SpringCon killed all the monsters

SpringCon was great. For those who aren’t familiar with it, it’s the larger of the two Minnesota conventions put on by the wonderful folks of the Midwest Comic Book Association. FallCon is a one-day show in October, but SpringCon runs Saturday and Sunday, usually in May. The Minneapolis/Saint Paul area has a great comics scene and the MCBA goes out of its way to treat creators like royalty, so there’s always a lot of participation. Both conventions are fantastic, family-friendly shows and highlights of my year.

My wife’s out of town for a friend’s college graduation, so David and I hung out together all weekend. David made the second issue of Hulkasaurus, his series of mini-comics about his own giant monster, and I had several copies of Kill All Monsters left over from C2E2. KAM did very well and I sold out early on Sunday. A surprise hit for me was Hunt the Winterlands, a fantasy anthology of prose stories that I contributed to a year or so ago. I’ve had it at a few shows since then and sold some copies, but it sold like hotcakes this time.

David sold most of his copies of Hulkasaurus #2. A couple of other friends of mine were also exhibiting with their kids who also did very well all weekend. It’s great to see children getting into making art and comics so early, and even greater to see the local community support them so much.

David had an iguana puppet at his table, which is the model for a giant monster in Hulkasaurus, so he had a great time using it to attract people to the table. Or just playing with friends:

As usual, we sat near Grant Gould who’s always amazing with kids. He and David did an art trade, with Grant’s drawing one of David’s favorite characters and David’s drawing something Grant had mentioned earlier: a dinosaur/scorpion hybrid.

Otis Frampton was on the other side of our table nearest me and I had a great time getting to know him a little better. He’s a super-talented artist and was also really welcoming of David. My good friends Jessica Hickman and Darla Ecklund were nearby as well and David and I shared a couple of meals with them.

I also enjoyed finally getting to meet Ron Marz, who was visiting an MCBA show for the first time, and Trevor Von Eeden, who is – no lie – the sweetest person in comics. I had the privilege of being in the audience at San Diego Comic-Con last year when he received the Inkpot Award. Getting to hear him accept it and talk about his career was a highlight not only of that panel, but of the entire convention for me. Getting to tell him so yesterday was a highlight of this weekend. Comics people are the best people.

In addition to talking to people – and I know I’m leaving out so many of you; I’m sorry – I bought a bunch of comics of course and a couple of pieces of art, including this Godzilla silhouette by Jennifer Menken.

One final memory of the show was how humid it was. We had unseasonably hot weather at FallCon a few years ago and it was appropriately dubbed SweatCon. This year, I thought that MoistCon would be appropriate until the torrential rains started coming down on Sunday and it turned into something more like HurriCon.

Not that that “dampened” anyone’s fun. It was a great time and thanks again to the MCBA for hosting!

Three women on a comics convention panel…

And it’s not a Women in Comics panel?!

This can’t be the first time this has ever happened at a convention, but it’s rare enough that I want to point out that SpringCon has scheduled a panel at 3:00 pm this Saturday with Elizabeth Berube, Trina Robbins, and Amy Reeder and doesn’t mention the panelists’ gender even once in the description. Instead, the panel will focus on the way the comics industry has changed from generation to generation. I imagine there’ll be some gender discussion as part of that conversation, but it’s refreshing to see a convention that doesn’t have to point that out specifically or make it the focus of the panel.

I’ll be exhibiting at SpringCon, but I’m gonna try to sneak away from the table long enough to attend this.

Kill All Monsters at SpringCon

As I mentioned yesterday, my next convention appearance will be at SpringCon in Saint Paul/Minneapolis. That’s always a fun, creator-focused show with lots of opportunity for fans to interact with legendary talent from the Golden Age to today. This year’s group includes people like Howard Chaykin, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Phil Hester, Dan Jurgens, Ryan Kelly, Pablo Marcos, Ron Marz, Amy Reeder, and Trina Robbins.

There are also lots of great, not-as-legendary creators from the thriving local scene, which is where I come in. I’ll be there with some copies of Kill All Monsters and some great prints that Jason made of the book’s wraparound cover. Mark your calendar!

Back from C2E2

C2E2 was amazing. It was great to hang out with Jason in person for the the first time in a few years. It never feels like it’s been that long, because a) we talk quite a bit online, and b) that’s just the kind of friendship we have. It’s a similar deal with artist/RPG-creator Grant Gould. I’ve been going to conventions and rooming with Grant for almost a decade now and he’s as nice as he is talented. It’s always great to visit with him and catch up.

Also got caught up with a lot of other folks, met some new friends, and got to put faces to names of some other online pals. I’m fearful of starting a list for fear of leaving anyone out, but C2E2 is always like a big family reunion for me and this year was no different.

Kill All Monsters did extremely well at the show. We almost sold out of our supply, but still have several for SpringCon next month. I’m a little concerned about selling out early at SpringCon, but we’ll see how that goes.

To clarify: these were a small run of print-on-demand copies that we printed just to have at conventions a little ahead of the official, retail edition. The official version will be printed on an offset press in large quantities for shipment to stores and Kickstarter backers. In terms of content, the two editions are identical and neither are marked to make one more special than the other. The only difference will be a slight upgrade in print quality on the offset version. The POD version looks great, but the offset version should look even better. The only advantage to the POD is getting to hold it in your hands a little sooner.

Let me know if you have any questions about any of this. We’re not trying to pull a fast one on anyone and want everyone to have access to exactly what they want as quickly as we can get it to them.

We talked to a couple of retailers at C2E2 and were pleased to hear that it’s not just our local shops that are ordering the book. We also had a lot of readers stop by to tell us that either they’d already backed us on Kickstarter or had heard about KAM online. Even people who didn’t buy a copy right then were very complimentary and it was just a really pleasant experience meeting so many comics fans. I’m usually running around covering panels and talking to publishers and creators during C2E2, so it was a change getting to sit still and just meet readers for three days. I enjoyed the heck out of it.

Kill All Monsters at C2E2

Jason and I will be at C2E2 this year and we’d love it if you’d come see us if you’re there too. The table’s in Jason’s name (M6 in Artist Alley), but I’ll be there all weekend too. We’ll have some print-on-demand copies of Kill All Monsters, Volume 1: Ruins of Paris to sell and I’m sure some other things for you to look at, but mostly we’d just like to meet you and say “hi.”

You can find us under this banner:

The spiritual side of writing

Sorry about not posting yesterday. I got back from FablesCon Sunday night and immediately went to work on writing it up for Robot 6. That, plus just being gone all weekend, didn’t leave any time for here.

I won’t go over again how much I loved the convention as a whole, but I can go into more detail about the effect it had on me. At some point over the weekend, I tweeted that the cumulative effect of the panels was “incredibly inspirational for storytelling. Like, spiritually so.” What I meant was that being in the same room with experienced writers like Kurt Busiek, Mike Carey, Peter Gross, and Chris Roberson – and listening to these guys talk about not just writing, but storytelling in general – kind of filled up my tanks.

Writing is a lot of fun for me, but I don’t always feel passionate about it. I discipline myself to write every day whether I feel like it or not, and that keeps me productive, but though I always enjoy writing as I’m doing it, there are times when I don’t really want to sit in that chair. I’ve also developed disciplines to help me organize my stories and keep them on track and that’s all really good. I need that, because I’m not that disciplined by nature, but it can get stifling.

At FablesCon, I got a lot of permission to let loose and just enjoy the flow of ideas. Roberson, Carey, and Gross talked a lot about it (Matt O’Keefe has a good write-up of that particular panel at The Beat) with Carey even saying that he doesn’t teach three-act structure anymore in his workshops. Carey also poked holes in other writing conventions, like the idea that characters can steal control of a story from the writer (he writes more about that on his Good Reads blog, which is now in my bookmarks). He admits to being a very organized, outline-using writer, but he also lets himself play, as does Roberson. Their excitement about telling stories was contagious and motivating.

I want more of that and I think my experience at FablesCon showed me a way to get it. I got to chat with Roberson a couple of times in addition to attending some of his panels and was blown away by how well-read he is. I’m pretty good at consuming large quantities of stories, but Roberson makes me want to be a better, pickier reader. Though I don’t do much linkblogging anymore, I still tend to read the Internet that way: scouring for details about comics and movies that I’m not even interested in. That time could be better spent on a critical essay or two; or even watching Life of Pi, which I understand has some deeply profound things to say about the power of stories.

In fact, I’m going to add Life of Pi to the top of my Netflix queue right now, because if it’s everything I hear it is, I have post in me about it and Roberson’s famous quote about Superman and Jesus. Thanks to FablesCon, I’m starting to realize how much of a spiritual activity storytelling is and I want to think and discover more about that.

Heading to Fabletown and Beyond

This weekend I’m planning to be in Rochester for the first ever Fabletown and Beyond convention celebrating Mythic Fiction comics. I won’t have a table or anything, I just want to go to show my support and cover the convention for Robot 6.

It’s inspired by Rochester-resident Bill Willingham’s Fables comic, so he’ll be there, but so will other great guests like Mark Buckingham (Fables), Chris Roberson and Allison Baker (Memorial, Monkeybrain Comics), Steve Leialoha (Fables), Kurt Busiek (Arrowsmith, The Wizards Tale), Mike Cary (The Unwritten), Peter Gross (Lucifer, Books of Magic), Adam Hughes (Fairest), Van Jensen (Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer), Mike Oeming (Mice Templar), David Petersen (Mouse Guard), Matt Sturges (Jack of Fables), and over a dozen other good people. It promises to be a unique convention and I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time. Let me know if you’re going and we’ll meet up.

In other news, Bleeding Cool did a nice write-up of Emerald City Comic-Con focusing on Jason Copland and Melissa Pagluica. It misspells Jason’s last name and misidentifies the writer of Kill All Monsters, but I’m grateful for the attention to the book. Writer Matt Harding talks about “the epic scale of color and explosions that caught my eye as they decorated the full wrap-around cover of this landscape-printed volume. […] The artwork is fun and clean, yet conveys a sense of drama, therefore capturing the storyline perfectly.” Thanks, Matt! (Pagluica’s stuff is amazing too. Check out the Beauty and the Beast piece at the top of the post.)

Fellow Robot 6 contributor Corey Blake is also involved with the Comics Observer site and one of the things he does there is a digital comics column called Pixel Pages. He recently profiled Kelly Yates’ MonstHer from Artist Alley Comics (where you can also buy Kill All Monsters in digital form) and talked a little about AAC. He calls it “unique from other digital comics distributors in that they let you download a PDF file that you can keep, instead of leasing you a digital file stored by them. They’re still formatted like print comics, so they read best on tablets like iPads, even though they don’t have an app yet (and their website’s navigation isn’t the best despite a nice and clean look). But the low price ($0.99 instead of $2.99-$3.99) and a true purchase are where digital comics should be.”

Finally, if you’re curious about the Avenger anthology that I contributed to and want to know a little more about the character, Snell gives the Jack Kirby version of him the Monstrobot treatment at Slay, Monstrobot of the Deep. By “Monstrobot treatment” I mean that he shares some panels and talks about the character in a really entertaining way, in this case comparing him favorably to the Punisher.

Kill All Monsters: The Banner (and Forbidden Island)

If you’re trying to spot Jason at Emerald City, C2E2, or any of the other shows he’s going to, this is what you’re looking for. It’ll be looming over his table like a… well, like a giant robot. Can’t wait to sit beneath it at C2E2.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that Jason and I are going to be at C2E2 with copies of Kill All Monsters, Volume 1: Ruins of Paris. Yes, we are.

In mostly unrelated news, the Forbidden Island story I mentioned a couple of weeks ago is a go for the anthology I wrote it for. More details about that as official announcements are made, but I’m excited that the editor liked it.

Kill All Monsters at Emerald City Comicon

Check out this rough of the next Kill All Monsters print that Jason’s working on. It’ll be one of a few that he’ll have for Emerald City Comicon at table P-17. He’s also going to be on the Graphic Novels and Motion Comics panel Saturday night, so if you’re going to be at the show be sure to check that out.

Most exciting of all though is that he’ll have print copies of Kill All Monsters, Volume 1: Ruins of Paris! It’ll be a limited edition, print-on-demand run – not the official version coming out from Alterna – but it’ll be there and people can buy it. And I’ll be totally jealous if you do. I still have to wait a couple of months ’til I get mine.