Montreal Mini Comic Con

There’s another Montreal Comic Con going down this year! On December 8th (Saturday), head down to the Palais des Congres (Montreal Convention Centre) and check out the Mini Con. It’s only $5 and puts the focus on comics, anime and cosplay. Guests of honour include Assassin’s Creed’s Shawn Baichoo and comic book artist Nick Bradshaw. Click the pic above to join the Facebook event! We’ll see you there.


Canadian GI JOE fans, GET READY! We’re only a few weeks away from the biggest, baddest G.I. JOE convention yet and it’s all going down in Toronto at the Sheraton Toronto Airport.

Not only is it the best place to buy, sell, collect and trade, but there are EXCLUSIVE figures being made available just for the convention. So far they’ve announced TRACTION, with the next exclusive hitting the web on Wednesday, July 4th.

Primary Military Specialty : xxxx xxxxx Driver
Secondary Military Specialty : Explosives
Birthplace: Summerside, Prince Edward Island

For more info, check out the Facebook event here. See you there!

Adam Hughes Curtails Convention Sketching and Why It Matters

Some very unhappy news comes from iFanboy and provides a great example of how money-grubbing can ruin fandom and the effects that insincerity can have on artists and those who genuinely love their work…

Rich Johnston at Bleeding Cool broke a story yesterday that Adam Hughes has decided to significantly curtail his convention sketching going forward. Rich’s article quotes Allison Sohn (Adam Hughes’ wife and manager) from their Yahoo! Group, and it’s worth reading in its entirety. The gist of the story is that Adam and Allison were upset to see that one of the commissions Adam completed at last week’s Boston Comic Con was put up on eBay less than 24 hours later, and predictably was being auctioned off for a significant premium to what the buyer paid Hughes.

After the news broke yesterday, Allison wrote a piece on their Yahoo! Group summarizing their views:

Hello all;

I thought it might be smart to make one post, re-capping many of the points we’ve discussed today. With the word of our decision to stop taking a sketch list hitting news outlets like Bleeding Cool, I wanted to post one concise version of what we’ve been discussing, so that people that want more information don’t have to sift through 200 posts to get it.

Adam and I agreed that it was time to stop the sketch list. After attending the Boston Comic Con this past weekend where Adam was only able to get 3 sketches done, we came home to learn that one of those sketches was within hours of it being drawn, put on eBay. The person that got the sketch told us elaborate lies about how much the piece meant to him, how long he’d been trying to get one, and all the usual, in order to make a profit off of Adam. The worst part for us is not that we won’t make the $3000+ that the sketch sells for on eBay (and I wish that was an exaggeration) but that some fan who really DID want a sketch, and there were many that had been on our list for years, was denied the chance to take one home so that this person could instead make a profit at their loss.

Is this the sole reason for our decision? No. I have been saying for a long time that this day was coming, and to be honest, I thought we’d have had to stop the list long before now. As it became harder and harder for Adam to get drawings done, and as the lists grew longer and longer, the stress increased. At every show, people want books signed, they want to have a personal few minutes talking with Adam, they want a photo with him, to shake his hand, to ask him what he thought of the latest comic book movie. On the professional end, editors and fellow artists want a few minutes, and show promoters want him to do panels and signings. All of these things don’t allow for very much time to draw. When Adam does finally sit down to draw, the list of requests is as much as 50 people long. When you look over that list and know that at best you might get 5 accomplished, the idea of disappointing so very many people can be really difficult to deal with.

Now take all of that, and add the possibility of one of those few drawings you do finish being collected and then re-sold by someone that doesn’t care how hard you work or how much other fans really wanted the opportunity to be the one that took it home, and it’s just enough stress to help you decide that it is really no long worth it.

Going forward: there will still be art. Adam and I are discussing how we can have an eBay sketch winner for each day of the show, and how we can limit it to one per person per event. I’m hoping that with the tremendous strain of trying to draw at each show alleviated, Adam will be able to consider sketching from home. These drawings could then fill a portfolio that we could bring to events that fans could shop from. And maybe we can finally go ahead and start listing auctions for overseas fans; something we’ve always wanted to be able to do, and time and stress have never really allowed for.

I know many of you are disappointed. Please try and understand, Adam has been doing this for more than 20 years, at a rate of 10 – 12 conventions a year. We wanted to make everyone happy, and there comes a point where that pressure is simply too much, and you have to admit to yourself that it is an impossible task. Even knowing that, we still tried our best for as long as we could. I want to thank everyone that has posted, emailed, and tweeted their support. It really means a great deal to us. I look forward to the rest of the convention year, and the opportunities it will now present us. Hopefully with this stress lifted from his shoulders, Adam can do more panels, tutorials, portfolio reviews and generally spend more time with you guys, his fans.

You all have my gratitude for being so cool about this;


As someone who attends a lot of conventions, has the pleasure of knowing quite a few artists, and has the joy of owning quite a bit of original art and commission work, this is an issue near and dear to my heart. And as anyone that’s read through the comments in the Yahoo! Group or on Bleeding Cool will attest, this is an issue that strikes an emotional chord with a lot of people.

An Individual Decision Deserves Your Respect

Before we delve into the broader issue of convention sketches and commissions, and their future, let’s first get something clear about Adam Hughes’ decision. IT IS HIS PERSONAL CHOICE AND EVERYONE SHOULD RESPECT THAT. Honestly, I get why people might have a philosophical difference of opinion with Adam and Allison on this matter, or might be personally disappointed because they were hoping to someday secure a piece of his original artwork, but at the end of the day, that’s FAR DIFFERENT than getting angry with them for their decision. It’s Adam’s art. It’s Adam’s time. He’s free to choose to do whatever he wishes with his time, and how anyone can get angry with someone’s personal choice baffles me.

Unpacking the Participants Motivations

In my “day job”, I’m fond of telling my colleagues that it’s important to put yourself on the other side of the table. What I mean by that is to remember that every negotiation or transaction is driven by the motivations of everyone involved, yet far too often people forget that the people on the other side of the bargaining table have their own, often differing, objectives. If you take the time to think through what they’re looking for, it’s MUCH easier to architect a successful and expeditious outcome.

An Artist’s Motivations for Convention Sketching

Generate income & offset convention expenses
Connect with fans
Build goodwill among the comic book community
Pass the time while sitting at their booth
Foster creativity and undertake projects they don’t normally get to illustrate

A Fan’s Motivation for Obtaining Convention Sketches

Obtain a one-of-a-kind piece of artwork
Use as an entrée to strike up a dialog with their favorite creators
Support (financially) their favorite creators
Generate an arbitrage opportunity to re-sell the work for a profit

For the most part, the motivations of artists and convention goers are sympathetic. It’s when the two bolded (and in red) motivations come into play that animosity can (and does) spark up. As Allison says in her missive, it wasn’t so much that the guy wanted to re-sell the artwork (she acknowledges his right to), it’s that he intentionally deceived them in an incessant way, and then brazenly flaunted that fact by putting the art up for sale immediately. That makes a lot of sense to me, were the shoe on the other foot, I too would’ve been miffed.

Arbitrage Has and Always Will Exist

Arbitrage is part of the business world, and it’s not going away. Comic book stores don’t pay Diamond $2.99 for an issue of Green Lantern; they pay a $1.79 or so and then charge you, the end customer, a markup. That’s how they manage to keep the lights on, afford a store front, stock the shelves, and put food on their own tables. Grocery stores don’t pay $0.99 for a 2-liter bottle of soda, and I’m guessing it doesn’t bother you to know that. So to think that humans won’t continue to find ways to arbitrage is a little misguided. For as long as there are goods in demand, there will be people who try to find a way to acquire those goods and then re-sell them for a markup.

“Flipping” has been going on for a long time, particularly since the proliferation of the internet. With sites like eBay, it’s so easy to reach literally millions of potential buyers that would’ve never been available in times past. If you got a convention sketch from an artist in 1982, it was highly unlikely you could re-sell that sketch for a significant premium. Who would buy it? Were you going to put a classified ad in the paper? At best, you would probably sell it to another local fan, or to a local comic retailer. Today it’s a much different story.

Remember that it wasn’t long ago convention art was usually FREE. Artists started feeling like their work was making money for other people, so they started charging for their efforts. As the industry has evolved, we all now have very good data about what “going rates” are for artwork, and that informs not only the buyers, but the artists. Artists are smarter than ever about the worth of their own product; and more power to them.

Tips for the Non Flippers & Artists to Avoid a “Hughes” Situation

Although I respect a person’s right to re-sell sketches and commissions, I would prefer they didn’t – for purely selfish reasons. Since I LOVE to acquire commissions and sketches, and have never re-sold one, I would rather artists not have to worry about that kind of thing. But recognizing that what I want in a perfect world isn’t the reality, here are some tips to help ensure your pursuit of original art pieces continues unabated.

Personalize the item – I never understand why more artists don’t insist on this. If they’re worried about flipping, why not say upfront that any piece they create will be personalized in such a way that re-selling will become much harder? For example, if you’re drawing a character, write a word balloon with a specific call out to the person buying the piece. I almost always ask for my work to be personalized, asking the artists to sign the work and dedicate it to me. I’ve found many times that artists appreciate this because they realize the chances I’m a flipper are much lower.

Prove your passion – I have the entire downstairs hallway of my house dedicated to original art. It’s a gallery. So I’ve got tons of pictures of the gallery and am always quick to show the artists pictures to let them know I’m a collector, not a flipper. You would be surprised how at ease it puts artists to know you’re an art lover. Does that mean you couldn’t be flipping pieces while keeping others? Of course not, but it’s still a gesture of goodwill, one that I can personally attest to.

Consider sketchbooks – Some of the best convention art I’ve seen has been in the form of thematic sketchbooks. When an artist sees a sketchbook chock full of other art, it tells them that you’re interested in keeping it, versus flipping it. As an added bonus, having a great themed sketchbook will often push an artist to up their game, because they’ll want to make sure their piece stands up to other great works you already have in the book.

Pre-negotiated auctions – Adam Hughes and Tony Moore are probably the two trailblazers on this front. Both guys now regularly set up eBay auctions before a convention, with the winner getting a guaranteed commission. For the artists, this all but guarantees the winner won’t be a flipper, because the open bidding sets the purchase price much closer to what a flipper would hope to get from his/her own eBay listing.

Pre-negotiated purchases – Some artists don’t like to take pre-orders, but many do. I politely contact every artist I want to get work from before the show and ask if they’re doing pre-orders. The benefit of a pre-order is a) it creates a dialog and record of sale, b) it allows the artists to get more work done over a broader period of time, and c) it guarantees the purchaser will get their art versus having to wait for awhile because the artists ran out of time.

At the end of the day, Adam Hughes’ decision isn’t going to change much. I fully respect his (and Allison’s) approach toward the decision, but I also think it’s important to remember that he’s in an enviable position. Adam can do one or two commissions per convention and earn thousands of dollars for his efforts. That gives him a lot more flexibility in how he chooses to spend the rest of his time. But for many artists, if not most artists, they HAVE to generate convention art sales in order to justify attending the shows. To those people, I would say that with a little intuition, clear instructions about personalizing the work, and a bit of luck, they can greatly reduce the frequency of flipping without having to ostracize their genuine fans. To my fellow fans, the next time your mouth drops as you see the prices an artist is charging for a commission, just remember that there’s a VERY good reason for their prices. It all comes down to basic supply vs. demand.

Montreal Comic Con : Post-Con Wrap-Up!

I headed down to the Montreal Comic Con yesterday and not only had a great time, but was able to snag a few Christmas deals for my geek-leaning friends. Not to mention seeing a number of great comic artists, taking in a great costume contest and meeting the occasional geek-celeb!

There were a ton of hugely talented artists present, including Tom Fowler, Marcus To and Francis Manapul, and they were selling prints and originals, plus doing the usual Con sketches for their adoring fans!

Francis Manapul

And though Iron Sheik was forced to cancel, Spike Spencer (voice actor best known for his work in Neon Genesis Evangelion) and Sam Witwer (Smallville, Battlestar Galactica, Dexter and Star Wars Unleashed) were there to make sure that the fanboys and fangirls still had plenty to get excited over.

Sam Witwer

Finally, the vendors were out in full force, there were Pokemon, Magic and Naruto tournaments and demos, plus some NCW Superhero wrestling and Star Wars replicas of a Landspeeder and, of course, fan-favourite droid R2-D2!

Now, with 2010 almost behind us, I can only look forward to next September and the 2-day Con extraordinaire that the 2011 MCC will bring!

The Montreal Comic Con: Post-Con

The Montreal Comic Con has come and gone and we had a blast! Our booth was set up, we sold a ton of awesome items and we got to meet fellow fans, see a bunch of geekdom celebrities and watch a parade of costumes stroll past! Here’s a look at our CMDStore/Toys on Fire booth!

On the day of the Con, the Gazette posted a great article about the events going down at Place Bonaventure!

If, like me, you’ve spent years wondering who would win if Batman and Spiderman pretended to fight using folding chairs and histrionics, then this weekend’s Montreal Comic-Con at Place Bonaventure is for you.

Featuring superhero wrestling by local pros, a costume masquerade and the chance to fire Nerf guns at Stormtroopers, imagine someone melted down the entirety of pop culture and used it to build an amusement park.

The convention, run by Alex La Prova and Oscar Yazedjian, is in its third year. The inaugural event drew about 800 people, but this year, La Prova expects between 5,000 and 6,000 people. “We actually expanded the show floor to close to 40,000 square feet … to accommodate all the extra events and the increase in popularity,” he said.

La Prova attributes the rising interest to the way comic books have infiltrated pop culture. “It’s video games, it’s toys, it’s (Hollywood). … Every big medium these days has a direct link and tie to comic books,” La Prova said.

As such, the event spans a wide variety of interests.

The time-travelling DeLorean from the Back to the Future films will be on display, Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh! Tournaments will be held, and special guests include the French voice cast of The Simpsons and horror hostess Elvira.

And, obviously, Star Wars. Along with appearances by actors Peter Mayhew, Billy Dee Williams and Maria de Aragon, the Con will be graced by the Quebec-based Imperial Fortress unit of the 501st Legion, an international Star Wars costuming group that makes appearances for charity. About 15 Fortress members will be appearing at the Con, member Stephen Beaupre says.

“We just got some Nerf guns, and we’re going to do a Stormtrooper shootout. So, if people want to give money, they’ll be able to blast at a Stormtrooper,” he explained.

But don’t expect to see any Jedi Knights, adds Beaupre, whose own costumes include a snowtrooper, bounty hunter Dengar and a clone trooper. “Some of us do Rebel stuff (on the side), but we don’t really talk about it.”

Of course, plenty of attention will be paid to comic pros, especially Montrealers.

“We like to (promote) local artists,” La Prova said. “They all have their tables to sketch and sign.”

“It’s nice to have a local Con,” artist Kelly Tindall added. “The fans get to know you after a while.”

Tindall, a Montrealer whose creations include paranormal investigator Archie Snow and webcomic That’s So Kraven, which replaces Raven Simone’s sitcom character with a Spiderman supervillain like a psychotic mash-up album, has attended several conventions and finds Montreal’s has its own unique charm.

“There’s not really anything like it here,” he said. “It’s a big draw for creators, too, because Montreal is such a lovely city.”

Tindall will spend the Con drawing fan requests of characters both popular and obscure, occasionally in bizarre situations.

“It’s like any other trade show, except instead of trying to hock your Shamwows, you get to draw pictures of an overweight Galactus, or Apocalypse and his four My Little Ponies.”

And don’t forget! Comic up NEXT in Montreal Cons is our very own event, the MONTREAL TOYCON, a convention where you can expect to get some great deals on awesome items from Bakugan to NHL Hockey, Beyblade to the DC Universe. It all goes down October 17th, 2010 and you can check out the Official ToyCon site for more details!

Star Wars Clone Wars Figures and…Darth Vader Does Yoga?

New figures are on their way from Star Wars: CLONE WARS, pre-orderable now and shipping later this month! If you’re a fan of the film, the show, the comics or just the awesome new style they brought to the Star Wars Universe, then you’ll want to get your hands on these 3.75-inch figures. Here’s the run-down of the figures you can snag both as a complete set or individually:

– Rex CW1
– Obi Wan Kenobi CW2
– Commander Cody CW3
– Destroyer Droid CW4
– Yoda CW5
– Count Dooku CW6
– Anakin Space Suit CW7
– Pre-Visla Mando CW8
– Mando Guard CW9
– Grievous with Cape CW10
– Aurra Sing CW11

And if the animated universe isn’t quite far-out enough for you, then maybe you’d prefer to see something far stranger in the form of this Toronto Sun article detailing Sith Lord Darth Vader’s weekend plans…

Darth Vader may have done battle in a galaxy far, far away, but in Toronto, he’s going to be doing yoga.

The Dark Lord of the Sith and his storm troopers will be descending upon Trinity Bellwoods Park Wednesday morning to embark on a 20-minute exercise regime.

The effort at the park on Dundas St. W., just east of Ossington Ave., is designed to promote this weekend’s Fan Expo at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

“It might be interesting for people to come out and get some shots of Darth Vader and the storm troopers doing park things and creating a little buzz for Fan Expo,” said Roy Mitchell, 36, the head of the Toronto Garrison of the 501st Legion — a group of Star Wars aficionados.

The display starts at 11 a.m. with Vader, storm troopers, bike gunners, snow troopers and clone troopers doing yoga, playing tennis and having a picnic.

The 501st Legion, which boasts roughly 80 members in its Toronto chapter, always make an appearance at the Fan Expo convention.

“We’ll have the main group do each thing and it’s a photo opportunity,” said Mitchell, who will be playing Darth Vader.

“We can’t do things like Downward Dog or anything, yoga will probably be limited to standing poses. We’ll then set up a tennis match and maybe Vader will be standing on the line and be the judge. It’ll be fun and that’s the idea.”

Mitchell added it’ll be interesting to watch the storm troopers attempt to hit the tennis ball with a racket, especially when they can barely see out of the helmets.

“They may get lucky and may make it back to serve, I have no idea,” he said.

Among some of the now-un-caped crusaders appearing at this week’s expo are Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar, the original Batman, Robin and Catwoman.

For more information about FanExpo, go to:


Where in the World is Artists’ Alley?

One of the things I noticed at this year’s Comic Con was that Artists’ Alley has officially been pushed to the furthest possible wall, tucked away and hidden from absolutely everything. As a fan of comics and a strong supporter of amateur illustrators, I wasn’t exactly sure of how I felt about this or, really, how to put it all into words. But over at The Onion A/V Club, writer Todd VanDerWerff does a beautiful job of it.

When Al Wiesner looked at the superhero landscape in the late ’80s, he thought something was missing: Judaism. Naturally, he responded by creating his own superhero, a strange rock-turned-man called Shaloman. Shaloman rides the uneasy line between parody and straight-up superhero comic, and it’s never immediately clear if even Wiesner knows his true intentions, outside of one issue, his favorite, which he constantly refers to as “the parody issue.” But the parody issue doesn’t look appreciably different from the regular issues, outside of jokes like “Nosir Nyafat.” (“Instead of Yassir Arafat,” he says.) Behind him, a woman I take to be his wife is digging into a bagel and lox. She’s tired. He’s tired. Last day of Comic-Con, and the last chance to pitch Shaloman to people like me, who stop by, curious about what the hell “Shaloman” could mean. Prices have been drastically reduced, and he assures me, once he sells out issue 1, he will print no more, not like Marvel or the other big boys. The woman just stares into the middle distance.

I’m in Artists’ Alley, one of the elements that the original San Diego Comic-Con grew out of years and years ago. This was the place for comics artists to set up booths to show off their artwork and network with each other. Over the decades, it’s shifted from the center of the convention to the far corner of the show floor. Has it gotten smaller? Larger? I get different answers from different people, and I think the truth lurking behind the conflicting statements is that the Artists’ Alley section of the Con has gotten definitively larger, in the sense of size and area, but has gotten smaller in terms of how important it is to the show. Now at the center of the show floor, as near as I can tell, is a perfect recreation of Bumblebee from the Transformers movies.

Creativity always, always gets shunted aside by commerce. It shouldn’t be as depressing as it is, but the constant reminders of this fact in seemingly every aspect of our lives somehow don’t stop feeling like new, fresh stabs at the vital part of ourselves that demands something GOOD, for God’s sake. Something true and original and bold and precious, something driven by a person or small group of people that has something to say, even if that something to say is as basic as, “I wish there were a Jewish superhero.” There’s a reason so many movies pitch the scrappy underdogs beating the giant, corporate behemoth, beaming with pride at the end as the big guys realize that they were wrong all along. There’s also a reason these movies have multi-million dollar advertising budgets.

I keep trying to slot Artists’ Alley into my preferred story of the Con: Artists’ Alley has gotten less and less important as time has gone by because the organizers behind the Con made a deal with Hollywood to bring in panels geeks might be interested in, then let the money Hollywood brought lead them down a path paved with good intentions but ultimately leading to ruin. The problem, though, is that this story just isn’t true. Every artist I talk to says that having more people at the Con means more people wander by their booths, means more of them stop to talk, means more of them buy sketches or merchandise or stuff. Having more people visit the booth allows them to float along on commissions or sketch sales until one of the comics companies comes calling, and having a very popular booth is also a potential way to attract the attention of those companies.

The comics industry, for the most part, is sort of like that “Gotta Dance” number in Singin’ in the Rain, at least to hear some of these people tell it. It’s all about knocking and knocking on doors until someone answers and sees you and likes what you have to offer. Obviously, it’s not like that completely, and it’s not nearly so egalitarian, but the industry remains small enough that someone like a Chrissie Zullo – whose covers for a Fables miniseries have been justly celebrated – can get a job simply by sending an attractive image as an e-mail attachment. Sure, she has to find that e-mail address somewhere, and she has to have the talent, but there’s a sense that these doors are easier to knock on than the doors in other entertainment industries. (Granted, the people I talk to have mostly broken through. For many with talent who haven’t broken in, it must feel as impossible as winning So You Think You Can Dance? feels to me.)

I talk to Richard Peter Han, who’s here with his creation, Sprocket and Gear, which is a tale of a friendly cat and rat who use crazy inventions to accomplish their tasks. Han’s sketches of the characters burst with color and life, and somehow combine the influences of cute animal cartoons, early Disney, Depression-era comic strip street scenes, and the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci into a blend of influences that feels new. The sketches, at least, are enough to make me want to see a full comic featuring the two characters. Han’s hoping to turn them into a TV series. He came out of video games, and he’d like to break into that industry. All along, his high school art teacher sits off to the side, a quiet smile on her face. She knows this stuff is good. She knows he’s got the initiative. Sprocket and Gear will likely go somewhere. Han just has to find the right medium for his characters.

But the experience of Artists’ Alley also requires seeing people who are just here because they’re hanging on to a dream that will likely never come true, a piece of themselves that is dedicated to something that will always exist outside of themselves, no matter how hard they might race after it. You can almost see the difference in their eyes, a kind of quiet panic, a brain firing synapses that keep saying, “This isn’t right, this isn’t right, this isn’t right.” They were supposed to be famous by now. They were supposed to be something other than this, something other than people trying to get a flood of fellow humans headed toward Bumblebee to stop for a second and notice them and say, “Hey, you’re the best artist ever.” But the flood rushes past, not even having the dignity to sweep them along with it.

Artists’ Alley is the best part of the Con because it’s the most HUMAN part of the Con. Every booth is a little story of its own, a narrative in process. Katie Cook – whose blog I read regularly, so I sought her work out – is pregnant and recently quit her full-time job to pursue her bright, cartoon-y art. I buy a handful of her drawings, thank her for her sunny characters. Jackie Huang wanted to find a new kind of toy for a newborn child and took up needle felting, something I’d never heard of. Now, he’s surrounded by little stuffed toys that gaze out from wide, uneven eyes, a unique expression in plushie form. A giraffe towers above him, and he kindly smiles at someone who asks if it’s for sale and says no. He’ll be hanging on to that one. Over there is Gary Friedrich, co-creator of Ghost Rider, who shuffles his sketches and script replicas with wrinkled hands and watchfully scans the crowd for anyone who might stop by and say, “Hey, I LOVE Ghost Rider,” so he can smile and say thanks and show off his wares. And next to him is Al Wiesner, insisting to anyone who stops that Shaloman isn’t a Jewish story, it’s a human story, and the woman, still staring into the distance, still working through that bagel, still looking as though she’s just ready to pack up and head home.

Creativity can be the most horrible thing in the world. It’s a piece of yourself that breaks off and wanders out into the world, where everyone else can see, on some level, who you really are. There’s a mask between you and the rest of the world, most of the time, but a creative work removes that mask, asks people to judge you, on some level. That’s why so many creative people never risk sharing their work. To be told it’s not good enough, that they’re not good enough, is simply too painful. It leads to a long, slowly decaying life of trying to find that person who thinks you’re good enough, a long life of panic growing tight behind the eyes, the mask working harder and harder to contain it. I don’t terribly understand Shaloman, but I buy an issue anyway because I like Al Wiesner a lot. I read it later while sitting in line for a panel filled with the people who let that piece of themselves out and found others ready to embrace it, and I still don’t understand it. It is a thing Wiesner is desperate to tell me that I can’t wholly grasp. Somewhere along the way, I lost the ability to decode it.

Inside Ballroom 20, teenagers shriek for the cast of Glee. I look up from Shaloman to see TV cameras sweeping along the line of us waiting to get in – we won’t. Downstairs, I know, similar cameras are trained on the people around Bumblebee, all part of an easy local news piece on the craziness that is Comic-Con. They’ll pack up and go, too, and they’ll all file reports filled with footage of people in elaborate costumes, complete with reporters giving the raw numbers of how many people attend the Con and how many went to the Hall H panels. The anchor will smile at the camera after the report is done and say something like, “Looks really fun, Jeff,” then cut to the weather.

And there you go. That’s the story. Cut and print.

In Artists’ Alley, they’re packing up, too, putting the pieces of themselves back in the trunks they brought them in and wearily making their way to their cars. Maybe it was a good year, maybe it wasn’t. Maybe this is it. Maybe they’ll never be back. Maybe 50 people will be dressed up as Sprocket or Gear next year. Maybe that giant giraffe will get sold and Jackie Huang will always regret it. Or maybe he’ll hang onto it and be able to spend the rest of his life looking at it and knowing that he, at one point, driven by something he maybe didn’t even fully understand,made that. And no one can take that feeling of accomplishment away.

They say goodbye to their friends from the next booth over and head out on the road into the California never-dark. And no matter how disheartened or enthused the reaction to their works at Comic-Con made them, they will face a point in the next few weeks where an idea will spring to their minds, unbidden, while doing the dishes or taking a shower or walking the dog. And they will find a blank piece of paper or pick up their needles or grab their watercolors.

And they will begin.