When the New York Comiccon came closer, I didn’t plan much. I didn’t prepare a portfolio, because I didn’t feel ready and I wanted to enjoy the con without the pressure of creating contacts etc. Then, additionally, I got a nasty cold during the week before the con. It got better, enough to visit all three days of the con under the influence of ibuprofen. I seriously did NOT know what could expect. What I found was this:
Two huge, gigantic halls packed with unbelievable amounts of people, 50% of them dressed up, some of them to a point of dedication that seriously impressed me. In the US, it’s not just the Anime fans that dress up. It’s almost everybody! All visitors had childish joy in their eyes, and how could you not?! Blinky lights everywhere, video game consoles, great merchandise at every corner, music, predetaors, batmans, supermans, transformers, steam-punk-groupies, Ugly-Dolls-people, Ghostbusters, multiple versions of Ash, oh I should stop now to even try to mention all of them. Artists presented their work in the artists’ alley, some of them professionally working in the field, others doing it as a passion next to a full-time, none-art related job.
Friday (a first peak)
Anyways, let’s try to go through this chronologically (and I am writing this while I should be working on school related projects!). On Friday, I did a first sneak peak with tons of tissues in my bag and just watched the sheer amount of crazy madness going on. I felt like a child in an amusement park immediately and had my first talk with a Brooklyn artist Gia-Boa with roots in the Vietnam, who’s stuff I really liked for its dynamic, composition and color-feeling. I moved on to visit my ex-boss Bill Plympton who was giving a little drawing to anyone who talked to him and advertised the premier of his new movie Idiots and Angles. Later, I decided that I needed at least an improvised portfolio to have SOMETHING in case SOMEONE came along who would prove a perfect match for my style.
(Below: Bill Plympton, my es-boss)
Saturday (Stalking Battle Star Stars and seeing lead artists from VERTIGO)
In the morning I sat on the computer, putting together my favorite illustrations from the last two years. I went to my Saturday class at my school, bought a letter-siized portfolio and printed all my work at the computer class printer. Voila! My Speed-portfolio was dinished. I asked nicely if I could leave early from class for the comiccon that took place only 10 blocks away. My teachers dismissed me, and I was free to go back into the madness. I had my first look into the autograph-alley, where stars from Sci-Fi series Battle Star Galactica where signing. I took my picture from Katee Sackhoff(Starbuck) who was really eager to stop people from filming her (photos where ok) and refused to shake hands due to the flu season. Then, Christopher Judge who plays Teal'c in Star Gate– he didn’t have a line, because all the nerds where drooling over Katee Sackhoff! I was about to get an autograph when I found out it was 30$! Have to say though, he looked really good!
(Below: Christopher Judge)
After satisfying my need to stalk stars that day I went to the DC VERTIGO panel – for all who don’t know, Vertigo is a sub-level publisher of DC and they publish more adult themed comics set in the Sci-Fi, fantasy, horror, thriller and mystery genre. They were always my favorite US-publisher; I have read a lot of their publications. The panel was actually just about the publications to come, and not a discussion about their program in general. Still, it was amazing to see artists such as Azzarello who wrote 100 Bullets and Brian Wood responsible for the amazing series DMZ up close.
(Below: The Vertigo Panel)
Ok, I didn’t manage to talk to anyone yet and show my portfolio, but that was my grande scheme for Sunday. To be honest: I didn’t know where my style belonged in the US-market – the big publishers have a very defined style that has a long history in the US, realistic, bombastic, very often super-hero based, very colorful and not cute at all. My style is heavily influenced by European comic artists and by traditional animation, a style that people here in the US sometimes have no connection with (most comic fans here don’t know most of the French comic super stars). With hose thoughts making my, once more, insecure, I decided to wait what Sunday would bring.
Sunday (The best Photo ever, M. Night Shyamalan about his movies and encounter with Secret of Kells creators – oh, and the most immature decision ever in terms of spending money on something useless)
I don’t even know where to start. Sunday was probably to most amazing day of all three. I felt terrible in the morning; my body hated me for doing this to it when I actually really needed rest. But there was no way around going to the con for a third day, because I had to very defined things in mind I wanted to do that day:
One: Take a picture with B-movie star Bruce Campbell
Two: Meet the creators of my favorite animated feature “Secret of Kells” and show them my portfolio
I can be very, very persistent and determined if I want to and if I have a chance which I might never get again. So I met up with Becky at around 10:30 and the first thing I wanted to find out was Campbell’s signing hours. Well, what can you say! He was there right now, so I freaked out, screamed, jumped on the spot (You people have to understand: HE RULES! HE RULES SO MUCH!) and took pics of him signing.
I decided to come by later and MAYBE take a pic with him together. I visited the very popular steam-punk costume shop with Becky without the intention to buy anything. When I left the shop I had purchased the most expensive coat in my life – a so called “Brown coat”, based on the very same coat worn my Nathan Fillion in Firefly. YES, I OWN A BROWN COAT!!! Which is only cool for people who love Firefly, but you others be impressed anyway!!!
Becky left, and encouraged by my new, awesome coat I decided to have a look at what Bruce Campbell was doing. He had just finished signing, and a shy fan tried to make a picture with him, but Bruce simply ignored him and walked away. The slightly bitchy lady who was probably taking care of the stars during their signing hour (her face was slightly cliché in terms of Botox treatment) looked at me slightly mocking and shrugged her shoulders with a sardonic smile. “Fuck you bitch” I thought, and started to follow Bruce Campbell trough the masses. He was easy to spot: Tall, wearing a white suite and moving as confident and fast as you would expect from the guy who played Ash! I noticed that he was getting closer to a side exit and I saw my chances to take a pic with him slip away! “That’s it,” I though, “that’s the moment of truth, the moment the embrace my girl-balls and the chance to prove myself!” “MISTER CAMPBELL”, I called out, “would you mind taking one last picture?” I KNEW he couldn’t say no right now, I had put on my nicest smile and tried to glow with admiration. He said yes, insisted on doing it in the stairway though so that no other fans would bother him. “Look into the camera, Darling”, he said, “you’re gonna like this photo.” Later, when I looked at it, I couldn’t’ stop laughing.
Embraced with the power of the Campbell, I floated over the festival floor to go to a panel discussion with movie director M.Night Shyamalan about his movie Unbreakable released 10 years ago. I managed to get a seat in the first row and was curious about what he had to say and if he would say something about his latest fails in the movie industry. People in the room where nice – most of them where dedicated Unbreakable fans. I expected at least some “Boos” for him, but everyone was nice and polite. I didn’t expect Shyamalan to be so honest and personal about his career. He talked about how the bad reception of Unbreakable made him doubt himself and made him constantly ask himself the question of why it didn’t work out. He stated that this self-doubt and questioning led to some bad decisions. I seriously liked him more after this panel, even though he had totally screwed up “Aang – the last Airbender”.
What came next was the AMC premier of a clip of the new TV series “The Walking Dead” with directors and creators, something that many fans were very eager to see. The series is based on a comic series I had read years ago, I really liked it but stopped reading it after a while. This was taking place in the same room as M.Night’s panel, so I just stayed there.
But they didn’t start on time, so I had to leave to go to a panel discussion of the creators of my favorite animated feature of the last years, The Secret of Kells, an astonishing movie made in Ireland. I seriously love this movie. It has everything, a great story, beautiful art, beautiful character designs, and all based on the art of book illumination of Celtic art in the dark ages. The creator, one of them illustrator and comic artist Tomm Moore talked about the process of their work and immediately were likable, friendly and answered any question with appreciated honesty. That encouraged my to go up in the ending and ask if I could show Tomm Moore my portfolio. Before the panel I had prayed that they would be nice people, and they were! Tomm Moore agreed at once, and after signing DVDs for fans he had a look. The first thing he said was “Oh, that’s a relief, I hate when you open portfolios and they are bad, you have to be nice!” which was the best first compliment I could get. He looked through it and gave me self-confidence for the rest of the year by commenting on it. He also said he would love to see someone like me for an internship in their studio in Ireland. I was more than happy.
(Tomm Moore, illustrator and movie director)
It was Sunday, 4 pm, and I had done everything I wanted to do, even better: My expectations had been exceeded. Oh, and of course: My new BROWN COAT!