Maggie Thompson’s Comic-Con 2013 Diary, Day Four!

HD Toucan reading a comic

I’m going to have to ponder my Diary schedule. Last night (what with the Eisners and reporting and fun and all), I ended up with three hours of actual sleep. You’d think the two breakfasts that followed would have evened things out, but not quite. Plans to go back to bed for a morning nap were sabotaged by the amount of coffee ingested at those breakfasts. I’ll remember this lesson for next year, in case I end up with this schedule: Two breakfasts OK, two rounds of coffee not so much.

One of the breakfasts was with Comic-Con special guest Tony Isabella. Though I’ve known Tony since he was in high school in Cleveland—and have worked with him as a Comics Buyer’s Guide contributor for something like three decades—it was the first time in a long time that we’d been able to hang out in such a wonderful leisurely fashion together. And hang out with his family and Brent Frankenhoff at the same time? Never. So. One of Tony’s current projects (and he’s planning many) is maintaining a series of comics-oriented garage sales—and it’s doing well for him. Among his publicity gimmicks are announcements on Facebook, and he’s simultaneously cleaning house and providing treats to collectors. Have you tried it, whether as buyer or seller?

At Stan Sakai’s booth, I asked how his wife, Sharon, was doing. He said that she missed having people wave at her during Comic-Con. So he was taking photos of folks waving to her. Technology can bring us closer together.

With fatigue combining with a heavy bag, I limped to Scott Shaw!’s table, where he’d volunteered to let me rest in such circumstances. Imagine my surprise to find neither him nor his booth-neighbor Sergio Aragonés at their spots. A chat with the Comic-Con volunteer staffing the table revealed that both were at the delightful “Quick Draw” events—which meant I was missing one of the Never Miss Moments of the week. With a sigh, I stayed where I was and talked with the volunteer, who told me that he had a mild case of OCD and had spent part of the time at the booth straightening a pile of comics on its corner, then tipping the top issue at a slight angle. He said that, in the time he’d been sitting there, seven people had carefully evened up the pile. Then, Papercutz editor Jim Salicrup stopped by, straightened the pile—and then, when informed of the experiment as we unstraightened it, straightened it again. There is a home for OCDers at Comic-Con. And, come to think of it, for many, many others. Good for us!

Eisner Awards footnote: Each year, I do the “In Memoriam” tribute to those we have lost since the last event. When I stopped by the Fantagraphics booth to talk with Eric Reynolds, he shared the fact that, as the video of departed friends had progressed, he’d observed that it seemed to be proceeding in alphabetical order—but then had skipped past Fantagraphics’ Kim Thompson. Kim, of course, was one of the most influential editors of award-winning comics projects—and his brilliance and thoughtfulness had also made him one of the best-loved. Eric said, “I was about to erupt out of my chair in protest and fury, when I saw the image of someone else out of alphabetical order.” Whew.

In a strange way, attending Comic-Con is a bit like being in a foreign land, where things you have taken for granted don’t quite work the way you’re used to their working. There’s a long line waiting to get on the hotel elevators after the show closes. The Cloud is of little use during the day, because everyone near the convention center is trying to Tweet. The guy standing near the escalator looks like voice artist Tom Kenny because he is Tom Kenny. There are kids everywhere. And costumes everywhere. The ATM machines have run out of cash by Saturday afternoon. And—everywhere—there’s a joyous feeling of “we’re in this together and are a hardy breed, we happy few!” Or, actually, “we happy many!”

And peripheral vision is a must. I almost walked by Peter and Kathleen David, as they walked to their hotel from the convention center, but I was able to grab the opportunity to verify that, yes, Peter is doing wonderfully following his stroke. He’s walking with the help of a brass head derby cane—like the one sported by Mr. Gold in Once Upon a Time.

It’s always a treat to hang out with Scott Shaw! and Sergio—so I decided it was a must to go back to their tables. Scott was drawing Passion Fruit for a 6-year-old boy and said it was his first request at the show to draw that character. I got an advance peek at a strange Annoying Orange upcoming story in which Scott pays tribute to certain classics of the past in “Pulped Fiction,” which will involve Doc Cabbage and The Shallot. (What can I tell you? You heard it here first.)

Just hanging out near Scott and Sergio means I get to see many of the folks in comics, since they are dropping by to share the fun. (Soon, for example, I find a lovely Facebook posting of a photo of Sergio, Scott, Don Rosa, and me.) And then the Exhibit Hall closes for the day, and we’re all heading for one of the mass migrations that form a Comic-Con element, as people find themselves moving out, out, out into The Rest Of San Diego. (Even in the midst of that tide of humanity, serendipity pulls friends and just-made acquaintances together. I find myself showing someone Michael Davis had introduced me to on Wednesday my photos of The Snog from the Eisners. Hey, there’s a fantasy title! The Snog from the Eisners! Must mull that further. But I digress.)

Speaking of titles and But I Digress, I soon join Mark Evanier in dinner plans with Comics Buyer’s Guide But I Digress columnist Peter David and his wife, Kathleen: a delight that we have vowed to make annual (with hopes to include Carolyn Kelly next year). We agreed that Mark wanders through a weird universe, as delicious food was outmatched by a steady stream of anecdotes about entertainment (the strange soundtrack addition to a musical number on a Garfield episode, an incorrect rumor that became correct [that involves an eventual Sergio and Mark project I can hardly wait to see], and so on). At one point, it was decided that “I have witnesses for this story” should be taken as a given in the universe of Evanier narration. It was the perfect wrap-up to another perfect day at Comic-Con.

Or what would have been a perfect day, had I not missed what Mark evaluated as maybe his best Cartoon Voices panel ever—and a Quick Draw! in which Peter had lost one of its challenges for the first time. The good news? There’ll be another Cartoon Voices panel today, at 11:30 AM in Room 6A. The bad news? Hey, there’s only one more day of Comic-Con!

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