Toronto Comicon - Fan Appreciation Day

This weekend I got to head downtown for the Fan Appreciation Day event, mostly to represent myself as an artist and not just a Red 5 colourist.

And yes, I have many stories to tell.

Thanks to some well-timed last minute intervention I was able to score a free pro pass and share a table with a writer I'm collaborating with on an upcoming project. NDA says I can't say what yet but details will come soon after the go-light. I do however have a related story to share about that later on in this entry.
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    First day was noticably slow as apparently the early bird weekend passes cost around $15. There were some faithful Atomika fans who made a long beeline for the Mercury Comics table so they got their signed swag in before everyone else. The dealer's section was in full swing selling old and new issues of everything they had in stock. One booth I heard had sold broken Transformer toys for 10 bucks a pop. Surreal.

    The overall experience was pleasant as I had plenty of time to enjoy casual conversation with table neighbours, artists and the visitors. While I walked around I was able to get portfolio critiques of both personal illustration pieces and on the Neozoic sequential pages I coloured.

    For once I'm grateful for coming out to a con as I received some very insightful tips and suggestions on what I could try with my work. Usually there's not enough time to move away from the table to do this during an event, so that was a refreshing change of pace.

    Coffee at the venue that day was nonexistent and as I've failed to find any in the immediate area, I had to journey up 4 escalator flights, go across the street to the convenience store to find some other form of caffiene [ie AMP] and bought lunch at Subway - which for me was righteously awesome. Last year at FanExpo that area wasn't even open for business yet so I walked all the way down there looking for grub and suffered the mental equivalent of blue balls before painfully trekking the concrete jungle into an East Side Mario's for pasta.

    Earlier on the guys around our artist tables were hankering for Harveys while none of us knew where it was - until the next day we recalled the one all the way back at Union Station via skywalk. The brave souls who did go also managed to score some change for their table. For some reason we couldn't get the staff to help us out on coins, so we kept having to ask each other to break bills. It grew into sheer insanity when Sunday rolled around. I have come to love people who give exact change.

    Once 6pm hit the con was closed and everyone piled out of the basement exhibit hall to plot their dinner plans. That evening I had the pleasure of going to the Lonestar Bar & Grill with new con buddies Howard, Josh, Attila and his wife and ADORABLE bear-hugging daughter Mo - who made me do funny faces and attempted to make my elbow bend the wrong way in an arm bar. Which failed by the way MUAHAHAHA~ *ahem*.

    It was a very busy night at the joint, I think there was a baseball game going on as well. The waiter with the cowboy hat and suitably fake Texan accent who spent extra time getting our orders had inspired merciless subtle joking at the table - the contents of such discussion I shall leave to your imagination. That aside the food there was quite nice. That place really knows how to grill their meat.

    Attila by the way was awesome, he told me how to use the Gradient Map - which I never thought of using up till now - to take colour experimentation further than what I had done with adjustment layers alone. I toyed around a bit last night and I feel like a kid with shiny metallic crayons again.

    The evening ended on a good note with a lot of funny horror stories and idea bouncing, I headed back home in Howard's brother's fancy cramped car feeling quite productive. And thankful for being small.


    My eyes were burning from sunlight when I woke at 7 to compile the all-important pitch material on a USB drive and dragged extra table display stuff on a 1.5 hour TTC ride downtown.

    [Yeah, very "Wow, that was genius of me," I know.]

    My printer ink was out so I thought to use the business printing center at the venue to spit some files, however I was informed by security in the lobby it was closed.

    One officer offered to do it at their office, 30 minutes later we find out their printer network was down. By then I had reduced myself to screencapping the PDF file, cropping in MS Paint, and - on suggestion of the supervising officer- pasted images into MS Word, before finally printing the damned thing at the security booth back where we first started.

    The things I do for a hardcopy.

    It was almost 11 when I speedwalked into the exhibit hall and set up my side of the table at ultra light speed. Black table cloth, easel, comics, vinyl spread, portfolio, business cards, signs, the works- past experience at cons have taught this grasshopper well. Good thing I did because I found out the Sunday one-day-pass was free so EVERYONE poured through the doors that morning.

    Sunday I actually did quite a bit of drawing for once. Most of the sketches I've done were observational studies with light grey marker rendering. The ones of artists I drew on the tables across from me were well-received and they themselves wanted one, which I gladly gave away for a few bucks after I shot sketches on camera for posterity.

    If there was one sketch I forgot to shoot it was the one I did in one moleskin of a pierced dude with a huge screw through his head. I liked that one ;_;.

    In the middle of all that sketching I was also able to sell a quite a few Neozoic issues from the Fanexpo stock. Met con familiars and new readers who were missing some books and were estatic about completing/starting their collection.

    Seriously wished I had the Neozoic trades with me, but apparently there was another delay and as a result I had no advance copies to share. I've underestimated the sheer WTF-ery that goes on in Diamond's shipping lists. On top of that the book signing at Paradise comics is unfortunately on hold until things clear up for sure. There are hard lessons to be had in experiences like this, I consider myself thoroughly schooled.

    Sunday, like all cons around then had ended early without much incident. Lil Mo gave me another bear hug and some of her left over pencil drawings that she sold for 25 cents. I'm like "Wow this kid is so much younger than I am and she's already got con experience sellin' stuff on tables," and died of cute all over again.

    Packing things up took a little longer than expected but otherwise the time was well spent bantering with artists around the aisle. On the bright side it all paid off in business-card-swapping and hushed promises of future collabs.

    The one thing I'm glad I bought at the con was a 600LB Gorilla t-shirt from Attila because the A/C inside the venue and the wind chill outside was getting really cold. As much as I'd have loved to hang out longer I ended up having a quick bite at Tim Hortons with some friends before heading home to pass out while trying to write this ridiculously long entry that I just finished this morning.

Still in the middle of waking up and - oh hey, FedEx just popped by with a big box of advance copy Neozoic trades. I really coulda used those yesterday...


Barra said...

great work on Neozoic, I had bought a few issues ages ago, but could never find the rest at my local comic store (live in Ireland), luckily today i saw the graphic novel edition for sale so i just had to pick it up. one problem though, i'm hooked, will there ever be more neozioc? anyone hinted on continuing the story (with the same art and colours of course)?

I cant find any info anywhere online, this blogspot has given me the most info so far.
btw great work on the colours and I absolutely love Korim's work too.

axl99 said...

Heyy! I'm glad to hear the trade is finally making its way into your hands!

Right now all of us are promoting the trade on our end. Never hurts to encourage new readers to sample the fruits of our hard labour, the more the better. This time - as opposed to shopping around single issues - it's a lot easier with a nice thick book on hand to show people at cons and other local events.

Neozoic is Paul's pet project, so I'm sure he'll love to go as far as he can with it. Back when I first started out on the book, he already had a good chunk of the world design planned out in the concept bible he gave us.

If there's more in the works, chances are we'll hear it from him first - through the official Red 5 Comics website of course.

Thanks for writing in!