(August 1, 2002)
World's Largest Comic Convention
San Diego, CA
We stagger out of bed at some unGodly hour (6:00 am) so that we will arrive at
the convention center in time for the start of our volunteer shift. They
emphasized that we MUST be there at 7:45. So we were.
Naturally, we stood around for the next hour and a half. Robert did a darn good
job of keeping a chair warm. Laura actually hauled a couple of cash registers
for what felt like several miles (the convention center is HUGE).
Finally, we got to do some actual work, and Robert did his best to keep from
telling the people he was working for how to do their job.
After our shift, we head back to the exhibition hall, and we see Mark Hamill
(aka Luke Skywalker) with his camera crew. He's making some kind of movie here
(writing, directing, acting in, doing the catering for, etc.).
Then we pass Chewbacca's booth. The guy who played him is about 8 zillion feet
tall, about 3 inches around, and has hands the size of pie plates, but at least
he's still making some money at it even without the fur.
We stop by Keith "Keef" Knight's booth to give him a bathroom break.
Shortly after he gets back, some guys show up to buy some stuff, and one of them
recognizes Keef. "Hey! Didn't I meet you in the bathroom!" "Yeah!
I thought you looked familiar!"
So, Keef decides that it would be a good marketing opportunity to hang signs and
comics in the bathroom, so he runs off to do that while we watch the booth.
While he's gone Robert notices that Keef is the only one on his aisle and that
people don't even come close to his booth. A lot of the people in the
"Artist's Alley" haven't shown up (booth space here is free), so
there's long stretches of open space.
When Keef comes back, Robert convinces him that we should conduct a Guerilla
Move (okay, it didn't take a LOT of convincing because Keef doesn't always
follow the rules). So, we scope out a better space and start nonchalantly
carrying the contents of his booth down there.
In the middle of this, as Robert and a helper are grabbing the backdrop, a guy
with a clipboard comes by.
"Who's the legal owner of this space?" he says in a authoritarian
"Uh, Keith Knight?" Robert replies (Keef is nowhere in sight).
"Okay, that's good. Just wanted to make sure there weren't any
squatters!" he replies, making a checkmark on this clipboard.
"Oh, we're not squatting," replies Robert. "...Yet."
Later on that day, Robert stops by and apologizes to Keef for ruining his naps.
In his previous space, he got to lounge around a lot. In the new space, he's had
to deal with a pretty constant stream of people buying stuff. (There is justice,
though. Someone who hadn't registered at all squatted on Keef's old space.)
We cover the lunch break at TheNorm's booth and Robert goes from impersonating a
black cartoonist to impersonating a white cartoonist.
We go to a seminar about "Comics as Visual Language," which
unfortunately is taught by someone with two bad characteristics:
- A tendency to use lots of big academic-sounding words to describe simple
concepts (including some he coined himself)
- The inability to pronounce the big words he uses, sometimes inserting extra
Here's an example:
"Rooted in some of the oldest Buddhist philosophical thought, Dharma Theory
reveals the meta-empirical increments of human experience, with profound links
to the understanding of visual language temporal mapping."
Still, he made a couple of good points and he has a web site. We're hoping he
writes better than he speaks.
We wander around the convention floor some more (we still haven't seen the
entire thing) and manage to navigate our way to the National Cartoonist Society
There we chat with Greg Evans (who does "Luann"). He says everybody's
first question is "Do Bernice and Zane escape from the fire?!?" (this
only makes sense if you've been reading the strip).
Laura chats with a female comic book creator (it's a typical chick comic about
vampires and cannibalism). Robert talks with Keith Martin, a big guy in a
Hawaiian shirt, about how he uses computers in his work.
We check out the "Opening Party." To rest our sore feet, we join a
table full of teens dressed as some kind of Anime characters for the Masquerade.
They have a spirited discussion about who the one with the green hair is and
what he really looks like.
"You forgot the spikes, man."
"Unh-unh--he didn't have any spikes, man."
"He had spikes growing out of his arm."
"Oh...those spikes. Yeah, well, i didn't have enough latex."
We move on.
To end the day, we attend the "Friends of Lulu" awards ceremony. This
is a group dedicated to encouraging women's involvement in comics.
We got to be cool because somebody at registration was asking how they will
recognize Greg Evans. We, of course, knew what he looked like, so we just kind
of casually describe him like he's a good buddy and head for the bar.
Anyway, Greg was there for his friend Lynn Johnston ("For Better or For
Worse"), who got inducted into the Lulu Hall of Fame, but was on vacation,
so he accepted the award for her.
Robert liked that they had an excellent dessert buffet, with lots of chocolate
Finally, we staggered home and fell asleep.