My experience at Comic-Con differed considerably from that of last year. The territory is more familiar, the world of comics no longer has the air of a foreign country as it did just a year ago. Also, although the event was once again held at the Baltimore Convention Center, it was in a different space within that facility, which, as you'll see, had consequences for the experience. But first, here are some of the highlights of my haul:
I had picked up the other ten issues of this mini at a 25 cent sale at Cosmic Comix and Toys earlier in the year and was glad to have the opportunity to pick these up, especially considering the fact that I was only able to read the first two issues despite having near the whole series. My interest in the series itself came from the fact that it was illustrated by Naoki Urasawa, a creator for whose work I've become quite fond. The series was initially published in Japan in the mid-eighties, so it definitely represents an early phase in Urasawa's career. It is interesting to see how the illustrations resemble those in such more recent books as Monster and 20th Century Boys and how his style has changed. Of particular note are the figures, as I think that Urasawa's subtle representations of the human face are perhaps the most impressive aspect of his art. Some of the features (noses, in particular) are distinctly Urasawa-n, while others (eyes, mostly) are more conventional, calling to mind other manga from the period, like the works of Shirow Masamune.
These issues of Heavy Metal were picked up at $2 each and were selected in particular for two Guido Crepax stories that ran during these months: "The Man from Harlem" and "Valentina." Of course, being the early-eighties, each issue has some other great content, from Christin/Bilal collaborations to Moebius stories and even a few episodes from Tamburini and Liberatore's "Ranxerox."
Dixon and McMahon did an excellent three-issue arc in Legends of the Dark Knight called "Watchtower," which was one of the earliest series I ever bought. McMahon's quasi-Cubist designs are sorta perfect for half goofy/ half deadly serious comics and at $1, this prestige issue was irresistible.
I'm not really sure what this vaguely fantastical manga is even about, but the designs are really great and I almost picked it up at a local comics shop for the full $23 asking price. I could thus hardly resist picking it up for a whopping $4 at Comic-Con.
This is a really great looking, huge paperback published by Ashtray Press, which I also picked up for $4 from the vendor mentioned above. I've no idea what to expect from the book in terms of narrative, but it's populated by this great hulking farmer in red-striped sweater. And that great, crimson red is the only color in a book slathered together from deep, thickly-brushed blacks. It looks rather impressive, at the very least.
The Beanworld creator had posted on his blog that anyone presenting a sketch of a Beanworld character at his booth could trade it for a sketch of that character drawn by the man himself. I therefore was up into the wee hours of Saturday morning working on a sketch I'd brainstormed during one of my classes earlier in the week and which was loosely based on John Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn"--complete with a few lines of Keats's ode reimagined to correspond with the scene sketched on my urn. Marder is of course a genius and an early friend of this very blog so it meant a lot to me to get the chance to formally introduce myself and talk about Bean-things past and future.
The DMZ and Northlanders writer was at Comic-Con to promote his upcoming run on DV8. I happen to think he is one of the most skilled writers in comics right now and I've spilled not a little 'ink' on these pages singing his praises as well as being critical of some aspects of his work. Shortly after the 2008 elections, I wrote a piece on political cynicism in comics and used DMZ in order to illustrate many of my points. Apparently someone showed my post to Wood and he commented on it on his blog and sent me a nice email. In any event, it turns out that not only is Wood a talented writer, he is also a legitimately nice guy. When I introduced myself and reminded him of our brief exchange, he seemed immediately to recall the incident and commented that we had given him a lot to think about. Whatever his thoughts were about what we presented here, DMZ continues its trend of staying a step ahead of events on the world stage and the current series displays a level of political sophistication that worth noting.
30 Rock at Comic-Con?
As my cohorts and I made our way to the events area to attend the panel on seventies comics, I couldn't help but notice a weirdly familiar, impressively tall figure making lonely way through the convention. Upon reflecting for a moment, I realized that it was none other than Scott Adsit, better known as Pete Hornberger from NBC's 30 Rock (although, let's be real, before checking IMDB, all I could say for certain was that it was "the dude from 30 Rock"). Who knows what Adsit was doing at Comic-Con--my guess is that he's a comics fan who makes his home somewhere near Baltimore--but there was no doubting the expression that was on his face; he was just waiting for the penny to drop and someone to yell out, "Hey, it's the dude from the 30 Rock!" Of course, to be fair, this is precisely what I said, although in my defense, I said it only loud enough for Brandon to hear and I knew he would have the politeness not to make it known to a convention hall full of fan-boys.