Sunday, August 12, 2007

Wizard World Chicago: Comics fans are weird. Also, my legs hurt

So I was at the Wizard World Chicago convention yesterday, and I know I'm out of shape because I was incredibly tired after a day spent almost entirely on my feet. I guess office jobs will do that to you. Anyway, it was pretty fun; I got to meet a bunch of creators that I like and get exposed to some new artists that I plan to watch. Here's some pictures, information, stuff I got signed, etc.:

EDIT: When showing this post to my wife, she commented that I describe pretty much everybody as "really nice". I didn't notice that when I was writing it, but I guess I just liked everybody I met. So, sorry if it gets a bit monotonous.

Geof Darrow was really nice, doing little sketches on whatever he signed. He had a bunch of Shaolin Cowboy prints, and he would draw little lizards or something in a corner of the image. Here's what he did on the issue that he signed for me:



And here's a picture of him doing his thing:



David Mack was really nice; I told him how much I liked his art, but I had really only read the Daredevil stuff he illustrated, and he gave me the first issue of the Marvel/Icon version of Kabuki:



I didn't really talk to Michael Avon Oeming, but here's a picture of him doing a sketch on the cover of Powers #11:



Adrian Alphona was really nice, and he was doing free sketches if you donated to a Filipino charity. I loved watching him whip out cool depictions of the Runaways characters in just a few minutes. I didn't have a sketchbook or anything for him to sketch in, but I would have got one of Molly. Bummer. His booth was right next to C.B. Cebulski, and they were both pretty excited to see a group of fans that had dressed up like the Runaways characters. I asked him about any upcoming work, and he said he's doing an issue of Avengers Fairy Tales, and another project that he can't talk about yet. Here's a picture of him at work:



I also talked to Christina Strain, colorist of Runaways and Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, and I let her know how much I liked her work. A picture:



Jacen Burrows was very friendly, and he signed a couple of comics for me. He seems very excited to be doing the work he's doing. He's illustrating an Alan Moore story in the near future (I'm not sure if that's an Alan Moore script or an adaptation of one of his stories), and then he has some big projects coming up. I can't wait to find out what those will be. Here's his picture, sitting at the Avatar booth:



Both Phil Hester and Mike Huddleston signed my copy of The Coffin, and I told them their collaborations were my favorite stuff of theirs. When asked about possible future collaborations, they both expressed a desire to do more stories, but nobody seems to want to publish them. They can do work for Image, but when you do that, you don't get paid until after the book comes out, so that's not an option for Huddleston when he's trying to pay his rent. But hopefully they'll be able to do another one one of these days. Here's Huddleston working on a Dr. Strange sketch:



A closeup of the sketch (if you can see anything):



And I came back a while later to see how it was progressing (sorry about the blurry photo):



Man, I love seeing artists at work.

Jim Mahfood was also really nice; I'm a fan of his stuff, and he signed a few books for me, including what was probably my first exposure to him:



I also had him sign the Wha Huh? one-shot that Marvel did a while back, telling him that I though his art was the best thing about it. He said it was a really weird project, with lots of delays, controversies, and legal issues, and what eventually came out was a really watered-down version of the original intent, so he wasn't really too happy with it. I had suspected as much, and we both agreed that it was too bad he didn't get to draw the Patton Oswalt-written story about the Punisher killing a guy with a Hostess fruit pie, in the manner of the old ads. Here's a picture of him working on a sketch:



I spoke to Brian Hurtt and Cullen Bunn, creators of the awesome book The Damned. I was quite flattered that they were familiar with the reviews I had written. They both signed my copy of the trade, and Hurtt did a neat sketch:



They said the sequel to the original series should be coming out later this fall, around December, and it's actually going to be six issues, or two three-issue miniseries. I can't wait. Here's a picture of the two of them pretending they don't like each other:



I met Spike, creator of the webcomic Templar, Arizona (which I recently reviewed). I bugged her about when the next (print) volume would be out, and she said she hopes to finish it this fall and take an intermission, and she would have to find a publisher/printer for it, since she had a lot of problems with the company that printed the first volume, and so did friends/colleagues of hers. That's too bad, but hopefully it won't take too long to sort out. She had read my review, which I thought was cool. Here's a picture of her and her husband:



At the Ape Entertainment booth, I talked to Matt Anderson, Eric Hutchins, and Micah Farritor, the creators of White Picket Fences. Even though I thought that I didn't like the book enough to pick up the third and final issue, they were such nice guys that I bought it from them (expect a review soon [EDIT: Here's the review!]). Farritor did a neat little sketch for me:



And they also all signed the issue:



I met Mike Kunkel, creator of Herobear and the Kid. My wife really likes that book, but I haven't read it for some reason. I got a picture for her:



And he signed a couple cards, including one about his upcoming Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! series (which I didn't find out about until later, when I was reading news online; it follows up on Jeff Smith's Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil):



I think I had heard about the book, but didn't really know about it, so I picked up a copy of The Boy Who Made Silence from Joshua Hagler:



It's a Xeric grant winner, and it looks really cool, with a real Dave McKean/David Mack influence. I took a picture of his original art pages because I thought they looked amazing:



You can find out more information about the book on Hagler's site [EDIT: You can read my review of the book here].

I talked to a few other creators for whom I don't have any pictures. Christopher Mitten (the artist of Wasteland) was nice, and he said the second collection of the series should be out in December, I believe.

Chuck BB (artist on Black Metal) seemed like a nice guy, and I almost regretted the middling review I gave the book. He remembered the review when I told him who I was, saying "Oh yeah, you're the guy who complained about the eyes!" But he said I seemed like a sweet guy, so he didn't have any hard feelings.

James Vining, author of First in Space, was also nice (I really need to read that book). He's the one who turned down the Xeric grant for his book, but they were still nice enough to still let him put "Xeric grant winner!" on the cover of the book and promote him on their site.

Kody Chamberlain, artist of Punks: The Comic, was disappointed because the comic hadn't come out in time for the show. It should be showing up in shops within the next couple weeks.

As for some of the more off-the-beaten-path stuff, I discovered some artists that look really good, meaning that I'll have to watch out for them:

Chad Thomas has a really clean, cartoony style, and I liked it so much I bought this minicomic:



He had a sketch of a girl attacking some ninjas with two swords in his sketchbook, and he was quite gratified when I immediately identified it as Street Angel. I guess very few people knew of that series. Chad hasn't done much big-time work (he had a back-up story in Hero Camp), but I think he might break out sometime soon.

Chris Wisnia had a few books of Jack Kirby-style monster stories, and he's apparently written for The Jack Kirby Collector. One of the books was inked by Dick Ayers, a frequent Kirby inker, and they looked really cool. They also featured pinups from guys like Mike Allred, Mike Mignola, Los Bros Hernandez, John Severin, Sam Kieth, and many more. I might have to order one of those sometime.

Gabriel Bautista has a really cool style that reminds me of Brandon Graham. You can check out his stuff at his site.

Erik Rose has a nice, Mike Mignola-influenced style, although when it's colored it becomes very unique. Here's his site.

Josh Johnson has an interesting, gothic-cartoony style that looks pretty cool. He does a book called The Spindletons.

Kelly Howlett has a really nice style, although I don't know if she does comics or just illustrations. She kind of reminds me of Lauren McCubbin.

Bruno Werneck has a cool, Ashley Wood-like style.

Javier Guzman does some nice cartoony stuff.

And I think that's all that I wanted to mention. I forgot to write down his name, but there's a guy doing a book called Golly that's coming from Image, and it looks cool. There was also a guy collaborating new graphic novel with Joe Casey that looked great, all about monsters and stuff. Those will be ones to watch for, but I wish I had written down more information so I could point people to them.

And what the hell, here are some more pictures:

Jeffrey Brown, Matt Kindt, and Chris Staros at the Top Shelf booth:



Bill Sienkiewicz:



This guy was doing a chalk drawing of Batman and the Joker:



I came back later in the day to see how it was progressing:



Some naughty statues (a main reason why people think comics fans are weird):



Some kids battling with foam swords under the watchful eye of a barbarian:



Some guys dressed as an angel and a demon posing on a podium. I guess it was a promotion for something. When I took the picture, somebody affiliated with the booth said I could go up and pose with them, but I was content to observe from afar, wondering about some people's sanity:



Costumes! Mario and Luigi:



Poison Ivy and Blue Skateboard Kid (I have no idea who he's supposed to be):



Emma Frost and Cyclops:



Spider-Man bothering a Suicide Girl:



Harvey Birdman and Phil Ken-Sebben flanking one of their clients, presumably:



A weird-looking Justice League:



I saw tons and tons of other costumes, and I really should have got more pictures. My favorite might have been the fat guy in a homemade Magneto costume, just because it was so pathetic. There were anime guys with giant swords, lots of guys in faded Spider-Man costumes, tons of cute kids wearing stuff like Thor with fake foam muscles or Mary Marvel, lots of scantily-clad Catwomen, Black Canaries, Zatannas, etc., and plenty of stuff that was just plain weird. Good times.

Finally, I should mention the strange experience of sitting down to eat next to an angry booth babe dressed in a skintight, cleavage-baring black dress. She was promoting some artist or something, and she was pissed that they weren't making enough money. And she was probably tired from standing all day. I guess she had to take a break to have a beer, which she said she hoped would lessen the pain in her feet so she could go back out onto the floor. It was rather odd.

So that's my experience at WWC. It was my first time attending a comic convention, but I hope to go to others sometime. I think I would prefer the small-press stuff, but I guess I wouldn't mind braving the insanity of San Diego someday. We'll see!