Bloggity-Blog-Blog-Blog Archive LXXII
Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag's 72 weeks

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Sketchbook - Stan Sakai

Here's one I've been hoping to post for awhile. Yeah, it's not Aquaman... and I may never get Stan to try Aquaman (though I'd be fascinated to see what animal he might choose for an Aquaman character), but it's still a cool little sketch. This is one of only three sketches I got at San Diego 2001 (the other two were by Leonard Kirk and Brandon Graham).

by Stan Sakai
19 Jul 2001
(permission to post given 29 Feb 2004 in person)
Usagi Yojimbo Dojo

Stan is a very approachable guy, with a nice smile and an unassuming manner. I've fallen in love with Usagi Yojimbo, and addicted my little sister to it also. Usagi has a depth to it, a love of the culture along with a desire to teach. It entertains, but you learn something new about Japanese history in almost every issue. There is a vast continuity, but you can pick it up at just about any issue and enjoy it. This is the kind of book that the industry desperately needs, and I'm amazed and pleased that Stan is celebrating 20 years of Usagi this year, which is why he was the headliner at the Emerald City Comicon, and why I got to meet him again.

Again, as a reminder: Almost every sketch in my sketchbook was non-commissioned and done on the floor of a con. These are not the best works of the artists. These are only representative of what the artist can do under pressure in a loud, crowded, and often stressed-out environment. Most of them were done as quickly as possible, to prevent huge lines from forming. Don't judge any of these artists negatively by the artwork you see, instead be as impressed as I am by what they accomplished in far-from-ideal conditions.

To see all the sketches I have permission to post so far, check out my Sketchbook Page. If you have any contact information for any of the other artists I'm trying to contact, please e-mail me. Click for a random Aquaman sketch.

The Saturday Sketch ™ is brought to you by the letters "A", "Q" and the number "27", and also courtesy the fine artists who pour their lives into producing wonderful comic books, then come to conventions only to get asked by geeky fangirls for a sketch of Aquaman. Support an artist, buy a comic book.

by Tegan at 9:15 PM Seattle time

Squeezing Those Bunnies Some More

I like superhero comics. I've liked superheroes since I was a little girl watching the Super Friends on TV. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with my enjoyment of superheroes today. I know adults who collect Smurfs, GI Joes, Children's Books, and any other number of odd things that aren't "age appropriate". I'm just lucky enough that my favorite superhero is still being produced and that his story is constantly growing. That means I'm constantly collecting, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

There's been a tendency among some comic book bloggers to distance themselves from superheroes. To make fun of them, to dismiss them as cultural garbage. To even imply that a superhero comic book is inherently crap.

They're wrong.

In Dead Poet's Society, Keating's most convincing argument about poetry is that judging it by the quality of the rhyme or meter is stupid, you judge it by how it works on an emotional level. If you've ever actually read "Oh Captain! My Captain!" by Whitman, it's a pretty lame poem... until you read it aloud and with a melodramatic flair. Then you begin to see what Whitman was saying about Lincoln's death.

I could easily argue that it's a bad poem because it's not easy to connect with. Because you almost have to be in a certain state of mind to understand the meaning and depth of the poem. I could argue that it's a pathetic poem, just another piece of crap in a genre (literature) filled with crap. Heck, despite being a published poet, I could probably come up with a good argument as to why poetry is an unworthy sub-genre of literature.

I would be wrong.

You can't dismiss an entire genre because of a few poor examples. Or even because a few examples are so wonderful that everything else in the genre pales around them. Superhero comic books are what they are, to borrow a turn of phrase from Popeye. Part of their appeal is that they don't have any pretentions to literary greatness. The same thing that makes them a despised sub-genre of literature is what attracts a portion of their current audience.


We've gotten to a point where some bloggers are feeling the "us vs them" pressure. Some superhero fan bloggers have gotten into an automatic defensive position. Key words like "adolescent power fantasy" trigger reponses like "people trying to make themselves look smart and with-it by bashing superhero stories", even when that's not what the original person was saying.

I don't react like that much anymore. Even superhero fans make fun of Aquaman, so there's no point in me getting upset when someone bashes superheroes. I just shrug and say, "their loss" and move on (usually).

But the bashing and counter-bashing irritates me, especially since I don't see the demise of comic books in the publication of superheroes - any more than I see superheroes as likely to save the industry. There is room for lots of genres, and convincing superhero fans that their favorite genre is crap is not going to sell more non-superhero comic books. It's just going to annoy the hardcore superhero comic book fans and drive off the less serious ones.

What the industry needs, the comic book industry as a whole, is more genres. Comics need to expand into other markets. And non-superhero fans need to get over trying to convert superhero fans into fans of other genres. That's not where the money lies. We need to bring in non-comics readers. We need romance, spy, mystery, sports, horror and all those other genres... but we need to get people who aren't reading comic books to pick them up. There simply aren't enough comic book fans out there to support an industry with lots of genres, we need to get new readers.

There are plenty of non-superhero books out there right now. Some are good, many are not so good. As a fan, there isn't a whole lot I can do to promote comic books as a form beyond what I already do: loan my books out to everyone who I think might enjoy them. As an industry, something must be done to push comic books from all genres. And I haven't got a clue how the industry ought to go about doing that.

Manga is having some success in widening the genres. It's succeeding because it has a wide variety of genres and styles. Comic books are popular in Japan precisely because they aren't all full of self-referential superheroes with complicated continuity. Yeah, they've got that sort of book, too, but it isn't the only kind of book you can find on the shelf. As Jeff Parker said, "We're actually wondering why manga is doing so well now with kids? It's pretty obvious they're writing to a young audience, using imagination and thinking about what would be fun."

While Parker was soundly criticized for his opinion, I wrote a similar thing, just a little more diplomatically, in 1999, so it was ignored: "Not only are comics out of Joe Public's eyes, they aren't the kind of story that would appeal to good ol' Joe if he read them. They are great stories, some of the best ever written! But Joe Public reads a few pages, stratches his head, and goes back to his Nintendo."

Jeff's complaint was that superhero comic books cater to the fans of the comic books, and do not appeal to kids. My complaint is that today's superhero comic books cater only to the fans, not even to a general adult audience. While there is a place for such books, if the industry wants to recover there needs to be some superhero books that are cheesy and fun and meant for everyone, just like there needs to be a lot of other genres. Bring back romance and horror. Bring back crime comics.

I had a brief moment of hope for comic books a couple years back when the Seattle Mariners announced a two-issue comic book based on the team that would be available as a special promotion at McDonalds. I thought to myself: Great! A comic book about baseball! It'll bring in more readers who would never have touched a comic book, and if they do it right, it'll show that comics can work for more than just superheroes! To my immense and lasting disgust, instead of it being a comic book about baseball, it was a comic about the Mariners players being turned into secret superheroes. It was pathetic. Cute, but pathetic.

I sometimes dream about writing a really good mini-series about a baseball player, but who would want to publish it? I know there are baseball fans who would be interested, but if it went to comic shops, few of them would see it. It sometimes seems like the weight of the industry is against any positive changes.

So how do I wrap up this long and rambling essay? I suppose the best way would be to simply ask you, the reader, what you would do. If you are a comic book reader, how would you try to solve the problem as an individual? If you aren't a comic book reader (and read this far, wow), what would it take to get you to buy a comic book? So, dear readers, what do you think?

by Tegan at 5:41 PM Seattle time

Baseball Tickets

So I went to get tickets for a Mariners game this summer. We're going to take our nephew out to see them. No big deal, I thought, I'll get there when they open and get my tickets within the hour. Ha. Shows what I know. When I got there, there wasn't much of a crowd. I wondered why, and asked someone what I needed to do. She pointed at a guy and said, "Get a ticket from him for your place in line." I got a ticket, then tried to figure out how they were working things. The line was short, but people were going into the store. So I asked one of the employees. She looked at my ticket and said, "You're 474th in line. You have to wait until they call your number. In the meantime, you can shop in the store and get a nice discount." Uh, right. I started to shop and listened for them to call out a number. Then I heard it... "Six!"

Right. So I got my stuff, used my discount, and asked the guy at the door when he thought number 474 would be called. He gave me a sympathetic look and said, "Come back tomorrow."

So I came home and used Ticketmaster on-line. I didn't want to, I hate their charges, but it was either that or not get the tickets for the games I wanted, as tickets were already selling out and it's hard to get five tickets in a row for some reason. The Yankees games were nearly gone, apparently, to the disgust of number six, who was buying his tickets while I was buying my stuff at the store.

by Tegan at 11:18 AM Seattle time

Friday, March 05, 2004

Rapid Reviews - 3 March 2004 - Part III

Superman: Birthright #8: I'm very used to the Smallville version of Lex. This one is irritating. It's an interesting enough take on Lex, and maybe closer to the classic version than Smallville, but I still don't like him much. What Lex was trying to do was fascinating. Again, the art just didn't work for me, taking away from the story instead of adding to it. I just don't know what to think. I don't think I enjoyed it, but I certainly didn't dislike it. 3 starfish

Supreme Power #8: This one is all fight. Ok, mostly fight. Hyperion is getting to be a little better now that he's questioning his upbringing. I was hoping for more than just Hyperion this issue, but this is all about him. Ah well, I'm still enjoying the series. 3 1/2 starfish

Swamp Thing #1: I don't know why I picked this up. I didn't intend to get it, but in the store it called out to me. I think it's the whole "elemental" thing, and maybe my interest comes from Swampy's guest appearance in Aquaman a few years back during the PAD run. Whatever, I was compelled to pick this up. And I think it was ok. Yeah, I'm not up to date on the latest of what's been happening with Swampy, but the issue does a good job of filling the reader in on most of it. I may have to get the next issue. Like I needed another book to read... 3 1/2 starfish

Still to review: Nothing from this week, but I've got a borrowed copy of 8 1/2 Ghosts to review, and the stuff I got at the con: Dodge's Bullets ashcan, Noble Causes Vol I: In Sickness and In Health, Whiteout, and Whiteout: Melt. No promises on how quickly I'll read and review those. Next Wednesday's books, according to the shipping list, are: Powers, Phantom, JSA, Fallen Angel, JLA, Green Arrow, H-E-R-O, Way of the Rat, El Cazador: Blackjack Tom, and Archard's Agents: Deadly Dare. We'll just see how many actually ship, eh?

by Tegan at 9:22 PM Seattle time

Rapid Reviews - 3 March 2004 - Part II

Akiko #52: I tried to take the price tag off the cover. I'm so used to dealing with old price tags... it was just natural for me to see if I could remove it. It took me a moment after I started to try to remove it to realize it was part of the cover. Then I looked at the rest of the cover and finally got the joke. The contents of the book were quite fun, but it was the cover that really got me. And I'm still wishing for a longer story, instead of a bunch of shorts. Oh yeah, and the back cover made me laugh aloud. 3 1/2 starfish

Justice League Adventures #29: Yah! Seattle! *ahem* This one was a nice tame story, with a villain that I didn't recognize and an international flavor that ought to be emphasized more often. If anything, I'm slightly disappointed that we didn't see more of the chaos as various places on earth were mixed up with others. The cover is really misleading, as it suggests changes in time as well as space. And what happened to the lab assistant? 3 1/2 starfish

Still to review: Birthright and Supreme Power.

And in other comic book news, Jeff Parker tries to clarify his opinion on his blog: "We still need escapism, but as I said in that extended metaphor, we've literally loved that genre to death." I seem to recall saying the exact same thing about five years ago. It's an obvious problem. The solution, if there is one, is far from clear.

by Tegan at 2:31 PM Seattle time

Another Happy Day

Happy Birthday Sandra! I hope your day is pleasant and fun!

by Tegan at 8:05 AM Seattle time

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Rapid Reviews - 3 March 2004 - Part I

Plastic Man #4: Huh. If this is what the first issues were leading to, then I'm not sure what to think. I certainly liked this one better than the previous ones, mostly because of the ending. The rest of it impressed me about as much as usual. I really don't know what to think. 3 starfish

Thor #75: Ah, the hammer. It's about time. Reading this book with a good background knowledge of the Norse myths, but almost no knowledge of the Marvel version of the Norse gods, makes for a very strange read some times. This story is being drawn out too long, but is otherwise a pretty nice "elseworld" for the Marvel Universe. 3 1/2 starfish

Still to review: Akiko, Birthright, Justice League Adventures, and Supreme Power.

by Tegan at 8:18 PM Seattle time

Random Thoughts

I think Peiratikos misreads Jeff Parker's complaints about superhero comics. Peiratikos seems to think that Parker's view is contradictory and ironic... but I don't think he's being contradictory at all. He said that adults have co-opted the superhero form to the point where there are no superhero comics for kids anymore: "Yet they can't let go of the cape book, and the superheroes start killing each other and sleeping around, drinking, gambling, talking a whole lot ... the kid has wandered off by now in search of something where good guys fight bad guys in a fun way." Because readers of comic books are adults, the books have become adult power fantasies, instead of "adolescent power fantasies" that appeal to kids.

What Parker would like to see is for adults to find genres that fit adults instead of co-opting the kid genre. Now, I would disagree with him on this, but I don't think Parker feels that adults shouldn't read superheroes. He just feels that superheroes have gone over entirely into the realm of adults. Today's superhero comics from DC and Marvel are NOT written for kids. I can't even think of a mainstream comic I would let a kid read. We've "squeezed the bunnies to death". There aren't any comics written for kids. And that's his point, I think. That's what I got from reading his interview. Icons like Superman and Batman are written for adults now.

In other news, ADD have 5+ questions for Alan Moore. I don't know how he managed it, but all Alan Moore fans will want to read this one. Even if you aren't a big Alan Moore fan, it's worth reading for the insight.

Neil Gaiman warns us of Stalinist Monster Crabs Attacking Norway! "A snap of its claw is enough to remove a man's finger." However, another Norwegian says: "It's true the seabed now looks like the Sahara but they certainly taste good."

Here's a pretty intense tour of Chernobyl. The English isn't perfect, but it's more than adequate to get her points across. via die puny humans.

Speaking of intense, even Rush has begun to question Bush. And many former Bush supporters are now actively trying to get rid of him, according to this article. I don't know what to think. And your mileage may vary. via

by Tegan at 10:04 AM Seattle time

Rapid Reviews - 3 March 2004 - Television

Smallville: Crisis [3-16]: Ok... let me get this right. Adam had a rare liver disease. The kid in the last episode had a rare liver disease. And (spoiler)(spoiler) has it too. Which led to the cliff-hanger ending. Wow. That last image is what is going to stick with me. Yeah, the rest of the show was ok. But it was that last image that will haunt until the next episode in mid-April. 3 1/2 starfish

Angel: Shells: Wesley's insanity is frightening to see. He rampages through this episode like a pitbull at a paperboy convention. He's scary in ways you don't expect, because of his mild-mannered style. What he does to Knox and Gunn! It ends quietly, but you wonder what will happen as the show progresses. This one was a "wow" one for me. 4 starfish

To review this week: Plastic Man, Akiko, Birthright, Justice League Adventures, Thor, and Supreme Power. And maybe a couple others, who knows?

by Tegan at 8:26 AM Seattle time

Wednesday, March 03, 2004


So Sportsclix arrived at comic book stores today, and I went ahead and bought myself a starter set or two to try the game out. Here's my initial thoughts.

This is going to be quite collectable. The sports collectable industry likes this sort of thing, and the size of the clix makes them easy to store and display. I suspect they will be pretty popular with sports collectors for that reason. With 6 levels of rarity, they will also be a nice challenge for completists. I am already seeing many of the figures up on eBay, with some enterprising folks putting up team sets of the least rare levels.

The sculpts are pretty nice. Some of the paint jobs could use work, but overall they look a good deal better than a lot of MLB collectables. The unique sculpts of some players in their "trademark" poses is a nice touch.

This is not an easy game to solitaire, so until I get a partner to play with, my opinion of the gaming side should be taken with a grain of salt.

There are four levels of game play. At the most basic (pre-season), you can set out the field, pick your teams, and play. You don't even have to have a correct team, as long as you've got one pitcher, since fielding isn't an issue in the Pre-Season rules. At this level, just about any age could play the game and enjoy it, and they game will go quickly if both players want it to move along. Your players also can improve their stats when they get hits or pitch a good inning.

The second level of play (regular season), adds fielding to the mix. It matters where you place your fielders on the playmat, and where you decide the outfield fences are.

Once you've mastered the Regular Season, you move on to the third level of play (playoffs). The main difference at this level are that players can have cold streaks as well as hot streaks, so the dial can be clicked either way. Pitchers lose stats after pitching their maximum number of innings, and other more advanced plays are possible (including bunting, double-plays, base-stealing, and intentional walks).

The final level of play (championships) incorporates all the rules so far and adds in team creation rules, including counting player point values.

There's a lot of potential for house rules, and this game appears to have enough flexibility to embrace any number of situations. The playmat is small enough to fit on a coffee table, unlike the Heroclix maps. While it's not absolutely perfect, it's definitely one of the best baseball simulations I've seen, and the collectability might just put it over the edge into something big. We'll have to see, but if I had to guess, I'd say this will definitely be the next big thing in sports collecting and might have legs enough to last a few seasons more than the last big thing.

Now I've got to concentrate on getting those remaining 9 Mariners clix (Jamie Moyer came in one of the Starter Sets).

by Tegan at 10:28 PM Seattle time


You must read this great interview with Jeff Parker at Sequential Tart. After seeing Jeff at the Emerald City Comicon this weekend, I just have to reiterate what a nice guy he is. I think Lisa and I spent more time at his table than elsewhere, and the sketch he did for Lisa was just fantastic. Maybe if I ask nicely Lisa will let me post it.

After reading the interview, I want to read The Interman again. Of course, it's with Lisa... I kept my promise to loan it to her.

I noticed that Jeff has his own website, but more importantly, he also has his own blog. So I've added him to the sideroll, along with the blog of Kaja Foglio.

Many thanks to Sequential Tart for the interview.

by Tegan at 3:08 PM Seattle time

My Plumbing Adventure

I would say that I'm mechanically inclined. I love to take things apart to see how they work, and have loved it ever since I was a kid. Heck, my big brother and I used to take apart all our toys.

Anyway, I don't consider myself a poor hand at fixing things if necessary. I just don't like to tackle problems when I'm unfamiliar with them. And after living here in Frankenhaus for a few years, I'm well aware of how much trouble an uninformed "do-it-yourself"er can cause.

So when there's a problem, I'm always in favor of calling in the pros to fix it. That way it gets done right. Yes? But what happens when the problem is clearly something that we should be able to handle on our own?

Well, our bathtub is pathetic. Since we moved in, the handle for the faucet has been missing. We quickly figured out how to turn it on without a handle, and didn't think much of it. Every once in awhile we'd say, "we oughta get that fixed" but it wasn't worth calling a plumber for, and we always forgot to mention it when the plumbers did come out to fix the bigger problems.

Recently the shower diverter on the spout started to give out. It got to the point where it was rather difficult to get enough water up to the shower to actually get a shower. Hubby-Eric figured out a way to jam the diverter closed during a shower though, and we went along hardly thinking about it.

Well, not hardly. I thought about it every morning when I took my shower. Clearly, a trip to the hardware store was warranted. And since hubby-Eric is swamped with school stuff, it was entirely up to me.

Helping to make my decision was the mess the router and its wires were making in the hallway. I wanted to get the hardware to mount the router on the wall and string the wires up. Yes, definitely a trip to the hardware store.

So yesterday morning, after working a bit on my con report, I decided to visit the local Home Depot. I pulled out our Home Depot home repair book that we'd gotten some time ago to help us diagnose problems, and went to the bathroom with the book and some tools.

Frankenhaus quickly showed its true colors, as the spout had the characteristics of one type of spout, but was definitely the other type... jammed on as was usual in these situations. Taking the handle off was harder, as everything was rusted together. I cleaned it the best I could, put everything in a plastic bag, and headed down to the Home Depot.

The bathroom section was a dizzying array of a whole bunch of fittings that looked absolutely nothing like the one I had in my bag. So I waited for an employee to come along, held out my bag and said, "Help!"

He took out the pieces, asked questions, and was able to figure out which spout I actually needed pretty quickly. But the handle! He had nothing that looked like those fittings, and in fact claimed to have never seen one like it before. My heart sunk through the floor as he described a plumbing store out on Aurora that might be able to help me. An elderly gentleman waiting for help with some shower fittings suggested that I try McLendon Hardware, which had a location just down the street. The Home Depot employee seemed to think they wouldn't be able to help me, but it was better than driving out to Seattle.

With one problem "settled", I went to find the hardware to mount the router on the wall, and get the wires off the floor. That was amazingly easy. They actually make neat brackets for stringing up cable, and those were perfect for what I needed. I spent a little too long looking in the nails/bolts section for them, though. All the stuff I needed was in the electrical section. Duh.

With the router completely dealt with, I drove into the traffic nightmare that is Woodinville to go to McLendon. Yeah, it was less than a mile, but whenever I drive in Woodinville I find myself wishing I was driving somewhere else.

McLendon is a complete contrast to Home Depot. Crowded with stuff so you're almost claustrophobic... small, friendly. I located the plumbing section after a moment and headed back there. I was sure I wasn't going to find what I needed on my own, so I waited for a moment until an employee quickly spotted me and offered help.

I held out my bag and he looked at the fittings. Then he said, "Ah, yes, Price-Pfister! They don't make these anymore!" and dashed off down the aisle and came back with identical fittings and said, "This company makes replacements for these, so this is what you want." Some of the parts were plastic instead of metal, and I wasn't entirely convinced, but he pulled out a big book of plumbing parts and showed me how it fit together. Having just pulled it apart, I recognized the bits and pieces. He explained how to get it back together, and I thanked him about a zillion times then went to buy the faucet, gushing to the checker about how quickly he'd solved my problem.

Next time I'm going to McLendon first.

And yes, repairs went smoothly. The spout went on nicely, and the handle fit just as he said. I put the router up on the wall and strung the ethernet cables off the floor. For the first time in a long time I can enter my room without having to step over a tangle of cable. And while it doesn't look pretty, it's a lot nicer than it was.

Ah! That wonderful feeling of accomplishment! It's nice that something went right for a change...

by Tegan at 11:57 AM Seattle time

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Manual Archiving

Because I don't trust Blogger's archiving (and never have after noticing they were dropping my posts in archives shortly after I started using Blogger), I do my archiving manually. That means I cut and paste and upload and if I'm lazy it takes awhile for an entry to get a permanent spot. If you wish to link to my con report below, though, I've already archived it and you can use this link as the permalink, instead of the one at the bottom of the post.

by Tegan at 10:34 PM Seattle time

Emerald City Comicon

Time for the second annual Emerald City Comicon Report (the first annual report can be found here). As with last year, I'm glad we bought the tickets ahead of time. I just wish we hadn't had to go through TicketMaster to do it.

Anyway, this year it was my little sister Lisa and me at the con. Hubby-Eric was off to Oz... Leap Y'Oz to be precise. Lisa and I got to the stadium at about 9:30 am, looked for parking around the stadium and, not finding any free parking, used the North lot even though parking cost more than a single ticket to the con. Ouch. The line to buy tickets was really long, and the line to get in wasn't much shorter. By pure luck, a friend of mine from Doctor Who fandom happened to get in line behind us, so we chatted a bit while waiting for the doors to open (Hi Gil!).

Once we got to the doors, we were mildly surprised to see that bags were being searched. Since I had a bag and Lisa didn't, I sent her ahead to check out the freebies and score a giveaway bag (if she could) while I got my bag searched. There was only one guy searching bags, and he was being careful and complete, so the line to get in for folks with bags was pretty big.

Eventually I was in the door, and Lisa handed me a giveaway bag that she'd gotten for me. We looked toward the freebies table... at the huge mass of humanity all trying to get to the freebies table, and made a decision to head immediately for Artists' Alley.

We did NOT run. Speed-walk, yes. Jog, maybe. We didn't run.

There was no line for Stan Sakai. Yet. So I asked permission to post the Usagi sketch he drew for me at San Diego 2001 (he said yes) then Lisa asked for a sketch, which he drew. Then I realized Lisa had brought one of my Usagi Yojimbo trades for reading material. We pulled it out, and asked him to sign it. He didn't just sign it, he drew another sketch in it. WOW! We thanked him profusely, and moved on. A note: a line formed while we talked with Stan, and for the rest of the con there was a long line of people waiting to see him.

Now I'm going to confess something here. Things happened quickly. I'm unsure of the order. Both Lisa and I were collecting sketches and talking with people and ... well, this is going to be a general retelling of where I went instead of a real timeline. I simply cannot remember the order in which I met people. I think I was expecting a smaller con, and was in a mild state of shock.

Also, I usually can go by the order of the sketches in my sketchbook to figure out who I saw. At this con, I was getting sketches, signatures, and permissions... so the order is frustratingly out-of-reach. It probably doesn't matter much to you, but it bothers me that only hours after the event I can't remember everything I did and everyone I saw.

The headliner for the event was Stan Sakai, but there were a number of other awesome guests. The big one that I never got a chance to talk to was Brian Michael Bendis. I sort of wanted to get in line for him, but the line was enormous and what was I going to say to him? "Hi Mr Bendis, I liked the infamous ape issue of Powers, would you sign my green book?" Naw, better to let the fanboys and girls that had comics go into the line.

I did get to talk with Todd Nauck for a bit, and get permission to post his Aquaman sketch. I think Lisa got a Spider-Man sketch from him. I later heard him talking about how long it takes to draw a book. He said that towards the end of Young Justice he was so familiar with the characters that it usually only took about two weeks. He said WildGuard took longer because of the number of different characters in it.

While Lisa got her sketch, I went over and got in line for Jeff Johnson. Jeff was doing Green Lantern the last time I met him, and was the artist of the second sketch I ever got. I asked him for permission to post that 1998 sketch, which he gave, then asked for a new sketch in my sketchbook. Jeff Johnson is the first repeat artist of Aquaman sketches (Matt Haley is the first repeat artist, but one of his was Batman). Later, Lisa wanted a sketch from Jeff, and I suggested she get Boon. I didn't realize that she didn't know anything about Way of the Rat, so that's another series I'm going to loan to her. She did get a sketch of Boon, and Jeff and I talked a bit about how good Way of the Rat was, and the fact that it was cancelled.

The next artist we visited was Phil Noto. I don't know who Lisa got for her sketch, but I got a basic Aquaman based on the T-shirt I was wearing. Several artists ended up using the t-shirt as a model, which I found pretty funny, all things considered.

At some point in there I got an autograph in my green book from Ford Gilmore. I also talked to Jay Faerber and got his autograph, then got a sketch from the fellow sitting next to him, James Francis. James is the first artist to turn my sketchbook upside-down to sketch, as he's left-handed and it was easier to draw that way. When Lisa asked for a sketch from him, she handed him her sketchbook already turned upside-down (he drew Cyclops and Wolverine for her). Jay and James are currently working together on a comic called Dodge's Bullets, which I got a preview of... and just finished reading. I think I might have to hunt this one down, as it's set in Seattle.

After meeting Jay and James, I got an autograph from John Layman. When I looked around for Lisa, she was in line to meet Kurt Busiek, so I joined her. She pulled out the Conan Preview that came in the grab bag to get signed, and asked me what to say to him. "Tell him you like Astro City" I said. "Doesn't he do Arrowsmith, too?" she asked. "Yes" I said. "Ok, I'll tell him I like Astro City and Arrowsmith". So she did, while she got Conan signed. I got my copy of Conan signed to me and hubby-Eric, then had him sign my green book. Before he signed it, though, he looked at me and at my shirt and said, "You're Tegan!" I blinked a few times, admitted it, and he told me he reads my Rapid Reviews of his work. Kurt Busiek reads my blog. Wow.

As if shocking me like that wasn't enough, Kurt then proceeded to draw an Aquaman sketch in my autograph book! And yes, I got permission to post it for you.

Still stunned, I got in line for Jason Pearson, but he said he was charging for sketches. As I had no cash, I apologized for taking up his time and started away. But Kurt turned to him and said something, and I was called back. Jason went ahead and did the sketch for me for free. Because of Kurt. That's another one I owe Kurt.

While I was talking with Kurt, he said his favorite version of Aquaman was the Jim Aparo one, because Aparo really gave the sense that Aquaman was underwater, with the hair waving and such. I admitted that my favorite is Ramona's version, and that I'm quite fond of Nick's, also. He confused me by saying he liked Lee Elias' Aquaman... but Elias did very little Aquaman that I know of, so he hit one of those gaps in my knowledge. I'm going to have to spend some time checking that out. I also said I enjoyed JLA/Avengers, and he accused me of liking it just for the Aquaman bits, which isn't quite true... but the Aquaman bits sure add to my enjoyment!

Moving on... we left the main guest tables and started to work our way around Artists' Alley, dropping back in on the main tables if there was a short line and we could see somebody quickly.

Lisa started by asking Matt Clark for a sketch, and he asked her to come back in five minutes, as he was just finishing up another sketch. So we went around the table and met up with Jeff Parker, who did a sketch for me at San Diego 2000. I got permission to post it, and pulled out the only book I actually brought with me to the con to get signed:

Lisa commented that she hadn't read The Interman yet, so I promised to loan it to her. Jeff signed it with a sketch, and then attempted to draw a gorilla for Lisa's sketchbook. But the gorilla wasn't working, so he asked her to come back after he'd had a chance to warm up. She agreed, and went back to Matt Clark. He drew a Batman for her.

The next sketch I got was from Paul Guinan, and I really wish I'd remembered to thank him for his work on Chronos. I loved that book.

Lisa got a sketch from Steve Lieber, then purchased the first two volumes of Whiteout. I've been wanting to read Whiteout for awhile now, Lisa is going to make that possible. Of course, she gets to read them first. I have already posted my Aquaman Sketch by Steve Lieber.

Going to another set of tables, I ran into Roberta Gregory but forgot to ask for her permission to post her Aquaman sketch. I then went to Scott Alan's table and told Lisa that he was the first to let me post a sketch. I pointed to the Justice League print he had available, and said that's what made me have to get a sketch from him. As I admired it, he offered it to me. I apologized, and said I didn't have the money (I forgot to bring any cash to the con, I relied on the generosity of Lisa for the stuff I just HAD to have). He said that was ok, and gave it to me! He then did a sketch of his headliner Mr Man for Lisa.

Continuing around the table, I spotted Brian Snoddy, and asked permission to post his sketch. He said yes. Lisa and I wandered around the third table and met two remarkable artists. Suzanne Kaufman and Karin Yamagiwa. Suzanne's work was reminiscent of Edward Gorey. Karin draws really really small. I challenged them to do Aquaman, and Karin turned in a wonderful (tiny) rendition of Aquaman. Suzanne drew one of her monsters with waterwings instead. Lisa got standard characters from both of them.

Continuing around the table, we met Clayton Hollifield, or clayholio to you, and after some persuading he did an Aquaman sketch for me. At this point, Lisa and I both realized we were exhausted and hungry, and went to find a place to sit down.

We sat for a bit, went through the grab bags and left stuff we didn't want on the table for someone else to pick up. Then we decided to hit the dealers tables, not to mention the freebies tables, and see what we could find. We found a couple of things at the freebies table, including Vertigo pins. I have a pretty good collection of the small DC pins, but I didn't have the Vertigo one yet. I also found some promo cards for the latest Aquaman series.

Food was way too expensive. $3 for a bottle of water is a couple of dollars too many, even at a con. I know it was the Seahawks Stadium forcing the prices to be so high, but I would rather go hungry than get cheated that seriously.

We then wandered the dealers tables, looking for those precious last Golden Age issues with Aquaman stories in them. I found some that were close, and one dealer had a bunch before the ones I need, but nobody had any issues that I wanted. It's hard to find reading copies of Golden Age books.

We headed back toward Artists' Alley, visiting the publisher booths. I harassed Dirk Deppey ("Bring back Journalista!") and met Jeff Nicholson, who says the next issue of Colonia is coming out in July, then bi-monthly for two more issues.

Lisa got a Boris the Bear sketch from James Dean Smith while I got an Aquaman sketch from Bill Morse. Then Lisa bought me a nice print of Boris as Aquaman. I remembered then to ask Roberta Gregory for permission to post her sketch.

Then I went to find a place to sit while Lisa got her promised sketch from Jeff Parker. I sat near an exit and noticed that people were getting hand stamps. So when Lisa came back I suggested that we take all of our piles of stuff to the van and dump it off before coming back. We got stamped and went outside, and glory of glories, there was a street vendor serving hot dogs and pop and bottled water. We bought a dog and a bottle of water each, at a quarter of the price of the food inside, and went to the van where we had a little tailgate party as we removed everything non-essential from our bags and looked through all the cool stuff we'd gotten.

Jeff Parker's sketch for Lisa was a brown bear catching a fish, and it's spectacular. I couldn't quite figure out how he'd done it while sitting in a convention setting with people talking all around him. Jeff is just a really neat guy. When I asked him when the next volume of The Interman was coming out, he said that he was doing a shorter book with several different artists first, an anthology. I said I'd keep an eye out for it.

We also found the first volume of Noble Causes as a freebie in both our grab bags. There was also a magazine: Undefeated. It looks to be about six months old. Most of the rest of the freebies weren't worth keeping, but getting a free volume of Noble Causes was sure nice!

After our rest, we went back in with only one bag and our sketchbooks. We weren't sure how much we would do, but it was worth trying. We didn't end up staying long. I harassed Dirk a second time, and then got permission to post the sketches from Phil Foglio and Cheyenne Wright. Lisa got a sketch of Krosp from Phil, and I also got permission from Kaja Foglio to post her autograph from my green book. I played balloons with Phil youngster. Phil scolded him for throwing balloons at the customers, but I took responsibility, then promptly hid behind Lisa as he scolded me.

I managed to convince Dave Johnson to do an Aquaman sketch, and he naturally did the Justice League version. Yum, very nice! J.G. Jones promised to draw an Aquaman for me next year if he comes to the con. But the lines were too long this year.

There was a table of middle school students who had put together a sketchbook they were giving away, and were selling their own comic books. I didn't notice them in the morning, when the table was manned by young men, but in the afternoon when the young women took over they were very obvious and quite loud. Their advisor kept telling them to "stop scaring the customers".

I spotted Siya Oum at the Committed Comics table, and went over to ask her what had happened to her website. She gave me the new address, and thanked me for updating it. Lisa bought a print there from Camilla D'Errico of a girl sitting in the rain... gorgeous watercolor that Lisa plans to frame.

I got an autograph in my green book from Howard Chaykin. He seemed ... bemused... to be signing an autograph book instead of a comic.

Whatever Dirk says, I only harassed him twice.

More happened, and I'm sure I'll remember other bits and pieces over the next few days. But I've spent enough time on writing this up. So, what d'ya think?

by Tegan at 9:24 PM Seattle time

Still Working On My Con Report

Yeah, it's coming together, slow but sure. I think the fact that the con was bigger than I expected for some reason has thrown my brain out of gear. Until I finish writing up the report, here's a couple of "con moments" for you to enjoy:

I spotted the Fantagraphics booth and noted that Dirk Deppey was there with his back to the outside aisle as he talked with people. Sneaking up on him (while my completely bemused sister watched), I cupped my hands and whispered loudly "Bring Back Journalista! Bring Back Journalista!" Dirk looked around for a brief moment, wondering where the sound was coming from, before figuring out that someone was behind him. Don't be surprised if Fantagraphics gets a middle booth next year to avoid people like me harrassing them... heh.

While I was talking with J. G. Jones, con organizer Jim Demonakos came visiting to check in on the guests and make sure everything was comfortable. I said hi to Jim, then held up my sketchbook and said, "Ten sketches!" Jim laughed and said (managing to keep any sarcasm completely out of his voice), "Yeah, that's why we did this con, just to bring artists to you to draw Aquaman!"

by Tegan at 8:20 AM Seattle time

Monday, March 01, 2004

Rapid Reviews - 25 February 2004 - Part III

Amazing Spider-Man #504 (#63): Yet more mystical stuff. I can't stay mad at the book for long, though. Romita's art is so good, and JMS can weave a decent tale even when it isn't something that appeals to me heavily. 3 1/2 starfish

El Cazador #5: Once again I just have to say: Steve Epting's art is wonderful. I thought so when he was on Aquaman, I think he's only improved since then. The artwork makes this book. I'm almost liking the story. The idea of taking over a slave ship to get crews surprised me a little. Though I admit that once the slave ship was mentioned, I had a feeling it was going to get hit at some point. 3 1/2 starfish

Usagi Yojimbo #73: Very interesting... the cover isn't what it seems, and adds another layer to this story. The beginning of the issue has Usagi talking with Tomoe about whether or not to tell Jotaro the truth about his parentage. That's an issue I sort of want resolved, and sort of hope doesn't become something more. The strange relationship Usagi has with his son is fun to watch. Yet again, Stan Sakai provides some of the best value in comics. Here's to another 20 years! 4 starfish

Coming on Wednesday according to the latest shipping lists: Akiko, Superman: Birthright, Justice League Adventures, Plastic Man, Thor, and Supreme Power. Stuff I got at the Con that I intend to review: Dodge's Bullets ashcan, Noble Causes Vol I: In Sickness and In Health, Whiteout, and Whiteout: Melt.

by Tegan at 8:21 PM Seattle time

Happy Birthday Shannon!

Outlook just reminded me (loudly) that it's my sister-in-law Shannon's birthday! Happy day, Shannon!

by Tegan at 12:56 PM Seattle time

I'm Beat...

Honest, I'm writing a longer ECCC review, complete with some links to folks who I met. It's just taking some time. I think I overdid it a little, and I'm having a lot of trouble concentrating... remembering who I met and in what order. I know that doesn't matter much to you, but I always like my coverage of these events to be as accurate as my faulty brain can make them. Anyway, I probably won't finish it until tomorrow. I thought I'd warn anyone who is coming to visit just because I handed you one of my slips of paper at the con yesterday. Tomorrow, con report. Every Saturday, a sketch.

And at the moment, I'm going to rest some more. I hurt all over.

by Tegan at 12:10 PM Seattle time

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Emerald City Comicon - First Thoughts

Wow. WowwowwoW. This was a wee bit bigger than I was expecting it to be. Last year, hubby-Eric and I lined up early, at about 9:30, and were close to the front of the line. This year, little-sister-Lisa and I got there at 9:30 and were well back in line, and almost missed out on the grab bags! Wow.

Huge crowds. And I met up with lots of folks I hadn't seen in awhile, including a friend from High School (Hi Steve!). I swear, I saw everybody I know in comic book fandom today. Practically.

There were a good number of dealers, but nobody had any of the select number of Golden Age comics I'm looking for, although one guy had some issues that were close. I think for the average fan, the dealer turnout was pretty good. At least, judging by the crowds at the dealer tables.

As for sketches and meeting pros... wow! Little-sister-Lisa got thirteen sketches, and I got ten and some autographs and permissions. While most artists I ask for permission seem a little surprised that I'm asking, most of them also seem gratified, which is nice. In any case, the Saturday Sketch is booked up for at least three months!

I plan on a longer, more boring, report in a bit, but at the moment my feet really hurt, and I want to look through the stuff we got. Also: Next year, the Emerald City Comicon will be a two-day event, March 12th and 13th, and will be in the Stadium Exhibition Center. I'm there. I'm so there.

by Tegan at 5:43 PM Seattle time