More WonderCon

March 5th, 2009 | Posted in General

WonderCon 2009

I finally have a few minutes to write further about my experience at WonderCon in San Francisco last weekend. I don’t “do” a lot of comic conventions because MAD is sort of the red headed stepchild of comics and thus I am more of an odd man out than a typical professional guest.¬¨‚Ć Even so I do like to get out and see these events occasionally, mainly because they are a lot of fun and full of cool things to see and people to meet.

Sadly, and it seems like AS USUAL, I had a job I needed to work on with a Monday deadline so I had to spend some time in the hotel room finishing it up. Between that and the several scheduled signings I had at the DC Comics and Super Capers booths my time wandering around was limited. However I did get to see a lot of the good, the bad and the ugly of the convention.

The Good

  • Sergio! Sergio Aragon?¬©s is a staple at most major comic cons, and he is such a great talent and person it never gets old to see him there. Sergio and I had a nice dinner together on Friday night and then went over to the Cartoon Art Museum to see the opening his Groo compadre Stan Sakai‘s gallery show. Great stuff!
  • Me and Sergio
    Sergio and I at dinner. Bad iPhone pic, sorry…

  • Meeting Dave Gibbons- One great thing about being a friend of Sergio’s, he knows everybody and will introduce you to anybody. As it happens, there was also a terrific exhibit at the Cartoon Art Museum of “Watchmen”, bith movie props and items as well as a bunch of artist Dave Gibbon‘s original art. Sergio grabbed my arm and dragged me through a crowd of people to introduce me to Dave himself. I was thrilled as I am a huge Watchmen fan. The best part was that Dave had just seen my artwork in the MAD parody the day before and told me how much he loved it. We had a nice chat and I tried not to scream “YOU’RE $%#@# DAVE GIBBONS!!!” in his face. Incidentally the Watchmen show was also awesome. No photography allowed, but I did snap a quick covert picture of one prop that made me laugh out loud. It’s the map that Captain Metropolis uses in his presentation to the “New Minutemen” in the graphic novel… the one The Comedian burns when he disses the idea of a new supergroup.

watchmen_map

watchmen_mapkey1
“Promiscuity?” This map is right out of the comic!

  • SuperCapers- Meeting writer/director Ray Griggs and the rest of the crew promoting the film was great. Stars Justin Whalin (Lois and Clark, Child’s Play 3) and Samuel Lloyd (Scrubs) were both really nice guys and spending some time with them was fun. My kids are big “Scrubs” fans and Sam signed some autographs for them and even talked to my youngest daughter Gabrielle on the phone. Big dad points for me there. We had dinner on Saturday night and they has the group in stitches with stories about filming the movie and other Hollywood tales.
  • The SuperCapers Crew!

    There was a panel on Sunday as well, which was also very entertaining. The movie looks likes lot of fun and is great for kids… more on that later.

    img_0229

  • Adam West– It isn’t often you get to meet someone who you have been a fan of since you were two years old, but I got to spend a brief amount of time with TV’s Batman himself, Adam West at the SuperCaper’s booth. Adam was very friendly and when he was told I worked for MAD he said the two times he was on the cover were thrills for him. Then it suddenly occurred to me that I had put him in the backgrounds of my “Watchmen” parody not once but twice! I grabbed a copy I had in my bag, showed him and gave him the issue. He got a big kick out of that. Meeting him could have been a big disappointment had he been a jerk but instead it was very cool.
  • img_0221
    Adam West, Ray Griggs and myself…

  • Signings– Like I said, MAD is not really the sort of thing people get excited about at these kinds of events, but it was a little different this time thanks to the “Watchmen” effect. DC had several boxes of issue #499 with the parody in it, and there was a long line the two times I signed them at the DC booth. I chatted with a lot of people who went home with a free copy. There were even a few genuine fans that knew my work and had brought other issues for me to sign. That’s always gratifying.
  • At the DC Booth
    Signing MAD at the DC Comics booth

    At the SuperCapers booth
    At the SuperCapers booth

The Bad-

  • Autograph $$$– Several pretty big names were present signing autographs, including Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher of Star Wars, Adam and a few others. It is unbelievable what these people charge for their scrawls. Mark Hamill was charging $100, but cut you a break for a second signature… that was a mere $90. They also sold pictures and stuff to get signed, which you have to buy as they will charge you more to sign your own item. Carrie Fisher charged only $35.00, but refused to sign anything but her provided pictures at about $50 a pop. Adam was charging $50, but would sign anything for that, and if you wanted you could buy one of his pics but it wasn’t mandatory. In their defense I am sure that some of those items are going to end up on eBay, but still… Mark Hamill and Adam at least went out of their way (from what I saw) to make the purchaser feel like they were appreciated and gave a few moments of interaction with each. I heard Fisher, on the other hand, barely said hello to most and no pictures with her. I guess we all have to make a living, but that’s still a lot of money to charge for a barely legible scribble.
  • The SuperCapers comic– Sadly the print job on that promo comic we did was not the best. A lot of copies had some slightly misregistered pages so they were fuzzy. They printed a little light also. Overall not too bad, though, but Ray and I were a little disappointed.
  • Limited Time– Several friends of mine were there that I never got a chance to see. Mark Evanier came by to say hello when I was signing at the SuperCapers booth, but we never hooked up again after that (his mom was ill and he split time between home and the con). I also never got together with “The Norm” artist Michael Jantze, which I was looking forward to. I did get to chat with animator and old pal Stephen Silver. Many more people and things I missed entirely.

The Ugly-

  • Fat, middle aged women dressed in the Princess Leia slave girl costume- ’nuff said.
  • Sad and depressed b-list actors- This convention, likely since it was in California, had more “celebrities” in booths selling autographs and memorabilia from their roles than any other I’ve been at outside the San Diego Comic Con. Most of the ones here were the kind that had one or two memorable moments in some comic book/sci-fi/horror movie or TV show, and were there to try and make a buck. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it was in some cases really bizarre and in other cases really sad. Bizarre were the ones that were so small in their significance you kind of wonder if they really sell much of anything. One guy’s claim to fame was being the actor who said “I don’t need to see you’re identification” and “These are not the ‘droids we’re looking for” in response to Obi-Wan’s Jedi mind trick in the original Star Wars movie. That’s it. He had a professionally printed banner with the quotes on them, his name and a picture of his face split with a stormtrooper helmet. It occurred to me that anybody could have said that in the movie… not only was the actor in full stormtrooper gear his voice was disguised through a comlink speaker. I have no doubt he was who he claimed, but… really? That’s an obscure one. A few others were really sad. Minor characters from Star Trek episodes, horror movies, etc. sat about with few if any interested patrons looking thoroughly pissed off about being there. The saddest was Richard Kiel, the giant who played “Jaws” in the Bond movies. His health is obviously very poor. He cannot stand and was hunched over in a motorized scooter-thing and looked as forlorn as one can possibly look trying to peddle his pictures.

All in all a fun time. SuperCapers will likley have a booth at ComicCon as their DVD comes out around that time, and I have made plans to attend ComicCon for the first time in many years this summer with number one son Thomas. Should be a good time.

Comments

  1. Mark Engblom says:

    Thanks for the great recap, Tom! Sounds like a great experience (despite some of the “ugly” elements. That story of the pathetic Stormtrooper guy had me in stitches. It sounded like something right out of a Simpsons comic convention parody. Unbelievable.

    As for the autograph fees, as obnoxious as they are, I think another reason for the fee is to separate the really, really dedicated fans from the more casual fans…which will really help manage the line/crowd. If they only charged ten bucks….or if it was free…then everyone with a writable surface (including hands and crumpled up ATM receipts) would be crowding the table. However, the unintended consequence of that policy, besides disgusting the more casual fan like us, is the celebrity having to interact solely with the most zealous of zealous fans…which (most likely) further alienates them from the fan community. In other words, think how much more they’d enjoy themselves interacting with more casual fans who simply say “Hey, I liked your movies. Thanks”, as opposed to guys in booger-stained Jedi costumes quoting lines from the movie. Yeah, that’s a gross caricature of the $100 autograph seekers, but I think it’s at least safe to say your dealing with an entire different level of “commitment” from the crowd willing to spend $100 for someone’s signature.

    Wow. Adam West AND Dave Gibbons? That’s like the early-childhood/adulthood bookends! Happy for ya, pal!

  2. Monty says:

    Does it ever bother you that you lead such a dull and boring life, Tom? 🙂

    One of these days, I’ll get to one of the major conventions but until then, I’ll just attend vicariously through your blog. Thanks for continuing to share so much.

    Now where does one get a Tom Richmond costume?

  3. Mugshotz says:

    Now the Stormtrooper who knocked his head on the top of the door… that would be excellent. Especially if he had a scar on his forehead. 🙂

  4. […] with that, and don’t forget to bring your wallet.  Cartoonist Tom Richmond tells why in his report from the WonderCon fan convention in San Francisco. Several pretty big names were present signing […]

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