Notes from the Convention Floor
Around 1970, I attended my first comic convention. My best friend Jeff and I attended one of Phil Sueling’s July 4th extravaganzas. Back then, that meant a floor of the Statler-Hilton Hotel, across from Penn Station, with a few rooms for programming but mainly a large dealers room. There was no artists alley, the artists who attended hung out, sketched in corners and autographed books. A few companies had tables but they were mainly manned by dealers.
27 years later, Jeff and I walked the floor of the NY Comic-Con, now taking over the entire Javits Center. While nowhere near as big as the San Diego Con, it has blossomed considerably in just a year. Reed Exhibitions, the folk running the show, clearly learned their lessons from last year’s inaugural event.
This was the first time in memory I attended a con without working it on behalf of DC or Marvel or Starlog Press. As a result, I could wander to and fro, keep my own schedule and only be there for the one day. On the one hand, it was great – I could walk the dealers room, artists alley and stop along the way. On the other hand, without an agenda, it also felt a wee bit aimless despite the joy in renewing acquaintances.
Walking artists alley was a trip in itself. People I watched break in, were still there, looking pretty much the same, and happy to see me. Veterans I admired before joining the business were also there. In between was a smattering of folk I didn’t know or names I didn’t recognize. Art Thibert may have given me the warmest greeting, interrupting a line of people wanting sketches to hug me and then explain to throng that I gave him his first work and continued giving him work in his early years. It was a delight to, once again Brian Bolland, Joe & Hilary Staton, Bob Layton, Michael Bair, Rags Morales and others.
I was also on a mission as a courtesy to a friend and managed to accomplish it while saying hi to Colleen Doran, so that was pleasant.
On the floor, I definitely hit the DC booth to say hi to old colleagues and was warmly greeted, which felt good. Elsewhere, I checked in with buddies at mainstream publishers who took booth space so it was fun mixing media, so to speak. And in between, I found Wendy and Richard Pini, thrilled to see my friends and see what they were working on.
My Star Trek brethren, Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore, were in town so we visited at the crowded Pocket Books booth. Also there were David Mack and Christopher L. Bennett, a regular squadron of writers. All looked happy despite several being dragooned into doing crowd control for wrestler Mick Foley’s autograph session – the crossover between comics and wrestling never ceases to amaze me.
And there was Jeff. We haven’t done a con together in over two decades I think. With his wife Debbie, we visited for a brief while but they had things to buy, I was running into others I knew and it got distracting. Fortunately, we made plans for a visit in May.
The frustrating part of the con was also a mixed blessing. Frequently, I would walk down an aisle and run into someone, but as we chatted, someone else turned up so a new conversation began before properly ending the last one. As a result, I saw lots and lots of people but had very few satisfying conversations over the course of the day.
I did cover the Dark Tower panel as a favor to Jen Contino over at The Pulse which should be up shortly.