Saturday, June 2, 2012

Comicpalooza 2012: Saturday

Another nice picture I stole from the Comicpalooza site

Saturday was supposed to be "my" day at the con, on my own. A buddy had a three day pass though, and after missing each other Friday night, we made plans to meet up that afternoon. In the meantime though, I had to drive past plenty of construction in search of decent parking under the inflated $15-20 "event" range. While I was searching, an artist called to tell me one of my pieces was ready for pick up, and I explained that I was on the way. Finally found a space on the other side of Discovery Green for $10. I was worn the hell out from Friday, so plans to hit the show at its 10 a.m. opening were rounded up to sometime well into noon. Lines ran nearly to the end of the block by then for registration that had opened at nine, so I was mighty glad that I could just stroll right in with my weekend pass. I got the number that I was called about, and it turned out well, but I hesitated to ask for another until I figured out who else I wanted to work with. I picked up my most expensive completed piece with the same subdued vibe in which it had been initiated. Another was done, and turned out quite well, so I ponied up seconds from the same guy in part because he cost nearly half as much as the first guy. The black and white art from my last Friday piece was done, and it was coming along great, but colors would take time.

This is the best my phone was capable of.

By about this time, my friend showed up, so we wandered around talking and scoping the celebrities. All the actors were located at the far left of Plaza A. Kristin Bauer was near a corner, so I blew by her a number of times. I occasionally spied Claudia Christian, Sean Patrick Flanery, Richard Hatch, Admiral Motti, Anne Lockhart, Peter Mayhew and Kevin Sorbo. Never spotted Teal’c, but I probably wouldn't recognize him if he wasn't all dolled in his make-up. There was a roped off partition this year, so I rarely got closer that 20+ feet to any of them, since I wasn't about to stand in any line. I don't care about autographs or glossy photos, and I don't actually have anything to say to random genre actors, so my kicks usually come from strolling by the stars on my way to something of greater interest.

My friend's was better. Ish.

If there's one thread linking the majority of the cons I've been to, it's Peter Mayhew. I think that guy was in town for my first show in the mid-90s, I'm pretty sure he was at my one trip to SDCC, and I think he's hit all but one Comicpalooza. He's tall. He played Chewbacca. Never uttered a word to the guy. What would I say? "Ahhhrarhhhgh!?!"

Chandler Riggs from The Walking Dead had longish hair, and appeared to be quite the precocious little raconteur. An old buddy I ran into at the con had a print signed, and the kid added "Stay Human." As I understand it, the show is filming now, but pretty much the entire cast flew over Houston in favor of Phoenix Con. If anyone there wondered (as folks are wont to do) "Where's Carl," now you know.

Ernie Hudson was running around in a Ghostbusters uniform with a proton pack strapped to his back. We split. That's not legal. It's sadness incarnate.

All the cartoon voice actors were in the back corner, with an alley between them and "real" actors that accentuated a sense of their being on some sort of thespian skid row. A buddy of mine became a really big temporary fan of Richard Horvitz when he happened to be in the line of sight of a particularly bootylicious cosplayer. I personally wasn't ready for that jelly, but my friend could not get enough of eying Horvitz. I basically had to drag him away.

George Takei was scheduled to talk on the main stage, and an announcer asked the crowd if they were ready for him. Well, that was too bad, because he'd been moved to Sunday and replaced by David Della Rocco from The Boondock Saints. I wasn't there, but a friend said there was much groaning and the dispersion of most of the crowd. Said buddy has quite a few gay friends, who were apparently all atwitter over Sulu's partying at local clubs. Coincidence?

I'd forgotten my camera at home, and my phone takes awful pictures, so I mostly relied on my buddy's. It didn't take long before I started stealing away from my friend to work out commissions. I'd met some really cool artists who were fun to talk to and had good rates, so I tended to go back to them for second and (by Sunday) third pieces. I do have to point out though that artists are not good at math. The term "full figure" apparently registers as ¾, which I'm fine with under $50, but kind of irks me at the $75+ range. Half-ups seem to drift into busts, as well. I understand if you just run out of space, but the guys who start in the middle of a page without a background? Premeditated!

Another thing that bugged me were the artists who were just plain bad businessmen. In my experience, few artists know what they're really worth. They either charge too little and make me feel bad for taking advantage, or they charge too much and I feel ripped off. The good thing about getting a lot of commissions is that it all works out in the wash, or if you're really savvy, ultimately favors the patron. The most frustrating are the guys who can't even decide which side they're on. Several times, I tried to talk rates with artists, and got so many contradictory statements and such elusive pricing that I threw my hands up. You're a commercial artist. Look to your left. Look to your right. Figure out which artists are most comparable to you, and copy their quotes. If you don't do any business, you overestimated yourself. If you are turning people away due to an overburdened schedule, consider raising your rates. Just don't hem and haw until your buyer loses interest entirely. Don't leave money sitting on the table.

Not a single day of the con passed without my standing next to someone interested in Action Figure Laboratories, hearing their spiel. I put it under Saturday because my buddy was egging it on, asking various questions. "Action" is a misnomer, since what they really do is take a three side view of your face and graft it onto statuettes of various sizes and body types. They had their 3D printer in a clear box on display, perpetually reconstructing a gamer's die. Apparently, up close you can see each granule of the meticulously constructed recreations.

Game Over Videogames was a novel throwback to the cartridge gaming era, and their prices seemed reasonable enough. I lost interest in gaming in the late '90s though, so unless we're talking SingStar, I'm hopelessly out of touch.

I didn't spend much time at all with Venus Envy, which touts plus-size costumes & accessories. I just thought the name was a fun pun, and wanted to share.

I brushed past Weird Paper, which specialized in pulps and Golden/Silver Age comics. I know I'm out of my depths when it comes to that sort of pricey collectable. So much of that stuff is freely in the public domain, the reader in me is perfectly happy with digital presentation.

I attempted to attend exactly one panel in Plaza C, which was supposed to be about managing intellectual property. Of the four people scheduled to be on the panel, only two showed up, with a couple of other artists filling in. There was no sound system, and the IP lawyer present spoke softly and infrequently with a heavy foreign accent. No one could hear, especially since the wrestling match nearby overwhelmed all audio in the region. The audience was ordered to huddle together at the front of the panel changing room, and the panelists sat on the folding table a couple of feet away from the front row. The curtains were falling down in places, so random people would peek in on us for minutes at a time. The replacement artists took over the show by virtue of speaking loudest and most often. They spent most of the forty-five minutes banging the creators' rights drum, giving an example or two of being screwed on a contract, but otherwise talking in ill-defined circles. The third guy got to speak for maybe two minutes about actually defending his copyright, although technically he'd already broken Marvel's copyright when his Black Lantern Hulk drawing was stolen by a t-shirt company. Oh, and the IP attorney specialized in music. It was your basic debacle.

I don't believe that I saw Howard Chaykin on Friday. I ran into an old pal/former customer in front of his spartan table on Saturday, and since this buddy had been "talking his head off," Chaykin took advantage to take a bathroom break. We stood off from one side of a nearby table and yakked about geek stuff for probably 45 minutes. I try to leave out identifiers to protect the guilty, but Chuck is trying to promote his "Westernpunk" presentations, so I figure he'd be more offended by a lack of ink. In a Seinfeldian moment, a friend got all the credit for attending Chuck's talk on modern western horror films while I was otherwise occupied, even though I was the one who talked him into going in the first place. It was apparently pretty good, since my buddy now wants to see Ravenous and The Burrowers. I never did make it back over to Chaykin that day, and by Sunday actively avoided him. I'd planned to talk to him about an elaborate take-home commission, but was soon too broke to put any money where my mouth was. I might have gotten a $30 head sketch, but I wasn't really enthused about those, and I was scoring full color commissions for that price and less. It's a shame, because I figure Chaykin would have been fun to gab with, but I didn't have a "line" to start with if I wasn't getting any work done.

Shane Davis was selling a bunch of prints, and was adding a Superman shield drawing in silver marker to the inside cover of his sketch book as they sold. I asked about commissions, but he was charging a c-note for penciled busts, so I marked him off my list. His table mate was Michelle Delecki, who had some dishy Nagel-esque prints of naked ladies that if displayed would insure I'd never see one in the flesh again. Next booth over was another name penciller at DC, whose portfolio I'd already skimmed but who kept too busy for me to feel comfortable hitting up for some art. It was late in the day, but I asked him how full his dance card was. Quite full, as it turned out, but I talked him into adding me to it to the tune of a $100 full figure (and I made sure to specify head-to-toe this time.)

As for the cosplay, there was far more of it on Saturday, but it was also much more family friendly. I think that was for the best, but I did miss the Friday tramps with their butts hanging out of high cut clingy things usually reserved for gentlemen's clubs. I overheard a couple of women pointing out that this was the only place in town that you could get away with dressing like that in public. Think of the children! Speaking of which, two Captain Americas and a host of USO dancers paraded around soliciting donations for the Ronald McDonald House and a veteran's charity. Good show!

My friend maid the terrible mistake of wearing sandals, and my shoulders were killing me from lugging a laptop, reference, and assorted purchases in my bag plus my oversized cardboard envelop for commissions. We were done. Time to gorge ourselves on Dimassis Mediterranean Buffet. Huzzah! Here's one more Birds of Prey. I'd also recommend getting a better look at Helena, Dinah and Pamela, courtesy of the Houston Press

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