I watched a lot of cartoons and movies. I draw incessantly and carry a sketchbook everywhere. I work in animation and self-publish my books. There are monsters in the streets, don't wear red. Mad bulls and monsters hate that color. I still watch cartoons.

Monday, February 21, 2005

WonderCon 2005 thrives

The good news: WonderCon 2005 is a hit. Not by margins that make people search for how to describe it but by emphatic reports. “It’s so much better than last year!” as I check in with someone who’d had less than stellar things to say about it a year ago (compare this to a Tirade post about WonderCon a year ago). The aisles were busy with attendees on the half day of the Friday opening that easily overtook any pessimism of how this year will be. By Saturday it was a full blown mob that could almost rival a San Diego crowd ( If you were at S.D. you know about that mega all-media frenzy that tend to make devoted fans of comics question, “Is this a comic-con anymore?”).

The rains didn’t deter the determined crowds from appearing and partaking of what the organizers had wisely gambled on: Move WonderCon earlier in line on the convention going calendar away from San Diego Comic-con. Swapping succession with the independent fest APE, WonderCon can now tide fans over, coming from the winter holidays and hibernation (just enough time to recover some finances from that gift-giving hullabaloo) and well before you really have to do taxes—is all very welcome it appears.

Smashing Biscuit Mia is the conglomeration of the moment that Enrico Casarosa, Bill Presing and myself had forged just for WonderCon. It is our first year at WonderCon as exhibitors and we are very happy to be part of the success of this con. We were busy, at times as much as San Diego, but the comparative leisure to connect with fans and pros was such a welcome relief—we actually convened! Look at the people who I managed to bug--my apologies to all whose conversations I barged into in my fervor to document the event.

Bruce Timm and I meet every year here at WonderCon to catch up, brief as it is, and here he was reliable as sunrise. Paul Dini came by to catch up and reports not only that he is writing on the TV hit “Lost” but is also engaged! Congratulations! There's another certain bachelor who also got engaged recently, I'd blab about it here but he should announce that himself. But congratulations anyway, buddy! Jeff Pidgeon and Anita Coulter were roaming the con looking for treasure and certainly found them--they do conventions right, I swear. Jamie Baker and Rhode Montijo (Nerve Bomb and Pablo's Inferno) were bookends to us on the floor; they are great partners to be close to. Alex Woo (director of Rex Steel) and Christine Wei were there in our booth doing blazing commerce. Stuart Ng did land office sales with a new Claire Wendling book--it was the book to have at this con as well a loads of albums from France that Stuart is threatening to unleash on us as the orders come in--I put myself down for all of them, course. Howard M. Shum (Gun fu) and Alberto Ruiz (Dr. Cyberfunken to you) who sat next to each other handed me goodies, thanks guys. Charles Kiyasu and his beauteous wife, Fe, graced our booth for a spell; Jennifer Wang of Flight came by to say hi; the ever reliable Karen checked up on us regularly and even left me with a Constantine memento of a the noisy cricket in a matchbox; Tony Salmons along with daughter Phoebe posed with Steve Oliff for a photo for me. There was also the contingent from the grand tradition of Komiks from the Philippines, legends Tony de Zuniga, Ernie Chua, Danny Bulanadi. Towards the end of the con gentle giant Steve Leialoha came by to say hi, we were passing each other on the way to handling matters the whole time and this was our one time to really regard each other properly. Thank you Steve.

Dan Brereton came by and we finally got to talk about the success of his gaming book on the Nocturnals. It was at WonderCon that we spoke about my possibly doing drawings for the book, Nocturnals Midnight Companion a year earlier or so. And here we finallly are, the book has won three ENnie Awards already. Glad to have been a part of it. I had unceremoniously blasted through a dialogue Al Gordon was having with someone to ask him what he thought of the convention and he was exuberant about how like night and day it was. Paige Braddock had the same report as well--we traded books and I must say that having a book to trade with at this convention is one of the best reasons to self-publish (if not outright be published by someone, that is), you have new things to read!

A gentleman came by the table and addressed me by name, " Ronnie, I have to say that..." Well, I'll have to reconstruct this because I lost all track of what was said after I saw his name tag. "Howard Chaykin," it read. I got up immediately and maybe cut him off as he paid me compliment upon compliment. I shook his hand and blathered on about being a big fan, managed to gain some awareness of my surroundings to introduce Enrico...we now both were doing the same thing. I think it was gawking. Anyway, I handed him copies of my books and so did Enrico. Howard seemed genuinely flattered with our gesture and we talked some more. Inquisitve, he asked about us and what we did, and then he volunteered that " When I saw "The Incredibles I sh*t blood." He goes on to say that an imminent movie about a super family can never capture what might have been rightfully theirs because of Brad's obvious powers. We agree.

I was so flabbergasted that Howard Chaykin came over to the table looking to speak to me that I really didn't get my bearings on events till much later. I forgot to snap a picture. I found him later in the middle of a rather substantial circle in the Image booth. I snapped a picture from a distance (hence, the blurred image) and managed to stop the proceedings. My manners had completely left me all day Saturday (I even disturbed an ongoing dialogue earlier between Bruce and Mark Chiarello. Oh, boy). Eric Larsen talked to me, jovial as ever, and we traded business cards," Howard tells me that he got all this stuff from you." I remind Eric that I see him here every year and he could've had stuff from me anytime. What's more, he lives in Oakland. We're practically neighbors.

Okay, I have more to say but it is really just about how glad I was that WonderCon seemed to have found traction here in the Moscone Center. Jamie Baker and I talk briefly and he was feeling good as well, "I'm just really happy to see this succeeding." I applaud the leadership of the organizers for taking action and finding its footing finally. I hope to be back here again next year and hopefully along with a larger exhibitor and fan base--and if all indications are correct, that's probably a safe bet.


Blogger Jon McNally said...

Sounds like WonderCon was a great time! I relish your reports, Ronnie.

I was tickled by the Howard Chaykin anecdote. I've never met the fellow, but I have a great affection for his work. One of my earliest comic-book memories involves the sensation of being swallowed alive by a giant-size printing of Mr. Chaykin's work on the opening chapter of the STAR WARS movie adaptation. What fun!

11:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooh, wish I'd been there. We've been so bogged down by the infernal rains and less-infernal boarding, although hallelujah-the sun's out today! Thanks for taking the pics--my GOSH! I thought for a split second that one of them was Bird and then realized in the following second that it was none other than Timm. He looks the same, but different...I wonder if I'd know him if I saw him at House Of Secrets? Now Dini--he really looks exactly the same! ; ) Which is a fine thing(he must keep a BT caricature in his attic). One question: who's the fellow in the orange shirt, posing with the lady in the "Cars" t shirt?

1:50 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to know too, please!

3:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is Jeff Pidgeon ... pixarian extraordinaire ...


7:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds you had a great first time at Wondercon! Cheers!

10:12 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too braved the rain to descend into Moscone Center.
There was Dan O'Neill and Ted Richards (AIR PIRATES) sitting with S.Clay Wilson(CHECKERED DEMON) and Spain(TRASHMAN)...all cartoonists from the Underground in the old days...great talents all, still active.

Steve Leialoha (pictured here) and Trina Robbins, cartoonist,writer and historian.
Al Gordon (pictured here) brought his guitar because it's sometime boring when you're boothing at the Con.
The bellydancers were well represented by Alexandria Parafina,beautiful dancer and instructor who can be found drawn into Larry Todd's DR.ATOMIC comix.
A great day to revist folks I once saw regularly.

8:54 AM


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