Today was a much better day than yesterday. It's not that the convention hall isn't overcrowded -- or that, unbelievably, it's outgrown its current massive space -- but things just seemed to line up better today. I ran into some old friends (literally, in one case) on the con floor that I wasn't expecting to see. It happened randomly. I had the chance to chat with the likes of Rob Liefeld, Erik Larsen, Frank Cho, Dawn Brown, Jamie S. Rich, and more. It felt like a much more natural convention day today, though I still fear tomorrow.
We have a bet going on behind the scenes here at CBR over what time the fire marshall will shut the exhibit hall down tomorrow. After all, it's the one sure sign of a successful con in the past year. . .
The good news is that I was able to land a ticket for tomorrow's Kazuo Koike signing at the Dark Horse booth. I brought two volumes of LONE WOLF AND CUB with me for his autograph; one is the hardcover edition of the first volume. The other is the 14th volume, which has a pull quote from yours truly on it. I am very much looking forward to seeing the master in person. It's the kind of thing I never thought I'd get the chance to do.
I gave a passing thought to attending JMS' writing panel today, but knew the odds were slim. Sure enough, the line snaked around the corner and down the hall. They let about half of the line in at first, and then opened and closed the door for one and two people at a time to enter. I didn't hang around long to see how much of the line was going to get in, but I know an awful lot of people had to be turned away.
In lieu of that panel, I ate a delicious Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookie for lunch. It's that kind of careful and considered diet choices at this convention that cause me to lose five pounds every year.
I got into a shorter line a little later in the afternoon for the Spotlight on Robert Kirkman panel. I ran into Kirkman at the airport on Wednesday. He was slightly nervous that nobody would show up at his little presentation, but I knew it wouldn't be too big a problem. And given the size of the show on Thursday, I knew he had nothing to worry about today. The room was about three-quarters full, as a matter of fact. I imagine a capacity crowd might hold between 250 and 400 people.
He was vocally surprised at the turnout, going so far as to show the pack of cards he brought with him as entertainment in case he played to an empty room. He had no moderator, so he made some brief opening remarks covering everything he's writing, and then threw it open to the crowd for questions. He invited the line to come up to the dais to use a spare microphone on the table so everyone could hear.
Kirkman was quick with the wit and a natural storyteller. He entertained the crowd with his not-quite-sordid stories of working in his basement and dealing with the neighborhood kids as a comic book writer. His manner with the crowd was very similar to what you read in his letters columns. He's not afraid to poke fun at himself and others, but is also gracious to the fans and honest in his answers to their questions.
He had no announcements to give, although he did mention a one shot MARVEL ZOMBIES book at the end of the year, followed by the sequel mini-series sometime in the first half of next year.
His JUBILEE mini-series was the proverbial "whipping boy" of the panel, and the butt of many of his jokes. Sales were low enough that I think only three or four of us in that room had bought any of the issues. Shame, that. He told of how Marvel editorial requested something with "Jubilee, the mall, and no villains" and how low sales led to editorial laissez-faire and all the crazy crap of the last two or three.
"I canceled that book in style," is how he summed up the final twist in the book.
He did hint, thought, that there was talk of Jubilee at the recent Marvel editorial retreat. That said, he also believed that she wasn't the kind of character who should star in her own series.
Random other thoughts, quotes, and happenings from the con floor:
- Frank Cho has a beautiful new sketch book out, filled with lots of Marvel art. He asked me to quote him when he says, "Cho is dynamite with the ladies. Chaykin beware!"
- The much-discussed LOST GIRLS is on sale all over the con. The Mile High Comics booth has it the cheapest, for $60. Nope, I didn't buy it.
- I did, however, ogle the art in the first issues of Slave Labor Graphics' ALICE IN WONDERLAND sequel comic. As much as I loathe all the various OZ and ALICE comics out these days, the cartooning in this book is amazing.
- No sightings today of lookalikes for LOST's "Hurley." Yesterday, I saw at least three different overweight men with the same messy haircut, a la everyone's favorite lucky lottery winner. But this is a comic-con, and what else would I expect?
- It doesn't look like I'll get any podcasting done this weekend. Sorry about that. I did meet the guys from the iFanboy podcast on Preview Night, though, and spotted one Comic Geek Speak t-shirt yesterday.
- I completely missed the blogging panel today. I was a little ticked at myself for that, but I'm sure the blogosphere will cover it fine in my absence.
- One art dealer at the front of the exhibit hall has a wide array of oversized hardcover art books for sale. It's smut, but it appears to be nicely-drawn smut. I picked up an ASTERIX hardcover, instead, at the independent pavilion, where I paid by the pound for the dinged and dented books.
- I took the trolley for the first time this year. It was a simple and relatively cheap process, but had one odd turn. When you reach your stop, you have to push a button to open the doors to get out. The doors don't just automatically open. At least, they didn't for me at that stop tonight. Odd.
- Today's pedometer count ran up to 3.7 miles and over 7300 steps. It helped that we ate dinner at a place ten blocks away from the convention center. That's all up hill, you know.
- Every year, there's one person you just keep tripping over. No matter how many tens of thousands of people there might be at the convention at any given time, there's that one guy or gal who you walk past repeatedly. For me this year, it's Brett Weldele. I realized he was the poor unfortunate soul stuck with me when I walked past him on the way to dinner five blocks away from the convention hall.
- Overheard at the con: "There goes another Princess Leia, but her buns aren't as nice as the last one's." OK, so it was me who said it. I was talking about her hairstyle, you perverts!
- Jamie S. Rich showed off a lot of pencil art from his upcoming Oni Press book, 12 REASONS WHY I LOVE HER. Joelle Jones' work is beautiful for the romance Rich has in mind, and I can't wait to see this book in the fall.
- I played video games at a comic convention. I'm so ashamed. The Nintendo DS Lite booth has a download station where you can bring in your own DS Lite to download game trailers and demos. I'm addicted to BIG BRIAN ACADEMY now. ::sigh::
- Missed the autograph session for the voice of Super Mario yet again today, but hope to catch him tomorrow somehow. Yeah, I doubt it, too.
- Jeff Parker got copies in of THE ALEX TOTH DOODLE BOOK today. It's a beautiful book, even if I've only found the time so far to read Toth's introduction to it, hand-lettered back in 1991. It's going to take a lot of patience to read through the rest of Toth's missives, but it will be worth it.
- Erik Larsen had Mister Glum plushes at the Image booth. I am now in possession of one. It's adorably cute, yet evil.
- I really hope Image publishes that duck book I saw someone pitching Larsen at the booth today. It looked really cool, from what I could see over the artist's shoulders. I'm all for talking ducks.
- My brainstorm du jour: We need a trolley going straight through the middle of the convention center. This way, the kinds of fans who stink up the place with their fanboy funk won't have to exert themselves to get from the dealers' area to Artists Alley. I suggest we call it the "Con Rail."
- The secret to getting around a crowded convention hall? Lotsa little steps.
- Overheard at the con: "They're going to need a bigger place for this con in the next couple of years." Duh. But where? This convention would need to displace a middle-sized town to get the space it needs. . .
- I've looked at tomorrow's schedule already and it's tough. The Quick Draw starts at 12:30 and is followed by the cartoon voice actors panel at 2:00. Somewhere between and overlapping those two is the Koike autograph session. Koike has a panel, himself, at 11:30. They've put the BRISCO COUNTY DVD panel in the same room as yesterday's too-packed Marvel Civil War presentation. You're going to need to be in line very early for that one. And then I have five other panels to choose from in the last two hours of the day. UGH. Don't get me wrong -- these are far happier problems to have than having to work an actual job.
- That's it for today. I have one more column to come this weekend. Stop back on Sunday for more aimless meandering.