Sunday, June 3, 2012

Comicpalooza 2012: Sunday

For Sunday, my Saturday pal and I invited another decades-long friend who's been saving up for a new house, so we gifted him a ticket. In return, he picked me up at 8:30, and we went for our third party and breakfast at the House of Pies (which was featured in the film Reality Bites.) I had a surprisingly excellent chilli omelet, and our waitress was great. We parked free in front of Toyota Center, and despite fears prompting our early arrival, there was no line to speak of. I wanted to check in on my commissions and initiate a few more that could be finished that day. One was done, but two hadn't been started yet, including one from an artist that arrived rather late that day. What, me worry?

As I've mentioned in the past, I was hoping for a commission when I first heard Joe Kubert was coming to town. My bubble burst once I realized that he wasn't doing sketches, that I likely couldn't afford them if he were, and that he wasn't even going to be around on Friday. I missed him on Saturday, but was surprised to find him still shaking hands and signing autographs on Sunday. The problem was, I don't have any strong emotional ties to Kubert's work. I enjoy it like everybody else, but he's not a big super-hero guy, and I'm not a big war comic guy. I never read any of the books he wrote, so what do I do, say "good job" on that Punisher story arc he did twenty years ago? I figured hey, it's neat to stand a few feet from the man for half a minute, but it's time to move on.

I spent a while on Sunday trying to track down Legos for the girlfriend. She'd found a booth that sold an older series of the mysterious MiniFig packs for $3, but I had trouble figuring out where it was. The guy with large bins of loose figures didn't have any, so I tried to scoop out the basis for a custom figure to paint up for one of my blogs. However, I was distracted by a phone call telling me that one of my commissions was ready for pick-up, and by the time I returned, kids had swarmed the area. I might fight a kid for territory when I'm going through back issues (as I did at the next booth over, scoring a 1988 Punisher: Circle of Blood tpb for $4,) but I had to surrender toy space to their intended consumer. Besides, there really weren't that many kidcentric areas of the geek-skewing con, so I wasn't going to step on this one. I finally located the cheap MiniFig packs, plus I bought some $5 earlier series at Bean Pot Toiz. Given the hundreds of dollars my girl had spent there in 2010 on stuff like glow-in-the-dark sheep and Tim Burton figurines, I figured $30 was getting off cheap.

One of my friends was a big time art geek in school, and we'll easily spend a day at MFAH and want for more at surrounding galleries. We both dug a boldly colored impressionistic U.S.S. Enterprise at Bye Bye, Robot, but pretty much nothing else, so of course it isn't even on their web site.

Mad Irish and Fearghal Blades seemed to have a decent selection for your feudal needs, but barring my getting locked in the basement of a pawn shop with sodomites or masking my scent with leashed zombies, I think I'll be alright with just the fists. They were selling some steampunk jewelry though, so a friend decided that was the gift to get for his girl.

Pegasus Publishing had some fun shirts displayed well, but my friends and I collectively sneered at $22 for a friggin' tee. Everybody from Target to Old Navy has geek chic available at sweatshop prices these days, so it's tough to pay that kind of premium. Hell, even the overpriced stuff in Previews seems to retail for less than that, or at least there are discounts to be had. Ditto The Pixel Spot, which was even more expensive and niche.

Texas Art Supply had a very professional and spacious display. It seemed to be well trafficked, but I didn't need anything, so I can't get into specifics on their stock. They had a girl getting body-painted throughout each day. Once, with her teased hair and her chest done up in black with a yellow symbol, I asked if she was going for the Wasp. She said no, that she was a robot, and the cybernetics looked quite good once the painter got her finished up.

Sunday really felt like things were drying up. There was still some roller derby and lady wrestling going on, but whatever novelty that might have once held was long gone. The Braggart Family had some guy singing a song about Cannibals for Jesus at one point, which I thought was pretty daring for sabbath in the Bible Belt, but it didn't actually get any chuckles. I never got around to checking in on how the bellydancing classes went, and had zero interest in screening movies behind a curtain with garbage sound.

The soloist from Arc Attack did another set of alt-hits, and later, we watched most of a performance. The stage was roped off, and the band played around Tesla coils that would fire electricity at a specially outfitted guitarist. Later, audience members were placed in a cage that was struck by bolts in time to music. That was kind of fun when some dude dressed as Darth Vader chilled to the Imperial March, or this one guy who danced with conviction through a song. The main problem was that the band seemed to use the coils as a gimmick while playing their full length compositions, which got boring. It was only worse when they'd toss a static middle-aged housewife in the cage. Point being, it's the sort of spectacle that helps bring people into the con, but it takes up an awful lot of space and time without necessarily keeping up audience interest for an entire set.

Much of the day was spent checking in on the progress of commissions, and avoiding eye contact with those I'd passed on. I tried a bit more shopping in general, but was burnt out by the same sights and a general aversion to fingering through longboxes after too many years of doing so professionally. I regret not sampling the wares of more small press publishers or talking to more artists, but by day three everything ached and I was basically done with this thing.

I had three final commissions to wait on, and my party was hungry and bushed. Every year this happens-- there's always at least one lingering hold-up. We ended up leaving to visit Sparkle Burger, a converted house turned restaurant with terrible service but massive, juicy patties. Waiting for 20-30 minutes for our order under a steaming sun with no shade on a dilapidated bench brought home the desire to wrap things up. We'd all seen The Avengers a few weeks prior, and noshing in silence, we were aware that this was our moment of shawarma. After my grousing, I added a bit of crow to my dinner by returning to the convention center to find all three of my remaining pieces finished and ready to roll. They were very good to boot, so take that, cynicism.

Happy to finally be free, we drove a ways out to see the neighborhood my friend hopes to get a house in, then went to a friend's pad to watch Battle Royal and Punisher War Zone. Yeah, somehow I got five Punisher references into one post on a DC blog about a convention. Synchronicity is weird like that.

Artist Kiriska offers Con Report: Comicpalooza 2012

Artist Marcio Takara is back from Houston, etc

Artist Thom Zahler likes Comics, Palooza-style and Texas-fried!

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