I had a terrific time at the BCGF yesterday, the show had a great vibe, a lot of energy, a lot of folks walking in, some off the street unaware the event was taking place until they walked past it. This included a few local cartoonists and comics fans. I ended up bunking with Jim Rugg and his friend Jason Lex for much of the show, which turned out to be fortunate as I sold enough books and crafts to cover Crushy's follow-up vet visit, more or less. So, thanks to Jim for sharing some table space. And it was great talking comics and movies and art and girls and high school and conventions and industry dirt and doings with Jim and Jason after the event at a local pizza joint. We were still at it on a windy corner for fifteen freezing minutes before we headed off.
Speaking of speaking about comics, Irwin Hasen was unable to attend as expected, so Paul Pope, Dan Nadel and I just talked old cartoonists for a while. Paul was pretty sick with a cold, Dan's polite, so I did my talking bit for a reason, for a change. I enjoyed it and while the audience was stone still silent for stretches of time, they seemed to wake up here and there and enjoy parts of the discussion. Even when invited to chime in the folks mostly clammed up. I had fun, hey, looking at Roy Crane and Toth slides and whatnot and shooting the shit, I can talk comics until the comics industry comes down around my ears. And then keep talking.
I met (surprise-presence at the show) Matt Groening for the second time, albeit this time around it was less embarrassing and pleasant, as I didn't stammer and yammer nervously in front of him as I did many SDCC's ago. I mostly listened to him and Dan Nadel speak, when introduced by Dan I mentioned I was doing stuff for Bongo and he thanked me and I thanked him for their generous page rates and then I listened to him tell Dan about his hotel woes and schedule. He's right regular for an icon and super-successful entertainment industry person, at least that's the quick impression.
While I was doing the panel Groening had walked past Jason and Jim's set-up and had seen the Treehouse of Horror copies I had on display -- he signed them and they all sold while Jason and Amber Delaney (who is a member of the Comic geek Speak podcast and was super-helpful and great to talk to) were sweet enough to cover my sales while I was away from the table. And I have one Groening-signed copy for my own, duh-haw, huh huh. We all agreed I did better at the table when I was away which I guess speaks towards their sparkling personalities and my, uh, well, personality. Seriously, though, I wasn't a jerk at all, yesterday. Unless anyone thinks otherwise. I even smiled a bunch of times, as Calvin Reid duly recorded for the Publisher's Weekly twitter feed. I wasn't able to display any art either at Jim's table or the Picturebox table while signing there, so staying up until 3 a.m. prepping the portfolios was...well, not a great use of time, in hindsight, and a sleep-killer. But I did need to organize the art for updating the website and listing some things on eBay, so, hey, it got done. I sold a lot of copies of Beasts of Burden and the Hellboy crossover, surprising as I was really the only straightforward genre guy at the festival (as far as the guest list went, but overall as well) besides Pope, and he straddles the art/genre fence in a manner I don't. So, yeah, I felt a little weird, especially signing next to Sammy Harkham and plopping down my stuff in-between a horde of honest-to-gosh art comics and books. But hey, I signed a lot of stuff, more than at the NYCC by far. Even signed a hardcover of Animal Rites or two, some Bill and Ted's trades, a few copies of World's Funnest and several copies of the Wednesday Comics HC. One never knows. I was busy all day, laughed a lot, did a small number of sketches (including a color-penciled version of Japanese icon Booska, which I quite liked) had a swell time and only felt nervous or out of place or intimidated a few times. Maybe when I'm 50 I'll get some worry-free sleep before a show, it gets better as I get older.
Got to walk and talk with the super-cool Mad-man Ryan Flanders, spoke very briefly to Charles Burns, wanted to talk to Doug Allen but wasn't sure which fella behind the table was Allen and which was Gary Lieb and got anxious about looking stupid and never walked up and committed after floating by three times. Never got to meet Lynda Barry. Was late to the party once again and got to Kate Beaton's table too late to buy a copy of her book. Saw Kim Deitch but never got to say hello, Ditto Nick Bertozzi. Caught up with Mr. Stephen Charles Manale who was doing terrific $2 caricatures to attendees while selling prints and not nearly enough books (shame on you folks). OMG Lauren Weinstein and Tim Hodler's daughter is adorable. Waved hello to Matt Madden in passing. Caught up with Dustin Harbin and bought his diary comics, he gave me an original strip-- ye gods does he work super-small and Hunt 102-tight on those babies. Amazing (shame on folks for not gobbling up these beauties at only $10 a pop!). Always good to see Bob Schreck and Randy there, nice surprise to see them. Good to briefly see Scott Eder and the artwork he had on display, always a draw-dropping array of stuff that makes me wish I had a trust fund for original art. Talked briefly to Sammy Harkham about Kramer's #7, listened as he discussed the next Kramer's with a few readers. Saw a lot of fabulous work (which I wasn't in a position to buy, unfortunately), and felt that the idea of a curated show definitely has advantages in certain respects to an open-invite show like MOCCA. Not a shot across the bow comment or a slag, mind you, the phrase "certain respects" was carefully chosen. Each approach has advantages and disadvantages, but speaking to the content and timbre of the work on exhibition, a curated event will always have a stronger thrust, even if you don't cotton to the choices. I did. I thought the material and artwork on display was invigorating and I wish I could have sampled something from just about every table. Really wanted to pick up the Gluyas Williams and Percy Crosby book/portfolios at the Rosedbud Archives table, who also had information on a planned Percy Crosby Skippy project. And a host of books and minis from folks I'd not heard of looked inviting. But the dough was earmarked for Crushy, two slices of pizza and a beer, and the all-mighty gas and toll fund. Did you know the Verazzano Bridge is now $11? What a world, the Bloomberg NYC Mall. One nice plus -- free parking on the street. Sweet. They'll meter those curbsides soon, I'm sure.
And I'm certainly forgetting some folks I spoke to, met, or annoyed, and for that I apologize.
Nuts and bolts stuff: Liked the venue well enough, clean, semi-charming, the lights in the gymnasium were old-school yellow-creepy-dim, but it wasn't too cold or too hot and the crowds only became stifling a few times as folks flowed through pretty well and the panels were held downstairs. Only real complaint was the discussions were on the other side of a large space downstairs where the Asian-Style Hot Dog concession was set up, the chatter from folks eating and talking and ordering and milling about made it tough to be heard during the panel despite the use of microphones. Since the event was free, the tardy and the curious were still waltzing in as late as 8:30, taking programs and bags and hitting the tables. Did I mention I parked for free? Always cool.
So, yeah, good time. Wish I had enough energy to have attended the after-party, my neck and back were killing me by 7 pm, and my eyes were giving me problems, I was tired. But happy. Even sleeping badly and having to slap on the neck-brace in the wee hours of the night didn't dampen the good feeling. Still feel like crap, but them's the breaks.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by to say hi and get something signed, pick something up, wish Crushy well, give Sarah and Emily their best, say nice things about Beasts of Burden, etc. All appreciated.
Now back to work, cleaning up, catching up, and as much Alleve and Pepsi Throwback as I can stand.