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Philly Con at a Glance

May 16, 2002

Day 1

A day of making acquaintances with new friends and becoming reacquainted with friends of old. Jay and Karla Weesner flew in from Dallas the night before and we spent much of the day talking comics and walking the floor. Kevin Smith was interviewed while we watched from a table a few feet away eating tasty sandwiches and snacks purchased by Dianne and Karla from the Reading Market.
Writers Sean McKeever (The Waiting Place, Tower [a brilliant science-fiction one-shot with stunning art by Jason Alexander], as well as a super-cool mini-series that's in the works, and Paul Storrie (Robyn of Sherwood, Gotham Girls [forthcoming from DC], not to mention a story in the upcoming Captain America anthology [to be illustrated by David Lloyd]) attended the show, and we spent some time talking, laughing, and catching up on life in general.
Christopher Shy (who is anything but) was seated next to me and had no trouble selling out of his hardcover collection of art entitled Ronin. It is little wonder the book sold well, Christopher is a visionary whose style is reminiscent, but is in no way imitative, of H. R. Geiger and other artists of this caliber.
Spoke with many other friends who I’d not seen in a long time--too long a time.
Wanted to obtain a few autographs but lines at the Marvel booth were unbelievably long. Jay managed to snag Joe Kubert’s signature on the new Sgt. Rock archive edition.
Shopping: None.
Boobs to the right of me. Diva girls. Former Playmates of the Year. This is a comic book convention right? Ladies, talk to your agents and cover your saline bags, please.
CrossGen: Money + money + money + money = big display at convention.
The show ended at 8:00 p.m.--a long day indeed, and it was time to leave. Too old to party, much too old.

Day 2

Sold a few comics, walked the floor.
Bill Sienkiewicz, whose work I’ve idolized since my high-school days when he was pencilling Moon Knight and Fantastic Four, was sitting at the Red Bull table. Jay noticed him because he’d met Bill before (Bill was conspicuously not wearing a name tag). I walked over and he was sitting and sketching and looking very relaxed. There was no line. No one knew who he was. People would walk by and you would hear little whispered conversations like:
“Who’s that guy?”
“I dunno.”

Someone would invariably lean forward, trying to spot a nametag. Finding no tag they would shrug their shoulders and move on. But a few of us knew. Jay, for one.
Shopping: A few Ghost Rider comics from the 70s series at a buck each.
Di presented me with an awesome R2-D2/C-3PO Star Wars Burger King glass circa 1980 Empire Strikes Back and Jay gave me a Marvel Treasury Edition featuring the Hulk against my second-favorite super-villain of all, M.O.D.O.K.!
Di and I dined with Jay, Karla, Sean, Paul, Brett, and Janet Hetherington (Wizard online editor) at Ludwig’s Garten in Center City. The food was German and tasty as was the beer. The conversation was exquisite.

Day 3

Jay and Karla returned to Dallas in the morning despite our wishes that they could stay longer.
A slow day at the show (perhaps because of Mother’s Day).
Spoke with Peter (Chewbacca) Mayhew. He autographed my Chewbacca cardboard stand-up. We talked about one of my favorite shows of all time--the Star Wars Holiday Special. I think he and I are the only two people in the word who realize it was all done in fun.
Sales slow to nonexistent but those who flipped thru the Altercations preview were enthusiastic.
Trying to speak to an editor at DC I overheard the following conversation. He was speaking to a young man who wanted to send story submissions to the DC editorial staff. For the sake of anonymity we will refer to the editor as “ED” and the would-be writer as “WBR.”

ED: You can’t really expect to pitch a Batman or Superman story to us and see it published. The chances are really slim. I mean, we [the editors] have established working relationships with a lot of writers. These are individuals we know who have proven track records, and if we need to buy a story, we’re probably going to buy one from someone like Loeb.
WBR: But I have this idea for a Superman story.
ED: Where do you think people like Grant Morrison and Brian Michael Bendis came from? Do you think Bendis just started writing Spider-Man? Do you think Morrison just called up and said, “I want to write X-Men”? No, Morrison used to do shitty little stories in the UK before he started working for DC and Marvel. Bendis used to self-publish a thousand shitty little stories of his own. Now tell me about your idea.

The editor obviously considers Morrison’s Zenith, Dare, The New Adventures of Adolf Hitler, and Bendis’ a.k.a. Goldfish, and Jinx (among others) “shitty little stories.” Right. I guess those who cannot write well eek out their time on this earth by “editing” those who can. By the editor's analogy, everyone working outside the “Big Two” is producing shit and everything published by the industry giants is gold, baby, pure gold. Did you see the new Chris Ware book? Yeah, it’s a shitty little comic. The new Seth? Shitty. The new issue of Charles Burns’ Black Hole? Shit. Bottom line: I know, as you probably do, breaking into DC and Marvel is extremely difficult and takes an amazing amount of persistence and an attitude that cannot--will not (if I may use a Claremontism)--be stopped. One would hope those who represent a major comics empire like DC would at the very least present a certain amount of professionalism when speaking with the fan public. Fortunately, two words regarding editorial staff positions at the Big Two come to mind: House cleaning (just ask any of the myraid of "editors" who've fallen before the scythe over the years).

Shopping: Di and I walked the floor a lot. I found a few Silver Age comics, a few Bronze Age books from the want list. Spoke with Golden Age great, Marty Nodell, creator of Green Lantern and a class act all the way.
We packed up around 3:30. Missed saying goodbye to Sean, Paul, Brett, et al.

Overall, a great experience for me as a fan and a creator. And the band played on...

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