Okay, bear in mind that I flew out of Florida having awakened at 4am and having gotten perhaps 4 hours of sleep, and slept not a wink on the plane. Got in at 10am, jumped in a taxi and dropped off my suitcase at home. Showered, changed, and jumped on the bus to the Blue Line. I actually made very good time, and made it to Rosemont in about 45 minutes. My press pass was waiting for me, and first person I saw was the ever delightful Rick Stasi. Best way to start out the con is hugs and kisses from Rick. We lamented George Perez' cancellation (as this would mean no guitar playing and singing--one of my all-time fave memories from 1996) and I hit the contention floor about noon-ish. Took me half an hour or so before I found the IDW booth and met up with Jeff Mariotte (whose website I maintain--August update coming soon!) and met his co-worker Beau, who is a sweetie-pie.
I loitered around the DC Direct display, chattign with Ed Bolkus and taking snaps of the NIFTY KEEN new stuff coming out (including a Golden Age Wonder Woman I must needs own, not to mention the Sandman/Vertigo mini-busts, which were sculpted by local boys, the always-stylish and very sweet Barsom Manashian and Alexander Rae (more about them later). Dream has a very Bowie look, and the Corinthian is hella-creepy. I think MY fave is Desire. Coolest thing ever, tho? The Harley Quinn marionette. drool drool drool She's sculpted to match the style of the Joker puppet, so it's a very cool retro Bruce Timm meets Jerry Robinson kinda look. Ran into Jill Thompson as she was standing outside the panel room where the Vertigo panel was to be held, and we chatted and caught up. She had a cast on since I'd last seen her at the Chicago Humanities festival downtown--she's suffering from tendentious and apparently had a full arm cast (which gave her a Barbie arm) before she had the smaller one. It's her drawing arm too :( However, the Death manga? Rocks. My. Socks.
Went to the vertigo panel (which was billed as the Vertigo 10th Anniversary retrospective, but was in fact "let's show you slides of the covers of the new stuff we're releasing this year") and sat with Molly who had very cool Rogue hair. I asked if/when they were brining any of the older Vertigo stuff back into print--like one-shots like Kill Your Boyfriend and then I asked Phil Jiminez about his new book, Otheworld which lead to geeking out with Phil (who is one of my all time fave people to geek out with) for the next two hours in the hallway, and then on the con floor. Lovely lovely man bought Molly and me bottled water, as we segued from Otherworld to USC, LA versus NY versus Chicago, the relative merits of the Buffy writing staff, and many other topics too numerous to mention. Alas, despite promising to catch up later in the con, I missed Phil entirely on Saturday and Sunday because I suck.
Wandered off to find Death: At Death's Door, which is a "missing scene" story from the "Season of Mists" story arc of Sandman and lucked out after almost an hour of desperately seeking Chicago Comics booth. Unlike SDCC, ChicagoCon still has TONS of comics vendors--but mainly backissues. Lots of silver age and modern age stuff, and quarter bins, but not so easy to find current stuff, and I really lucked out.
Had dinner with Jeff and a bunch of lovely people from IDW named Egg, Jessie, Megumi and her boyfriend whose name i just lost because I am dumb. I'll check when I get home. I want to say "Steven" but I could be wrong. It was an adventure, as the Giordano's was packed, so we ended up going to the Gino's East around the corner and down the street. Jeff wanted to make sure the gang, who were from Georgia, had the chance to have real Chicago pizza. And we did. It was nummy. Talked for ages, then walked back. On the walk back, Megumi and Jessy and I bonded, and I spent a big chunk of Saturday hanging with Jessy.
Went to the Hyatt bar (surprise!) and hung out until about 2:30am. Ran into Buzz who is one hella cool guy, and also met a lovely guy from Madison whose name I have lost (this is what happens when I leave my stack of business cards I collected at home, where they do me no good at all) who is a teacher and did some kickass research on using comics to raise kids reading levels, thanks to CrossGen giving him a bunch of books. Really sweet guy, and I had a blast. Also ran back into one of the CBLDF volunteers, and Charles Brownstein, who remembered me from last year. Charles is a sweetie-pie, and I didn't get to hang out with him nearly enough.
Took the train home, and ran into Alexander and Barsom on the Blue Line platform. Chatted quite a bit with Alexander, who was nice enough to wake me up when we got to Division, and point me towards a cab stand as I was dozing off (so not good!) and I owe him BIG because I had no idea there were cabs there, and would have gone all the way to Washington and cabbed from there (assumed I'd, you know, woken up). Fell into bed around 4am, got up, showered, and went back to do it all again!
Saturday was Artist's Alley day. Ran into Joel and Dawn, who had a table and were selling goth sketches and velvet roses. Looked for Mouse, couldn't find her. Which makes me sad, as she made some good contacts at Dark Horse last year with her scary circus book. Staked out Franchesco's booth, and jessy came by and we hung out sketching until he re-appeared and there were many hugs. This con was a weird nostalgia-fest for me. I just realised that, since 1992, I've met some hella cool folks and this con ahs become pretty much all about hanging with my friends, more than actual comics. This was proven as I attended not a single panel on Saturday.
Bad Tara. No doughnut.
While searching for Buzz, ran into the lovely mary from Westfield Comics, and we stood and talked in the middle of an aisle for almost an hour. I love Mary. She gave me a monkey on a stick. How cool is that? Spent about 2 hours hanging out with Buzz, who, as it turns out, was sitting behind an incognito Bill Sienkiewicz who drew a kickass Hellboy while I was there. Buzz, as it turns out, is an anime fan, and we geeked out for most of the time over shared anime faves, and Galaxy Rangers. It was some of the most fun I had all week-end.
Saturday night, had dinner with Jeff and Chris Golden, and met one of my idols--Barbara Kesel. Seriously. When I first started reading comics, I made a list of every lady working at DC. It was a short list. Off the top of my head, I pretty much just remember Barbara, Kim Yale, Colleen Doran, Karen Berger, and Mindy Newell. Don (who I met last year) and Greg with the Greek Last Name (whom I also met last year--more on that later) were also coming, but Don bailed when Jeff decided we were going to walk. Later is was pointed out that there were cars available. Ooops. I found a Canadian Twin at once point (she and I had the same camera. Long story) when we arrived at Giordano's and discovered the wait was much too long. Walked to Gino's East, and I pretty much chatted most of the time with Greg and the guy who I really liked but whose name I've lost who was sitting next to Greg, and now I feel like an asshole. But you guys know me--great with faces, lousy with names. Like, bigtime lousy. And there's an anecdote to prove this.
So, in the car park of Gino's East, Greg and I simultaneously remember where we'd met before. Last year, in the Hyatt bar, he was drunk and hitting on Shannen's friend Karen, and I told Don--who was sitting with us--I had to go rescue Karen from Greg. We laughed about it, actually. Tho Don apparently later pointed out to Greg that reminding me that that was how we met was perhaps ludicrous, again, laughter. And he had the good grace to admit he'd been drunk, and hey, I'd had a fun time talking with him at dinner, so, no harm, no foul.
Now, at this point, I should mention that I'd been telling folks all day that I was gonna be in the Hyatt bar Saturday night. Because I fully expected to be. Jeff went back to his room to try and finish the last 10,000 words of the YA he's writing, and to copy-edit some galleys for his next Angel novel, and I headed towards the bar...
...never made it. Ran into friends (who are FANTABULOUS guys and both of whom owe me an email, and yes, once again, lost their names. This is why I like conventions. We all wear nametags. I'm so not kidding) who got me into the Wizard party. Which was a lame party, however, open bar, good company, free Miss Piggy toy, and I met a really nice guy named Jerry Novick who used to work with Bob Wayne at DC back when I was reading DC, and is now a writer for Metron. I saw Mark Waid across the room, but he was talking with someone, so I chickened out going over and saying 'heya' even tho I'd emailed him and told him I would. I just felt a little odd, crashing the Wizard party. had it been the Hyatt bar, my home turf, I prolly wouldn't have been so lame...
Jerry and I vacated the party and ended up talking in the Hyatt lobby, along with my friend Nikki who came to join us, until, um... 4:30am. Seriously. We talked about everything. It was hella cool. Okay, for me? 8 hour conversations are kind normal. But dear GOD were were all tired the next day. And I blew out my voice. Seriously. Monday when I got to work, I sounded like I was a 3 pack a day smoker.
Cabbed it home, crawled into bed about 5:30am, woke up at 9 and, you guessed it--headed back to the con. Sunday, Joel and I went on a McDonald's run and got caught up, and I introduced him to Buzz, who told us many unrepeatable funny stories about the Charlie's Angels tie-in comic. Went around apologising to everyone who, on Saturday I had told 'meet me in the Hyatt bar' and then you know, failed to show. Then ran to panel. This time, was not chickenshit, and actually introduced myself to Mark Waid before the Fans vs Pros Silver Age trivia Contest. Well, um, Fans vs Pro (singular) but Mark Waid was awe-inspiring Rainman-esque amazing trivia powers, and beat the team of fans (Todd Allen, Matt Holmes, Sidne Gail Ward and old r.a.c'er online pal Mike Chary, whom I had not head from in ages and ages and ages and wow is he TALL!) by only 150 points I think. It was ooodles of fun. Alas, did not have time to hang with Mark, as he had to run off and go be famous somewhere, but DID get to chat with Mike and get my picture taken by the very nice Sidne.
I got two sketches in the CBLDF sketch-a-thon, both by Terry Moore and another artist, whom I adore. I'll take pics tonight. Monkeys appeared to be the theme, and you know, if someone had asked me a year ago if I'd ever see Jim lee draw Beppo the Super Monkey... Fanboyz in the crowd make me wonder how Jim Lee manages NOT to kill people. Seriously. If it were me, I'd have killed people by now. Still, raised MUCH money, which is faboo. Had to flee early Sunday, in order to make it to Tori concert. Next year? I'm getting a hotel room, and staying until Monday. Because I had such a nifty time, and I am so bummed I couldn't clone myself to hang out with everybody I wanted to :(