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Sonia Harris | Writing About Comic Books

Committed: My Emerald City Comicon, 2012

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; Emerald City Comicon is my favorite comic book convention. It truly is all about the comic books, not just for the fans but for the creators too. There is something almost thrilling about how excited everyone gets about the medium, whatever the perspective, the enthusiasm is palpable. I made a postcard about it (right), because this boy’s quiet smile and nifty, painted mask exemplify the fun everyone has at ECCC.

Have you ever seen that old movie; My Dinner with Andre? I always feel energized by that film, as if the depth and range of the protagonist’s conversation, and their excitement together is nourishing me. In real life, a good bit of banter between friends can be similarly thrilling, and ECCC absolutely oozes with these kind of happy interactions. Some people collect sketches or rare back issues at conventions, but the secret joy is to collect experiences, to immerse ourselves in the little glimpses of intimacy and shared enthusiasm. In a time when we can easily document and share every aspect of our lives, the priceless souvenirs I bring home from ECCC are my meetings with people.

On the way to Seattle, I used the flight to catch up with my reading and just loved the newest issue of Powers. Ever since Deena Pilrgim came back, I think it’s just got better and better. This newest storyline allows for some really weird thinking and the art is getting this oddly 1960’s graphics / Mod Squad feel about it. When I stumbled across Michael Avon Oeming’s table, I told him so, and added that I particularly loved the page with all three cops, simultaneously pulling their guns. He laughed and said that he had the page for sale if I was interested. Now I don’t often buy art, I already have more than I can fit on my walls, but I couldn’t resist. When I pulled out the page, it had this marvelous white space, giving it even more of that ‘60’s filmstrip look I like. I ended up buying that and the two pages following, to frame as a triptych together. I rationalized the purchase by calling it a housewarming gift to myself, since I’m moving to Los Angeles next week. It felt extravagant, but the new art has really helped me look forward to decorating my new place instead of dreading the move.

Most people probably already know this, but I found out that before his career as a writer, Rick Remender worked as professional artist. Until I heard him talking to Tony Harris about it, I hadn’t realized the extent of his experience, but when they began arguing about their preferences for a Winsor & Newton 00 brush Vs. a Winsor & Newton 5 brush I began to understand the level of artistic geekery they embraced. (In case you’re interested; Harris prefers the thick handle and versatility of a number 5 with an extremely light touch, while Remender prefers the finesse and control of the extremely fine 00 brush.) Remender had a some encouraging words about my impending move south, since he made a similar move himself and loves the sunshine of Southern California.

Talking of moves, I managed to visit a friend who has recently relocated from San Francisco to Seattle; Emily Stackhouse, (artist and creator of her gritty, creator-owned comic book; Miner’s Mutiny.) Her table neighbor was Georges Jeanty, artist of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 8 & 9, and all around nice guy. Don’t think me too European, but because of the spelling of his name, and his stellar work on Buffy, I had assumed he would be a French woman. Turns out he is a very American man, and he introduced me to his table-mate; Dexter Vines, who’s beautifully fluid inking had graced some early Buffy comic books. We looked at his fantastic work on Hulk, and I admired his range. Though I would like to say that we had a sensibly conversation about something sensible, I couldn’t help myself from raving about the vampy cats in Buffy, which I personally would love to see more of (Sanrio goes horror? Yes please.)

On Sunday, I randomly found Jacen Burrows, who’s work I have long admired, most recently on the mind-expanding comic book Neonomicon. This was an exciting comic book to discuss, as I have read some of the script and was absolutely shocked at the detail. While most of us who read Moore have, at some point, read one of his detailed scripts, I had never seen an artist so meticulously draw every single thing in that script. Even more impressive, Burrows managed to make all of those details look like organic elements of each scene. He told me a lot about Moore’s requirements for the comic book, not just the content but the layouts too. Then, adding more layers to the insanely rich detail of the comic book, he showed me his own secret requirements for each page, with a five pointed star hidden somewhere on every single page, and black cats winding their way through the story. It made me so excited to go back and reread the book, finding out that Burrows not only managed to incorporate every single detail of the script descriptions into the comic book, but also added his own. What a mad man!

These are just a few of the wonderful little things that happened in one short weekend. Come back next week, when I’ll be posting part two about the creators, the cosplayers, and the attendees I encountered at Emerald City Comicon 2012.

Originally published here.