Monday, April 09, 2007

The Emerald City Comic Con!

Last Sunday, my wife dragged me and I went to the rather appropriately named Emerald City Comic Convention. This has been a growing affair for a little while now, and has started to get some big names and draw big crowds. You can read Laura's full report starting here (it's in four parts, and this is part four with links to the others), but I want to bring you the Oz perspective.

The first place we hit was the Illusive Arts booth. They're the publishers of the Dorothy comic book, and Laura and I have helped them out before, so they're always glad to let us use their booth as a rest stop and storage area. We dropped the worst of it off, and then went on the prowl for the other Oz booth, Hungry Tiger Press. I've known Eric and David for years now, even before they got together and started this little company, so I was glad to see them again. I bought the one thing I wanted for the whole convention, their new edition of Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz. Eric was also kind enough to sign my copy of Adventures in Oz. After that, we got busy!

Eric Shanower, David Maxine, and friend at the Hungry Tiger Press booth

Much to my surprise, one of the first people I met was Margot Kidder. Yes, she played Lois Lane opposite Christopher Reeve's Superman. Why was I surprised? Because she was only supposed to be there on Saturday, and Laura had already gotten me an autographed picture. The picture is her on the Smallville set with Annette O'Toole, who plays Martha Kent now and Lana Lang back in Superman III. Of course, both actresses also have Oz connections. O'Toole played Maud Baum in The Dreamer of Oz, and we all know about Margot Kidder narrating the movie compilations of the Cinar Wizard of Oz series. So now I have to find Annette O'Toole some time and get her to sign it as well.

Margot Kidder and friend

After that, Laura and I got serious about what we really go to comic conventions for: getting sketches! Most artists at comic conventions really enjoy drawing sketches for the fans, and over the years Laura and I have collected quite a few. When I started my sketchbook back in 2000, my theme was Green Lantern, my favorite comic book character. The nice thing about Green Lantern is that there have been quite a few over the years, and anybody who wears a Green Lantern ring could be a Green Lantern. So I made it very free-form and let the artists draw anyone they like as Green Lantern. I've had traditional ones from the comics, their own characters, self-portraits, and just freeform flights of fancy. But soon after I started the book, I also decided that I wanted to get Wizard of Oz sketches as well, so made it an either/or thing (except Eric Shanower; in 2001 I told him I wanted the Green Lantern of Oz — more about that at a later date). Many have even combined them. And this was one of my biggest all-time days of getting sketches. I think there were eleven new ones in all, plus a couple in a new book we started at this con (none of them Ozzy). It was great fun. Oh, yeah, and we also took our troll, Torvald, around to get his picture taken with everyone. In fact, that's him listed as "and friend" in the captions above.

It wasn't all standing around watching nervous artists draw in our books, however. I popped over back to Hungry Tiger Press at one point to scope out what they're publishing next (let's just say Oz fans should be saving their pennies), and made a few rest stops at Illusive Arts. One time, as we headed back, they told me to get back out to Hungry Tiger Press. It seems David Maxine had made another Oz discovery that day, and wanted me to know about it. At the booth for a computer animation company, they had a poster for an animated film version of The Tin Woodman of Oz. It only showed the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow, but they looked good. We couldn't find out much more, but it looks promising. On our way out, a familiar intertwined "O-Z" motif caught my eye, and Laura and I stopped at the Cellar Door Publishing booth to see what was up. It appears that they have the comics rights to American Magee's version of Oz, but I've been hearing about that version for nearly a decade now, and I have doubts it will ever see the light of day in any form. Still, it's good to know.

So, that was about it. I had a lot of fun, and I know my wife had even more. (See how much fun she's having in this picture?)

But what about all those sketches? Would you like to see some of them here? Laura has now scanned my entire sketchbook, and I'd love to post them here if anyone is interested. In fact, here's a preview, from the Emerald City Comic Con last week, drawn by Karin Yamagiwa Maden, who for some reason kept apologizing for ruining my sketchbook, which she most certainly did not:

If you want to see more of the sketches I've collected, go ahead and tell me in the comments. If enough people want to see them, I think I can start a "Sketch of the Week" post...

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