San Diego Comic-Con 2002

We're back from this year's Comic-Con and we had an amazing time. My head is still spinning from the craziness of those 5 days, but I'll try my hardest to remember the hi-lights. Let's start on Wednesday morning, July 31. My beloved wife and I got up at 3:30 am and left L.A. for San Diego by 4:30. The day before, we had rented a U-Haul truck and loaded all the stuff we needed for the convention. The ride was quite smooth and we reached our destination in 2 hours. We were actually too early to set up, so we decided to kill some time by having a greasy breakfast at Denny's. By 10:00 am we were inside the convention center setting up the booth. We were pretty much done by noon, so we went to the hotel to try to catch some shut-eye. All my synapses were firing up so there was no way for me to get any rest.

We went back to the convention center around 5:00 pm to get ready for preview night, which ran from 5:30 till 8:00. Those first 2 1/2 hours were a total success. Our sales were good from the very start. If this was any indication of things to come we knew we were in for a fruitful convention.

On Thursday morning, we had breakfast with Bill Shanes (Diamond's vice president of marketing) to discuss our new distribution deal. We're very optimistic about the outcome and are looking forward to working with them in a new greater capacity.

By 9:30 am, we were back at the convention center. The doors opened to the general public around 9:45 am, and everything went great from that point on. I sketched for fans, answered their questions and loved every minute of it. Our location was great (Independent Publisher Pavillion) with excellent foot traffic.

Our neighbour to the left were Animation Hut which was comprised of Amid Amidi from Animation Blast, the musical Will Ryan, the gifted Gabe Swarr and the talented Shane Glines. Amid was selling full sets of his fabulous magazine and as far as I can tell, they were flying off the self. He was also selling a dream and eating a lot of nuts. Gabe, was having great success with the second issue of his amazing comic Big Pants Mouse. Those guys seemed to be having a good time, although they went insane a couple of times, screaming loudly for no apparent reason. On our right hand side was Scott Sava and his effervescent wife, who were promoting their independent comic The Lab, as well as a new Children's Book. Scott's latest project is a four issue Spider Man mini-series entitled Quality of Life which will soon be release as a trade . Across the aisle was Mike Kunkel burning up the sales floor with a wide range of merchandises from his popular Herobear and the Kid comic series. Mike won an Eisner Award this year and he was overwhelmed with joy. Congrats man!

I previewed my Batman project on Friday and Saturday at the DC booth and got a nice response from the audience. Virtually everyone agreed that this was the most insane Batman story they'd ever seen.

On Friday, I stopped by the Fantagraphics booth and finally met Dave Cooper, whose work I really admire. He's the most laid back guy and not the crazy demented maniac I had envisioned. Dave had two new books out (Weasel #5 and The Pip & Norton Collection) and was busy signing for the fans. When he came to my booth on Sunday, I was unfortunately doing a signing for Last Gasp and missed the opportunity to have a more in depth conversation with the master.
Other folks who stopped by include Bill Plimpton (who seemed in awe of my short fim Prelude to Eden), animation historian Jerry Beck, a bunch of people from the Animation Nation Message Board, animation director Eric Goldberg, cartoonist Phil Foglio (who is teaching his kid how to read with my books), Phil Bourassa (First World), Jon Hooper and Steve Kellener from Animation Meat, designer extraordinaire Stephen Silver, the Viz crew, comic reviewers Augie De Bliek from CBR (read his account of our meeting here), James Taylor from The Small Press Magazine, Rebecca Salek from Sequential Tart, Randy Lander from The Fourth Rail, font designer supreme Nate Piekos, and many many more.

I had virtually no time for shopping. I managed to get away for 15 minutes here and there but it was usually to go say hi to friends and peers. I didn't even get time to browse at one of my favorite spot, the Bud Plant booth. Incidentaly, Bud was having great success with our books and ended up purchasing over 300 during the convention. Cold Cut Distribution also stocked up on our books with a large purchase order.
All and all we had a blast and look forward to do it again next year.

Michel Gagné, August 6, 2002.