Seriously, what a show! This is either our third or fourth Baltimore show, and the second in a row that we have attended as guests. However, this show was easily my favorite, perhaps of the whole year. The highlight of the actual show had to be Bryan Glass’ recognition by his industry peers with the prestigious Harvey Award for Best New Talent for his (and Michael Oeming’s) epic The Mice Templar. Ironically, Bryan has been working at breaking into the comic industry since 1992 and has taken many knocks along the way, but none that could keep him down or shake his resolve.
It’s very important that I stop here for a moment and make a special point about how well deserved this award is for Bryan. Having only become close in the last year, Bryan, his wife Judy, Leanne and myself were brought together in many ways by our mutual affection for old sci-fi shows like Blake’s 7. My part in The Mice Templar team requires me to analyze Bryan’s themes beyond that of the typical reader, leaving me with nothing but the utmost respect for his talent. Bryan is a true storyteller, and it’s his work on The Mice Templar that has proven to me the need for his recognition in the industry after so many years of battling amongst the shadows. Bryan has confessed to me the amount of time and energy that has been poured into the monumental story of The Mice Templar story, and the passion that he has for his craft is something I find deeply inspiring.
We became fast friends and immediately after the Heroes Comic Con he came to me asking if I would like to write the regular feature in The Mice Templar, which focused on each issue’s parallels with myth and legend. I was honored and quickly came aboard to take the talented Tim Daniel’s place as the backup writer. It seems crazy to think that in less than four months The Mice Templar’s second story arc is halfway through and four articles have been completed already, each accompanied by the art talents of my wonderful wife Leanne Hannah, along with Michael Oeming, James Glass, and soon Adam Withers and Comfort Love. Finally Bryan’s tooth and nail fight as a writer has brought him to a high point of his career and has opened many doors for him. Please do yourself a favor and pick up the unfolding masterpiece The Mice Templar today!
Our favorite inker Rich Faber was among the Harvey Award nominees this year, and like Bryan, Rich has been hard at work within the industry for many years working on superb books including the all-ages titles Buzzboy and Roboy Red. Rich is an incredible guy and quite possibly the nicest guy we’ve ever met, and considering the company he shares among some of our pretty cool friends, that says a great deal about the respect we have for him. The fact he was finally recognized with a Harvey Award nomination is an acknowledgment of his incredible talent and commitment to his amazing work! Rich lost his wife Traci only a month ago to her battle with cancer. To say this year is particularly hard for him would be an enormous understatement. However, despite his wife’s ongoing battle, Rich somehow always managed to be there for us, particularly my wife Leanne, with his industry advice, encouragement and his incredible friendship. Be sure to visit his site and see his amazing work including his stunning celebrity movie and sport portraits. Sportraits? That has a ring to it. Anyway, congratulations on the nomination, Rich. In our mind you deserved the award, but to us you’ve always been a winner.
Being a local show, Leanne and I left around 6:30 PM on Friday for the hour and a half drive to Baltimore, set up in our room at the Hyatt and were soon joined by the hilariously awesome Kevin Conn and wife Michelle Feingold. As roommates, who could we have asked to give us better company and support throughout the show? Kevin Conn (THE Kevin Conn– stand up comedian from New Jersey) set up with us for his first ever ‘behind table’ experience of a comic convention. He was, of course, pimping his comic “Lava-Roid” which he wrote with Stephen Lindsay and had my wife Leanne illustrate. The book follows the story of washed up police officer Philip Manchester whose brother was murdered, and one thing quickly led to another until he found himself injected with a super serum that gave him fantastic fiery powers. Unfortunately he had a hemorrhoid problem at the time and the serum fused to give him the ability to shoot fire out of his hands and … well, read the book! Oh, and Michelle ran in the Baltimore charity marathon on Saturday morning (25 miles, I believe), beating her previous time by 9 minutes. Applause, please!
Leanne met with Jim McCarter (re: her current educational comic project that will take her through to the end of the year), and we both met Jim Calafiore (the cover artist for the project) who was wonderfully encouraging. We also had the pleasure of meeting J.M. DeMatteis in person for the first time. Kevin, who introduced us, had said many great things about J.M. and even though he had given Leanne a shot at winning over King Features to her art style, it somehow seemed impossible for such a famous writer to be so damn nice. Thanks for the kind words and support, J.M.!
We of course hung out with the Perhapafamily as much as we possibly could considering our tables were only in waving distance, and on Saturday night we celebrated Todd’s birthday. Leanne drew Todd a “Choopie with fruit pie” and we slipped it to him with a cheeky birthday card during the show, and enjoyed an amazing Italian meal at LaScalla restaurant on Eastern Ave. As usual, story time with Todd was enough to place an order for a new pair of lungs, and my cheeks were sore from smiling so much all evening. And keep in mind, I tend to smile and laugh on the inside… it’s that Queen Elizabeth thing I seem to channel. Todd, being the super cool guy that he is, has always kept every show in which we see him completely magical. Both he and Craig are as great a team in comics as they are a stand up act bouncing a joke between each other. We also spent time with the amazingly cool couple Matt and Suzanne Wieringo, and checked out Matt’s latest pages for Todd’s Perhapanauts backup story. Seriously, Matt’s art style, his perspectives, his backgrounds, his characters, are something to gape at. I cannot wait to see the story finished and colored because the pages are frame-worthy right now!
I caught up with Mike Maihack, another one of those ‘nicest guys’ in comics who I’m proud to have become fast friends with since Heroes Con back in June. Mike’s regular work on his web comic and book series Cow & Buffalo and his latest series Cleopatra in Spaaaace! are instant classics of the cartooning world. If by some chance you are not already making a weekly stop to either of these web comics then please start! We also caught up with the mischievous Rich Woodall who arrived at the show right off the back of completing 500 Star Wars sketch cards in only a couple of weeks. Rich and his buddy Adam have been working on a Zombie anthology comic that will include stories by many talented folk and hopefully myself and Leanne included. The deadline fast approaches for Volume 1… *sigh* How to juggle a crammed schedule? Is that a “For Dummies” book?
Oh! Amongst other things, Leanne has an opportunity with a well known comic book character which was one of the most exciting developments of the weekend. I also handed copies of Sovena Red to a select few writers who I respect very much and hope at minimum to get some vital feedback for my future projects. Sovena Red is certainly looking like it is headed in the book fair direction as it has possibilities as a Scholastic comic.
It’s hard to summarize the entire weekend without missing the many little moments that made it magical. Perhaps most excitingly we made some new friends and look forward to seeing everyone again next year if not sooner. It’s a long break now for many of us before the next major shows as New York Comic Con has moved from February to the end of the year 2010. Until that time, keep watching this space for more news on the creative front as new projects come together and current projects (hopefully) get some wind beneath their wings. All the best!