The San Diego File: Friday and Saturday

I’m writing this at work, trying to squeeze in as much as I can during breaks and lunch. With any luck, I can get this out all lickity-split like.

FRIDAY (aka Hey Everybody! Meet Phil Hester)

After a breakfast at the strange-smelling little diner/convenience store beneath the Holiday Inn, Randy and I (Tess was feeling ill, so we let her sleep) hopped the shuttle to the convention center. Rick Spears and Rob G of Gigantic Graphic Novels were on the shuttle with us. I had some cash I had vowed to give Rob in exchange for page 100 of their new graphic novel, Dead West, and Rob apparently sat behind me the whole trip, saying “Naaaaaate. Naaaaaaaaaate,” and still failed to get my tired-ass attention.

So, we hit the convention right at ten. Randy was supposed to meet Alex de Campi, writer of the brilliant Smoke for IDW, for coffee at ten, so we decided not to wait in the big-ass line today.Big mistake.Little did we know that we weren’t allowed into the convention center until the entire big-ass line had snaked around the building and into the convention center.

We finally made our way through the doors at almost half-past, and we immediately split up, Randy to make his coffee date, and I to pay Rob G the cash I owed him.While I was at the Gigantic Graphic Novels booth, I also picked up a copy of Rick and Rob’s new zombie western, Dead West. Once I returned home on Sunday, I read through this story in a single sitting, and it was incredible. You need to pick this one up today!

The rest of the early morning was spent walking around, snapping pictures, and seeing what I could see. Tower records had a replica of the car from Scarface……

While the Pokemon booth was raffling off a Volkswagon made to look like Pikachu.Yeah, you read that right. Here’s proof.

I eventually met up with Randy again at the My Monkey’s Name is Jennifer booth. I picked up the first issue from Ken Knudsten, a talented man with a bizarre Huey Louis fetish. Along with my purchase, I received a free sketch…

…and a shot of vodka!

With a warm sensation in my chest and tummy, I scooted over a few feet see Ken’s boothmate, Jimmy Ma. Jimmy has a book out called Burn. I loved the art, so I picked up a copy from him. I also earned a free sketch for this, so here’s what Jimmy made me. I asked for something creepy, and I got something both creepy and sexy…

A Thursday Aside: I forgot a few of mine and Randy’s more interesting moments from Thursday…We ran to the Oni booth, where Randy requested a sketch from Capote in Kansas artist Chris Samnee. It was amazing to watch Chris work. We must have thought he finished that sketch a million times, but Chris just kept on trucking on it. Go check it out at The Fourth Rail.

We stopped at the Ait/PlanetLar booth a few times, each time to see somebody else. I chatted to Joe Casey there, who’s sporting a new shaven hairstyle. We’ve both got graphic novels under option with the same production studio, so we were able to chat about that a bit. I promised to bring Joe a copy of Drive on Friday (which I did).

Okay. Back to Friday.

Midway through the day, I was walking around the convention floor, and I decided to pass by the Diamond Direct booth to see who was signing. Much to my surprise, I found both Adam Baldwin and Ron Glass from Firefly/Serenity there without a line stretching out before them. I spoke to them both briefly and snapped a quick picture.
Two incredibly nice guys, or just good actors?
Later, I caught up with Randy, and we popped in the Quick Draw! Panel. Quick Draw is almost two hours of cartoon improve, as Mark evener puts Sergey arsines, Scott Shaw, Kyle Baker, and Jeff Smith through their paces, making them draw all sorts of wacky things off the top of his head. This marks the third year I’ve attended this panel, and it’s been entertaining as hell every time. This will probably be the last time I attend, however, as I noticed a lot of repeated exercises and jokes.
The rest of our day on the floor passed in a blur. Randy introduced me to the people at Cellar Door Publishing, and I was quick to slip them a To the Last Man pitch. I returned the favor by introducing Randy to Adam Fortier of Speakeasy. Much to Randy’s enjoyment, Adam didn’t seem to know what the hell The Fourth Rail was. If Randy had a slim chance of getting on the Speakeasy comp list, he would completely blow it later that night. More on this later.
The last stop I remember was another trip to Tony Moore’s booth, which he was sharing with B. Clay Moore and Jeremy Haun. We spoke to Jeremy for a few minutes. I handed him a Cold packet and bought my final sketch of the con from him.

Angry or happy? Who’s to say?!
And now, dinner.
The Fish Market. I’ve spoken of it before. So has Randy. Simply put, The Fish Market is the best seafood restaurant I’ve ever been to. Randy and I met a few of his friends, all fellow retailers, and we hit The Market like spit on Scott Kurtz (He got spit on at the convention, see. Jesus, I’m tasteless. Love ya, Scott!). Since I was odd man out (though I had fun mini-conversations with everyone), I took the chance to annihilate my Pacific Yellowtail, rice, and steamed veggies.

Really, wouldn’t you just attack this?
After an extended recovery period in the hotel, Randy and I went to drunken pro central, otherwise known as the Hyatt Bar. The drinks were expensive, but the company was good. We ran into Alex again, who introduced us to Frazier Irving (artist on Klarion the Witch Boy) and David Marquez (artist on de Campi’s geek-Cthulhu romp Necrocomicon). I especially enjoyed meeting Dave. He’s a very talented artist from Austin who I’ve been begging to work with for two years or so. I can’t believe I had to go all the way to San Diego to meet another Austinite!
But the night grew stranger…
It was during the second or third round that Randy and I ran into Bill Williams, publisher of Lone Star Press and former owner of my local comic shop. A few moments later, we ran into Les Weiler and Joe Riley of Austin-based Goathead Productions. Randy and I ended up spending the evening with Les and Bill, bullshitting over geek stuff and getting hammered. I eventually decided to leave when I went to take a piss and lost everybody, although I did run into Kara long enough to learn he lost the best cover artist Eisner to James Jean. Get ’em next year, Tony!

Oh, I almost forgot the best part! As we’re drinking with Alex and Frazier, Randy waves to a guy who looks kinda familiar. “Hey, Phil! C’mere!” Randy says, and the guy walks right over. “Alex. Frazier. I want you to meet Phil Hester. He wrote The Coffin and Deep Sleeper.” Handshakes are exchanged and smiles traded, then the guys (who I’m thinking looks really familiar) says sheepishly…

“Actually, I’m Adam Fortier from Speakeasy Comics.”
After Adam shuffles off, Alex dismisses the event with a shrug. “He shouldn’t have answered to Phil.”
And onto Saturday!
SATURDAY (aka I’m gonna go throw up now)
Got to the convention center pretty late on Saturday. Not much of note today, really. Spent most of the day hanging out with Randy and watching more people give him sketches. Did very little shopping, mostly looking for a present for Shawna. A few things of note, however…
I love Coheed and Cambria. They’re currently my favorite band. Now, I could always tell when they were signing at their booth during the weekend (they’re also putting out a comic) because of the incredibly long line of people dressed in black. It was a shock, then, to walk by their booth on Saturday to find lead singer Claudio Sanchez just hanging out and nobody noticing. I talked to him for a few minutes and got a quick photo taken with him. I then walked away all glowing-like.

Nate has a fanboy moment.

The only panel I attended on Saturday was the horror comics panel. Some of you may remember my essay “A Word is Worth a Thousand Pictures” that I wrote for Brian Keene’s blog. Well, it looks to me like most of the panel agreed with me. Yay for me! I also learned that I need to see Irreversible real soon.
Made a last stop at the Gigantic table to pick up my artwork from Rob G. I also handed him a Cold packet and begged him to work on it. He seemed kinda excited. Could it really happen?
Another meal at Anthony’s (deep fried catfish strips this time) down, and Randy, Tess, and I took off for the Honey Bee Hive once again. This time we were off to see the Scott Morse Jim Mahfood live art show. Man, what a ride! Watching two incredible artists painting anything on everything while people drink and dance like animals. We didn’t leave until two or so, and we stumble home in time for me to call home to tell Shawna when to pick me up at the airport. My message (left at 4:30am Austin time) ended with the words “I love you. I’m gonna go puke now.”
And that’s what I did.
After that, I went to sleep, then woke up at 7:00am to catch my 9:00 flight.
Well, another Comic-Con come and gone, a few hundred more dollars spent, and a bunch of drinks imbibed. Can’t wait ’til next year!

Oh, and a final thought…