Fear and Loathing in San Diego 1996 Day 2

It’s off with the hat, off with the gauze, and on with the Russian tea. The Pro v. Fan trivia contest lasted to midnight, I couldn’t find my car (again), and I’m going to need a lot of drug to finish this off. Fortunately, I’ve got it written, all I have to do is type it in. Wetware OCR comes to the rescue. So what happened today?

Lulu Talks

Waiting at the exhibitor’s entrance for someone from Friends of Lulu I counted the numbers of men and women coming through that entrance. Final score, Men: 277, Women: 86.

There will be no bitching at this chat. Moderator Donna Barr lays down the law. The authority to do so was a prerequisite before she agreed to moderate the panel.

The question: How to fix the comic book industry when it’s already been fixed by the knife of our past choices?

Laurel Carpenter, Chris Claremont, and Andrew Vachss (who could play Stinz in the novelization) shared the table with Donna.

Comic book stores, says Chris, are specialty stores, and they should act as such. Retailer, know thy stock, and know what you can get. Comic book creators, you’re a local author. Act like one. Visit your bookstores and comic book stores and libraries. They want to hear from you.

Publishers have a problem treating comics like books. During one American Bookseller’s convention, DC took out a full page ad extolling the virtues of their Vertigo trade paperbacks. On the entire page no authors were listed. Most of what they were pushing were Neil Gaiman works; his name didn’t appear once. Imagine that for book publisher?

When audience participation began, the retailers told the readers to work harder finding what they want; the readers told the creators to spend night and day selling to a wider market; and the creators told the retailers to display their work more prominently.

Vachss, who works in both book and comics creation, pointed out that the ability to make such small runs and still make money is a feature that book authors don’t have. Comic book artists should be careful adopting all aspects of the bookselling process.

Wandering Aimlessly

Waiting to give blood—I heard that they give out fre drinks and I need a stiff one after losing my car in the wrong parking level—I read the first issue of John Gaushell and Bill O’Neil’s Waste LA. It’s a photographic comics noire first person nightmare. The panels are photographs but Gaushell’s digital artistry puts this book as far away from most “photocomics” as comic books are from single-panel jokes. Objectively the differences may be minor, subjectively they’re a gulf. Bill O’Neil’s story is a greasy morbid fantasy, Strangers in Paradise in LA drag, with a protagonist from the same mold as A Clockwork Orange. If you found yourself identifying with that book, you’re not going to want to read Waste LA in the night.

There are ants all over the walls of the bloodmobile.

After they bandaged me and tossed me out on my ear with a donut, I wandered through the seminars and came upon “Comics as a Diversifying Tool” with three hispanics and a white girl. Donna Barr, who is everywhere this con, was joined by Nan Velez, Jr.; Richard Dominguez, and Carlos Saldana.

Donna: “I write what I like and then I go out and find my market.” “I am not the Desert Peach, I’m a cross between Udo and Leutnant Winzig.”

Carlos: “In our market they don’t go into comic book stores. If they can’t patch the roof with it or eat it, they have no use for it.”

The solution is thicker ink.

Back in the main floor in the self-publisher ghetto Jessic Abel was laughing out loud, not at the people passing her boot looking for Extreme Artblood, but at a comic called Land of Nod by Jay Stephens. Gen-X’er Abel made me feel like an old Silver Ager because I’d never heard of him. (Tyg and the Revenge Squad made me feel much younger, as I knew absolutely no Silver Age trivia. Except for “I am curious—Black” which I knew only because I’d seen the cover at Scott Shaw!’s presentation the night before.)

So I hung my head in shame and went over to Black Eye (Megan Kelso may be joining Black Eye, so that Scott and Joy McCloud can “find them all in the same place.” Nods 1 and 2 came into my hands along with another Stephens’ book, Oddville. You must read this book:

“I just survived a super-crummy school day! I ripped my finger open and had a date with a giant monkey!”

Oddville is a story about a super baby and the town that it drives crazy. Actually, the town was already pretty crazy but now they’ve got something to blame it on.

“Anyone who keeps a flying baby in a big jar is a total loser.”

“Suzie… shooting at babies with you is, well… the most fun I can imagine having.” “Oh Scott, you’re so romantic.”

“I guess that explains the ‘reduced to clear’ sticker at the orphanage.”

Eisner Awards

The Eisner awards didn’t start until 9:30, and the great trivia contest was at ten. Still, I wouldn’t have left if I realized Kurt Busiek was required for the trivia meet and wouldn’t be leaving until the Eisners were finished. Everyone in the contest room was keenly aware of this and as soon as I let slip that I’d come from the Eisners I was pinned to the wall and forced to tell who had won and how long it was going to take to do the rest. Mark Waid was not amused by my estimate of “at least an hour”, which turned out to be right close even though I did pull it out of my ass. There were a lot of things pulled out of a lot of asses at the trivia contest, but we’ll get back to that in a bit.

At the awards, Scott Shaw! took his usual part as MC for the pre-awards. He announced that he’s starting a support group for overweight cartoonists, called “Friends of Tubby”.

Everyone’s name as Scott announces them has a description of some kind explaining who they are, what they do, or how old they are. Paul Pope is introduced simply as Paul Pope. Inkpot awards went to:

  • Joe Giella: “the thousands of gorillas he’s inked alone qualify him for an award”.
  • David Seagle, who received his award for finding people to give awards to: tracking down Golden Age greats and guiding them to San Diego.
  • Donna Barr: “The Desert Peach is a loveable and controversial character, and frankly so is Donna Barr.”

The winners must have studied the play film from previous ceremonies. No one provided Scott with any material to make fun of them with. All they did is thank us and leave.

Dave Gibbons introduced the Eisner award introductions. He was disappointed about being asked to present, since it meant he hadn’t won anything.

For those of you who may not have heard it, it was announced that Mike Parobeck passed away on Wednesday. Tom Galloway told me Wednesday, but stipulated that, while he was sure of his sources, it still had to qualify as a rumor. It’s no longer a rumor, and the new rumor is that it was the result of normally minor heart trouble.

Trivia Match of the Year

The Black Ink Irregulars were held up for an hour waiting for Kurt Busiek to show up for the pro side. Kurt was busy accepting Eisner awards over at the Hyatt. While waiting, I found out from Tyg that, during the Curt Swan tribute last night, when he said that it was “extemporaneous” he meant it literally. Tom, Roger, Mark, and Dan were there for the audience. Whoever it was that set the panel up never showed.

At last year’s trivia contest, the Irregulars “squeaked” by (they won by a nose—Danny Kaye’s) and Len Wein threatened “we’ll kick their butts next year in…” drum roll please “…the Silver Age”. Their hope was, having read those when they came out, they’d have an advantage over the young whippersnappers from the net.

The Irregulars changed their name and the match become The Rogues Gallery Revenge Squad vs. The Purple Pros.

The categories for the Silver Age Match were Relevance, Subtitles, Achilles Heels, Space: The Comic Frontier, Really Stoopid Groups, and the Periodic Table of Super Elements. Feminimium was barred from the table. The panelists were supplied with actual honest-to-god gameshow beeper buttons.

Moderator to Pro: “You didn’t think they would all be DC did you?”

Squadmember: “You want to go for Relevance? It’s actually fairly limited.”

Pro to Teammate: “You gave to much information, you must die.”

Pro to Squad: “Of course you realize, this means war!”

Pro to Moderator: “Shit! Uh… Roger Stern actually beeped in on that one, didn’t you, Roger.”

Moderator to Squad: “Now, after all these years, we get to see if he’s a good loser.”

The final score: 190 to 170 in favor of the Purple Pros.

Next year they want to go Golden and ask questions about comics that no one was alive for.

There was no wagering on the side, but Sidne and Elayne were grandfathered in.

Friday Grab Bag 1996

  • I’ve finally taken a look at it, and I’d have to say that Kingdom Come is definitely related to Twilight. My prediction is that Wonder Woman is the Martian analogue. Regardless, it’s still a marvelous story.
  • Anxst Dot Com
  • A Gathering of Tribes, the catalog developed by members of COMICS-PRO, includes web pages for Dreamwalker, Waste LA, King Roach, Zomboy, Mythic Heroes, Second Rate Heroes, and indy Magazine.
  • Thaddeus
  • The Borderline. Gabe Martin is a seventeen year old whose momma was hawking his wares in the self-publishers’ ghetto. Gale does editorial cartoons for the San Diego Union-Tribune’s computer/Internet supplement.

Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me?

  • Death, the Time of Your Life, a 3-issue miniseries completed in June of this year. A marvelous story about Hazel and Foxglove that everyone in the world knows about except for me.
  • Berlin, a Jason Lutes comic, up to the second issue now. It’s a comic book instead of a collection of strips.
  • What’s New #2. I found out about this one in my blood bank gift bag. Yes, Sex and D&D is in. Keep your dice clean.