Month: August 2007

Maybe I don’t hate comic conventions

Okay, a few months back I wrote about deep dark secret #1. I hate sports. Tonight I’d like to post a little bit about the other paradox in my life. I love comics. I hate comic conventions. In my entire time of going to conventions, there have only been two that I truly enjoyed going to. Luckily this weekend made three. That’s right, I love comic books, but I hate the celebration of same. That’s what the kids call “whack”.

Last weekend was Fan Expo Canada, formerly the Canadian National Exhibition (but not the CNE). It’s the home of the Toronto comiCON, the Sci Fi Expo, the Anime Expo, the Festival of Horror, and this year the World Series of Gaming.

I got in to Toronto late last Friday night, just in time to drop off a couple of boxes and go for a quick bite with Gus and Pete, who did an awesome job setting up the show. By the end of Friday night we knew that we were going to have an amazing weekend.

Our booth was located across from the Xbox 360 set-up, and there was a Guitar Hero stage about 100 feet from the front of our booth. With the extra space in front of us, we didn’t feel the least bit cramped.

The drive from downtown to Gus’ place at Yonge and Eglinton took nearly 40 minutes due to the combination of horrible planning on the city’s part, and my uncanny ability to hit every single traffic snag in the city. That’s the one thing I don’t miss about Toronto. In London you might get stuck on the road because a stupid train is bisecting the city in half, but at least you know why you’re sitting there annoyed.

Saturday was an early morning, and we headed down, bolstered our stock up a little bit, and got ready for a good day. I managed to leave the booth for about half an hour to grab some grub, and Pete, Erin, Gus, and Gus’ mom all took turns holding down the fort at different times. While I didn’t have a lot of time to see the show floor, I managed to buy a couple of awesome books. The first “The Art of Silver” by Stephen Silver is something I’ve had my eye on for ages. Stephen Silver is one of my favourite animators. He works in the “Spumco” style, and he’s the genius behind the look of the Clerks Inaction Figures.

The second book was “Confessions of a Process Junkie” by Alberto Riuz, which is a sort of “how to” book for art and using Adobe Illustrator to create beautiful images.

One of the regular con-goers that we’ve gotten to know, Jason Truong took my Spider-Man 100 Covers book over to the Romitas to get it signed, which was super nice.

Saturday night we had a terrific dinner at the Canyon Creek Chop House, and headed back to Pete’s place to crash out.

Sunday was a little later. I packed up so I could leave from the show, and headed down to pick up Gus. We arrived at the convention center, and already people were lined up two hours before the show started! We went across the street to MovenPick only to find that it’s gone, so we followed my “Bacon Sense”, which led us astray, and ended up at the Marche for an awesome omlette breakfast.

Sunday blew my mind. The show was amazingly busy. Before opening I condensed our TPB’s down a bit, and we discovered that we had sold two longboxes full of trades! That’s a lot of TPB’s. Our hardcovers were quite decimated, and a lot of stuff that I thought we would have forever (but which was HELLA cool) sold through.

Around 11 I went for a little stroll to check out the artists’ alley again, and I ran across Dale Eaglesham. Dale was one of my favourite artists from HERO and Villians United, and I’ve been loving his work on JSA. I saw a couple of Starman pages that I really wanted from JSA, and Dale’s wife showed me an amazing splash page of the new Steel that was insanely affordably priced (that’s the picture at the top of this story). I told them I was going to go for a walk and pop back soon, but I really just wanted to talk myself out of dropping a big load of cashish.

I went back to our booth and talked to Pete, who told me that he’d come back with me to Dale’s booth…so we left. I took another look at the pages, and I ended up buying both. My intention was to grab a couple other small things, but to be done with the big stuff.

I ended up getting a FireFly t-shirt, an Oscar the Grouch t-shirt for Kaylin, a Blue Beetle figure for me (because he’s frigging COOL), Scott Chantler’s new book “Northwest Passage” for Char, and one more page of art (this one a really nice Michael Gaydos page of Jessica Jones and Luke Cage right after their baby is born). I couldn’t find Agnes Garbowska, who does these awesome “lil heroes” commissions, so Gus went out for me, got me a sweet Robin, and then got me a Karl Kershl Robin as well to round out my new Robin themed sketchbook which I started this year.

It was all over too soon, and as we packed up the booth, I realized that I’m actually looking forward to next year’s show.

We saw a few more of our regular customers this weekend, which was really cool. We didn’t have our usual banner up, so they found us by spotting the All New Comics stickers we were wearing. I asked them about the new pulling system, and they all liked it, although many commented that they’d like to see issue # as well (perhaps a phase IV enhancement).

Looking at our booth, there are a few things that we will likely do differently next year. We’ll probably buy some sort of a fixture to put behind us, and try to maximize the space on the wall. I liked most of the set-up we had though and I would do little to change the actual table part.

I really want to print out some shots of our site for next year, and pimp the heck out of it through static pictures (because I refuse to pay $365/day for internet access). We’ll have a nice new display, and we’ll do up some big things on FoamCore to really have a spectacular presentation. Maybe we’ll do a vertical banner so that we can pimp out our brand as well.

Kaylin’s parrr-dy

Right now my two favourite phrases from Kaylin are “No Turkey, that's YOURS!” and “Thanks for coming to my parrrrdy.”. Both were coined this past weekend. One at a Lion Safari, the other at her birthday party.

Friday we went to the African Lion Safari, and opted for the drive yourself option. Everyone warned us that the monkeys would destroy our car, but little known fact…if you don't offer the animals food, they don't approach your car! CRAZY!

We were fairly close to a lion, we were within feet of baboons, and within centimeters of an ostrich. The ostrich was hilarious, it came right up to the car and pecked at the window, prompting Kaylin to say “No turkey, that's YOURS!” which I think means “no ostrich, that's ours”, but she doesn't get the subtleties of mine and yours yet.

We visited the birds of prey exhibits, and the little petting zoo where Kaylin ran around to each goat saying “No food goat. No Shreddies. No oatmeal goat. No food goat.” Apparently we didn't have food for the goats.

A lot of it seemed kind of lost on our little two year old, but we had a fair amount of fun.

Saturday we had a little party for her with Paige, Cordelia, Jacob-ba, Emelia, and Sarah (and of course their requisite parents), Kaylin had a blast, playing with all her friends, and running around. At one point it got too cold outside and we moved indoors, and the party that seemed so quiet outside was quite noisy inside. Char made a really cool Peep cake, which Kaylin gobbled up.

After cake it was presents, and boy did that girl get spoiled. When the unwrapping chaos was finished, we knew that her friends and family had lavished her with books (Kaylin loves books), clothes, and other goodies.

My mom's favourite part of the party was when Kaylin got one of her books and frantically looked for a place to put the book down so she could read it. Everywhere she looked there were kids, she suddenly spotted her kitty chair, put the book in the chair, knelt down in front of it, and started studying.

Sunday was a perfect rainy day indoor type day, and we just hung out in the house having fun and not doing a whole lot.

All in all, pretty much a perfect weekend.

Happy Birthday mouse

Two years ago tonight was just another night. Char had been having labour pains for a few weeks, but nothing serious, we probably went to bed around 11, and maybe read a little in bed before tucking in. She woke me up around 4, thinking this might be it. We decided to try to catch as many Z's as possible to prepare for our own little version of “24”. Little did we know that only 18 hours later our lives would really begin.

I still remember that day as if it were yesterday. Our old new house had just had the new driveway paved the day before, and we weren't supposed to park on it for 48 hours, so the car was way down the street. I remember getting lost on the way to the hospital and Char having to re-direct me. I remember how brave my wife was, and how incredibly strong she was during the entire labour, and I remember the sheer joy of holding my new baby girl.

Two years, what a difference. Two years ago our mouse was just this tiny ball of need. Now she's a walking, talking little person who exerts her will on the world (and who's “HEY, don't do dat” never ceases to make me laugh uproariously).

Today we're going to have a quiet little birthday, Friday we're going to take her to African Lion Safari, and on Saturday she's going to have family and friends over to have a big party.

She's such a big girl, and we love her so much.

Happy birthday mouse.

4 Things You May or May Not Know About Me

Four things about me that you may or may not have known in no particular order. (This started out as an email thing from Char, and I turned it into a blog thing just for fun.)

Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Web Guru for TSN.ca
2. Stock Picker for Kimpex/Action (A motorcycle parts place)
3. Construction superintendant
4. Comic shop dude

Four movies I would watch over and over:
1. Ocean's 11
2. Blade Runner
3. Office Space
4. The Matrix

Four places I have lived:
1. London
2. Toronto
3. Ajax
4. Ummm, Scarborough?

Four TV Shows that I watch:
1. Heroes
2. Lost
3. BattleStar Galactica
4. Grey’s Anatomy

Four places I have been:
1. Las Vegas
2. Eastern Caribbean
3. California
4. Banff Alberta

People who e-mail me (regularly):
1. Charlene
2. Ryan
3. John
4. Pete

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Steak
2. Sweet Potatoes
3. Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
4. Ice cream

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. At home with my girls
2. On the beach in St Martaan
3. At the craps table in the Bellagio riding a winning streak
4. In Chicago for the Chicago Comicon

Four friends I think will post this on their blogs:
1. John
2. Ryan
3. Dunno
4. Dunno

Things I am looking forward to this year:
1. A week vacation in October
2. The first Christmas where we don't have to drive for 4 hours.
3. Kaylin's birthday next week
4. Making some money from my various side-jobs.

If you've got a blog and you read this one regularly (or even somewhat regularly), then post this on your blog, change the answers to your own, and put a link in the comments to your site. If you don't have a blog and you read this site, why not de-lurk and post an answer to 1 of the questions in the comments section here?

The theory is that you will learn a lot of little known facts about those who know you.

Back from the CottageCon

CottageCon was this weekend up in Jackson's Point. We saw a lot of the regular convention crowd, a few new faces, I got another sketch for my sketchbook, and Kaylin got to see the butterflies, and meet her first celebrity. In all, a pretty good weekend.

On Thursday night I suggested to Char that we go down to Harris Park and see some of the balloons that were doing test launches. We got down just in time to see the massive dinosaur go up, much to Kaylin's initial fear and then delight.

Friday night we went back to Harris Park to watch the balloons and saw a couple dozen balloons take flight. Kaylin rode on her first ever carnival ride, and we shared some delicious snacks like shaved ice and cotton candy.

As we were leaving the Dinosaur was being blown up again, and Kaylin stood saying “That's amaaaazin'” over and over again. SO CUTE!

Saturday we packed up and headed to Jackson's Point, but not before dropping by Grandma and Grandpa's for a quick visit. Grandma agreed to have Kaylin over for a sleepover this coming weekend, so Mommy and Daddy can have a night to themselves.

We headed up to Jackson's point and Kaylin was so good in the car. The car ride was about 3 hours long, she slept for about 2 hours, and chatted with us for the last hour. At Jackson's Point we checked into our room, and we headed to the pool. Kaylin and I spent some time swimming, with her in a mini-inner tube.

We went out for dinner with my business partner Pete and friends, and then headed back to the room for some z's.

On Sunday morning Pete and I set up for the show, and Kaylin and Char went off to see some butterflies and visit Auntie Sharon.

The show was about what I figured. Slow, but steady, with a small rush around noon, and which tapered off by 3. I got a sketch from Dave Ross for my “All Robin” sketchbook, and bought a lithograph from a guy who designed the animated Franklin The Turtle. Kaylin got back just in time to see Trish Stratus, who had come with her husband Ron to say hi to Pete (her brother-in-law). Kaylin ran over to her and had her take her around to look at the big clock, which was hilarious since Kaylin tends to get shy around folks.

After packing up in record time (under 15 minutes to pack and load), Char Kaylin and I said our goodbyes and headed back to London. Kaylin stayed awake for the entire 3 hour trip, and was alternately hilarious and quiet. Telling us about her day, and reading her books. When we arrived on the outskirts of London she proclaimed “Want to go home. I tiger.” She kept on saying it until I asked “Are you tired”, “Uh huh” she responded. “I tigered, I Tigrered” over and over again. SO CUTE!

Monday I spent most of the day building my new work bench, which I'll include a picture of soon. To say it's awesome would not be an understatement. It turned out so great and really helped me to organize the garage. Up next are some shelves (I'm going to keep an eye out for a closet organizing system if it goes on sale since you get all the parts I need for a lot cheaper), some ceiling storage, and in the fall when the weather cools down a bit, a coat or two of paint.

ComicsPRO and the CBIA hate websites

Having been told by ComicsPRO (a comics industry alliance that helps retailers have common voice with publishers and distributors) that online retailers are not welcome in their organization, I was told to become a member of CBIA which is the Comic Book Industry Alliance, a message board for retailers to discuss issues about the industry.

I had hoped that this would allow me to have some meaningful dialogue with other retailers and address industry concerns.

I filled out the form, waited a week, and got this response from Robert Scott:

I appreciate your interest but the CBIA requires retailers to have a retail “brick and mortar” storefront.

I stated my case. We’ve been around for 2 years, we have 75 regular customers, we serve a niche market and are able to get comics to places that aren’t served by comic stores (such as our customer in Nunavut who used to drive 8 hours to a comic store), we’ve been very active in the Toronto comics community sponsoring the Women of Comics panels at the Toronto Comicon, and this weekend we’re attending CottageCon which is something my partner spearheaded as a way of getting comics and conventions to smaller communities.

I got this back:

There are many reasons but mainly because I founded the group to support Direct Market Brick and Mortar shops, which ultimately provide the greatest access to comics, a presentation and tactile access that online catalog shops can not or do not.

The fact that most online retailers try to overcome that inequity by discounting, serves to undermine the ability of many stores to maintain the depth and breadth of offerings that allow not only comic fans but also the general public, to experience/discover comics.

So while I am not questioning the “legitimacy” of your business nor your right to run it any way you see fit, I will not bring to bear the resources I have built over my 20 years in this business, to support a business model (online only) that I feel is harmful to the industry as well as one that the CBIA was founded to help brick and mortar retailers fight.

That is why.

There is nothing to prevent you from starting your own forum on Delphi or elsewhere, in support of Online Retailers.

I build websites for a living. I’ve had a hand in some of Canada’s biggest sites, and the reason I opened an online comic store is because I know the web inside and out, and I know how to make a successful website!

I don’t want to play with ONLY online retailers. I want to know what my fellow retailers think about issues. I want to know why the retail community is so afraid of the future. I want to help them become better, and in turn become better myself.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve been painted with the “Ebay seller” or “Deep discounter” brush. One look at our website All New Comics will tell you that neither is true.

I want to help make the industry better. I want to make suggestions for how they could use the internet to make their stores better. Heck, I want to make suggestions on how to improve their own websites.

Then again, maybe these guys are right. Maybe I should found my own internet only retailers organization. Maybe I should try to figure out ways to exclude the brick and mortar dinosaurs from what we do, and I should spend time and effort not trying to better the industry, but trying to hold on to my little piece of it at all costs.

Of course I believe that the industry as a whole can be better than that. I believe that we are better as a group than as individuals, and I believe that together we can build something great.

Maybe that’s my folly.

What is Eminem thinking

My disdain for the music industry knows no bounds. It is an antiquated beast that is now facing an uncertain future due to its own short sightedness. It's a commodity that is increasingly overpriced, overcontrolled, overproduced, and overmarketed. There are of course bright spots, bands like Nine Inch Nails and the BareNaked Ladies that “get” the future. I just assumed that Eminiem was one of these types of folks. How wrong we all are.

First off, why do I hate the music industry? The blinders that the industry wears is one reason. Rather than focusing on the facts such as the death of independant radio, the dumbing down of music to fit into tiny genres, the overproduction of music, and the formulaic nonsense that has become mainstream music, they think that all of their woes are because people download music. So rather than creating a competing service that does what the free services do, and figuring out ways to monetize it, the recording industry first tries to put the genie back in the bottle, and later decides to sue the very people who helped make them their billions of dollars in the first place.

The fact that music increases in price, despite the fact that ALL of the costs associated with producing music have decreased is another reason. You require fewer engineers, equipment is cheaper, studio space is less expensive, the physical media is at an all time low, etc etc, however CD's still cost about $16.99 for a new one.

OR I could get a DRM crippled digital download for the low low price of 9.99 (oh, but with no physical media, all of the liner notes etc gone, and only able to play it on 3 physical devices).

Now, Eminem is suing Apple because they allowed his music to be put onto iPods. Seriously. Eminem Sues Apple for Music Rights.

If the entire recording industry imploded tomorrow I wouldn't care one bit. Fortunately music would survive even if the industry didn't.

My 5 Movies I can watch again and again

Last week High Fidelity, a movie I've seen a couple of times now, was on TV, and I ended up staying up until 2am to watch it. It got me to thinking about a recent blog post I'd seen elsewhere about the top 5 movies that you can watch again adn again.

Ocean's 11
It's the epitome of Vegas cool, and made me want to go to Vegas so bad. Every time I watch this movie I want to go back. It also makes you just want to hang out with George Clooney and Brad Pitt, just hang with them, have some cocktails, and a good time. It also led to Ryan John and I deciding to go “Danny Ocean” style to Vegas last time, 1 bag, suit on. Of course I went in a suit 1 bag, John and Ryan took full on luggage. Guess who was laughing when Ryan and John were standing at the luggage check while I was already getting my gamble on?

The Matrix
If this is on, I will watch it. It's the movie I use to make sure that my setup rocks, and it's just AWESOME! Too bad about the sequels.

Office Space
Ummm yeah, I'm going to need you to go ahead and come in on Saturday.

Legends of the Fall
What does it say about me that 2 of my favourite movies to watch again and again have Brad Pitt in them? I don't know why, but whenever this movie's on TV, I'll just sit there and get sucked in again.

The 5th Element
Such a great sci-fi movie. It was on a little while ago, and I had forgotten how much I love this movie. I never bought it on DVD, but I'd love to own it.

That brings me to a whole other thing, I haven't bought a DVD in ages, not because there's nothing to buy, but because I don't know what format is going to win. There's some stuff I'd really like to own, but do I buy it on DVD, HD DVD, or Blu Ray? Who even knows. Folks say Blu Ray is going to win, but considering that Blu Ray is literally 100x more expensive to manufacture than HD DVD, I have a sneaking suspicion that HD DVD might not be out of the running yet.