Hey guys I think it’s this way!
First off let me apologize for the tardiness of this post. I was ill and I was also quite busy with the random mundanities of the past workweek. Anyhoo… I had a wonderful time at the show despite my mammoth dislike of the dungeon… er… space that the PCBS is held in. I haven’t been this excited about a comic event in a while. I think it had something to do with the fact that Tony DeZuñiga and Stan Sakai were going to be there. I don’t really go to conventions to buy comics anymore except for the occasional stumble upon. It’s the creators that I’m really interested nowadays. I was also looking forward to seeing Heidi and James Meely too. I did have a nice chat with James, but sadly Heidi didn’t happen to be around when the spouse and I strolled by the space goat table.
As you can see from the top pic, the Star War costume folks were there again and I’m sure they’ll be regulars at the comic shows from now on as they’re local yokels. It’s kinda weird for me because it’s a new thing here in Portland but the kids seem to like it and heck it’s a small convention so why not. What was interesting this time around was the fact that a female Stormtrooper made an appearance. She had… ah… um… a specially adapted breastplate so to speak. I didn’t get a picture of her as she walking in as I was leaving, maybe next year.
The first table I stopped by was Kiron Dwyer’s. He was a really laidback, approachable kinda guy. Part of my comic collection is stashed away at a relative’s house, so I didn’t have time to grab any back issues for him to sign, but I did have Shadowpact #20 on hand. Kiron had the original pages for Shadowpact #20 for sale. They were stunningly illustrated, but at seventy-five to hundred bucks a pop I just couldn’t afford any of them. The guy has gotta make a living, so Kiron’s prices were reasonable from a market standpoint but alas from a Swinebread budget standpoint they weren’t. One thing I realized from perusing the original art pages was that I like Kiron Dwyer’s art much better in black and white.
It was wonderful to meet Ernie Chan. He was sketching away at his art board as I approached his table, which was laid out with all kinds of glorious drawings of Conan and Red Sonja. As I was fumbling with getting my Conan trades outta of their bags, another fan walked up and just handed him an issue of Savage Sword of Conan and told him to keep it and not bother paying for it. Obviously this exchange related to a previous discussion between the two, but Ernie was pleasantly taken aback by this fan’s generosity. When it was my turn, I thanked him profusely for coming to Portland and then promptly dumped five trades on him for signatures (Chronicles of Conan 10-14). I told him how much I enjoyed his artwork and shook his hand (again) before I left, saddened that again I couldn’t afford an Ernie Chan original.
Here’s Alex Niño! He’s an artist that really found his nitch in Warren’s b/w horror comics and Heavy Metal. Again, I didn’t have my whole collection on hand so I only had one thing for him to sign but it’s a doozey the 30-page Conan the Barbarian tale, "People of the Dark." This story had recently been reprinted in Savage Sword Vol #1 trade. If only there were some trades out there with his Warren work.
Well, I finally got around to meeting Tony DeZuñiga and his lovely wife Tina. He was sitting there looking too cool for school even though he’s about sixty-one and he was wearing an odd fur-like vest that he somehow made look chic, kinda like Jonah Hex’s Confederate garb. He had a calm demeanor like poker player in a gin joint.
Tony was very friendly and was happy to sign my comics. I had him autograph issues 5 & 9 of the new Jonah Hex series, the Conan story “Demons of the Summit” reprinted in the Savage Sword of Conan collection Vol 1 (same one Alex Niño signed!), and the Showcase Presents Jonah Hex trade. When Tony saw the Showcase Hex he remarked that I was the only person that had brought a copy for him to sign. That struck me as a tad bit sad. I thanked him for coming to Portland and told him that I hoped he’d get a chance to try the fantastic beer here in the Rose City. Tony made me laugh when he told me he was surprised because he thought it was going to be raining. I said back that he and his fellow artists had brought along the sunshine.
He had some amazing hand drawn pieces laid out on his table. My tongue practically hung out while I flipped trough the beautiful pages in his portfolio. There was an amazing Red Sonja illustration that I wished to high heaven that I could have bought it. Oh well, maybe I can save up for a commission. It was a great experience meeting him.
I eventually had a chance to get something singed by Art Thibert, as he had the biggest crowd around him all day. It was funny because some emo guy before me was bitching about the fact that the convention flyer didn’t have everything Art had done listed. Here was this dude that just had a huge stack of comics signed and then he had the nerve to complain that he didn’t get even more autographed, amazing. Anyway, Art scribbled his name across my smallish stack. I went through my standard schpeal welcoming him to Portland and asking if he had had a chance to try the beer. His buddy Rich Birdsall (on the right in the pic) piped up, “oh yeah he tried a lot of the beer last night, and he’s still feelin’ it today.” Art responded that he was having a great time in Portland and that he couldn’t believe how friendly the girls here were. He got a dreamy look on his face as he thought about his time at a nameless bar the night before. Heh heh, now there’s a story there…
Did you know there is a comic grading company here in Oregon? No? Neither did I. But apparently CGC has some strong competition by the likes of Professional Grading Experts or PGX from Eugene. I was surprised to learn that they’d been around for 5 years already. I asked Rich (the guy in the pic) to sell me on their product vs. CGC.
PGX is cheaper
PGX has a sturdier container
PGX has faster turn around time (around 17 days)
Something else I noticed from their website is that you don’t’ have to have membership in some collecting organization to get your comics graded either. You just send ‘em in with a check. That’s it. PGX sounds like a comic grader for the rest of us. Now I can get my comics graded and support the local economy. I never considered it before, but for some of my older books I just might do it.
Finally we get to Stan Sakai. You know what? Everybody always has these stories about what a nice guy Stan is and yes he is very nice guy, but all these stories gave me the impression that he was some sort of comic book saint that blessed the geeky fans that show up at conventions. Well, after meeting him I’m here to say that he’s just a regular guy. He’s a little quiet when approached for an autograph (or maybe that was because I got a little too personal in my enthusiasm to meet him) but get him in front of an audience and Stan is very lively. In fact, I’d say Stan Sakai is a very funny man. He was letting the zingers fly constantly during his talk and the audience was cracking up the whole time. It makes sense why he is such a good storyteller, as he has an impeccable sense of timing mixed with a sharp wit.
I had Stan sign four books Usagi Yojimbo vol. one (as it has the rabbit’s first stories), Grasscutter as it adapts Japanese mythology, Travels with Jotaro as it has some nice father son angst, and Space Usagi because it has some of my favorite Usagi art. I was simply expecting an autograph in each book but Stan went to the trouble of drawing a nice sketch in each one. Class act all the way.
Here Stan talks about the origin of the cartoonist, and the modern illustrator’s connection to renaissance artists. (See wikipedia here for more info)
Stan draws his famous rabbit Usagi Yojimbo. Stan said he just drew a rabbit with his ears in a topknot one day and the rest was history.
Murakami Gennosuke, the hard drinking Rhinoceros bounty hunter…
Inukai (Stray Dog) a ruthless bounty hunter that secretly has a soft-spot for an orphanage
The Evil Jei that keeps coming back no matter how many times he's killed.
Stan is set to do a short Samurai Hulk story in the near future and he gave us a sneak peak at what he'll look like.
I wish I had the time to write down all the the fun tidbits that Stan spoke about but his talk was a great way to cap off the day at the comic book show. My SO had a good time too as Usagi Yojimbo's grounding in Japanese myths and pop culture drew her into the whole presentation.