Rod and I drove down to Charlotte on the Thursday before the con, and we actually got there earlier in the night (as opposed to arriving at 2 AM like we did last year). It was actually a really nice drive down, and when we arrived one of the first things we did was pick up our new banners we’d ordered and had shipped to the hotel. As soon as we got into the hotel room we broke those suckers open and set them up in the room-- I couldn’t have been more pleased with them!
Friday morning we made our way to the convention center and realized we were set up next to Comfort Love and Adam Withers, who we’d met at Heroes and later the Baltimore convention last year. They are a husband and wife team like us, and they have a fantastic comic book they write, draw and publish called The Uniques-- it’s a really great read. I picked up the first few issues at Heroes last year and had to keep coming back for more!
We also caught up with Scott Weinstein whose table was right next to ours, and I had my first look at the After-School Agent convention special issue I drew for Scott. It’s still so cool to see my work in print. I just hope I did Scott’s characters justice! Later Chris Zaccone and Gino Patti finally showed and we were one big happy family again!
As the show went on, we caught up with pals Todd Dezago and Craig Rousseau and I finally got to see the Molly back-up story Scott and I worked on for Perhapanauts #6. And they were nice enough to also publish my Justice Brigade pin-up in the same issue, which was very cool. I love those guys! I also finally met up with Rico Renzi, Perhapanauts colorist, who I was beginning to think didn’t actually exist (but he does after all)!
We also said hello to Matt and Suzanne Wieringo and Christian Leaf, and looking back on things I’m an idiot for not asking to see Matt’s portfolio he had with him there at the show. He showed me a couple pages from it (and I told him how jealous I was of his Perhapanauts pages), but I didn’t think to ask him if I could flip through it. Because I’m an idiot. I will try to redeem myself in Baltimore.
I always contribute to the ‘Ringo Scholarship Fund at these shows by slipping money into their collection jar, and this year was no different. I also purchased two more of Mike’s gorgeous pages—one a Spidey splash page, and the other a page from Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man which doesn’t feature any main characters, but I wanted it because it’s just an incredible page. The angles, the shadows, and layouts are just beautiful. It’s the level of work I'm constantly striving for.
The first day of the show was great and we sold some sketchbooks and Blue Milk Special collections. The BMS Milk Droid also made his debut at the show, and he might appear again in Baltimore...
(I stole this pic from Jimmy Aquino because we forgot to take one... Sorry, Jimmy!)
My only problem was that I took on way too many commissions at this show. I ended up filling up my plate so much on Friday that by Saturday I had to start turning people away just so I could finish everything by Sunday. Craig gave me some pointers on that, though, that I’ll be putting into effect in Baltimore. I just didn’t get as much time to walk around as I would’ve liked, so hopefully I’ve learned my lesson.
But before I forget, I have to give a massive shout-out to my friend Jon Kallis. I’ve known Jon for many years (we also do the Idol Fury blog together), and he came to Heroes last year to help support me because it was my first time having my own table at a show. He helped me out last year and again this year, manning our table while we weren’t there, helping restock items and watching over everything. And it was because of him that I was able to walk around the con as much as I did. Thanks, Jon-- you are awesome!
Also great to see Brian Pillow after a few years. Brian worked at Dominion Comics, the comic shop I used to go to when I lived in Lynchburg. And I got to say hello again to Paul Rogers, who owned Dominion. It was such a great shop, and I was really disappointed to hear that it’s closed down now after so many years. Long live Dominion!
Friends Adam and Katy Haile stopped by on Saturday, as well as THE Adam Tyner. I wish things weren’t so hectic at my table so I could’ve spent more time with these guys. But it was great to see them there.
On Saturday after the show, Rod and I went to the art auction, mostly to be there when Matt announced the winner of the first ‘Ringo Scholarship award. Congrats to Katelyn "Rae" Rochelle for the win! I hear it was well deserved and that she will be one to watch. Plus, the girl likes werewolves-- she already sounds awesome to me. When Matt was introduced and came up on stage we all gave him (and Mike) a standing ovation. It was really emotional, and I think Matt did a great job.
Partway through the auction, Rod and I left to go to dinner with friends Bryan and Judy Glass. Bryan is the writer of Mice Templar (amongst other things), a series that has become one of my favorites. We had a great time at dinner and talked for a few hours and heard some of Bryan’s great stories (the Death story still blows my mind). It was a fantastic night. Thanks, Bryan and Judy! Also, on Friday, Bryan had loaned me his Mice Templar sketchbook to draw in. He had loads of other artists draw in his book, and I was honored that he’d asked me to do the same. I told him I hoped I wouldn’t be the one to ruin it (and in the end I’m not sure if that wasn’t the case), but since I wasn’t quite happy with what I’d drawn I told him I’d make it up to him in Baltimore. I’ve got to try and churn out something cool.
(Above photo by Jen Maihack. Thanks, Jen!)
Also on Saturday, Rod and I were interviewed by Jimmy Aquino and Joe Gonzalez of Comic News Insider. I was so nervous and laughed way too much, but I guess it could’ve been worse. Jimmy and Joe are two great guys and were very nice to us. We talked Blue Milk Special and about some of the projects I have coming up. You can find the interview online here. Thanks to my pal Kevin Conn for giving me the inside scoop, I drew quick commissions of Jimmy and Joe’s favorite superheroes. Joe got Captain Marvel, and Jimmy got a picture of Batman lovingly kicking him in the face:
Also on Saturday, I made my way over to the Savannah College of Art and Design’s table where Tom Lyle was drawing and signing. Tom worked with Marvel and DC years ago, drawing Spider-Man amongst other things, and also the very first Tim Drake Robin miniseries. When I was about 13-years-old, I sent Tom a bunch of my hand-drawn comics, and he mailed them back to me with a very nice and encouraging hand-written letter and some of his sample pages. He gave me a lot of pointers and told me not to give up in wanting to be a comic artist. I never forgot that, and I wanted to finally thank him in person. I got a picture taken with him and gave him one of my sketchbooks. I’m not working full time in comics yet, but I’m still trying!
On Sunday I was still scrambling to finish my last few commissions. The con didn’t open until 11 AM, but I got up at 7 AM just to work on commissions. Yeah, I know. But when we did get to the con on Sunday we had a good time. It was sad saying goodbye to everyone, though. That’s the toughest part of going to these things because you wish they could last more than just a few days.
Rod and I packed up at the end of the day and headed out to dinner with Jon, then to the Heroes afterparty where we met up again with Adam and Comfort, Bryan and Judy, Todd and Sharon, Craig, Christian, Suzanne and Matt. We got talking to Matt about Hammer movies (which we all love), but had to call it a night all too soon. We had a long drive ahead of us the following day so it was just as well. We finally did get to talk to Shelton Drum and shake his hand to thank him for putting on such a great show. We’ll definitely be back next year (maybe with bowling shirts...?).
I’ve probably accidentally left some people out or haven’t remembered bits and pieces... My memory (which is horrible enough) on this is already three weeks old. Yeesh.
But it makes me really look forward to seeing all of these wonderful peeps at Baltimore Con in October. Can’t wait!
I’ll post a few of the commissions I did while at the con, as well as a few more photos next entry.