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10:00 am – After a quick breakfast and a quicker check-out, Jess and I are at the convention. We’re too slow for Grant who’s already here.
On the way in, we pass the Battlestar Galactica table and see that Michael Hogan doesn’t have a line yet. We stop briefly to shake his hand and gush a little. He’s sweet and graciously appreciative of our fondness for his work.
10:30 am – Visit Mark Kidwell’s table in Artist Alley. RD introduced me to Mark last night at the bar and Mark’s a smart, smart guy. He hooks me up with a few books including his Bump mini-series from Fangoria and Freedom, the Western he wrote for Image’s Frank Frazetta line.
10:45 am – The people at the table between Jess and Grant aren’t here today so I take over. Hey, everybody! Come and watch Michael May read comics! Today only!
I spend the rest of the morning reading and talking comics with Jess. We talk a lot about super-heroines and what makes a good one. I realize that I like Huntress because she’s a fascinating character and I like Valkyrie pretty much just because she’s a Viking. I also realize that that difference affects my buying in a surprising way. Characterization is very important to me, so I’d expect my comics accumulation to be heavy in Huntress stories. It’s not though. It’s much more skewed towards Valkyrie because I always know what I’m getting in any given Valkyrie story: a woman in a Viking costume kicking butt. With Huntress, how well her character is explored or developed varies from writer to writer. It’s more of a risk. That may not be profound, but it’s the kind of thing you talk about in Artist Alley on a Sunday morning.
During this time I’m also reading Freedom. I have to go back and visit Mark when I’m done to tell him how excellent it is. Seriously, if you like Westerns even just a little bit, Freedom is great. It’s perfectly paced, funny, exciting, and has a great ending. The art’s more stylized than you may be prepared for if you’re expecting a Frazetta look, but I liked it just fine. Between this and Outlaw Territory, I’m excited about reading some more Western comics. I decide to look into some Jonah Hex trades when I get home.
12:00 pm – Lunch time. I have my first and only convention dog of the weekend.
1:00 pm – Wander over to the Crimespree both to say goodbye to RD and give him a copy of the Lancelot poetry book that I wrote the intro for. Because I’m still excited about it, we talk for a bit about Freedom and Western comics in general. Turns out we’re both working on stories about the same Western legend, so we talk about him for a while too.
1:30 pm – Back to the table where I stay for the rest of the day. Like yesterday’s over-stimulation; the Sunday detox “hiding” away in Artist Alley is also a tradition. I get up every once in a while to visit some retailers, but I’ve already spent more money than I wanted to, so I’m not seriously looking; just stretching my legs.
4:45 pm – Show closes in 15 minutes, so I go grab the car to pull it around to the loading area.
It’s nice to end the show with a feeling of normalcy. Part of what’s great about coming back to the same convention year after year is the reconnecting with people you don’t see any other time and the performing of familiar rituals. With the exception of intrusive loud-speaker announcements for “poker fans” and the opportunity to play Halo 3 with a Twilight actor, the last two days have felt like the Chicago convention to me. Contrasted with that are the first two days that felt entirely not like the Chicago convention.
It’s been a weekend of dealing with that disparity. Anytime I was on the west end of the convention center – where the panels and the exhibition booths are – I was forced to acknowledge the changes and the shift away from comics in a show that’s always kept them as the primary (if not the only) focus.
Back on the east end of the building – where the retailers and Artist Alley live – it was a much more familiar show, but I don’t want to make it seem like there was any kind of “us” versus “them” mentality going on. It was weird and difficult to adjust to the change, but everyone seemed to be having a good time in spite of that. Obviously, many comics fans are also fans of scifi, professional wrestling, and even Taylor Dayne. And it’s no secret that a lot of the “non-comics” folks are also into comics, even if that’s not where they make their living. Jackass’ Mike Holman stopped back at Grant’s table this morning to let him know that he read Wolves of Odin last night and absolutely loved it. “Best thing I ever read,” were his words.
And it’s not like C2E2 is going to be any different. E2 stands for “Entertainment Expo” after all. The difference is that that’s going to be an all-new show without any expectation of sole devotion to comics. I mean, it’s right there in the name. Of course, another huge difference will be that DC and Marvel will be prominently represented, and one hopes that Dark Horse and Image and a greater number of smaller publishers will too. I’m not sure what all the implications are when the Entertainment Expo has more comics presence than the Comic-Con, but I know one thing that it means. I know where I’ll be next April.
Not so many costumes today, but there were still a few.