15 April 2005

Tomboy's Take: Redemption Found at the TeenyTinyCon!

It's not always all about the swag, but it is about what you bring home with you.

Last Sunday, I went to the Phoenix Cactus Comicon 2005. It was small. I remember walking into Wizard World back in 1997 when there was only one Wizard World and being overwhelmed by its enormity. That's about how underwhelmed I was by the PCC05, but I'd expected it. I had a rare day off, the weather was beautiful, I had loads of work and fun stuff to choose from, and I was still pretty darn disenchanted with today's comics.

So I went for Marv.

For six bucks, I got to wander around 50 tables filled with boxes of tired-looking books. I got the most out of the indie tables (reviews to follow soon); the guys there were excited to talk about their work and supportive of my projects when they found out I was testing the self-publishing waters, too. I attended the con's only two panel discussions. "Comics in Arizona" featured Brian Pulido and Marie Croall, who lamented that comics have crashed hard over the past few years. She said the industry was failing, and despite my personal disappointments as a formal hardcore fangirl, my heart sank when she said that. I also attended the "Teen Titans GO" panel with Todd Nauck and Marv Wolfman. I met Steve Rude and bought the first five issues of his The Moth (review to follow), wandered around the tables some more, picked up free swag (a Wonder Woman button, a Willy Wonka movie poster, a copy of MAD Magazine, random local comic books), ate food that was thankfully a bit cheaper than at larger cons, and watched the line ebb and flow around the Teen Titans creative team. The con only ran from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and I didn't want to leave until I'd said "hello" to Marv.

Imagine--it's 1998, I'm hanging on to Marvel's X-Men books for dear life, hoping the ship won't sink, afraid that I'll sink with it. I try to fill my sail with Cliffhanger books ... talk about a dead wind. My buddy Dan (because everybody who likes comics has a comic book buddy named Dan) throws me a life preserver: 50 issues of The New Teen Titans by the Marv Wolfman/George Perez creative team. Wow. The dialogue is great. The stories are great. The art is great. And they met their deadlines.

Flash forward: At about 2:30, I get in line behind four guys waiting to see Todd Nauck, who I admit I know nothing about save for what he revealed in the panel discussion. I'm kinda perturbed that more fan boys aren't accosting Marv the way they do at bigger cons, but this younger crowd is more into manga and anime, and they don't seem to recognize creators unless their costumed creations are posing around their tables.

Todd's drawing art on demand for $15 a board, and I decide to have him draw a picture for me. I'm thinking of what to have him draw and looking cross-eyed at the guy in front of me who's got a dozen comic books, a stack of promotional posters, and two custom drawings for Todd to spit out. Before he leaves, he grabs two freebie ashcans out of their shrinking pile for Todd to sign. I know he's gonna sell all that stuff for profit, but Todd just grins at him good-naturedly. When my turn hits, I hunker down in front of Todd and tell him I have a special request, trying not to sound like a total cheesy cheddar-head. Flicking my head in Marv's direction where he's talking with his wife, I say, "I want you to draw him because he's one of my heroes."

Todd lit up.

"You want me to draw Marv?!"
"Can you?"
"Yeah!!! But ... we have to ask him. I mean, I'd feel more comfortable."
After convincing Marv that I really didn't want a caricature of him in Robin's mask or under Raven's cloak, Todd got to doing a more complicated sketch than the Spider-Man and Robin drawings he'd been spitting out. Afterwards, I had Marv sign it. I think his wife was a little gushy because I'd thrown Marv so many props while Todd was drawing and she insisted that I sit next to Marv so she could take our picture. For personal gratification, I asked Marv one question: "How many books were you writing while you were writing the Titans?"

"Well ... four or five, but then I took on editorial responsibilities so I could only write two or three."
"A month?!"
"Sure! Why?"
"Because ... why can't people do that now? Nobody does that! Good for you."
Yeah--cheesy, I know, but really--you should've seen the guy puff up with pride. He thrust his hand out for me to shake and grinned all big at me. He loves his job, even now.

What the hell is a comic convention for if it isn't to convene with the one person out there who could possibly renew your faith in a failing industry?

1 comment:

Aztech said...

This years Phoenix Cactus Comicon should be better!
GUEST list

Terry Austin
Josh Blaylock
Bret Blevins
Amanda Conner
Ron Garney
Justin Gray
Jimmy Palmiotti
And Devils Due Publishing

+more to be announced!