Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Moment in the Life of a Comic Book Artist's Wife

Comic Book Conventions: Part 2 (or should I say "Issue 2")

I know that you all have paid good money for these lectures, so let's get down to brass tacks! There are a few items that you should be aware of at all times. Print them out, write them down, commit them to memory or you will be truly sorry. Today we will be discussing No. 1 as follows:

1. Never EVER speak to one of those people dressed up like Klingons (klingons being characters from Star Trek).

This is Warf. He's what a Klingon is supposed to look like.

Here is what they usually look like at San Diego Comicon. (Credit for this photo goes to www.popsci.com.)

or this..I love this picture mostly because of the guy on the left, but I have no idea where it came from. A friend sent it to me via email... that's all I know. If YOU know who took it (HAHAHAHHAAAAHAAAAHAAAAAAHAAAAAHAAAA!!!!!) **snort** let me know.

Okay, back to the lecture... as I was saying...

1. Never EVER speak to one of those people dressed up like Klingons (klingons being characters from Star Trek).

I mean don't say "Hello!", "How are you?", "Kiss my butt!" or anything else that will attract their attention! Allow me to illustrate with a short anecdote.

There I was... stupid, naive, newly wed, comic book artist's wife. I had just entered the enormous hall at the San Diego COMICON (say that with a booming Monster Truck Rally announcer's voice). I cannot express to you how huge this convention is. Let's just say that if you have to pee once you are inside the convention hall and you immediately start walking toward a bathroom, you'd better be able to hold it for at least 20 more minutes... Here are some pictures to put it in perspective:

Okay, so there I was with two freshly brewed cappuccinos in hand (the only dose of reality I had had for 24 hours) and I was returning to the booth where dear Tony was set up ready to greet fans. Just then, out of the blue, the convention doors are opened to the general public and swarms of people come gushing into the hall.

Let me put this picture in your mind.... The Hoover Dam cracking in two. Got it? Yes.

So I am holding my coffee just standing there like a deer in headlights staring at the crowd that will soon overtake me. Oh, and I was overtaken, lemme tell ya! Two gargantuan Klingons in full garb literally run over me, knocking my $6 cappuccinos to the ground. If it weren't for the nasty, grimy, gummy trash can they knocked me into, I am sure that I would have been flattened like Wiley Coyote. I was able to hold on for dear life until the immediate rush was over. I was mad, of course. But they were polite enough to apologize... in KLINGON! "QUA SHO NAK... BLAH BLAH BLAH!!!!" (As I have no idea what they were actually saying, I am sticking with the whole apology translation.) The more I tried to speak to them in ENGLISH, the more they spoke to me in that SCI FI, DUMBASS, LOOKS-LIKE-YOU-HAVE-A-HORSESHOE-CRAB-ON-YOUR-FOREHEAD language. As you can imagine, I was reeaaaaally mad then. I flung what was left of my cappuccinos into that nasty trash can while cursing the very soul of Gene Roddenberry, Spock, and the Priceline Negotiator all at the same time.

Here is where I immediately returned to. The Hyatt. And that, my dear friends, is where I stayed.

So, in conclusion, just stay away from the Klingon crowds. Try not to make eye contact. Just act like you are on a New York subway train and look in the other direction toward say... the Superman crowd. At least for aliens, the do speak some form of earthling.

Monday, October 26, 2009

HEY! LOOK AT ME!!! (I have not shame...)

Hi Guys! You can find me and my piece "The Fair" running buck wild on the porch over at The Women's Colony today!!!!



Friday, October 23, 2009

The Kind of People You WANT to Meet on the Internet

Hello All! Today is a short post but an important one as well. Let me tell you about some new friends of mine on the internet...

One day I decided to add yet another adventure my already overflowing life- an Etsy shop. As most of you know, I LOVE vintage anything and am especially in love with mid century items. So, in addition to the antique booth that I already have here in town, I thought an Etsy shop would allow me to move the large quantities of stuff I have bought because I have a sick attraction for this stuff and can't help myself acquired.

ENTER: The fabulous Carmen and Ginger!

You can find her blog here and her Etsy shop here.

Within 24 hours of posting new items for sale, Carmen and Ginger had done a search for a specific Christmas tablecloth that I was carrying. She already has one but posted mine on her blog so that those of her readers that liked hers could find one for sale if they wanted one for themselves. She let me know through a conversation on Etsy that she had mentioned me in her blog. SUPER nice right? Well, it doesn't end there. I went to her Etsy shop and then to her blog (did I mention you could find her blog here?). Here is also where I had to wipe drool off of my laptop keys after looking at all of her vintage linens on her blog.

So I replied to her post thanking her for mentioning me and geeking out over her tablecloths and whatnot. Well, Carmen and Ginger then visited my blog and it was a really nice visit. She also gave me the good idea to put a Followers widget on my blog (didn't even know that I had those. Thanks for being my follower Coffee Yogurt!).

So all is good in Blog and Etsy Land. Yesterday, I receive another conversation on Etsy from Carmen and Ginger who read my new blog post and noticed that I only had the URL for my Etsy shop on my blog. She then told me how to put my shop on my blog with pictures of items for sale! (This html stuff makes me want to take a web page building class.) I am really happy I met her! She has helped me so much in the few short days that we have been in contact. So I thought I'd return the love. These are just the sort of people you DO want to meet on the internet!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Moment in the Life of a Comic Book Artist's Wife

Comic Book Conventions: Part One

I know that you all anticipate tidbits about my life with much dread enthusiasm so I thought I'd fill you in on some of the things that make being married to a comic book artist fun interesting.

One such item is the COMIC BOOK CONVENTION!!

We spend a few whirlwind weekends a year attending comic book conventions and yes, Folks, they are everything you think they are and probably worse more interesting. I have grown accustomed to them so just about nothing shocks me anymore. Having been to so many now (16 years worth), I have the knowledge to protect my sensibilities by carefully choosing which shows I attend. But let's just say that the first few years of conventions were a bit much for my Catholic School upbringing.

Just so you know, there are levels of convention decency. I have attended many conventions with an entire section of boobs, I mean "booths" just for porn stars. Yes, you heard me, porn stars. Yeah, yeah, most of the readers are male (for now), and convention promoters make money on both booth and ticket sales, and nothing draws a single guy to a con like porn. I am being judgmental you say? NAY! I have seen the lines of guys (and some gals) waiting to take pictures with some chick in a scant halter and hot pants with a name like Boobalicious. A very insightful explanation can be found here at comicworldnews.com. I have seen parents who take their kids to these conventions and, taken completely by surprise at the level of XXX-edness, have to bodily redirect their children away from the porn star booths. These conventions give comics a bad name and perpetuate the negative stereotype that already surrounds the sequential art medium. I have no problem with porn stars signing suggestive photos of their fake boobs at conventions... at PORN conventions! At minimum, pornography should be sequestered at comic book conventions to carefully marked and monitored areas so young readers can come and enjoy the activities. A petition is circulating just for this.

Now for all you folks screaming 1st Amendment rights, I want to say that I don't have a problem with the porn industry. I understand it's a legit business and blah blah blah. I just can't understand why it doesn't infiltrate say, the coffee industry, or the feminine protection industry (giggle)...Ooo! Ooo! No! The family planning industry!

Unfortunately, one of the biggest multi-convention conglomerates, Wizard World, doesn't seem to care about separating the two industries, therefore limiting parents' choices about which conventions to attend without burning the eyes out of their young children's skulls. These comic/porn cons are the conventions I won't let my kids attend. These are conventions I won't let your kids attend. If Tony goes, he goes alone... and it's rare that he goes to these.

We now have my favorite type of conventions. These are the family oriented cons where the show promoters are very careful about who they lease booths to. There is nary a nipple nor G-String in sight (if you don't count the goth chicks who wear black low riders and insist on bending over at every turn). My favorite of these conventions is Heroes Con in Charlotte, North Carolina. It is almost always held on Father's Day weekend. It is always a great place for a family to spend some great time together. It is always a pleasure to attend and an exciting place to take your kid if he/she tells you that he/she loves comics. Not to worry. You will be pleasantly surprised. There is a wonderful family who has been going to this convention since their boys were in diapers. As the boys got older their dad started sketch books for them. Every year Tony does a sketch of some great new Cartoon Network or comic book character for them. Tony and I are always surprised when we flip through those sketch books each year (when politely handed across the table with wanton eyes for a new sketch), to see just how much time has passed since those first sketches. Tony meets hundreds and hundreds of fans each year but none are more memorable than those at Charlotte. There is a consistency at this convention that is lacking in most of the others that I have attended. It is a consistency that provides a safe atmosphere for kids and grown ups alike. I don't read comics... but Heroes Con makes me wish that I did.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Feeling Better Friday

Today is the first day in a long time that I have felt like "myself." I am thrilled to see my Halloween decorations twinkling from the mantle, well actually, ALL of the mantles. I like Halloween, just a little. Every bush in my yard is covered in lights and I have a 6' silhouette of a witch (a craft from Martha Stewart Living, God help me!) which stands menacingly in front of a yellow spot light and fog machine. I was thrilled this year to find lime green lights for the yard and another bag o' bones for the "graveyard" ( I chose not to use the real bones this year as we have a new neighbor who works for homicide. Don't need THAT headache!). I don't know why I love Halloween so. I think it might have to do with my mom.

You see, I spent those younger magical years in West Palm Beach, Florida where there is no change of seasons. I had to envision fall leaves, crisp air, the smell of fires burning. My mother, who was born up north, would hang paper fall leaves from the chandelier, carve pumpkins, and put orange on anything that would stand still. I can still remember the smell of the decoration box- a mix of moth balls, candles from the year before, and laundry detergent (it was stored in the linen closet). She made our costumes often out of crepe paper, (HA! Martha Stewart didn't figure this out for years!) and we would trick-or-treat for blocks and blocks and blocks.

Everyone gave out candy except that one house. This house was the only two-story wooden house in the entire neighborhood and decidedly older than any of it's cinder block siblings. I remember that asian people lived there and would either not answer the door (if one was brave enough to ring the doorbell) or open the door and shoo us away in a foreign language. All of my friends were frightened of the house. It was THAT house, like the one in all of the scary movies. I wasn't afraid of the house or the people inside of it. It was difficult to understand why anyone would ignore such a fabulous holiday. I felt sorry for them. They were missing out.

After filling our plastic jack-o-lanterns to the top (I remember stuffing candy into my pockets due to overflow), we would trot home for the candy inspection and homemade pizza. They were glorious nights. We would open the front door and smell homemade pizza sauce and bubbling cheese (Thank God I was born Italian!). If we had been lucky, the humidity would have allowed mom to make sticky candy apples. After a few south Florida Octobers though, I think she gave up on the candy making.

Slopping down a couple of slices of pizza, we kids would plunk down on the floor in front of the TV and trade candy better than Wall Street could trade stock. It was often just as brutal. My favorite candy was put out by Brach's. It was tiny cellophane packages of orange and black red hots. Does anyone remember these? I found this vintage Brach's advertisement for Halloween candy. Those little suckers are right down there in the middle of the ad just next to the candy pumpkins. Can you see them? I LOVED them. I gladly traded chocolate for them... I miss them...

And people were so generous back then. None of this "Just take one piece!" As a matter of fact, I don't remember being allowed to take candy. Most would people would drop three or four pieces of candy into our pumpkins. The best was when a house would make up those little gift bags of candy.
And no one put a basket outside their door and expected kids to help themselves in a honest fashion. Those lonely bowls of candy make me sad for my kids. They are an indication of how adults lose the magic of childhood.

I dreaded the passing of Halloween almost as much as I anticipated it's coming. I remember thinking, while watching what was left of a scary movie on TV, make up melted from running around in the floridian heat, that soon Halloween would be over... Feeling the weight of having to wait another 365 days for it to come again... Hoping that next year wasn't a leap year.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Fair

Yesterday afternoon the kids and I went to the fair. This was the last picture I took as we crossed the field to our car, and it somehow was very indicative of my mood.

I love the fair. I love the food. I love the colors. I love the creepy carnival. I would have fit in fine with carnies. It's a life that seems so consistent, as if carnival life itself is in some sort of wonderful sinister limbo. Year after year, the mustached man at the ferris wheel always returns urging the crowd for a ticket to ride. I am sure it's probably not the same mustached man, but it is in my romantic mind's eye.

As much as I swoon at the sight of striped tents and caramel apples, I have come to see the other side of the fair. The side that shows the inconsistency of this magical world. You see, I am the parent now. I see that $5 dollars buys three darts to pop those dastardly balloons and that little stuffed animal you will win (because "everyone's a winner!") will probably come apart in the car. Through a child's eye though, none of that matters. Those little balloons are there to be popped and those vintage milk jugs are meant to fall. I so wish that, for a brief moment, I could see the fair through a child's eye again. No. I wish I could see it through my children's eyes. To feel the excitement of the hustle, the anticipation of the rides, the enticement of the food... all without knowing about the mustached man behind the curtain.

Perhaps I did see it through their eyes. I let them ride those bumper cars twice and while it did cost enough to make me gasp, it was worth the photos I took of them. Will they remember how much fun they had? Will they remember how much they laughed together? Probably not, but I will and I have photographs to remind me of their pure FUN.

We were all a little off because Dad wasn't there. He's a dad that still sees the fair like a child does. I am there to watch them have fun and remind my husband that our bank account has a bottom. So this time, I had to remind the kids directly which is harder than I imagined it would be. I, in so many ways, appreciate what my parents had to go through the very few times we went to the fair when I was a child... having to say "it's too expensive" in a place that pulls a child in every fantastical direction; forcing them to think logically in a place where logic is suspended (if you don't count the "trade up" policy on winning prizes).

So, for a short time (and while I could afford it), I let magic take over.

I had my camera so that I could capture their fantasy. The fantasy of sitting on a carousel horse for the first time, of winning a stuffed animal, of chomping into a caramel apple, of allowing regular life to take a back seat in that shiny red bumper car. And while I could still feel regular life sitting on my shoulder, I escaped into my own wonderful fantasy... of watching my children.