Friday, April 25, 2008

New York Comic Con Recap

You know a con has taken a lot out of you when it takes a week to start posting your post-con thoughts.

For years it was mind boggling that New York, headquarters to Marvel and DC and largest media market in the world, never had a comic convention to hold its own with the likes of San Diego and Chicago (although the Big Apple Con, which I attend as frequently as possible, is probably the most creator- and fan-friendly con around). This changed two years ago, with demand exceeding capacity. In this, the NYCC's third consecutive year, the only two knocks against he con - overcrowding and frigid February weather - were eliminated in heavily attended, well spaced con spread out across a beautiful weekend.

Of course, the change from February to April coincided with the Passover holiday, so I had to divide my time between fans and family seders. It meant that I had to miss out on some networking and partying, but compard against the ten plagues that might have been visited upon me if I hadn't gone home, missing a party or two seemed miniscule. I am the first born in my family, and really didn't feel like being slayed this year.

My weekend started the Thursday night before the con, with a great party thrown by DC Comics. Too nervous to really talk with Darwyn Cooke and Grant Morrison, I nevertheless got to say hi to Cyborg editor and assistant editor Eddie Berganza and Adam Schlagman (sporting a Sodam Yat soccer jersey, Green Lantern fans). I got to thank Two-Face: Year One editor Jeanine Schaeffer for not only giving me the dream job of writing the hard-boiled story of Harvey Dent's fall, but for discovering me two years ago at the very first NYCC when all I had was a few issues of Grounded to my name.

I finally met Bat editor Mike Marts, story editor, Ian Sattler and the amazing Jann Jones, who deserves a big thank you for throwing a party where you could actually talk together together before the madness of the con. I didn't get to thank Jimmy Palmiotti or Mark Chiarello. I just learned last week Jimmy will be inking over Jesus Saiz's pencils for Two-Face (can you ask for a better inker - answer: no), and that Mark will be doing the covers (which are NOT what you've seen solicited).

The highlight of the party though was meeting Geoff Johns. Geoff's work, particularly on Flash, brought me back to reading mainstream DCU titles after a long hiatus. He's a writer I try to emulate because he balances boundary pushing creativity (52, Sinestro Corps Wars) with a real respect for what's come before. It's very rare when someone you admire is as nice you imagine, but Geoff fit that bill or was at least nice enough to pretend to. Having written a seminal run on Teen Titans, he's got a lot invested in Cyborg. Between that and Dan DiDio telling me Two-Face is his favorite Bat villain, I'm either going to be the most popular writer at DC by the end of this summer...or blacklisted.

Friday, I began the job of running back and forth between my artist's alley table with Grounded artist Paul Azaceta and signings at the Image booth. My first signing was with Killing Girl's Glen Brunswick. Great crime book (with art by Frank Espinoza and Toby Cypress), great guy.

I took a break to attend the "Women in Comics" panel, arranged by Occasional Superheroine blogger/Friend of Lulu President Valerie D'Orazio and featuring writer Gail Simone, artist Becky Cloonan and Marvel Editor (and official "hottest girl in comics") Jen Grunwald. I had hoped they would all gush about how the best comic about women was in fact written by a man (that comic being Hazed and that man being, well, me). Instead, it was a refreshingly positive discussion of the contributions being made on every level by female talent despite the barriers to entry this industry makes for women, be they writers, artists, editors or fans.

Still, could no one have worn a Hazed t-shirt? See me for a standing offer of a free trade/t-shirt if you promote/wear one on a comics panel. Yes, I am that shameless.

Saturday was a first - I was a guest on a comics panel. Image: Brave New Worlds, was a panel featuring members of different generations of Image Comics, from founders Erik Larsen and Jim Valentino to longtime Noble Causes/Dynamo Five writer Jay Faerber, to rock star/indie comics writer Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria/and The Amory Wars, to, well, me.

Jim and Erik were the trailblazers, taking a huge career risk in the 90's to establish a home for creator-owned material. Jay represented the next generation of established big company talent to bring smart, original superhero work over. Claudio is doing something completely different, adapting rich fantasy world he's created in music and translating to the page.

Me...I guess I fit somewhere in between - I love doing original superhero work like Fearless and Grounded for Image. There really was no second choice for me when I pitched those books. And it's hard to imagine any other publisher taking a flier on a dark comedy about sorority hazing rituals.

Using a film analogy, the Image founders seem to me like Coppola, Scorsese and Lucas, doing these epic but personal movies that redefined comics. I kind of feel like I'm closer to the early Kevin Smith/Tarantino generation. Inspired by what came before, we maxed out our credit cards making comics instead of films.

Not that I had a chance to say any of this. Most questions were from Coheed and Cambria's rabid fan base. The only line I got that received any coverage was when Jim Valentino said that Image was for those who wanted more than "guys in panties punching each other." I said that Hazed fit that bill exactly, since it was girls in panties punching each other. Thus, erasing the strides made in the previous day's Women in Comics panel with one fell swoop.

Closed out the weekend nother signing with Nixon's Pal's artist Chris Burnham. I hope to have a sketch of his on here soon. I also got great sketches by Nikki Cook, with whom I hope to work, Aqualeung's Paul Maybury, and best of all, Salgood Sam. Salgood is illustrating an adaptation of a song I wrote for Tori Amos' Comic Book Tattoo anthology. More on Comic Book Tattoo later, but it may be the best project I've been a part of.

With all the signing, sketching, paneling and networking, I didn't have as much time to hang out with my artists as I'd like. Joining Paul and me at our table were both Hazed's Robbi Rodriguez and, all the way from Northern Ireland, Fearless' very own PJ Holden. My writing skills are far too meager to convey how entertaining PJ is in person. He did some great Hulk sketches which Marvel seemed to take some notice of. Here's hoping he gets the attention he deserves.

I'm leaving way too much out. It's always most gratifying to meet readers, so thanks to all of you who came out, whether it was to say hi again or try my work for the first time. I continue to be really moved by people who are so affected by Hazed, particularly. The highlight of the weekend, though, was the kid who told me he almost got kicked out of church for laughing so hard the copy he'd snuck in. It's nice to know that I'm putting youth at risk of not only of moral corruption but spiritual damnation. I've really got to keep my out for those ten plagues...

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