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Sunday, October 24, 2010

After The FACTS.

Looking back at my very hectic but fun day at FACTS 2010 this year, a few things come to mind, but I would like to start straight out of the gate, with the feeling I had all day. This is a great hobby we have and sometimes we tend to forget it. Sitting at home behind a PC screen, scrutinizing every single detail of every single comic or storyline, getting into online flame-fests and being sarcastic slash negative because it looks right the cool thing to do.

But when it comes down to brass tacks, this hobby is all about the people.. I met an army of nice people today, from A-class artists, to very young fan-boys, from indie publishers to volunteers who go without sleep to make sure everyone is entertained. From retailers who actually care more about pleasing the customer by selling them a fantastic hardcover than by just the sale.

I'm guilty of being too jaded myself, telling everyone in earshot (and beyond) that cons really aren't that great, that there are better deals to be found online, that they are loud, expensive and crowded, that the food is bad and the service is worse etc etc...Well I was wrong, cons are the lifeblood of our hobby and you are really missing out if you don't attend one near you.

By now if you are guessing that I had a great time then you deserve a gold star. I hardly bought anything (one comic !) worked my ass off and already left the house at the crack of dawn, but it was all worth it. Here are some highlights. I forgot a lot of things and will undoubtedly have left some people out, sorry for that, but I still love you.
The very first and probably the biggest highlight was getting to meet Dave Gibbons.
After we had build up our booth, I walked over to the next hall and the Artist's village. There were already people queuing for Frank Cho and Greg Cappullo, the line for Dave Gibbons was still empty which kinda surprised me. Mind you this was about 1 1/2 hours before the artists were due to arrive and the general public was admitted.

At 9.00 AM the early-bird ticket holders were admitted (one hour before the rest) and at 9.15 I walked over the artist section again. The line for Cappulo had grown to maybe 20 people, about 10 for Cho and three fans were eagerly waiting for Dave Gibbons.
As I didn't expect a lot of sales before 10.30 AM and my partner was manning the booth, I decided to get in line as well.Dave showed up at about 10.05 AM and was eager to go. Frank Cho and Brandon Peterson showed up each over an hour late...All the artists had sampled some Belgian beer the night before and only Dave Gibbons was able to to fight the hangover and be there on time. Separating the men from the boys and showing he is the consummate professional.
The first person in line wanted a Rorschach head-shot, which Dave drew in about 10 minutes and looked really nice. Oh, prices were €50 for head-sketches and €75 for full figure. Quickie sketches and sigs were free. Second guy just wanted his Watchmen trade signed, so that went quickly and the third guy, whom I regularly talk to online, wanted a Comedian sketch..which I think looks fantastic, so I included Philippe's commission here as it is truly breathtaking seeing Dave draw this in a matter of minutes, first blue-line then ink...he was like a machine. (Yes Phille I was looking over your shoulder when Dave drew it)

And then it was my turn, I had brought my Watchmen page along and asked Dave to sign it, he looked it over for a while and told me "it's always nice to see an old friend", referring to the page of course :)

We chatted a bit,he asked where I got it and told the story of how he sold the art (per complete issue !) to London's Comic Showcase store. I don't know if Dave wants it out there how much he got for each issue + cover, but I was shocked to find out how low it was. But seeing Comic Showcase then sold the pages for between £70 and £150 each, you can figure it out.

Mister Gibbons and I also discovered we had a mutual friend, Paris_Fred...now there's a guy who gets around. I didn't want to take up too much time as the line behind me had now grown to over 25 people (and it didn't seem to get any smaller throughout the entire day) so in parting I asked him who his favorite artist was and after some thinking he said "Wally Wood"...Dave Gibbons was really a very nice man to meet, an excellent artists and he has excellent taste in other artists as well :).

I also saw a lot of old friend who it's always a delight to bump in to (you know who you are !) and finally met some people I know from various chat-boards face-to-face...which is always nice.
I sold a lot of trades and hardcovers at the cheapcomics booth, but most of all tried to talk to people about which series they liked and suggested other titles they might also be interested in (Anything Walking Dead flew of the shelves).

I'm always in awe of all the people that spend months making their own costume and then proceed to walk around it it, sweating like a pig and not being able to buy anything as they can't stoop down to look in the boxes, and even if they did....where would they put it as they have no pockets. There were a LOT of cos-players at FACTS, but the guy walking around in the home-made Iron Man suit deserves deep deep Kudos ! I wonder how many batteries it took ?
I was also impressed by my friend Malkavian of Brainfreeze who was immaculately dressed as a pony.


But what really got to me were the independent publishers, the small-time companies who still publish comic books, against all odds, for the simple reason of the love for the medium. I'm pretty sure most of them don't break even and still they persevere. My deepest respect goes out to the people at Dropcomics and especially to my friends at Windmill Comics This Dutch team of writers, editors and artists are keeping the spirit of early comic fandom alive. They are the lifeblood of the hobby and I consider them today's Jerry Bails, Don Thomson, Biljo White or Roy Thomas. Thanks guys, may fame and fortune find you some day

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I care.

8:56 PM  
Blogger chromium said...

The world needs more people like you :acclaim

9:02 PM  
Anonymous Nils said...

Bought a couple of things at the booth you were manning. You were very helpful, good to see you enjoyed the con as well0

11:48 PM  
Blogger chromium said...

Thanks :)

10:57 AM  

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