Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

More from Emerald City Con 2017

Hey, it wasn’t just Greg Burgas representing for the Junk Shop crew at ECCC. I went too.

Granted, it was only on Sunday. I will not bore you with the litany of various crappy personal setbacks that poisoned our February and March, but suffice it to say that we had too many Adulthood Real Life Problems to make the Emerald City Comic-Con the festival it normally is in our household. For us, usually, it really is like Christmas; the occasion when we reconnect with old friends and the kids come home for a visit and so on. But we managed to budget for a LITTLE bit of the big show.

Mr. Burgas already mentioned the CBR Dinner, which retains its name in spite of the fact that none of us have any connection to CBR any more. But the name stuck anyway. Essentially it’s our annual gathering of the tribe– me and Julie, Kurt Mitchell from TwoMorrows, Rob Allen from the GCD crew, and anyone else who’s in town and wants to hang out. We usually have a few of my former students home from college or just around; this year it was Lindon, Shane, and Carlos. Greg Burgas and his wife Krys always come when they’re in town for ECCC and they know Lindon from past cons, so it did feel a bit like a reunion. His picture of us turned out a lot better than mine, so I think I’ll just point you to that one. I did get this sort of weird shadowy one of Kurt and Rob and Kurt’s nieces, and you can see Burgas lurking in the back like a ninja.

Julie also insisted we get a shot of the ventriloquist dummies Kurt’s nieces had brought along.

Why they each had one, I don’t know. We never did find out the backstory there. Anyway, dinner was a lot of fun and many stories were told and anecdotes shared, though I’m afraid I missed a lot of the good stuff because Carlos really, really wanted me to explain to him how you go about selling a novel, and I sort of got embroiled in a tedious knocking-down of his dream of getting rich and famous with his first book. (I know, I’m a mean old man, but it’s not doing a budding writer any favors to let him go swimming with sharks without trying to warn him first. There is an entire predatory industry out there just waiting for starry-eyed kids like Carlos to come along: reading-fee “literary agents” and “editorial consultants,” guys hosting how-to seminars that charge upwards of a hundred bucks to tell a roomful of suckers things like “use the internet as a marketing tool!” and so on.) So I missed most of the fun conversation, though Burgas amused himself at my expense by daring Lindon to ask me about Aquaman and when I started to splutter he chuckled and said “See? Here it comes. You poked the bear,” as I was bellowing, “He’s the goddamn king of the sea! He’s married to a mermaid! He saves people and fights crime underwater! Just like Superman, but underwater! Period! How do you screw that up when it’s so simple? DC keeps trying to fix a thing that isn’t BROKEN!…”

I had to stop at ten for reasons of space but there are many more ridiculously unneccessary changes of direction and relaunches. He’s not the King of the Sea so much as the King of Unneccessary Fixes.

And so on. I could go on but I’ve already done this rant in print a couple of times, at the old stand. Come see us at the dinner next year if you want the long version. But honestly, if you’re a long-time Aquaman fan you probably have a similar rant of your own.


Because Julie and I chose to sleep in the following morning in slothful ease, and the car was still in the shop, it took me too long to get downtown on the bus and I missed connecting with Greg Burgas on Sunday like we had talked about doing; by the time I arrived he and his family had already left for the airport.

Oh well. I’d just fly solo. (Julie had stayed home; ECCC doesn’t give professionals a plus-one any more, and by the time we were in a position to get her a pass, the show had sold out. However, she had directed me to seek out “the sock ladies” and get her a couple pair.)

We had managed to scrape together a meager shopping budget. So my first stop was Randy’s Readers.

After the previous night’s ranting, I’d thought I might see if I could dig up some old-school Aquaman, the Skeates/Aparo run; but he was all out. I did find some other DC stuff that I was very pleased to get. Here’s the haul.

Most of it replacing books I’d had when I was a kid, the World’s Finest in particular. The ringers were Brother Power, because for two dollars I had to, and Gold Key’s The Avengers #1, which I’d been after for years.

Interestingly, even though Steed and Mrs. Peel came way before Marvel’s Avengers comic, Gold Key did not make a fight of putting the name on the cover. Although legally, it’s in the indicia as The Avengers #1. It’s an okay comic; I guess it reprints a couple of British stories. Sort of the kids’ table version of what we saw on the show.

That was pretty much my shopping budget. But I still had my wife’s errand. When she says “the sock ladies” she means Sock Dreams from Portland. I gambled that they’d probably be in the usual spot on the convention floor and indeed they were.

The ladies were very gracious when I explained that I was an ignoramus trying to figure out what his wife wanted, and that it was mostly about comfort and durability and warmth, not fashion. They assured me that they could manage that and preserve the fashionable aspect. We settled on a black pair of knee-highs with white sparkles and a lavender pair with purple sparkles. (Julie likes purple. I figured one pair for work and one for fun.)

With that errand safely accomplished I decided it was time for Artist’s Alley. Several bloggers have mentioned that the innovation this year was to put the entirety of Artist’s Alley on its own separate floor of the convention center. What maybe hasn’t gotten much coverage is the fact that though many were suspicious of this at first, in practice it was a great idea and everyone loved it, even the small press folks. For example, Arielle Jovellanos was having a great show. (She had some fun stickers and pins that I knew Julie would like so I picked up a couple from her.)

But my real grail quest this year in Artist’s Alley was to get a book signed by the great Jose Luis Garcia Lopez. Amazingly, he did not have much of a line at all.

Mostly just old geezers like me. I had my copy of Crossover Classics with the Batman/Hulk story, which is my favorite thing Garcia Lopez ever did. That and the tabloid Superman Vs. Wonder Woman were the clear favorites of the folks in line, most of whom were my age. Several had a pile but I am too nervous about being That Guy to ever bring more than two books to get signed. Usually just one, and even then I always worry the artist will think I’m racing home to put it on eBay.

That’s also why I usually ask to have them personalize it; it’s not to promote the idea that we’re pals, I just want artists to know it’s a treasure for ME and not a dealer investment or something.

I did make it a point to say hi to people I knew. Portland folks mostly….like Dan Schkade, that I’d met the previous year when we were on a panel together, and Adam Knave of Amelia Cole, who I’ve known since his time at TwoHeadedCat.

A highlight was getting to meet Shaft‘s David Walker. We had a nice chat about the original novels (“Oh so you’re a REAL fan,” he said, which completely endeared me to him) and how he had worked with Ernest Tidyman’s widow to try and get Dynamite to keep the character closer to the books. I broke my resolve to stay under budget and used the credit card to get his new prose Shaft novel.

And seeing Emily Martin from Princeless, I had to tell her how much my Cartooning students loved her books. Turned out she teaches an afterschool comics program herself and we had a pleasant conversation about that. I ended up giving her a couple of our student zines and I got this shot of her specifically so the girls in class could see that “the Princeless lady” read their books.

I only had one thing left I wanted to do that day… I saw that Rob Salkowitz was doing his pulps-and-comics panel again and I was curious about that.

This year he had Chris Roberson back– an obvious choice; with his runs on Doc Savage, the Shadow, and Masks, he has probably written more pulp-derived comics than anyone this side of Joe Kubert on Tarzan— and to change it up a bit, he had gotten Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett, who are doing a new thing based on the old Frank Reade stories.

It was nice to say hello to Chris and Rob again, though I missed my chance to tell Paul and Anina how much Julie and I had enjoyed their turn as Sarek and Amanda in “Journey to Babel” in Portland’s Trek In The Park a few years back.

Anyway, the panel was fun, and I think I’m going to check out this Frank Reade book if we ever get solvent again.

So that was the show. Low-key, for once, though it made me a little wistful that we don’t take the class to it any more. As crazy as that got for us over the years, we kind of miss it. Maybe next year.

Back next week with something cool.


  1. At least you got to have some fun there. Cool times! Maybe someday I’ll get to get out there and visit! (You’re locking the doors as we speak….)

    And to be That Guy, it’s in smaller print, but I do see that “The Avengers” is on the cover of the Steed and Peel comic. Since most comics were probably spinner racked at that time, though, it wouldn’t have shown quite so obviously, one presumes.

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