Pittsburgh Comicon Report

Last weekend I attended the Pittsburgh Comicon. My second time at the show, it was the first time I actually attended as a local creator since moving to Pittsburgh late last year. This town seems to have a tight knit, very active, and talented local comic creators scene. This convention is what I might characterize as a medium size show, with lots of vendors and creators, but small enough to have plenty of face time with everyone and anyone you may want to meet.

I overheard from several folks working that weekend that it was a pretty slow crowd, and at no time did the floor look anywhere close to being packed with people, but business for me was usually pretty brisk during the three days of the con. From the start on Friday I had a steady flow of visitors, and the ratio of those who were interested in actually getting stuff, as opposed to just browsing, was pleasantly high. Many offered me congratulations for the Eisner Nomination, which felt really gratifying. I will admit, I felt a little like a celebrity because of it, and my ego being what it is, I didn’t mind a bit! I had a lot of sketch requests, as well as continuous sales of the books and prints from the table. Actually, I got so many sketch requests that I was trapped behind the table for pretty much the whole con. I think I got out from behind the table twice, not counting bathroom breaks. Once on Friday for a few short minutes to walk the floor and again on Saturday for a fantastic experience, which I’ll talk about in a moment.

Amber couldn’t be there on Friday due to work, so after the first day of the show, I stopped by her place and we continued on to the famous Geek Throwdown at the Gypsy Cafe. Our friends Jim and Mel run the Gypsy, a really nice, intimate and friendly Mediterranean/Eastern European themed restaurant. Being a huge comic geek, Jim basically closes the restaurant early to the general public and has free dinner and drinks prepared for anyone attending the convention. He prepared seven dishes, the theme being the emotional color spectrum as shown in recent Green Lantern and Blackest Night comics from DC. The tastes and flavors were truly eclectic and inspired. Jim is a real creative talent when it comes to food and his abilities were on display that night. The whole room was a big family of friends, old and new. A massive thanks to Jim and Mel for what must be a sizable expense of time and money. It was a really wonderful time.

Young Spidey and DD:

Amber sat with me at the table for the first halves of both Saturday and Sunday before exploring the con herself, getting interviews, and acting as one of the judges for the most popular event at the con, the costume contest. She showed off the Guns t-shirt in her cowgirl outfit, and charmed all the men in both her Invisible Woman and Firestar costumes. Which brings me to perhaps one of the best con experiences I have ever had. Amber knows legendary artist and inker Joe Sinnott. Joe was one of several headline guests at the con, and she really wanted me to meet him. We met ever so briefly on Saturday morning, but Amber wanted us to get together and really meet for a few minutes. Joe and I were both pretty busy at our respective tables, Joe much more so than me, and I didn’t want to cut in on his rather sizable line he always had going in front of his table. We checked in a couple of times, and Amber went back and forth to see when a good time to go over would be. Finally, we head over to his table when he was scheduled to be returning from a panel. Joe and his son Mark, who acts kind of like Joe’s manager, were extremely kind and gracious to me. They are warm hearted folks who, once they meet you for the first time, treat you like you’ve known each other for years. That’s when Mark mentioned that Joe had something for me. He pulls out an envelope and Joe presents me with a remarkable drawing of one of my characters! I was floored, I mean, absolutely stunned! I could barely say anything as a lump grew in my throat. You see, recently, I have been asking fans and artists to draw my characters from Guns of Shadow Valley to put up on a Gallery Page I was constructing for the website. Apparently, Amber had conspired with Mark to have Joe create such a piece for me. Joe mentioned that he really likes to draw cowboys, and I think it showed because it is just a masterful piece of artwork. It’s a pencil drawing, but with dark, confident strokes that I call inking with lead. It’s an example of why this man is a legend in the field. As Joe presented this incredible gift to me, I looked over at the giant grin on Amber’s face. She set this whole thing up for me and caught me completely by surprise. It was amazing and it reminded me of what a lucky guy I am.

Saturday night a bunch of us went to Mad Mex, a big and loud mexican place that serves some pretty fantastic food. Our group thinned a little as we settled at the bar in the Double Tree hotel next to the convention center. It was a fun time between friends which occasionally included some very strange, and hilarious, conversation. Another group of finely dressed retirement aged folks, whom we figured were not with the convention, began populating the lounge along with all the comic geeks. Apparently there was a class reunion in town, and they seemed to be having just as much fun as all us young whippersnappers. Bryan Deemer of Comic Geek Speak fame asked a gentleman what his group was there for, and without missing a beat he replies “We’re making a porno!”

Rawhide Kid by Joe Sinnott:

Sunday, the crowd on the floor seemed pretty sedate. Which was fine for me as I had a lot of sketches to get finished before the end of the show. I still have two to finish here at home for folks who were understanding enough to let me mail their pieces to them. At some point during the day, Joe and Mark Sinnott stopped by the table, and Joe presented me with another sketch! Can you believe it? This one was another great looking piece with the Rawhide Kid as subject, complete with the windswept background of monument valley. The generosity of these people is really boundless. Mark had asked me earlier to draw a little sketch on a card for him, but I heard he really liked Swamp Thing, and I love to draw Swamp Thing, so I cooked him up a full 9×12 head sketch. It was the least I could do for all the big hearted kindness they had shown me. Just meeting Joe would have been an honor, everything else just blew me away. It really does the heart good when the immense talent of an individual is surpassed by the value of their personal character. And that character apparently runs in the family.

Financially and creatively, the Pittsburgh Comicon was a great success for me. More importantly, I saw lots of awesome friends that weekend, and made a bunch more. I know I say this kind of stuff every time but it really is true. This is really why I go to these conventions.

On to the future! This weekend I’ll be set up for Free Comic Book Day at a great shop here in Pittsburgh, Phantom of the Attic in Oakland. I’ll be there from 11-4 on Saturday, May 1. If you’re going to be in the area, please come on by, say hello, get some free comics and free conversation!

And in just a few weeks, I’ll be traveling to Fort Wayne Indiana for the inaugural weekend of the Summit City Comic Con, May 22, 10-6. Hosted by the fine folks at Discount Comic Book Service, they’ve got a lineup of around 80 comic creators there. It looks to be a really fun show!

Here’s just a few pics, you can see the rest on my facebook or flickr:
Frankenstein’s Monster head sketch:

Chad Cicconi and Bryan Deemer at The Gypsy Cafe:

Shade and Sandman:

Logan, as Deadpool, with his Deadpool sketch card: