Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Supanova: Comic Guests Recap

Supanova is a great place to be for a comics fan. While the majority of folk are losing their minds for a glimpse of Karl Urban or spending all day in a queue to get Carrie Fisher to scribble on something I was getting a lot of time talking to legends of the comics world. They may get a little less attention than the stars of film and TV over the weekend but this just means dedicated fans like me have less queueing and much more one on one time with our heroes.

In a little change from previous years, the bigger comics guests weren't down in Artist's Alley but rather up in the main hall with the other big guests. There was much more room to breathe and they got equal standing with the Urbans, Fishers Tudyks of the con. Although I think Tom Taylor wasn't a huge fan of the change. Every time I saw him he was itching to be down on the floor with the people (and he did escape a few times down to the Gestalt booth).

So join me after the jump for a recap of of my time spent at the tables and in the seminars of comics pros George Perez, Chris Claremont, Mark Brooks, Tom Taylor and Alex Saviuk.

Right off the bat, can I just say what a fun, friendly and all round awesome guy George Perez was? From Friday night at his masterclass (check out my recap here) right up until the dying minutes of the con on Sunday he was happy, cheerful and full of energy. I was up at his booth many times over the weekend. I had a massive stack of books on hand for him to sign. His entire late 90's Avengers run with Kurt Busiek, his recent New 52 Superman and World's Finest and a couple of massive Absolute Editions were among the stuff jammed in my car for the con. (and boy am I grateful for the nearby media parking).

George Perez signed every single one of these
He actually had a steady queue the entire show which was great to see. I do love to see comics legends still getting mainstream appeal. He had lifelong comics fans, casual younger fans and even some young kids waiting patiently for an autograph or a sketch.

George insisted on signing both books and the cover of each Absolute
As the queue was long I had to do a few laps through the signing queue (he had a seperate queue for sketches). I didn't mind at all as it was opportunity to see George sketching headshots and delivering commissions (like my Thanos) to other fans. I'm still quite jealous of the chap who got a JLA/Avengers inspired Superman with Mjolnir and Cap's shield. What a great piece.

While people like him and myself didn't get to see George actually work on our pieces (we put our names down for these back in September) we did get the benefit of having him put considerable time and effort in the work. Convention commissions need to be done as quick as possible, not that they don't turn out spectacular, so it was nice to have something that was done with no rush. You can really see the high amount of work and quality in those commissions.

What was really fun was when someone asked for a photo with him. His table was the second one over, so it wasn't an option for us to go around his side. Instead George would jump to his feet and run around to the other side with a hop in his step. It was so great. He wasn't a "please don't touch me" type either. He'd throw his arms around you and get in close and let you get a few photos. He even insisted in getting one with my girlfriend (and photog for the weekend) Kat as well. What a champ.

In the dying minutes of Saturday I ran over to his table with a good 30 issues of his Avengers under his arm. He was more than happy to sign every single one. This is a man who loves what he does and loves his fans. Such infectious enthusiasm. As he said in his masterclass "You paid to be here and I'm paid to be here. I am at your service."

Chris Claremont, while being a much more reserved and dignified chap, was equally as nice. Known for his legendary 17 year run on the X-Men, he is responsible for a lot of their popularity even to this date. His line was also long at all times during the weekend. That's really impressive as he's a writer and  thus isn't holding up the queue sketching or what have you. It's great to see his enduring popularity. While not as enthusiastic as Perez, he's every bit as chatty and friendly. You really get a sense of how thoughtful and intelligent he is even in a brief conversation.

I only had a couple of issues and a  hardcover for Chris to sign, sadly. I wasn't an X-Men reader until a few years ago, unfortunately. Having read all his work now I wish I had grabbed them back in the day. As he signed my things I asked him about his trip and if he had seen any of Perth. He said he hadn't had much of a chance but did check out a Footy game on Thursday night. While it was a fun experience he truly had no idea what was going on. I echoed the sentiment with regards to American Football. 

Over my many trips to the signing area I overheard him chatting to other fans. He was more than happy to have long conversations about his work. You could see this really made their day. When he talked of the characters he had written over that long period you could really see the fondness in his eyes. He wasn't reminiscing about fictional characters. These were people who were his whole life for almost two decades straight. It really struck with me and left a lasting impact.

Alex Saviuk may not be as well known as a Perez or Claremont but he is a true veteran of the comics world. After working for DC he started on an amazing (pun intended) 7 year stint pencilling Web of Spider-Man. A run that long is unheard of these days. Nowadays he draws the Sunday Spidey newspaper strip and a few issues a year of The Phantom. His Web run ended just as I was getting into comics. Luckily I had a handful of his last issues in the longboxes for him to sign. A few of them with hologram covers that are delightfully 90's. I hadn't planned on getting a commission of his but after flipping through the old issues of Web and seeing his prints on sale, I couldn't resist. Spidey is my all time favourite character and I had never had a piece of him done before. Who better than a classic Spidey penciller?

What I really loved about Alex was how much he still loved his work. He would excitedly take photos of commissions he has just done that he really liked. When I asked about any unusual ones this weekend he pulled out a really great Rocket Racoon he had done earlier. All these years and he had never drawn him. His phone was full of them. Nothing I love more than someone having enthusiasm in what he does, even after so many years in the business.

I had met Mark Brooks and his lovely wife Lisa at STGCC in Singapore last year. A nicer couple in comics you will never meet. Mark is known for his work mostly on X-Men books for Marvel. Easily one of the best cover artists in the business in my opinion. His recent pop-culture inspired Fearless Defenders covers have been brilliant.

As I got to the front of the line I was met very happily by Lisa. She had remembered from last year quite well. I had won an art book and commission of Mark's while in Singapore in an Amazing Race style challenge (I may just post that story soon). Lisa is a super lady, looking after the table, greeting fans and selling prints while Mark is hard at work on his sea of commissions. 

As Mark signed a few books for me I asked the pair how their trip to my country had been. They had been to Caversham Wildlife Park the day before and seen Wombats, Kangaroos and all the other animals Americans expect us to be riding around the place. I do love seeing the guests take the trip as a chance to have a little holiday out our way. The day after the con they were going on a river cruise and having a drink at Little Creatures. I told Mark it was the best beer in the state and Lisa was more keen to look for some wine.

I really enjoy watching Mark work. His women in particular are really gorgeous. What really strikes me is the speed at which he can produce something truly amazing. The few commissions I saw him working on made me wish I could afford another. He was also selling some gorgeous prints and original comic pages. I held strong until the end of Sunday and bought a Guardians of the Galaxy one. At the end of the con he had another hour or so at his table and just began pumping out some quick headshots for the queue. He must of thrown out more than ten of these in quick succession. As you can see from the Cable he was working on above, while these were quick, they are amazing quality.

Tristan Jones (or T-Rex Jones) isn't someone I knew that well. Knowing him only by reputation up until now. He's known for his work on Ghostbusters and TMNT for IDW. Over the course of the con he became one of my favourites. He was truly hilarious at the panels (more of those soon) and was great to chat with at his table. I wondered over to have a chat when I noticed him using his 3DS on the sly. Much like myself over the weekend he was busy clearing off Streetpasses to get the sweet, sweet puzzle pieces we both craved. This led to a great chat about video games. He games on his long flights and trips so a handheld like the 3DS is perfect for him. We chatted about our love for Nintendo and how some games are just a little too Japanese (Bayonetta). He's a truly hilarious and fun guy. Wonder over to his desk at your next con.

Another Aussie worth chatting to is Tom Taylor. Well known for the digital juggernaut that is the Injustice series, he's also written some pretty great Star Wars books. Also his creator owned series, The Deep is truly fantastic (buy one for your kids!). Tom is a nice sort and will have you laughing by the end of your time with him for sure. As I got my copies of The Deep signed he asked if I had read any of his Star Wars before. I hadn't. Tom did his very best to sell me on it and eventually cracked my resolve by the end of the day. He then signed it and beckoned me to join the dark side. It was pretty darn funny. 

Injustice is a book about Superman being pushed to the extreme and eventually ruling the Earth. Supes, of course, is Tom's favourite character in comics. The irony of being handed him to write (a lifelong dream) and then having to break him down and push him to the limits wasn't lost on him. Another fun Tom Taylor fun fact; he was a professional juggler and fire eater for many years. I demanded proof and he proceeded to juggle some markers. How random is that?

Towards the end of Saturday he pulled out his iPad and treated a few of us to a sneak peak at the trailer for the animated series of The Deep. The Deep, of course, being about a family of multi-ethnic sea explorers. It's a truly great all ages book. It looked truly awesome. Tom has written a few episodes and the team want him as head writer. The project is looking for finance at the moment. I can't wait to show it to my kids one day.

It was truly great to spend time with all these amazing comics pros. All of them are worth your time and devotion for sure. Any guys that will chat with me and sign a metric tonne of books are alright in my books. In my next post I'll cover the various panels these guys put on for us all. Much more fun ahead!

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