Monday, July 6, 2015


Conceived and used with the permission of Matthew Constantine and Brad Gullickson, the originaldorks.

Everyone has a “Top 5.”  But Brad and Matt, choosing to walk a different path, amended that to “A Fistful…” over at their blog, In the Mouth of Dorkness.  A film-centric blog where they also discuss comics and books and TV, these two regularly share their top 5, ranging from “Heroic Kids” to “Spies” to “Summer Movies” to “Punches” to all things in between.  Always fun, often insightful, and something I hope to regularly pilfer for Warrior27.  As they say:  If you’re going to steal, steal from those you know relatively well, who will not sue you.

This week is Comic-Con and all the Dorks—less Matt, the Omega Dork—are heading across the country to attend. 

[cue jealousy music]

During the run-up to this monumental task, the ITMODcast released their COMICCONcast , which was a great combination of reminiscences and advice (heavy on the reminiscences, which includes some great stories).  If you’re planning to attend any convention this year, or just want to experience it vicariously, you should check this episode out.  And, in honor of their recent episode, I’m sharing my own “Fistful of Convention Moments.”  They may not stack up to helping pull John Landis out of his rickshaw, but they’re pretty close, for me. 

In descending order: 

5.   Paul Pope recognizing me at MoCCA (2007)

MoCCA-fest 2007 took place in April of that year, in New York City’s Puck Building.  It was a great art comics fest, with a bunch of great creators.  One of those was Paul Pope.  I’d met  and spoken with him at the previous year’s SPX, held in Bethesda, Maryland in late September.  He’d had a bunch of his self-published books there—THB, Escapo, Buzz Buzz Comics Magazine—and I’d bought every one, since I’d never found any of those at my LCS.  Pope was generous with his time, speaking with me about comics and creating, and it made a great impression on me. 

That spring, I was now writing for the Pulse website, and I wanted to do an email interview with Pope for my column.  I got in line with Dan.  And when I stepped up to his table, Pope instantly recognized me and remembered our conversations from SPX.  Yeah, it was a “fanboy” moment, but it was pretty damn awesome too.  Oh, and I got to do that interview as well.  Check it here.

4.  Meeting Joe Hill at Baltimore (2013)

Brad, at the ITMODcast, will remember this one.  But first, preamble:

The first short prose story I sold was directly influenced by Joe Hill’s short story, “Abraham’s Boys.”  I’d been hearing about Hill from friends and decided to check out his 20th Century Ghosts collection, to see what the fuss was about.  When I finished “Abraham’s Boys,” it was like Tetris blocks falling into place, for me.  I understood how he’d structured it, focusing on how Joe Hill managed to plant the “story turn” into the narrative without it being forced, and as I sat in the Borders café, I started building that first “successful” story of my own. 

So, fast-forward to Baltimore-Con, 2003.  Brad and I get in line to meet Joe Hill.  Brad has some of Hill’s work to be signed.  I have a copy of Warrior27 (my self-published comic, co-created with Dan) that featured Shane Leonard’s first photo-cover for a comic (Leonard is Hill’s best friend and did similar duty for some of the issues of Locke & Key).  I also had a copy of my chapbook, with that initial story inspired by “Abraham’s Boys.”  When we get up to Hill, I explain everything, tell him I wanted to thank him and share my story with him, and Hill, who is a generous person with fans, thanked me and asked me to sign the chapbook to him.  I didn’t notice, but Brad told me afterward, that the line started to hum, asking who I was and what was going on.  Brad shared the details—Warrior27 and all that—and I got big adrenaline boost for the rest of that day, at the con. 

3. In line for George Perez, Wizard World Chicago (2001)

2001 was the first year I hit a big comic convention.  A 19-hour drive from Maine to Chicago, and it was well worth it.  The highlight, for me, was getting to meet my all-time favorite superhero artist, George Perez.  This man is generous with his time and generous to his fans. 

Day one involved scoping out the convention hall.  Finding where creators were and making plans for attacking the floor the following days.  And it became obvious that I would need to head to Perez’s booth immediately, since the line was capped quite early.  So, Dan and I both did that. 

We were somewhere between 22nd and 25th in line for Perez.  I had my sketchbook, a few comics, and my Batman portfolio, which DC published in the late 80s.  We were in line for five hours.  And it was so worth it.  Perez would occasionally get up from the table, walk down the line, tell us how crazy we were with this huge smile, and then return to his fans.  And each one of us got time to talk with him.  He signed anything we wanted signed (I had decided which of the plates in the portfolio I’d have him sign, but he said, without hesitation, I’ll just sign them all).  And I got a free head sketch of my favorite superhero, the Flash—the Barry Allen version, which he inquired about, because Perez draws Barry differently (with a longer face) than the Wally West version (rounder, and looking a bit younger).  Definitely one of the big highlights of my convention-going.   

2. Selling books all weekend at SPX (2006)

In 2005, Dan and I tabled at our first convention, Wizard World Chicago.  It was a frickin’ disaster—standing behind our table, selling no books, wondering what the hell we thought we were doing, just terrible.  But…it did teach us some valuable lessons à  see here, and here, and here.

So, when we decided to create a second issue of Warrior27 and exhibit at a convention, we chose more wisely and went where our audience (for a black and white book by anonymous creators that has no superheroes and some prose in it) would be—Bethesda, Maryland and SPX. 

That convention was awesome. We were selling books all weekend, and in half the time we sold dozens and dozens more books than we had in Chicago.  It made perfect sense, in hindsight.  Regardless, actually having readers interacting with us and paying real money for something we created, was an amazing experience.  And it kept us both going with this “writing thing.”  This is also the convention where I met some other great creators, like Mike LaRiccia and G.B. Tran and Justin Fox, who’ve gone on to do some great work.  Google those guys, you won’t be disappointed.

1. Meeting Harlan Ellison at Dragon-Con (2004)

Without a doubt, this is my ultimate convention experience.  Harlan Ellison is my favorite author, bar none (though Alan Moore, Hemingway, and David Mitchell certainly make a run for that title, depending on my mood) and he was going to be at Dragon-Con, 2004.  Coupled with the first stateside appearance of Warren Ellis in years, this convention was a no-brainer for myself, and Dan & Gibran. 

The interesting thing about Dragon-Con is that it is spread across three different venues (or it was a decade ago, when we drove to Atlanta).  And, as such, it can be difficult to figure out where creators are going to be (or it was for me).  When we finally moved out of the main convention hall, Dan and I had to walk a number of blocks to find the second hotel/conference center where guests were tabling.  And, without knowing, we stumbled upon Harlan Ellison’s table.  I started acting like a little kid. 

The line for Ellison was not that long.  Dan and I stepped up to the table.  And when we got up to Ellison, he regaled us with stories (of him marching in Louisiana during the Civil Rights movement and being imprisoned and beaten for that), told Dan he was a pussy when he tried to share his one time being accosted by the police (I kept my mouth shut, having only received a speeding ticket as my most heinous offense), shared the names of writers we should check out, like W.S. Merwin, and  generally was a gracious, outgoing, entertaining, pleasant, if foul-mouthed, host, at his table.  Great, great moment. 


  •           Meeting and talking with Morgan Spurlock, as he was walking around the aforementioned MoCCA-fest, just checking things out with his partner and their child.   
  •           Playing SPOT RICK at Wizard World – an inside joke that Dan and Gibran will get, and I’ll explain if you come up to the table at this year’s [2015] Baltimore-Con and ask nicely. 
  •           Meeting the Beast Master at Dragon-Con and being swept into the conversation he was having with Dan.  That guy is still jacked and was super-enthusiastic to meet and talk with fans.  Totally cool time.
  •           Meeting and talking to one of my favorite artists, Scott Morse, at SPX.  The guy is a phenomenal creator and super-nice (as most of the artists and writers I’ve had the pleasure of meeting tend to be)

So, there are my top 5 Con Moments.  What are yours? 


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