Wednesday snuck right up on me, but I'm determined to post a blog update this week, jet lag be damned. Those of you who follow me on Facebook may have seen the following photos already. But for everyone else, allow me to tell you about Comic Con...
After a pretty pleasant flight (with tickets courtesy of my great and generous pal, Jason Hedgcock), we landed in San Diego at 11:00 am. Compared to the blistering 100 plus degree heat we'd experienced in Michigan, the cool 70 degree weather in San Diego was pure bliss. Here's a shot of out hotel...
The inside of our suite was fantastic. We had a kitchen, living room and bedroom, and it was the perfect place to unwind after a full-throttle day walking the con floor...
As was to be expected, the crowds at Comic Con were insane. The lighter days gave you maybe a foot of wiggle room as you walked the floor. But most days it packed with people all moving in baby steps to their destinations. Still, if you had a thorough itinerary (courtesy of my wife, Laura) and had the determination to accomplish everything on it (courtesy me), you could make it happen. And we did!
My main goal for Comic Con was to meet publishers and editors, and I managed to shake the hands and trade business cards with of some of the best. But just as important to me was shaking hands with my heroes in the comic and animation industries, which I had plenty of opportunities to do...Chris Sanders (co-director, writer and voice actor of "Lilo and Stitch" and "How To Train Your Dragon"). Chris and I have been online pals since 2007, when he agreed to draw a pin-up of Zombie Chick for my "Dead Duck" graphic novel. This was the first time I'd gotten to meet him in person, and he was as friendly as he is talented.
I finally got to meet my mentor, Greg Evans (creator of the comic strip "Luann") face to face after 14 years of online friendship. It was a really wonderful experience, and Greg was as funny and personable as I always knew he'd be.
I sat in on a panel about animator Bill Plympton (director of such animated films as "I Married A Strange Person" and "Hair High"). Bill has been one of my favorite cartoonists for years, and it was a thrill to see his presentation. It was equally a thrill to meet Bill afterwards at his booth, and to get an autographed copy of "Hair High"!
Cartoonist Rick Geary was someone I've admired for as long as I wanted to get into comic books. His unique drawing style always appealed to me, and the graphic novels he's produced over the past decade--true crime stories from the Victorian Era--have been among my favorite reads. I managed to get a copy of my favorite book from Rick's table, "The beast of Chicago", as well as his most recent true crime book set in the 1920's, "Lover's Lane", another incredible work.
Laura and I still made time to take in the sights of Comic Con's floor in between meeting folks...
And we sat in on some really cool panels. This one showcased the careers of Sid and Marty Krofft (pictured below), the creators of such 70's Saturday morning staples as "H.R. Pufnstuf" and "Land of the Lost." Listening to these two talk about their creations as they bicker as only brothers could was a a real hoot!
Another panel we sat in on featured four syndicated cartoonists: Morrie Turner ("Wee Pals"), Bill Amend ("Fox Trot"), Greg Evans ("Luann") and Lynn Johnston ("For Better or For Worse"). I've idolized each of these creators in my lifetime, so it was an absolute treat to see them all in person. Morrie Turner in particular was hilarious, and had some terrific stories. The panel was moderated by Andrew Farago (far left), curator of The Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco.
On our second night at Comic Con, we attended a party hosted by The National Cartoonists Society held at a bay side restaurant called Buster's. It was a really nice event, and the company was unbelievable. My fellow NCS'er Greg Evans was there, and Laura and I also got to meet Lynn Johnston, creator of the comic strip "For Better or for Worse". She was a lovely lady, and Laura and I were thrilled to meet her.
Also at the party were Tony and Tom Bancroft, two animators whose work I'd long admired, but never met in person until this night. Tony was co-director of the Disney film "Mulan", and Tom was the designed of Mushu the Dragon for that film. Tom and I had been chatting it up online for the past year and trading sketches back and forth, so it was great to finally meet him in person. They're both fun, friendly guys, and it was awesome hanging out with them.
At the party, the NCS had laid out a long strip of paper for the artists in attendance to draw on. Here are some of the sketches...
Tony, Tom and I kind of combined our sketches. I drew Dead Duck and Zombie Chick shaking hands, and Tony filled in the other hand by drawing Mickey Mouse. Tom completed the drawing by sketching young Simba from The "Lion King" popping out from behind Zombie Chick.
Though in my eyes everyone I mentioned was a celebrity, the only "movie star" I encountered was Anna Kendrick, who was at at outdoor stage behind the con giving an interview. I stretched my camera's zoom to the breaking point for this pic...
Whenever Laura and I needed a break from the full-throttle intensity of Comic Con, we strolled down the boardwalk behind the con to Seaport Village, a beautiful little shopping district on the bay that looked like an old Spanish village. They had some neat shops that we visited, and some great eateries with authentic Mexican food. I'd honestly return to San Diego just for Seaport Village.
At night, when the con wounds down, Laura and I would walk around San Diego. It's a beautiful city, and filled with photo opportunities. But its Gaslamp District was the jewel of it all.
So that about wraps up our trip. long story short, we had a great time, met some amazing people, and look forward to the opportunities that could grow from the seeds planted at Comic Con. Hope you enjoyed the pics!