Category Archives: Behind the Scenes

Fanatic Friday at Comic-Con 2013 (part 1)

A quick shout out to my favorite blogger, Paul O’Connor. He plugged my convention “coverage” on Twitter … so thanks. Check out his blog at: http://www.longboxgraveyard.com.

The glamorous hours spent at SDCC doing portfolio review. Truth is ... I love it!

The glamorous hours spent at SDCC doing portfolio review. Truth is … I love it!

Another early morning as my daughter Maggie needed to be in line for Hall H and she wanted it to happen before 6:30am. It is what you have to do for “Walking Dead/Game of Thrones day. I was a little afraid that wouldn’t be enough … as people were camped out last night before we called it a night. (Special note: we turned in early last night … or at least early for Comic-Con.)

Tom Mason and I both had breakfast meetings this morning, so we were on the trolley by 8am. For those keeping score Tom, Maggie and I all came to the convention together, as we have done for the last several years. We have worked out a system that works for us. Oh yeah, your scorecard should include the fact that Tom & I work together now at Space Goat Productions, plus we worked together in the past at both Malibu Comics and Fantagraphics Books.

Tom had breakfast with current Portland, Oregon resident Mickie Villa who got her first job after college working as a production assistant at Malibu Comics. More about her later.

I had a breakfast meeting with Carl Reed from comic publisher Lion Forge Comics. Carl and I met briefly at Wonder Con, but this was our first chance to talk at our leisure about how we can work together. Can’t wait to get started helping him after I return from the show.

Because of the enormous crowd here, finding a place to meet and eat can be a frustrating challenge. So far I’ve had three meals at the restaurant across the street inside the Hilton Hotel, because at least so far the convention crowd has yet to discover it. Old regular haunts like Dick’s Last Resort have an hour wait and the line at The Tin Fish is crazy long with no place to sit. Such is life in the age of “sold-out” Comic-Cons.

The energy from over 130,000 people in a relatively small place is incredible, but it also creates headaches … and allows for less spontaneous behavior. You almost have to plan EVERYTHING, which to my way of thinking is definitely less fun.

(I apologize if you are reading this as I work to update it … somehow I’ve managed to lose almost an hour worth of brilliant prose that I will now have to re-create. Just know that I will finish it. But I have to go lick my wounds for a little while … maybe get a cookie.)

Come back soon.

-dwo

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Fanatic Thursday at Comic-Con 2013

This just in … a surprise presenter for this year’s Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards will be … wait for it … Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, James Marsters. Anyone with a convention badge can attend the Eisner Awards, so change your plans for Friday night Buffy fans.

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The sea of people upstairs under the “sails” at SDCC 2013 Thursday

Day started dropping off Maggie, my daughter, at Old Town station before 7am so she could catch the trolley to the convention center to get in line for Ballroom 20. She needed to get in line for the panel for the BBC TV series SHERLOCK at 2:00pm. Such is the life of a con-goer who wants to see the big auditorium TV and movie presentations. Wish I could join her (because I REALLY love the show), but such is the life of a working comics professional.

Tom didn’t have any con obligations until after noon, so he peeled off on the train ride to the convention center to visit a local Euro-Cafe with great WIFI. I went straight to the con, towing around the banner signage for Space Goat Productions that I’m going to use during portfolio review. I think I am going to HATE being responsible for this SGP sign, it is bulky and there isn’t a really good safe place to put it between review sessions. And then getting it back home again …

First thing this morning was the panel talking about the 25th anniversary of the Will Eisner Comics Industry Awards, which i started with Will Eisner when the Kirby Awards died. If you want to read my account of that, I’ve already written about that in another blog post … just use the “search” function. Jackie Estrada was the MC and panelists included Bongo’s Bill Morrison, Denis Kitchen, Todd Klein and Maggie Thompson. I sat in the audience and contributed when asked. A fine way to spend an hour chatting about this thing I started that Jackie has built into something amazing.

After, I met Maggie Thompson in the hallway as she was being interviewed for a blog aimed at comics fans who happen to be girls. And Maggie introduced me to the guy responsible for NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour. Maggie says its is great so I plan to check it out.

One great thing about Comic-Con, if you have been in the industry a while are the happy surprises that occur along the way, like catching Maggie Thompson in the hall … and meeting her new friends … or like what happened to me next.

My cell phone let me know I had a text … from some of my favorite people … Debra & Dean Rohlfing. i thought they were at home in Texas. Instead, through a series of unique circumstances they were downstairs in the exhibit hall. Before the crash of the comics biz in the mid-90s, Dean and I had become friends, first when he worked for Diamond Comic Distributors and later we both worked for Marvel for a short time. Dean & Deb brought the whole family, which included their two very cool daughters and the future son-in-law. I hope to catch some more time with them before the show is over.

Next on the agenda was a quick meeting with Bob Schreck, a guy with a legendary comics career who now produces comics for Legendary Pictures (responsible for both Pacific Rimand Man of Steel summer blockbusters). Space Goat even contributed to the Pacific Rim comic that was just released. Bob and I have been competitors and acquaintances for a very long time … and as old guys who know all the same comic people and survived all the slings-and-arrows of staying in this crazy business, we come to be friends. We talked shop, we talked business and we talked about life. Just a couple old warriors comparing stories and battle scars.

At 2pm, I started two hours of artist portfolio review for Space Goat. I saw an unusually large number of good artists ready for their first job. Very encouraging. I never take anything from the artists I see. I give them my card and ask them to contact me. It is the first test to see if they are ready to take a pro-active approach to their comics career.

And those are the highlights of my day … after hours Tom and I attended the Scholastic Books party (where we saw Stan Sakai and Scott McCloud) … then it was off to the Hilton for a drink. We couldn’t find the Comixology party that Chip Mosher invited me to, but we did run into editor/entrepreneur Andy Schmidt (who has started a new business), comics vet Steven Grant (who wrote the comic that spawned the movie 2 Guns), as well as publishers Ross Richie (Boom) and Will Christianson (Avatar) both of whom are much smoother operators than most people give them credit for.

Dave Olbrich

 

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Fanatic Wednesday of Comic-Con 2013

Wednesday Preview Night of Comic-Con 2013 is in the rearview mirror.

Miscellaneous notes.
1. We arrived later than usual on the trolley that drops us off in front of the convention center. The good news that San Diego had changed its trolley route was pointed out to us by an employee of the trolley system working at the trolley stop (thanks for that San Diego). In past years, unless you were riding the “convention special,” you had to change trains if you were going from Old Town to Comic-Con. Not any more, all trains go direct. Hooray!

2. The definition of “professional” at Comic-Con sometimes seems to include nearly everyone. Yes, I know that is a gross exaggeration, but when we arrived the line from professional pro badges went from Hall E to Hall A outside on the sidewalk … about 2/3 the length of the entire convention center. But the organizers get a round of applause because despite the VERY long line, the wait was short and the pro-reg volunteers handled an enormous number of pros quite efficiently.

3. While standing in line (with my daughter Maggie and long time buddy Tom Mason) we met Space Goat Productions’ head honcho Shon Bury and we also saw actress Molly C. Quinn (she plays the daughter on Castle) who had stopped on the sidewalk to take pictures with a fan.

4. Kudos to the Warner Bros. Marketing department, the bag given to pros (and I assume everyone else) at registration is a well-designed … the adjustable straps allow you to carry it like a bag or throw it over your shoulders like a back-pack …very nice indeed.

People I saw and talked to:
1. First stop was the booth of artists Aaron Lopresti & Terry Dodson, who we plan to have dinner with Saturday night.
2. Next we coordinated (via text) a meet with writer Gerry Jones, who I first published in 1987. Maggie wanted to get her copy of Jones’s book Killing Monsters signed. Mission accomplished. Always good to see Gerry and his traveling comapnion Joe Felice.
3. DC’s Comic-Con booth is a favorite pro meeting spot. Marvel’s booth seems openly hostile to the kind of socializing that goes on at DC. Met Shon Bury again, plus …
* Space Goat artist Attila Futaki
* DC’s Jack Mahon
* DC Editors Bobbie Chase and Jim Chadwick (friend and former Malibu-ite)
* Space Goat artist Fernando Argosino
* Silo (animation) head honcho Sean Hart
* and I’m sure I’m forgetting something.
4. Former Malibu marketing dude and current Exec at IDW Alan Payne spent some time catching on with Maggie and me at the IDW booth. While we were standing there, we saw a girl (Lauren) that we had seen on the TV show Catfish the night before. And as we were leaving the booth, we saw someone in a purple wig who looked EXACTLY like Maggie Gyllenhaal.
5. Fellow So. Cal. comics business pro Chip Mosher gave me an invite to Thursday Comixology Party. It helps that he works there.
6. After walking through my second favorite section of the convention hall … where they sell old comcis and graphic novels, Maggie and I re-united with Tom Mason and headed over to FUNKY GARCIA’S for drinks and food with a bunch of the Space Goat crowd before calling it a night.

dwo
from a secret location just outside San Diego

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Touched by a man (I barely knew) on my birthday!

Yeah.  OK.  Calm down.  Yes it is my birthday. But no …

MenInBlack1cover

The comic title that I published
that “non-comics” people know

The suggestive headline is true … but it is also a joke and doesn’t mean what it seems to mean. I was trying to come up with a clever headline for this (mostly self-serving) post … and this amused me. So sue me. And please accept my apologies in advance Marty.

Facebook is a terrific tool to stay in touch, especially if you are part of community or family separated by geography. Such is my life, both personally and professionally. I live in Southern California. My family (and extended family) mostly live in the Midwest. Many others are scattered to the four winds.

Comics professionals are distributed all over the globe. When my birthday rolls around friends and acquaintances use the opportunity to check-in and say “howdy.” It is really great to hear from people I like and love on my birthday.

Prime11cover

The ULTRAVERSE is how most comic
fans would know my work.

It is better yet, when someone you’ve only met a small number times uses your birthday as an opportunity to say something really thoughtful. So this is me sharing a private message I got from comic industry stalwart, writer supreme and all-around good guy Martin Pasko.

Bday2013 from Pasko

I fully admit this is self-serving. But I wanted to share. I did what I did in comics for a number of reasons. Let’s see how many I can name on the spur of the moment. (1) I love comics and have for nearly as long as I can remember (2) I have wanted a career in comics since my early teens (3) I went to college hoping to find a career path into comics (4) I needed a paycheck to feed my family (5) I wanted to provide for my employees as well as myself (6) I wanted to make a positive impact on the comic book industry and be “in the club” (7) I wanted creators who trusted me and worked with me to be glad that they did and (8) I wanted to do the right thing and be able to look at myself in the mirror.

Grade: B- (mostly successful, but with huge and noticeable shortcomings)

Getting this message from Martin Pasko was an amazing surprise and warmed my heart. It touched me. I wanted to say THANK YOU in the most public way at my disposal. And if I’ve violated your privacy by publishing your message to me, please forgive me.

That’s my version of the story.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU ………. JOHN ROMITA Sr (Jan.24)

John Romita Sr.

John Romita Sr.

The comic industry owes you such a huge debt of gratitude for everything you have done to make our careers and lives better … in addition to your jaw-dropping pictures and cover designs.

Thanks Mr. Romita … from the farm town boy who loved the way you provoked his imagination … to the aspiring comic pro to whom you showed such grace … to the comics vet who appreciates you now more than ever.

John Romita_GwenStacy

Spider-man’s girlfriend Gwen Stacy

Previous mentions of John Romita Sr can be found numerous spots here at Funnybook Fanatic: HERE and HERE and HERE just to tease a few.

And that is my version of the story for today.
(January 24, 2013)

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