Jimmy, Jackie, Bob, Kim, and the gang have been putting on the biggest and best show in my home town for years. It has consistently been one of the best shows on the East Coast, and I’ve been doing it since 2007. This year, Jay Kennedy, Hannibal King, and the Fat Cat Funnies gang were the most organized we’d ever been. New books were done in advance, banners were in, and everything was all set. There was one problem: I was sick. I had gotten food poisoning on the Wednesday prior, and I was still feeling terrible: fever, chills, stomach issues… but the show must go on!
Myself (Ian Nichols), Jimmy Talbot (Convention Maestro), and John Yuskaitis (Boots and Pup Creator)
Jay Kennedy, Myself, Hannibal King, and Ulysses King
Jay Kennedy, ready for action.
With giant skyscraper-displays having taken over much of artist’s alley in recent years, we decided to go with a smaller, less intrusive, booth setup. Booth-related drama had recently been in the comic news, so we thought it also made us better con-neighbors going forward.
Aquaman and I
This costume was pretty awesome.
Ray, one of the cosplay Kings of New England and all-around good guy.
Friday was busier than we had expected, but people were able to move freely and groove around the show without claustrophobic repercussions. We moved a few books, I did one sketch, but I felt pretty terrible. I tried pushing through it with a barrage of over-the-counter medications. I really wasn’t trying to ignore folks or avoid anybody; I was just in no shape to do more than the minimum on Friday.
About mid-week before the show, I was informed that, “NO ORIGINAL ART WILL BE ACCEPTED FOR REVIEW THIS YEAR.” In the past, I’d been able to leave a binder of originals at the review booth and pick it up afterwards. I put together a leave-behind portfolio, got it printed and bound at the print shop, and I included a copy of Hellena #1. I left three copies at the designated table because they had folks from DC, Marvel, and IDW checking things out.
After that, I really did try to go around and see folks. This anxiety-stricken and fever-induced-hallucinatory moment seemed like an ideal time to go meet one of my favorite artists. He’s the guy that defined how DC characters looked for decades, and his name is Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. His table buddy and I chatted for a few minutes, and Jose was kind enough to sign and personalize a book for me. I later came back and bought a prelim for a Teen Titans cover from his binder for $20. He asked me why I didn’t have anything else for him to sign, and that it made him sad (that I didn’t bring another book). I told him I didn’t want to be greedy, and I thanked him for the signed book and the wonderful art.
Teen Titans Prelim by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez
Then, things got interesting. I had just signed a stack of the NEC Exclusive Tick Comics and for one fellow, and a few minutes later I looked down to find that my binder of small original art pieces was gone (These are all of the single and double character pieces that I do exclusively for sales at shows). I told my wife it was missing, and we frantically searched the whole booth. We concluded it was gone, and ran to the front to inform security. They asked for a description, and a guy came over. They couldn’t really do anything except begin filing a police report. I remembered the last guy at the booth looked like Gordon Ramsey with a Sox hat on (Sox hats are pretty rare at Comic Con). The security guy shrugged and went back to protecting us all.
Camille and I looked around for the guy. Eventually she came back with a picture on her phone, and asked, “Is this the guy?” It was. We ran over, found him, and I asked him if he’d picked up a black binder. After a pause, I saw the lightbulb go on over his head, and he said “Follow me! He ran us over to my pal Tony Sedani’s booth, and it was just sitting there. He had apparently gone there to get the Tick books signed by Tony too. He said he thought it was Tony’s book, and I honestly don’t think he meant any harm. He was very apologetic but, needless to say, there was a shred of worry and a bump of adrenaline for the rest of the night.
Robert Carmona - Coloring Assistant on Hellena #1 and the guy that took most of these photos.
Saturday morning there was already long line of fans to get into the convention… even before setup. I was informed that the day was already sold out of tickets. We moved some things around the booth, and after we set up I went and bought a handful of dollar books.
On that day, the JP Comics and Games crew was there in full-force. Robert was there on Friday, but pretty much everyone else was there Saturday. The shopkeeper, Paul, was kind enough to take my poster around to folks to get it signed when I can’t get away from the booth (I was very glad and thankful that he did, as some of the folks were not there on Sunday when I went looking for them).
Paul and Lily chatting with Andrew Robinson and getting my poster signed
With Dan Panosian
With Dave Johnson
I got a text that morning, telling me that I had been selected to get a portfolio review from Marvel. This added to the nerves, but I had my stuff reviewed by CB Cebulski the previous year. While last year’s review didn’t lead to anything, it was a great experience. I learned a lot to apply to my art. I’m chronically early to everything, so about a half hour before my scheduled time, Paul and I went to make sure that I would be in the right place at the right time. One of the BCC staff told us to be back at the info table, and that he would take me up to some room in a different part of the hall (a secret room?!?).
We joked about the secret room. There was discussion of there being a Dr. Doom-esque throne with Stan Lee sitting in it. He’d be flanked by goons and servants. Then he would ask three questions, with the final being a riddle that had to be solved. That would have been some portfolio review.
With time to kill, we were right near Jeff Parker’s booth. He had just finished an incredible run on one of my favorite books, Aquaman, and I’d wanted to chat with him. I put his run up there in the tops that had ever been published (yes, I have read them all. No really, all of them). We chatted about undersea and Aquaman-related minutiae, then, he gave me some advice for my review.
The JP Comics Crew with Jeff Parker (Robert took the photo)
THEN IT CAME TIME! A small group of artists were led to the secret room. We were all seated at a round table, and as we awaited our turn we looked at each other’s portfolios. It was surprisingly pleasant. When it was my turn, the talent scout from Marvel was very encouraging. He gave me some specific pointers, and some things to reference going forward. No crazy announcements, it was a great portfolio review, and I am already applying some of the things we went over. An actual, real, review is a rare thing, and I value them tremendously when they happen (I have emailed a follow up, hopefully I hear back!).
BACK TO THE BOOTH! I told the tale of the review to the booth. Hannibal King had worked for Marvel in the past. I explained to him that this was generally my description of what the big two is like in baseball terms:
Some of my other pals came by the booth. My buddy Andy that I met at RI a few years back has been one of my biggest supporters. I got to meet his brother at his first convention. I have always loved hearing about people’s first trip into the world of Comic Con. Cathy, Michael, David C., Steve from the RI Con and many others were kind enough to come see me. I thank you all.
(Prints offered by: Ian Nichols, Joe St. Pierre, Darryl Banks, Nate Lovett, Ralph Reese, and Hannibal King)
For the first time ever, I offered an array of prints for sale. I didn’t make a huge deal of it. I was lucky to have had incredible artists do Hellena pinups, and the ones that I had gotten permission to use outside the book were made into prints (While I will never offer unlicensed or unauthorized prints of characters that I don’t own, I will continue to offer new prints of my own characters by myself and other artists going forward).
Saturday ended strong with a couple sales of original art. Camille and I then went to dinner with the Homeless Comics crew of George O’Conner and Griffin Ess (They are great guys, and they do damn good stuff). We went to the No Name restaurant over on the fish pier. We had a server that was quite a character, who seemed overjoyed when I ordered the fish sandwich. While he sang its praises of quality and value, he also insulted the pizza joint up the street for being, “just bread and cheese.”
We also had an interesting neighbor who, after leaving his table for quite some time came back and demanded that his cleared table be returned to him. He was gone a while, and I think the waitress did the right thing on a busy Saturday night. He got himself a free order of Scallops by whining, then, he tried to buddy up to us. We were polite and answered his questions, but then things took a turn for the weird.
He proceeded to tell us that he bought one ticket to Steely Dan and ditched his family the night before. Then he started to talk about Boston and the North End, and what he eaten there. It was then, in more detail than necessary, that he told our table (while we were eating) about how the squid ink pasta negatively affected his bowel movements. After a long pause I said:
“But we’re strangers.”
He tried to recover, but the awkwardness had reached critical mass. A couple minutes later he quietly got his check and left.
After dinner, George and I hit the BCC Art Auction, while Camille and Griffin hung out at the bar. There was a Dan Panosian Conan piece that I bid, on which had a story written on it too. Had I won it, I would’ve drawn the story and sent it to him. Oh well. I had entered a piece, and this year it raised $150 for the Wieringo Scholarship Fund. The auction ended, we met back up with Camille and Grif, and parted ways.
A portion of the pieces offered at the auction. All of them were donated by attending artists or their representation.
Sunday is a little more relaxed, and I can take the time to talk to some booth-folks. I had a couple of sketches to finish in the morning, and once they were done I made my way over to the NEC booth to sign copies of the exclusive Tick comic book. Tony signed together and I had a great time. We did jams on the covers of a bunch of books, and the fans of the Tick seemed happy. The one hiccup was that we didn’t know who the guy sitting next to us was. We thought it was an NEC employee, so we asked him a couple of times how much some of the merchandise cost. Well, it turned out that he was a guest from Black Mask Comics. Ooops. We apologized, he was cool, but the embarrassment will last a lifetime.
Tony and I sketching at the NEC Booth, some of our work, and my contribution to the BCC 2015 Exclusive issue of The Tick.
I walked around some more. I bought a prelim from Andrew Robinson, and I spoke to Dan Panosian. I’m a huge fan of his recent work. His Conan/Red Sonja books were amazing. I think Andrew could be one of the big names in comics. They also table with Dave Johnson. The Rev’s work speaks for itself, OR every time I talk comics with Howard Chaykin at a show, we end up talking about Dave’s covers. If I ever have the cash to commission a piece from Dave, it would probably be American Flagg or Cody Starbuck-related.
Scott Hamilton (Hamiltoons.com) was kind enough to introduce me to Sean Gordon Murphy. I was quiet, but Scott mentioned my work. I had been passing out copies to retailers, so I took out a copy of the book. I think Shawn thought I was pitching him, but I really wasn’t. He rolled up the book, and as we were concluding the chat asked if I wanted it back. “No, it’s cool, enjoy it,” I said.
This year, we were neighbors with Amy Reeder. I’ve enjoyed her work since I first saw it on Batwoman. Her book Rocket Girl is quite awesome (so check it out). I do wish I got to speak with her more, but it just didn’t happen. I spoke with Chris Campana (his book First World is a lot of fantastical fun), Scott Hamilton (The best caricature man I know, introduced me to Sean Gordon Murphy, which was pretty nifty), Jimmy Wahl (A budding comics scribe had the second issue of his book debut at BCC), Eric Jason Ratcliffe (New Comics Day maestro) , John Yuskatis (Boots & Pup—This book will take over the world), Jennie Wood (Flutter), Comics Crusaders Al and #13 (www.comiccrusaders.com), Indie Comics Review, Joe St. Pierre (AstronautInk.com), and a bunch of other nice folks.
Joe St. Pierre of Astronaut Ink and all-around good fellow
(TOP) Jennie Wood and John Yuskaitis's Booth (Above) Awesome creator, comics guru, the heart of the Boston comics scene, Dan Mazur at the Boston Comics Roundtable booth.
Tony Sedani and his Bleeding-Cool approved book Return to Rander
We ended the day with a flurry of folks packing up and leaving early. Jackie of Bedrock Comics and the volunteers were firing on all cylinders to get tables and linens put away. I was disappointed to see the massive mess that some of the artists left under their tables for the volunteers to clean up after them. The volunteers did an awesome job. I thanked the ones that I passed on the way out. We packed up, said our goodbyes, and loaded the car up for home.
Jeff Parker with Mera (A series that he should start and write!)
It was a great show. We moved 75 copies of Hellena #1, Jay sold out of his horror anthology “The Sleeplessness,” and I passed out an additional dozen or so promo copies to potential retailers. Hopefully they dug it (I will be reaching out to a lot of the stores over the next week to see if they’d like to carry it. Any help would be greatly appreciated! If you have a store, or you think your regular shop would be interested, get in touch with me! I’m happy to send a preview PDF, talk on the phone, or drive to anywhere within a reasonable distance of Boston).
Thank you to everyone at the show! All of the vendors, creators, volunteers, security guys, booth buddies, neighbors, portfolio reviewers, staffers, awesome servers, Homeless Comics Crew, creepy TMI guy at dinner, the affable and unintentional thief, that guy from Black Mask, JIMMY!!!!!, the makers of Tums and Pepto Bismol, Bob Polio, Jay, Hannibal, my brother, Joe, the crew of JP Comics, and everyone that I have or have not included that made the weekend great.
Most of all I have to thank my wife for getting me through this year’s show. I was sick as hell, and she kept me glued together long enough to make it through.
Until next year True Believers of Boston! I’ve got shows lined up in Vermont and Rhode Island this year, and I’m hoping to book a whole heap of store signings. I will keep you posted of any upcoming...
PS - Thanks also to all of the folks that actually asked about the recap. I had no idea folks read and remembered them! Cheers!