On Friday I traveled to San Diego for the gargantuan mega event known as Comic-Con, and to attend the Eisner Awards that night.
This was my first time attending the awards ceremony, and I got to see it from the cool kids side of the velvet rope. Jim, Barry Miller, Steve Bryant, and I arrived early to find our assigned table and raid the buffet. Cash bar(What’s up with that? I cannot let it go!) but Mexican buffet was tasty, so I piled it high on the plate. I had to be careful not to spill any on my fancy new sport coat, bought especially for the event. I looked pretty snazzy if I do say so myself.
Going into the awards, I knew our chances of winning for Best Digital Comic were slim to none. But I couldn’t help but hold out a little hope, and conjure the experience in my mind of what it would be like if we won. I had rehearsed an acceptance speech in my head over and over during my cross country plane ride. Going into the room, I was asked if I was nervous, and actually, I wasn’t one bit. Ours was one of the earlier categories, and as the moment grew closer, that’s when I got some butterflies in the belly. I could feel the heart starting to race and the blood pumping. The closer we got to the deciding moment, the more I seemed to think “What if?” and “This could really happen!” As the names of the nominees were read, a giant image of the comic and creator names flashed up on the screen, it was thrilling when our time came and there was the title page from Chapter one of The Guns of Shadow Valley, as big as a wall, for everyone to see. Our pals in the audience let out hollers that could be heard throughout the hall, and that gave me a lot of pride. The winner was about to be read, my heart jumped into my throat, time slowed, and if that instant had lasted any longer I probably would have keeled over. But the moment was not ours.
The image and name that flashed on the screen was that of Cameron Stewart for his work Sin Titulo. It’s a fantastic comic, one of my favorites I read every time it’s updated, and he deserved the award. But I’ll tell you this honestly, it was a real bummer. My heart dropped out of my throat and sank into an abyss. I couldn’t really say anything for a few moments, my friends around the table looked at me and Jim and I patted each other on the back, and Jim said “Next year, dude.” Steve plopped a fresh Guinness down in front of me. The darkness only lasted a few moments. There was a little empty space in my chest the rest of the evening, but I decided to put it aside and enjoy the experience of my first Eisner nomination and ceremony. I do really feel truly honored to be a nominee, it’s been a high point of my career. We’ve only been publishing Guns for a year now, and the first chance we get, we come away with an Eisner nomination, alongside some of the very best in the business. I think that’s pretty incredible.
I didn’t get to make an acceptance speech, but here’s some of the people I was planning to thank:
All of our fans.
My old buddies in Chicago.
My new friends in Pittsburgh.
The comic podcast community, especially my friends at Comic Geek Speak and 11 O’Clock Comics for constantly expressing their support.
My brothers in arms at Dial R studios.
Steve Bryant for encouraging me to submit to the Eisners and for all the advice.
Thomas Mauer for his amazing work as letterer.
Brent and John for showing their pride and championing their little brother
Amber, for all the love, support and encouragement.
Jim for being a great collaborator, partner and friend in this crazy venture over the years.
And especially my Dad and Mom, I never would have been able to do any of this if not for the fact that they believed in me every step of the way, fostered my talents, still support me in a myriad of ways, and always encourage me to follow my dream.
And I would have dedicated the award, and I still dedicate this nomination, to my Grandmother, whom I very recently lost. Whenever I visited her as a kid, with a stack of comics in my hands, she always called them my “funny books”. I would protest “These are serious! Daredevil is not funny!” I will always miss here dearly.
On Saturday I got to hang out at the show, using the Dial R booth as a home base, I set out with my portfolio packets in hand to try and drum up some business, make connections, all stuff you’re supposed to do as a struggling creator at these shows. I dropped one off at the slot in the wall at the DC booth, gave some out to a people at a few different publishers. It’s tough to figure out who to talk to at some of these places. Even when you know the names of some of the editors, you may not know what they look like, and most of the time their badges are facing the wrong direction, or they are super busy, such as when the booth is packed because some actor turned comic writer is signing for an hour. My pal Tony Fleece is awesome, not just because of his superior comics work and winning personality, but also because he introduced me to some the editors he knows at various publishers. I received some very encouraging feedback and I’m hoping it will lead to awesome things.
Walking around on the floor of the con is, for me, an exhausting and frustrating experience. I’m just not big on crowds, and that is what you get at the San Diego show. It can be tough talking to anybody at a table or booth for more than 30 seconds because everyone is so busy, and there’s always 10 more people surrounding you trying to get their attention. The best part always is hanging out with my friends, whom I don’t get to see nearly enough, at and especially after the show. I was only there for a day and a half, and would loved to have spent more time with these guys. I also know of a lot of people there that I totally missed. But that’s always the way it goes. I was happy that I got to come out to the show and spend the time that I did.