Art sales were healthier than since our first Heroes Con, which is going a ways back, con-wise. Unexpected, but welcome. I treated myself to a Wolfman Funko Pop!, which I've been hunting down at shows this year. I always buy a gift if we do okay. Emily sold three hairclips, and won a Lego set in the cosplay contest on Sunday, in her really nice homemade (via mom) Hatsune Miku costume. I met Bruce Chrislip, who gave me a copy of his new book about mini-comics, THE MINICOMIX REVOLUTION: 1969-1989. We saw friends (old and new, industry and otherwise), had a swell dinner Saturday night with fellow comic book workers and heard a lot of jaw-dropping stories about horsehockey behavior in our beloved profession (I told a few, too). I got to hang out with people afterward for con bar talk, which is like dinner talk, only louder and with more alcohol and meaner stories. It was great seeing people at the show, talking to our readers, signing books, catching up with friends.
We were on a panel about Indy Comics on Saturday with Ryan Browne (GOD HATES ASTRONAUTS) and Jeremy Bastien (CURSED PIRATE GIRL, a book Em's a big fan of). The moderator was John Siuntres, of the Word Balloon Podcast. John's a radio professional as well as a fan of old radio shows, so he and I had a lot to talk about later on (and may talk more about comics and old radio on his podcast in the future). John's uploaded the panel on his podcast site, and I think it's worth checking out. It ran long, two hours (!) and not just because of me and my big mouth for once. A lot of information, a lot of real talk. Ryan talked about his experiences at Image and doing Kickstarters and the economics of creating comics, it was good stuff. Sarah and I had a lot of folks coming over to us afterward to thank us for the panel. That's not to flatter myself but to say the panel recording might be something young creators out there will find interesting, maybe even valuable.
So, yeah, swell time. Maybe we should do more shows in places we've never been to. We'll see. Anyway, thanks to everyone at the Cincy Comicon and the folks who came by the table. We had a swell time.
Oh, yeah, we also ended up with a gigantic stuffed bear. I don't know exactly what the backstory was, but it involved Tony and Kara Moore and Steve Lieber and Jeff Parker and I think these two monstrous plush bears from Costco were dumped on the Portlanders as a return prank from a con prank they pulled --? Something like that --? Anyway, there were these two Snorlax-sized plush bears sitting at Lieber and Parker's tables. And we ended up with monstrous bear #2. Fortunately our rental car was upgraded to a GMC Terrain (the car we rented wasn't available), otherwise he never would have made it back to NYC, where he is now taking up a ton of space in Em's room. She's grown attached to him. So, giant plush bear is staying. Oy.
Before heading home we took a trip to Columbus for a few days of hanging out and relaxing and seing what there was to see. We took Em to see the LOVE LIVE anime movie. I got a trivia question right before the movie and won a box of Pocky. A cute thing happened during that pre-film hangout event, a young woman with the anime club hosting the event asked a trivia question about the manga that Sarah did the localization rewrite for, KODOCHA (Sarah's first gig for Tokyopop). We started laughing and I made Sarah blurt it out, which made the woman really happy because it turned out KODOCHA was the first manga she ever read and it meant a lot to her. She was happy to talk manga and stuff with Sarah afterward. Emily got to eat a lot of Pocky, she loved the movie, and she got three exclusive codes for her LOVE LIVE app game and there was just a hell of a lot of rejoicing and stuff over that.
We were crashing with the mighty Tom Spurgeon and as you might expect there was much talk about comics, cartoonists, creeps and CXC. CXC looks amazing, I wish I was going (I hope some of you are). Sarah and I did a little work while there, not a ton, mainly going over art that was coming in on a project, making notes, etc. Em read a stack of comics while we were staying over, including the IDW BLONDIE collection, a good run of MOUSEGUARD, and a bunch of others. We had a super time in Columbus. We got to say hi to Jeff Smith for about ten minutes before he had to run for CXC business, so we didn't get to eat pizza with him. The pizza was great, it wasn't NYC grease triangles but it was really good. The food was good everywhere we went. I ate a lot. Cripes I ate. I ate everything on my plate every time and finished some on Sarah's plate at almost every meal. It was like I just got out of prison (comic con as prison experience, maybe an essay there?). Columbus was all right. Even if they have two-way streets there that are only the width of one-way streets. Ridiculous. Apparently they have this thing called "politeness" which people use to navigate and negotiate while driving on these roads. Ridiculous!
We met Caitlin McGurk, who had invited us to take a private tour back in the stacks of the amazing Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, which was basically a dream come true for me. I have ached to enter this temple ever since they re-opened in their refurbished space. It exceeded expectations. It is cartooning heaven on Earth.
If I had a dollar for every time I said "oh, my god" I'd be able to retire. Oh my god. We goggled while handling originals by Frank King, Segar (color Sunday, a good one we remembered), Tezuka (!), Soglow, Richard Thompson (a huge stack being processed, first thing we saw, including one of the paperback collection covers), Schulz, Charles Addams, Jack Kent, McCay, Chester Gould, Foster (everyone needs to see original Fosters, even if they aren't fans), Watterson, John Cullen Murphy (et al), as well as Disney storyboards and pencil animation sequences from PETER PAN and ALICE IN WONDERLAND (I had to flip them). We saw the painted backgrounds used in the original TRON, which are postcard-tiny and bizarre. We saw Caniff's death mask and hand casts. Sculptures by Rube Goldberg. Photos of Bill Blackbeard's home and collection (which looked like I thought it would), and stacks upon stacks upon stacks of his collected tear sheets of dailies which are being organized (a miniscule portion of the collection). NCS awards and trinkets. A monstrous NANCY head from a parade costume (inknerd me tagged it as a Jerry Scott-based suit. Something to be proud of or --?). I kept tossing out names of cartoonists or strips, trying to see stuff we don't see regularly at cons, things we all like, things we thought would look great as originals, it was like a spot quiz, like having five minutes in a toy shop spree, only more time, and more choices, and more awesome.
We walked past endless stacks of manga, comics, graphic novels and ephemera. This doesn't include the on-display collection (Kirby, Caniff, Lynda Barry, Gould, Schulz, etc, etc,etc, plus chapbooks, comics, sketchbooks, awards, props, toys and novelties and Chester Gould's ink-and-match-streaked drawing board). Or the PUCK and World War exhibit. While we were in town Jessica Abel was at the Ireland for her lecture/book signing tour, it was packed so I sat on the floor to watch. I haven't packed so much cartoon living into a week in my life ever. It must be what going to a European festival is like, to a degree, running into cartoonists, looking at cartooning, talking cartooning, and eating a lot and talking a lot. It was fun. Emily enjoyed the tour a lot, we took pictures while we there.
It was insane. If the temperature in the "vaults" wasn't kept cool to maintain the collection I'd have been sweating like a Johnny Craig murderer the entire time I was in there. It was overwhelming. It was incredible. I want to live there. I want to sleep there. I want to work as a security guard and stay inside forever. I want to see everything. I want to have my ashes sent there. And I want to see those, too. I want to have a singular relationship with the library similar to Sally Brown had with her school. Only with a happier ending. No building suicide. I want to marry the OSU Billy Ireland Library.
I will go there again someday. You should go, now, soon, someday. You really should. You can request materials in the reading room which will be brought to you to read or marvel at. Bring friends. Take your class there. There was a class going through while we did our tour. Use this incredible resource and support it. It is marvelous and wonderful and too good to be real. Thanks you, Caitlin McGurk, everyone we met at OSU, Tom, Lauren, Jeff, whoever made the food we ate, whoever made the ice cream at that that amazing ice cream place, etc etc. A very nice week.
Glad to be home, though. We have a ton of work to catch up on. Which is good. We started working on a creator-owned gig (Sarah and I co-writing), I signed off on the BILL AND TED collection, we're just about signed off on the ELTINGVILLE CLUB collection, a non-comics project we did earlier this year is coming close to fruition, we're considering a new WFH writing gig, still waiting for notes on the BEN 10 script, and I'm still slowly revising a creator-owned pitch with a very talented artist.
Which leaves BEASTS OF BURDEN. Yeah. From what I understand Jill Thompson's actually actually finally started really actually maybe working on maybe finally finishing the art for the second issue of the long-delayed mini-series. Finally. Again. Supposedly. Maybe. I don't know. I give up. I saw two new panels the other day. That makes seven pages from early last year, and two panels painted last week. Maybe there's more, I don't know. I have no idea. I give up. As the BIG NUMBERS tribute schedule might suggest, things kind of suck with BEASTS OF BURDEN. The second issue was written in October of 2013. There's two more scripts gathering dust. If they were magically finished tomorrow the collection would still not see print until 2017. Seven years between volumes. That's kinda nuts. I goof up my own work, I delayed ELTINGVILLE CLUB #2 over a year, but when I crash and burn, I tend to do it in a single passenger plane. I don't know when these three issues will appear, or if they ever will appear. I don't know what will happen after that. Kids: always sign a collaborator agreement, even with friends. You never know what might happen. Or not happen. Yeah.
Hey, let's end on a happier note -- the temporary medication for my arm and hand and neck has helped a lot. I feel better. My hand hasn't been going dead, the pain's calmed down a lot. Seeing a neurologist soon for the mitt, hopefully something can be done to fix it or make a real difference. My mood's also better these days. I'm getting more done, getting better at making decisions, trying to stay positive, ride through bad stuff with less anxiety. Things are better. Hope they stay that way. Hope they're good for you folks, as well.
More soon later! Maybe!