I've said it before: Comic-Con's different for me every year. 2006 has made me taller and stronger than ever before. Doing comics online and promoting them with blogging and pocketfuls of URL-postcards, the advantages of internets versus the self-publishing route of past years are forehead-smackingly obvious. I walked into the hall with a it-might-be-secret-all-weekend book deal smile, a swing in my limp and an airplane hacking cough. I needed to share some love this weekend... for fear of exploding.
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From the plane ride alone, passing the flight having wildly-enthusiastic round robin chats about media theory and comix's future with man_size and Douglas Rushkoff, whose work I've been following since 1993's Media Virus, I knew this year was going to be nononononon-nonstop.
Dean and I hit our room at the Omni on Thursday afternoon and I was already sick and coughing; planes are cesspools of bacteria and steeping in that monkey-funk-soup for 6 hours doesn't do nobody no favors. We hit the show for a few hours, where met Jamie Levine of Warner Books for the first time, my editor on SHOOTING WAR. Jamie and I sat outside for at least an hour, drinking tea and having a tremendously circular conversation about plans for the hardcover I was hoping we'd get to announce during the weekend as we got to know each other. She's smart and passionate about striving to make "classic" collaborative projects and it ratcheted up my own excitement for the project even more. The tricky part was that the entire conversation, I could feel my decongestants wearing off: first there was a leaky faucet, then two, then my voice started to get gravelly and finally I lost the letter "N". She was really understanding, and made me even more comfortable.
On the way back to the hotel, a two-mile long train inbound from Tiajuana blocked my passage, stretching across the train tracks as far as the eye can see... just as the con hall closed. Throngs of angry fans pooled around the stairs, held at bay by a barking crossing guard, as the train rolled forward, stopped, reversed, rolled forward again. My eyes rolled; I needed another Sudafed. My phone rang and it was my old-skool friend Dre from Miami who is now a lawyer in San Diego; we'd talked about meeting at the hotel for dinner but he was blocked by the train too. He rolled up to the curb in his white Lexus coupe with the 20" DUB rims and I stepped into the coupe; someone shouted "Let's get a ride with THAT guy!" and I flashed a peace sign to the crowd. Dre cranked his death metal CD with the windows open and we burned rubber past the train's ass, looping around to head it off at the pass.
Rendezvous at the hotel with Bob and Michelle Fingerman and a handful of pals, we had a nice large Thai dinner and Dean and I went to the Scholastic Grafix party, where I got wrangled into really interesting conversations with Jordan Crane and Greg Ruth. We'd just spent cash on Thai food and there was a nice spread at the party for free, which was a bummer. The ever-present Hyatt loomed in the distance but my head was spinning now, full of phlegm and neither Dean nor I had a chance to rest. I copped some single-serving OTC meds from a liquor store and sat in front of the hotel TV with my eyes crossing in slow motion as the waves of sleep rolled across my forehead underneath a promo copy of the first Goosebumps graphic novel.
The next morning I woke up early... 8am New York time is 5am Cali time and I was sick. Really sick, chest rattling and wanting to cry, wanting chicken soup and mama. The concierge told me the pharmacy didn't open until 11am but I could walk across downtown to Ralph's 24hr market for more OTC snot-candy. The streets of downtown San Diego at 5am are speckled with interesting characters and I marched along, coughing up strange things and whining like a little girl to Lilli in NY. Returning back to the room with a $30 bag of convention-functionality, I doped up decongestants, antihistamines, phlegm-looseners, hi-grade zinc and it was GAME ON.
Dean and I hit the jacuzzi for the first time before breakfast and it became a regular thing instantly and generated one of my favorite moments of the whole show: everytime Dean and I left the pool area in shorts and towels, we'd run into Frank Cho in the elevator. We'd be joking with whoever in the social obtusion of the elevator as is custom, and Dean pointed him out to me. But we KEPT SEEING HIM, every time. On about the fourth trip, Frank smiled at us, saying "You guys are the most relaxed people at this whole convention!" We cracked up and invited him to join us next time, but I never saw him after that.
Friday I floated through the show, forgot my camera and was a total decongestant space cadet. I hit the Comic-Blogging panel with jahfurry, which was surprising in that I knew or electronically-communicated with all of them already:
I got to spend some time with Carla Speed-McNeill and Jim Ottaviani, Batton Lash and two of my dearest friends, doll-making genius artists Sam Borkson and Arturo Sandoval of FRIENDS WITH YOU:
Alot of Friday was lost to my crappy-feeling. I split mid-day for a dip in the jacuzzi, trying to steep the goop out of me. Frank Cho was in the elevator again. Reinvigorated back at the con, I had my camera on me and decided to start kissing stuff:
After all that kissing I was KNOCKED OUT and my group dinner plans were unravelling. I hit the hotel to take a breather and instead started shivering uncontrollably. The fever that threatened had finally hit. I stripped and crawled under the covers and the lights went out for a few hours. When I woke up, the sheets were soaking wet, the fever broken, and I felt FUCKING AMAZING. What to do but go hit the Hyatt bar...? There I had some more great conversations with the brilliant crisper, J.H. Williams III, Matt Fraction, Ben McCool, Stuart Schreck, Gus Vasquez, John Layman, Essad Ribic, Chris Oarr, Ivan Brandon and a host of others. At was only after the bar had closed and the crowd thinned that I remembered I hadn't eaten dinner yet. Ah well, back to Ralph's for a cup of soup. Back at the room, Dino was still up and there was a knock on the door following my return: Stu Schreck's fiancée Elizabeth requested our presences at the pool for feet-dipping. I took the soup down with me and we stayed up for another few hours, talking and laughing under the moon while drunk fratboys with Red Hot Chili Pepper tattoos hee-hawed about utter crap and bummed Elizabeth's cigarettes.
The next day, the last real day, got started late and I didn't care. My con threshold was approaching anyhow. I took lunch with Dan Curtis Johnson and his pirate-hunting brother Steve and his wife Yoshiko. Until the night before, I didn't know Dan had a brother; he and his wife were really cute together and it made me homesick for Lilli even more. Camera snapped back at the show, old friends and costumed kooks:
From there, I hit a toymaker party in a cool loft playing hip-hop... and then the Hyatt. When the bar let out, we adjourned to John Layman and David Baron's room. I met Ed Brubaker and James Kolchalka (who was staying down the hall and was woken up by the party) there, who were both super-cool cats:
But it ain't a party till the cops come, right?
A fitting end to a great con. The next day was a quick dip, a cup of tea, and a trip to the airport. Lilli and Wedge were both purring when I came home at midnight, grinning like a fool.