Monday, April 19, 2010

Train Rides, Thin Books, A Hopped Fence and More Friends Then I Deserve.

I got the opportunity to attend the first ever Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) the Saturday of the show... what a great time. Special thanks immediately to my wife, Sara, for letting me go because she knows how important it is to me.

My buddies over at Around Comics have recently called it quits (for now?) on the podcast and C2E2 was an opportunity for us to all gather in one huge room to celebrate the industry that they have been talking about for almost 5 years. I've been listening to AC since episode #1 (proud to say I was their first iTunes review, heh), they provided hours upon hours of entertainment over the years whether I was at work or at the drawing board. The show will be missed for sure. Chris, Sal, Tom, Skottie and all the other rotating panel members that contributed so much over the years, thanks.

CON REPORT (I only got to attend Saturday):
The Day started at 5:30am waking up, dragging on clothes, making sure I had all my books packed (SICKO, In This Corner and Zombie Crisis), picking up my buddy, jamie and heading off to the South Bend Regional Airport to catch the South Shore (train) to Chicago. Since we were only going for the day and there is a stop at McCormick Place we decided to give the train a chance... it was a good decision in my humble opinion. The ride was fine, good conversation with friends (Jamie, Jon, Alex and Ryan), reading comics we had brought with us to be signed, just hanging out.

We took the early train which had us arriving somewhere a little after 9am Chicago-time, so it was no big deal to walk to the line queued up already for the convention doors (show opened at 10am). I thought it was crazy that so many people were already in line waiting for the doors and was under the false impression that we were pretty far back in the line... by the time the doors opened though, there were easily 4 times the amount of people snaked round the huge staging area we were standing in. A quick trip through the doors and up an escalator and we were in.

I've been to my fair share of "big box" shows (my first show was Wizard World Chicago, which I left after only 4 hours with a migraine)... and I was happy immediately just to see all the bright colorful displays and the people milling about so excited about these thin books with pretty pictures we all love so much. I tend to be labeled as being more of an "indie" guy, but I just love sequential art in general so I can definitely see the beauty in a huge space where Batman sits along side of The Incredible Change-Bots. Honestly my first thought was, "what a beautiful space." Most of the shows I've been to that are on this large of scale are in huge warehouse like rooms with nothing but fluorescent lighting, McCormick has huge windows lining the top of the entire space, so you get natural lighting and a great view of the city outside. More then once throughout the day I caught myself just staring out the windows at the visible skyline... a nice change for sure.

First stop on my agenda was the Around Comics booth where eventually a whole host of great comics pals were hanging out. The beautiful part of it was that all the podcasts were right there so it was great to see all the personalities I listen to on a regular basis. There were man-hugs a plenty as friend after friend showed up.

I spent most of my time in Artist Alley chatting up creators and handing out some minis... Artist Alley is my favorite part of any show. I love to get good deals on books and other comic-related goodies but I am far more interested in talking to friends and discovering work I haven't yet experienced. It's where the true "gems" can be found. Especially at a big show like this with a collection of amazing talent from established to up and coming and even fledgling, I would always suggest it is a far better use of your time then digging through quarter bins all day long (just an opinion though).

I spent a lot of time walking around with the AC and 11 O'Clock boys as well as Zack Kruse, Ben Tiede and Will Pfeifer (and even the talented Mr. Jim Nelson for a bit). Talked to a ton of people and just had a great time. The time I get to spend with these friends is never enough. It was great seeing Pants and Peter (from Comic Geek Speak) in the Windy City as well as Raging Bullets hosts Sean and Jim (sorry I didn't get to say hi to Jim though). Mr. Phil from Indie Spinner Rack was there sans-Charlie and I hope that it is no secret to him that I cherish him as a pal. Also I totally blew it meeting the iFanboy guys once again (fail). There are too many artists to name that I spoke with in Artist Alley, so I am not going to try... I am thankful for all the encouragement and that so many take the time to let me ramble in front of their tables. It was also great to see Mark Beatty (Dark Tower Comics) again, I love talking to him and he has always been kind to me. If I didn't mention you it's because I am dumb, know that I love you just the same.

Thanks to Jeff for always being willing to give me a minute or two at the shows, you're a good man... I always worry about blocking people's tables at these things.

Liz at Quimbys/Chicago Comics was kind enough to take some of my books on consignment and I felt like I had turned a corner in some ways. I realize, I may not sell a single copy there, but I'm thrilled to have them sitting on their shelves as opposed to just in my basement.

My buddies, VInce (Beanish), David(Grendel) and Jason(Hitchhiker's Don't Panic Character) all got ink done at the show (tattoo artists set up at a comic show, brilliant)... it was really cool to be there while David was getting tagged. It was certainly tempting, but a lack of funds settled it... what a great memory builder though. I am now even more anxious to get more work done soon... I have plans. so many plans.

My great find at the show was "The Complete Ouija Interviews" by Sarah Becan, it's a fascinating look at some sessions she and her brothers had with a Ouija board while staying in Nantucket, well worth your time and money... and Sarah is just a great ambassador for comics, she's doing interesting things sequentially... don't miss out. She also has a pretty rad food journal called, "SAUCEOME," that you should check out!

At the end of the day, Jamie, Jon and I hopped on the shuttle to Reggies (old school bus painted with skulls and various other goodness) for some dinner and the Hero Initiative after party. Got to ride with Jim Demonakos which was cool, seems like a nice guy, I only hear good about Emerald City and Kirby Krackle is a lot of fun.

We ended up having a great burger at Reggies and getting to see Joe Quesada rock out with Kirby Krackle... it was entertaining, fun music for sure. Sadly, we had to leave before the Fuglees took the stage in order to make it to our train on time.

We got a cab and asked the driver to take us back to McCormick so that we could catch the 9:24pm train back to South Bend... he was a very nice man that I personally had a hard time understanding. Jamie, thankfully handled most of the interaction and we ended up at the 18th street stop. The problem was that it was a long-ish walk up a concrete ramp and down some stairs to the "stop." We were already cutting it pretty close on time and started to look around the stop and realized that there was no button to alert the conductor to us at that stop. we looked around and saw that the McCormick Place was with in eye-shot... the only issue being that we would either have to walk all the way back up the stairs and the winding ramp to come all the way back around OR we could just walk across the tracks and hop a fence. Thankfully no one was hurt in our little adventure, we got over the fence and headed toward the McCormick Place entrance.

It quickly became apparent that we were under the center and had gone in through the deliveries-type entrance so I was definitely starting to have my doubts that we were going to make the train on time. we walked for what seemed like forever as the clock continued to tick away the minutes. When we finally got to an area where we could see inside the building, we noticed comic fans still trickling out here and there but the doors were locked and pounding on the doors yielded no results at first. We kept walking and were finally able to get some attention from some folks that let us in and we were able to find our way back to the correct platform literally seconds before our train arrived. There was one more train going back to South Bend after that but we were thrilled not to have to wait around for it.

The ride back was pretty cool actually, because of the Cubs game the whole train was pretty well packed... which meant the 3 of us couldn't sit together. I ended up sitting next to chef named, Chris who was on his way to Gary, IN to visit with friends after work. It was a fun conversation about his job, food in general (I know right? me talking about food, whodathunkit), and the woes of being a Cubs/Bears fan. It's amazing how many cool people drift in and out of our lives on a day to day basis, folks who lead interesting lives that we may never talk to unless a bunch of baseball fans force us into a seat together on a late night train. After Chris' stop in Gary I had the seat to myself and read Sara Becan's book and started reading Liz Mason's zine, Caboose (all about her health issues/woes and recreational activities). The ride was uneventful and for the most part very pleasant.

We arrived at the airport, climbed into my car and drove home... dropped jamie off and pulled into my garage, a great day come to an end. I am so thankful to comics for the friends that they afford me. I would have never met most (if not all) of you with out these "silly little kid books." Thank God for comics... I look forward to seeing you all again as soon as possible.

Summit City Comic Con anyone?

PS. if you read all this, I apologize.

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