Saturday, March 27, 2010

2010 Marco Xavier Mediocre Convention Sketch by David Malki!

I have two sketches by David Malki! of Wondermark "fame" to share with you. This is the second, lesser, "dance for pocket change as the organ grinds" piece, so I'm using it as a sort of placeholder while I tell a story. More on Malki at a later date, but hey, look at the link. It leads to funny stuff.

I hit my work area comic shop on Wednesday, which I don't like, and from which I only buy odd titles while killing time during my lunch break. I'd missed a very glossy, quality stock, four page pamphlet advertising Comicpalooza 2010 for however long it had been on display at their counter. It was being held at an unusually large convention center, with a unique multimedia line-up, making it quite the spectacle for Houston. The Bayou City has a bad reputation when it comes to cons going back to the '80s, with industry people and dealers getting ripped off big time by promoters and attendees (plus our agonizing summers.) I haven't even seen much traction in a comeback for the dingy old hotel showroom cons of the '90s, and hadn't been to anything myself since probably the 2001 San Diego Comic Con, so I figured I'd round up my buddies to check it out.

I've got a ton of stuff squishing me right now, but not only did that not stop me from attending, but the girlfriend and I were up until 4:00 a.m. gathering reference for the artists and printing them out. We were then awake before nine, and started gathering our group. We arrived after 1:00 p.m. today to $10 parking and a $30 door (internet purchased 3-day passes were about $40.) I really don't need any more dang comics in my house, so my main purpose for going was to get as many quality drawings of obscure Martian Manhunter characters as I could for about $300.00. I'd been spoiled by free sketches by folks like Phil Jimenez back in the day, so I was shocked to find that even the lowliest artists charged for their work at this cash-and-carry con. Since hardly anyone was buying anything, I guess this was the only way a lot of these guys could expect to recoup or profit from this venture. Well, the guys selling overpriced hipster decorative pieces did okay, based on the money my girlfriend dropped on glowing radioactive sheep, Tim Burton originals, and other pop culture ephemera. Anyway, for me it meant that I was faced to make a decision-- get a bunch of pieces for this blog from nobodies at $5-40 a pop, or shell out for some names. I chose the latter, which also meant an investment of time, which I'll discuss at length later in the week.

After scoring my first big piece (involving an hour-and-a-half in line,) I wanted to do some walking and make sure I wasn't missing anything in the dealer's room. I bought a couple of Heroclix, but the closest I could come to anything Manhunter-related was a Dr. Light, which I passed on. There were lots of cool shirts and other merchandise, but none at prices to entice. Trades/GNs were being offered routinely for 40-50% off with few takers. Regular comics were usually discounted, with a few dealers having large selections of fifty cent and dollar books, but I only bought a few (due to budget, time, and all the unread back issues I already own.) At some point, you must draw the line to avoid hoarding.

One shop specialized in loose figures and old bubble gum trading card packs. This was the site of my first convention faux paus, mistaking a fanboy for my girlfriend and gently caressing his back. My girlfriend and I got a big laugh out of it, but the dude seemed a bit unsettled. The second epic fail on my part was, upon once again finding a set of escalators shut down to control foot traffic, I decided to ascend the downward escalators. My jeans were a bit tight, but I put forth quite the effort, and strode all the way to the top feeder. At that point, I did a belly flop onto the floor, eliciting cheers from the balcony. One of my friends, who was unaware of my whereabouts, heard the loud thud of my body and just knew I was involved. Another friend and my girl had waited for the elevator, and hearing the crowd roar while inside, cursed themselves for missing the show. I have a bit of a reputation of my own, you see.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, plus totally lallygagging on some stuff, we didn't finally roll out until 7:00 p.m. My friends have either gone to trades/loaned comics only or quit collecting altogether, so their good time came from my antics and openly mocking convention goers. For instance, there was the DJ room, filled with techno music, colored lights, and empty space. Some rollerbladers tried to get down in there, but it was carpeted, which cramped their style. Cosplay was pretty minimal. There was a short guy with a nice build in a very tight Spider-Man costume my girl devoured with her eyes. Some chick in body paint and a tied on top was running around with a sword, but I didn't recognize her reference nor ogle her. There were the usual Warsie dorks, increasingly among the lowest forms of fandom, especially when they dress as Anakin Skywalker in Episode 3: The Subtitle I Forgot and say stupid crap like "make way for the Empire." Your mother ate the Empire, nerd. I never caught so much as a glimpse of Bruce Campbell, but heard the lines were insane. Unsurprisingly, Chewbacca, Darth Maul, Cat Grant and Teen Wolf's dad were easily but irregular accessed.

My girlfriend passed on a couple of Bernie Wrightson prints due to the main one she wanted having sold out, but I shook the fellow's hand, so that was nice. A number of fantastic pieces were had, and I spent about $275 doing so. We all had a good time, and ate Greek afterward. More details to come (on the con. If you must know, I had the Chicken Souvlaki and a hazelnut gelato for dessert.)


LissBirds said...

Thank for sharing your Con experience. I've never been to one, and I'm not really sure if I want to. The whole convention sketch thing seems so awkward to me. I wouldn't be able to stand there and make coherent conversation while someone drew something for me. (And I didn't realize you had to come up with your own reference photos.) It sounds like a looong day.

"...and say stupid crap like "make way for the Empire." Ah, Star Wars fans. If I had the opportunity to go to a Con ten years ago, I would've been running around dressed like a Jedi with a plastic lightsaber, saying stuff like that and trying to perform the Jedi Mind trick on passerbys.

Good job with that escalator. *thumbs up*

Diabolu Frank said...

Liss, part of the fun of the con experience is how creepy, obsessive, and uncomfortable it is. It's like going back to high school, but with pretty much only the most socially maladjusted. If you're even remotely decent, you can't help but get a confidence boost by comparison to the maladroit.

The whole convention sketch thing is totally awkward. Whenever possible, I leave the artist alone to do their work, but some guys are desperate for conversation. A friend of mine recorded Ethan Van Sciver on his camera while he was working on my piece. I returned, unaware, to explain about the character I chose with an onlooker. I haven't heard the video yet, but I'm confident my voice is two octaves higher than normal from the stress of it all. Regardless, taking a lovely piece home makes it all worthwhile. Alternately, a half-assed piece sucks the wind right out of your sails.

By the way, reference isn't absolutely necessary if you request the usual Batman/Wolverine types. Everyone knows or can easily check on what they look like. The kinds of characters I got done-- you need reference. Only Van Sciver knew who the heck he was drawing.

As for the Warsies, it isn't the dressing up or even the acting out. It's the humorlessness and lack of self-awareness that kills me. I give a thumbs-up to Spider-Man with nigh-visible man parts, because that takes-- ahem-- balls. Dudes in brown bath robes convinced they're actual Jedi with the poor taste to impersonate bores like Hayden Christensen? Mock you, I will. To pull it off, you have to either look really cool (Stormtroopers are too common to be interesting, but aren't laughable either,) or simply be cool enough to take the effort past cringe-inducing LARPing.

LissBirds said...

"but get a confidence boost by comparison to the maladroit." Ha! See, I'm afraid I'll go there and realize how much I have in common with the creepy and obsessive and then realize that, I *am* one of those people. Then again, I went to a college where on any given day, it was commonplace for guys to walk around in black trenchcoats who believed they actually lived in the Matrix, (or who set Data's poem about his cat to music for a class assignment, no lie), so I get what you mean.

No one should ever dress up like Hayden Christensen, or anything from the Prequels. Triumph the Insult Comic Dog totally was right to mock them all during the last prequel release.

You got a sketch from Ethan Van Sciver?! Awesome!! Please tell me it's an obscure Silver Age Martian Manhunter villain.

Diabolu Frank said...

Arnold Hugo was my second choice, but I had another big name artist known for exaggerated features draw him, to spread the love. Van Sciver owed me another character, and I came to collect! Boy, did I ever...

LissBirds said...

The suspense is killing me! You willtell me now.

I see the Force is strong with this one. I guess I'll have to wait till you post it, which I hope is soon.

I had a feeling you'd walk away with a sketch of Hugo. I can't wait to see that, either.

Diabolu Frank said...

It's Silver Age, if that helps. And there are two Hugo sketches, but one's a super-quickie.

LissBirds said...

If it turns out that you got Ethan Van Sciver to draw you a sketch of the Human Squirrel...well, suffice to say, my head may explode out of sheer awe. just hit me...I think I know who it is.

Diabolu Frank said...


Tom said...

I will be disappointed in you if you don't have a picture of Zook to post.

Diabolu Frank said...

You will not be disappointed.

LissBirds said...

I wasn't going to say who I think it is so that whoever it is, I can say "I was right!"

But I think Tom's guessed it.