(August 2, 2002)
World's Largest Comic Convention
San Diego, CA
We wend our way over to the second day of the World's Largest Comic Convention,
because there're still a few acres we haven't seen.
We stop by Keef's booth (www.kchronicles.com,
in case you forgot). Remember how Keef hung signs in the bathroom advertisting
his booth? Well, it seems the Building Police were not amused and came around to
tell Keef that.
"They said that the duct-tape adhesive stuck to the wall and this was a
public place, and they just went on and on about it," said Keef. "They
said they were going to fine me $25 for each one, but they had only two of them,
and I hung up eight, so I quick ran back and got the rest of them."
Robert staffs Keef's booth for about an hour while he ran out to get some Oreos.
Robert tries (unsuccessfully) to sell one of Keef's books to his publisher for
$2 above the regular price.
Will Eisner has written a number of classic books about comics, in addition to
drawing comics for some 50 years (he's most famous for "The Spirit").
Scott McCloud is a young kid, who's written only two best-selling books about
comics ("Understanding Comics" is his most famous).
So, when you put these two guys in a room, toss in R. C. Harvey (another
long-time creator and comics scholar) and let them go at it--well, WE'RE gonna
They argued for a while about what a "comic" really is (Harvey says it
requires words, McCloud says it doesn't).
Then they got into the interesting stuff--comics on the Internet. Questions
like, "How long does a comic 'stay' on the web? What if it goes away?"
McCloud thinks that for some things, we'll be happy going to the web to view it,
but that other things we'll download to keep around.
Harvey likened it to taking pictures--he "takes" pictures, looks at
them once (to make sure he got them), and then sticks them in a drawer (sound
familiar?). He says there's a deep-seated "ownership" issue going
on--we need to "have" things, and that means that ink on paper is
never going away completely.
Eisner says he remembers his Dad taking him to one of the early talking movies
and saying that "this will destroy theater." He thinks that while ink
and paper comics will be diminished, they will co-exist with the Internet
Eisner also says that printed comics provide a convenient "unit" of
information (the page) that is easy to comprehend and view. McCloud says that
comics on the net can still provide that unit, it's just not restricted to a
single page size.
If you've read any issue of MAD magazine in the last 50 years, you might
remember those tiny cartoons that appear in the margins throughout the magazine.
These "marginal" cartoons are done by Sergio Aragones, who bears a
suspicious resemblance to Salvador Dali--both in appearance and behavior.
This event is called "Quick Draw" and also features John Romita, Jr.
(draws Spider-Man), Scott Shaw! (Flintstones), Eric Johnson (draws Savage Dragon
and is one of the founders of Image Comics), and Sergio.
Essentially, it's improv cartooning. The MC provides a topic, and the
cartoonists each come up with a drawing. They have cool projectors for screens
scattered around this huge hall, so we can watch as they draw.
It is very, very, funny to watch Sergio work--he's fast and although his style
is sparse, it's easy to understand what he's drawn.
At one point, the MC says, "Draw a duck," and then "Add a
cheerleader," (so Sergio made the duck into a pattern on the cheerleader's
dress). The final drawing had the cheerleader being chased by police, while a
superhero is rescuing her, while a plane is strafing the super hero, and the
sewer workers are on strike during a gay pride parade, while a Coke spill is
attracting ducks. Sergio fits ALL this onto one page.
Because all of the humor in this event is visual, words fail to describe in how
funny these guys are [sorry!]. We spend an hour and a half laughing so hard
we're in danger of hurting ourselves.
Pics of the crowd
There's always the most amazing costumes wandering around the hall. Some are
advertising gimmicks, but most are just people who think it's really cool to
dress up and walk around.
We stop back by Keef's booth to see what trouble he's gotten himself into now.
He's been selling a T-shirt that says "I'd rather be masturbating" (it
goes with a song on his band's album--"You are the best lover you'll ever
have"), which always gets odd reactions from people.
Well, some official at the show decided it was obscene and insisted that Keef
take it down. (This is absurd because you can't walk 10 feet in any direction at
this show without seeing some scantily clad, overendowed female, either drawn or
in the flesh.)
Keef argued with her, and at one point she said, "I'm not singling you
out--I've worked with black people before. I understand your concerns."
(!?!) Anyway, Keef kept arguing and asking to talk to higher ups. Finally, he
got to the VP of operations, who was pretty nice. The compromise was a piece of
tape over part of it so it says, "I'd rather be masturb."
"The cool part," says Keef, "is that while all this arguing was
going on, people kept coming by and saying 'Hey, this is censorship! Sell me one
of them shirts!' I've only got one left."
And because Keef's strip is based on things that happen to him, he'll get at least
one strip out of it.
Remember Mark Hamill--played Luke Skywalker in "Star Wars"? Well, he's
still around and he's directing his first movie. It's (currently) called
"Comic Book: The Movie" and it's set at (surprise!) the San Diego
This event is called "Mark Hamill wants you in his movie." They're
filming the climactic scene of the movie, which requires a large crowd of people
who appear to be attending a comic book convention.
In true movie-making fashion, we wait around a lot. Because most of Mark's
recent work has been voice-overs, he's met a lot of "voices" and cast
them in his movie. So during the waiting parts, we are entertained by 10 guys
who could impersonate 100 guys (we got to hear Porky Pig sing "Talking
'Bout My G-g-generation").
We'll look for the movie in early 2003!