Among its many claims to fame, The San Diego Comic Con is a way to visit people I would never get to see otherwise. Jaime Carrillo and the lovely Ana were the first people we saw entering the hall, or at least the first place we went. Since I have only ever seen them inside the hall I made the daring suggestion that we go to dinner to see what we look like under different circumstances. It worked. They were not site-specific holograms after all.
Other friends live close enough to visit for Super Bowl Parties, however it took me until SDCC to visit Todd Lockwood to sign the paintings we collaborated on earlier this year. The Badali Jewelry booth was our sanctuary this year, the place we went when things became too overwhelming and we needed hugs. Not that they weren’t always swamped with customers (and selling out of fantastic new pieces) but they always had a moment for poor weary travelers. The busy Stacy ducked out of the crowds of people long enough to give me a hug and tell me the odyssey of getting the huge dragon on top of the Weta booth. We only ran into Brent Weeks once and that was at the airport where Venetia twitter stalked him. Venetia was able to spot Seanan McGuire from her glorious hair and we were lucky to see catch Amy McNally during her brief visit. Venetia also got to see her dear friend Sarah and fall in love with a new adorable baby. The Shiftlett Brothers were safely in their box fort and we admired their newest piece in progress this glorious barbarian/viking statue we wanted to get for Drew and Cat.
John Picacio was one of the stars of the show this year which meant we only got to talk to him and his lovely assistant Tara briefly but they were undeniably winning the con. Someday I hope to be so savvy. There was a panel about the upcoming Neil Gaiman documentary just brimming with lovely and talented people, including Cat Mihos and Les Klinger. Peter Beagle and the indispensable Connor Cochran were in Artists’ Alley and we spent enough time with them to ensure that we will indeed see them again soon, although Venetia has decided she wants to live at Peter Beagle’s elbow so that she can always listen to his stories.
If you’ve talked to Venetia or I about books recently, you may have heard us rave about Red Rising which is definitely the Next Big Thing™. I was suspicious at first upon reading it because I hate being pandered to but I quickly gave up and surrendered to enjoying the book. I especially always appreciate it when plot twists aren’t quite what I expected. Pierce Brown was doing several signings at his publishers booth and we end up standing in line twice. The first time was to meet him and get a book for a friend, the second time because we realized we have a lot more friends we would like to give his book to.
Also on the author front, I finally got to meet Sam Sykes in person. A most upstanding young ne’er-do-well, I suspected I would like him from the twittery volleys we exchanged and was happy to further appall Seanan McGuire with some punning conversation with Sam.
I also made one of my very rare purchases for authentic screen-used gloves and mask made by WETA Workshop used in the Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008). Some prices (even at SDCC) are too low to be ignored.
And while Keith is an old friend, we met several of his compagneros ’round the fire pit Saturday night – including singer Marian Call and her posse from the great state formerly known as Seward’s folly!
Last, but certainly not at all least, we encountered an intriguing sign attached to a table of goodness that said that for $20, Bill Plympton will draw your picture. How could we resist! Venetia couldn’t stop smiling for her portrait, even after Bill said she could stop.
I am always astonished by the sheer volume artists whose work is on display and for sale – especially the really GOOD artists. Every year I take at least one whole day, and usually additional returns, to wander – not just through the designated “Artists’ Alley, but through the entire Convention floor. This year it was my great pleasure to “discover” the already brilliant and successful Viktor Kalvachev. His work does not fit into one style or description and his sketches are superb. His finished cover pieces contain many of the subversive elements I especially enjoy – the kind of art work you can study and think about but also can enjoy just at a glance for it’s aesthetic value.(Image: DC Comics cover for Men of War Vol2 by Viktor Kalvachev)
Viktor is the kind of person who knew his comic would make a great video game, so he started a company in France to produce it. When I commented on how good his blood stains were, he explained that the trick was to study the blood stain reference – the sheen, the shapes, the volume – and then draw his own.
Les Cités obscures
In 1988 I was thunderstruck in Paris by the giant (and hugely expensive) series of graphic novels called Les Cités obscures. On Thursday afternoon of this 2014, we walked into the vasty hall in perfect time to see its artist, François Schuiten, signing and drawing in copies of his newly-translated-into-English book, The Leaning Girl. Upon learning that I was an artist and a fan, he drew this picture – in ink, without any preparatory pencil work – in the front. Author Benoît Peeters also signed and Steve Smith, his devoted publisher captured the scene. It seems he had taken photos of the previously-drawn pages and not one was the same as mine of of any other.You don’t have to put on the red light
The local police decided to put on a show the second to last night of the convention. Twice, on successive street corners. This is how it “worked”: For cash money deposited in a clear box on a stand, any willing person could get themselves (pretend) arrested. But not just any arrest, no no. The sort of arrest that involves being manhandled and throttled with batons. What a… hoot? So, instead of keeping the bottlenecks madness of the night to a minimum, this bunch of jokester cops-for-hire made the traffic far worse. And like the train wreck it surely was, people could not look away. Either time. And the young fans getting their photos taken during mock arrests? What street cred! And the cops? It was a debacle on every level, but perhaps most of all for rule of law.
San Diego Zoo – How we do vacation
In order to combat the exhausting drone of the convention this year, we decided to make it our vacation and spend a few extra days in town. Venetia started a subtle and focused campaign for the zoo by saying the word “zoo” periodically throughout the weekend. We had a late but large breakfast to prepare ourselves and took the bus on the corner of our street straight to Balboa Park. We entered the zoo at a few minutes to noon which means I can say with certainty that we were at the zoo for 9 straight hours. I can only describe how much my feet hurt by describing to you how the bright red color on the soles of my feet radiated up along the sides of my feet as well. We saw almost every single exhibit in the San Diego Zoo with very few exceptions. Venetia’s highlights were the playful polar bears, the elegant and mysterious secretary birds and the flamingo disco party she was insistent on visiting at the very end of the day which firmly put our trip into the exactly 9 hours of zoo. After that, it was a relief to get on the plane for a few hours the following day just to rest our feet!
Many of us have read the inane whining and vapid protests of young entitled boy fans talking about “fake” geek girls. San Diego at this time of year is the adamantium melting-pot where law interns and all manner of European exchange students put on their geekiest to pedal wee thrones of Westeros, peddle tchotchkes they know little and care less about, or seat diners in fantastically overpriced restaurants. Heck, every mannequin is wearing a WonderWoman tiara and every shop is stocking Wolverine and Hulk merchandise it might normally sneer at. All of San Diego is a “fake” geek, because that’s where the money is. There are hostesses indistinguishable from casual cosplayers, and tattooed local drunks who may or may not have any idea which gaming character they resemble.
Soaking in this debauch of 3-color lunacy for a week, and daily wandering through a convention where most of the founders of the feast are utterly unknown and where art dealers make multiples of profit on comic pages that netted their creators precious little, has led me to reconsider the protestations of the clueless. It’s not fake fans they should be concerned about, it’s the fake executives, the fake money men who pull the strings. Because those guys? They’ve never cared a jot for the material and they probably never will….
While nothing that happens in Hall H stays in Hall H, most of it gets to YouTube faster than it can move about the sales floor of the convention. It’s interesting to be so close, and yet so far (and, as a long-time fan, disappointing not to hear more of Doctor Strange and The Inhumans). I saw the Avengers posters at a distance on this, the last day of the convention. But heard no context about any of it.
The piece de resistance on the last night of the convention was on the TV in our hotel. It was the first Thor movie. Dubbed into Spanish. While the Norse Gods seemed marvelous to me growing up, and fun (if more than a little absurd in the hands of Stanley Lieber – I mean, c’mon he’s a fiery hard-drinking redhead!), seeing Rene Russo, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, and Chris Hemsworth in Spanish is just somehow… better?