Archive for the 'Conventions' Category


Comic Cons: Work vs Play

October 8th, 2014 Posted by david brothers

I went to my first convention as a fan, though I was ostensibly there to cover it on behalf of Hardcore Gamer Magazine, in 2007. It was a nice time—I finally met Gavin after years of knowing and writing with him online, I put a couple other faces to names, and I had a good time. I went to one panel where a company announced its next crossover and its dozens of tie-ins mere days after they finished their last crossover and the audience audibly groaned. Not just one loudmouth in the back, either, a large enough portion of the audience was so dissatisfied with the news that they straight groaned in disappointment. Even people who are on the hook don’t like being blatantly sold to. I laughed, and then I never went to one of those panels for fun again.

I learned a lot that first year, and I’ve been to a couple of cons a year since. SF-era Wondercon, San Diego, New York, and Emerald City—those are my shows. I worked NYCC and SDCC to make up for the travel costs, but I generally went to ECCC and WC for fun. But even “working” the cons as press means, at most, four-to-eight hours of actively doing things that aren’t for you, with a lot of free time in those hours. You’re essentially free to do whatever you like as long as you hit those meager marks and turn in copy. I took advantage—swims in the hotel pool, posting up at a bar’s patio for hours because the sun’s out, and sometimes even going into the show to see people.

I’m doing cons for Image now, which means I’m working-working, not press-working. Between sales and signings at the booth, panels at shows, and needing to keep up with my day job duties, I don’t know how to do cons any more, at least the hanging with friends and having independent fun part. It’s a whole different animal, going to a con to work versus play, and I’ve been having a hard time with it since I got started at Image last year.

It’s not that it’s difficult or annoying, though I suppose it is both of those—it’s just different. It’s new, it’s unfamiliar, and I’m still feeling my way through it. I’m distracted and unfocused when trying to have fun with friends, and I could tell. They could, too. It sucks, but it’s my row to hoe.

I’m finding a balance. I usually have a bad time at comics parties/events, so I focus on what I know works for me instead of the event-oriented nightlife. Finding a dark corner somewhere, leaving the con, walking and talking, whatever whatever. Talking about comics with strangers. I’ve taken to doing quiet, small-scale dinners with close friends instead of the sprawling comics dinners. Starting the show off on a good foot with a no-pressure thing. It works. It’s working.

I don’t really get stressed out at shows, but I do get anxious. Instead of being able to do nothing, I’m representing a company and have responsibilities. I want to make sure that I meet that need, so my down home work ethic says “All work, no play, son.” Which doesn’t work. It’ll burn you out. You gotta find things that work for you. I dress up, too. Nothing too wild, I’m not Dapper Dan over here, but I like to put a little extra effort out there to look nice.

I like doing panels, too. I’m doing four for Image at NYCC:

Thursday, 5 – 5:45PM
Location: 1A21
Comics can contain entire universes between their covers, and panelists Kelly Sue DeConnick (PRETTY DEADLY), Jason Latour (SOUTHERN BASTARDS), Jamie McKelvie (THE WICKED + THE DIVINE), Brandon Montclare (ROCKET GIRL), Kyle Higgins (C.O.W.L.), Tim Seeley (REVIVAL), and Ben Blacker and Ben Acker (THRILLING ADVENTURE HOUR PRESENTS… SPARKS NEVADA: MARSHAL ON MARS, THE THRILLING ADVENTURE HOUR PRESENTS… BEYOND BELIEF) excel at creating worlds that you can simply fall into from page one. Anything goes in comics, and now’s your chance to pick the brains of some of the most creative minds around.

Friday, 12:15 – 1PM
Location: 1A14
Comics are much bigger than superheroes. Kieron Gillen (THE WICKED + THE DIVINE), Antony Johnston (THE FUSE), Megan Levens (MADAME FRANKENSTEIN), Amy Reeder (ROCKET GIRL), Scott Snyder (WYTCHES), and Joshua Williamson (NAILBITER) create comics that range from sci-fi/crime to historical romance to horror and far, far beyond. Whether you’re here to broaden your horizons or check out a new work by your favorite author, these creators demonstrate the potential of comics.

Saturday, 2:15 – 3PM
Location: 1A06
No matter how weird of an idea you may have, if you can hook someone, they’ll be a reader for life. Wes Craig (DEADLY CLASS), Matt Fraction (SEX CRIMINALS), Steve Orlando (UNDERTOW), James Robinson (THE SAVIORS), Roc Upchurch (RAT QUEENS), Frank Quitely (JUPITER’S LEGACY), and Brian K. Vaughan (SAGA) take strange ideas and turn them into intensely relatable and entertaining comics. Now, they’re going to share their secrets and talk about how fun it is to make the unreal real.

Sunday, 2 – 2:45PM
Location: 1A10
All-ages comics are crucial to the longevity of the comics industry, and can be an incredible tool in entertaining and education children. Bring your family and come listen to panelists Nick Dragotta (HOWTOONS), Otis Frampton (ODDLY NORMAL), Chris Giarrusso (G-MAN), Sina Grace (PENNY DORA), and Fred Van Lente (HOWTOONS) speak on creating kids’ comics and the importance of libraries in spreading awareness.

A cool thing about my job is that I get an alarming degree of freedom when it comes to coming up with these panels. They all get approved by the mothership, but the rosters, the ideas, the descriptions, all of that is easily 90% my fault. Image does big announcements around Image Expo, which means I’m free to make the panels exactly what I want out of comics panels: an interesting discussion between people who know their stuff. I’m only there to help keep it moving and to involve the audience.

Here’s my approach: “What do I want to know?” That’s it! I’ll prep notes before the panel, and if I’m doing a Powerpoint presentation I’ll have a cheat sheet in there too. I only come in with a few specific things to ask, because I’ve found that if you start the conversation off right and then let it flow from that foundation instead of reading from a list, you’ll end up with a good time that ends up tying back into the theme of the panel. It’s like magic. So I’m up there to fire the starting gun, ask follow-up questions when people say interesting things in passing, and involve the audience. It’s a chance to satisfy my curiosity, and to create and satisfy curiosity in the audience.

The truth of comics panels is that the audience in the room is already on the hook and engaged. They may be the most engaged of all your fans, at least by a certain metric. So selling to them, letting them know it’s going to be X issues and come out on Y day and its ISBN is Z, is a bad tactic. They already know, and if they don’t know, they will know soon enough. So my choice is to engage them. Give them what they want and give them something they’ll remember. I’ve been blessed to have panelists that are gregarious and hilarious. I lose it laughing on-stage at least once a show, oftentimes more. The audience seems into it, too. People dig my approach. We may not have much for breaking news, but I’d put my panels up against anybody else’s for sheer quality.

I’m still finding my balance, though. New York Comic Con is my last show of the year, just a few weeks after a rough one, so I’m hoping I can have a good time and do my job well, too. I could be nervous or afraid, but honestly? I either will or I won’t. None of this is new to me, and I know what I’m doing, so I’m not going to sweat it. I’m just going to do it, and things will work out in the end.

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Do These Things At Rose City Comic Con

September 17th, 2014 Posted by david brothers

The best panels in comics are going on the road to sunny (?), vibrant (??) Portland, Oregon for Rose City Comic Con this weekend. I’m moderating four panels at the show, two for the check writer and two for the con itself.

SATURDAY, I’m talking to a few of the people making comics in the mainstream that connect with people in a way that mainstream books often don’t. We’re talking stories that are human and humane, that reach past the glitter and spectacle and put the big squeeze on your heart, that something something your something something, clever ending that ties it all together.

Image Comics Presents I is for Immediate
Room: Panel Room 2
Time: 12:00PM – 12:50PM
Separately, Kelly Sue DeConnick (Pretty Deadly), Matt Fraction (Sex Criminals), and Greg Rucka (Lazarus) have written some of the most compelling and intensely relatable comics on the stands. Together, these three writers are part of a wave of creators creating stories that reflect life as live it and the world as we know it. Join them as they discuss writing comics and striving for more.

SUNDAY, I have a packed schedule. First, I’m talking to Sloane Leong, Leila Del Duca, and Ben Dewey about creativity and storytelling and their approach to comics and so on. Second, I’m talking to Dynamic Dustin Nguyen, an artist whose work I’ve dug since I first discovered Wildcats 3.0. He’s got a unique style, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it came from. Third… Parker/Brothers, son. And immediately after that? I’m on a plane, but baby don’t forget me, I’m a travellin’ man.

Image Comics Presents I is for Irresistible
Room: Panel Room 2
Time: 11:00AM – 11:50AM
Comics art is better than ever and reaching new heights on a daily basis. Sloane Leong (From Under Mountains), Leila Del Duca (Shutter), and Ben Dewey (Tooth & Claw) share the secret to making great comics, sustaining creativity, and just how important artists are when it comes to storytelling in comics.

Spotlight: Dustin Nguyen
Room: Panel Room 7
Time: 12:00PM – 12:50PM
Dustin is one of the most prolific and hard working artists in the comics industry. He has worked on numerous Batman titles including, The Authority, American Vampire, and now the critically acclaimed digital first title Batman: Li’l Gotham, Dustin has truly shown he’s a force to be reckoned with.

Spotlight: Jeff Parker
Room: Panel Room 7
Time: 2:00PM – 2:50PM
From the humble beginnings as a comic artist to being one of the most sought after writer’s in the industry, Jeff Parker has shown that his unique take and sense of humor adds a level of depth to his characters rarely seen in the industry. Come step into the mind of the man currently behind Aquaman, Batman ‘66, X-Men: First Class, and so much more.

If you’ve never been to a panel I’ve run, here’s how it goes: I introduce everybody, I pick their brains a bit to set the foundation for the chat to come, and then audience Q&A is integrated into the discussion. If you ask a question, you get a free comic. If you ask a really good question, I’ll give you a handful of comics. It’s a good deal for everyone.

On top of that, my friend Marissa Louise is putting on a Ladies Mixer at Rose City. It happens before the con opens to the general public, so you need to be either on a panel or tabling. She tells me some wonderful women have already chosen to attend, so if you fit the bill, you should check it out and have a bite to eat. Marissa is cool people, very smart and fiercely protective of her folks. You can tweet her if you need more info.

Saturday September 20th, Rose City Comic Con (Portland Convention Center)
9:00 am to 9:45 am Panel Room 5
Fruit & Donuts

On top of all that, Caleb Goellner, one of the top two stand-up guys in comics, teamed up with Dark Horse editor Jim Gibbons to drop Birch Squatch: The Last Bigfoot this week. I like Caleb, I like Caleb’s comics, you should read Caleb’s comics. He also does Mermaid Evolution solo and Task Force Rad Squad with Buster Moody. All his comics are pay-what-you-want, so throw him a few bucks and have a good time.

Finally, If you see me at the show, and you can do it without being weird, I’ll show you cool comics (American and Japanese) stuff you’ve possibly never seen before on my iPad.

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Curse of the Bride of the Ghost of the Revenge of the Son of the Return of the Wrath of Comic Con

October 22nd, 2013 Posted by Gavok

And another New York Comic Con is in the can. Once again, I went all four days. The problem was, I had no real direction for this run. There was nothing I was especially looking forward to and a lot of stuff I used to be excited about have lost their luster. Panels went from something I’d schedule for to something I can take or leave. Hitting Artist Alley is always cool, but I’m doing the same thing with it I’ve always done. Plus I’m trying to spend less than previous years.

As someone who’s never exhibited or been part of a panel, I’ve run out of stuff to experience at NYCC. I mean, there’s that speed dating thing, but I keep forgetting to sign up for that and part of me is thankful for it. Maybe next year. This time I wanted to try something I’ve never done before on a day that wasn’t October 31st. I was going to try cosplay. Each day a different costume.

Well, not every day. About a week before the show, I was talking to Internet Superstar Chris Sims and I joked about getting a couple t-shirts made saying “I’M A DAVID BROTHERS GUY.” Chris said that I shouldn’t be joking. I should be doing. And so, I had them made just in time for the show.

Some context for the uninitiated: Paul Heyman is a staple in professional wrestling who used to run his own promotion Extreme Championship Wrestling before that went under and he became part of the WWE. He’s recognized by many as one of the top minds in the wrestling world, unless you bring finances into it. He understands talent and has a knack for good writing that shows off the strengths of performers while hiding their weaknesses. For a while, he existed on WWE TV as a manager and mouthpiece for various top-ranking bad guys (most notable being Brock Lesnar, who went on to have a successful UFC career after the fact) while behind the scenes, he was one of the head writers. He ended up being let go because he wasn’t the most agreeable with upper management.

Years later, on an episode of Raw, CM Punk was doing a storyline where he was preparing to win the WWE Championship on the same night his contract was ending with threats that he’d leave the company with the belt. During a scripted speech with ties into real life, he said, “I’ve been the best since day one when I walked into this company. And I’ve been vilified and hated since that day because Paul Heyman saw something in me that nobody else wanted to admit. That’s right, I’m a Paul Heyman guy. You know who else was a Paul Heyman guy? Brock Lesnar. And he split just like I’m splitting. But the biggest difference between me and Brock is I’m going to leave with the WWE Championship.”

About a year later, Brock Lesnar came back. Soon Heyman followed. Then they had Heyman become Punk’s manager. Anyone Heyman represented was referred to as, “a Paul Heyman guy.” Soon guys like Curtis Axel and Ryback joined the Paul Heyman Guy umbrella. T-shirts were made and while he’s a bad guy on TV, many wrestling fans wear them out of support for the man they consider to be a genius of the genre.

And that’s why Chris and I had to wear those shirts and mess with David’s head. Let me tell you, the reaction was completely and utterly worth it. The perfect mix of, “Fuck my life…” and, “Oh, you guys.”

Real talk, though. It was really great getting to see David and Chris. It’s been years since I’ve seen David in person and he’s seriously the coolest, chilliest, nicest guy. Chris is also an upstanding gentleman and was really cool by introducing me to various people, including Kieron Gillen.
Also on Thursday, I came across a vendor booth at the far end of the showroom floor. They had a bunch of stuff on sale, including the X-Statix Omnibus. That series is already something I’ve been meaning to read, but the deal made it a must-have. Normally priced at $150, they sold it for only $39. I had to lug it around with me all day because I wasn’t going to let them sell out of it without me.

On Friday, it was time for costume #1: Fred Flintstone.

Here’s me with DW Cycloptopus from Kaiju Big Battel. He’s a lot bigger on TV.

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The Mike Haggar Plus Prop Challenge

October 18th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Another year of New York Comic Con bites the dust and with it comes the fourth installment of the Plus Prop Challenge. Started in 2010, the Plus Prop Challenge is based on walking around Artist Alley and getting various artists to draw the same character… with a prop. That character with another object. What that object is is completely up to the artist, making it a fun creative exercise.

In previous years, we’ve seen Venom Plus Prop, Juggernaut Plus Prop and “Macho Man” Randy Savage Plus Prop. This year I went with a more video game route with Mike Haggar Plus Prop.

For those of you who have no idea who Mayor Mike Haggar is, he comes from the Capcom video game series Final Fight. In it, he’s a semi-retired professional wrestler who went into politics and got elected Mayor of Metro City. The place is overrun with street crime, so Haggar’s gotten tough on it while proving that he won’t be swayed by bribes or threats. Then one day, he gets a message that his daughter Jessica has been kidnapped by the Mad Gear Gang. Rather than give into the ransom or bowing to the Mad Gear and their leader Belger, Haggar decides to take action. He gets Jessica’s boyfriend Cody and their mutual ninja friend Guy to join him in taking the streets and beating the shit out of everyone getting in their way, from militant nutjobs with grenades to transvestites to an entire family of Andre the Giants.

Haggar would go on to appear in a couple Final Fight sequels and a one-on-one fighting game spinoff for the Sega Saturn that nobody played. He showed up as a playable character in Capcom’s wrestling classic Saturday Night Slam Masters and its sequel. For years he’s only shown up in cameos until being brought back into the spotlight with Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

I’ve found that about 2/3 of the artists were familiar with Mike Haggar. Let’s see what they came up with.

Mike Haggar with Q-Bert Arcade Machine
By Chris Giarrusso

Mike Haggar with Phone Booth
By Jacob Chabot

(note: this is the other side of this conversation)

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Bride of the Ghost of the Revenge of the Son of the Return of the Wrath of Comic Con

October 19th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

I hope New York Comic Con, 4thletter and I live forever so I can keep making the title longer year after year.

I’m going to be honest with you. When you come back from an exhausting trip like this and you have a day or so to recuperate, the realization that you have to relive it all over again by writing it up is like a punch in the gut. But it’s my duty to write of my weekend where everyone was wearing a Bane mask, Finn hat and doing the Gangnam Style dance. It’s time to discuss New York Comic Con 2012.

This was a lonely year for me. David has long disowned the con, other David wasn’t going either and I wasn’t going to be joined by any of my coworkers. With all the UCB classes I’ve been taking, I decided to be a little more on the frugal side and went against getting a hotel. After all, the classes have made me so accustomed to commuting into the city that I figured I could just do that for four days in a row. Coincidentally, I had a show in the city the Sunday prior and watched a show with a friend the following Tuesday, so I ended up commuting six times in eight days. I spent about half a day in a bus over that time.

At least I had a press pass, which was nice. The only problem being that NYCC has decided to put their foot down and make it a little harder to get one of those. It used to be that you’d just fill out some stuff online. Now you have to fill out some stuff online, get an email for a link to a PDF document, print it out, fill it out, print out three articles, staple your business card, get an assignment letter from your editor (which I guess means David) and fax it all. Yes, faxing is apparently still a thing in 2012. I had no clue.


Thursday is the prelude, really. The place is only open for four hours and not as many people are there. I got to wander the floor a bit and enjoy a brief day of no insane foot traffic. At one point I ran into Neil Gibson at the Twisted Dark booth. I reviewed his comic less than a year ago and it was a really shittily-written review and I felt bad about it, so I bought a copy of the comic’s third volume. I mean, I guess I would have regardless, but at least now I feel like I redeemed myself in some way. Nice guy, although he was really annoyed that the printers fucked up their con copies of the book and added an extra page. Now all the reveal pages are on the right side instead of the left, ruining some of the suspense.

I perused through some of the comic-selling booths. It’s something I tend to do every con, but I keep forgetting to save it for Sunday, when the prices are cheaper. Every year I look for that one weird piece of comic history that hits me by surprise and I got that taken care of pretty early on with a comic starring Bob’s Big Boy.

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The “Macho Man” Randy Savage Plus Prop Challenge

October 15th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

It’s become a recent tradition for me to do the Plus Prop challenge every time I make a visit to New York Comic Con. First time it was with Venom and that was fun. Then I used Juggernaut and that worked out well too. This year I wasn’t sure who to use. With so many choices and some reader support, I settled on using the late, great Randall Poffo, known by many names: Bonesaw McGraw, Rasslor, Leonard Ghostal and most famously, “Macho Man” Randy Savage.

And so, I spent much of Comic Con’s four days badgering various comic artists for commissions at Artists’ Alley. The challenge is to draw Randy Savage plus another object. Any object. What that object is is up to the artist and not me. This one ended up being a ton of fun and most of the artists were incredibly into it. Before he even drew anything, Chris Giarrusso and I spent like a half hour talking about how great Savage’s promos were. So sit back and snap into the fruits of their labor.


Randy Savage with Skull
by Jacob Chabot

Randy Savage with Mjolnir
by Chris Giarrusso

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Mr. Brothers Goes To Fanime

May 28th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

I’d never been to a proper anime convention before this weekend. But, a few months back I was feeling terrible about everything and wanting to get out more, so I agreed to go to Fanime, in San Jose, with a few friends. It says it’s “by fans, for fans,” and I’m a fan, so why not? Suddenly, months later, I caught a train to San Jose. Here’s a few stray thoughts about the weekend:

My first impression was that Fanime is pretty poorly run. There was only an online-only tentative schedule available going into the con weekend, and that schedule went up on Wednesday, one day before the con got going. I’m used to being able to check out the panels and coordinate meetings with friends weeks before the con. It gives me something to look forward to and helps make sure I see everything I gotta see. I’m not really sure where the difficulty would come from in assigning panels times and rooms, either. When I got the program book, all the panels were listed in alphabetical order… and that’s it. That’s pretty near useless, isn’t it?

I ended up catching one panel, the Shonen Jump one on Saturday, and I only knew when and where it was because manga super-blogger Deb Aoki let me know. Sorta sucks that I couldn’t depend on the program to get around.

The registration was similarly harder than it had to be. I walked into the convention center and got in line to register. This meant that I wrote my name and address on a computer, ignored the request for an email address, and then hit save. Then I had to write my name and a number from the computer on a piece of paper. Then I was told to go around the corner, past the sign that said no admittance, and line up again. I did that, and they let me pay. Then I was supposed to go to another table, in a sea of tables, to get my actual badge.

C’mon man. Registration should be one step. Shell out eight bucks for an extension cord and move the printer to where it should be.

What is with all the Nazis? I saw cosplayers in Nazi uniforms within about two minutes of scaling the stairs to get to the con. There weren’t a lot of them, but seeing three Nazis in, say, a lifetime, is six too many. But what really got me, though, was the dude who was wearing an incredibly accurate full Nazi get-up. It looked like a fairly accurate SS uniform, and sure, they have a neat logo, but they’re actual Nazis. Terrible costume, terrible choice.

But but but, this guy was not a cosplayer. He was a vendor. He wore a red armband, and instead of a swastika, the word YAOI was in the white circle. He was selling dude-on-dude porn for girls by co-opting some of the worst bastards in history. I actually noticed the black SS caps he was selling first. There were three on the table, and I thinking that it was weird, and maybe it was some Hetalia thing, but then I realized that the death’s head on the cap was the symbol of the actual Death’s Head. And then I saw the guy. And then I kept walking before I asked him why he thought his costume was a good idea. I walked by again on Sunday with my friends, and he was wearing a green SS uniform and his armband said SEME.

(I assume it’s because being eye-catching results in sales, but it also makes people want to stomp you out on sight. Did you know it’s legal to slap anybody rocking Nazi gear in the face? True story. Check the Constitution.)

Anyway, you look like a moron when you go outside wearing Nazi gear. Even if it’s your ~beautiful cosplay~.

I came up with some jokes about Herr Moron of the SS. I tweeted some of them while I was at a bar, but here they are again: “This ain’t yaoi manga… this is genocide!”, “Welcome to Heinrich Himmler’s Hentai Hut! May I take your order?”, Pol Pot’s Porn Lot, Josef Stalin’s House of Ballin, Mussolinilingus, etc

I also liked this one from Chris Sims: “I don’t know about you, but MEIN kampf is with these unbeatably low prices!” because I can hear the voice they always give Hitler in my head (whiny, impotent)

I thought it was interesting how there were precious few publishers present at the con. A ton of artists, and plenty of dealers, but I think only Media Blasters and DMP had significant presence. They were the only ones I noticed, anyway, but Funimation, Viz, Vertical, and basically every other anime/manga pub that I can think of weren’t there, except maybe to do a quick panel or show a marathon.

A couple weeks ago, I read David Cabrera‘s “A Dissection of the Media Blasters DVD Table At The Average Dealer’s Room”. I liked it, because he did a great job of illustrating this very specific thing in a funny way. What really, really cracked me up at the con was walking past a table and thinking, “Wow, that’s a lot of cartoon porno!” I meant that in terms relative to the rest of the con, too. It was a lot of porno. I kept walking and saw the Asian live action discs, anime faux porno, and then a crappy little box full of movies like Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (or maybe a remake–it had the same title, but the spine design was very modern) and trashy gorehound stuff. Cabrera nailed it.

Are publishers not really present at Fanime because of the bootlegging? I’m used to bootleg booths at comic conventions. It’s always one or two dudes hawking the Brazilian import of the Gen13 movie or suspiciously affordable boxed sets of awful cape cartoons from the ’60s or ’80s. They’re obvious, and I’m not sure why cons keep letting them in.

But the bootleggery at Fanime was a whole other thing. There was a whole room dedicated to playing fansubs, for one thing. I caught a couple of shows in the nostalgia video room, and between showings, it was very obvious that they were bootlegged off the internet, too. It’s one thing to pirate for yourself, but I feel like if you’re going to pirate on such a painfully obvious scale and doing public showings… you’re kind of a dick? Stealing and stealing while rubbing someone’s face in it is two different things. It was weird sitting in the Shonen Jump panel while they bigged up Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece knowing that later that weekend somebody’s crappy fansub of One Piece: Strong World was going to be played for a hundred people.

The Shonen Jump panel was pretty great. I sat in the front with Deb, who knows everyone there, which was cool. Less cool was the loudmouth (and sorta fragrant) Misty-from-Pokemon cosplayer who kept interrupting the panel to ask about Tite Kubo’s Bleach. Chill out and enjoy the panel. They’ll get to it.

The SJ team were pretty great, despite the constant outbursts from Misty. I somehow managed to forget all of their names because I’m terrible (save for Alexei, because he edits One Piece and I think he gave an interview I read once), but I liked them a lot. The MC was rocking a costume I couldn’t quite figure out (it was bosozoku-y? It put me in mind of Tohru Fujisawa’s GTO), and she was not just funny, but knew how to keep the panel moving. There were a lot of jokes, and the trivia questions were geared toward both emphasizing new announcements and hooking a bunch of fans up with free stuff. A grand ol’ time, basically. I’d see another panel with that crew any day of the week. Probably fun to interview, too.

I didn’t plan to buy a lot of stuff. I basically went because I had no good reason not to. I got out of the city for a weekend, had a fun time, and hung out with good friends. I’m basically on a book-buying freeze anyway, since I’ve got so many left unread, half a dozen of which are 600+ pages. (I’m an idiot, but a literate idiot.)

But with that said, I did want to get a little something. I keep meaning to start Takehiko Inoue’s Slam Dunk, so I wanted volume one of that. I used to own the first couple volumes of Hirohiko Araki’s Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, back before a move, and I keep wanting to check that series out again. Finally, I really dig Dragon Kid from Tiger & Bunny, so if I could get a little statue or toy or something for cheap, I’d go for that.

Everybody had Slam Dunk 4-12 or 3-1X. Only one booth had volume one, and they didn’t have Jojo. So, whatever, six bucks later I got my book and declared the weekend a success. I had a good time, made a few reckless decisions, and got the book I wanted. Pazow. Easy, breezy, beautiful.

Dealers have no idea how to handle shoplifters. The lady I bought the book from didn’t give me a bag. It was no big deal, and she was eating a donut anyway so I felt like I was intruding. I mention the bag thing as foreshadowing. It’ll pay off in a paragraph or so.

I mentioned I didn’t plan to do a lot of shopping. I wasn’t shopping and I wasn’t taking pictures, so I left my bag in the hotel room. Why carry it if I won’t need it? So I walked around with my (shrink-wrapped) book, spinning it between my middle fingers because it’s awkward to walk around with a book that won’t fit in your pocket. My friends were cosplaying Black Butler (which I’ve never read, but they looked nice, so I assume it’s a very fashionable manga). They retreated to the hotel to change out of their cosplay right before I went a-shopping, and we met back up after. We walked back to that booth because 1) I was still on the same aisle/general area (actually pretty close to the Nazi yaoi dude, come to think of it) and 2) 20% off, c’mon.

We were looking at some DVDs (Katanagatari, which has an ill title but is apparently weak) when a guy walks up and asks if that’s my book or theirs. I say mine, and because I’ve worked retail before, I tell him who I bought it from, and even mention her donut. Dude takes my book out of my hands, waves at the lady all the way across the booth (they had several shelves on one side, tables full of cardboard boxed manga next to that, and then smaller tables for DVDs), points at me, does a thumbs up/thumbs down motion, and asks if “he’s okay.” She says yes, I guess, but I can’t see her because someone was in my way. He brings my book back and is like “okay.” I wanted to black out on him, but I also wanted to continue my nice weekend without any stress, so I just walked away with my friends, who made a joke about how awkward that whole situation was.

The weekend’s over now, though, so: that is not how you deal with customers. I’ve worked retail and dealt with shoplifters. That’s not how you do it. What that guy did is called being a dick. I don’t mind being asked if I bought a book, and I was making it a point to stay away from the books just to avoid that type of confusion. But you don’t get to take it out of my hands, you don’t get to point at me like I’m a sucker, and you don’t get to treat me like a criminal. Never. I wish I remembered that booth’s name, because that guy was such a huge dick that I wanted to get my money back for my little six dollar book and just retreat to Amazon.

Put differently: what kind of thief would steal the first volume of a twenty-two year old manga that is still widely available elsewhere, leave it in the shrinkwrap, and then loiter around that same area, spinning it around his thumbs and looking for attention? Answer: no kind of thief, because that series of events doesn’t even remotely make sense. That’s a terrible master plan.

And if I was going to steal, the entire front of the booth was unprotected, two girls were guarding six shelves, and dropping a book in a plastic bag held below eye level is awfully easy.

You should think before leaping to the thief card. Otherwise you just look like a sucker.

The cosplay was bomb. I saw ill Weskers, a couple nice Dragon Kids (casual and caped up), a Male Shepard/Female Shepard couple from Mass Effect, a lot of Korras (a lot a lot, actually), and a couple Ramonas from Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim. There were also a lot of Homestuck characters I’m not familiar with, a couple Hellsing characters, and even a few Ikki Tousen girls (I think) who definitely got a lot of semi-surreptitious looks from the staff when they went to the hotel bar. All the costumes that caught my attention were high quality or clever in some way. Very cool to see. Oh, and no Slave Leias. Wait, hang on:

No Slave Leias. You go, anime. Good work. I’m proud of you.

Cosplay still screws up travel, though. Hordes of people clogging up an aisle to take a photo… dang, man. Annoying each and every time.

The video marathon rooms were a very cool idea. I don’t usually like to go to a con just to do stuff I could do at home (like drugs, drinks, anime, books… huh.), but I thought it’d be neat to drop in on the nostalgia anime room for both a rest and to see what was up. I saw a few old episodes of Voltron (or whatever it used to be called, it had the dang lions) with some truly atrocious dubbing and eps of a more recent Giant Robo series. I was a little disappointed — I’ve never seen the ’60s series — but it was still some pretty decent giant robot action. It had a similar visual style to Batman: The Animated Series, which had me trying to figure out a Giant Robo/Batman: The Animated Series/The Big O timeline. (I was wrong, by the way. Giant Robo and Batman started the same year, much too close for either to influence the other.)

I’d like to see more marathon rooms at cons, or one dedicated room of nicely curated content. I think with a strong panel line-up, a marathon room would be a huge bonus to curious people. “Here’s a 45 minute presentation about classic tokusatsu and mecha shows, and tonight, I’m doing a two hour set in the video room.” They should definitely ease back on the AC, though. The nostalgia room was freezing cold. Positively sleep-inducing.

I had pound cake and two shots of whiskey for breakfast on Sunday. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Turns out it was a fantastic idea. I wasn’t drunk, obviously, but it made the weekend feel more like a vacation. You have to make dumb decisions for good reasons on vacation, right? I’ve never been on a vacation, I dunno.

I bailed out of the con on Sunday to catch the Thunder/Spurs game. I hit the hotel bar, Affinity, and had a good time. The bartenders and staff were funny and split about 75/25 Thunder/Spurs fans. Told a lot of jokes, had a lot of laffs. The staff took the con and costumes well in stride. A dude dressed as the bad guy from Rumiko Takahashi’s Inu-Yasha watched the first quarter of the game before leaving, and other costumes came and went. That’s where I saw the Shepards, too.

Real quick: the guy in the green Lupin costume was on point, sideburns and everything. He ruled.

The staff only cracked when somebody stole a table from the bar’s outside area. Me and the manager (he seemed managerial, at least) were talking about how dope the Thunder are when a waiter came over and whispered in his ear. They stormed outside, and then I could hear the gossip making its way to the front of the bar via the staff. It was this weird mix of anger, shock, confusion, and good humor. I mean, how are you supposed to react when somebody yaps a table from a restaurant? Who does that? The table was secretly returned an hour and change later, and the staff laughed about it some.

I was surprised at the total lack of bar-con. Comic-cons finish and you go to the bar to try and rub shoulders with comics creators. Anime cons and… no? You do something else? Affinity was never even remotely full, and the bar was only full for maybe thirty minutes while I was there. Very strange.

I think a side effect of there being no established bar-con etiquette is that people suddenly had an excuse to be doggone terrible at the bar. Coming up and asking for water and then micromanaging the amount of water you get (no joke: at least 15 people over the course of the game, sometimes in groups), whispering to the waiter to see if they serve just coke with no alcohol, and just blowing past the “Please wait to be seated” sign and bogarting a booth… c’mon, y’all.

The one that got me the most, that turned me from observer to participant, was a guy who rolled up with his friend and stood past the bar and toward the restaurant, well away from any bar seats. Which, sure, rookie mistake, that’s cool. But the bartender was working solo, and he was handling several orders at once, so the guys start talking about how long it takes. Also fair, though rude: he maybe should’ve had a barback. But then the one guy who ordered alcohol (his friend ordered water in a “to-go glass”) was like “Oh, you just gotta wave them down with money” and started waving his wallet at the bartender. It was super rude, and the bartender was a couple people down, so I dunno if he even saw it or not. But I caught that guy’s eye, looked at his wallet, and looked him right in his eyes and he quit it. I was appalled, man. Who taught you how to order drinks?

But whatever. My burger was good, I had several Stellas, and had a great time watching the game and shooting the breeze.

There were like nine tables full of advertisements and cards. As a result, there were cards and ads for you to slip on all up and down the entrance to the con. Seemed like overkill.

Fanime reminds me of Artist’s Alley at a comic convention. The lack of publishers contributed to this, and maybe the floors at the San Jose Convention Center are the same shade at the Javitz or something, but that was my first thought when I hit the dealer’s room. It’s not a big press affair, nor a big publisher event, so the people who show up are artists, fans, and dealers: artist’s alley folks, basically.

It was kind of cool, actually. The con had a tangibly different feel from every comic con I ever went to, and was quieter. Other than a pianist in the dealer’s room, I never noticed one booth’s driving bass making your eardrums shatter. It wasn’t quiet, but it was about as quiet as a room full of a few hundred people can get. You could carry on basic conversations… other than the insane crowding at certain points, it felt like a very intimate con, like you could get away with chit-chat with someone manning a booth without really screwing up their cash flow.

It’s bigger than APE, but smaller than Wondercon. If that helps you figure out the size of the con at all.

The age limits were confusing. There were a lot of kids at the con, probably more than tend to go to comic cons. I didn’t notice many families, but lots of clouds of teenagers. It was a different proportion than what I’d see at comic cons, but still very cool. It’s hard to believe the sky is falling in whatever industry when you’re surrounded by people who are incredibly into it.

Some of the panels at Fanime were 18+, though, which is fine because I guess they also screen porn at these things, but the My Little Pony panel was 16+. The target audience for that cartoon is what, ten years old? What’s up with that? Obviously I didn’t do any investigation and maybe the answer is really simple, but I hope it isn’t “Bronies ruin everything.”

There was a “Broniez Before Hoeniez” shirt on sale. Bronies ruin everything.

There was an enormous diversity of merch. My Little Pony tees abounded, but so did FLCL, Adventure Time, that one cartoon with the blue bird and the raccoon (I think?), Avatar, and your usual anime fare. It was sort of interesting and I’m not sure what it means or if it means anything. But for American cartoons to be shelved and rocked right alongside anime stuff is pretty interesting. I hope it speaks to the diversity of the fanbase for both or something, I dunno. “People like cartoons,” discovers blogger.

I had trouble finding any non-corny Dragon Kid merch. I looked at statues, model kits, t-shirts, pretty much everything but the body pillows and found basically zilch. She’s such an ill character, too, from design to gimmick to concept. Bummer. Plenty of Tiger, Bunny, and Blue Rose, though. Even the wack ninja dude was better represented than ol’ Dragon Kid.

The Kuwabara (YuYu Hakusho) cosplayer at the Shonen Jump panel was fantastic. He didn’t stop at coming in dressed to the nines, pompadour and all, either. He had the voice down, the old dub voice that’s half-growl and half-roar. He rocked it. He won the impromptu cosplay contest and was given a body pillow of Ichigo from Bleach, another red-haired angry dude. He yelled “What is WRONG with you people?!” after that. A+.

I can’t think of the name Kuwabara without immediately hearing the “Kuwabara, Kuwabara” speech from Metal Gear Solid 3. Sorry if that ruins him for you.

Fanime feels like a two-day con to me at most. If APE is one day and Wondercon is two days (who wants to wake up on a Sunday?), then Fanime is a little under two days. I saw basically everything three times while I was there, and the lack of panel times meant I missed anything else I wanted to see, like Mazinkaiser SKL on a big screen. (I’ve got the blu-ray, but that experience is different, and SKL is just nuts enough to make it worth it.)

But at the same time… I’m not as into anime as most of the con-goers were. My friends had cosplay photoshoots, fan gatherings (I’m still not sure what that is, but I assume like a fanclub thing), two different costumes to wear, a bunch of different friends to meet, and a lot of stuff to do. I got my shopping done in like twenty minutes, half of which were spent walking to the next spot. They did a lot more shopping than I did, saw more, and probably got more out of the whole weekend than I did. They did four days, even.

Which is cool. I like that we can all have different experiences and neither of them is necessarily correct. I had a nice weekend with friends, anime, and basketball. They had all types of costumes and esoterica of their own.

My feelings on cons have been evolving since a couple San Diegos ago. I decided I was only doing local cons this year, barring a jaunt to Emerald City Comic-con. I’ve flown around a lot in a calendar year to take comic book vacations, and I decided to cut back in favor of real vacations. I don’t have as much fun at cons as I used to, especially if I’m actively working the show, so why not cut back and concentrate all that fun in one weekend a year and save some money and stress? I think it worked.

Fanime was a chance to test my boundaries and try something new. It’s not really my thing, but I had fun. More fun than the complaints & jokes up there would suggest, probably? It was a very smooth weekend, not even remotely a rager, and I appreciated that. It was nice to just get out of town and chill out away from the troubles.

Speaking of trying new things, I saw Adventure Time for the first time. The ~entire internet~ was right. That show’s pretty funny. It vibes [adult swim], circa 2003, and now I’m convinced that a good 75% of y’all out there smoke a whole lot of weed. I know stoner shows when I see them. You don’t fool me or your parents.

I was surprised to see how often they said “kill,” too. One episode I watched featured like twelve ghosts getting decapitated and disappearing in a wail of anguish. Wild stuff. I really liked the episode where Marceline convinced the two main guys that they were vampires and then had to stop them from being murdered horribly.

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Emerald City Comicon: “I wish I could explain this better. (Thank you.)”

April 4th, 2012 Posted by david brothers

This is probably going to seem really namedroppy and braggy, but please believe me that I don’t intend it that way. I hope you see it for what it is–genuine gratitude and a sort of… stunned appreciation.

I walk around with a black cloud a lot of the time. I have for years, really. I forget if I ever went into detail about what went down during March, but it was a bad month. My knee, two different payday screw-ups (both out of my control), an absurd wisdom tooth situation, and a variety of other things, both big and small, made for a very, very cloudy month. When you add in my long-running breakup with the comics I grew up on… let’s just say I was Charlie Browned out, to understate the situation. I was having a hard time, despite the advice and efforts of friends.

My temper burns cold, too. Even when I’m really heated, it’s not really obvious to everyone else. It’s like… the cloud metaphor works, actually. It’s like a cloud swirling around in my head, building up a head of static, rather outward responses like screaming and yelling. But after nearly a month of letting this cloud run things, after some new trauma arriving with every new week, I decided that I could either let myself be crushed or just sort of roll with the punches and laugh about it. A hollow laugh, maybe, but better a fake-ish laugh than sitting in my room in the dark on the weekends like I’d been doing. (And if we’re being honest, my luck in March? It was at Charlie Brown levels, which is actually pretty funny.) I made a joke on Twitter that I’d need Emerald City Comicon to be transcendant. Turns out… it basically was.

I wasn’t going to go to ECCC originally. I’d been curious about it, but if you’ve been reading this blog at all over the past year, you know I’m pretty burnt out on the industry. But Brandon (King City) Graham and Adam (Empowered) Warren were tweeting about it one day, and I think Brandon suggested I should go. I pshawed. It’d be cool, but nah. I had the money, thanks to my first tax refund in several years (that evaporated in March thanks to my leg, ha ha), but comics? Comics, comics, comics. But then Dennis Culver, a local artist whose work you’ve definitely seen online, threw me a DM that basically called my bluff.

So I booked a hotel right then, booked a flight later, and then, on 03/29, I caught a flight to Seattle. Rooming with Dennis was a lot of fun. He’s a good dude, and he knows a lot of cool people.By Thursday evening, I’d been introduced to half of Portland’s comics scene and a wide variety of other people employed in and around comics.

That night basically set the tone for the weekend. I met a lot of new people and saw a handful of old friends, and all of them were extraordinarily kind. I described it as “unbearably kind” in an email to a friend, but that could be taken the wrong way. What I mean by that is that I was surprised and flattered to be where I was, in kind of a “What did I do to deserve this? Is this real life? Or is it just fantasy?” type of way.

Let’s be honest here: I’m nobody. I write well, and I’m thankful for every reader I have (even this guy), but as far as the bigger picture goes? I’m a customer, homey. But the kindness on display at ECCC, whether coming from a complete stranger or someone who knew my work, was stunning. No, stunning is the wrong word. Devastating? Imagine being given a gift and it’s so good that your first thought is “I don’t deserve this.” It’s that feeling. Whatever that’s called.

I met Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover. They’re outrageously funny people. I knew and enjoyed their comics work, but seriously: dang. Josh Williamson, Jason Ho, Dennis, Andy Khouri, Vinny Navarrete, Doc Shaner, and Mitch Gerads are great people to hang around with. I didn’t get a chance to get into a deep Spider-Man conversation with Josh, but we danced around it all weekend. My SF and former SF buds Chunk Kelly, Emily Stackhouse, Nick Shahan, Greg Hinkle, and Jason McNamara came through and we had a lot of fun catching up. Joe Keatinge was tabling with Emi Lenox and her awesome hair bow, and chewing the fat with those two was great, too. Jen van Meter and Greg Rucka were unbelievably gracious as we talked for an hour or so. Ravishing Ron Richards, iFanboy extraordinaire, was running the floor of the con when he wasn’t being stopped by his scads of fans. Euge Ahn, aka Adam Warrock, was kicking around. Steve Lieber is a funny guy. Jeff Parker is the best kind of rascal, and it was a pleasure to finally meet him. Zack Soto is another cool dude, even though I keep forgetting that I owe him emails (sorry! I am the worst at email). Adam Warren and Brandon Graham both let me chill behind their tables for a couple of hours and talk while they signed and chatted with fans. I met this guy Mike who sent me a really kind note when I talked about feeling down a long time ago, and he showed me his awesome looking comic. I ran into Nolan Jones, who is a cool dude, even if his beloved Kansas U beat my beloved Ohio State Buckeyes by two points in basketball on Saturday (booooo!). The always delightful Allison Baker & Chris Roberson were around. Rachel Edidin and I bonded over X-Men and Thor. I think I ran into Sam Humphries in two different elevators before we got a chance to stop and chat. I hung around with Ali Colluccio and Cheryl Lynn. I got breakfast with Tom Spurgeon, Graham, and Robin McConnell (there’s a pic or two here) I told dumb stories about breaking my finger while playing video games and played down my leg brace. I talked about shoes.

I basically got to hang out with a bunch of cool people and forget about everything (barring the knee, which was always present, but you’d be surprised what a bunch of alcohol will do for pain killing). At one point on Saturday, I was in a deep conversation with Cheryl Lynn and Ali (sitting on either side of me) and Graham and Warren (sitting on the wings). I took a quick moment to recognize that my life had officially passed the surreal barrier and shot on toward absurd.

A funny thing is that I realized once I got to the con that I’d read the brochure wrong and the panel I really wanted to see, a three-way conversation between Adam Warren, Brandon Graham, and Bryan Lee O’Malley, was happening when I’d need to travel to the airport to leave. I was pretty bummed about that. Then, on Sunday, I got a series of notices that my flight was delayed, but that I still had to show up on time just in case. Which is cool, whatever, I’d already resigned myself to not seeing the panel and just catching Robin’s MP3s at a later date.

And then I got an email that my flight was canceled and the soonest they could fly me out was Tuesday morning. Which is ridiculous, obviously. Suddenly I was homeless for the next two days and facing missing a couple more days of work than I’d planned for, which would basically tip the deadline dominoes much faster than I’d wanted. Cold temper, though, right? So I made a joke about it, decided to call the airline after the panel, and caught the panel of the convention. I had to rush out of the con a little after that, but it is what it is. (I later got a flight that next morning, after a whole lot of stress and a dead phone battery.)

I know I’m forgetting some people. I got sick after the con, sick enough to work from home today, and I’m buried under cold/flu meds, among other things. I apologize for that, but if we met and talked, I almost definitely liked you. (Everyone except that Ron Richards! :argh: ) I just wanted to thank as many people as I could, and by name and in public, because that’s how grateful I am. I can’t even tell you, man. My heart didn’t grow three sizes (it’s still blacker than midnight at Broadway and Myrtle), but like… I don’t know that I have the words to express the gratitude I feel. I was having a real hard time, and for a weekend, I got to come up for air and avoid that black cloud.

So, seriously, truly: thanks. I had a great time. Easily the best convention experience ever. Y’all are stunning, and I’m extremely, extremely grateful.

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Ghost of the Revenge of the Son of the Return of the Wrath of Comic Con

October 22nd, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Another year and another trip to the Jacob Javits Center for New York Comic Con. My fifth NYCC. And now you have to hear about it. Unless you came here by accident or you’re one of the 90% who only come here to read the David Brothers posts. If so, I apologize and understand.

I mean, for one, you won’t see this kind of crap in a Brothers post.

Maybe in an Esther post. Probably maybe.


This is the first year of NYCC where they had Thursday open, as far as I know. The place was only open for three hours, so it was mainly about getting the lay of the land and enjoy being able to breathe on the show floor. Shortly into my trek, I met up with my B&N coworker Jody. He was nice enough to hold the camera as I made this terrible, overplayed visual joke.

I spent a couple minutes at the Capcom area of the floor, where I briefly got to try out Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Street Fighter X Tekken. Then they had a weird little spot where they promoted the upcoming game Asura’s Rage by sticking people in a glass booth and having them scream as loudly and angrily as possible to see where they rate on the rage meter. When it was my turn and the host asked why I’m so angry, I told him I had been fighting with my eating disorder, which he didn’t know how to react to. I ended up with a 95%, which is just fine. I also got a strained throat, a promotional wig and a poster that I left in the hotel. I didn’t even see what the game looks like.

I found a booth selling comics in batches based on runs. I tend to like those better because a lot of the time, the weird shit I’m on the look for isn’t available in trade form. I bought a handful of stuff, including both runs of Seaguy and the original run of Rocket Raccoon, but one thing I had to get based on the cover was Superman vs. Terminator from 1999-2000.

Can Superman stand up to the Skynet Masterlock Challenge?! Really, though, I was too enthralled by the concept. I don’t care how many Terminators you have. It’s a bunch of faceless villains vs. a guy who will casually eat a robot if someone dares him.

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The Juggernaut Plus Prop Challenge

October 17th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

Last year, I went to NY Comic Con, stared Artist Alley in the eye and laid down the gauntlet for the Venom Plus Prop Challenge. The bounty was wonderful. Naturally, I’d have to think of a new subject for my sketchbook during this year’s Comic Con trip. Venom is out and Juggernaut is in.

The theme is simple: Juggernaut and another object. Any object. It’s not for me to suggest what it is, but for the artist to come up with the idea. Luckily, nobody gave him a hammer because look where that put him. Depowered and off Marvel’s best book. And nobody drew Colossus in a Juggernaut helmet because that’s lame and smelly. You know it’s true.

Let’s see what we got.

Juggernaut with Umbrella
by Chris Giarusso

Juggernaut with Cell Phone
by Jacob Chabot

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