The Orbital Comics World Tour continues …
Saturday July 11, Day 7
Walking into the exhibit hall is like being sucked into a mosh pit, albeit one with more cosplay. It doesn’t take long to figure out why. To one side I glimpse Agent Carter’s Hayley Atwell and James Darcy signing autographs at the Marvel booth; to the other, the cast of Arrow.
James and I wade toward the fringes, where we come upon Adam Hughes at his table doing head sketches and get a Rogue and a Baroness from G.I. Joe. We move on to the art dealers to look through portfolios; I have to talk myself down from dropping triple my intended budget on an Ian Bertam page from the Damian: Son of Batman story in Secret Origins #4.
We’re supposed to meet Chris at the Dark Horse booth at 1:30 for a lunchtime pint with some of the guys from Action Lab, but Joss Whedon is signing there and we’re right in the thick of it. We’re caught in a swarm of people-traffic and Chris is nowhere to be seen. There’s likewise no sign of him at the Stone Brewery where we’d planned to bring the guys, but we don’t let that keep us from ordering our intended cold beverages on the pretext that they’re bound to show up eventually.
They don’t, but we’re nonetheless rejuvenated by a drink and a chance to be off our feet for half an hour. We take a sunny walk up 8th Street to check out a Super7 pop-up shop called Skeletor’s Lair. There we pick up some Masters of the Universe prototype figures and I try on the foam fingers.
Back in the convention centre we stumble on a patch of ever-elusive wi-fi, which allows us to secure another meeting point with Chris. On our way there we have to stop and gape at Metropolis Collectibles, where a glass cabinet contains pristine copies of Action Comics #1 and Detective Comics #27.
We successfully reconvene with Chris, who we’d apparently crossed paths with like ships in the night. While we’d been drinking our w00tstouts, he was in the upstairs Tiki bar with Nick Marino, Daniel Arruda Massa Josh Henaman and friends from Action Lab. We must have just missed each other.
Together we go to Broadsword Comics for a photo with Holly Golightly, who Chris knows from doing panels together here at SDCC. Holly and Jim Balent, the team behind Broadsword and Tarot and all-around lovely couple, are also huge Harry Potter fans and tip me off to the Pottermore website, where I can go through my own Sorting Ceremony and inevitably join them in House Slytherin.
Then Chris is off to the Boom! Studios booth for more Power Rangers blind-bag comics to see if he can complete his set, and James and I line up at Slave Labor Graphics to get our copies of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac signed by Jhonen Vasquez. We both want sketches, but the deal is this: he’ll do a sketch if we do a sketch, and he gets to choose the subject. That’s how James ends up drawing a beaver, and I a sentient hot dog.
[Chris’ note: I’m pleased to say I did eventually manage to get a complete set of the Power Rangers singlepage comics. They’re a nice little teaser, and I hope this means we’ll see more from Boom! in the near future. I should highlight the wonderful w00tstout as it’s something we’d first tried with Cameron & Amanda on Wendesday, then gone back to enjoy again. Brewed by Wil Wheaton & the folks at Stone Brewing Co. it features a hefty 13% of stouty goodness. Highly recommended if you get the chance to sample it!]
By the end of the day the crowd has thinned out enough for us to hop in line for exclusives at Marvel, Hasbro and Mattel. We celebrate our good luck with a ride in the Mystery Machine, followed by Mexican food and margaritas. Cheers!
Sunday July 12, Day 8
James needs to collect his Adam Warren commission before noon, so that’s our first stop of the day. The Empowered artist had looked a bit dubious when James asked for Jean Grey as the Phoenix, but apparently he got really into drawing it and tells James it’s the most time he’s spent on a commission in ages. His enthusiasm shows in the finished product and James couldn’t be happier with his purchase.
We cut out for an early afternoon break for wine-tasting with Midnighter scribe and wine aficionado Steve Orlando, who selects a crisp Californian Pinot Gris for us to try. He talks about Virgil, the new Image series he’ll be working on, and gives us a mini crash course on what to look for in a good wine.
We go back to say hello to Nabil and Simon from Travelling Man, who had a great time at the Eisners after being nominated for the Spirit of Comics Retail Award and are sharing table space with artists Richard Starkings and Tula Lotay. It’s nice to see a UK shop in the running and to bump into fellow British retailers here on foreign turf.
Sunday’s a shorter day (it finishes at 5:00) so we scramble around to make a few last stops before the end. We have one-dollar portraits done by Mr. Toast artist Todd Webb and I get quickie sketches of Batman and Robin from Chris Burnham. We browse through out-of-print graphic novels and vintage comics at Torpedo Comics and talk to John Dolmayan about conventions stateside and in the UK. We rush over to the TopatoCo booth so I can swap my Welcome to Night Vale T-shirt for the right size, which I manage to do just before we’re ushered out the doors.
Chris goes for his annual post-SDCC dinner with Dan Parent, Randall Christopher, Doug Sneyd and friends. James and I go to the Tin Roof for a live recording of the Harmontown podcast. We say hello to Kieron Gillen, who is also there for the show, and hang around afterwards for photos with Harmontown’s Jeff B. Davis.
Back at the hotel we crack open a bottle of wine and start packing. It’s hard to believe the time has gone by so fast. It’s also hard to believe we once had suitcases that we could zip shut. It takes over an hour to sort through everything and the use of my entire body weight to hold down the lid of the suitcase, but we get it done.
Monday July 13, Day 9
The next morning Matt Dunford gives us a lift back to the airport. On the way we stop at the Donut Bar for iced coffees and extravagant donuts (Chris has Bacon Maple, James’ Bacon Apple Fritter and mine is Matcha Green Tea). We drive along the San Diego Bay and feel the warm breeze blowing through the open windows. It’s a particularly beautiful day. We’re sad to leave the palm trees and blue skies behind us, but it’s been an amazing experience and we’ve done what we came here to do. It’s time to go home.
Goodbye, San Diego. Until next time!
[Chris’ final note: Day 10 is lost in transit. Technically it happened, but by the time we landed in London on Tuesday, July 14 we were too tired to notice. Suffice to say we got home with all our goodies after a most incredible journey,and there’s a number of SDCC exclusives available in store right now.]