Ian and Bill’s magnum opus, Gwendolyn and the Underworld, got a great response. Adults said nice things, but more importantly, multiple little people (“children”) grew wide-eyed at the book and emitted mini-explosions of cute, adorable excitement that you just want to bottle up and keep around for a particularly dastardly day. I’ve been kind of on a baby kick recently, something Bill is well aware of, and thankfully for every terrifyingly authentic Joker a la Heath Ledger walking down the aisle, three little people passed by. If they were lucky, they were passed out in a carrier or stroller. If I was lucky, they were awake and babbling simple sentences that capture the charm of a limited vocabulary: “That! Is! Cute!” and “And she’s holding a wand! [in reference to Gwendolyn]”
Sometimes I wish I knew less words so I could be cute.
I made out like a very selective bandit this year:
- Tomb of Zombies by Josh Shalek –Josh was two booths down from us, and was seriously the smiliest person at the Con. Even smilier than the life-sized Uglydolls with static smiles stitched onto their faces. He even didn’t mind when I basically said his entire home state intimidates me. (Arizona. He now lives in Oregon.) Tomb of the Zombies is funny and quirky…and fascinatingly consistent in its artwork! With every graphic novel or comic book I’ve read, I’ve gotten used to the artist kind of changing the look of their characters from Page 1 to the end. It’s understandable; these pieces take them so much time that there’s bound to be a rebellious line here or there. With Josh’s work, though, it’s like his brush pen is cool, calm, and collected all the way through. Very impressive. Stay tuned for his next webcomic here. (Josh traded this book for Bill’s tiger cub print. I haven’t let Bill read it yet.)
- Pomeranian Magnet by Genevieve Tsai – I met Genevieve through Bill at one of the East Bay Humane Society’s Purrcasso auctions. Before we exchanged hellos, Bill tried to describe her to me, and said she was like Sunshine Aquino from Glee. I looked at him like he was crazy, because Genevieve does not look like Charice. Then I met her. And I got what he meant. Genevieve is effervescent. She is bubbly and cheery. Sunshine-y, one might say. Her art channels off-the-charts energy – you can pretty much hear this puppy breathing excitedly in your face, yipping and two seconds away from jumping up for a lick. Also, she likes Diablo and Adventure Time, so you should check out “Diablo Time.”
- Wrestle Pets by ChetArt – Two booths away from us in the other direction was Chet Phillips and his wife. Chet does the art while his wife does amazing hand bookbinding. Their limited edition books were selling out, so I had to act before my designated shopping hour to get Wrestle Pets. These are luchador dogs and cats. They are hilarious. Check out El Terrier Santo, whose favorite food is Squirrel Pizza:
- Postage Stamp Funnies by Shannon Wheeler – Outside of Comic-Con is this Trickster pop-up event conceptualized by Anita Coulter, wife of Pixar animator Jeff Pidgeon. (And worked on with other people, too.) I see it as the best of the best in both emerging and established popular artists. Bill sold a few items there, and I pined over Steph’s fatty Fledgie, but since it was before my designated shopping hour I just snuck away with Too Much Coffee Man cartoonist Shannon Wheeler’s Postage Stamp books. I love little things and single-panel stories. I read ’em all on the first night as I passed out into a deep Comic-Connie sleep.
- Honorable Mention: Jeff Schuetze’s Latest – Our next booth neighbor was Jeff Schuetze, LA actor and Jefbot creator. I don’t usually get into a ton of conversation with our convention neighbors (I guess I’m just an asshole, but y’know. I only have so much energy.), but Jeff and I had a good time chatting. Unfortunately publishing difficulties prevented Jeff’s Jefbot compilation from being printed in time for the Con, but I am confident his book will be great when it’s available.
The Fire Under My Ass
Every time I go to one of these things, I lament about how I’m doing nothing creative with my life. It’s a thrill living with my love, but it’s also constant reminder that I don’t have the creative endurance of a true professional. Bill draws all day and then he comes home, eats a grain-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free dinner, and then draws some more. On the weekends when I’m like, “Hey let’s go shopping for stuff we don’t need,” he schedules it around more drawing.
I just lack a specific kind of gumption. Diligence. I don’t like not being immediately above-mediocre at anything. – Bill says this is confusing. What I’m saying is I like doing stuff that I have an immediate knack for. – I can doodle fairly decently, I think I know how to write, and I have true and false stories that I’d love to share. The part I never do is set aside time to do more than, well, this – dispensing the thoughts in my head. I look at the world of web comics and its wide range of expectations (simple to elaborate, spontaneous to serial), and think there might be something there that I could do, but…I know so many others do it so much better and have been at it for so much longer.
So I guess that’s why I Tweet so much. It’s the forum for noncommittal creatives. But hey, that got me a job once so here’s to doing what you’re good at. And admiring the pros who are better at other things.
*Not everyone did. It’s impossible for me to insert this link without throwing shade at the situation. Let’s just leave it at that.