04th Jul2007

Fourth of July ‘Splosions!

by Will

“I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to me.”

First off, let me say that I’ll never understand Myspace politics. I shuffled my Top Friends around to reflect the real-time state of things. I didn’t remove anybody. I simply shifted. And all of a sudden, I’m some asshole? It’s ranked by who I speak to most frequently. That’s pretty much it, but somehow I’ve slighted someone. I didn’t do this…

Anyway, happy 4th of July! I’m starting to think that Michael Bay is my real daddy. Why? Because I f’ing love explosions. Most people would be frightened or the noise might get to them, but I *love* them. No, this isn’t going to be a Transformers post. I haven’t seen it, nor do I have any real desire to, seeing as how my days have been wrapped up in Transformers for the past 3 months…

No, I’m talking about fireworks. My friend Lindsay and I went to the National Mall because I’d never seen the DC fireworkstravaganza. It was pretty awesome. As I sat there, watching beautiful things explode, I didn’t have a care in the world. It was somewhat therapeutic and just what I needed. I’m twisted, I know. Guess I’ll have to bring that up in therapy next week…

25th Jun2007

My Adventures At The American Library Association Conference

by Will

“Root Beer: The White man’s ‘Orange Drink’!”

Alas, the 21 days are over. No more wedding party. I was up until 3 this morning, watching I Propose. Why the Hell am I doing this to myself…

In any case, I spent my Saturday meeting clients at the American Library Association Conference at the convention center. Now, my first thought was, “Who’s manning the libraries?!” I mean, every librarian in North America had to be at this thing. I think they were expecting around 30,000 people. Let me say, conferences are funny because you’ve got nothing but a ton of people supporting every stereotype that you’ve ever held about a specific group. Librarians? Everything you’ve heard about them is true!

Many of them are young, hot, and naughty. They look at you like they want to take you in the stacks and have you mess up their Dewey decimal system. That may be true, but many of them are also the contingent that’s older and more lunchlady-like. The kind of woman to teach you to read with Dr. Seuss , as you sit, Indian-style, on a rug. The kind of grandmotherly woman who might stroke your hair as she’s reading NFL Huddles to you (Did anybody else read that series? In kindergarten, there was always a list to check out that series. I hated football, but you bet your ass I was on that list!) Spank me! No, read to me! No, talk dirty to me! Yes, I know there’s no talking in the library! A place like that can be murder on a person’s hormones.

When you work in the small press, you learn to go straight to the back of the room ’cause that’s where your people are going to be. It’s kinda like the Jim Crow days. Not Marvel or DC? Back of the bus, Colored! Anyway, I met a couple of my vendors for the first time, and I ran into one that I met at my first show (SPX), back in October. He didn’t recognize me at first, and he says to me, “I don’t mean this in a bad way, but did you lose some weight?” I told him that I was the product of the miracle of running and Slim Fast. He told me I looked great, which is never bad to hear. I’ve worked my ass off the past few months, so it’s nice to know that it shows. Anyway, turns out he’s a runner and he was giving me tips on shoes and whatnot. That was certainly the highlight of my day.

Now, back to the librarians. The book world is so different from the comic world. We’re only just beginning to be accepted as “literature”, hence the set up at a show like this. High school and public libraries are jumping on graphic novels like they’re koopa troopas. But the way that indsutry works is just so different. It’s funny to go somewhere and see Scholastic is the cock of the walk. You know, Harry Potter has been amazing for them, but I’m always going to think of them as the book fair/Weekly Reader company. Well, that company makes everyone else their bitch when it’s conference time. If there’s one thing I took away, it’s don’t fuck with Scholastic. People were lining up for a Harry Potter poster like they were waiting to meet the Pope. You’ve come a long way, Scholastic!

Also, this is the first conference I’ve ever seen where you can just drink on the floor. “Our book was just nominated for some shit. Come get some champagne!” There was such an odd mix of exhibitors, too. One company specialized in shelving and organization, so I guess that made sense. However, their set up was not of a bookself. No, the shelves were in the pictures. The booth, actually, was set up as a bar. And they were giving out Heineken! As much as I wanted to partake, I really didn’t want to get roped in. As cool as con swag may be, it’s meant to bring you in so that they can start a dialogue. I didn’t feel like sitting through a spiel, as they ask about my library and circulation, and then I have to answer with the whole, ‘Well, I’m not actually a librarian…” Nope. At that point, I’d just be “that freeloading Black guy” (there were only about 5 of us there, so it wouldn’t be hard for me to be pegged as the “freeloading one”) and I didn’t need that. So, no drinky for me. But I more than made up for that later that day.

The most impressive aspect of the day, though, was the end of the show. I have to hand it to librarians, in that they follow instructions. The show was to end at 5, and they began to slowly mill out around 4:50. there was no announcement, no nothing. By 5, that hall was clear. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the auto show or a comic con, but there’s always that bunch that just won’t leave. “I’m just about to meet George Perez,” they whine. Or “Let me just get one more picture of this Escalade!”. But not here. These ladies knew what to do and when to do it, and I’ve never seen such an orderly exodus. They teach us to love reading, and they teach us punctuality. Is there no limit to their greatness?!

In closing, and off topic, the unplugged version of Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer is something akin to a religious experience. The same way that Clapton redefined Layla in his unplugged session, LoaP became an entirely different song. You’re really forced to feel it, and it becomes so much more than “that song played after The Outfield’s Your Love and before Sweet Caroline at last call”…

12th Mar2007

Working In Comics: New York Comic-Con & Stalking Frank Cho

by Will

“I hope you guys have ‘hobo-stab insurance’!”

So, where were we…regrets. You know, as I looked back on the last 3 posts, they were real downers, and this series could really go on forever. So, for now, I’m going to make it an recurring feature, but not let it take over the entire blog. It’s too easy to fall into that trap. Look at Dateline. You know, there WAS a time when it wasn’t all about child predators. Anyway, that’s not a life for me. Let’s talk about work.

I haven’t really written about my job, as comic kids are WAY too web-savvy. I mention a title that I hate, and the next thing you know, I’m going to read “The Diamond Guy hates Planet Hulk!” on some Newsarama post.

In any case, sometimes I lose track of reality, and certain events serve to show me just how jaded I’ve become. You think your job’s hard? You ain’t seen nothing til you’ve seen a pair of horny giraffes going down on each other. Yup, a longnecked soixante-neuf (did you know that a giraffe has 2 penises? Well, one of these most certainly did!.) Oh yeah, it’s real and it’s $2.50.
You see, people think of comics, and they think, “Biff, Bam, Pow!” but there’s a lot of freaky stuff out there that’s not advertised in everday places. And it’s my job to peruse and list each and every one of them.

And the industry. Everybody hates everybody else. Recently, I was talking to one of my coworkers about a guy, and his response was, “You know, it’s a shame that some people just didn’t go down with the towers.” Yeah, those towers.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my job, and I don’t think I’ve ever said that before. Sure, there aren’t enough hours in the day, and my commute’s an hour each way, but I get to work in comics! Whoo-hoo! At the same time, I hop online and everyone hates me. Not me, specifically, but my role in the machine. Everybody hates a middleman, even when things aren’t his fault. They love to kill the messenger, but they need the messenger to get the word out about a golden age revival, or the latest wave of hot Japanese boy-on-boy action. Yep, all of these are out there. Comics aren’t just Batman & Spider-Man. Nowadays, comics are “art”, they’re used to educate, and if you like furries, they’re there to help you get your rocks off. These ain’t your grandaddy’s comics. Or maybe they are…it might explain why you no longer go home for the holidays.

Anyway, I haven’t posted lately because I have been bone tired from the New York Comic Con. It was my first work trip, and it rocked my socks! At the same time, it was exhausting. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not parties with “creative types” all the time. The show was from Thursday-Sunday, and I didn’t even go out until Saturday night. But OH, what a night it was!

2 of my dreams came true at the end of the con on Saturday. First of all, I was walking through the hall, and noticed a new-ish banner hanging in the DC Booth. The previous night, Gail Simone had been seated there (btw, I introduced myself to her, and tried to discuss the Reappropriate drama, which went over about as well as a fart in church…), but I saw that there was now a Wildstorm banner there. Well, curiosity got the best of me, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought it was a comic mirage. Certainly, Jim Lee couldn’t be sitting right in front of me! And I would have to be losing my mind if I seriously thought that only 7 people were in line for him! But alas, it was him.

***********************sidebar, creator stats*******************************************
Jim Lee,
former EIC Wildstorm
founder, Image Comics (the first real competitor to Marvel & DC)

Penciller on launch of X-Men (#1 held record for highest selling comic @ 1,000,000 copies)
Went on to pencil WildC.A.T.S.; Gen13; Batman: Hush; Superman: For Tomorrow; All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder

Creator of the Wildstorm Universe

*************************end of creator stats******************************************

So, I got in line, but I had NOTHING for him to sign. Nor did I have a sketchbook. After all, I was there to work. So, imagine how I felt when I noticed that, not only was he signing, he was SKETCHING. FOR. FREE.

Luckily, DC had these backing board-sized pages on one of the tables, and soon my time came. I got up to him, and he said hi I responded with a nervous, “Hi, it’s an honor to meet you. How are you?” He didn’t catch that last part. Once again, I stammered, “How are you?” I don’t even remember what happened. I think I asked him for Batman. Either way, about 5 mins later,I had my very own Batman head sketch, signed “To Will, Best, Jim Lee”. My own Jim Lee Batman. If you’re one of the 3 comic people who read this thing, I’ll give you a moment to go get a towel and wipe yourselves off. If not, all other men should just imagine they’ve met Chuck Norris, and women should picture…I dunno…who’s a woman that all women would like to meet? Forget it. Anyway, it was a momentous occasion. But wait; there’s more!

So, as I was leaving the DC booth, I noticed Frank Cho seated at an adjacent booth. Now, Frank is a U.MD:CP grad, mostly known for his sydicated comic strip “Liberty Meadows”. Recently, he’s had a bunch of success drawing Marvel superheroes, like Spider-Woman and the Avengers.

Now, here’s my thing with Frank. I’m almost stalking him lately. You see, I met him 2 years ago at my first Baltimore Con, but he meets so many people at those things that it doesn’t count. But about 3 months ago, I met him, “for real”, at a local comic shop. It seems that he likes the sushi place next door, so he comes in to eat his lunch. Imagine my shock to walk into a comic shop on a quiet Thursday, and find him just sitting, eating his lunch! We had about an hour-long shit-shooting fest, as I asked him about Civil War and whatnot.

Well, fast forward to about a month after that meeting, when he and his family came into Toys R Us. Immediately, I recognized him, and after his “this guy is sketching me out” look subsided, I helped him find some Legos.

So, back to NYCC. I see Frank, and I go over to him just to say hi. When I get up to the table, it’s just the two of us, and I say, “Man, I swear I’m not stalking you!” Then, I asked if he was doing the whole show and if he’d be doing sketches. I was just chatting, so I was pretty surprised when he said, “Well, I’ll do one for you.” Once again, I had nothing to sketch on. It had taken me forever to get the page for Jim Lee, and now this! As I frantically searched my bag for some semblance of flat paper, I decided to run off to a retailer friend for paper. I told him I’d be right back, and capped it off with “Please don’t hate me!” As I ran off, I heard him say, “Hey, I hate you already!” BFF, baby!

So, I came back with a backing board, and when he asked what I wanted, I just told him to surprise me. Well, it was awesome when he skecthed Liberty Meadows mainstay Truman, who was screaming, “I Want My Lego!”. He remembered

Why did I remember that story today? Well, when I came in to work this morning, there was a comic sitting in front of my monitor. Looking closer, I saw that it was signed, “To Will, my Diamond Stalker”. You see, Frank did the art on last week’s Mighty Avengers #1 (tie-in to the death of Captain America, which I’m sure you heard about), and he was doing signings at the same store in which I met him. It seems that one of my coworkers who knows EVERYBODY in the industry had gotten it for me. And it’s moments like that where I can’t help but think, “This job kicks ASS!”

29th Jan2007

My Life, In Watches

by Will

“But we’ve just lost the beat.”

I’ve always had a thing for watches. Carrie Bradshaw has her Manolo’s, and I’ve got whatever Fossil/Casio/Timex catches my eye. Sure, we’re talking low price points here, but that’s how I roll.

Now, as far back as I can remember, I was into watches. When I was 2, Mommy bought me a Ronald McDonald watch. I had some sort of tantrum, and destroyed in the foyer of our house. When she questioned me about it, all I could say was, “Well, he was fat, anyway.” She vowed not to buy me a new watch, but I had a Michael Jackson watch soon afterwards.

After Daddy died, I had a Knight Rider watch. Man, did I love that watch. If I remember correctly, it didn’t even tell time. It was fake and plastic, but it had a picture of K.I.T.T. inside, and that’s all I needed.

Recently, I’ve come to notice that I get new watches to signify new phases in my life. For some miraculous reason, it becomes “new watch time” whenever there’s a sort of shift in the things in my life. Now, sometimes “new watch time” is signalled by a dead battery. Let me let you in on a little secret: I don’t change watch batteries. I just buy a new watch. So far, the batteries have lasted for years, and they tend to die at just the right time.

In middle school, I had my Radio Shack calculator watch. Yup, I was THAT kid. But I loved that watch, with its calendar function and “deet-deet” alarm. I was a geek, but I didn’t care. At that point, I didn’t much care what people thought of me because I knew I was kind of weird and I was fine with that. I was my own best friend and I had my imagination to keep me company.

In high school, I went through several different watches, mainly because none of them really held much meaning for me. I was trying to settle on watches as I tried to figure out who I was. Honestly, though, high school was NOT this time of angst that people make it out to be. In all truth, I expected it to be like ‘Saved by the Bell”, and was disappointed when it was NOT like that. Either way, I didn’t have the growing pains of not being asked to dances, or learning to drive. Life is like the lottery: you’ve gotta be in it to win it, and I decided to sit it out. My high school weekends involved me watching tapes of pre-recorded TNBC while talking on the phone to my friends while they were out living their lives.

In college, I had 2 watches that come to mind. When I first went to school, I had this really bootleg musical watch that Mommy really pushed on me at City Place. Now, I liked the watch and all, but it had a big G clef on the face, and little notes for each hour. I was emerging from a few years playing piano, and it was pre-a cappella. If anything, I was in my musical theatre phase. The watch, though it sounds kinda gay, was actually nice. The downside, though, was that I felt a musical watch should PLAY music. It didn’t have a little song, so I felt gypped. Anyway, I got the watch and wore the HELL out of it. By Christmas (maybe 6 months after buying it), the band had worn off (thanks City Place!).

I came home for Christmas, and Mommy bought me a Relic watch from JC Penney. “Relic” was basically a generic “Fossil”, but it was a beautiful watch. Oddly enough, it had a blueish-green face which matched the stone in my class ring. It was like my accessories had been destined to be together. It’s funny because we HATE Penney’s, but sometimes what you’re looking for is where you least expect it. Anyway, I wore that watch for the rest of Cornell and through graduation. In fact, I wore it up until about 6 months ago.

Now, a few people might know this, but 2004 was pretty rough for me. In a LOT of ways. Hell, you can go back and read the archives. Sometimes, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Anyway, I was working at H&M and it’s a freaky place. It’s not simply retail, but instead it’s this weird, neo-hippy, bohemian enclave that happens to sell clothes. I decided , “Hey, I’m gonna ride this opportunity til the wheels fall off”, so I started crafting “H&M Will”. Part of that involved a Fossil leather cuff watch. Now, I never would’ve looked twice at the thing 4 years ago, but at this point, I felt it would complete the ensemble. Several returns, fitting room shifts, and gay bars later, I realized that I didn’t really like that world so much. Plus, I felt it was a lesson that I shouldn’t have traded up watches “before it was time”.

Unfortunately, while lost in the world of leather, my pretty, blueish Relic died on me. It died on me when I needed it most. I was working in the illustrious commercial real estate industry as the world’s worst telemarketer. I didn’t know how I got there, nor did I know how to get out. Everything was changing around me, but I felt stuck. And my accessories didn’t match anymore. The high school ring had given way to the Cornell ring. For some reason, I decided that I didn’t like the traditional A.D White ring and designed my own, with black onyx. It had always clashed with the pretty watch, but it went quite well with the leather cuff. And that didn’t sit right with me. I always wanted to have class, be a little GQ, but now I felt very “gloryhole”. And it didn’t help that I didn’t know what I wanted to be or how to get there.

Finally, prayers were answered, and “it was time”. Not only did I gain my emancipation, but I also fell into my dream industry: comics. As a brand manager, I would have to be a figurehead at cons and whatnot, and there’s a certain emphasis on appearance. Suddenly, I knew it was time to do something about the leather cuff. I wasn’t really that person anymore, nor did I want to be. Right before my birthday, I was looking through a magazine, and I fell in love. Right there, I saw a attractive, black Fossil with a diamond at 12 o’clock. No, re-read what I wrote: It was an attractive, black fossil with a diamond at 12 o’clock. For all of you English majors out there, that’s what you call metatext, so I’m not going to ruin your analysis. I had to have it, and actually bought it for myself before buying most of the presents I needed to buy for my family; hey, I’m an only child!

The watchband was actually too large, and I needed to take a few links out for it to fit better. Yesterday, I finally got around to getting the links taken out. It was at that time that I realized I hadn’t really tried the watch on. Sure, I’d sampled it, but what can you tell from that? I was left with the feeling that it was more beautiful, more attractive on paper than on my wrist. Sure, I could grow into it. As Mr. Humphries would say, “It’ll ride up with wear”. Either way, as I sit here typing this, I look down at my attractive, black Fossil with the Diamond at the top, and I wonder if it’s really for me. Maybe it was meant to stay on paper. I hope I don’t come to regret my new watch/phase of life. Regrets…that’s a topic we’ll revisit tomorrow.

26th Dec2006

Screwed By A Comic Blogger

by Will

“Only my success matters!”

Never put anything in writing! That’s what I’ve finally learned. I’ve always been paranoid, keeping every IM conversation and e-mail that comes across my screen. But the one time I got sloppy, I got screwed.

Today marks a milestone. I finally saw something I had written printed on a news site. Now, I had no idea they were going to print this, nor did I know that it was going to be shared with anyone other than the person to whom it was sent. But lo and behold, I fire up the Bloglines, and see one of my e-mail paragraphs pasted verbatim on a site.

Now, I’m not necessarily going to get in trouble. It didn’t leak trade secrets, nor did they publish my name. But there’s a specific way that I write e-mails, so any one of my accounts may know it came from me. I think the thing that gets to me is that I was never told that this was going to be passed along to news sites and creators! And this is the second time this has happened to me this month, but the first time it actually showed up for the public.

So, in closing, don’t put anything important on writing. And no, I’m not posting a link; the robots will find me. Let’s just say that it’s on Newsarama and leave it at that…