This last weekend (March 23), I drove all the way across town for Kansas City’s Planet Comic-Con, something I’ve managed to do just about every year I’ve lived here. As far as local/regional cons go, it is one of the better that I’ve attended, including the last couple of Wizard Worlds in Dallas.
Kansas City is fortunate in that we’ve got some decent local comic talent. Jason Aaron lives in town, Phil Hester and Ande Parks are nearby. KC is also home to Hallmark Cards, which means that several of the local indy books are done by guys that can draw and artists alley is always a treat.
The last couple of years, the show has really grown. Three years ago, they filled half the venue, last year it was 2/3, this year it was wall to wall exhibitor/retailers/talent and Star Wars fan clubs. I throw that last one in there because my daughter’s been going with me and she gets a kick out of the Luau Stormtrooper. Also, Billy Dee Williams was a featured Guest.
For as solid as the local talent is, the organizers have done a great job getting ‘name’ creators to attend. Industry legends like Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan have been guests at the con, as have Todd McFarlane and Jim Lee. But they’ve been on a real tear recently, bringing in people like Skottie Young (Oz) and Ben Templesmith (Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse), both of whom I really like and couldn’t believe I got the opportunity to meet and, in the case of Skottie, buy artwork from.
This year, however, they knocked it out of the park. In addition to Skottie and Ben, they brought in the likes of Michael Golden, Mike McKone, Dave Johnson, Dan Panosian, Bernie Wrightson (wow!), Arthur Sudyham, and one of my top 5 favorites: Tim –freaking- Sale!!
Just so you at home can fully understand my excitement:
TIM SALE!!!!!! WOOOHOOOOOOO!!!!! TIM SALE!!!!!!!! HELL YEAH!!! TIM SALE!!!!
Sorry. Went a little fanboy.
Needless to say, attendance went from ‘well, if I get the yardwork done I can go in the afternoon’ to ‘Get your teeth brushed, M, we’re going to be there when the doors open!’
And so was everyone else.
Getting in the door has always been a bit of a frustration, but that’s because the entrance into the venue is a pinch-down, single point of entry affair. It’s never been user friendly, and getting onto the floor of the show is squeeze as well, but this year….there was a line of a couple hundred people out the door.
I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to get my books signed when I saw that crowd.
And I was about right. They cut off Tim’s line for signings at the guy in front of me. SONNUVABITCH!
Tim (like how I say that, makes it sound like we’re friends) does this thing at cons that is pretty cool. The first and last hour of the day, as well as the top of every hour, is for signings. For the rest of the day, Tim hands out ‘FastPass’ tickets which allow a few of us lucky bastards the chance to get an original piece of art. Guess who snagged one of the few remaining Fastpasses….that’s right, the guy in front of me whom I nearly beat to death to steal his.
No wait, different show. I got mine because one was available.
Let me be a bit obsequious for a moment. Tim Sale is one of my favorite comic artists of all time. I love Superman for all Seasons and the ‘color’ books he did for Marvel, especially Hulk: Grey (I really wish that Hasbro would use his Hulk as the model for a Grey Hulk figure and ditch the figure they did release). Daredevil: Yellow …wow! All of his stuff is great, those are the examples that immediately came to mind.
But how much of that do you say when you finally meet the guy?
About this much : ‘Tim, thank you. I really admire your work.’
And why do you just say that?
Because any more than that and you become that guy in the line who monopolizes all of the creator’s time and as much as I’d like to stand there and shoot the shit with Tim and talk about BBQ, Seattle, and baseball, I appreciate that he’s on a schedule.
Also, if you appear to know too much about a creator’s personal business I believe there’s a button under the signing table that alerts the Star Wars guys working security to hustle you off to the back of the con where you’re beaten with rubber light sabers and warned to steer clear of Artist’s Alley.
But…back to the story. Tim was fantastically nice when I came back for my drawing. I did get to talk to him a little bit about coming to KC, and I asked him about the Mariners. He was courteous to me and to everyone who stopped by to shake his hand and get a book signed and the guy managing his schedule was polite to a fault ( I wish I had his name to thank him properly). Tim was sitting next to Dave Johnson, who was just as nice.
I had Tim do a sketch of Spiderman for me since he is my favorite character. At some point I’ll write a piece on getting sketches at cons because not every artist likes who you like and you’re rolling the dice when you ask them to draw something for you. I remember very clearly Bill Sienkiewicz leaning back in his chair saying ‘All those goddamn webs’ when I requested Spidey. Probably should have asked for a Batman.
It was pretty cool getting a chance to watch Tim work. My daughter was there while he sketched Poison Ivy for the guy ahead of us (which was COOL AS HELL and I hope that drawing gets posted somewhere). I got to explain to her how artists working with ink build up from light to dark and then go back and add details and so on, and she was really interested because she’s my daughter and a geek by birth. Of course, when Tim drew mine, he laid in the blacks first, so there you go, shows what I know.
Attached is my drawing. I love it. Tim asked me if I was happy with it when he was done and I am.
I keep wondering, however, if that meant that he wasn’t happy with it. If he isn’t, and feels the artist’s need to tweak his own work and do it over, then I’d be more than happy to accept it.
See, I can be polite, too.
Tim, thank you. I really admire your work!!
PS: Did I mention this was done by TIM SALE!!!