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....


Aaron said...

Sounds like an up-and-down trip, Adam. One of these days, I'm going to check out Comic Con. It sounds great. Sorry you didn't see the TRS guys -- I will send them copies of Gear School when it comes out. Maybe they will review it!

adam jk gallardo said...

Except for the first couple of hours, it really was all up. I just like to whine.