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Five For Friday #69—Let the Con Season Begin
posted March 31, 2006

From Evan Dorkin: "Name Five Convention Memories That Don't Involve Meeting a Cartoonist."

1. Watching a friend of mine spend 40 minutes at an SPX and having it dawn on me that 40 minutes at an SPX was about the limit of his interest, and that this was perfectly reasonable.
2. Mort Walker interrupting a presentation at ICAF to plug his book.
3. Moderating the only panel Larry Marder appeared on the day after Image signed with Diamond.
4. Joe Chiappetta trying to jump over the fire at a San Diego beach afterparty.
5. Being really frustrated at the Fantagraphics booth on the last day of San Diego because I couldn't find the tape gun and then John Ronan walking up with a armful of swag and declaring, "It's amazing what people will give you in trade for a tape gun."

This topic is now closed.

Please note: there's no editorial culling of these things, so if I don't run something that was sent in on time, please re-send it.


Charles Brownstein

1. San Diego: When I managed programming at CCI, one of the jobs was to walk through each room and take attendance counts at various points in the panel. Walking into a screening of Transformers: The Movie I saw a morbidly obese Optimus Prime, dressed in a cardboard costume of his own design standing at the back of the room. He held his lovingly made helmet gingerly in his left arm while his right arm was raised in a military salute, his eyes fixed on the screen. I looked over to find that it was the death of Optimus Prime sequence.

2. Boston: On an underattended Sunday afternoon a dealer was asleep on a table in an abandoned booth. As I walked past him, I came upon the Graphitti Designs booth where Bob Chapman & I commisserated, prompting a VP from a Distinguished Comics company walk over and join us while dancing the boredom jig.

3. Pittsburgh: Heavy storm winds had knocked out the power midday on Sunday, plunging the room into darkness. We all stood around for an hour, wondering whether we'd be able to finish out the day. I walked around the room to see that everyone was taking the same wait and see posture, trying to do whatever business they could in the waning daylight. That is, except for the goth pin-up models, who came prepared with candles and were still doing brisk business by their flickering lights. I walked back to my table and decided to tear down, because daylight was about gone and the attendees had filtered out. Walking to have a cigarette on the load out ramp I saw that most of the dealers had taken the same approach. Watching all those handtrucks moving past, I was stunned to find myself in the midst of the million mullet march.

4. Atlanta: Late night at Dragon*Con and the "Burning Man for pyrophobics" atmosphere was at full-tilt. Hundreds of fans were walking around the Hyatt pit snapping photos of the various costumers, including a panoply of Slave Leias, the Lingerie Stormtrooper, fat Spider-Man, Cylons, Klingons, and many more. I caught up with the marketing crew from a notable comics company in the bar. They had gotten pentagram tattoos and t-shirts made for a death metal band that doesn't exist. They and a notable cartoonist were walking around the bar in these t-shirts asking scantily clad costume gals if they'd like to have their picture taken with the band. At one point they disappeared to get more booze from their room and I wandered off into a Klingon drum circle.

5. Los Angeles: A very special meeting with a very special fan (scroll down):


J Rybandt

1. Drinking with Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker (and talking British politics)
2. Blacking out at a Fantagraphics party (the one at the outdoor driving range) after taking a friends Ritalin on a stomach full of beer and booze
3. Writing and drawing incredibly offensive things while blasted with Chris Allen in San Diego
4. Breaking onto the roof of the Hyatt in downtown Chicago after a trade show.
5. Going to my room alone, drunk, every damn time, except that one time in Chicago, but that was her room, and that one time in San Diego, that was my room, but considering how many cons I've been too, my average is pretty weak!


Robert Goodin

1. Trying to talk business with a distributer at San Diego while some strong pot brownies just began to knock me on my ass.
2. Being a bit frightened by seeing the entire Empire army (including Darth Vader!) at San Diego while on those same brownies.
3. Having a dramatic Family Ties style break-up with a girlfriend at the San Diego bonfire that included flirting, yelling, crying...
4. Reading old fanboy letters that me and my pal Anthony Vukojevich wrote as kids at our hotel in San Diego.
5. Seeing a pal give a academic talk on Bizarro while wearing red wristbands and a headband and being very drunk on some Vodka called Thor's Hammer.


Fred Hembeck

1. As a twentyish comics fan (pre-cartooning career), wandering into an empty conference room at a NY Creation Con with a friend, and going up to the lectern and pretending to be one of the speakers, only to have one of the Con's employees come in, thinking I wanted to steal the microphone! He bought my embarrassed explanation and--irony alert--when I DID make it to cons as a pro guest, I avoided appearing on panels whenever possible because of mic fright!

2. Having the same attractive young mother and her teenage son repeatedly interrupt my conversations with several pros at the 1976 Marvel Comics Convention, as the guys always seemed more than willing to shunt me aside for this woman, who knew little of the field, but was hoping to learn more for her boy's sake. The entire Marvel Bullpen, seemingly, was eager to teach her!

3. Being a guest at a big Con in Houston, early eighties, one in which a main attraction was the reuniting of the entire original Star Trek cast up on stage to perform an original play by Chekhov (Walter Koenig, not the other guy...). Turned out though that the organizer of this multi-media extravaganza took off with all the money the night before it began, leaving the Enterprise crew mostly unpaid--not to mention the hotel itself! All the comics guests--from Jack Kirby right on down to yours truly -- were almost kicked out on the street on Saturday, though we were eventually spared that fate thanks to the efforts (and funds) of some of the many honest folks associated with the convention.

4. Being asked by Kim Thompson to join the artists at the Fantagraphics table in their efforts to raise money to defend themselves from the Mike Fleisher lawsuit -- AND being asked by the other side to do the same thing for them! Like Switzerland, I chose to remain neutral.

5. Having a young guy at the aforementioned Texas con come up to the table where I was doing sketches, a loose leaf folder in hand holding a dozen or some unbelievably valuable comics in plastic envelopes -- Detective 27, Action 1, All Star 3, and the like, honest to gosh -- and just casually showing them off to anybody and everybody, as if walking around with these things was just the most natural thing in the world! THEN the guy looks at my stuff, which apparently he wasn't familiar with, pauses for a moment, and then good-naturedly informs me that HE could draw better than that! The topper? Later he comes by again and buys several of my already drawn pieces! No accounting for taste, I guess...


Michael J. Grabowski

1. Going to my first convention. Creation Con, San Francisco, early 80s not long after Daredevil #181. I had never seen anything like it before; heaven for a 13-year-old comic book fan who had started to feel out of place in the "real" world. I had an Overstreet Price Guide so I knew there was a lot more to the world of comics than the Marvels, DCs and Pacifics I regularly bought, but this was the first time I was exposed to it in the pulpy flesh. I took $50, the most I'd ever had to spend on comics. I spent it all in an hour. Got Frank Miller's autograph on a #181 I'd bought just for the occasion.

2. Someone managed to put on a comics convention--actually two of them not too many months apart--at a small private college in Menlo Park. Living just five miles away, I couldn't believe my luck that I'd actually be able to ride my bike to a convention where real artists (Dave Sim, Steve Leialoha, Frank Cirocco among them) would be. I think the same guy(s) later organized Petuniacon and went on to establish APE but I'm not positive about that.

3. The second of the two cons in Menlo Park. The dealer's room wasn't happening so much so my buddy & I hopped on our bikes and rode to Comics & Comix in Palo Alto where we spent the rest of our hard-earned cash.

4. San Jose, mid-80s. The Menlo Park cons were successful enough to get a con in a real hotel and so my buddy & I went. Local news was there so he walked in front of the camera to "look" in a bin of Archies for something and maybe get on TV. He made a background cameo on the 11 pm news.

5. Fast forward to 1997. Going out on a non-date with a female friend one July weekend in San Diego and not being able to get in to Dick's Last Resort because Frank Miller had booked the whole place for a party. Being embarrassed that I knew who Frank Miller was and she thought comics were stoopid.


Andrew J. Mansell

1. Jim Shooter losing his temper and yelling at me because I asked why Master of Kung Fu was cancelled. He even said, "I suppose you think I killed Gene Day.: Boy was HE the wrong guy to be manning a booth.
2. Hosting a Quick-Draw Competition and seeing the sheer enthusiasm of all the participants
3. Bringing my daughter (5 years old) to a Con and seeing the excitement in her eyes.
4. Irwin Hasen being given a standing ovation at the Heroes Con Auction
5. At one of my first cons, I was tired, hot and angry. I was appalled by everyone's lack of hygiene and manners. Finally, I screamed at the top of my lungs (to anyone in particular), "Don't any of you idiots ever bath?" Then as a few bewildered by-standers gaped at me, my friend gently nudged me in the ribs and whispered, "Dude, your shirt is on inside out."