel of the slideshow. Whereas the Eisners have nice still images for their slideshow, the Harvey Awards had a highly stylized layout to their presentation, along with a fancy new logo, award design, and nice animated pieces.
Everyone chuckled at first when the presentation for Best Coloring came up and the initial sample drawing was in black and white. That turned to "oohs" and "aahs" as the black and white images slowly faded into color. Then, ironically, Chris Ware won for ACME NOVELTY LIBRARY (::yawn::) while the screen displayed characters in the snow in a mostly-white scene. Go fig. (If CrossGen had a shot at any category this year, it was with Laura DePuy's coloring. I was rooting for her in the category.)
Overall, I'm glad I went and I'll probably go again. Evan Dorkin was a great host. There was a nice series of presenters, for the most part. Denis Kitchen and Kim Thompson eloquently presented the obituaries. (I couldn't cheer long enough for Chuck Jones.) It's also a very good thing to get off the con floor for a bit, get all gussied up, and have a fancy dinner.
I just can't help but complain for the sake of my sore butt after sitting in that chair for so long.
MISCELLANEOUS OTHER THOUGHTS
There's nothing more annoying than washed-up wrestling superstars from 15 or 20 years ago yelling at each other over an obnoxiously loud loudspeaker through the con hall. I saw people with their hands up to their ears, trying desperately to protect themselves from the whimsy of their own youths. Ironically, one of those people was in the G.I. JOE booth. Heh
I've discovered an argument against the lemming-like capacity for ingrained comics fans to go to the comic shop on Wednesday to get the new releases. I just did a little straightening up from what I bought at the con on Saturday and realized that I have enough stuff here to keep me happy for a week or two of hardcore reading. Yet I still went to the comics shop on Wednesday with the same excitement I go every week. Now I have three weeks' worth of reading, and another new comics day and another Comicon ahead of me this weekend. This is insane.
This almost makes me happy that I'm skipping Chicago this year.
Met John Gallagher at last, after a couple of years circling around each other. Gallagher is the creator and cartoonist behind the on-line strip, BUZZBOY, which has also had a few print publications along the line. He cooked up something you'll be seeing in Pipeline in another month or so. He's also got a trade paperback coming out later this year for Buzzboy.
Stopped at the Moonstone booth. Pictured here are (from left to right) David Gallaher and Dave Ulanski. I haven't spoken about Moonstone much yet, but they are putting together a pretty nice line-up of books. As much as I can't get into a story based on a werewolf roleplaying game, the art of Eddy Newell in their "Werewolf The Apocalypse" books is magnificent stuff. I'm surprised nobody's snatched him up to do art duties at one of the Big Two. Picture his style on a THOR issue of BLACK PANTHER or anything in a slightly darker and horror-bent theme. Amazing stuff.
Moonstone produces prestige format books, with self-contained stories in them. They've got plenty of licenses, from The Phantom comic strip to Kolchak Night Stalker (written by the original TV creator).
Gallaher was also the one who was nice enough to make the arrangements at Houlihans for Saturday night for a pack of a couple dozen wild and wooly con attendees to have dinner and drinks.
Marvel didn't have a booth, but they did have a little small press-sized booth just behind the CBLDF people. Sure, it had nothing at it but a few Marvel people circulating through the weekend, but it's no less pathetic than DC's no-show. DC had a double-wide booth last year. This year, they had some people there (including Bob Wayne and Bob Schreck), but no official presence. They were there to network, schmooze, and pick up a couple of Harveys, I suppose.
Had the chance to talk to Joe Quesada, Axel Alonso, and Mike Marts. There isn't anything newsworthy to report. Alonso is excited about THE HULK's future and is busily lining things up for the book to lead into the big movie next year. Mike Marts, likewise, is sorting through the creative team mess that the X-Men titles have become, and is busy reworking them the way they should have been done from the start. You'll get definite story arcs with one artist per arc. No more of the routine where you get three artists every five issues.
Quesada was just passing through, on his way the next day to California for the official movie premiere of SPIDER-MAN before heading back across the country to NYC for the special NYC viewing of the movie with the select invited Marvel staffers. That movie launch is turning those offices upside down.
Speaking of movie madness, the Dark Horse booth had a TV playing the STAR WARS trailers non-stop all weekend. Michael Ring and Mike Martens (Ring is holding Martens in the picture) manned the booth, and no doubt have memorized every note and every word of all those movie trailers. They don't need to read the trade to tell you the story. They've seen it one clip at a time.
I've got the soundtrack for ATTACK OF THE CLONES playing in the background right now, and I'm impressed. It's all worth it just for the heavy drumbeats of the prolonged third track.
For you bust fans, here are some shots of Dark Horse's latest STAR WARS busts.
Finally, a special thanks to my increasingly-frequent con-traveling companion, Dani, for being a great navigator and putting up with all my quirky hang-ups.
(We'll talk about her curling iron another day. . .) Dani got her first taste of being a professional comics artist this past weekend. When Mark McKenna needed to step away from his table for a moment, Dani stepped in to watch over things. Thus a new Near Pro was born.
(That's a bit of forced perspective, I think, on the art portfolio looking so darn large in front of Dani.)
And that's Pittsburgh for this year. Next year, Neil Gaiman is the guest of honor. That will be the draw the con needs in order to compete with WizardWorld. It's all the weekend of April 25th. Start your planning today.
(This just in: Steve Lieber's con report. I link to it here because (a) he mentions me and (b) we noticed a few of the same things about the con.)
QUICK CORRECTIONS AND ADDITIONS
Two quick books I failed to mention in my look at PREVIEWS on Tuesday that I really really meant to: Tom Beland's TRUE STORY, SWEAR TO GOD has its third issue this summer from Clib's Boy Comics. And HALO AND SPROCKET's second issue sees print from Slave Labor, also. My review of the first issue is here. Check it out. It's a fun book.
Marvel's 9/11 logo still appears on the front of every cover of all of their books. My apologies to Marvel for missing that one. Memo to self: Start writing columns earlier in the evening.
J. Scott Campbell had many more issues off during his run on GEN13 than I gave him credit for. Not only did Humberto Ramos fill-in, but so did Jim Lee, Al Rio, and Luke Ross. (Thanks to Russell Smith and Nicolas Juzda for the fast corrections.)
In Tuesday's column, I erred on my math. If the average cost of a movie ticket is $8, then last weekend's take from the SPIDER-MAN movie would mean 15 million people saw the movie, not 1.5 million. Steven Grant made the same mistake in his column on Wednesday, so I don't feel quite so alone, at least. (Thanks to Joe Lawler for being my "friendly neighborhood copy editor" on that one.)
I'm in Philadelphia this weekend at the WizardWorld: East convention. If you're there, I'll be the tall one with the CBR polo shirt on. Feel free to say hello.
Next week: Reviews, Con reports, and all the usual stuff.
More than 400 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically. The first 100 columns or so are still available at the Original Pipeline page, a horrifically coded piece of HTML.