Welcome, Fourth Rail Readers!

If you’re coming over here at Randy Lander’s request, welcome! I had no idea Randy would be sending people my way for an early look at our San Diego adventures. If I had, I might not have posted so many pictures of Buffy actresses.

Some quick notes: I went to San Diego with two goals this year: to sell To the Last Man, a graphic novel I’m working on with super-talented artist Ben Dale; and to find an artist for my new project, Cold.

So, enjoy the breakdown of my Wednesday and Thursday adventures. Friday and Saturday should go up tonight.

The San Diego File: Wednesday and Thursday

Saddle up, Bucks and Broncos! It’s time to hear about my trip to the lovely city of San Diego!

A quick disclaimer: A lot of the weekend is fuzzy just because so much happened. I’ll try to include it all, though.

WEDNESDAY (aka Marry Me!)

I had to finish up packing Wednesday morning. I couldn’t help but notice that Greta, Shawna’s German Shepard, doesn’t freak out when I’m packing like she does when Shawna’s packing. I plan to remedy this before Chicago. Oh, you will mourn me, Greta. Oh yes, you will.

Danny picks me up and drives me to the airport. On the way, he tells me to feel free to charge a few meals to the Frequency Press account. This will end up being my saving grace come Friday night.

The Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is the world’s greatest airport. Why? Because of the food selection. Instead of McDonald’s and Pizza Hut, we have The Salt Lick (barbecue), Matt’s Famous El Rancho (tex-mex), and Schlotski’s (a local deli that went big). Kudos to Austin for giving the local places preferential treatment. I grabbed a turkey and bacon club from Schlotski’s and wolfed it down, then went to wait for my flight. A few minutes later, Randy Lander and Tess Bodley, my good friends and roomies for the weekend, arrive. We bullshit a bit, and I take pictures to help document our journey.

Tess doesn’t like having her picture taken…

…but Randy does!

Anyhoo, we board the plain and spend our next two flights (and the layover), quoting our favorite movies and TV shows in true geek fashion. “Marry Me” from Arrested Developement becomes a weekend staple.

A quick note: Randy told a very interesting story about Shirley Manson from Garbage. Apparently, she’s a big fan of golden showers. Makes you wonder what “I’m Only Happy When it Rains” is about, huh?

We arrive in San Diego and shag ass to our hotel. We’re staying at the Holiday Inn on the Bay, which is notable, if for nothing else, for being across the street from Anthony’s Fish Grotto. Randy and I will eat at two meals at Anthony’s by the time we’re done with our weekend, and each will kick sehr ass.

Next up is heading to the convention center to pick up our pro badges. Now, I had been very excited about being considered a “pro” this year, but I’m seriously thinking about just registering as an attendee next year. Why? Because it took Randy and I almost three hours to get our badges! And the line wasn’t really that long, maybe two hundred people. The problem is that they were printing badges and putting together guest packets as you got to the registration desk. Talk about bad planning!

Yay! We have our badges! Now, what are we gonna do? You guessed it, bitches! We’re heading to Anthony’s! I had a lovely dinner of blackened catfish, while Randy wolfed down some shellfish. I don’t know why Randy fears real fish. He just does.

Anyway, back to the convention center and the wonderful joy that is Preview Night. Randy, Tess, and I hit the center full throttle (Randy, being the industry’s foremost reviewer, had agreed to introduce me to everybody. He’s a good guy to know). It took us a long while to get our shit together on the floor. It’s just fuggin huge! We eventually made our way past the Star Wars booth (which featured a life-sized Lego Chewbacca and a smaller Lego space battle), and hit the comics section of the floor.

Randy and I headed over to the Oni Press booth, where Randy introduced me to editor James Lucas Jones. James accepted a To the Last Man pitch with much graciousness. Randy also introduced me to Ross Ritchie, publisher of Boom! Studios, and we agreed to meet on Thursday to discuss To the Last Man. Other stops that night included the Adhouse Books booth and It’s a Chick Thing Productions, where we found out about a burlesque show at The Honeybee Hive on Thursday night. I also made a swing by the Gettosake booth, hoping to hand off a Cold packet to Jeremy Love (he wasn’t there, and I never did get a packet to him), and the AiT/PlanetLar booth, where I asked Larry when I could pitch to him the next morning.

My last notable stop on Preview Night was Tony Moore’s booth in the Image pavilion. I pseudo-know Tony, mostly because he’s dating Kara Fairfield, who I briefly hung out with nine years ago. Anyway, Tony has since helped me out with a few pep talks and some assorted advice. He’s also my favorite artist at the moment, barely edging out Rob G and Frank Quitely. Well, I hung out and talked to Kara and Tony for a bit. Kara threw some assorted schwag my way (most of it was paid for), and I bought a sketch off of Tony. When he asked me what I wanted, my mind blanked, and I threw out the first two words that popped into my cranium.

Redneck Zombie.

Hey there, delicious. You from ’round here?

We ended up staying until the hall closed, then we went home and crashed. Tess was feeling ill, so we didn’t go with our original plan of finding a bar to hit.

THURSDAY (aka. Shake ’em, Leia!)

We hit the convention hall at opening on Thursday. Little did we know that that meant we got to wait in a long-ass line to be let in. We’re pro’s, bitch! Let us through already!

Thursday is when things start to blur for me. I met up with Ben Dale, the artist on To the Last Man, and we hit a few pitches together. Larry Young treated us well, and Ross Ritchie ended up pitching the book to Adam Fortier at Speakeasy Comics for us!

A fun aside: As I was waiting to talk to Larry, there was an artist showing him his portfolio. It was mostly book covers.

“This all you do?” Larry asks.

“Mostly,” the guy says.

“Well, we already have somebody for that.”

This wouldn’t have been funny had I not pictured Larry lunging across the table, grabbing the guy by the neck and yelling “It’s Brian-fucking-Wood! Don’t you know who Brian-fucking-Wood is?”

Ah, you guys don’t know either.

Most of the rest of the day was spent wandering the floor, shopping and taking pictures. Pictures of what? Well, how about the booth for the upcoming, live-action Transformers movie?

And people wondering around in costume.

Some of the best picture taking was to be had at the Diamond Direct booth. There they had a ton of Buffy and Angel exclusives, such as the Angel puppet from the Smile Time episode.

And on the other side I found none other than Glory herself, Clare Kramer signing autographs.

Now, despite the facial expression above, ya gotta believe me when I tell you Clare was looking pretty damn good. Maybe you’d have to see how tight her pants were. I would have gotten a closer photo taken with her, but it would have cost me ten bucks. Then again, she would have also signed this picture for me.

Now, there is a tragedy to this, which is that Mercedes McNab was going to be signing on Sunday. I have a huge, strange crush on Mercedes. She’s number three on my “celebrities I can cheat on Shawna with” list. I wasn’t gonna be in town on Sunday, so I really missed my chance there. Oh, well. Life goes on.

Sorry, Mercedes. We’ll always have DVD.

The only panel I attended on Thursday was the Veronica Mars panel. Now, I’ve never watched Veronica Mars, but Randy and Tess are big fans, and I really wanted to get off my feet. They opened the panel with a clip show that really made me want to check this series out. Another surprise occurred when they brought out new series regular Charisma Carpenter. I took some pics of Charisma (Cordelia from Buffy), but they came out very poorly, so here’s one I lifted off the net.

I’m supposed to be sexy, so why the fuck am I wearing this hat?

The panel was fun as hell, and after the show, we walked to the Rock Bottom Brewery (after Randy got us lost). We were met by Raphael Navarro and Kevin (or was that Jeff) Altieri, and good time were had by all. I even snatched a pic of Tess!

Raphael, Tess, and Kevin/Jeff’s hands.

The night ended with the Burlesque show, which had a mildly geek theme to it. The first girl out was dressed as Princess Leia, and she was pretty good. Too bad the rest of the dancers were pretty subpar. Highlight of the evening was comedian Doug Benson, who skewered George Lucas in hilarious fashion. Spotted Planetary and Astonishing X-Men artist John Cassaday in the audience, but that’s about it. Met up with Randy’s friend Joe, who used to make his living working on porn movies, and spent a long time listening to funny porn stories.

Returned to hotel and crashed.

That’s it for Wednesday and Thursday. Be back tomorrow!

Well, that was a shock…

Returned home and found out that Frequency Press is sending me to Wizard World Chicago to sell Drive like the stylish MoFo I am. I’ll be in Rosemont from August 4th to the 7th. Of course, how I’m going to do this with no money and no vacation time saved up is beyond me. We’ll try to pull it off, though. Just have to see how it goes.

I’m Home

Well, it’s been four days of seafood, pitching, and shopping, but now I’m back. I missed Shawna terribly. Taking today off to decompress (aka. sleep) and work on some writing. I’ll write up an account of my San Diego adventure (promise!) with some pics, but it’s gonna take some time. Talk to you soon.

I Think I Did Something Stupid

Last night I went to class (shaolin-do). The workout was absolutely punishing. It wasn’t until this morning that I remembered that, normally, my legs sieze up two days after such a workout, turning into painful stumps of iron… that hurt… because they’re painful.

So that means my legs will hurt like a motherfucker tomorrow.

The first day of San Diego.

Jesus Fuck, I’m dumb.

The Last Pre-San Diego Post

Figured I’d get this out of the way now. If something else comes down the pike, we’ll just call it a bonus.

Much as I suspected (but never voiced out loud) the day before I leave for San Diego I suddenly feel of mixture of fear and sadness. I start hearing about everybody else’s plans, about the meetings they have to attend, the dinners they have to share with editors, and it all just reminds me that I’m nobody out there. Then I get scared because maybe I always will be nobody out there.

And then I say “fuck it.”

Here I come.

Blast-Off in Five…

Well, pitches are done and everything is organized. I have to shave my head, do some laundry, and pack my bags, and then I’m ready to leave on Wednesday morning.

Interesting weekend, especially Saturday. Shawna and I drove seperately to her sisters birthday party. I wanted to leave early. Of course, then Shawna left around ten and I stayed until two. I was also ordained as a minister and nearly married some friends of mine. Then I watched fire dancing and ate fajitas. Somewhere in the middle of all that I ripped open the bottom of my big toe.

Noticed yesterday that the floorplan for comic-con has been released. Another huge space for Lucasfilm this year. Last year they had a life-sized X-Wing set up. We’ll probably get that again this year.

My belly’s all aflutter. I want to get moving!

The San Diego Plan: Saturday

Jesus Christ, my head hurts. Stay off the booze kids. It makes your breath stink and it’s only gotten me laid, like, three times.

Saturday marks my last day at Comic-Con. I’m flying out early Sunday, so I won’t get a chance to head to the convention center. Let’s see what there is to do on my last day…

SATURDAY

10:00-12:00 ABC Presents: Lost, Invasion, Nightstalker—ABC Television presents an exciting not-to-be-missed two-hour panel highlighting the #1 hit series Lost and the much-anticipated new shows Nightstalker and Invasion! First, from writer/producer Shaun Cassidy (Cold Case, American Gothic, Cover Me) comes Invasion, a suspenseful tale of a splintered family trying to rebuild their lives after experiencing a devastating hurricane and its mysterious aftermath that has seemingly “invaded” their town. Cassidy will show you an early glimpse of the show and participate in a Q&A.

Then Buena Vista Home Entertainment will reveal the secrets of the upcoming Lost: Season One DVD release with exclusive sneak peeks into the DVD bonus features, plus a special Q&A panel featuring actors Josh Holloway (Sawyer), Maggie Grace (Shannon), and Harold Perrineau (Michael), along with co-creator/executive producer Damon Lindelof, executive producers Bryan Burk and Carlton Cruse, and writer Javier Grillo-Marxauch.

12:00-1:00 Oni Press: A Look into the Future—For seven years Oni Press has been an indy comics force, publishing one of the widest ranges of quality comics and graphic novels in the industry. Hear all about the creative process at Oni and upcoming projects from editor-in-chief James Lucas Jones, publisher Joe Nozemack, and director of makerting Maryanne Snell, along with creators Greg Rucka (Queen and Country), Ted Naifeh (Courtney Crumrin), Chynna Clugston (Blue Monday), Corey Lewis (Sharknife), John Layman (Puffed), and Brian Wood (Demo). Room 5AB

12:30-1:30 Fanged and Furry Fiction Horror and Monsters and Spooks, Oh My!—Monsters and things that go bump in the night, once just part of the setting of stories, have moved TO front and center and are increasingly popular protagonists. What created the literary shift, and what are the pros and cons? Panelists include actress Amber Benson (Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) co-writer of the forthcoming novel Ghosts Of Albion: Accursed; Jim Butcher, best-selling author of the Harry Dresden series of dark fantasy novels, including Dead Beat; Dave Hurwitz, the author of the vampire novel Wasting the Dawn, now available from IDW; Charlie Huston, author of Six Bad Things and Already Dead; Jeff Mariotte, author of more than 25 novels and many comic books, including the new Angel comic series; Robert Masello, author, Vigil; and Steve Niles, writer of 30 Days Of Night, currently being developed as a major motion picture. Moderated by Maryelizabeth Hart, Mysterious Galaxy. Room 9

1:00-2:30 Quick Draw!—Take three swift cartoonists and throw challenges at them; they draw as fast as they can and the results are always hilarious. This year, the combatants are Sergio Aragonés, Scott Shaw!, Kyle Baker, and the creator of Bone, Jeff Smith, along with host, Mark Evanier Room 6CDEF

2:15-3:15 Universal Presents Serenity and Slither—Fan-favorite creator Joss Whedon and cast members of Serenity return to Comic-Con a year later to show us how it all worked out! Join Joss, along with actors Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau, Gina Torres, Sean Maher, Ron Glass, and Jewel Staite and executive producer Chris Buchanan. Ask questions, see scenes from the upcoming movie (to be released Sept. 30), and enjoy the company! Plus, get a sneak peek at Slither! A small town is taken over by an alien plague, turning residents into zombies and all forms of mutant monsters. Featuring, in person writer/director James Gunn and cast members Elizabeth Banks, Michael Rooker, Gregg Henry, and Nathan Fillion. Hall H

5:00-6:00 Rue Morgue Presents Blood in Four Colors (and Black and White)—From zombies and monsters to psychological terrors, horror is on the rise in comics, movies, and manga. Jovanka Vuckovic, editor of Rue Morgue magazine, moderates a Q&A with the editors, writers, and artists who are leading the horror renaissance: Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead), Scott Allie (editor, Hellboy), Kieron Dwyer (Remains), Joshua Fialkov (Western Tales of Terror), Matt Fraction (30 Days of Night: Bloodsucker Tales), Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), Tony Moore (The Walking Dead), Hans Rodionoff (Mnemovore), and Jason Thompson (The Stiff). Room 4

6:30-7:00 New Line Cinema Presents: Tenacious D—It’s true! They’re really here! An absolutely LIVE set by Tenacious D, comedians/musicians Jack Black and Kyle Gass. It’s the Greatest Band on Earth, soon to drop the Greatest Rock Movie on Earth, Tenacious D in “The Pick of Destiny”. Hall H


The San Diego Plan: Friday

Friday is typically the day when Comic-Con really starts to tune up. It’s no Saturday, but it’s pretty damn busy. It’s also when I really start hanging out in panels a lot because my feet hurt. Let’s see wat I can find…

FRIDAY

10:30-12:00 Comic Book Law School 102: Money, Money, Money!—Learn the basics of copyright and trademark law in this popular interactive lecture series brought to you by noted attorney Michael Lovitz, author of the forthcoming Trademark, Licensing and Copyright Book graphic novel. This second workshop will cover more advanced issues facing creators who are looking to actually market their creations and ideas. Issues including licensing, transfers of rights, marketing, merchandising and distribution will be covered in an interactive setting. Attendees will participate in developing means for profiting from their creations and (time permitting) will even participate in a mock contract negotiation! Plus in-depth discussions about the options and opportunities for profit, as well as the problems and pitfalls that go hand in hand with each decision. Room 4

12:30-2:00 The EC Comics Renaissance—Documentary filmmaker Chip Selby (Tales from the Crypt: From Comic Books to Television) and author Grant Geissman (Foul Play: The Art and Artists of the Notorious 1950s EC Comics) talk about the continued interest in William M. Gaines’s legendary comic book company. A screening of Chip’s documentary will be followed by a Q&A session. Room 8

1:30-2:30 VERTIGO: Looking Over the Edge—For over a decade, VERTIGO has been at the forefront of cutting-edge comics and graphic novels for mature readers. Learn what smart and edgy projects are in store for you in this slide-show presentation. Hosted by VERTIGO VP/executive editor Karen Berger, with group editor Shelly Bond, editor Will Dennis, and creators Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets), Jill Thompson (Dead Boy Detectives), Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man), Pia Guerra (Y: The Last Man), Darren Aronofsky and Kent Williams (The Fountain), Dean Haspiel (The Quitter), Brian Wood (Global Frequency), Glenn Fabry (Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere), Joshua Dysart (Swamp Thing), David Tischman (Bite Club), Gilbert Hernandez (Sloth), and Peter Gross (Lucifer). Room 5AB

1:30-3:00 Masters of Horror—Meet the masters . . . the Masters of Horror! Join the greatest icons of motion picture horror together in a discussion of the highly anticipated new horror anthology series of 13 one-hour films, Masters of Horror, premiering on Showtime in October. This is your chance to enter the minds of the genre’s greatest directors, including Mick Garris, John Landis, Don Coscarelli, Roger Corman, and Stuart Gordon. Masters of Horror is produced by IDT Entertainment, Industry Entertainment, and Nice Guys Productions, and will be released on DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment. Room 20

The San Diego Plan: Wednesday and Thursday

Thought I’d lay out some of my San Diego plans for you fine folks. If nothing else, it helps me organize my thoughts.

WEDNESDAY

Randy, Tess and I will be arriving in San Diego right around lunchtime. Not much in the way of plans for Wednesday except picking up our pro badges, eating lunch or dinner at Anthony’s Fish Grotto, and going to Preview Night.

I’m hoping to get most of my pitching done on Preview Night, when things are still a little slow. Throughout the weekend, I plan to take To the Last Man to AiT/PlanetLar, Oni, Speakeasy, Alias, Viper, Dark Horse, and maybe one or two others.

Also on Preview Night, I hope to corner Tony Moore and Jeremy Love, see if either them can be bribed into art chores for Cold. If nothing else, I gotta get some sketches from ’em.

Late Wednesday night… drunk.

THURSDAY

Thursday is the con’s first day of proper programming. There’s not a whole lot I’m interested in, but here’s a few…

1:00-2:00 Spotlight on Pia Guerra—She’s the artist behind the best-selling VERTIGO series Y: The Last Man. Pia Guerra is a Comic-Con special guest for the first time and in this Spotlight event you’ll hear what she has to say about having spent years struggling in the comics trenches, Y, and much more! Room 4

3:30-4:30 Spotlight on Bruce Campbell: What’s New With Bruce?—True or false: Bruce Campbell: busiest man at Comic-Con? Sure looks that way! Bruce will talk about his new movie and related Dark Horse Comics series, The Man with the Screaming Brain, and his new book, Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way, in this special event spotlighting the Bubba Ho-Tep and Evil Dead series star! Room 6CDEF

3:30-4:30 Down These Mean Streets: Crime Fiction—How has crime fiction evolved since the days of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler? Traditional noir, cross-genre novels, and chick-lit cloaked in a veil of mystery offer a variety of ways for readers to go down those mean streets now. Panelists include proflic author Max Allan Collins, creator of Road to Perdition and the Nate Heller series who also writes CSI novels and comics (his recent anthology film Shades of Noir will be a DVD from Troma); Keith R. A. DeCandido, the author of dozens of best-selling novels, short stories, eBooks, comic books, and nonfiction in the universes of Star Trek, Spider-Man, Warcraft, Serenity, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Farscape; Charlie Huston, the critically acclaimed author of Six Bad Things and Already Dead; Comic-Con special guest Richard Morgan, the critically acclaimed author of Altered Carbon and the Marvel Comics Black Widow mini-series; Gary Phillips, author of crime novels such as bangers and writer of Angeltown for DC/VERTIGO; Greg Rucka, the multiple Eisner-winning writer of countless comics, a dozen novels, a smattering of short stories, and a really killer recipe for meatloaf; and Nathan Walpow, who writes the Joe Portugal mystery series. Maryelizabeth Hart moderates. Room 9

(Nate’s Note: Hmmm. Some overlap on that one. Who shall win my affections? Probaably a pizza vendor.)

4:00-5:30 Seducing Hollywood—This group of Hollywood insiders eat chocolate while telling you that there is no way you can get as sweet a deal as they have for their own properties. The panel includes Allan Heinberg (The OC, Young Avengers), Tramm Wizgell (Cartoon Network), Jeff Nodelman (NoodleSoup Prod., The Venture Bros), Jeremy Love (Venus Kincaid movie), Laurenn McCubbin (Rent Girl— The Series), Shawn Walker (Natural Talent Agency), and Brendan McFeely (IP Lawyer). Dan Evans (Jetix) will moderate and mock everyone, as always. Room 6A

Late Thursday night… drunk.

Well, that looks like that for Wednesday and Thursday. I’ll post my Friday plans tomorrow, Saturday plans on Sunday, and on Monday I’ll post a list of those I hope to get sketches from.

See you then!