March wasn’t a good month. It started with a chance for me to apply for what WOULD be my dream job. Meanwhile, over the course of the month at my CURRENT job we’d fire two people and another would go on vacation, leaving me to pick up the slack. And the month ended with me NOT getting my dream job.  My energy completely dropped, and my inspiration went with it, so updates came to a screeching halt.

And then the stomach problems began. As the Irish say: “That’s a kick in the balls AND a slap in the face.”

Events had taken place in those weeks though that allowed me to attend Emerald City Comic Con at the last minute. My one friend Kate didn’t need her passes anymore, and my other friend Kate was road-tripping it up there anyway, so by pure dumb luck I was able to go. In any case, I knew I needed to get away, even if it was just for a weekend.


And where I was heading happening to be where everywhere else was heading.

I haven’t had a chance to hit up San Diego yet (much to my detriment), but the amount of Saturday traffic at Emerald City was easily an equal for C2E2.  Walking through the halls didn’t so much consist of “Oh I need to head here” as much as it was “OH GOD EVERYONE’S HEADING THIS WAY I GUESS I AM TOO.”  I had never encountered such a mass of humanity in my life.

Walking around Artist’s Alley was a trip as well. I saw mainstays like my man Dan Parent, but I discovered certain artists (especially ones special to the area) cleaned up remarkably well. Lucy Knisley wasn’t even at her table, since apparently she had sold all of her product on Friday and was able to do as she pleased after that.


Where to go and what to do became my hyper-focus after that. I stopped by Unicorn Empire‘s table and got caught up with Amber (and procured a “Jupiter Ascending” shirt for April), while saying hello to Danielle Corsetto and Jeph Jacques (both of whom I hadn’t seen since 2012 before I even moved to Portland). Danielle in particular remember me as “that comic artist with the voice of a game show host.” While getting a sketch of McPedro for a friend, I told her that her decision to end “Girls With Slingshots” when and where she did gave me a lot of courage since I was so unsure of myself at the moment, and she seemed touched by that.

Dinner was handled by the lovely Martha Hull and her husband Ian, at a Thai restaurant recommended by their friends who lived in the area. We passed by the Space Needle completely by accident, so I consider it a truncated tour of Seattle. Since I was by myself, the evening was spent at a youth hostel in the International District for $40 a night. It wasn’t bad, but hostels always remind me of summer camp in the the weirdest way. I suppose I shouldn’t complain, since all I needed was a place to sleep and it was more than adequate.

Now remember, the aliens are coming from UP THERE!

Now remember, the aliens are coming from UP THERE!

Walking back up King Street the next morning for the Sunday show, I took more pictures of Seattle architecture than I probably should have. Someone purposefully designed the downtown area around patterns and angles. For an OCD fellow like myself, it was a visual delight.

Frasier and Niles are looking down wondering where all the people in costume are going.

Frasier and Niles are looking down wondering where all the people in costume are going.

At the end of it all, the Sunday show came down to three men: Bruce Timm, Kevin J. Anderson, and Ted Naifeh.

With Bruce Timm, I felt he had the most impressive set-up, in that he didn’t have a set-up at all. He was sitting, cool-as-you-please, in the Artist’s Alley as a table with no prints or books for sale, and no banners hung up. All he had was a simple cardboard sign that read “Bruce Timm” on it, like a total boss.  By contrast, when I saw Rob Liefeld at Wizard World Chicago he had a huge banner behind his head emblazoned with “LIEFELD” on it, like he was Cher.

I didn’t stick around long though. I had my copy of “Mad Love” and my copy of his art book “Naughty & Nice” on me, and just politely asked if he would sign them. He happily said yes, I got my autographs, said “thank you”, and got out of dodge. I was happy with just that. Bruce Timm has been such a big influence on my life and my art, he’s no longer a man to me as much as he is a concept. I preferred to hold onto the concept while not bothering the man too much.

It became hilarious shortly thereafter though when I spoke to Kevin J. Anderson. Along with his “Dune” books, he was promoting the comic version of Rush’s “Clockwork Angels” that had just come out. As it happened, I had my “Clockwork Angels” print on me and offered to give it to him. As I was digging it out of my suitcase, a young woman passing by saw my recently-signed copy of “Mad Love” and asked where I bought it. I told her I brought it from home, but told her “check this out” and opened it up to where Timm had signed it.

“WHAT?!” she exclaimed. “HE’S HERE?!” Before I could answer, she yanked up her shirt sleeve to show off the most perfect Harley Quinn tattoo I had ever seen on her bicep. She asked again where he was, I said “Artist’s Alley” and told her what his table number was. The instant the number left my mouth, she was off like a shot in a panic to see her idol.

I turned around to see Kevin J. Anderson looking completely baffled. I dryly replied “And THAT’S why I didn’t stick around too long.”

And we shall NEVER speak of this again.

And we shall NEVER speak of this again.

The most meaningful interaction came from one Ted Naifeh though. My biggest influences as an artist when starting out with the first run of Oni Press artists. So it was Jen Van Meter for “Hopeless Savages”, Chynna Clugston for “Blue Monday”, and Ted Naifeh for the “Courtney Crumrin” series. I had stopped by his table expecting to see Bill Crabtree (whom I’ve gotten to know through my job), and stood there astonished wondering “Bill? When did you turn into Ted Naifeh?”

As I hung around his table and scanned through his originals, we got to talking about art and process and he kindly asked what kind of work I do. I handed him a copy of “Ten Thousand Lightyears Under the Sea” (I brought a few to hand out), and he offered some compliments and criticism. I told him where I was: that I was burnt out, unsure of what to do. I won’t quote exactly what he said, but I’ll just say it was nice to talk personally with an artist I’ve admired for so long.

Sweetest part was me fawning over his pencil sketch of the final “Courtney Crumrin” page. “You want it?” he asked. “Only $50.” I didn’t even have that much to spare, but on Twitter later I asked him if it was still available. He said he’d said it aside for me. Hopefully I won’t keep him waiting too long.

It WILL be mine!!!

It WILL be mine!!!

And my favorite celebrity encounter the whole weekend? Tabitha St. Germain herself.

I’m not ashamed to admit that “MLP: Friendship Is Magic” gave me a brief glimpse of joy during my darkest times in the early days of Portland, and the characters voiced by Tabitha St. Germain have always been my favorites. I caught her at the end of the day, so I got an autographed Rarity doll (which I had brought with me) AND an autographed print because she just needed to unload them. And I got to film a Vine with her, which was hilarious.

The best part though was the one other person waiting behind me in line, which was a young woman in the most perfect Fluttershy cosplay ever. Acting super demure, Tabitha just fell in love with her and asked to film a Vine with her as well. I told her friend “Look at how shy she is. She’s so in character.” Her friend replied “She’s not acting.”

Katie and I had mostly had our separate adventures all weekend, so it took us a while to text and meet up for the ride back to Portland. My problems were still there waiting for me. But a brief weekend reminding myself why I do what I do did wonders.