San Diego Comic-Con 2004 (July 21-25)

I'm finally back home in Washington and ready to get back into the groove. The entire trip was extremely productive as usual. It was fantastic to meet old and new friends alike.

After a really long drive from Bellingham to San Diego, Nancy and I arrived to our hotel (US Grant) on Tuesday night exhausted but full of enthusiasm. We set up our booth on Wednesday afternoon and got done only minutes before the hall opened for Preview Night at 5:30. We had an excellent location, probably the best we've ever had. Our corner booth was facing a main entrance and was positioned very close to the DC booth. I sure hope we get a location this good again next year.

Kudos to Thom and Rhonda Trainor who helped us throughout the convention. Thanks to them, I was able to walk around instead of being stuck all day at the booth. I met Thom and Rhonda at the Atlanta Comicon (Thom was one of the organizers). We're happy to have them as friends. They are super nice people.

On Thursday, the first official day of the convention, I participated in a panel about self-publishing. The room was completely packed. Terry Moore was definitely the star with his humorous yet incisive style. I always enjoy meeting Terry and was glad to get the latest Strangers in Paradise TPB for my beloved wife Nancy (who's a huge fan of the series).

On Thursday night, we were invited to a private party given by Baby Tattoo Books. I had a great time hanging out with Ragnar, Attaboy, Bill Stout and publisher extraordinaire, Bob Self. I will be doing a book for Baby Tattoo in the coming year. More on that later...

It was nice to meet the Flight anthology crew: a bunch of young and extremely talented artists. Nancy and I ate a meal with them on Saturday night and we had a blast. Flight is a wonderful book and it was a huge hit at the convention. I'm delighted to be part of the upcoming Volume Two.

Kazu Kibuishi, the mastermind behind the Flight anthology, gave me a copy of the first issue of his new comic series, Daisy Kutter, published by Viper Comics. It's a really fun and appealing book with a nice European feel. The back-up story by Phil Craven is also excellent. This is going to be one cool series.

As I walked around on the convention floor, I stopped at Dean Yeagle's table to admire his sketchbook called Scribblings. I very rarely buy sketchbooks but that one, I just had to have. When I started, flipping through it, Dean pointed at one of the drawing in the book (an Insanely Twisted Rabbit) which has a small inscription underneath it that says: "... with apologies to M. Gagné." How cool is that?

Speaking of Insanely Twisted Rabbits, I met yet another fan who was sporting one of my rabbit illustrations on her shoulder. It's amazing how many people have my doodles tattooed on their bodies. Blows my mind!

Once again, I received many samples and gifts from artists. Here are a few that really impressed / touched me:

Royce Viso from Los Angeles gave me a manuscript entitled, Our Insanely Twisted Tribute for Michel Gagné that he and his students put together. It's filled with drawings of twisted animals à la Insanely Twisted Rabbits as well as letters addressed to me. It seems like Royce's students were very inspired by my work. That's always a great thing to hear. It was a nice and touching gift.

Clio Chiang, one of the Flight contributors, gave me a wonderful watercolor painting depicting my little character Rex (image on the right). I was completely blown away. I thanked her for this amazing gift and she replied by saying "Thank you" back. I told her, "Why are you thanking me? I haven't done anything for you." She replied, "Thank you for all the things you do. Thank you for being... you!" That almost brought a tear to my pulsating eye. You can click here for a larger view.

Another gift that really impressed me is a graphic novel called Liquid Fury by Kurt Christenson and Chris Chua. I love Chua's visuals on this. The book has a unique feel and constantly surprising and dynamic layouts. It's like a cross between Hirschfield, Frank Miller and manga. Very cool!

Other gifts and acquisitions that are noteworthy includes: A cool sci-fi comic, Sean Wang's Runners issue #3 and #4; the "European style BD" minicomics, Horus #2 and #3 by Johane Matte; the wonderfully drawn Sammy: Tourist Trap #1-4 by Azad; the magazine size comic anthology Comiculture #1 and #2; three cool collected editions of popular webcomics (Unshelved, PVP and Phooey! Evil Gets All The Fun!); Gris Grimly's latest masterpiece, Boris and Bella; a couple of neat anthologies from Konsequential Studios; Jack Kirby's biography, Tales to Astonish by Ronin Ro; and some nice sketchbooks by Ryan Woodward, Jerry Carr and Sam Hood. I also spent quite a few $$ on old "Silver Age" comic books.

There's a lot more stuff I haven't gone through yet and I'm sure I'll find more gems. Thanks to everyone who gave me samples of their great work. I'll make sure to savor all of it as time permits. It's very inspiring to see all this talent.

All our books did extremely well. Frenzied Fauna and the Prelude to Eden DVD are now completely sold out! Freaky Flora was our best selling book at the convention. ZED saw a major increase in sales over last year. I think the release of issue 5 is generating new interest in the trade. We also sold quite a few original pieces of artwork. All and all, this was another highly successful convention thanks to all our fans and supporters.

More Pictures:



Michel Gagné, August 6, 2004