My Weekend at Alter Ego Comics

My Weekend at Alter Ego Comics

This past weekend, Marc Bowker invited me to his store, Alter Ego Comics, in Lima, Ohio. I’ve done a few events for Marc, and they are uniformly excellent. They’re a lot of fun, Marc’s staff is delightful and they all take care of me. If you’re a creator and you get the chance to do something at Marc’s store, jump at the chance! (Marc also has an unerring ability to find great places to eat, too.)

Saturday’s event included a screening of my Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors episode, a Q and A afterwards, and lots of signing and sketching afterwards. Lots of people came by and I had a wonderful time meeting and chatting with everyone.

Photos are courtesy of the Underground Video Network, who also interviewed me. The interview is linked here, too.

Live from New York Comic Con

This past weekend was the excellent New York Comic-Con. I’ve just about recovered from it.

I had a busy show, appearing on ConTV, doing two signings at IDW, and teaching a drawing class. I would have liked to have been at the table more, but it’s the perils of being popular, I suppose. Sales were good, and I think I may do more commissions in NYC than anywhere else. I’ve got some regulars who like to challenge me, including doing a Teen Titans/Star Wars mashup, and a Princess Leia pony. (The hard part there: Figuring out her Cutie Mark.)

I also had a fantastic time after the show. Great friends and great conversations at great restaurants. I had marrow, or “meat butter” for the first time! Cucumber soju continues to be my kryptonite. And New York pizza is still New York pizza… which means tasty but no Chicago pizza.

The highlight of my nights was when Tony Fleecs and I got to go see the taping of Saturday Night Live, as well as getting a tour afterwards and hanging out with some of the writers. Seeing SNL live has been on my Bucket List for a while, and it was great to check that off. It is so much better, so much funnier in person. It’s amazing to see what they do to make that show happen in such a small space, and how great the band is to perform flawlessly while so much is going on around them. It was definitely a treat, and I don’t know how much I should say about how this trip happened, but thanks Person Who Arranged It! Thank you so much!

The other highlight happened at the show when a mother came up with her daughter who was in my drawing class. I taught a higher-level class because it was mostly teens in the class, but her younger daughter was there and just absorbed the whole thing. She always liked to draw and took classes in previous years, but her mother said that she saw the light go on in her daughter’s head in that class, and that I was going to be “her memory” of learning to draw.

I like doing what I do, but I can get a little cavalier about it. Moments like that remind me how I can actually have an impact on people. It’s very humbling.

A big thank you to everyone who came by. I hope I gave some good advice to the Kubert School students who stopped. Thank you to everyone who came by and said kind things about Long Distance. That book is finding an audience in ways I never would have expected.

I’m looking forward to next year already!

Man, I love the Baltimore Comic-Con

Last weekend I was at the always-excellent Baltimore Comic-Con. It was so much fun. I got to host Katie Cassidy’s panel, be on a panel with writers far outside my fighting weight like Amy Chu, Terry Moore, Jamal Igle, Louise Simonson, Mark Waid and Christy Blanch, sell a bunch of stuff and meet a ton of people.

The Baltimore Yearbook entered it’s fourth year, spotlighting David Petersen’s Mouse Guard. There was some excitement getting it there on time, but in the end everything worked out and I’m pleased to work with and recommend everyone I dealt with. But if I looked particularly tired on Friday, that’s why.

Cons can be a grind and often, by the end, I’m ready for things to wrap up. Baltimore is the only show I ever want more of. Like ice cream, you have to know when to stop, but you always want more. At least for me.

Thank you, Marc, for a fantastic time. Let’s do it again next year.

Long Distance Wrap Up

Last week, the last issue of Long Distance came out. It seems like not long ago that I started this particular journey, and it seems like it’s over before it started. I know that’s not so. I started drawing this story on November 15 of last year. But it’s weird to have all the issues done before the first one really hits the stands.

I am humbled by the outpouring of affection and great reviews for this book. I never expected how many people would come up and say “I was in a long distance relationship…” There was an audience for this book that I didn’t know was out there, and I’m glad that I could created something for them.

As it stands, I’m pretty happy with the book. It was a challenge a couple of different ways. Love and Capes was so well received that creating a follow-up project of any kind was daunting. Would people like it? Was Love and Capes a fluke? Looks like the answers were “yes” and “no.”

Also, doing a new project in a different style and without a lot of the Love and Capes structure was scary. Near the end, I was cranking out four pages a day to hit the last deadline. (The third issue, for some reason, just crushed me under its gears, eating up all my slush time.) But I made it, and I think the quality remained consistent.

So thank you, each and every one of you, who read it, supported it, tweeted about it and  enjoyed it. You’re the reason I do it.

As is my wont, I thanked a host of people in the last issue. There are two in particular I have to call out:

Lisa Manglass was my technical advisor for Lee’s career. I didn’t actually have to be a rocket scientist to write Lee, thankfully, but Lisa explained a lot about that job to make it as accurate as possible. My initial questions were “what kind of office would Lee be in” “what would she wear” and things like that. Basically, I needed her to have an office where she could talk to her friend a lot. Everything else was details.

Lisa explained the nature of the job and how much of it would be traveling, which fit well with the series. She also exlained how the job essentially goes fellowship to fellowship and they might not all be in the same area. All of which played into the ending in a way I hadn’t imagined when I started.

And Tony Fleecs helped more than just doing an awesome cover. I was talking to him about it when we were sitting next to each other at New York Comic Con. The basic ending was always there, but he challenged me to make it bigger, make it something unique. He forced me to come up with the ending that you all read, which gave me the structure for the whole series.

How much did that ending change the story? The whole flashback structure came about only because of that ending. I’ll be forever grateful for his guidance.

Twelve some years ago I wrote Long Distance to work out some feelings I had and to enter a contest. The original work is way-too autobiographical and the characters aren’t as rich as they should have been. It was definitely a first draft, but there was something there worth pursuing.

Some of the banter and chemistry in it inspired Love and Capes. And telling a superhero comedy, well, that was definitely a comfort zone. When I ran out of dating jokes, I always had superhero jokes. And vice versa. And that four panel format was a comedic metronome to keep me on task.

I don’t ever want to repeat myself too much. So I threw a lot of that away. Gone was the panel format, but that also meant the story wasn’t as kind to be able to show to my trusted readers a page at a time. I had to commit to 44 page chunks to put it in a format people could read and react. That’s a lot to do if something didn’t work on page eight and things needed to be reworked. (Fortunately, they didn’t.)

I also changed up some of my tools. Love and Capes has a tremendous amount of in-jokes and references in the art. Here, I got rid of all that. Computer screens are no longer screen shots of my favorite sites, but are abstract patterns. The Doctor doesn’t appear in the background. A lot of those crutches were gone. I think about Pixar, which did two movies with a faux blooper reel and then never did it again, because they didn’t want to be pigeon-holed.

There are worse things you can do than take guidance from Pixar.

I even essentially got rid of color. I was terrified that the geographic dutotones would come off as a gimmick. Thankfully, they didn’t, and it’s been one of the things people have liked most about the book.I’m so glad that decision worked.

Long Distance is a deeply personal work for me. I’m very much in those pages, and very much not in the places you’d expect. And it’s hard doing a follow up project to something which was so well-received. So thank you for coming along for the ride.

And thank you IDW for taking a risk on a slice-of-life romantic comedy in a market deluged with superheroes and irony and spectacle. They’re good people, every one.

Will there be more Long Distance? Well, if you’ve read the book, there’s a lot of space to explore some new stories. I’m not sure if and when I’m going to go there. I think I want to do something new again, but we’ll see. I never intended to do a second issue of Love and Capes after all.

DragonCon 2015 Recap

This weekend I attended my fifth DragonCon. I really love this show, and I love it more and more each year. The show is very much defined by the people. Well, the people and the costumes. It’s an amazingly welcoming and fun atmosphere.

This year was a weird year for me, and DragonCon met the challenge and found a way for me to have the best time I’ve ever had there. There were laughter-filled dinners, lots of hugs, card games, and maybe an extra drop or two of alcohol.

I have to call out for special attention my good friend Jesse Jackson, who rose to the challenge, especially on Saturday, and was able to be me on a day when I wasn’t. He sold more books than I did that day. I’m lucky to have him as my booth babe, body man and designated drive… and most importantly as my friend.

It’s because of him I had my biggest DragonCon moment. Jesse has a sketchbook of drawings of actors that he has signed by those celebrities when he meets them. It’s more personal and more original than an 8×10, and the actors seem to get a kick out of it. I’ll let him tell the full story, but the quick version is this: Stephen Amell loved the drawing I did of him. And then he tweeted it out. Ten thousand likes later, here we are.

The costumes are always amazing at this show, too, both in execution and in sheer volume. It’s the only show where I feel like I should be wearing a costume. I love seeing the obscure ones. This year, it’s a tie between Letterman and Brainwave Junior for most niche character.

The photo that accompanies this post is one of my favorite moments. A young girl bought a copy of the latest issue of My Little Pony and immediately started reading it. That she was dressed like Princess Leia was a bonus.

I also did more game-playing and late-night hanging-out than I have in a while. I certainly slept the Odinsleep when I finally got home, but it was totally worth it.

And a huge thank you to my friends, some who I spent a ton of time with, some of whom I only saw in passing, and the new ones whom I just met. Without you, this show wouldn’t be as special as it is.

I hope to see you there next year! I’ll definitely be there.

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Muncie? More like FUNcie!

This past weekend was My Little Pony Day at Aw Yeah Comics in Muncie. Christy Blanch and her gang were kind enough to invite me as well as Andy Price and Katie Cook to come and do their first Sunday signing ever.

The store is as fun as you’d expect, and the staff was amazing. I can’t remember the last time I was taken care of so well. I’d tell you to go into comics just so you could hopefully be treated so well yourself, but comics is competitive and I don’t need the competition.

Plus, I got there on Doctor Who day, and they had Jammie Dodgers.

Muncie is a small town, but it’s got its charm. And like a lot of places, it’s got some great restaurants if you know where to look. Fortunately, Aw Yeah did. They took us to Barn Brasserie and Casa Del Sol and they were both freakin’ amazing. Barn Brasserie had comic books as decorations on the walls of the bathrooms. (Admittedly, I only saw the mens’ room). The owner insisted that Andy and I add our signatures to the wall with so many other artists.

And they had beignets.

The signing went really well. A nice steady crowd, but not too many. There were lots of great people, and lots of kids, which is always nice to see. It was just the right mix.

And they made sure that we took some comics home with us, too, which I appreciate. You can see my haul in the photos. And they took us to see The Man From UNCLE which I appreciated a lot, too.

Kyle and Sy from the shop were great. By the end of the weekend we were trading jokes like a well oiled sitcom. (I, of course, am the Chandler.) And Christy, well, Christy’s just awesome. I swear she’s a bigger fan of Long Distance than I am. She certainly has sold more than me.

Icing on the cake was getting to log some serious convertible time. Nice and sunny on the way out. The most common comment at the signing was “I love Long Distance,” but the second was “You drove with the top down, didn’t you?” Yes, I did. And then a nice night drive on the way back, too.

It was a great weekend. Go to Aw Yeah Muncie if you’re ever in the area. Get the Sesame Chicken at Barn Brasserie and the margarita at Casa Del Sol, too.