I had originally planned to have this up by Sunday night (two days after my Comiccon visit should have plenty of time to get my thoughts together, right?), but there were too many things to scan and not nearly enough time in the day to put it all together...
I may be getting too old for Comiccon.
Not because I feel out of place, despite having never worn a costume in the 10-15 years I've attended, but because the comic convention itself is evolving into something that I really don't enjoy as much anymore. My fondest memories from past conventions are of meeting up-and-coming comic creators, artists or writers and receiving treasured character sketches, buying sketchbooks and hearing stories about the inner-workings of the comic industry, the creative process behind their art or even just hearing about a day in their lives. And I did still have a few of those experiences this past weekend, but many of the faces have been changing over the years and I lament the loss of so many old friends. I especially miss seeing Mark Oakley, Mike Kunkel (who still attends and can be found if you're really lucky, but hasn't exhibited the past couple of years) and Ryan Woodward.
The emphasis of the con has been steadily evolving away from comics for the past several years. Video games, movies, toys, even TV shows dominate the largest displays now. Some of them have a comic book heritage, others...not so much. Star Wars has been in comic form for about thirty years, though I don't think it started out there, but it has long since been a mainstay of Comiccon. But James Bond? He-man? Chuck? The Office? My little Pony? Ghostbusters? (The booth wasn't even for the movie, it was for a video game.)
I can't deny that it's always great fun just to go and see the costumed attendees (and exhibitors). I'd be lying if I said that wasn't a big part of the attraction.
Sadly, for the first time in several years, I didn't give blood at the Con. I had intended to, but there was so much to see and so little time that I just never quite made it. I also usually get there before the con opens, so I have time to be leeched in the morning, but I arrived an hour or two after the con's opening this year...so I had no time to spare.
Sadly, while the story continues to be a fun read and well-illustrated, the last couple of issues have become less visually impressive (not the art, but the materials on which they're printed). Issues #3.5 and #4 (and his recent sketchbook) are much smaller than a standard comic and are printed on heavy, but not glossy, paper. If I wasn't already a fan of his work, I doubt I would have been inspired to pick up a copy. I wonder how may new readers he's attracting.
The first three issues of Alcatraz High are beautifully done, so it's obvious that the potential is there, but the cost of self-publishing and being a family man have likely become too much to keep up that standard of quality. As always, Bobby will happily sketch a character inside the book when you pick up a copy.
I wouldn't be surprised to see an Alcatraz High film being put out by Pixar one of these days (Bobby works for Pixar). The story sems like a perfect fit for an animated feature.
Laurie and Kandrix are the creators of A Monk's Tale, a comic about three do-gooding monks helping the helpless in the battle against evil government thugs (or something like that). It's a nice little comic and was printed in a full-sized comic format on quality paper with heavy card stock covers, but...it never really seemed to catch on with the comic-buying public. So Laurie shifted gears this past year and re-invented herself as "Laurie B". Her new web site, The Art of Laurie B, doesn't mention her previous endeavors and her current style leans more toward Dean Yeagle than the Asian/martial arts style of A Monk's Tale, but I love the new direction. I'm a big fan of Dean Yeagle (he's another Comiccon exhibitor that I see and buy a book from every year, but he's way too big to remember a little guy like me) and the really-cute-but-a-little-naughty school of art, so this is right up my alley.
I picked up both of her new sketchbooks, The Art of Laurie B (sketchbook 1) and Pure Heroine (sketchbook 2). She signed both and even did a cute color sketch inside one of them. I also received a cute color sketch from Laurie in my comiccon "please give me a sketch" book and would have picked up one or two of the glossy re-prints of Laurie's recent drawings (her Disney characters and Princess Leia sketches are especially cute), but they weren't available in the 11" x 17" size and I didn't really want the 8.5" x 11". I'll probably try to buy them from her web site. I predict that it won't be long before Laurie will be too big to talk to me anymore. I give her a year or two before her amazing talent is discovered and she's whisked away to fame and fortune. Sigh.
Speaking of Dean Yeagle, he drew a sketch inside the sketch book I bought from him, Scribblings 2. There are a bunch of other Dean Yeagle books that I wanted to pick up, but I was trying to contain my spending as much as possible (will little success).
Dean Yeagle also did the art for the recent Gremlins comic book for Disney this year that I really enjoyed. I meant to chat him up about it, but I totally forgot when I was confronted with the man himself.
Another influence Laurie B (or maybe Kandrix) mentioned when I was talking to her about her new style was Chris Sanders. Ironically, I had just come across his boot and his sketchbook not longe before I found laurie and Kandrix. I wasn't really aware of Chris before this Comiccon, but I'll be following his art more closely in the future.
I was also hoping to see Mark Schultz and pick up another sketchbook (I've seen him the past two years and purchased a sketchbook each year), but I couldn't find him this year. I didn't actually look anyone up in in the index - I just wandered until I found people, so he may have been there. I don't know.
I met a talented young artist in Comiccon's Artist Alley, Emily Warren, and I had every intention of buying her sketchbook...but I never quite made it back to her ( found her early inthe day before I was making many purchases).
She has done color work for at least one cover of Zenescope's Grimm Fairy tales issues and has done a Little Miss Muffet cover (naughty and nice versions) that were gorgeous. Her art isn't quite as "cute" as Dean Yeagle's or Laurie B's, but it is definitely very nice.
I'll have to try to buy the sketchbook from her web site.
Travis Charest was signing his latest book (a little hardcover measuring about 3" tall and 8" wide) called SpaceGirl. The story is sorta like a Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers piece of pulp space-silliness and the artwork, though not as finished as I had hoped it would be, was still a worthy acquisition. Some of the books pages were colored, but others were barely more than rough sketches.
I also picked up a bunch of other really cool comics:
I found the J Scott Campbell alternate cover of Beyond Wonderland #1 in the Zenescope booth. Campbell is another artist who does really-cute-but-a-little-naughty art (usually for Danger Girl).
I found the stunning Caliber #4 at the Radical Comics booth. I also picked up a couple of other brand new issues of their comics, but this one is my favorite. I love its old-west-meets-Camelot storyline. And the interior art is as impressive as the covers.
Joe Linsner's was there selling his latest Dawn convention sketchbook. Joe can do the really-cute-but-a-little-naughty style, but he seems to stick to the more grown-up naughty imagery more these days.
I missed the 2006 edition, but I have all the others.
I happened across an alternate cover of a comic I don't usually buy, Hack/Slash, at the Devil's Due booth.
I've been intrigued by this title, but it hasn't really managed to grab my attention to the point that I was willing to buy it. The Suicide Girls Annual version certainly did, though (at least the cover I picked up). The interior art was also well done (some panels more well-done than others, but overall it was pretty good).
I found a comic from 2005 caled Fervor that caught my eye immediately.
The black and white interior art isn't as polished as the cover, but it's very original. The writing is a little disjointed and hard to follow, but i don't regret making the purchase (I do kind of regret having the comic's creator mar the cover with his autograph).
The SLG booth didn't have any copies of the Haunted mansion for me this year, but they did have the last two issues of Wonderland, a less dark (than the Zenescope or Abacus versions) version of the Alice in Wonderland story. The interior art is colorful and very Alice in Wonderland. Last year, the artist was on hand to sign my copies, this year it was the writer.
My surprise favorite unexpected acquisition: Richard Moore's Blue Grind. If you're a fan of the re-imagining of classic stories and appreciate risque (definitely cute, but more definitely dirty) art, you'll get a kick out of this book. It's the grown-up version of what happened to Dorothy when she went to Oz.
In addition to the books mentioned above, I also picked up a bunch of others, but I don't feel like talking about any of the rest of them at the moment.