Tuesday, October 26, 2004
I didn't know from Sam Hiti before this show, but Rose introduced us and now I do. Go check out his amazing work and buy one of his books, such as Tiempos Finales or The Gallows Noose. Don't expect him to be all magic realism like his stories though, you know more Spanish than him. But by Minnesota standards, he's darn exotic. After the show I realized Terry Beatty had been there and I didn't go say hi. Fart.
I also regret that I didn't get by the other famous store I always hear accolades about,
The Source. But I did meet Nick Post, and he squeezed me onto a panel about doing comics for the big publishers vs. personal work.
This being my first time on the Clown Stage of the Education Building, I didn't know what to expect. But Nick expertly guided the panel along until we covered everything anyone could possibly need to know about the industry. At one point when someone asked about drawing from life, I gaffed by saying I like to take my sketchbook to diners and airports to "draw interesting people... and fat people..." Peter Gross couldn't wait to pop me on that with "so, are you saying fat people aren't interesting, Jeff?" We all enjoyed laughing at me and then I looked down to the audience. It was not unlike looking at that famous row of statues on Easter Island. I noticed several more times each of us launching killer jokes that would float to the back of the room and die. No one was offended, this was simply Minnesota. Your A-list material that bowls 'em over in San Francisco or Orlando will not have the crowds guffawing and slapping their knees here. But I imagined one of the nonplussed crowd, an older gentleman, heading home and having a quiet dinner later, watching a little tv and working a crossword before going to bed, and just before pulling the chain to his nightstand lamp he looks to the side and lets out a brief "heh" about something Phil Hester said.
Speaking of Hester, afterward I go chat with writer/inkartist Ande Parks and find out he's on the School Board in his community. That's apropos of nothing, I just thought it was neat. I was about the ninetieth person to tell him how useful his "Supplies" articles in Draw! Magazine are.
I finally go up and shake hands with one of the powerhouses of comics, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. I explain that I'm studiomates with Steve Lieber, who just inked him on the latest Road to Perdition graphic novel, and give him a book to sign to Steve. Jose smiles and says something I can't even remotely hear, and I smile and agree as if I got all that. He's a very soft-spoken man and still has a strong accent, so a comics show in an echoing hall is not the place to talk to him. But Steve got a nice dedication for "letting him look good", so I'm glad I met him.
I keep smelling food, and go back to the breakroom to see what's cookin' today. This time it isn't the vat of meat, it's...
Oh my. I kind of stare at them for a while, and then remember I have Rose's camera in my pocket. Another guest looks at me like I'm insane, but does his blog have such a picture? No. I hear they're actually really good, but I took it as a sign that I saw a giant-headed Grim Reaper walk by just then.
The show ends quietly, and some of the pros are talking about getting dinner at a quaint local institution called "Outback Steak House". A bunch of us cram into two tables, the other one I think of as being hosted by Gordon Purcell.
Doug Mahnke straddles the two tables, jumping in on whichever conversation interests him at the moment. For a while we're lamenting with one of our friends who has currently lost a relative to Amway. So sad... Later the waitress brings out the selection of desserts and explains them. We're making mirth of a strange-looking one, that I say looks like it has bouillon cubes all over it. She doesn't follow what I'm talking about, and what are these "booya" cubes anyway? Zander spends a good stretch of time trying to explain bouillon and how soup is made from it, which was interesting all by itself. We all hang outside talking in the cold for a while and then call it a night. Show's over, folks. Go home!
My plane wasn't leaving until late Monday afternoon, so I had some kicking around time, and Jeff took a little more time off work to help me play hooky. Lucky for us one of the area's biggest comics enthusiasts is also Safety Manager at the Science Museum of Minnesota, and was giving Mark Schultz a private tour of the place today. Luckier still, Mike Frigon let us horn in on the action. So we spent hours getting a close look at the exhibits, and even exhibits that weren't ready to open yet, like the CHINASAURS, a dino collection that is finally making it's way to America.
I learned some things about Mark I didn't know, such as he has no heartbeat that can be picked up by a handheld EKG, and according to the Barge Pilot Simulator he has no business conveying big loads along the Mississippi River. But he does a good impersonation of Ray Harryhausen, and he's still an excellent writer and illustrator. In fact he's now the writer on the Prince Valiant strip that he and artist Gary Gianni are breathing life back into.
Mike tells us great stories about exhibits the museum has acquired, and some of the dangers that he has run into. I was impressed by an antique x-ray cabinet for shoestores, designed to let you "look through your new shoes and see how your feet are fitting within". We always just walk around in the new shoes, I wish I'd known there used to be a Nuke Your Feet option. We also saw the OMNI movie about the Mars Pathfinder, and talked to a Park Ranger about what one has to do to become a Ranger, if this comics thing doesn't pan out. A good full day packing facts back into our heads.
Thanks to Jeff Rose for putting his life on hold so I could experience Minnesota, and thanks to the citizenry of the area for being good folk. I highly recommend people descend upon Fallcon next year, and I recommend to MCBA that they change the name to MeatCon.