Brandon and I drove down to Seattle last Wednesday. We wanted a couple of days free before the Emerald City Comicon so we could do our usual Seattle stuff. I, for example, hung out with Corey “the Reyyy” Lewis and Jacob “Cobu san” Ferguson and started accumulating Seattle parking tickets, which incidentally are the worst parking tickets I’ve ever accumulated because they can’t be paid online. You have to write a cheque using a pen filled with your own tears and then deliver said cheque via street urchin to some unknown location within fifteen days or they dispatch a United States marshal to hunt you down like the dog you are and that’s how movie concepts are born.
I also helped Corey fold and staple 300 comic zines, Layered Jacket 2 and more of the sold! out! first Layered Jacket.
There were two other kind souls helping out, but I still wore a hole in the side of my index finger from improperly folding hard-stock, an injury that nobody could forget about for the length of the convention because I talked about it and showed it to people constantly. It was, and is, nearly invisible.
Memories of the first day of the convention are vague. I had a bacon waffle for breakfast and then Corey skateborded all his comics and materials down to the convention center, which was pretty awesome.
That day I mostly ran around and tried to find everybody I knew on the floor, which took longer than it ever has, because I know a lot more people then I did in ancient history when I first met the Dicecat trio (Corey, Jacob and Brandon) and went to a convention and was made afraid.
Let’s talk about fear for a second, shall we? Cue flashback with gong sound effect, please. A long long time ago I worshiped certain “internet artists” from afar, and sort of got to know some of them in a weird removed way and suffice to say it was freaky. I remember when I first found out about the San Diego Comic Con online, back when Marian and I were still in our late teens and hadn’t done anything professionally (I generally still haven’t, but moving on) and I was all, like, totally, “MECCA!” I had grandiose plans involving road trips and life-affirming meetings of the soul in San Diego, that cleanest of port cities that seemed then about as far away from Vancouver BC, as Florida. And Australia.
Well needless to say (since when you take the trouble to describe your expectations of a past event before explaining the reality, the reality is always the opposite of the anticipatory version, so in a sense it’s a kind of spoiler and has ruined many a fictional twist for me in the past, goddamn it) none of that occurred. What occurred was I got really depressed and had to force myself into comic shops for a couple of years, not to mention out of bed and to class and to eat and breathe. But it’s a long story and one that has been described by its main participant(s) as both “stupid” and “make it stop” so I’ll move right along.
Around three or four years later Marian had to drag me kicking and whining to meet some dudes (the Dicecat trio) who I assumed would automatically dislike me (I’m very glass-half-ugly when I feel like it) but who turned out to be significantly rad. FIGURATIVE MECCA! All kinds of mind-blowing and life-changing alliances were formed, and the end result was that I went to my first out-of-town con and was, bringing us back to my initial detour, made afraid.
Of what? I don’t know. Cons can be scary for the depressive introvert. I mean, face it, living rooms can be scary for the depressive introvert. Cons are like giant living rooms full of people showing off how talented they are, and what a good time they’re having, and how they all know each other and, on the surface at least, like each other too.
Here I was, fresh and sticky from the eggshell remnants of my pre-life crisis, scared of every stranger who stared at me with their big creepy eyes and demanded, however silently, that I state my business. Could I draw and work a tablet as well as the majority of exhibitors? No. Still can’t. Did I have anything to exhibit? Also no. Also don’t. So yeah, I was made slightly nervous by the whole thing. And it’s so gossipy. Oh my god, you guys, the comics scene is so gossipy. I gossip too, so I can’t cast the first stone at that lowly sinner Jesus was protecting (see? I can play that biblical jazz), but cons are pretty much festivals for and about shit talking. See, it builds up and then releases like that geyser in Yellowstone. Which is my ineffective way of avoiding an ejaculation metaphor. Um.
Here, I broke it down for Jacob like this: say you’re in a long distance relationship with your high school sweetheart, if you had such a thing, and you can’t see Bobby/Susie every day in gym anymore or make out under the bleachers or whatever it is that people with successful high school lives do, because high school is over. Back before Bobby/Suzie, say, joined the army, he/she was always around. If you argued, or were dicks to each other, or if when you said “see you later” he/she thought you said “see you hater” and felt hated on, there would always be a ready opportunity to explain your mistake or apologize or just act less like dicks and then you could make out in the rain. (I’ve seen Dawson’s Creek. I know what teenagers who weren’t me are like.) But now it’s long distance and when Bobby/Suzie says, through a haze of cellular static before hanging up, “the missiles are getting closer” and you hear “this missy! Yar! Blow her!” and it totally completely breaks your heart in a really confusing kind of way, you will have to go however long, a day, a week, with that broken heart before another chance to interact comes your way. Assuming, that is, Bobby/Suzie made it through the blitzkrieg. This means the opportunities to feel good about your relationship become fewer, and eventually cease to exist, which is your cue to run off with some coffee barrista that compliments your hair.
Cons are just like that. Because you see the people you only see at cons like once or twice or three times a year, and maybe one time they’re busy or bummed out and they don’t seem incredibly happy to see you, and so until the next con you’re all “Bobby at Image and Suzie at Fantagraphics* totally hate my guts, man!” Even if they don’t actually know who you are.
I talked to a cognitive therapist this one time who told me that every time you play a scene over again in your head, like “he said this and I said that and then we looked at each other,” that scene invariably starts to make you feel like a giant asshole. It’s a brain thing. A synaptic groove. A few replays in and you’re remembering how “he said this kind of forgiving thing and then I said that STUPID and OFFENSIVE thing and then he stared at me with eyes of pity and disdain FOREVER“. And it gets worse from there. So try not to obsess over any personal exchange too much because you will end up convinced that you’re evil and worthless and everyone else is pretty much Buddha for putting up with any of your crap. Is how I see it.
Anyway, my point being, conventions are hotbeds of paranoia and insecurity. Pour moi. But this con? It felt notably more comfy and fun than others before it. Even when I was exhausted and strung out and even though I STILL have nothing to show for myself, people I hadn’t seen in years must be in a really good place emotionally, or something, because they were all really nice and calming. I may have replayed a few scenes in my head since and have still had zero success re-editing them into personal failures.
Comics too! I got a nice haul of stuff by friends. The Layered Jacket set from Corey, my very own copy of Jan’s Atomic Heart by friend Simon who I worked with last summer, ATMOST 2 by Jacob, the bio of which describes me, cheap drunk that I am, ranting on his bed about how boys are beautiful flaming eggs, so that’s embarrassing, and Joe Keatinge gave me an anthology that his Kelly the Cop strip was printed in, and Farel Dalrymple gave me Paper Cutter 14, and Mare Odomo let me have one of his Pokemon-related Letter to an Absent Father mini comics, and there was also a lot more swag which is now spread around my apartment like so much beautiful paper candy.
That’s it. That’s my first and probably only attempt at describing the last six days. I’m missing out a lot of stuff, including the Lost Wallet Fiasco that filled the return trip home with anxiety and woe until it was eventually stabilized by the Found Wallet Resolution. We left Seattle more than once, is all I’m saying. But all in all, it was good. I’m sorry if I did any shit talking. I don’t know if I’m going to Stumptown yet, or TCAF, but both seem a little more tempting then they did before…
*with my luck, there probably is a Bobby at Image and Suzie at Fantagraphics who are perfectly lovely and have now been slandered. If so, I apologize and if I’ve ever met ethier of them or even people with similar names, which I have NO RECOLLECTION of doing, I apologize sincerely and suggest they keep on being the bright beautiful shining stars that they are.