January 6th, 2010


San Diego Comicon Artists Alley - 1987

Been meaning to post this for some time, never got around to it, kept misplacing the page. This is the Artists Alley list for the 1987 San Diego Comicon. Click on it once or twice to read it clearly.

I find this list fascinating for a number of reasons, one being the memories it triggers. This was my first Comicon, I went to promote Pirate Corp$! #1 from Eternity Comics, which debuted at the show (to no fanfare, as deserved). My friend and Eternity publisher Brian Marshall took care of my hotel room (the Eternity folks crashed together, iirc, it was Brian, Tony Eng and I) ) and my mom paid for my flight as a gift (because I never went on family trips and couldn't afford the airfare myself).

I was 22 years old, still very green, I'd never been to a non-hotel convention. I don't remember how I got on the Artist Alley table list, things were very different back then for newbie/fan artists, and you can see by the list how much smaller the space was. The convention was still helfd at the old convention center, across from the Westgate Hotel. We stayed at the San Diego Hilton or something like that, it was by the shore where the old tourist schooner boats are, and there was a liquor store next door, that I do remember , because we were in and out of there quite a bit. It was the first time I had a Cornoa beer, which at the time was very exotic, and not all over NYC as it soon was. It was also the first time I was away, on my own, and it was a very heady experience, meeting professionals, selling work, getting very drunk veery night, sketching with a hangover, trying to find work and a place in the scheme of things.

I could dredge up a few pages worth of SDCC memories from that first year, and that's not what I intended to do. I just wanted to show folks the Artists Alley list, and marvel at who was sitting there in 1987, sketching away and trying to sell their comics. And marvel at who is still around, 22 or so years later, and who isn't, and how the fortunes of the cartoonists exhibiting that week have gone. Some of these folks are quite well off now, many are household names, if your household is a comic shop. How much was a Mike Mignola sketch in 1987? How many people passed Jim Lee's table without a look? Who knew Laird and Eastman would become multi-millionaires? Crazy, huh?

I never met Mark Badger, but we ended up hanging out as part of the Instant Piano gang years later. I never met Jill Thompson, but I still remember noticing her across the aisle (how many flame-haired gals were drawing in that room? In that industry, at the time? Interesting that the ladies are all scheduled for one table. Fellowship? Choice? Protection?) Years later Jill and I would become friends after I crashed at her place on the way back from a Detroit Convention, and years after that we'd start working on Beasts of Burden. Crazy. And We'd both do strips for a MIke Mignola Hellboy anthology. And I'd finally meet Mike at MOCCA decades later.

Look - Dark Horse Comics and SLG are both in Artist's Alley, not at booths. I'm affiliated with both companies nowadays, and ended up working with both outfits largely because of events that happened at this show. Look -Sam Kieth, way pre-Maxx, etc. Look - you could've badgered Steve Purcell all day without a ton of Sam and Max fans bothering you yet. Look - Paul Chadwick. Scott McCloud. Future Fish Police tv show, future Image guys, proto-manga proponents, future video game artists, webcomics artists, editors, publishers, creators of characters that will be turned into movies and toys and franchises. Future Chuck Austen, even. Who the hell knew? Everyone was just trying to make comics, get their comics on shelves, get a mention in CBG or maybe The Journal.  Get a free drink at the bar. Who knew how big things would blow up for some of the people on this list, who knew it was even possible to achieve some of the things they achieved? From comics? Small press comics? That most people weren't looking at in that small-ish section of that small-ish convention center?  Crazy.

I wonder what the goals were amongst those folks in those days, mine were to make comics, and keep making comics. In that I've succeeded. My dreams were small. Was anyone thinking Turtles empire, designing motion pictures and video games, optioning their properties for films that would actually get made? Never passed my mind, that's for sure. I was praying for a penciling gig on a DC back-up feature. Anything. 

And, of course, some of these folks disappeared, some to move on to other fields, some burnt out, some faded away from credit boxes, solicitations and artists alley lists. And some of them are still chugging away.