Saturday, August 4, 2007

Back from the West!

Returning from San Diego's ComicCon 2007 with many many new contacts, sights, and joys! Here's a not-so-short recap:

While in the airport terminal, I noticed a guy was drawing in his sketchbook so I assumed he was probably going to the Con as much as I was. And that guy over there in the Serenity t-shirt a few rows away, and that man down there that's reading Harry Potter in a Marvel t-shirt with very, very long hair. But the guy with his nose in the sketchbook was really intriguing. Sadly, I was interrupted mid sketch by a boisterous family that sat down between us and leaned their children over our laps (both mine and the mysterious sketch-artist) so it was a bit awkward to try and approach someone with the same interest in drawing airport-people.

I have to say I was terrified upon first touching down in San Diego because I don't trust myself to travel alone. I can do it... but I don't enjoy it when first beginning a trek because it's... well... lonely..... SO! I enlisted the help of Stephen who I will give great props to because I simply assumed he was going to the convention center due to his Batman shirt and chipper attitude. So here's more of my gratitude:

A huge, massive thank you goes to Stephen McCranie, Tony Canepa, Sarah Mensinga, & her husband Stephen for letting me tag along with them for the majority of the weekend. And this is after I'd only met Stephen McCranie at the airport bus station for the first time. We rode the bus to the Convention center and I discovered he was putting together an anthology by the title of Parable; we exchanged mini comics as we both had them to give and I was most impressed by his 'lil black and white story "The Invasion of the Chimney Heads."

Upon meeting Sarah, Tony and Stephen at the Flight table, I ran into the guy from the terminal who was on my plane flight all the way from NJ. It was Vincent Nguyen of Blue Sky Studios and I have to give him and the others from Blue Sky an enormous thank you as well, for listening to me talk about the East Coast and letting me stand in front of their table for exceedingly long periods of time in awe. I believe I spoke with Robert Mackenzie, Michael Knapp, and definitely David Gordon (thank for sharing mugging-at-gunpoint-stories with me) about their new publication, Out of Picture. I am a proud owner of a copy with all of their signatures in the front.

While wandering around, I also got to have sketches in my sketchbook done by a few of my favorite artists. Jason Thompson, Becky Cloonan, Rodolphe Guenoden, Stan Sakai, 7 individuals from Flight, Jim Rugg, and a few others to name some!

Later on, we met up with Jeremy Vanhoozer who is also in the Parable anthology. A really great illustrator/comic artist who was in a hotel that was apparently too luxurious for him. I couldn't help but make butler jokes throughout the weekend and I believe his sketchbook was filled with nothing but drawings of 'hotel butlers' from the sketch crawl Saturday night. We went out to eat with Jeremy the first night and discussed so many great conversations that involved comics, cartoons, film, and so on that I want to convince myself I truly knocked over that glass of water from our table to make sure this wasn't a dream. ...It wasn't a dream, and the reality is: I truly am a klutz.

The second day brought more great introductions in the midst of networking and handing out comics/portfolio reviews with publishers. I was introduced to Christian Hill, another artist from Parable who in turn introduced us to Scott McCloud who was sitting right there! How awesome! The day kept getting better as that night, we all had dinner and were joined by artist Greg Hardin who created Drawergeeks and John Trauscht from Big Idea. More ridiculously awesome conversations were had, along with a good Mai Tai.

During this day, I should mention I ran into my former professor, Jose Villarrubia as I was about to hand him a copy of my comic at Drawn & Quarterly when I realized who I was handing it to. Thanks goes to him for introducing me to the editors at Top Shelf, DC Vertigo, and MINX! After this, I nearly ran into the bodyguards of Gene Simmons who was walking around with his son. They were shaking hands with Levar Burton(thanks, Randy, for reminding me not to keep calling him Jordie LaForge).

Saturday was a great day. I had just about finished networking and was down to my last few comics and ended up asking for portfolio reviews when I had run out of things to give away. I decided I would attend one huge panel out of this 4-day weekend. Futurama's return with appearances by Matt Groening and all of the voice actors seemed noteworthy over anything else (sorry Battlestar Galactica fans... and Heroes Fans... and Avatar fans... all other fans!). There was a Futurama comic handed out to everyone in the room and the voice actors read aloud in their signature voices, explaining what was going on in the Futurama world and why they had been cancelled etc. Too creative and so witty! Ahh!

This night, both Stephens, Tony, and I all bought sketchbooks for the sketch crawl that would take place later in the night. Basically all of the artists would come together at one hotel and draw in one another's books starting from 9pm onward into the night. I have to say, even though I was there for a very short amount of time, it was great to just be in the same room as so many big-name people in this industry!

My last day at ComicCon was both saddening and relieving. I was relieved not to be in that awful motel room another night. But so saddening because I had met some of the most amazing people ever and befriended them in record time. Then the weekend was over. So melancholy!! It ended on a nice note though, having lunch at the wonderful Cheese Shop I had heard great things about, then sharing a cab with Stephen and Tony and then talking with Vince who was on the same plane ride back to Newark(what a really small world we live in).

I kept hoping that weekend would be some sort of magical experience where I would be able to meet so many people and just have so many handshakes, autographs, and whatnot. I can say it truly was above and beyond any expectations I could have formulated.

THANK YOU ALL!

...And now I think I need to pass out and sleep.

Cheers!
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