San Diego Comic-Con 2009 was my very first Comic-Con. I had always wanted to go — especially since I used to attend Anime Expo every year with friends — but my usual congoing group didn’t feel the same way. Since I’ve stopped going to Expo, I decided to make it my goal to attend in 2010…that is, until Murder He Wrote got nominated for an Eisner. No part of me thought we would win (I compared our chances of winning to the chances of a wacky slapstick comedy winning Best Picture at the Oscars when up against epic profound war movies and arthouse films); however, I didn’t want to miss the once in a lifetime opportunity to attend the ceremony and hear my name announced as one of the nominees. And so I opted to go this year instead, prepared for my first major award loss.
Little did I realize then how incredible the trip would be!
I was surprised by how many people I knew attended SDCC. Of course I had expected to meet some of my main employers, Dallas Middaugh of Del Rey Manga and Nathan Kane and Bill Morrison of Bongo Comics — as well as other nice folks who work for those companies — but I also got to meet Andrew Pepoy (inked both of my Simpsons manga stories); Alex Ruiz (formerly part of the merchandising department at FOX, he had contacted me during the Simpsonzu craze with possible work doing art for Futurama merchandise); manga reviewers and Yokaiden supporters Deb Aoki, Peter Gutiérrez and Snow Wildsmith; Alison Wilgus (co-writer for the Last Airbender manga I’m working on); Melita Curphy aka Miss Monster (I have two original commissioned paintings by her on my wall); and plenty of talents from the American comics industry. There was a plethora of big companies with big impressive booths, and I swear every time I walked past them they had something new to look at. The exhibition hall was enormous and crowded, but fortunately I got to use the Bongo booth as a frequent resting/meeting point.
THESE ARE RELEVANT TO MY INTERESTS
If you’re into anything remotely geeky, you’ll find something of interest to you at this convention. I found something for nearly everything I’ve been into. Most notably:
American comic books – Alex Ross, Adam Hughes, Mike Mignola, Stan Sakai… since I usually attend anime cons, these aren’t names I’m used to seeing. I stopped dabbling in the American comics scene years ago (not because I lost interest, but because they’re so expensive compared to manga!), so I’m no expert on the industry here; that’s why it surprised me how many familiar names I saw. Having been a huge fan of Bone and Strangers in Paradise, it was a thrill seeing Jeff Smith and Terry Moore’s booths right next to each other (I later saw Terry at his booth but I was too shy/nervous to go up and say hello).
Games – I loved the Capcom booth. Though I couldn’t get that cool free Resident Evil T-shirt, I did manage to get an autograph from the producer of Gyakuten Kenji (Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth) — I’ve already cleared the entire game, so I got to tell him I enjoyed it a lot — and a copy of God Hand for the PS2. Video games, I expected to see at the con, but for the PC gamers they also had things related to Monkey Island and Sam & Max! Free buttons, statues, and I got to meet someone who worked on Curse of Monkey Island, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, The Dig, Full Throttle… I forget his name but he was nice enough to do a sketch of Demon Pirate LeChuck for me.
Figures – If you like action figures and statues, you must go to SDCC. Impressive sculpts everywhere.
There were plenty of marvelous things I wanted, but I ended up buying more for my friends than myself. Stuff I bought includes: a cooing Tribble plush, framed prints from The Bazaarium, a Miss Monster artbook, Comic-Con exclusive Alternate Fry and Leela figures (yikes, they weren’t that expensive when I got them); and a Comic-Con exclusive Radioactive Man comic signed by Matt Groening.
It went well! Del Rey gave away free copies of Yokaiden 1, and each one came with a postcard with both me and my friend Emily Coleman’s works on them (Emily made the awesome Yokaiden statue which got to be displayed in the glass case at the Random House booth). I signed 90 copies in 30 minutes, which felt more like 5 minutes.
Yokaiden sculpt by Emily Coleman
On the last day of the con, I did an impromptu signing at the Bongo booth. Since this was set up on the fly and unannounced, it was far more relaxed than the Yokaiden one. I got to autograph a few copies of Treehouse of Horror #14 and did some sketches as well.
BRUSHES WITH FAME
When I wandered over to the Bongo booth the second day of the con, Morgan Spurlock (of Supersize Me fame) was there interviewing people for his upcoming Simpsons documentary. The people at Bongo introduced me to him, and before I knew it, was in front of a camera and I was made to tell him all about Simpsonzu and how it jump started my career. I was nervous and completely blanked out when asked to give examples of some of the more obscure Simpsons lines my friends and I quote all the time, but otherwise I think I did decently. Though I hate watching myself on video (I still haven’t watched the interviews I did for CTV and ShawTV), I’ll be glad if I get to be in that documentary for even three seconds. Spurlock was nice enough to come by the booth again later to congratulate me on my win.
After the award ceremony, I was introduced to Jeff Smith and Terry Moore, which was one of my highlights of the con. Never did I think while growing up reading their works that I’d be able to talk to them, especially as a professional. Jeff told me that I’m “part of the family now” which is just crazy. I also got to talk to Phil Lamarr (of Mad TV and Futurama fame). Absolutely every big name I talked with were super friendly and made me feel very comfortable despite my nervousness.
As I said, I didn’t expect to win and neither did anyone else, I think — I looked online predictions beforehand and while everyone praised Murder He Wrote, nobody guessed it would win. Unfortunately, the writer (fellow Vancouverite Ian Boothby) didn’t make it to SDCC, but Nathan and Andrew sat with me at our table in the VIP seating area. I almost attended wearing a T-shirt and denim shorts, but I wore a summer dress for the spirit of it. I’m glad I did, because we ended up winning Best Short Story and I was able to accept the award somewhat in style along with my classy $12 plastic Iron Man watch and a neon green paper bracelet indicating I was ID’d before buying an alcoholic beverage.
So many people congratulated me the following two days, I don’t think I’ve said “thank you” so many times in my life.
Many have asked me if I’ve met Matt Groening yet, and I can finally say that I did. I wasn’t counting on being able to see him this year because he’s so busy, but on the last day, while signing Treehouse of Horrors at the Bongo booth, he came by and I was introduced to him at last. He told me he loves my works and was saying to others, “isn’t she the best?” I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be because I was pretty tired at this point. When I got a picture taken with him, several other passerbys took pictures as well — I think they just wanted to get a picture of Matt, because he’s Matt Groening, a living legend.
Me and my real face with Matt Groening
Bonus scan of the drawing Nathan did for me. He was the first person to offer me a job after I did Simpsonzu, and the editor for Murder He Wrote.
And here’s the Eisner trophy. They switched from plaques to trophies only two years ago. These things are heavy, and the globe is spinnable. They were made by Gentle Giant Studios.
HOORAY! Let’s hope I can make it next year! Big kudos to everyone I met, especially the Bongo guys (who let me rest my feet at their booth so frequently), the Del Rey staff, and those who have been following me since my Saturnalia days.
ETA: I got to give copies of Yokaiden to Morgan Spurlock, Stan Sakai, Matt Groening and Jeff Smith. How awesome is that?
Also I’m going to put up a proper entry for this later but I’m doing the AIDS Walk for Life again. Please donate to support the charity, even if it’s just 5 dollars!