This year, Rhode & I had thought we wouldn’t be able to follow-through with our recent tradition of a COMIC CON BOOTH THEME; whereby we decorate our booth to look like… well, something other than a boring old Comic Con booth. A bit of silliness that we have been indulging ourselves in for the past 4 years or so. Such things, even as cheesy as they are, take TIME to prepare and the fact that we now live on separate coasts made it unlikely this time around. Although we drove to Comic Con on Tuesday morning we had only met each-other (for the first time in months) at dinnertime the evening beforehand. Yet somehow, via communication by phone, text and e-mail, we pulled it off; THE YARD SALE theme. Last minute though it was, this booth display got perhaps our best response ever.
The only drawback of this particular theme was that, hilariously, people actually wanted to buy the JUNK that we had distributed throughout the display, as “props”. “How much for the George Foreman Grill?” “Give you $2 for the Rubik’s Cube…” “Ooh, a Smurf Mug!!”
These booth-theme ideas grew out of a conversation on the drive home from Comic Con 2006 (the first time we ever dressed up; in cheesy BLUE jump-suits, to promote CLOUD BOY) and that conversation continues to this day. I cannot now remember who came up with each idea because, in each case, they grew from one silly suggestion to the next. I do remember that each year, one of us begins to doubt if the idea will work (the line between cheesy/funny and outright stupid/lame is a razor’s edge, my friends) and the other guy becomes the torch-bearer for the idea. The Used Car Salesman theme excited me more than Rhode and he went along with it initially with some reservations (though he said at the end of that show that it was his fun-est ever, till that time). This year, I was the doubter; not that the idea itself was funny but that our execution might not work. But at a certain point, I decided to trust Rhode’s instincts rather than my own, and it worked out just grand.
Comic Con 2010 was our best ever, financially speaking. The runaway success of Rhode’s new children’s book, THE HALLOWEEN KID, made books Rhode’s biggest sellers this year. It was the prints that made up for the continuing downward curve in book sales for me (sadly, even the NEW one). Though this trend is a disappointment, I don’t take it personally, as Comic Con itself has been moving further and further away from its roots as a show about Comics. No need to dwell on that issue any further here (enough has been said about it already). My goal is to continue doing books come-what-may, as that is what drew me to these shows in the first place. A few years ago, I drifted away from doing comics, as I followed market forces towards the sales that would pay for the considerable costs of exhibiting. The new strategy is to firstly do a book each year and then use that book as a source for images that can become prints AS WELL. That way, the sales of prints should aid in sales of the books (“like that print? This is the book that it came from!”) or, at the very least, justify their existence as a mine from which to dig up images.
Socialising is always my favourite thing about Comic Con and, as always, I could not spend time with everyone that I wanted to. Wednesday’s PREVIEW NIGHT ended so late that Julia and I ate a tired but happy dinner back at our hotel. Thursday, meeting a crew of old cronies compensated for the slowest service of all time at an Indian place called MASALA. Everything clicked for Friday evening’s dinner at LOU & MICKEY’s. Hilarious conversation and good food culminated in a game where filthy phrases became the basis for creating new cocktails. We even had the Barman mix one to our specifications. The true name of this drink (pictured below) is too filthy to mention in this here G-rated blog but, in honour of its creator, Mr Kirk Thatcher, we gave it the optional name of THATCHER’s DELIGHT for use in polite company.
The hilarity and exhaustion (not to mention the effects of drinking the aforementioned saucy beverage) meant that I was too tired to move from my chair and thus unable to attend the party at the MAVERIX STUDIOS condo; an event that I seem to miss each year. Which was too bad this time around as I had recommended it to OTHER friends who showed up in my absence… But the main thing is everyone had fun. I will definitely be there NEXT time!
Saturday was exhausting. Even knowing ahead of time that it will be busy, it is hard to prepare for the sensory overload that is a Saturday at Comic Con. The combination of crowds and constant traffic at our booth, combined with frequent visits from many friends, meant that my mind was deep-fried by the end of the day. Walking wearily back to my hotel, I was not strong enough to resist the already-formed plan of dinner at OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE; that fake-Aussie eatery. I lodged a few half-hearted complaints but nevertheless climbed into the car that would drive me to the humiliation of Koala Fries, Platypus Burgers Kangaroo Shakes and other such nonsense…. to my surprise, the food was actually tasty (don’t tell any real Australians that I said so or FAIR DINKUM my citizenship will be revoked) and of course the company and conversation was entertaining. Just what I needed.
Sunday, sales at the booth were very good compared to previous years and though this had us in high spirits, we were both very weary, right from the beginning of the day. Lately, Comic Con starts EVERY day at 9AM (whereas the weekdays used to start from 11AM in the old days) meaning now there’s no chance to catch-up on sleep after the long drive down from San Francisco, and the subsequent evenings of fun and revelry. This schedule is cumulatively tiring, even on a healthy body, but especially on poor old Rhode, who had picked up a come-and-go infection that left him looking green by Sunday afternoon.
So we took our time in packing, after the show was over. Many of our friends just roll up a banner and simply walk out the door at the end of a show but the downside of our silly Booth Shenanigans is that it not only takes a while to prepare but ALSO to break down and getting all the stuff into the car (both at the start and the finish) is 3-dimensional TETRIS. Unfortunately, we couldn’t toss the YARD SALE fence-posts because they were needed back in Stockton (that wasn’t merely a prop; it was a genuine NORCAL fence, my friends!) though we did abandon the Astro-turf. The break-down of the booth this time around was the longest ever but we weren’t in any hurry. It was actually our first chance to relax since the show began! Coming back to my hotel to find a desk clerk rocking the good time COMIC CON party attitude in Clark Kent attire (see above) was an amusing end to a good show.
After freshening-up, I hooked-up with the Maverix crew at YAKITORI/YAKYUDORI for a post-con chow-fest; ending this year’s show at the same restaurant where the eating BEGAN the year prior. A huge mob of us invaded the place, and the waiter looked like he’d have an aneurysm when we ordered 4 of everything on 3 separate menus. The best part of Sunday though, was the chance to sleep-in before the long, and eventful drive back to the Bay Area (doing that story justice would take up an entire blog post on its own!)
…ah, SLEEP…. Actually, that still sounds pretty good to me! ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ