I stop by Mike Kunkel's table and pick up a Herobear doll for Allison, and then I see Matthew Clark. Which reminds me of the Mercury anecdote I promised to return to.... it seems the old building the Portland-based artists rent is full of intrigues. Just next door, an older gent and his semi-retired accountant are having an affair on Wednesday nights (bingo night for the Missus, no doubt), and Matt is subjected to all manner of odd statements and noises. Lieber finally heard it go down one evening, too. Finally, punchy after days of missing sleep for deadlines, Clark hears their assignation begin as usual. This time he drags his speakers over and faces them into the shared wall. He puts in the John Williams Star Wars score, turns the volume all the way up, and presses PLAY. You all know how it begins. He never heard an ambulance arrive, so I guess they're okay.
Just remembered, I got some chiding to do, TV Guide-style....


Springer's Final Thoughts

Overall? It was big. It's been big for a long time, but now it's BIG. There were still comics there, but it's more about pop culture than ever before. Real movie stars, not just ex-Cylons from Battlestar Galactica, now feel they need to put in an appearance. Lots of people seem to think it's E3, judging from the number (not just kids) who expected free stuff. And next year it might be: the rumor at the end of the show was that the retailers and artists would be moved upstairs under the sails, leaving the movie and videogame stuff down in the main floor. Probably not true, but being up against the wall--not much different. I appreciate that it's free, believe me, and that those corporate booths are paying the bills. But wasn't the show built on the attendance of creators? How long will it be before the crowd gives up trying to find us? Maybe if pushed aside we can go find somewhere else to gather, where readers and storytellers can have some quality time. I wonder if the El Cortez has any room...

-Parker, contemplating oblivion, July 2003

Thanks to Dave Johnson for supplying extra pictures. Sorry I cut you out of them. Newcomers, feel free to stop by my home site or my book's site-- there's still plenty to buy since Artists Alley was at the end of the building.

CHEERS to PopImage's Zack Smith for making a neat sketch request: a big ONION fan, he asks for an image of Mr. Tin, the nemesis of ancient publisher T.Herman Zweibel. Actually I just used that incorrectly; as Dan Mishkin will tell you reprovingly, Nemesis is a goddess of justice and vengeance-- hence only a righteous person can be the nemesis.

JEERS to PopImage's Zack Smith for committing the highest sin possible at a pro table: chasing away a potential customer. A nice young lady came over and started looking at my book, and helpful Peter Siegel started explaining the premise of the story. Looking up from my drawing I could tell that she was becoming interested, carefully flipping through. Zack picks this particular time to show off some off the more off-color sketches that artists have put in his book. In a loud atonal voice he calls attention to a bizarre drawing of a penis with Kirbyesque machinery adorning it. The girl didn't actually leave a vapor trail as she rocketed away, but my memory interprets it that way. This leads into another Miss Manners diatribe, contributed in absentia by Steve Lieber. He's had this list for some time, and maybe we can all put printouts at our tables in the future.




Suggestions for how to comport yourself at the table of a show guest.

Don't assume they remember who you are.. If you're
talking to a cartoonist you've met before, reintroduce
yourself and give some clue that might spark a memory.
"Hi. I'm Bob Franklin. We met at the bar at the Hyatt
last year, when that guy puked up a bloody mary and
everyone thought he had Ebola."
People meet hundreds and hundreds of other people at conventions, and it's impossible to keep track of them all.

Don't try to come across as an insider if you aren't
This always creates a bad impression. Besides, being a comics insider is about as impressive as being in good with all the carnies at the State Fair.

If you're spending more than a minute or two at a
table or booth, position yourself so that other fans
and customers can reach the display.
This is
particularly important if you are, well, a customer
of size
.One big guy in the wrong spot at a busy show
can practically shut a booth down. If you're lingering
to browse, or ask some detailed questions, or just
chat, stand off to one side so that other buyers will
be able to get a look at what's available and feel
that they too are welcome to visit the booth.

Don't be that guy. Everyone who has ever worked a
booth at a con has a horror story or two about That
Guy. He's a goddamn menace. He wants to tell you about his plans for installing a warp drive on the
Batmobile. He's worked out a new solution for a
continuity problem in a comic book you don't read.
He's angry about the way they depowered Volcano Boy. And no matter how many hints you drop, no matter explicit your body language gets, he never realizes that he's overstayed his welcome. These are probably wasted words, because one of the defining attributes
of That Guy is that he lacks even the most basic
social skills. But if you notice that the person
you're talking to hasn't laughed at any of your jokes,
is continually avoiding eye contact, responding in
perfunctory grunts or seems to be ignoring you,
recognize that you're being That Guy, take the hint,
and move on.

Don't put a cartoonist on the spot by trashing his
A little tact goes a long way in
matters like this. If you think an artist ruined your
favorite writer's story, observing that the art didn't
fit the mood, or capture the character is fine. The
writer can acknowledge the opinion or politely
disagree. But saying things like "your new artist
sucks" can create a horribly awkward situation.

Here's a whole page on Showing Portfolios, too.


Dan Mishkin pulls up a chair and talks about how superheroes are probably best suited for children. I'm sold. He's becoming more zealous about making comics for kids, a very good thing. He's a valuable person to have on the side of a cause. This theme continues when Canadian cartoonist Steve Manale shows up, he's very proactive on the matter. He does an impressive comic strip called Superslackers. The only thing we debate is the conveyance: Steve thinks the comic book is a lost cause, the only venue is newspapers. I say what's the point if that's the case, there's only postage stamp room to draw talking heads trading quips in most papers, hence Bill Watterson's retirement from Calvin and Hobbes.
Another retailer I speak to in the ether manifests: Atom! from Brave New World in Santa Clarita, California (near Magic Mountain). We're starting to yuk it up when his schedule-savvy wife Portlyn makes us take a time out, and pulls him away by the ear. But not before inviting me to their "Mini-Con" on September 20th, which will feature mini-comics.
Then, as if on cue to replace them, Jesse McCann and his wife Nancy appear, also owning a comics store. And I dare you to open any Bongo Comic and not find a Jesse story in it somewhere. I live really close to the store, yet have never been. What a chump I am. I'm so there when I get home and recover. I talk a little while to cartoonist Paul Friedrich, who for years has brought joy and interesting merchandise with his character Onion Head Monster. From somewhere he's procured the biggest beverage I've ever seen. I sit down and manage to finish my commission sketches just in time-- no mailing for me!
Best Compliment All Weekend
"Dude, that was a sick read!"

The show ended as usual, with union workers trying to pull the carpet out from under us and see if we were still standing, and that mysterious woman's voice hectoring everyone out of the hall. Actually she was nicer than in years past. Many of the Illuminati gathered and we went to eat at Rock Bottom, the same place I ended up last year. Don't remember much about it now except JJ Kirby cackling from the other end of the table and the root beer being really good. Oh, and talking to Tomm and Suzy Coker about their impending Mini-Coker, due out next year! Copycats.

And while con-goers prepared to catch planes and return to their lives...