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Archive for July, 2008

San Diego – Saturday and Sunday

It’s like running a marathon. Really. Complete with the blisters and incredible muscle pain the following morning.

Saturday. Started with a meeting. Headed to the con floor and Oni Press for the first signing of the day. Met up with Southworth at the booth, gave out the 8-page Stumptown story in both large and small editions (I lack pictures; the large version was 8 1/2 x 11, folded; small version was…very small, came in an evidence envelope with a little magnifying glass so you could actually read it). Gave out many posters. Signed many items. Had a very nice time.

Went to the DC signing, sat with JG Jones and Grant on one side, and Cranky Old Fart Keith Giffen on the other. Keith was trying to eat his lunch while signing. He was cranky and funny and, after the fourteenth time someone asked me for a sketch of Your-Favorite-Character-Here, made me a sign that said, “Can’t Draw. Can Barely Write.” I’m getting him back, though. Apparently, he has a pathological fear of eating hot dogs in public, so I’m telling everyone about it. Met Keith’s wife, who’s fantastic, and clearly long-suffering. He rolls over like a puppy for her. It’s cute.

Departed the signing to run upstairs for the DC Universe Panel. Of the three DC panels I participated in this con, this was the most sedate of them, to the point of being, almost, aimless. Was asked about projects I’m still not allowed to talk about. Sat between the Old Coot Keith and Brad Meltzer. Learned the new answer to any question about the death of a DCU character is, “need more Black Lanterns.”

Went to lunch following with Geoff, DiDio, Jann Jones, and Ian Satler. Discussed The Future and the Projects to go with it. Was offered two titles. One of them I’m intrigued by; the other I passed on. Tromped back to the convention hall and missed a scheduled meeting with James Robinson, but managed another impromptu one with Michael Siglain, where we further discussed another of the projects I’m not allowed to talk about. Back to Oni Press, where Southworth and I did a fairly long interview with the folks from iFanboy. No idea when it’ll run, but the substance was almost entirely Stumptown related.

Missed the Oni Press panel in order to reach the Gays in Comics panel on time. Hands down the best panel experience I had of the convention (though the Final Crisis panel ran a close second). Got to see Axel Alonso, who I haven’t actually spoken with in person for years, as well as Ariel Schrag, who beats out Axel in that I haven’t spoken with her for literally a decade (and that should tell you how long I’ve been coming to this con). Great audience, great questions, and Andy Mangels did his usual fantastic job of running the panel. Only regret was that I didn’t actually get to talk to Patty Jeres after, as I had to duck out to make it to dinner.

Attended dinner with a flock of writers, staggered back to the hotel to see my wife for the first time that day around 11ish. Met up with Jen, Andrew, and Xtie, then went down to the bar in search of my brother; failed, found him via text messaging, and spent an hour actually sitting down and talking, which was my only real opportunity to spend time with him the entire show. Collapsed around two in the morning.

Sunday.

Saw Jen off to Fresno in search of our children, then headed to DC for a signing. Sat with Philip Tan and Nicola (Happy Birthday!) Scott, and again explained to people that I didn’t do sketches, not because I was an asshole, but rather because my ability to do so is nonexistent.

Philip Tan, by the way, is still fresh enough at this whole convention-signing thing that each and every person who asked got a sketch from him. Not just a headshot, either, but full body sketches. The guy is, possibly, one of the sweetest, hardest working artists I’ve ever met.

Left DC for Oni to check in with the crew, then back to DC for an interview with a French publication I never got the name of. Interview lasted about 45 minutes, and covered a lot of ground. Managed to make my way through it without having to use any of my very poor French. The interview was filmed, so I imagine it’ll surface online somewhere, someday.

Went from the interview to the Abrams booth, where I met up with Charlie Kochman. Charlie used to be at DC, back when I first started there, and he was my editor on the Batman: No Man’s Land novel. He is a great, great guy, and it was great to be able to catch up, finally.

Found Andrew and Xtie, walked with them back to the Hyatt, where we parted company so they could return to LA, and I could return to my room and nurse my wounds.

Officially, for me, the convention is over. Tonight I’ve got the annual Eddie Berganza End of the Convention dinner, and that is the extent of my plans.

Well, that and sleeping.

Heading home tomorrow.

San Diego – Friday

The problem with this con is that it get progressively harder to remember what you actually did over the course of the day as the show progresses. I’ll try my best, here.

First “event” of the day was a signing at the Bantam Booth at 11 am. Gave away over 100 copies of Patriot Acts in under an hour. Ran out of books before we ran out of line, so I suppose that’s a good thing, in a way. Ended up giving away the display copies, too. Lots of folks in the line who had copies of the other books, which is always gratifying; quite a few people who didn’t know me from Adam, but liked the looks of a free hardcover. Can’t say as I blamed them.

Headed over to Oni, met up with Andrew and Christie for a brief spell, along with Jen and Anissa Dorsey, who I haven’t seen in ages, and who was, as always, a delight. Went from there to an interview with Comic Foundry on Stumptown. Very pleasant interview; less hyping the book than talking about its inspiration, and what Matthew Southworth and I are hoping to accomplish with the title.

Back to Oni for a signing, flanked by Lieber on the left and Southworth on the right. Kind of a rare treat, that, to be surrounded by that much talent, frankly. Steve’s old hat at this, of course, but it was really cool to watch Southworth relaxing into this. Gave out several copies of the 8-pager, and a few of the posters. Sold books. Signed books. Talked about books. Much discussion about Whiteout, which now has an official release date of April 24th, 2009. There’s even an official poster (which I cannot find anywhere online, and which I did not take a picture of, as it’s hanging high above the WB pavilion).

Went from Oni to DC for another signing, sat for an hour, and then got out of there before the “surprise” appearance of some of the Watchmen cast turned the booth into a madhouse. Ducked out of the hall with editor (and pal) Michael Siglain, to discuss plans for an upcoming title that is yet to be announced (no, not that one, another one).

Followed the meeting up with the day’s panel, where I was stopped at the door when I tried to enter the room because, apparently, I did not have a “panelist” tag on my badge, and the two volunteers vainly striving for crowd-control did not believe I was actually supposed to be on the panel.

(Is it just me, or is there a problem when the people manning the door at a DC panel at a comics convention don’t know — or can’t be bothered to know — who’s supposed to be speaking and who isn’t? Did a quick check of my fellow professionals’ badges later, and discovered that none of them had a “panelist” tag, either. So really not sure what that was about.)

After a brief, and heated, exchange, I was allowed into the room. Panel was on Final Crisis. DiDio, Geoff Johns, JG Jones, Philip Tan, myself, Brad Meltzer, Grant Morrison, Peter Tomasi, Alex Sinclair, and editor Eddie Berganza. Full house for the panel, and a very good, very energetic crowd. Everyone was in rare form; Grant was particularly on. The exhange between him and the attendee in the excellent Orion costume was one for the books.

Panel ended at 7pm, and I left the hall for dinner. Had to skip the traditional meal with the folks from the Comic Bloc, so I could take Matthew Southworth and his fair lady, Michele, out for a meal to talk some shop. Finally got to see my wife again, along with Andrew and Christie.

You’d think that would do it, but you’d be wrong.

Finished dinner, went back to the room long enough to change shirts, then went to the DC/WB party. First time I’d ever attended. Jen and I stayed for about an hour. Saw some people up close that I’d only ever seen on the big screen (and Jen informs me that I almost kicked Samuel Jackson in the head, but more about that another time). Left the DC party for the Oni Press/UTA/EA party, which we’d also promised to attend. Saw no famous folks, but plenty of friends, including Antony Johnston and his fabulous bride Marcia, which, frankly, was much more my speed. Left around midnight, walked back to the hotel.

Wrote this. Will collapse shortly.

Schedule for Saturday

SIGNINGS

10:30 to 11:30 — ONI PRESS (with Matthew Southworth, and, I believe, Steve Lieber); will be giving out copies of the Stumptown promotional “yellow pages” poster, as well as copies of the 8-pager.

11:30 to 12:30 — DC COMICS

PANELS

12:45 — DC UNIVERSE — Room 6A.

5:00 — ONI PRESS — Room 3.

5:45 — GAYS IN COMICS — Room 6A.

Thursday Schedule

Whole bunch of things in the morning, but all of them meetings, so not relevant.

Signings

Only one, at the DC Comics Booth, from 3:00pm until 4:30pm.

Panels

Yes, I’m double-booked!

5:30 to 6:30 — Dark Castle Panel, Hall H

6:00 to 7:00 — DC Nation, Room 6A

If memory serves, Hall H is at the absolute ass-end of the convention center, which means that, given crowds, etc, the odds of me making it from the one panel to the other are…well, let’s say very low.

That is all….

“…it’s in the book.” (Or: “Let Your Fingers Do The Walking”)

I was going to hold off on this until Wednesday night (or Preview Night for those SDCC-bound), but after 1) talking to James Lucas, and 2) seeing Matthew’s inks for Stumptown #1, I’m rather impatient. Add to that a large amount of pure geek-joy at the work Matthew and mercuryeric did, and I’m feeling in a sharing mood.

Besides, I haven’t posted a graphic in a while. Beware, the file’s a little on the big side, and you’ll want to make with the clicky-clicky to zoom in and get all the detail.

Here’s the promo poster we’ll be giving out at the con.

The Schedule (version 1.0)

For San Diego Comic Con International 2008.

(And by “The” I mean “My”)

Panels:

Thursday, July 24th:
5:30 to 6:30 – Dark Castle: Rocknrolla (Whiteout will be discussed; the poster shall be unveiled, and a release date given). Hall H.
6:00 to 7:00 – DC Nation. Room 6A.

Friday, July 25th:
6:00 to 7:00 – Final Crisis Management. Room 6A.

Saturday, July 26th:
12:45 to 2:00 – DC: A Guide to Your Universe. Room 6B.
5:00 to 6:00 – Oni Press Panelmonium 2008! Room 3.
5:45 to 7:15 – Gays in Comics Panel: 21 and Legal! Room 6A.

Scheduled Signings

Thursday, July 24th:
3:00 to 4:30 – DC Comics Booth.

Friday, July 25th:
11:00 to 12:00 – Bantam Booth (we’ll be giving out copies of Patriot Acts!)
1:30 to 2:50 – Oni Press Booth.
3:30 to 4:30 – DC Comics Booth.

Saturday, July 26th:
10:30 to 11:30 – Oni Press Booth.
11:30 to 12:30 – DC Comics Booth.

Sunday, July 27th:
10:00 to 11:30 – DC Comics Booth.

You will note that there are, already, several conflicts, mostly amongst panels. If you are looking for me in Location A and I am not there, the odds are very good that I’m en route from Location B, or trapped in Location C. I will be updating the blog at the show — no, not from the floor, I’m not nearly obsessive enough to manage that — and will note any changes in the schedule.

Couple other things to note. First, wherever and whenever I am signing, it’s perfectly acceptable to bring works from other publishers that I’ve written for my signature. This may seem obvious to some of you, but I’ve met more than one person at a show who has feared causing offense by bringing, say, Oni books for me to sign while I’m sitting at DC, or copies of the novels, or whatever; don’t be, it’s not a problem.

Second, July 27th is Nicola Scott‘s birthday. If you see her, wish her a happy birthday. I want nothing so much as to see her unable to take a step in the convention hall without people wishing her the best of the day. *cackles gleefully*

Third, on Friday at 3:30, there’s a spotlight panel on Geoff Johns. Geoff is not only incredibly talented, not only a good friend, and not only a terribly nice guy, but he’s a wealth of information about the process of writing. I doubt I’ll be able to attend myself, as I’ve a signing conflict, but if you do go, and you have questions for him, try asking him about writing, and not whether or not Wally is faster than Barry or whatnot. He is, most definitely, a writer people can learn quite a lot from.

Fourth, I’m trying to get a signing in with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. In addition, the plan is to deliver both a signed copy of the new The Question: The Five Books of Blood hardcover, along with one of the only remaining copies of the Montoya Journal, to the fund for auction. Those of you hoping to hold a copy of the journal in your sweaty little palms, here’s your chance!

Fifth, Matthew Southworth (and follow the link, by the way, and give Matthew’s music a listen; I think it’s quite good) and I will have some promotional material for Stumptown on hand at the show, in the form of an 8-page introductory short. As currently planned, some copies will come with bonus gimmick. Wait and see. There’ll also be an — in my opinion — very cool promo poster at the booth, designed by mercuryeric and Matthew that is, in my opinion, a triumph of PI geekdom. I’m actually hoping we can run off a slew of them for sale.

Ninjas in L.A.!

Andrew & Xtie, better known as the dynamic writing duo of Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir, are writing a new weekly manga entitled The Ninja Diariesfor Metromix. There’ll be a launch party for the comic held at Secret HQ, in Silverlake, this Thursday (that’s the 17th for those of you numerically impaired).

As to why this is cool, witness:

Free. Weekly. 1-Page Comic.

With NINJAS.

I mean, c’mon, what do you need? An invitation?

Oh, fine, fine, all right.

Here, have one.

And Another one from Wired

Say what you will about the magazine, I love their RSS feeds. Story seeds pop forth like corn kernels in hot oil.

As reported by Dave Bullock in the Multimedia blog, the search for Einstein’s theoretical gravity waves is kicking into high gear — and the bonus? LASERS!!!

Lasers two-point-five miles long!

I think that’s cool.

Pre San Diego 2008

Although I am not listed on — as far as I know — any of the SDCC information, I will be attending the show.

Schedule is TBA at this point. I expect to be signing at Oni and DC, but dates and times are still being coordinated. I’m confirmed for a signing at the Bantam booth on Friday, where we’ll be giving away copies of Patriot Acts. As for panels, I suspect I’ll be at the Dark Castle one on Thursday, and perhaps the DC Nation panel, also on Thursday, as well as a handful of others. I am confirmed for the Gays in Comics panel on Saturday at 5:45.

I should add, at this point, that the lack of information confirming that I’ll be at the show is my own damn fault and no one else’s. I never got it together to actually register, so it’s not like anyone had a reason to believe I’d be attending.

Oh the irony.

Now for some musing…

Andrew and Xtie departed this morning, beginning their long drive back to the Land of Sun and Smog. As ever, their departure leaves all of us here vaguely out of sorts. As jonlaw can well attest, it sucks when hearty and longstanding friendships are separated by distance.

nealbailey asked if I get postpartum after finishing a novel, and I hedged on the answer. It’s a problematic analogy for me, to equate the act of giving birth to the act of writing a novel, though the romance of “the act of creation” makes it a logical enough comparison, I suppose. But to answer the question more honestly than I did the last time, yes, I do. It’s a combination of emotions, I think, mostly underscored by fatigue. It may be the same for many authors, or for all of them, or for none, I don’t know, but the process is a…consuming one, that may be the best way to put it. I’m always reminded of a Conan Doyle line — which I am about to butcher, as I’m too tired to be bothered to actually look it up — where Watson remarks that Holmes looks a little rough around the edges (yes, yes, cocaine will do that, as you were), and the Great Detective’s reply is something along the lines of, “I confess I have been using myself rather too freely of late.”

Holmesians out there should feel free to provide chapter and verse, as required.

Regardless, that line has always resonated for me, even if I can’t quote it. It’s how I feel every time I finish a novel.

The rush to vacation following completion, the company of good friends and good times, postponed but did not defeat the effect. And it’s catching up with me, and tonight I’m finding myself listless and out of sorts, edging up to grumpy but not quite committing to the relationship as yet. In a few more days this will pass. It has nothing to do with anxiety about the work itself, at least, not this time; my editor read and returned comments via email on the ms within, I shit you not, 24 hours of receipt, which is a record for her, at least in the confines of our relationship. As always, her notes — brief as they were — were spot on; in fact, her notes were exactly the ones I’d made to myself to address in the revision. Well, except for one, but she never likes it when someone cries in my novels. She genuinely seems to like the book, which is always a good thing, and, more to the point, I believe her when she says she does; after nine novels with her, I can tell when she’s struggling to find something kind to say to me.

Depression may be another word for it, I suppose. The desire to do nothing for a few days, to simply read a book, or play a video game, or sleep late, all things that, for one reason or another, I cannot do at this time. To indulge myself. But there are scripts that need writing (as of this moment, actually, there are five of them, with three so close to deadline they can look down its shirt), and many editors who have been both patient and understanding as I’ve told them that they would have to wait until the book was finished. Well, it’s finished, and they’re due their due.

An unrelated question: anyone I know from that Green and Pleasant planning on attending San Diego? And if so, would you be willing to act as courier for me? I promise, it’s nothing that’ll get you sent down to Gitmo. Honest.

Litvinenko

Maybe I’m cynical, maybe I’ve spent too much time thinking about, and following such things…

…but this, while news, is hardly surprising.

One wonders what, if any, the reprisal might be (or may have already been).

Well, the Weather Sucked…

…but the time off was much-needed and well-spent. Felt like I got to actually get to know my family again. Strange process, novel writing: it is, in many ways, like living two lives at once. I move through the necessities of my day, I do all I need to do, I answer promptly and properly to the questions that come my way. I do all the things I should normally be doing.

But at the same time, I’m perpetually living someplace else, in this world that doesn’t exist, with people who don’t exist except in my mind. It’s a writer’s cliche, it’s been said a thousand times before, but it’s true. The number of times Jen and I have been having a conversation where I will blurt out, “oh, you know what Atticus has to do next? He has to go back to Turkey, that’s what he has to do!” and she’ll blink at me and then ask if I’ve heard a thing that she’s said. And I have, and I can tell her that, yes, I will take Elliot to gymnastics after I pick up Dashiell from art camp, or whatnot. Hopefully, this is the closest I’ll ever come to having MPD.

Andrew and I drove back from the coast yesterday, and while normally we spend the most of these drives in an elaborate post-mortem of the holiday’s gaming and toss around ideas for future stories-slash-complications-slash-rewards (the game of the moment is AEG’s defunct 7th Sea, as opposed to its open-license d20 conversion Swashbuckling Adventures; the campaign is about a year old at this point, with perhaps a handful of actual sessions under its belt, and it’s as fine and rewarding a game as we’ve played for many a year, now. Just finishing up a visit to Avalon, and everyone had a good moment or four.), this time we started talking about the state of baseball.

I’m not a huge sports fan. When I was younger, growing up, I liked football, as in the American game. I have always — to this day — loved football, as in the game the rest of the world follows. I was not, growing up, a fan of baseball, due in no small part to an altercation between myself and the game’s namesake that resulted in my teeth punching their way through my lower lip (most people would call this “an accident” or “bad luck”; me, I called it aversion therapy (and no, I don’t know what’s up with all the psych references in this post). Andrew, with his love of the game, worked patiently on me for many years, beginning in college, and about the time we were both at USC, he succeeded in turning me into a fan. When Jen was at the U of O, I was a devoted fan of the Mariners, as well as of the Eugene Emeralds.

I have since soured considerably on baseball. And I see no signs of this changing, frankly. Talking about Barry Bonds a year back with a colleague of my father’s, the point was hammered home. The gentleman said, “do you really think it’s ever been any different than it is now? That this is new?” As if that explains, or justifies, or excuses the inexcusable. Try applying that attitude to, say, segregation, see if it holds water, asshole. Just because you can’t see another way doesn’t mean it’s not 1) wrong, and 2) that a better way shouldn’t be pursued.

Andrew put up a post on his and Christie’s blog that, in many ways, expresses my frustrations and disgust with the sport better than I. When Andrew gets angry, he writes very well. Speaking from personal experience, when the man argues, he takes no prisoners. I’m glad he wrote the post, and while it is quite literally screaming into the intervoid, it’s worth a read.