Going Con Crazy!

The last comic convention I went to was in 1995. I was in the 6th grade, chubby, and very much a bowl-cut enthusiast. I don't remember much except that I met Stan Lee and had him autograph an X-Men trade paperback that remained framed on my wall until I moved to New York.

Thirteen years later and I'm the associate editor of the Wizard conventions department and producing nerd heaven in LA, Philly, Chicago and Texas each year is in my job description. I've spent this weekend scoping out the competition (New York Comic Con) and pretty much having the best two workdays anyone could imagine. Wizard World's entire presence at the convention is to make contacts and introduce ourselves to as many people as possible. It's a brand new day in Wizard World and we're here to let the people know. I tell you, I don't know if there's a better feeling than being able to talk to creators that you straight up admire and then be able to offer them publicity on our website (which I pretty much write). These guys have given me my favorite stories, now I get to help them sell comic books. It's a pretty awesome feeling.

The list of creators that I got to introduce myself to and praise heavily is pretty lengthy. Paolo Rivera, Khoi Pham, C.B. Cebulski, Billy Tan, Fred Van Lente, Clayton Henry, Greg Pak, Mike Choi, Mark Brooks, Joe Kelly, Art Baltazar, Jim Calafiore, Mark Morales, Peter David, Aaron Lopresti, Tommy Lee Edwards, Bob McLeod, Emily Warren, David Nakayama, and Christina Strain all got a face full of me over the last two days! I have been incredibly surprised at just how nice and friendly and approachable all of these people have been. I went to a DC cocktail party on Thursday night where I immediately reverted into awkward middle school mode and stood in the corner most of the night. The only person I really talked to on my own was Art Baltazar (artist for the awesome Tiny Titans) and he remembered me when I went by his booth today. He's hilarious, as is his creative partner and Titans author Franco. The two of them have a comedic chemistry up there with Larry and Balki, except both are funny and neither are foreign. While I interviewed Art and Franco, Art drew the most awesomely adorable Nightcrawler I've ever seen.

I spent most of Friday introducing myself and handing out business cards, not really using the digital recorder I had on me. Maybe I was still nervous. Scratch that, I definitely was. I left yesterday determined to rack up interviews since I only got one with Mike Choi. On Saturday I managed to interview seven creators, interviews that were definitely helped by my ridiculously detailed memory of comic credits. These will be transcribed and put on Wizard World starting on Monday, theoretically. I'm pretty excited.

Instead of going up to people I really admire and giving them a business card and calling it a day, I went and grabbed my favorite issue of theirs (pretty much every comic in existence can be found in the bajillion dollar bins at the con) to gush about before giving them the wizard spiel. The first autograph was from Joe Kelly, author of Deadpool and one of my top three favorite eras of X-Men. I introduced myself by telling him that his work on those two books reshaped the way I view, read, and write everything...which is pretty much the absolute truth. The man is a living legend in my mind just from his work on Deadpool and X-Men. He was flattered and signed my X-Men #70.

The other big name to get was Peter David, the man I claim as my favorite writer of all time. The guy made Multiple Man who he is so that's enough right there. Meeting him was and actually being able to tell him to his face that he has made me love these characters was oddly rewarding. I asked if he wanted to promote anything for his upcoming Wizard World Philly appearance and he handed me a copy of his new novel Tigerheart, which I plan on reading so I can conduct an interview with him about it.

The other autographs were all great to get. I had Tommy Lee Edwards sign one of my favorite comics of all time. Even though he said he wasn't pleased with how the issue came out, I'm glad he drew it. Bob McLeod, co-creator of the New Mutants, signed an issue of the series for me. He is a true veteran and to meet the man who created Cannonball...priceless. I scored a two-for-one when I stopped by to see Mike Norton. He penciled the Gravity limited series that I really enjoyed and suggested that I get the writer to sign it as well since he was standing behind me. In one fell swoop I got Sean McKeever and Mike Norton's autographs.

I really wanted to commission Mike Norton to draw Gravity and Tommy Lee Edwards to draw Siryn, but I had already spent too much money and couldn't afford it. Most every artist at the cons will draw whatever character you like. The prices vary from $5 to $100 based on how popular the artist is and if you want a full body picture or just a head shot. When I got my Nightcrawler for free I decided that that was good enough. I walked around with my buddy Ethan all day Saturday (he was there blogging for Wizard) as he got artists to do sketches of the Mad Hatter. While wandering around we came across two incredibly lively young guys just outside of artist alley. They were loud, laughing, and drawing up a storm. Seriously, the crowd around these two guys was as big as some of the Marvel and DC people and they're still trying to make it. They were giving out headshots for $5 and the talent both of them have is on par with some of the big names. Ethan got them to do Mad Hatter for him and I gave them a business card. They're coming to Philadelphia and were ecstatic when I told them that I can promote them on the website. This is when I realized that I love my job and I can make a difference. I came across these two amazing artists who are waiting for their big break, and I can give them exposure. It's a great feeling! I commissioned them both to draw Deadpool for me, and I can't wait to pick them up tomorrow and possibly get an interview with these guys. I have one of their business cards (Antonio Clark). Check him out!

I've also decided that I'm going to commission artists to draw X-Force characters for me at every con. I may swing back by Art Baltazar tomorrow and get him to draw Cable for me.

My conversation with Christina Strain, the spectacular colorist for Runaways, was memorable. She was pleased that I love her work and I asked her some questions about it. We talked about Old Lace, Joss Whedon, the upcoming storylines, a great conversation. She said she likes doing Wizard cons but always feels like she's low on Wizard's totem pole. I said "Well, you're high up on my totem pole." And "Ha! I like your totem pole!" was how she responded. Christina Strain likes my totem pole. Awesome.

The only disappointment was not getting John Romita Jr. to sign Uncanny X-Men #210. It's my favorite comic cover of all time and it's also the wallpaper on my cellphone (which I would have shown him had I met him). I saw he was doing an official Marvel signing at 3:30 when I went by his booth at 2:30. I rushed around to find a cheap copy of the issue, finally finding one for $3 after finding two for over $20. I got to the Marvel booth just as they cut the line off, so I missed him. Oh well, I'll hold on to the issue for a future convention.

All in all a great weekend. I spent around $100 and got all this.


I am aware of that.

I have just finished my first week as Associate Editor of the conventions department for Wizard Entertainment and I am exhausted. Partly because I've done a lot of work this week but mostly because I've dealt with a total of 25ish hours spent on buses, subways, and walking along highways commuting to and from work. Yeah, I'm beat. Thankfully my awesome parents drove my car up here last night and today, so I'll be back on the road come Monday morning.

The highlight of the work, or the story that I will tell for the rest of my life, is how I was told to call Chris Claremont literally within ten minutes of starting my first day of work. For those of you not in the know, Chris Claremont basically jump started the X-Men 33 years ago and turned them into the powerhouse they are today. Around 80% of the material you saw in the three X-Men films was based on his stories. Nearly all of my favorite characters were created by him (Multiple Man included). He was the voice of my favorite comic of all time for around sixteen years. And I had to call him to invite him to our upcoming convention in Philadelphia. I made sure to test out my sales pitch on other creators first (Mark Brooks and Phil Jiminez, pretty big comic artists whose work I enjoy). When I called Claremont I tried to remain cool and I pretty much did. I saw in the notes that I should mention that Marvel wanted Claremont to promote New Exiles, so I made sure to mention it. "Marvel wants you to promote New Exiles." And he replied, in his vaguely British accent, "I am aware of that." Nice.

On Tuesday I talked to an NYJedi who, when I told him I live in New York and saw them march in the Halloween parade, told me I should drop by and take a lightsaber fighting class at their facility. So much of me thinks this would be awesome for both a good story and also because I kinda want to learn how to build and fight with a lightsaber.

It's been a crazy week and I'm sure I'll have more stuff to talk about soon. I already have some articles up on www.wizardworld.com here, here, here, here, here, and here.