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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fun at Baltimore Comicon, Diamond Summit

Well, Baltimore Comicon has been over for a week, but the Diamond Retailer Summit has only been over for a few days, so hopefully a few notes on it now won't be too late. This was my first time at both events, and it was a lot of fun. I met some old friends and new ones, and got a good look at Baltimore's Inner Harbor area after years of seeing the city fron the expressway.

I even got to sneak out of the convention center now and again for some fresh air — including a tour of the U.S.S. Constellation, seen at right. The trick with it is to remember to duck your head — and debark before Commodore Decker flies it into any Doomsday Machines. (Wait, wrong Constellation...)

Anyway, the convention went really well, with a line on Saturday that went outside and around the building. It was good to see the Dark Horse Comics team at the comicon and the trade show. Star Wars artists Jan Duursema and Dan Parsons were signing at the con, and I got to catch up with a lot of folks in the business and in fandom that I don't always see. Saturday meant Little Italy with Mark McKenna, Mike McCone, Marc Patten and crew. Heidi MacDonald and I compared notes about the industry at the Summit reception at the mesmerizing Geppi Entertainment Museum. I also got to hang out with 24 comics writer Jeff Vaughn, who puts together the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. I don't get to have many head-spinningly technical discussions any more about the minutiae of comics collecting these days, but Jeff and I always seem able to pick up where we left off!

I also enjoyed meeting Walter Simonson, whose work I've enjoyed for years — we compared notes on our individual adaptations of Indiana Jones movies. I'd referred back to what he did in the original Raiders adapation plenty in working on the Indy IV graphic novel!

I hadn't seen Steve Ellis, artist on the first three issues of Crimson Dynamo, in a long time; we had a nice conversation about Winter Guard, his upcoming series at Marvel bringing together the most recent version of the Soviet Super Soldiers. It's great he's working in that corner of the Marvel universe again!

When you fly to a comics convention and don't intend to ship comics back, you have to be a lot more selective with what you buy — and when you have room for maybe five comics, it becomes Conversation Piece Time. Nothing I saw fit that description like the copy of Dell's Adlai Stevenson which I found lurking in a box — though pretty much only because of the thought balloon that one of the retailers had stuck to it. (Standing before the UN Building and looking puzzled, Stevenson thinks, "I swear it feels like a large landmark is following me...") I wasn't expecting it and it hit me funny — so the dialogue balloon stays. Yep, I'm an easy customer to amuse...

Having finished writing the last issue of Knights of the Old Republic before departing, last issues of series were on my mind — and seeing artist Dick Ayers at the convention, I spent part of Sunday afternoon finding a copy of the infamous Combat Kelly and His Deadly Dozen #9. Don Thompson had described the comic book to me years ago as one of the great final issues: when writer Mike Friedrich was informed of the series' end, Don said, he basically ran over the series cast with a tank — coining in Comics Buyer's Guide parlance the "Combat Kelly ending."

Anyway, after all these years, I found the issue and it didn't disappoint — not quite a tank, but everyone is wiped out. I was thrilled to get Mr. Ayers to sign my copy. (And, no, Zayne and company needn't worry about getting stepped on by an AT-AT. They have enough problems as it is!)

The Summit was my first retailer show since 2001's San Diego Comic Book Expo (ironically, another show during which I toured a ship, the Star of India) and it was gratifying to be remembered by the folks I met while signing. Dark Horse had the complete first issue of Mass Effect available for retailers to see — remember, that ships the first week of January, so you'll want to order it next month!

All in all, a great week — minus the cold I came back with. (In the depths of my fever, I suddenly remembered that paramedics had come for the guy citing flu symptoms across the hall in the hotel; hope that guy's all right. In any event, I seem to have survived with just a cold.) One of the nice things about attending the Summit was I'd always expected Dark Horse would announce the end of the Knights of the Old Republic comics series there; it was gratifying to hear retailers complimenting the series afterward. It was a very definite contrast from 2004, when the end of my Iron Man run was announced — back then I was fielding responses online, and had only non-fiction projects in the works. It was a lot nicer spending the week where the action was (and knowing I had a busy schedule in front of me)!

That's probably a wrap for shows this year; I'm in for the winter. Back to work...

Finally, a note that we've scared up a spare copy of the out-of-print Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide, which the Intrepid One has posted on eBay this weekend. I've signed the copy. I'd love to get enough of these things in here to offer them in the shop, but as mentioned before, it's a hard book to price. Strange that my rarest work wouldn't be in a comic book, but a game book!
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