Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Back from SAN DIEGO

Wow! What a weekend.

Dean Trippe and Me - Both of us had our books announced at the Oni panel on Saturday, but that doesn't stop us from having "hero hands."

I spent the last six days in sunny San Diego, perhaps the most comfortable place on Earth, at the San Diego Comicon. For those of you unfamiliar with the SDCC, it is the biggest comic trade show/convention in the world (as far as I know), with a hundred and fifty thousand people packed into a room roughly the size of three or four city blocks. It's a big deal, too - video game companies, movie studios, toy manufacturers, all sorts of bigwigs abound at this thing.

I shared a hotel with Hunter Clark, Chris Bruner, Andrew Robinson, Shawn Crystal, and Jason Latour.

Me and Hunter, giving "a look."

I helped sell books at the Oni Press booth. I've been unable to speak freely about it until now, but Oni is the publisher of my new book series! I'll write another blog specifically about that in the very near future. Although I'd met editor-in-chief James Lucas Jones before, it was my first chance to meet managing editor Randal Jarrell and C.E.O.(?) and founder Joe Nozemack. I also got to hang out with some Oni cats whom I had met on prior occasions, like Capote in Kansas writer Ande Parks and Northwest Passage auteur Scott Chantler, whose original pages are more than any books can do justice to, even the beautiful new hardcover edition of Passage, AND I got to meet a lot of the artists and writers with whom I'd had no prior contact, like Brian Hurtt of The Damned. It was a lot of fun, and Oni treated us like KINGS. Let me elaborate.

On Friday night we had a party through United Talent Agency, who represents Oni through the production studio Closed on Mondays, bringing Oni books to the big screen. I'd never been to a fancy private club party before, with the guest list and the bouncers and the open bar and all that. It was LOTS of fun. All the Oni creators were there, and the editors, and a bunch of producers and a variety of celebritites - a few of the guys from NBC's Heroes, the kid from Arrested Development, Edgar Wright and Nick Frost, Liv Tyler, X-ibit (the rapper - is that how you spell it?), etc... I had no idea how "in" with the Hollywood crowd Oni was until that night. There were producers and stars in the booth throughout the weekend, which sort of surprised me - it's hard for me to think of comics as "more" than comics, even though I know that, in terms of licensing potential, they're a multi-million dollar industry. Strange, though, how that doesn't translate to comics being more of a standard in terms of the literary market. Oh, well - we're getting there.

I gave Stan Sakai my Usagi Yojimbo drawing, and he was very kind - he gave me his sketchbooks and signed a couple of Usagi trades for me, and offered to do a pin-up for the back of my book, which elates me to no end, as he's one of my all-time favorite cartoonists. His comic is the embodiment of what a monthly book SHOULD be - well-written, well drawn, a complete story in and of itself but contributing to a larger overall story. Perfect for new and old readers alike.

Justin Wagner, probably griping about how we should all be watching the Simpsons movie, with Joey Weiser and Doug Dabbs.

I picked up Joey Weiser's book The Ride Home. It looks GREAT. Can't wait to read it.

I spent most of my money at the Stuart Ng table, purveyor of amazing comics unavailable in the US (nothing bad or illegal, just not published for American editions). I got a couple volumes of Loisel's Peter Pan, one volume of the Marquis of something-or-another (great ships and sea art), and the most expensive but so-worth-it Belladone books, which, as Scott Chantler put it so well, are "exactly what we're trying to do, only much, much better." I got off easy at Stuart's - a few of the other guys who I was there with dropped a lot more than I did - but had you seen the books offered, you'd be proud at our restraint. I DID get a great watercolor sketch from Belladone artist Pierre Allary. It's going on the wall soon!

I also got to know Jared Jones, brother of James, and his friends Corey and Shana. They were amazingly interesting and fun people, and it's rare that I get to meet non-industry folk at these things and have such a good time with them.

I spent all of Sunday-day at the San Diego Maritime Museum, which was just as much fun as (and maybe MORE fun than) the con. I'm such a nerd when it comes to nautical stuff, and one of the highlights of my summer (and it's been an amazing summer) was getting to spend five hours aboard the HMS Surprise, the ship built for the Master and Commander film. It was amazing! While prohibited from actually climbing the shrouds, you could go just about anywhere you wanted, and I DID. I examined and sketched just about everything that I could - mostly knots, splices, tackles, and the like, to better prepare for my book, and I took about a hundred and fifty carefully chosen photographs to use as reference. I was in heaven, all the moreso because of the constant light wind and the Baroque string music that carried over the deck. Heaven, to me, would be that ship with that music, only I'd be allowed to dive off the sides and climb the rigging.

The last night was the "Dead Dog" party, which James invited me to and which I assumed was a smaller Oni party - boy was I wrong! It was another of the guest-list and bouncer parties, this one populated by the cream of the crop of the comics world. Jeff Smith and Sergio Aragones were at the table next to us (us being myself, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund honcho Greg Thompson and his wife (whose name I can't immediately remember and can't find online) and one of their friends; Paul Pope and Jim Lee were about, Stan Sakai was there - even little Alexa Kitchen. It was a great way to wrap things up.

More on the book - and the additions to the website - tommorow!


Chad! said...

ugh!...I am SO jealous of you right now!....it sounds like you had a great time and I'm super pumped for all the press you got over the weekend!...good luck on continuing more of Crogan's!...keep me in the loop, I can't wait to see more!

derekstellar said...

Chris! That is so fantastic! I feel like Joe Cocker should chime in-- "I...had...the time of my life...."

Sorry I did not make note of you being out of town the same time we were in GA. I just got got back last night- we hope to be back down there to practice again w/ Josh maybe in October. Holla.

Anonymous said...

Congrats Chris! That's really awesome. I'm glad you are doing really well and I can't wait to hear more.