I remember either in late 2009 or early 2010 emailing Shane when the initial C2E2 guest list came out -- at the time the main names were Steve Epting and Butch Guice. Shane blew me off. He's like that. Jump ahead another month or two and I get a call from Shane asking if I'd seen the C2E2 guest list -- oh, it had grown! We went from having never mentioned the show before to buying plane tickets and making hotel reservations in about a day. And the list KEPT GROWING!
Now, with a big guest list comes big questions. As most of you know I'd been suffering from The Mystique Curse since 2000, when, after getting my Dr. Doom sketch from Steve Epting at Heroes Con I said, 'next time I see Steve, I'll get Mystique from him.' Well, years passed, Epting went and got famous (or as we Cranboyz realize, he finally got the credit he deserved for being one of the best artists in the business) so getting sketches from him got tougher. Then he went and killed Captain America and he became nearly IMPOSSIBLE to get. Cranboyz wept. Getting sketches from Steve Epting was one of the things that kept us going. As time went on, The Mystique Curse started to take on a life of its own; fearing I'd never get a sketch from Epting again I decided I'd get one from Ron Garney, a guy we saw fairly often, if not all the time. As soon as the decree was made, Garney went off the grid. I then decided to get her from our friend Cliff Chiang, who had delivered for us time and time again. We TALKED about it ... but the day came and Cliff got busy and didn't get to me. It happens. Especially when Mystique is involved.
Sooo ... I decided to make getting a sketch from Steve Epting my top priority at C2E2. I was going to get Mystique dang it!
But then Epting cancelled. The Curse lived on.
Seriously, though, that was, in its own way, a blessing in disguise for me at C2E2 as I then decided to set my sights on getting a sketch of Voodoo from the great Terry Dodson, who I'd never met and who rarely ventures to shows in our range. But getting Dodson is work. You've got to WANT IT. And what Cranboyz want, Cranboyz get.
Before C2E2 there was a retailer convention, now Shane and I aren't retailers but we did know a certain man named THE CRAN who ran a comic book store and who got Shane and I passes for the Diamond retailer convention that was to be held the days before the show. Now, Shane and I didn't necessarily care about the retailer expo but we did care about the fact that retailers got into C2E2 THREE HOURS EARLY the first day of the con.
Now, being who we are, Shane and I decided that since retailers get in at 10, we needed to be the FIRST retailers into C2E2 so we figured we'd get there 8'ish. We took the handy C2E2 shuttle to the convention center, along with a group of people who were going to an entirely different convention and who weren't pleased to find out they were being dropped at the polar opposite end of the convention center from where they needed to be. We went to registration and got our badges and then noticed something about C2E2: The security was kind of incompetent. They were letting ANYONE in who had a retailer badge, even though it wasn't 10 am yet. We pounced and beelined for Artist's Alley. I can say with absolutely no exaggeration that for about a half hour, Shane and I were the ONLY PEOPLE in artist's alley. "First In, Last To Go!" I got in my spot to wait for Terry Dodson, who would be at his table in a mere FIVE HOURS.
As time went on, I was joined by a few other anxious Dodson fans, most of whom I knew from other shows. We did what fans in line always do before cons start: hold spots in line while people line up other sketches! Honestly, it was a great time and the good company certainly made waiting for the show to start a lot of fun.
Terry Dodson showed up, of course and his pal John Popa was FIRST on his sketch list!
And Voodoo? Voodoo is one of my favorite sketches I have:
With that sketch setup, others fell in line: Jeremy Haun, Jim Calafiore and Bob Layton in the villain book, Jeff Moy waited for Dodson to draw in my girls sketch book and Jacen Burrows took my monster book.
Burrows wasn't doing full sketches, he was there with his publisher and was mostly doing head sketches. Still, he did a great Leatherface fo me.
As usual, C2E2 was falling together the way a Cranboy con does.
After drawing a very ... subtextual ... drawing of Serpent Society member BUSHMaster, Jeremy Haun chastized me a bit. Jeremy and I share a deep love of horror movies and he was a bit let down to 'have' to draw a super villain for me, instead of getting to play in my monster book. Well, I'm never one to let my pal Jeremy Haun down so we chatted horror a bit and before long he was drawing Pennywise the Dancing Clown for me in my monster book.
Pennywise the Dancing Clown:
Jim Calafiore, known for drawing incredibly cool armored characters took on the challenge of drawing obscure Thor villain Kurse for me. Kurse is one of my favorite designs and Jim was excited to do the sketch. BEFORE he did it. When picking up his sketch, Jim smiled, shook his head and declared the armor "a real pain in the ass to draw." He said it with a laugh and then went on about how much of a big fan he is of Walt Simonson, Kurse's designer.
Legendary creator Bob Layton also hooked me up. I was a little torn, 2010 was Armor Wars for the Cranboyz and Layton is as linked to Iron Man as any other creator. But I'm also a big fan of Valiant Comics and wanted Master Darque from my favorite Valiant book: Shadowman. In the end, my nostalgia won out and I went with Darque. I swung by Layton's table at the end of the con Friday but he hadn't gotten to my sketch yet and asked that I stop by in the morning to pick it up. I asked if we was going to do it at night and have it ready first thing in the morning or if he was going to do it first thing in the morning at the con. Bob's response was "one of those two." I laughed. For the record, it was ready as soon as the show opened the next day.
Jeff Moy delivered a great Tarot for me. Jeff's been one of my 'go to' artists for as long as I've been getting sketches. Unfortunately, we don't see him as often as we used to so I was thrilled to get him in my book AGAIN. His Tarot is great -- and my love for the Hellions knows no bounds. For the record, he had no idea who the character was. He's a DC guy.
As the weekend wore on, C2E2 was interesting in that a lot of the artist alley artists, guys that are usually bombarded at Heroes Con, weren't as busy. It was a lot of casual fans, more into the displays from the publishers.
Needless to say, when a Cranboy sees spots available on Chris Samnee's sketch list, we fill those spots up ASAP. The nice thing about Chris is we know him well enough that we can not only pick characters we like, but we can also pick characters HE likes. Once upon a time, Chris posted a sketch of Buffy on his blog and said something about being a huge fan, in later conversations he mentioned he'd do about anything to draw a Buffy comic. Well, I'm not an editor at Dark Horse, so I can't get him the Buffy comic gig but I CAN hook him up with the opportunity to draw a Buffy sketch for me. And he did something wonderful that led to something VERY cool that Chris and I are going to do as time goes on ... but more on that in the Heroes Con post.
Sunday morning rolled around and I still had one more wish on sketch list. My longtime friend Paul Pelletier was at the show. Like Steve Epting, we'd discovered Paul when he was barely known but he's gone on -- through his incredible talent -- to become a top hand in comics. Now, in the old days, he didn't like doing con sketches. He'd just sell me pages for cheap. Which was nice! Still, getting sketches is a cool thing for us and over the years Paul had started doing sketches. At C2e2 he finally broke down and took a list even. So Sunday morning I went over to him and asked if he could fit me in, and he obliged. I bought a splash page from Paul of Crystal from the Inhumans and getting a Medusa piece to compliment it seemed like a pretty logical thing to do.
Now, that was all the con sketches I got at C2E2. But, earlier in the year I'd commissioned the great Brian Hurtt to do a Wolfman piece for me and we'd agreed I'd just pick it up at the show, rather than make him ship it. Now I'm generally in awe of the art I pick up at a show, but, even still, when I first saw this piece I don't think I could even string together a sentence. It just blew me away!
So that was C2E2, just in artwork. What else happened? Oh, we sought out some Chicago-style hot dogs and Shane pranked called me in the middle of the night. His excuse? He was trying to record me sleeping.
Yeah, it's creepy.
Next stop: HEROES CON 2010.