And by "babies" I mean "sketches to add to my Watchmen book." I'm too young to have a human baby.
So while I worked my buns off at the show sweating like an oldie sweating to the oldies, I wrote a tentative to-see list of creators to run around to in the few free minutes I found here and there.
The first sketch I got at the show and I found Furie by accident! Furie's the guy I was most stoked to see for three reasons. For starters, I didn't know he was gonna be at the show (specifically the Buenaventura booth), so to get to finally meet him was a treat! And he was wearing a Superman outfit (I didn't take a pic...)! The next reason is that he brought along with him a spanking new issue of Boys Club, a book I happened upon by chance in the Sparkplug booth at Comic-Con in 2006, the first (and only other) Comic-Con I ever went to. And lastly, I was anxious to see what he might do in my Watchmen book. So here you have it: My first Owl Ship drawing with a twist of Furie's humor. And he drew in a gray pen, so it's light for a reason. Munch on it.
Hoo-Boy. Johnny Ryan DOES NOT look like I pictured him. He's a tall, handsome dude who's well-spoken. I mean, look at any of his books, and you'll know why I was surprised. That makes it all the more funny that when I handed him the book and asked if he wanted the Watchmen paperback for reference, he smirked and said, "Nah, I know what I want to draw." Guess what? I knew what he was gonna draw, too. And here it is.
When he was done, Johnny asked how to spell my name so he could autograph it. I showed him my ID tag and said "R-I-C-K-E-Y" but he left the E off. I like to think that was on purpose and a little joke between the two of us. Johnny gave me the heads up that his new book Prison Pit was on sale down at the Fantagraphics table, so I raced down there and snapped that little bastard up. A non-stop fight scene in a barbaric, almost alien land drawn by Johnny Ryan? Uh, yes please. And hey. If some kid asked me to draw Rorschach, I'd have done the same thing Johnny did here with the mask. It's the air-humping that makes it a Johnny Ryan masterpiece. Recognize.
ESTHER PEARL WATSON
A little while after finding Johnny Ryan, I realized Jordan Crane had a little booth of prints right next to Buenaventura! While I waited for Jordan to finish signing someone's print to ask if I could have a sketch, I realized he was sharing a table with a few other cartoonist; namely Esther Pearl Watson! Her book Unlovable had me cracking up in the store when I first saw it, and I bought it right then and there. Finding her randomly was so cool, and when I asked if she'd do a sketch for me, she knocked out this Laurie Juspeczyk piece! Lookit that smeared eyeshadow and sad sack feeeeeeel! Gah! And iirc, Esther said she never read the book, so she flipped through the trade and randomly found this image to do. FATE!
Also standing with Jordan Crane was cartoonist Mark Todd, whose minicomic BadAsses I found on accident in one of New York City's Giant Robot stores while searching for a copy of Don't Go Where I can't Follow. Giant Robot luckily had Todd's book of illustrated bad asses and I was happy to buy it. He said he was excited to do Nite Owl cause he liked the costume. I love how cold and nervously sweaty he is here!
I never heard about Jordan Crane til my bff Sean showed me a copy of The Last Lonely Saturday and shit was over after that. I've been buying his stuff whenever something comes out, so to get a sketch was REALLY cool of him. He went the Alan Moore route, but his well-placed fine lines pop. I felt bad, though, because after I handed the book to Jordan, he seemed a little perplexed by what he should draw. I kinda felt like a friend at karaoke making another friend get on stage when they didn't want to. So, thankey, Jordan!
And I'd like to shout out Johnny Ryan here again. While waiting for my book back from Crane, Johnny came over and talked to me about this book from Picturebox and said I NEED to buy it as soon as I got home. I haven't yet, but from what I see, it looks hilarious. You go. Look now.
Boo-yah! I've wanted to meet Jeff Smith for a long time. So I saw he was signing at his booth across from the DC booth and ran over when his low-key signing began. I was in line behind a group of about 6 little girls (yay!) all of whom had their moms buy them Bone books (YAY!) and only 2 people were behind me the whole time, so when I got to the front of the line, I nervously shook his hand and was relieved to find that he was a pretty down-to-Earth guy. He has a hand brace on from all the work he did to finish Bone near the end, which is terrible to hear, but he still cracked out this Fone Bone-as-Rorschach sketch. My belly was doing flips watching him draw in my book. And I have a little beer belly, so it felt weird. YAY!
At last year's SDCC, Sean interviewed Moon and his brother Gabriel Ba and they came across sooooo excited about comics that I got more excited about their work. That's why it was such a pleasure to meet Moon this year. He seemed a little tired by the time I got to him, but he mentioned he couldn't wait to get back to Brazil where he lives to start drawing comics again. Gotta love that. And you gotta love his sci-fi (G-rated) Dr. Manhattan.
My second Owl Ship ever and both at the same show! Ba's showcases his use of shadow to communicate texture while the clouds imply a soft, floating feeling. It fucking rocks. You can hear it humming overhead.
DEREK KIRK KIM
Ohhhh shit. I was literally running to the restroom when I spotted Derek sketching for donations for the Cartoon Art Museum. I stopped and asked if he'd do something in my sketchbook and, smiling all the time, he said "Absolutely." I'm a NUT for Derek's work, and I've found myself selfishly frustrated he doesn't have more new work available for me to devour every few minutes of the day. It took me so long to hunt down Same Difference and Other Stories and I must've read it now about 4 times. If you like the way Adrian Tomine's comics focus on human emotions colliding in life, you'll love Derek's work. And it's not always as cartoon-y as his Nite Owl here. THOUGH I LOVE THIS, TOO! When Derek was flipping through the paperback, he said, "I want to do Nite Owl; I love how he's so chubby like a real guy trying to be a hero would be."
Tom Neely is one of the absolutely most talented cartoonists working today when it comes to evoking a sense of mood - specifically terror and dread. That said, he drew one of my favorite pieces of the con, and it is so utterly filthy that I can't show it online without probably getting fired. NSFW isn't the right tag for this thing. It's prolly illegal in 10 states and Canada. When I walked up to get the piece, he smiled and said, "Here you go, man. You may regret asking me to draw," and I said, "No no, I'm excited," and I couldn't hold in my audible gasp. I showed it to one DC employee and he literally exploded. I showed it to a baby and it immediately aged into an old man. I showed it to a dog and she turned into a banana. Shit's epic. So if you want to see this thing, come find me at a show. I'll show you. Otherwise, high-five, Tom Neely. You made me blush.
My most mainstream sketch is also the sketch I never thought I'd get in my life. Finding Travis Charest at a show is like sitting through the movie The Notebook without crying - it just doesn't happen. So during a break while heading over to the Marvel booth to see Ben, imagine how surprised I was to see Charest signing at their booth, just sitting there, no one asking him for a sketch. There was a bit of a line, but everybody was waiting for Steve Epting and a couple other guys sitting ahead of Charest. And Charest didn't have a name plate out or anything, so people genuinely had no idea who he was. My bff David can't get enough of Charest, and David was the guy who made me get off my ass and ask creators for theme sketches, so I said "balls it" and went up to the line. That's when Ben came over and used his menacing Marvel abilities to get me a sketch. I won't tell you how it happened, but it did. And hard. And fast. And here it is. Calm down.
I JUST missed Nathan at New York Comic Con this year when I asked late on Sunday if he'd do a sketch in my book, so I wanted to try and grab him in San Diego at the Dark Horse booth where he was signing for his book Pigeons from Hell. The guy has a slouched, moody, heavy style, and he busted this Roorschach out before having to leave for another signing. And the guy was kind enough to not punch me in the face when I declined to buy the trade and also get it signed by him (I already have Pigeons from Hell in trade!). So I had that going for me.
Sammy edits the Kramers Ergot series and writes/draws the book Crickets and I loooove his fine line style and slightly surreal stories about usually-dirty people. Like, "dirt and grime" dirty. It's like they just survived an action film. Sammy was scheduled for the Buenaventura booth earlier in the trip, but he didn't show up at the posted signings, so I assumed he wasn't gonna make it. Needless to say, like Matt Furie and most of the other people on this post, I couldn't believe I might get a sketch from him. So while walking back to the Buenaventura booth to grab an extra copy of Boys Club #3 for a friend, I spotted Sammy! He gladly did a sketch for me (a straight panel recreation from the book) and it looks glorious. Do yourself a favor and grab a copy of the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror issue Sammy is editing like a mini-Kramers Ergot this year. YOU NEED THIS. Now I want more superhero stuff drawn by Sammy...
The penultimate guy on my get list this year was Ross Campbell. His book The Abandoned blew my fucking mind with it's vision of a dirty south setting overrun by zombies and the emotions terror like that can gurgle up in a person. When I told him I had the book, he said he was just telling someone he hated theme books, but happily sketched out this Bubastis, the feline companion to Ozymandias. You can see Ross' plump design peeking out of the cat's eyes and it's the first time someone has drawn the creature, so I was stoked. I may have to eventually hit him back up for an unmasked, snarling Rorschach one day.
GUYS I MISSED
Like I said, it was a busy weekend, so there wasn't much time to gather sketches even though I think I got more at this show than any other single show. But that's cause I was at this show for 4 days and not 1 like usual. I missed a batch of folks I'd have loved to get like Xaime Hernandez (he said, "maybe later" at one point, and when I came back later, he said "characters who are not mine are $60" and I don't have $60), Vasilis Lolos, Roger Langridge (Ben got one!), Rafael Grampa, Dave Gibbons, Cory Walker, and James Jean. I actually had a ticket to be in line for James' signing at Chronicle Books, but by the time my place in line got close, I had to be back at the book. No big. I'm sure one day it will work out.
The guy I was most bummed about not getting was Lewis Trondheim. I actually tracked him down at the NBM table, but his signing started something like an hour and a half late, and I had to go back to the DC booth, so I missed him. Then I accidentally found him at Fantagraphics signing one day and I was so excited! I could finally get one! See, Trondheim's story in Mome about where creativity comes from and what happens to cartoonists as they age really kind of opened my eyes to some ideas about comics. So I went out and started buying up all the books of his I could find including single issues of his series Nimrod from Fantagraphics and several of his First Second books. He was the one guy at the show I wanted to get more than anybody else cause he never comes to the states. Well...
I walked up and no one was in his line and I asked if he'd do a sketch for me. He flatly said, "no" and then said, "I only draw my characters in my book if you buy it." He had a rough accent, so I didn't take his brief answer as offensive, but I looked around kind of hurt and looked back and said, "But...I have all of your books at home. I'm a big fan. I love what you did in Mome." And then a talent who was sitting next to him who was also signing said, "Well, buy another book," in a joke-y tone. They both kind of sat back in their chairs looking at me from across the table. I felt like bullies in school were making me dance with my pants off to hang out with them. I looked around, but I owned all the Fantagraphics books on display. So I just sort of shrugged my shoulders in defeat and awkward nervousness and said it was nice to meet him anyways and walked away. I didn't even talk to him about how much I loved the Mome story!
Sure, he doesn't know if I own all his books. And sure, I could just be some guy planning on selling his sketch. And sure, asking fucking Lewis Trondheim to draw a Watchmen character is probably stupid and beneath him and, jeez, he may not even know what the shit Watchmen is. And sure, the risk of asking a creator to sketch a character that isn't theirs is even with the risk that a creator will say no to that request because it's their obvious right to say no. But I still kind of felt like...well...Lewis Trondheim doesn't give a dump about me. Kinda sucked in a bodyslammingly humbling way.
Anyhoo, I got PLENTY of other bodacious sketches and if I never get a Trondheim then, eh, fuck it. Everybody else was boss enough to give their time and talent to a goober like me. Good on them!
Now get ready for a few other posts from mine (and Ben and Kiel's) experience at the show in the next few days! Balls!