Channel the entity "Jeff Parker" from beyond the Ether

Monday, October 25, 2004

Ohhh Yeah. Minnesota Fall Con. 

I've been to comics shows. All kinds. I've been up and down both coasts, seen what they have to offer. Been to Chicago (ie; Rosemont) a million times, and I thought I was at a Midwest show. Nuh uh. The other weekend I went to FALLCON in Minnesota, and NOW I've seen the comics industry, midwest-style. That is to say, buffet-style.

I got the lucky break a few weeks earlier when my pal Jeff Rose invited me to come out. Many of you may know of Jeff tangentially from visiting his Alex Toth site, Tothfans.com, one of the best places on the web to talk art. Now Jeff is starting another web venture, an online comics store called 360 Comics.com, which has absolutely nothing to do with that Bill Jemas intellectual property management thingy. Anyway, he offered to waste some frequent flyer miles on me if I'd come set up at the 360 table, so I jumped on that. I had one of the closest calls with making the plane ever, but I've squandered all my harrowing airport tales by now, so let's skip right to the heartland.

Jeff took Friday off to help me see Minneapolis. First we headed over to Big Time Attic, the studio of Zander Cannon, Shad Petosky, and Kevin Cannon, who has legally added "no relation to Zander" to his last name. The lads were busy in the basement working on silkscreen prints to take to the show, and we showed up just in time to "help". By help I mean I stepped on one of the prints. Jeff put on an apron and helped take prints to dry as Shad furiously dragged out one after another. I took pictures.

But where's Kevin? Oh well. I learned enough to sabotage their operation if I ever have to, so we headed into town to the new location of Big Brain Comics(you'll have hours of fun at that website). I knew Michael Drivas would have a good store, but really, it's very impressive. It has that logic to the shelving one doesn't find often, and a huge variety. I wouldn't call Minneapolis the most walkable city in the country- though they do have lots of habitrail walkways connecting the buildings for wintertime-- but Big Brain is in a good location to snag lots of defeated Twins fans as they walk back to their cars. We hung out at the store for the rest of the afternoon, and then went back to Jeff's house in Shakopee. I finally got in touch with my buddy Roc Blumenthal (real name, and I've already called it to use for a character so back off) who had just moved to the area. He and wife Lauri joined me and the Roses for dinner, and we got back to preparing for the show.

That rodent welcomes you to the Fairgrounds, where you can go up in a giant hypodermic needle.

Fallcon is held at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, which I think straddles Minneapolis and St. Paul. The Fairgrounds are not to be missed, a collection of time capsules that give key information to the area and it's people. Like for instance, their love of meat, and putting food on sticks, no matter how unsuited for kebab those foods are.

The show was in the Education building, and I think we sat in the Engineering Technology section, but it might have been Agriculture. Jeff Rose was exhausted from staying up late working out the bugs on his webstore with his partner Shane. The smell of meat was already in the air-- our hosts the Minnesota Comic Book Association had already set up the guest feeding facilities, today's special: Sloppy Joes. There was a whole vat of meat in the side room ready to be doled onto a bun, and drinks and cake. I see Rich and Sandy Koslowski (Three Fingers, 3 Geeks, any comic with a "three") and their daughter Stella who's about my kid's age. They graciously let me carry Stella around whenever I'm feeling homesick. Over in the glass display cabinet is Joel Thingvall's massive collection of Wonder Woman original art, and I'm impressed to see a Gahan Wilson.

What are you doing here?

Farel Dalrymple is in town, doing some guest lecturing at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and asks what I'm doing here. I explain that it's a comics show and I go to them, but that doesn't seem to be enough for Farel. I keep getting the question all weekend, as if the locals couldn't understand why someone would come to their show. Adam Hughes comes out every year, but that may have something to do with the big secret poker game. I've discovered that every established comics show has a secret poker game that the hosts and guests participate in, and that may be the key to the promoters making a profit even when attendance is low. Later Rich tries to get me to go and deal in, but as a notoriously bad poker player (I make Tex Avery-style facial expressions) I know better and bag out.

You can't escape political fever even here, and there are tables set up to distribute presidential paraphenalia. The Kerry/Edwards table has a couple of young women manning it, so it's popular. The Bush/Cheney table is unmanned and in the area of alternative cartoonists, so it becomes a choice target for expression.

Hey, there's Kevin-I'm-not-Zander's-brother-Cannon!

Back at my table I'm selling Interman and meeting folks I otherwise wouldn't, and it's a great time. Then a mother of a budding artist comes over to ask me questions about working in comics, and talks about how she's trying to help her son. At some point I ask what kind of stuff he does and she says "he classifies it as 'furry'." I respond with "and you're okay with that?", which leads to the uncomfortable situation of me having to explain what is generally understood when one says Furry Comics. She vanishes, and quickly reappears with the young cartoonist. He explains that he like anthropomorphic animal characters, and it's soon clear that he's not from the naughty end of the pool. I suggest that he not use the term Furry to refer to his stuff ever again, and then tell him about Blacksad and its inspiration art. My karma points start rolling up.

All eyes from The Core Comics Shop are pensively on Mark Schultz. What will his next move be..

-to take the World Wrestling Championship Belt, of course!

I luckily had a camera when one of the guys added Mark to his Comics Creators with WWF Belt collection. The MCBA fellows working the show all had black t-shirts with EVIL HENCHMAN on the backs, a nice touch. As the show wrapped for the day, they opened the doors to present CATERING FOR THE GUESTS! People with carts full of cookers appeared with a mountain of steak, and some beans and whatnot. I only eat red meat about once a year, so this was my time. I forgot how full you get on the stuff. Then a volunteer came around with another plate full of steaks asking if anyone wanted some more. I was pretty logy at this point, I think I just rolled around on the ground for a while. Then Zander and Shad tell of us a Malt Shop nearby, and we all magic our butts over there. Good malts, I must say. We discuss an upcoming book after we realize we all worked on it; the next volume from GT Labs is Cowboys and Dinosaurs, a look at a key point in Paleontology that Jim Ottaviani wrote, I edited, Kevin, Shad and Zander are going to draw, and Mark will be doing the cover for it. So we talked science comics for a while, and headed back to the guest hotel where we were all going to reconvene. Instead Jeff Rose and I hung out in Mark's room talking about 60's Marvel comics for two hours while Shad and Zander scratched their heads down in the bar. That's the way it goes sometimes.

Hey, I need to get some paying work done. I'll continue this tomorrow, same Mystifying Time, same Mystifying Channel...

The Rose Girls, womanning the table while their boy takes pictures that I now take credit for.


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