Spit out by the Beast

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I sampled just a mosquito-sized portion of Comic-Con last Sunday. Here, then, is a humble offering of my experiences:

The whole thing was sort of like the medieval ages—my world view was confined to a tiny “small press pavilion” of a land and the scary ocean all around me attempted to lure me to unknown, forbidden treasures of which I must resist for lack of time.

Four hours. That’s all I had that Sunday afternoon. I filled that time traipsing from one small press booth to the next, resigned finally to the fact that I would only see one-half of one-twentieth of the entire convention.

Still. It pretty much rocked a ukulele.

  • One of the first places I wanted to hit up was Joe Matt‘s corner at the Drawn & Quarterly table. The first thing my boyfriend and I asked him was, “Is it all real?” He maintains that it is. He was very easy to talk to and has a way of discussing the most awkward things without making you the least bit uncomfortable. He told us he has trouble meeting girls on myspace, and that his knees were buckling when he met Robert Crumb.
  • Gilbert Hernandez was patient and sage-like. Fans ought to feel like flies hovering around an unflinching Bodhisaatva. I should have asked the meaning of life, but instead I asked the most obvious of question:”Why have you been so prolific of late?” And the answer was quite simple and obvious if only I weren’t so distracted by nerdly, superficial things. “I’m poor,” he said. But seriously, someone like him should never be poor.
  • Jaime Hernandez was really sweet. I said I only started reading Love & Rockets with the second-time-around series, and I was just about to launch into how I think he creates the best female characters when he said with a misty look in his eyes, “You should have seen them when they were just puppies.” Well, to be honest, he didn’t really say it that way, but he did say “puppies.”
  • While I was at the Fantagraphics table, I finally met Eric Reynolds and Kristi Valenti. I had gone to the same university as Kristi, and we were even in a few of the same English classes. We marveled at what was in the water at our banana slug infested campus. Eric now has long lovely locks, and he says hi to Brian.
  • Kazimir Strzepek, who’s comic The Mourning Star was nominated for an Eisners this year, was just excited to be there. Now, there was a bit of cynicism wafting around the con, including my own (damn crazy crowds!!! Where are the discounts!!!), but when I stopped by at the Sparkplug booth, I knew I had found the place where I would spend all of my money. I felt like I had just walked into a mini-comic nerd’s living room, and those kinds of places I usually want to ransack and take home with me. I think Strzepek is from Seattle, and this seems to be his first trip to Comic-Con. He was particularly excited at the prospect of visiting Secret Headquarters in Los Angeles. We started talking about people we were starstruck around. He said Ernie Hudson (from Ghostbusters). He recommended Matt Furie’s comic boy’s club by saying, “It’s sort of drug-related. If you read the first page and like it, you’ll enjoy the book.” That is pretty apt. It does evoke that certain drug-related side-effect of getting you to laugh too much. In the end, I had scooped up the entire booth Sparkplug Books booth and sprinkled its contents into my gaping comivorous mouth, including The Blot, by Tom Neely, a mad genius comic of the foreboding unknown (coolest looking autograph sketch of the day!).
  • I met two comic creators that day who told me they got into comics because they were laid off from graphic designing jobs. That would be Matt Kindt, creator of the secret agent slice of suave euro life comic Superspy, and Andy Runton, creator of the Owly series and a whole new generation of grown-ups who like cute stories about owls. Also at the same table of those two was Christian Slade— I was really blown away by the art in Korgi. It’s sort of old school, maybe 1950s or Highlights style art, but is also really fresh looking, too.
  • While at Top Shelf‘s booth, I also swung by Andy Hartzells table. He was standing the whole time I saw him there, which was different from everyone else who, now that I think of it, were sitting. I don’t know why I find this interesting. Anyway, the mass edition of Fox Bunny Funny is out finally, and it’s a looker! Andy should be working on the third installment out of five of Monday, for a fall release. Work, Andy, work!
  • I also swung by Renee French and Jeffrey Brown‘s corner. I am now a proud owner of Brown’s full-colored Incredible Change-Bots—already a near classic of the shape-shifting robot genre—and Conversation #2, a collaboration between him and Kochalka. I also got French’s Edison Steelhead’s Lost Portfolio: Exploratory Studies of Girls and Rabbits, which is more of an artifact than a comic that gives a peak into the vision of the main character in The Ticking.
  • The most entertaining booth by far of the convention was the Hot Mexican Love booth. They are inviting, and even let me take a picture with them wearing on of those really huge Mexican button up short sleeve shirts. Many of the guys there have worked on some of the greatest television animation shows ever—King of Hill, Futurama, Simpsons, Invader Zim… saliva forming…

All in all, it was worth missing out on Joss Whedon, artist edition Darth Vader heads, girls walking around in giant tote bags, and all of the panels. Well, maybe I should go for more days next year.

Now, let’s have pictures do the talking:

—Elizabeth Chou

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