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Sunday, May 26, 2013

San Diego Comic Con 2012 working hard for the money.

Yeah, I'm still alive ;) I meant to put this little nugget on my blog in July of 2012, but for some reason I never got around to it. Anyway, a little while ago I received the wonderful news that I can be a CGC signature witness again at the San Diego Comic Con, so to celebrate I decided to re-read and post this wall of text I wrote when came back from SDCC last year. 

So what exacly is a CGC signature witness ? Basically I go along with people who get comics signed by creators and witness it for CGC. When the person that gets the comic signed, submits it to CGC I have to co-sign the paper, which declares the comic was indeed signed by the artist. Then CGC takes the comic with the form and grades it and puts it in a yellow (signature series label) 

Last July at SDCC i was doing a signing with Olivier Coipel (French X-men artist) and he was two hours late, drove his agent crazy...when he finally showed up the agent and the two other artists that had to sign the books as well almost lynched him...CGC and I weren't too happy either. I waited all the time while they needed me to witness another signing. 

 Lots of jokes were made by the Americans about "French laissez-passez attutude" Olivier Coipel had a friend with him and they started chatting in French, saying things like "**** them all, it's the national French holiday today, we'll do what we want" etc... I let them talk for 3 minutes (they were doing this while they were signing) and then I started talking to them in French...the look on their faces was fantastic..they had no idea someone there was able to understand them. LOL
Well because I had to watch Coipel sign for 40 minutes and I was a foot away from him I couldn't do anything but talk to him...in French of course, so he was interested to know where I was from and why I was working for CGC as a Belgian etc... just small talk, killing time.
Coipel charged $2 per book signed...he signed over 100 ... so that's $200 just to sign your name for 40 minutes while chatting with your buddies...and he still complained afterwards that his arm hurt

This is the list of people I witnessed signing books..although I wasn't allowed near Stan Lee, had to watch from a distance.. Most were available in under 5 minutes, but some took a long wait (see the list) It was especially brutal to wait so long for Ashley Wood in line when we only had one book to get signed. Coipel/Chueng/Morales did over a 100 in one signing session. The ones with an * were the ones who were very nice and I had a nice chat with, the others were businesslike, or else I didn't bother talking to them.. 

Stan Lee 
David Finch 1 hour 
Joe Mad * 
Mike Mignola * 
Hernandez Brothers * 1 hour 
Gilbert Shelton * 1 hour+ 
Ashley Wood 2 hours 
Angelo Torres * 
Jim Lee 
Rob Liefeld 
Herb Trimpe * 
Steve Engelhart 
Dave Gibbons * 
Mark Shultz 
Jeph Loeb 
Mark Waid 
Mark Buckingham * 1hour+ 
Robert Kirkman 
Charlie Adlard 
Mike Carey 
Ben Edlund * 
Gary Gianni 
Rob Guillory (Chew) * 
John Layman (Chew) * 
Erik Larsen 
Joe Jusko 
Marc Silvestri 
Jim Valentino 
Lary Hama * 
Klaus Janson 
Jeff Lemire 
Rudy Nebres 
James Robinson * 1 hour 
Michael Uslan 
Trevor von Eeden * 
Jill Thompson 
Olivier Coipel * 2 hours waiting, then 40 minutes signing. 
Mark Morales 
Jim Chueng * 

Herb Trimpe was the nicest of all...he knew a lot about Belgium, Waterloo, The WW2 battles in the Ardennes etc... 

Mignola signed & dedicated the book I bought from him, but we couldn't agree on the price for the Hellboy cover he was selling. I liked it, but at $6000 it was out of my league and it was a new cover (2012) and I preferred something from 1995 - 2005  

 I must say I never was that interested in modern artists that much (well except two or three like Mignola, Darwyn Cooke...) but I have found a new appreciation for them, seeing them draw stuff in front of you and watching the artistry ... Jim Cheung and Mark Morales who I didn't even know impressed the hell out of me, as did David Finch. I had three different Belgian T-shirts which I wore during the con, was a great ice-breaker with the artists.

Charlie Adlard was way too busy to chat...we stood in line, when it was our turn, we said hello, asked him to sign the books, thanked him and then moved away for the next person in line. I got some more stuff signed for myself, you can see it in video #3... I forgot to have Angelo Torres sign anything for me..but I do have this pic of him and me, while he was signing books for CGC

 It's strange, after a few days of meeting artists non-stop you stop being a fan and start looking at the artists as "business" ...a little sad really. Next to Trimpe the most interesting conversation was with Gilbert Shelton (who is almost 80 now) about his friendship with Robert Crumb, Carl Barks and Alex Raymond...he told stories for 10 minutes while we kept up the line. My business partner did buy two Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers omnibuses and Shelton made a sketch in each one of them, and it took about 5 minutes per sketch as he is a little old now. 

I got a few more things signed... got a book signed by all three Hernandez Brothers as they rarely all are in one place...even though I don't really like Love & Rockets. 
Some of the artists like Adlard and Torres have a scheduled appearance, meaning they will be at a certain booth at a certain time for one to two hours...So you have to be there about 30 minutes in advance as they count about one minute per person and then the stop the line, so if you are number #50 or something you can't go up anymore. Somebody from the staff takes spot #51 in line and tells everyone that comes after that they won't be able to see/meet the artist that day. It sucks if you are behind in line, but if you are there early enough it means that you are certain that you will meet the artist as they will stay until the last person that was allowed in line. 

It also means that if you have something signed or ask for a sketch it can take no longer than one minute.So conversation is limited. I was about #20 in line for Finch, got there 30 minutes before it started. They cut the line at #25 ...so I was pretty lucky. But only the first ten got a free sketch as he took 3 minutes per sketch. I would have asked for a Joker sketch as they were great..but alas it didn't work out. 
Some of the other artists have a booth/table for themselves and are present about 75% of the 5 days, so you can walk up to their booth where they are working on a commission for someone, have them sign your stuff and take as long as you want talking to them, well until they ask you to leave as they have work to do. 
They generally do not give out free sketches, just sign stuff. If you buy something they are selling (prints, trades etc) they will do a quick head-sketch if you ask them...or you can pay them for a larger sketch/commission. 
After the first two days of the show I was dead tired. Lots of fun, crazy amount of people,getting to see old friends and finally meeting people I've known for years. Very expensive though, food and all the taxi rides alone are costing me at least $200 a day. And that's without the hotel and getting here. 

But I knew it was going to cost  a lot. It's worth it but it's a once in a lifetime thing. Don't come just for the comics as they are more expensive than online. But you do get to see them I'm real life. The comic section isn't that crowded but the rest of the con is crazy, especially the toys section with the toy exclusives. 
Hundred of people in line to get a ticket to have a chance to be able to buy some exclusive toy, crazy. The problem is that the comic section is split in two sections with the toys in between. So it can take 25 minutes to get from section A to section G. After doing it ten times a day you are exhausted and every bone in your body hurts and then you do something silly and sneak into the toy section.

Call me crazy, but I loved it, and this year I'll be be back again, chasing artists and dodging hordes of toy-carrying  fans. See you there on the 17th through to the 21st of July 2013

 On my youtube channel you can see some vids with all the stuff I brought back.