Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wondercon - Day One

The first day of Wondercon was here and at the dark time of 5:30 AM I was already awake with excitement and a fair amount of hardwiring from my early morning regimen which you can read about here.  I tossed and turned for a while and when Amy finally woke up--from my crashing around the room--we got ready and went to the amazing Blue Bottle Coffee shop, located a few blocks from the Marriott Marquis and the Moscone Center.

Blue Bottle Coffee.  Simply the
best...better than all the rest.
Since these entries are more of a journal of what went down from my point of view, I am going to have to take a slight detour from comics for a moment and tout the wonder that is Blue Bottle Coffee.  My San Francisco based friends have raved about the coffee for sometime now, and while I like my java as much as the next person, this is something unlike anything I have ever tasted.  Most Blue Bottles in the city are little stands, but we (with a surprisingly truthful iPhone search) located an actual cafe that looked like a bright, sanitized Doctor Frankenstein's laboratory with all sorts of odd coffee brewing glassware vials and beakers.  Each coffee is individually brewed and this location had breakfast for which I ordered poached eggs and toast, which were phenomenal.  After a refill of coffee and two small bags of coffee beans--one for us, one for our friends who were watching Tulip--we ended up dropping $50.  Their prices are steep and not for the feint of heart, but in the end completely justified.  Great fricking coffee!  *Donist World is not sponsored by Blue Bottle Coffee, but is entirely open to the prospect.

Next we went to find my brother, who was in the city at The Grove, which is at 3rd and Mission, but I thought that he meant the grove of trees and grass at the Moscone Center, and not The Grove cafe.  Amy and Jeff mocked me for this slight, but that is okay...the emotional pain of being mocked is gone now.  Another side note is that The Grove is a cool all-day cafe and the monstrous breakfast burrito and large squeezed-as-you-watch orange juice solidified my decision to have breakfast there on Saturday.  Damn.  I had just eaten and here I was planning the next breakfast.

We then went to the Metreon to visit a comic store that used to be there, but aside from the movie theaters and the food court, the Metreon is a fucking graveyard.  Every business that was there...gone...vanished... abandoned years prior.  It was all fairly disappointing so we left to go to Whole Foods to pick up some sandwiches before the Wondercon doors opened and we were left to the mercy of food vendors selling Doom Dogs, and Green Lantern Pizza or whatever over-priced chow they were forcing upon starving attendees.  *Side note three: At Whole Foods we met a woman with a French Bulldog named Taj who was loveable and cute and more importantly could say, "I love you," even though he sounded kind of like he was underwater, but hey, a talking dog is a talking dog.  Adorable, weird, made our day.  

After picking up our food, we rushed to the Moscone Center and were overwhelmed by the vastness of the showroom floor and everything on display.  We spent a brief amount of time roaming the aisles, but we had a Terry Moore panel to attend and rushed off to get a seat.  The best way to describe Mr. Moore's inspirational panel is through various snippets of quotes:

  • "You do best what you do most." 
  • "Tap into your heart for success." 
  • "You can't have a life and be the best in the industry" 
  • "Good writers tend to be an asset to society, not an acid." 
  • "We are a little too focused on business and politics, " as a society we need more room for art.  

Echo Volume 1: Moon LakeHe also stated that he started Strangers In Paradise at the age of 36 and after many years as a musician, he spent 11 years in video editing, which he grew to hate, and then found his way to comics.  To Mr. Moore, drawing and art are a lifestyle that consumes most of his time, and he does not consider what he does a career.  One bit of advice that really struck home with me was, "Don't wait, start now and grow up in public," meaning get your work out there as soon as possible and not let the work languor but grow and improve in front of an audience.  The other thing that I found interesting and will be a part of a future The Brutal Circle post, was his mindset about all of his work.  "Inside me is a steel tower that really believes I can do it."  Moore took a few moments to mention his next project, Rachel Rising, a horror story that I cannot wait to read come July.  A great panel and a great start to Wondercon.

Afterwards, Amy split off and Jeff and I attended "That '70s Panel" with Mark Evanier, Mike Friedrich, Paul Levitz, Len Wein and Marv Wolfman.  The group each took a moment to describe how they got started in comics, their biggest disappointments and the point at which they felt they had made it.  This too was a great panel as Jeff and I had grown up reading these peoples' amazing works with Len Wein's Swamp Thing, and Paul Levitz's Legion of Superheroes primarily "The Great Darkness Saga" being some of my all-time favorite works.  One bit of advice from Mark Evanier was that he never focused all of his energy in comics and maintained more of a portfolio approach to his work with comics, books, TV and animation writing to protect him from having all of his eggs in one basket.  Paul Levitz notably said, "You get work not because you are a brilliant writer, but because you help someone (editor) out with a problem they have."  Mike Friedrich stated that in his career, "I wrote for me as the letter writer.  I wrote for continuity and character development."

Archaia reigns supreme
After this panel, Jeff and I hit the showroom floor for a spending spree.  I started with a couple of unnecessary DC Action League action figures...nerdy, I know.  I then bought Jeff Lemire's Nobody at a 50% off trade paperback booth, which later ended up biting me in the ass as the book was missing the final seven pages.  Archaia ended up having the best booth and the best deals by far.  For free Amy and I left with a bunch of Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard issues, Cyclops #1-3 and a bunch of other stuff as well.  They also had two sales "Buy one hardcover, get one hardcover free" and the even better "Buy two hardcovers, get three hardcovers free."  Out of control and not to mention that they had a ton of hardcover samples that they were selling for $5.00 each that Amy ended up buying for her classroom.  Jeff and I decided to split the deal and he bought The Secret History Volume One, and got the The Secret History Volume Two for free and I bought The Secret History Volume One and took The Killer Volume One and The Killer Volume Two for free.

Nonplayer.  Just buy it!
We wandered the floor some more and found the Image Comics booth where I met Nate Simpson, creator of the phenomenal Nonplayer.  Simpson was an incredibly nice guy and I bought not only the comic, but one of the posters, which was an enlarged page from the comic.  He took great care in signing and packaging up the poster, which is gorgeous and in need of framing as soon as possible.  I will definitely be writing about Nonplayer this week for "Friday Slice of Heaven."  If you can find this great debut issue, buy it and you will not be sorry.

After some further showroom floor combing and gawking at the cosplayers, we decided to take in the "Spotlight on Robert Kirkman" panel, which was entertaining and taught me that I need to catch up The Walking Dead as soon as possible.  One thing that was made perfectly clear was the absolute insanity of some of the people asking Kirkman questions.  I mean, seriously, "What do you plan to happen to Rick this summer?  You've put him through some pretty bad stuff, but can you tell us what is going to happen next?"  No, you knucklehead, he can't tell you what happens next.  If he did, what fun would there be in reading his book?  Get real people.

Friday on the showroom
floor.  Not too crowded.
After Kirkman's panel, we made another dash for the showroom floor until everyone was kicked out at 7:00 PM, wherein we decided it was dinner time.  Unfortunately all that waited for us were packed restaurants and over-priced bar food.  All that we wanted was a non-$24 chicken plate (tasteless tourist trap indicator) or a sandwich and beers, but after much wandering around things were looking grim.  Thankfully, we decided to see if The Grove was still open for dinner, which to our collective delight it was.  After a tasty club sandwich and a large beer, Amy and I packed Jeff on to the BART and were back in our room and in bed at 11:00 PM.  What an all-encompassing, kick-ass day.

Day two tomorrow...

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