Tuesday, July 31, 2007

San Diego break-down

I told my manager, Julian, that sometimes I fear my Hell will be just like an endless Comic-Con. He said I should really be worried that it might be my heaven. Here's my wrap-up:

Friday started at 3:00 a.m. after having gone to bed at about 1. I just had to stay up and read the new Harry Potter. After showering and such, I dragged Melissa out of bed and made the trek to the Portland airport. I finished HP on the plane and found it very satisfying. The best book in the series? I was on the ground in San Diego with luggage in hand a few minutes after ten. The cab I grabbed was only able to get me within four blocks of the convention center. I paid the cabbie and joined the crush of humanity making it's way to the convention. Mind you, I was dragging my luggage behind me and wearing a backpack which contained my laptop. I sweat a lot at the best of times; I'm just saying. By the time I got to the convention center, I most closely resembled someone who had drunkenly jumped into a pool with all their clothes on. A pool full of sweat, of course. But the blessed rush of super-chilled air hit me like a promise and it was with a renewed bounce to my step that I made my way to the registration counter to pick up my badge.

I should mention here that I have been attending the convention under the auspices of Arcana Comics for the last four years now and in each of those previous years I have not been properly registered. Each time I have to step out of line and start making frantic phone calls to get Sean up there to help sort things out. So I would have to be naive in the extreme to be surprised that it would happen again, right? Call me Pollyanna! I was completely blindsided be the absence of a badge with my name on it. I swallowed my anger and went and had a seat and started leaving more and more heated messages on Sean's voice mail (or so I thought). One nice thing, I got to see a lot people I know as I sat there. Greg of Tugboat Press fame came by and sat with me for a while. Dave Land, Gretchen and Bernadette. Good times were had by all. Except me, because I couldn't get in the damned show. Dave Land finally came out and gave me an extra Dark Horse badge that I could use until I got things sorted with Sean.

The hall floor is just wall-to-wall people. And I don't like crowds so much. Below is a sample shot of what the crowds can be like.

Seriously, there are times when that is all you can see. I fought this crowd to where the Arcana booth was. Or, should have been. There was a large Arcana banner hanging from the ceiling, but no Arcana booth was actually in evidence. I was starting to panic. No one was answering their cells, no one looked familiar and lots of strangers were jostling me. I was on my way to a grade A panic attack. And then a familiar face! A guy named Gerrin, who also writes for Arcana, came out of the crowd and said hello. I asked him a little desperately where the Arcana booth was and he pointed to the nearest booth -- one that in no way resembled the Arcana booth -- and said, "right there." He didn't have a lot of answers. Didn't know where Sean was, didn't know where Todd was, or where all the Arcana books were for that matter. And just as quickly as he came out of the crowd, he disappeared back into it.

When Sean and Todd showed up, I got the lowdown. All of the books that Sean had shipped to SD for the show, including all of the copies of 100 Girls, they all just didn't arrive. No one was sure where they were, but we all knew where they weren't. This was quite a blow. I was used to spending my time in the booth, safe from the crowd, doing my best to get people to at least pick up the book and look at it. Hard to do that when you've got no books. I felt another panic attack threatening. Fortunately Michael and Julian, my and Todd's managers, showed up to whisk us off to lunch. This was the first time for me to meet Julian in person and I found him to be a really funny, engaging guy. Easy to talk to. Although it was him that suggested Sean come to lunch.

Listen, I'm not vindictive; I know that the badge thing was a mistake and the books getting lost and some other people taking over the booth wasn't really his fault, but I wanted to hold onto my grudge for a while. And Sean, if you're reading this, I really did forget all about it by the time we were done with lunch. Maybe because it was such a good lunch. And I don't mean the food. There are several things in the works for 100 Girls, all of which are very good and exciting and all of which I refuse to mention in more detail until we sign contracts. After two years of exciting things almost happening to 100 Girls, I've learned to be a little tight-lipped. Though we did get a deal memo today which nearly caused me to crap my pants, but that's for another post.

Suffice to say, after lunch everyone was my buddy again and I was invigorated by the thought that with no booth to man, I would get to experience the con as basically an attendee. Something I'd never done before. This consisted mostly of Todd and me wandering the floor looking at cool shit and saying hi to people we know and that we only see at the con, and taking pictures of folks in costume. Speaking of which, I have posted photos of the con up at my flicker account. Go there and marvel at the heights of nerdom. But be gentle, these are my brethren.

Spending so much time with Todd was nice, I must say. He's a great guy and I count myself lucky the day Phil Amara introduced us. Enough mushy stuff.

Both Saturday and Sunday, Todd and I had dinner with Will and Kristen Miller, truly the coolest couple in coupledom. I met them last year and was looking forward to seeing them again this year. And did I mention drinking? Comics is the drinkingest industry there is and every night was spent at the bar at the Hyatt. There I ran into a guy named Ron I-can't-remember-his-last-name-but-he-was-in-Strip-Search-and-he's-very-cool. He's doing well for himself, got a gig drawing a series for Vertigo and as soon as I find his card, I will add a link to his work.

Saturday was a repeat of Friday, minus the really cool news.

Todd left first thing Sunday and I went to a couple of panels, one on the explosion of book publishers introducing graphic novel lines and the other a debate trying to resolve whether or not we should call graphic novels literature. They were both fun and informative and never having attended panels before, I was very impressed. In fact, the comics as literature panel may warrant a post all on it's own. I made a few purchases and snapped up a cool Harry Potter bag (for Melissa, you know) and generally watched the con wind down. That night I grabbed a drink with Devon before he headed back to Portland, had dinner by myself (by this time I was ready for some alone time) and took myself to see the latest HP movie. Again (God help me). Then it was back to the hotel, where I stayed the night with Sean and his wife and kids. His kids are super cute, by the way, and his wife, Shell, is a sweetheart. Next thing I knew, it was Monday morning and I just had time to get breakfast, walk the streets of San Diego for a while, and then head home.

All in all, it was a strange con. It started with disappointment that was quickly supplanted by ridiculously good news, and then I just wandered the show floor for two days. It wasn't how I expected to spend the weekend, but I'm happy with how it turned out.

Damn, this has been a long post....

Monday, July 30, 2007

Home again, home again

Finally am home. It's always a mixed bag being in San Diego for the con -- it's fun being there, but by Sunday I'm always more than ready to come home.

Tomorrow or the next night I'll post an update about all my con doin's. It'll have to be tomorrow or the next night since I'm driving down to San Fransisco on Thursday.

It's strange not being surrounded by lots of people in home-made superhero costumes...

Sunday, July 29, 2007


I have another blog over at gearschool.net which is a way for me to promote my new book from Dark Horse comics. From time to time I plan to repurpose things I wrote there here on this blog. For example, here's a bit of good news that was announced this weekend regarding Gear School:

Dark Horse Presents, DHP to the uninitiated, was the first title ever put out by Dark Horse Comics back in 2000. DHP was an anthology title that saw some of the most amazing and acclaimed comics series published within its pages. The original Sin City story first appeared there, for example. I was truly sad when the book ceased publication and it after if closed shop that I decided to start up my Stripsearch project.

One of the big stories from the con so far is that DHP is back as a web comic. Dark Horse have teamed with myspace.com to bring us the electronic equivalent of a comics anthology.

The big news for me and for Gear School is that September's issue will include an eight-page Gear School story! Finally. A bench mark I'd given myself when I first had an inkling that I wanted to write comics was that I'd have a story in DHP. I guess I get to mark that off my list....

Never trust a pirate

Have survived another year at Comic-Con. Spent a large portion of my day today waiting in line to put in an application to be an exhibitor at next year's show. Todd and I have decided it's time for us to do our own thing with 100 Girls next year. Will explain more later.

For now, I'm going to call it an early night then have a leisurely morning before flying home in the afternoon.

It'll be nice to get home -- it always is.

One for the ladies

Personally, I've been disappointed in the quality of the costumes this year, but these guys looked pretty good.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Survived Day One

Dateline, San Diego: I'll write more later about all of this, but for now I'll say that the first day here had definite highlights and definite lowlights.

And as for the first picture of the con, well, I'll let the photo speak for itself:

Thursday, July 26, 2007

It is ridiculous to think that this is new to us

Yes, that is George Clinton. And yes, Mr. Clinton is standing next to a middle-aged man in a diaper.

You have never seen so many white people getting funky.

Tomorrow I am up at the ungodly hour of three to make my plane to San Diego. Once there, I will join my brethren in what has accurately been described as "Nerd Prom."

Pray for me.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Please, tell me more

I get perverse pleasure out of reading spam. Probably the same part of me that gets off on watching accident footage on the news.

Anyway, in case you weren't aware, myspace.com is a treasure trove of spam. Here's one I got tonight:
"Believe it or not you can make $150 TODAY! Let me tell you what its about. Basically companies pay individuals like yourself for whats called "data entry." You can get paid to type at home."
Beyond the typos, I really love the fact that data entry is in quotes like it's a brand new concept from future which will make all of our lives so much better; comparable to the microwave oven, say. I'm surprised they didn't write "data entry (patent pending)".

Although, $15o sounds pretty sweet...


Last night I forwarded to a few people about one-third of a novel, currently called Crunching Numbers. I have been working on this third for about, what? Two years? Working and reworking those same pages. Not two years straight, mind -- but two years of grabbing a minute here and there when I wasn't writing other things, working the day job, making the word safe for Democracy, etc. The thinking is that if I polish up those pages real good (that's an example of my writing style) that we can use it to attract an agent and then, of course, start earning some of those big publishing dollars. This is a realistic expectation, right?

The process of writing prose is a lot different from that of comics. With comics, I can't even start writing a script unless I've plotted the story to within an inch of its life. With prose, I don't want to know from a plot. I just dive in -- which may cause some problems, but still feels like the way I need to approach it. When I first started writing the book, I thought it would be about just one main character, but now find myself splitting the story between three main characters (and several peripheral characters, too!).

Now that that section of the book is polished, I'm looking forward to writing the next section. And one hopes that I'll move at a faster rate on it. I already have another book in mind, but there's no way I'll start until I have this one finished.

Getting a polish on those pages was one of the things I wanted to finish before leaving for San Diego. The second thing I'd like to do is write the script for the first issue of the next 100 Girls storyline, tentatively called "Living Rough." I may not finish that one up, unfortunately. But I feel newly energized to work on 100 Girls. Todd and I got some potentially interesting news regarding 100 Girls and it has inspired me to actually sit down and start putting words on paper. If and when details on said news firm up, I'll let you in on it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Dabbler, maybe?

I am something of a design dilettante, or maybe amateur is a more generous term...? Regardless, ever since I went away to college and lied charmed my way into a job for which I was not qualified which involved doing layout on a newspaper, I've been interested in design. I've taken a few classes, but nothing serious.

Despite this lack of formal training, I've done the design on all on several things, literary magazines in college, fliers, all of the design on the 100 Girls books(!), and, my favorite thing so far, my business cards. The previous incarnation of the cards were somewhat elaborate: I did eight different designs, each one with a different piece of Todd's art, and with the 100 Girls logo. I liked them and received several compliments for them, but I always felt they were a little busy. A little too much. Apologies to Todd who is still using these cards as far as I know...

With San Diego coming up I felt like it was time to do a business card redesign. the main reason is because I now have a new book under my name and I wanted to highlight that. I went for a much simpler design -- nothing but an image and my truncated contact info.

The back of the card is a maroon color field (the same color as my name) with white text giving the URLs to my two books.

And I just thought of one reason I like design: it's an amazing work-avoidance technique. You know, you don't want to be doing any of the writing your obligated to do; why not design a sales flier?! That's useful, right? That'll help, right?

I hate to admit that can envision this blog taking the place of design for this purpose.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

This just in

I will be in San Diego next week along with half of comicdom for the International Comic Con. I'll be there Friday through Sunday and spending most of my time at the Arcana Comics booth (publisher of my 100 Girls). Arcana are located at booth #2514 in case you'd like to drop by and say howdy. The fine folks at extraflashing.com have put up an interactive map so you can find any artist, publisher, etc. that you want. Here's the map.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Impending violence

I am a grown man and I my biggest fear at the moment is that some mouth-breather is going to spoil the ending of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for me. I should be ashamed, right?

I remember when HP and the Half-Blood Prince came out; there were reports of spiteful dipshits yelling at the people waiting in line to buy the book, "Dembledore dies!" (Sorry to anyone who hasn't gotten around to reading book six yet.) Here in Salem, there was a guy driving around town with a big sign on his car proclaiming the shock ending.

The charitable part of me wonders what awful things must have happened to people like that to turn them into such douche bags killjoys. And I worry about my reaction should I meet one of them. This Friday will be the first of the midnight releases that I go to and, if someone shouts out or otherwise reveals any of the resolutions to the myriad loose ends, I think I might be capable of violence. I might just grab a fake wand from the nearest 12-year-old and shove it somewhere life-threatening.

Will they allow me to have my copy of Harry Potter in the pokey?

Ugh... There are any number of things I should be writing, or at least thinking about writing, and still I spend my time worrying about Harry Potter. What is it that is wrong with me? This is meant as an introduction, by the way. Hello.