Sunday, May 01, 2005

Toronto ComicCon: Day 2

Got up early this morning, awakened by the sound of bagpipes and marching bands. I was reminded that, by this time last year, I was moving out of residence (its the same annual policeman's memorial parade).

Could barely eat anything this morning. No clue why. My stomach just wasn't up to it.

Arrived at the convention about half an hour early. I think I've got the TTC timing to Exhibition place down to a science: it takes half an hour, almost on the dot. So I wandered, and took in the last third of a round table discussion on writing comics. Which is where Surprise of the Day Number One occured.

He wasn't on the guest list. He wasn't in the promo material. There were no signs advertising his coming.

It was fucking Joe Michael Strazinscky. The creator of Babylon 5 and Rising Stars himself. In the flesh. Really articulate guy. And he's BIG. I mean, Ellis is wide. And Bendis is short. JMS is taller than I am. It was really something. But also a nice guy. All these people are nice guys, I'm finding. I got a picture of me with him, which rocks. I also gushed for a few minutes about my massive fandom for B5 and retrospect not my greatest moment, but I was just kind of in awe.

Then came Bendis' workshop on writing comics. He arrived a few minutes before it began, just as the panel was breaking up. He looked exhausted, and I commented as such to him. He said that yeah, he was. We chatted for just a little bit, then I followed JMS out, which is where the above paragraph occurs. After I got my pictures I returned to the room, sat down, dug out my laptop, and started with the note taking.

The workshop was REALLY useful. As in 1900+ words useful. I took down a lot of notes from it. On the downside, I need to find an artist. I need to find a GOOD artist. I need to find said individual if I ever hope to really get something like PB, or Ascent, or WWD submitted professionally. Such a damn shame, to, though. But I think I can probably scrounge one up if I start looking. Bendis also commented that the big companies ARE looking, despite appearing as if they discourage it. They don't have enough writers, and those they do are stretched thin, but on the flipside their editors offices are crowded with unopened manila envelopes sent in by 12 year old who just saw LoEG and think they're the next Alan Moore. Bendis advice, thus, was to get an artist, at least for your first pitch, until they know your name. This is very similar to what a good friend of mine, Fiona Kelleghan told me once, which was that you just have to keep sending your work in to a place till they know your name and feel obliged to at least take a peek at SOMETHING.

But yeah, the workshop was great. There were amusing and useful questions, and personal anectdotes from Bendis. He's a really fun guy. A bit weird, but fun. And definitly not as upfront-bastard-abrasive as Warren Ellis.

...who I also saw today. I had a one or two minute chat with him regarding exactly where he's from in England, as his accent is similar, as I think I remarked previously, to some of the London folk I know, as well as a chef I worked with a couple years back.

In further odd meetings, I happened to get a chance to speak with the creator of the Joker (also got a picture of him). Jerry Robinson, I think his name is. Nice guy. Old, but nice. His art has this sketch-style, and his Joker sketches are very reminiscent to Frank Miller's work on Dark Knight Returns.

I had another short chat with Willow Dawson, and the guys in the booth beside her. The guy wrote a book called "Drive", which is set in Vegas. In honor of this, he called up a friend of his who's a magician. This guy was the shit. I'm not a big fan of card tricks, but this guy knew his stuff. He's been a professional magician for 9 years or so now, and he played me for a total rube. It was great. Its reviving my desire to tell the stories of the Quatrain Brothers again (a story that I never got around to properly researching about a trio of brothers who also happen to be stage magicians).

Dropped by numerous booths. There was a guy with a book called "Electric Freakout" or something of that sort, who spoke with this weird, pseudo-Southern accent that I THINK was an affectation for this sideshow barker-routine he was pulling to try and hawk his book. Also went by some booths with FANTASTIC art. Didn't buy anything, but I picked up a lot of business cards, some of which have some wonderful bits and bobs on them. Also sat down at a plastic table for about 10 minutes or so and did a page and a bit of Ascent. The story's there in my head, but the pacing of the first issue is a bit wonky, becuase I want to pack a LOT into it but still leave the reader able to understand it. I'm thinking I may have to rework the pacing of the series itself, where each issue is and suchlike.

I dropped by B. Clay Moore's table. He's an Image writer who did Battlehymn and some book about Hawaii who's name I can't remember. Battlehmyn, though, is a funky little WWII superheroes book, so I pointed him towards taking a look at GODLIKE. I also, somehow, managed to convince him to give me a free issue of Battlehymn, possibly by flipping through it to the end. He felt I might as well have it for free if I'd already read the end.

More interesting in the conversation with Mr. Moore was in regards to how to pitch books to Image. First, they only accept works that are creator owned and have both script AND art. They don't shop around for artists for a given script. He said just to follow the stuff on their site and do that. Bendis commented earlier that Image is looking to sell comics, rather than line their pockets, so they're a good company to look at. Though if you have an artist and you have a script, and you can put it all together, you can submit virtually ANYWHERE. Good advice.

I got a few pictures before I left. One of Willow Dawson (who I think I shall keep in contact with, along with a few other folks I met), a few sweeps of the con floor, and that sort of thing. I will upload them all, eventually.

This was the end to a great weekend. Now I study for my exam on Thursday, and shop around for jobs this week. This convention was the proverbial calm before the storm.

On the other hand, I know that I'm DEFINITLY going to go to the con next year, if this is the sort of thing that comes up during it. Because this was really worth it.

For those that wish, I will email notes from Ellis and Bendis' sessions. I have more extensive notes from Bendis, as I had my laptop and was thus typing away like it was a typical university class. For Ellis, I just have memorable quotes and some basic points.


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