I dragged NBT down to Boston, where we attended ComicCon. We went on Sunday, which was Costume Day. If you're going to attend a comic convention, I think it's important to go on the day when there's a costume contest.
One of the things I liked was the fact that the same hotel hosting it was also hosting a big convention of retinal and cataract surgeons. So the lobby was a mix of expensively dressed pharmaceutical reps and eye surgeons and practice management salespeople, plus the occasional young woman in a pleather suit wearing a blue wig, or a big guy dressed like Hellboy or the three Ghostbusters. I think I enjoyed looking across at the busy lobby Starbucks and seeing all of that almost as much as anything else.
But I liked a lot of other things, too. There was a lot of floor space, allocated about evenly between vendors selling comic books (and, to a smaller degree, other objects like T shirts or plush figures or shot glasses or statuettes) and artists. I spent most of my time walking around talking to the artists, asking questions that were probably stupid or impertinent, about how they do their work. Like, how much information is in the script you get with the story that the writer has written? It depends, I learned. The script tells an artist what appears in which panel -- that was one of my questions, who breaks a story into panels, the writer or the artist. Sometimes a script specifies how a scene should look -- e.g. an overhead view of the hero sitting at the table, rain visible in the window in the background. Sometimes it'll specify things like what kind of shirt the hero is wearing, and exactly what objects are on the table. Other times it'll just say a mood, or a few important things about the view, and the artist decides how to depict it. Fascinating. And then there's a colorist, who decides how to color the pictures that the artist drew. Some people do all three, but other times there's a big team of people who have never met one another working on a project together.
I learned some technical things, about the kinds of pages people use to make comic books, for example. I saw a lot of really cool things. The most interesting was getting to see Kody Chamberlain's notebook, where he sketches out ideas and mocks up pages and keeps lists -- his idea journal, I guess -- and asking him questions about how he thinks about his projects. I met the illustrator of this book, and bought it very excitedly. It was one of the few non-narrative, non-fiction projects there that I saw.
I also bought books from a couple of other artists I talked to. One of them I bought because I thought his drawing style was different from most everyone else's, and he had a really smiley girlfriend sitting in the booth with him, and I liked her. (When I got the book home I realized that those were bad reasons to buy a comic book.) One of them I bought because its writer was SOOO excited to be there, and he stopped me as I was walking by and talked at rapid and enthusiastic length to me about the plot of his forthcoming comic book (it's almost done) and the next one he wants to write, and how great it is to be sitting there at a ComicCon as an artist instead of as a fan, and how he met all these people he's been working on these projects with through a particular website, and so many other things that I felt like he had taught me a ton. Also, his girlfriend was sitting beside him, and although she wasn't smiley, she WAS in costume, and I am pretty sure she was dressed up as the main character in his comic book, and I thought that was pretty cool. When I bought the book he excitedly offered to sign it for me. And those, it turns out, were really good reasons to buy a comic book.