Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Reflections of Phoenix

Well, the flight Friday noon from Bob Hope Airport in Burbank to Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix was short, smooth, and utterly uneventful, precisely the way I like 'em. I was met at the airport by several members of the energetic staff of the 4th Phoenix Cactus Comicon and ferried to my hotel, where I had time to clean up, settle in, then wander over to the Convention Center connected to the hotel to see how Preview Night was going and to check out the landscape, so to speak. Simply put, it was going just fine.

Already set up in Artists' Alley was such varied talent as Lady Death's Brian Pulido, Komikwerks' Shannon Denton, Teen Titans Go's Todd Nauck, Firebreather's Andy Kuhn, Green Arrow's Phil Hester, Marvel Knights Spider-Man's Angel Medina, Starchild's James Owen, Marvel Zombies' Arthur Suydam, Star Wars' Mike Stackpole, Desperadoes' Jeff Mariotte, and Violent Messiahs' Tone Rodriguez. On Saturday morning, they would be joined by Hellboy's Mike Mignola, Nexus' Steve Rude, New Mutants' Bret Blevins, The Brave and the Bold's George Perez and...oh, yeah, me. Scattered about the rest of the room were several popular Anime voice artists like Crispin Freeman, Vic Mignogna, and Tiffany Grant, Manga print artists such as Amy Reeder Hadley and Jen Lee Quick, and a number of other Anime, Comics and Art Dealers. Sitting behind his own table was Mathew Atherton, otherwise known as Feedback, winner of the first season of the Sci Fi Channel's hit series, Who Wants to be a Superhero? There are other writers and artists I'm sure I've missed, and from each of you not mentioned, I pray your forgiveness.

What I hadn't realized before I got there was that Cactus Comicon devotes almost as much time and space to Anime and Manga as it does to mainstream comics. Everywhere I looked, folks were dressed as their favorite Anime characters, none of which, I'm embarrassed to admit, I recognized.

On Friday evening, after the convention preview, all the guests were treated to a thank you dinner from the convention staff, which may well have been the highlight of the weekend for me, since I found myself with Bret Blevins and his lovely wife Patricia sitting to my left side and, on my right, the original Lois Lane herself, the incredible Noel Neill and her charming husband Larry. Since I'm one of those kids who grew up on The Adventures of Superman, seeing Noel again was a real treat. She was even kind enough to pretend to remember me from our last meeting many months earlier. It always freaks me out a tad to realize that, thanks to Noel, I'm only three degrees of Kevin Bacon away from movie great Clark Gable, since Noel and I both appeared in the DVD super-hero feature Surge of Power, and she had appeared in the aforementioned Superman series with the late, lamented George Reeves, who in turn had appeared in Gone With the Wind with Gable. Anyway, the dinner was a hoot, and I hope to post some photos from same here soon.

On Saturday, I hosted the con's Trivia Challenge, then participated in a round-table discussion with Mssrs. Mignola, Mariotte, Stackpole and Pulido on the art of translating a comics property from the page to the screen. I spent the bulk of the day, however, at my table, signing autographs, posing for photos with con-goers and generally having a heck of a good time. The best part was the surprising number of people who wanted neither autograph nor photograph, but merely to shake my hand and tell me how much my work has meant to them over the years. I found each and every one of those moments to be touching beyond my poor ability to describe, and I thank you all most humbly.

Sunday started off on a cheerful note, as I finally had a chance to sit and shoot the breeze over breakfast with my old pal George Perez. He's comfortably settled in over at DC, penciling the new Brave & the Bold monthly with writer Mark Waid, and he couldn't be happier. His devotion to making sure B&B appears monthly is the major reason George won't be making any other convention appearances from this April through early 2009.

The rest of the day went much like Saturday, with one particular perplexing moment. As I was returning from the one writers' panel I'd been scheduled for that day, I was stopped in the hall by a young fan who asked me a question for which I had no immediate answer. He asked me, "What is an idea?" While my first response was to reply, "What isn't an idea?" I thought better of it. Instead, I told him it was the kind of question that really couldn't be answered adequately while standing in a convention hallway, and I walked away, feeling like a first-class poser.

Other than that, the weekend was terrific, made even more so by the wonderful folks who threw the Cactus Comicon. Each and every one of them was as upbeat and helpful as could be. You can tell a lot about a convention by the kind of people who run it, and these clearly were having more fun than human beings should be allowed to have, and that enthusiasm carried over to the guests and the fans. It's this kind of dedication that makes the difference between a good con and a great one. I sincerely hope the fine folks in Phoenix will invite me back again.

And, hey, anybody else who might be looking to invite your humble blogger to their con, my bags are packed and you know where to find me.

1 comment:

Rick Spence said...

I'm not a con-goer, so can I ask a silly question" Why do you go? Do they pay you? Do you have something to sell at your table?
I understand that con sketches can be lucrative for illustrators, but I'm not sure why the writers give up their weekends. ("C'mon, please? Just a little character sketch? Y'know, just 300 words?" "Oh, all right. 'Robin held his breath as he gaped at the myterious costumed figure. It reminded him of the first time he had enountered...'")