On the Road – Pittsburg Comicon

Well thank goodness for procrastination! I was in the middle of writing about Superman Red Son for my April posting when I was whisked away to the Pittsburgh Comicon. The old boy scout is going to have to wait until May, because we’ve got con to dish!

It all came together SO fast. My good buddy David Wray only brought it up on Wednesday. He said if I was free this weekend he would be kidnapping me & taking me to Pittsburgh.

I initially declined because it was my daughter’s birthday that weekend & I certainly wasn’t going to be away for that. David countered with an offer of bringing the kids along. Well, I had to think about it….FOR ABOUT 2 SECONDS!

So big milestone weekend – my daughters attended their first Comic Book Convention. EEK! They had been begging to go but I was concerned they might get bored too quickly. I was wrong – they took to it like ducks to water. (That was my Hoosier cliché moment for the day.) We all enjoyed ourselves immensely. Here’s the low down…

Getting there is half the fun

We left Indianapolis around 9:15 and drove through the night. Well, David drove & I tried to snooze. I got a few 15 minute snatches of sleep before I decided to quit. Plus David was very tired so I stayed up to talk to him for the last stretch. Thankfully the kids totally conked out under a mountain of pillows in the back seat.

We got to the hotel at dawn, but our room wasn’t ready – ACK! We all attempted to snooze a little more, but everyone was pretty tired of being in the car. It was COLD too. I suggested a change in venue & we headed down to McD’s for munchies & loitering.

It finally became a decent enough hour in the A.M. for David to call two of his friends who were also in town. They were gracious enough to let us come over & change clothes & get ready for the con in their hotel. It was of the extreme nice, because there is nothing more awkward than going up to a complete stranger’s room & just totally invading.

Russ Anderson & Tamas Jakab were great! They were there for Frontier Publishing. I am issuing a silent prayer that I got their names & company right. They were nice to me – give them money! Or at least look them up on the web – www.frontierpublishing.net.

While we were there, our hotel called to say our room was ready. At that point everyone had the opportunity to change & tidy up, except – guess who? Yes, me – the one who needs the most sandblasting.

Yet another jaunt back to our hotel & a hasty 15 minute slap-dash spruce up for me (I hope that explains a LOT to anyone who saw me that day) – and we were off to the Expomart for a day of fun!!

Pittsburgh Comicon Day 1

With all our morning misadventures we arrived not 20 minutes before the con opened. David led us to the ticket counter then assumed his alternate identity of “Mr. Connected” & disappeared inside. He was on the hunt for a Scott McDaniel sketch.

The wait was short & the line moved swiftly – Yeah! At first I tried to play hostess to my girls & show them around & explain the set up. It became evident though that I was holding them back. *laughing* So I gave them one of our cells phones & a check in time & location – and they were OFF! I was tickled that they so swiftly got the hang of things.

Now it was my turn to prowl.

Terry Moore Nirvana

As usual I went to the con very UN-goal oriented. (Heck, with 48 hours notice, who can come up with goals anyway!) All I really wanted to do was meet Terry Moore, shake his hand & thank him for existing & for spending part of that existence creating the marvelous Strangers in Paradise.

SIP is freaking brilliant! I will, at some point, devote an entire essay to explaining exactly why everyone should read this book, but today is not that day.

I got my wish & THEN some! Sure I did get to meet him – what a great guy! He signed one of my volumes of SIP & chatted for a few minutes. But that is not the best part. I got a sketch! Not just “A” sketch, but THE sketch. The perfect right sketch for me. I know – I’m such a girl about my emotional attachment to art work.

I talked to his wife Robyn in the morning before Terry arrived. She was so personable – very upbeat & easy to talk to. I was astonished to find out I could get on the sketch list. I have to pause for a minute & thank David. I wasn’t even going to ask, but he literally pulled a page from his sketch book & put it in my hands. Then he (figuratively) kicked me in the butt & told me to get over there & ask. I am SO grateful!

I didn’t even have any idea what to ask for – I could no sooner pick a favorite character from SIP than I could pick a favorite child. With that – I said he could surprise me. When Terry countered with the fact that he could surprise me with a cow – I refined my request to any pretty girl. I figured I’d let him pick the character.

I’m so glad I did. I ended up with a bust shot of Katchoo in profile. It was one of those love-at-first-sight moments for me. I could not have asked for something to make me happier.

Later in the afternoon, the girls joined me for Terry’s informal talk. They were exhausted by that point & were grateful to have an hour just to sit. Anna even dozed off on my shoulder for a bit.

Terry was just as articulate & intelligent as the book he produced. Low-key dry wit punctuated the entire talk. Even my 10 & 12 year old daughters were engaged by the end – listening & laughing. It was a pleasure to at last find admirable the PERSON whose WORK I have always found to be such. It was the perfect Terry Moore experience.

Independent Excellence

If you’ve read any of this junk I post, you may see that I have a big admiration for folks who get out & self-publish. Believing in yourself enough to put your art & words out there for all to see takes a lot of courage & determination. I’m always stumbling across gems.

Our first discovery was an artist named Nate Melton. I knew Anna wanted something Elektra so I was browsing different artists’ interpretation of the character looking for something to suggest to her. I stopped dead when I saw the prints he had out for sale. His work was really beautiful – especially the water colors.

I brought the girls back to his table & they had an equally strong reaction. He might have been their favorite artist for the day – they each bought several prints from him. I sent Jeff some scans of his work – hopefully they will get posted with this. Check out the Scarlett Witch – that was our hands down favorite.

We talked to Nate a bit – he’s got a couple credits with Moonstone books & this was his FIRST con. I hope he sticks with it – I really liked what I saw.

I’d also like to give a shout out (though I am not cool enough to say that) to the bright energetic group of creators at the Midgard Comics table. They were promoting Johnnie Zombie & Stiletto Heights.

I had run into Jennifer Gordon (writer for Stiletto Heights) at a previous con in Indy & I didn’t realize she had her own book. She said there was a free sketch from the artist, Ian Nichols, with the purchase of their Stiletto Heights convention special. I thought that was quite a deal so I picked up a copy & said I’d drop by later for the sketch.

Boy was I in for a treat when I went back to pick it up! I just thought it was going to be a little quickie sketch of one of the book’s characters – not this cool complete picture I got. It was very attractive & appealing. It’s a little on the big side for my little scanner, but I am still going to try to scan it to post with this essay, so everybody can see. Neat surprise!

I read Stiletto Heights on the way home and enjoyed that too. I liked the page layout. I like the prose interspersed with the dialogue. But mostly, I liked that it’s a story about people, relationships & conversation. Jennifer is really good with relationship subtext in this issue.

As you can tell from above I’m a big SIP fan. A lot of that is based on the complex relationships of the characters & the meaty dialogue. We need more of that! I’m glad to see a book that’s got a lot of good human interaction. Keep up the good work Midgard – I’m glad you are out there!

Lackluster World

This last book, Lackluster World, was probably my favorite independent title I picked up this weekend. It is written & Illustrated by Eric Adams. And I am KICKING myself for not paying better attention when I bought it. It was another case of head turning artwork giving me pause. I liked the cat on the book – what can I say? (Mr. Mittens – what a great name.)

I don’t remember what we were doing, but we were on our way somewhere – so I bought issue one dropped it in my bag & kept moving. I didn’t have the pleasure of reading about a day in the life of Fahrenheit Monahan until the drive home. This, of course, made it impossible to get my hands IMMEDEATELY on Issue 2 & 3 (which I now must have).

Now, I’d like to think of myself as a (trying to be) good Christian girl & religion takes an absolute pummeling in this book – but it didn’t so much bother me. I actually found the whole thing incredibly witty from start to finish.

Eric’s characterizations are so deft & observations so astute – I can’t fault him. I’ve got a low tolerance for anyone who tries to bludgeon me with their belief system, no matter what point of view they are trying to sell.

Religion isn’t the only whipping boy either. The book takes a shot at self-absorbed parents, out of control consumerism, macho BS, auto racing as a “sport”, corporate cube life, even clowns. Every observation was executed with surgically precise satire. I loved it! Can’t wait to read more – I’m lending it to Jeff as soon as I see him.

Day 2 – Scott McDaniel

After a delicious dinner at Outback with Russ & Tom (Frontier Publications – give them money they are hardworking & talented! And nice – did I mention nice?) & a DESPARATELY needed good night sleep; we headed back to the Expomart for a few more hours before hitting the road.

The only significant thing that happened that day was working with David to get a Scott McDaniel Sketch for Jeff – which I’m glad we did. I think it was more fun for me to have the opportunity to talk with Scott & his charming mother, Delores, than it was getting the sketch.

We got there early. Anna & Liz – being old pros at this now – told me when & where they would meet me & set out to explore some more. David & I headed back to the table & had the good fortune of being first in line. Scott was running a bit late, which was fine by me. It gave us the opportunity to talk for a while with Delores. She is very sweet (and we are both Diet Coke fans!). I look forward to running into her again.

Scott arrived & I requested a Batman with Batgirl for Jeff. Now as much as I love to watch the artist work – I’ve got to say – I was really was enjoying the conversation. He told me that the proceeds would be going to support a summer youth program at his church. So we got to talking about my home church & picking the right church & how important leadership was.

Here’s the killer part though – anyone who hangs out with me for any period of time knows one thing – I CAN TALK! I was feeling torn – I was ready to launch into my philosophical viewpoint over each & every topic that came up, but I didn’t want to be a distraction from his sketching & there were SO many other people waiting. So I tried to restrain myself.

He seemed like a very intelligent & well grounded guy. I have such respect for people who are secure in their belief systems. Who knows maybe another con, another city – there might be time for full blown conversation. That would be cool.

We took home a GREAT sketch for Jeff – I love the perspective of the sketch – the positioning of the characters is so dynamic. I see why people line up for Scott’s work – I was very impressed. I hope Jeff likes it.

The Road Home

We didn’t rush going home and made it in the door around 7 pm. We were all tired but happy.

I’m glad I could share something I enjoy so much with the kids. It made a big impression on them

Both of the girls pulled out old, long forgotten sketch books & began dreaming up what THEIR comic should be about. They are thinking about a town where all the characters are letters of the alphabet & the letter “S” would be the town superhero. *smile*

Who knows – we’ve all seen stranger things on the shelves….

I should have some thoughts on Superman posted soon & our next big PLANNED trip is Charlotte Heroes Con. Thanks for reading – more soon….


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