The Online Experience

On Tuesday, June 8th, I’m doing something I’ve never done before. I’m taking part in an online book club. Specificaly, we’ll be discussing Arrowsmith: So Smart In Their Fine Uniforms, the mini-series (and collected graphic novel) I did with Carlos Pacheco, Jesus Merino, Alex Sinclair and the fine folks at Comicraft.


The book club is run by Andy Schmidt, for years a Marvel editor, currently a Senior Editor at IDW Publishing, and the author of The Insider’s Guide To Creating Comics And Graphic Novels. The Book Club is part of Andy’s Comics Experience enterprise, which is focused on teaching the craft of comic book writing and the art of breaking in to the business, so I would imagine the book club isn’t just a straight reader-oriented discussion, but will be focused, at least in part, on craft and presentation and will probably veer off to discuss other things I’ve done. But I can’t say for sure—I’ll be finding out myself on June 8.
For more information on Comics Experience, on Andy or on the book club itself, click the hyperlinks.
Fair warning: Comics Experience is a business, and the book club isn’t free. But I figured I should mention it, because some of you might be interested, and hey, I’ve already had to dig up two sets of headphones (and rescue one from my daughter, who absconded with it to use with the iPod as soon as I’d gotten it working) to make sure I can properly participate in the discussion.
I’m looking forward to it. For anyone who’ll be attending—see you there!

Saturday Morning Stuff

A couple-three small items on a pleasant Saturday morning…
First, I should link to a new interview with me that’s up at Broken Frontier. We talk about everything from my upcoming Marvel stories to Ixar and the Ultroids, and even discuss Woodgod, so proceed at your own risk.
That’s art by Marko Djurdjević from my story in Age of Heroes #1, above.

Second, our spiffy website Contact Line scored this e-mail, from a reader named Dave…
Have been watching the final season of Lost and the “sideways memories” prompted me to go back and read KBAC 1/2, which still stands up as a really powerful and inspiring story for me. Just felt like letting you know you really hit it out of the park with that one.
…and I just figured I’d say “Thanks!”
I haven’t watched Lost since early in the second season—I loved the first season, but just kinda slipped away from it after that. I hear it got back to being compelling and fascinating, but what with one thing and another, I never got back to it. But Dave’s not the first to bring up Astro City #1/2 in comparison to Lost, so once it’s all done and available on DVD, I may have to catch up and see what the fuss is all about.

And third, I figured I’d mention that I’ll be bringing copies of the Superstar: As Seen on TV ashcan edition to the Stumptown Comics Fest this afternoon, to have at my 3PM signing in case anyone wants a signature but didn’t bring anything I wrote.


The ashcan is a nice little package artist Stuart Immonen and I did up for when Superstar (as part of the ill-fated Gorilla Comics) was announced back in 19-aught-99, with a preview of the Superstar GN and a lengthy feature on how the character came to be, along with lots of cool art by Stuart.
On the one hand, I figure this means I’ll have something to sign even for the empty-handed (and I’ll charge a few bucks as a donation to the CBLDF, since that’s what I’m there supporting). On the other hand, Stumptown’s already on, so I figure most of the people going are already there or on their way, and won’t see this blog entry.
But so it goes, on a pleasant Saturday morning…

Portland, Oregon! One Hour Only!


This weekend, “all corners of comics” includes mine. I’ll be doing a signing at the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund booth this Saturday at Stumptown Comics Fest in Portland, Oregon.
Here are the details:
Where? Stumptown Comics Fest, at the Lloyd Center Doubletree Hotel Exhibit Hall, 1000 NE Multnomah Street, Portland OR 97232.
No, I mean where? Like, once I’m actually at the show! Oh. In that case, I’ll be at the CBLDF Booth, which is Booth #25.
When? Well, the show is Saturday and Sunday, April 24th & 25th, from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
Yeah, yeah. I knew that from your first paragraph, pal. And the signing? 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM Saturday.
What else do I need to know? Like are they charging for signatures, or what? Gee, you’re getting a little belligerent there, imaginary-reader-born-of-my-subconscious. Tickets for the signing can be had at the CBLDF booth itself. Tickets are free, though donations are encouraged. The CBLDF is a worthy cause, and deserves your support.
Any limits on stuff you’ll sign? Just my usual. I’ll sign pretty much whatever, but if you’ve got a big stack and there’s a line behind you, I don’t want those other people to have to wait through it all, so I may just sign a small chunk of ’em and then you can go back to the end of the line or come back later or whatever. If there’s no line, I’m in no rush. I’ll sign, answer questions, chat, whatever.
Why did you let Superman beat Thor? Don’t you know Thor’s magic? They paid you under the table, didn’t they? Oh, shut up. And they mailed a check.
This is, I think, the first time I’ve done a signing at a show I haven’t been a guest at. I go to Stumptown as an attendee, because it’s jam-ful of great cartoonists and terrific comics, and I always find something new and cool there. But I’d feel odd if I had a table there, because it’s such an indy-focused show and I’ve been such a mainstream-y kind of guy for the bulk of my career. So I’m more than half-convinced that I’ll be sitting there for an hour looking sheepish, while Paul Pope fans breeze by, thinking, “Who the hell is he?”
So if you’re at the show, drop by and say hi, even if you don’t have anything for me to sign. The CBLDF could use your help, and it’ll save me from twiddling my thumbs the whole time.
For more on Stumptown or the CBLDF, click the links.


The best store signing I’ve ever done was in Perth, Western Australia.
Ann and I spent two weeks in New Zealand and Australia, first doing conventions in Auckland and Wellington with Devin Grayson and Mark Waid, with a memorable and enjoyable trip from the one city to the other in between, a trip involving blackwater rafter, go-karting, dry luge, para-sailing, jet-skiing and the discovery that if anything anywhere went fast, if you’re with Mark Waid you have to stop and do it Right Now. Very good cons, a lovely country, friendly people, and we’ve taken one trip back since, to vacation in the Bay of Islands and Queenstown, and that’s not the last time we’ll go, either.
And then Ann and I went to Australia, where the original plan had been to do a convention in Sydney, but the convention fell through and was rescheduled, so we wound up arranging store signings in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. We also visited Ayers Rock (stunning, and we got to taste kangaroo and emu, but many, many flies) and took a side trip to Brisbane to visit Eddie Campbell, who had said come on out sure it’ll be great and then wound up delayed in England so we had a delightful barbecue with Eddie’s friends and prowled used bookstores for Australian editions of Nevil Shute. And Sydney’s gorgeous and parts of it look like the Blade Runner production designer’s idea of what New York would look like if New York was cool enough, and Melbourne was a treat, with the giant casino with the gargantuan gas jets that went off at odd intervals. And the signings were well-attended and friendly and enjoyable.
But when we mentioned we were going to Perth, what everyone wanted to know was, “Why are you going to Perth, of all places? It’s a hell of a long way to go!”
We pointed out that we’d come here from the United States, so if going a hell of a long way stymied us, we wouldn’t have come in the first place. Which was true. But mainly, I wanted to see as much of Australia as I could get in. I mentioned Nevil Shute, who I’ve been a fan of since I stumbled on his work in college and who was a strong influence on Marvels, so for years I’d been reading about all these fascinating-sounding places, and sure, I knew it was decades later than what he’d described but I still wanted to see them. And I wish we’d had time to get to Cairns and Alice Springs and Adelaide and Tasmania, but in the meantime I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to see Perth.
And I’ve got to say, Perth is lovely. A pretty green gem on the edge of the Indian Ocean, with the Swan River snaking through it in arcs, very muck a mixture of British heritage and Indian proximity, making for a distinct and charming combination. I definitely want to get back someday, and not only see more of Perth, and see more of Western Australia, too.
But the signing.
The point at which I realized it wasn’t going to be an ordinary signing was when we were at breakfast with the owner of the store we’d be signing at, and a reporter who was there to interview me for a local radio show, and we were up on a hill overlooking the city in a spacious and comfortable room with spectacular view windows (my memory says the restaurant was a converted colonial-era mansion of some sort), just chatting and enjoying good food, when the store owner’s mobile phone rang.
It seemed there was a line, and it was in danger of blocking the entrances to other nearby stores.
So there was management stuff to be done, and I’m sitting there thinking, “There’s a line?”
It was 9:30 in the morning. The signing was going to start at either 4:30 or 5:30 in the afternoon. And there’s a line?
It turned out I was the first American comics creator to visit Western Australia and do a signing. Unless you count Neil Gaiman, I was told, who came for a science fiction convention, so that was books, not comics, and didn’t really count. All those people who went to Sydney, or Melbourne, and then went back home…boy, were they missing out.
It was like being a rock star. When we did get to the store, which was below street level, the line wound round and about through the stacks in the store, out the door, up the stairs, around the corner and off far enough that I wasn’t sure where the end of it was. I think every comics fan in Western Australia had turned up.
The store had built be a signing booth, with Astro City displays, including a 3-D re-creation of the Astro City logo, complete with electron-ringed rocket. And I chatted with people and signed for hours, and the line slowly snaked its way through, but it felt like there’d be no end to it. I’m sure that gets exhausting for people who get that sort of thing all the time, but I’d never had anything like it at that point, and I didn’t have anything remotely like it again until a couple of years later when I was at a Heroes Con in Charlotte, North Carolina and was signing books and looked up for a moment and realized the line went on forever and had an, “Um, guys, Neil’s over there” moment, before realizing that, well, doing three monthly books for Marvel on top of Astro City did stack up the number of books to be signed as well as the audience that wanted signatures.
But even that, and the well-attended signings I’ve done since, were anything like that day in Perth.
The other thing I remember from Perth was the next morning, scuttling around in the rain, trying to find a pharmacy open early enough for us to get a pregnancy test before our flight back to Sydney, because Ann was having morning sickness and we wanted to confirm her guess. And yes, it turned out she was pregnant with our first child, Sydney.
[But no, she’s not named Sydney because of Australia, she’s named Sydney after my mother.]
Anyway. It was a great trip and a glorious signing, and one way or the other, I intend to be back someday. And maybe this time I can get to Cairns and Tasmania and Adelaide…

Wisconsin Weekend


Just a reminder to let people know that I’ll be at the 2009 Sterling North Book & Film Festival in Edgerton, Wisconsin this weekend. If you’re in the area, feel free to come by, attend my panel, say hi, and so forth. I’ll be doing a primitive slide show in PowerPoint format (my first time using PowerPoint; don’t expect wonders) as I discuss my career and the craft of making comics.
Schedule, map and other such info can be found at the official site, which has been updated with this year’s details (it still says “2008” at the very top of the window, at least in Safari, but the rest of it’s right, I think). I’m still sorry I missed Edgerton’s Chilimania! festival in September, but with guests including Malachy McCourt, Leroy Butler and others, this should be an engaging event on its own.
See some of you there, I hope!

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In other convention news, I’ve just accepted an invitation to be a guest at Comicon International 2010 in San Diego, California, which runs July 22-25. More details as they become available.