Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Bud's San Diego Comic-Con Report 2019

Bud's San Diego Comic-Con Report 2019

On the morning of Day 3 of the show, I wrote a report of how things had been going so far. This was posted on our blog, which you can see HERE at the bottom in News & Notes. It also became my editorial for the August catalog.

So I won’t repeat that, except to say that my enjoyment of the show was light years ahead of the last few years. I was discovering Comic-Con from a different angle—as a fan again.

If you’d like to skip down to the end of this and see the sketchbooks we are bringing in, click here.

DAY 3 - Friday

I met some buddies downstairs and we all trekked upstairs, then clear to the other corner of the hall for the first panel, it must have taken at least 15 or perhaps 20 minutes to get there.

I bumped into Diana Schutz before my first panel. Diana is a simply incredible lady and I always wish we had more time to spend together. She was a long-time editor at Dark Horse--now "semi-retired." She was at the signing Thursday but hadn’t realized I was even in the book. Obviously she hadn’t read it yet! But I’d read her piece, which was fun. Diana used to work indirectly for me, at Comics & Comix, and edited the store’s house publication, The Telegraph Wire, in the 1980s.

This first panel was titled "The Exhibitors of Comic Con." It was moderated by Beth Holley, former VP of Comic Con Publicity and Publications, and Exhibits, who hadn’t been back to the show since 2008. She teared up at one point. Beth was also in the skybox, telling people to stop running in the hall, and exhibitors to get those boxes out of the aisle. So if you were at those shows, you’d know her voice. On the panel were LONG-time retailers Bill Cole (who still sells mylar, bags, and boards at the show), Chuck Rozanski (Mile High Comics), Ron Turner (Last Gasp), former retailer turned publisher Dan Vado (Slave Labor), and Mary-Elizabeth Yturralde (Mysterious Galaxy, who also still sets up with her local bookstore staff). Chuck and I stopped exhibiting in 2016 and 2017, respectively.


We talked about the changes in the show over the years and told anecdotes. I was late to one show when I blew my engine up on the way down Highway 5. Chuck got to make the point that the committee should have made it possible for early attendees to keep getting tickets to the show, rather than going to the current online lottery system that gives them no priority. He's right. But he also made peace with the show and wished it well, changed as it is. I’m on the same wavelength—it works for others, just no longer for me—as an exhibitor, anyway.
We gathered for fish tacos after the panel, found a place where the line wasn’t too long upstairs from the main hall. Alex Grand (Comic Book Historians website), Dwayne Covey (co-publisher with me of Thomas Yeates’ Twixt Two Worlds), our friend Henrik from Denmark, who used to help set up and tear down our exhibit, Dave Armstrong (who started attending NY Cons in 1965, and helped compile the Hermes book on Wheeler-Nicholson, DC Comics Before Superman) my buddy Jeff (Comics & Comix), Anne and I all actually sat down together for a few relaxed minutes.

Someone spotted Denis Kitchen, so I jumped up and caught him, we arranged to have breakfast together on Sunday.

Later on Friday I found out I had missed my signing with Hope Nicholson, Trina Robbins, and Amy Chu at the Dark Horse booth. That was on Thursday afternoon — I was convinced it was on Saturday, as I even wrote here, and it wasn’t until that night that my buddy Henrik told me, no, it was that morning. Aughh. I hope I wasn’t missed much.

Here’s an image from Trina's upcoming book on Gladys Parker, who created and drew Mopsy. We’ll be handling it.

After that, it was back to the show floor. Above is an interesting piece of artwork I found, I’d seen it before the show started but resisted for a couple of days—it’s a "house ad" that ACG, the American Comics Group, would have placed in a distributor publication to advertise their line. What’s fun is that it has pasted-up actual covers of every book they were doing at this point in 1950. And the rest of the ad is hand-lettered by their letterer, who Craig Yoe told me he’s a big fan of. Of course, I’ve forgotten the guy’s name now.


Here’s a few comics acquisitions that I was continuing to find through the day. I spent more time at World Wide Comics/Steve Ritter, because he just had so much Golden Age material I spread it out over three sessions. Dale Roberts had some things for me, Atlas pre-code horror and war comics, 1950s romance, etc.

DAY 4 - Saturday

I began with a second panel at 10am. Memories of the First Comic-Con which consisted of people who’d attended the very first 1970 show. It was moderated by Jackie Estrada, and featured three of the original guests: Mark Evanier, Mike Royer (Jack Kirby’s inker), and Bill Stout, on my right, and on my left was artist Phil Yeh (Frank the Unicorn, Uncle Jam). I was the lone (non-creator) retailer. And finally, three of the original committee members who put together the show, including Mike Towry, who now puts on the San Diego Comic Fest, Dave Clark and Roger Freedman. Here are some pictures.

Scott Shaw, also on the panel, contributed some great stories about how sleazy downtown San Diego was in those days, with strip joints, bars and tattoo parlors, catering to the in-port sailors.

Bill Stout was doing caricatures of attendees at Disneyworld when someone (Scott?) recognized him and said, don’t I know you from your underground comics? Bill said yes, and he was immediately invited to that first show.

Highlights of that show were guests Jack Kirby and Ray Bradbury. We all got plenty of time to meet them, with just 300 people in attendance. I shared a table with my 3 buddies from San Jose, and spent most of the time looking for old comics (and artists in those comics, like Williamson, Wood, etc.)The very first Overstreet Price Guide hadn’t yet been published, so everything we knew was gleaned from fanzine articles, word of mouth, or flipping through the pages of raw comics.

I was happy to offer an appreciation of the guys (fans themselves) who put on that show and many of the other early shows. It takes very special people to step up to the plate and actually make shows run efficiently. And it’s difficult, in my experience, to enjoy the show as much as you might when you have to be running around putting out fires and helping guests.

Both panels were video-taped, so we hope to give you a link to it when we find out where it gets posted. It went well. 

Saturday night we have a tradition of having dinner at the classic San Diego Italian restaurant, Filippi’s. It’s a well known destination in Little Italy, at the founding location of the local chain. No reservations, but the line snakes through their deli, so there are lots of good smells while you wait. Craig Yoe has gotten to be a regular at these, Dwayne was a new convert, and Henrik and Anne filled out our small group. A far cry from our days of the staff all getting a huge table, but still fun and relaxing.


Jon Cooke, the editor of Comic Book Creator and the writer/compiler of the recent Weirdo anthology and the upcoming Art of Mac Raboy, invited us to come by a Tequila bar poolside back at the hotel. So Craig and I rambled there, joining underground artists Mary Fleener, Krystine Kryttre and Jon’s wife. I got two Weirdo buttons—Jon’s very proud of the new book—and I showed him our upcoming catalog cover promoting his Raboy book. He told us Crumb loved his work and would have loved to do a biography—but someone else was already working on it. That was Jon’s "fish that got away" story.


DAY 5 - Sunday

Sunday morning Anne and I met with Denis Kitchen and his daughter Violet Kitchen—who some of you may remember as Alexa, who wrote Drawing Comics Is Easy when she was seven years old. She’s 19 now, and did much of the writing on Denis’ new project that I am very excited about: Madness in Crowds: The Teeming Mind of Harrison Cady.

Denis sent us off to the show to find the publisher, Beehive, and get a look at the only advance copy in the country. It took some doing, but we finally found him. He thanked us profusely for our aggressive order and suggested he might be able to help us get a few copies of the deluxe edition after all (stay tuned). He did the lovely new Sienkiewicz edition of The Island of Doctor Moreau and he treated us to advance copies of his two latest collections: Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde illustrated by Yuko Shimizu and The Willows and other Nightmares by Algernon Blackwood, illustrated by Paul Pope. Both are in the same deluxe format as Moreau, with a die-cut slipcase ornately illustrated with debossed/raised artwork. These are all three magnificent books.


But the Cady was worth all the searching up and down the busy show aisles. It’s stunning, filled with never-collected or rarely-ever-seen work from early and mid-career. Stunningly detailed drawings of bugs and beetles, critters and forests, work for the Thornton Burgess books about the Old Mother West Wind forest crew (all pre-Winnie the Pooh).

The balance of the day I spent finishing up comics deals with Superworld (Amazing Man #13!), Bedrock City (more unusual pre-code romance), and Torpedo Comics from Las Vegas. Their entire booth, well, three booths, was devoted to one collection. They added a general slip in each book with a picture of the previous owner, and describing the entire collection. Every so often a dealer will do this: Terry O’Neill and Jaime Graham did this on their purchase of the recent Wenker DC Comics collection—every DC comic 1935-1990 except 22.

I lusted after an All American #8 with an Ultra-Man cover, but it was beyond my means. I settled for a sharp copy of Mopsy (remember Mopsy, by Gladys Parker, above?) and All Flash #31.

One very interesting point regarding this Torpedo collection—they kept the notes the owner, William Anselmo Pera (1941- ), made for each book. He detailed character appearances, artists, and other data. I have rarely seen comic book dealers preserve the previous owner’s notes, which sometimes can be very informative and interesting.

But the best was yet to come. Jaime Graham of Graham Crackers Comics was supposed to have a couple boxes at half off, so I finally got over there. Turns out they were part of the Wenker collection. He co-bought this with Terry O’Neill, and these were lesser copies that he bought Terry out on.

But they were not lesser to me — they were coverless (and thus affordable) copies of Detective Comics #4, 17, 18 and 20—those great pre-Batman issues with Leo O’Mealia and Siegel & Shuster. More Fun #20 and 63. And New Adventure #13, 19, 24 (all "pre-hero," with more Siegel & Shuster, et al) and #72, which sports the first Simon & Kirby work at DC, and the first new Manhunter by S&K.

In nice shape these comics are no longer affordable, so I am thrilled to find solid coverless copies (all with Xerox color covers). Along with some other wonderful stuff, that turned into my largest purchase at the show, and Jaime treated me right since I got so many. Good man!

The take-away was that I was done with the show an hour before closing time. So, having a nice room to jet off too, I grabbed a burger and chilled out. Bumped into Terry Stroud (American Comic Book Company), first time I’d seen him at the show. He may be the very last exhibitor to have done every single show, now that I am out.

I texted Larry Bigman to see if he wanted to do the Dead Dog party, but he’d already gone home. He gave me a report on "The Originals" party I’d missed on Saturday nite. Michelle Nolan was ousted from the Trivia contest for knowing too many of the answers. Terry Stroud and Jackie Estrada were some of the very few others who’d done the first show.

Called my buddy Mal Huntley, who’d come in just for Saturday to score old comics. The one item he’d had time to mention to me, before he jetted back home, was a coverless (and he NEVER buys coverless comics normally) Detective #37 from Jaime. It’s the last lone-Batman issue, Robin begins in #38...and it’s a whopping $4600 in Good in the guide. But I have a cover for it, I found it years ago for $40 at an antiques mall. We are working on a scheme to have it married and restored.

Finally it was time for the Dead Dog party. Bob Chapman of Graphitti Designs has been very generously putting this on for a great many years now. I used to make it there, but as my staff got smaller and my responsibilities more, I had to be dealing with the booth tear-down and pack up Sunday night. That generally took us until 11:00 or later to leave the hall, usually driving a 26-foot rental truck, so I had nothing left in me to go party.

The last time I remember doing one, I recall hanging out with Dave Stevens (and a lovely art student that he seemed attached to) and with Berni Wrightson. Both of them gone now. So I was due to make it to one, and I did.
Ran into Bob Burden (Flaming Carrott) on the walk to the Dead Dog party, he was walking the other way, back to the show. Poor Bob didn’t have an invite and they are strict there, he got turned away. We caught up on things, and he gave me aa advance copy of his coming book, Hitman for the Deadwhich I’m just partway through as I write this. Pretty strange, as is all of Bob’s stuff. He rights things for people taken out, by killing their killers. Gets ghostly tip-offs on jobs.



Denis Kitchen worked on me getting a retirement plan in order (fat chance in the short run, but I was listening), I caught up again with Paul Levitz. Saw Walt and Louise Simonson for the first time in probably decades. Sergio Aragones was in usual top form, with new stories of his early poverty days of sleeping on Bill Gaines’ couch in the Mad offices! Got to catch up with Mark Wheatley, told him how much I liked his new books from Insight, Doctor Cthulittle and Songs of Giants. We shared our enthusiasm for vintage illustrators, so I showed him pictures of Thomas Yeates’ studio in Jenner, California, and the art by our beloved guys on HIS walls (Crandall, et al).


Diana Shutz turned up there again momentarily as is her wont, and we promised to have lunch and actually sit down and visit together when I go up to Portland in September. Mike Lake (Titan, Forbidden Planet) turned up and as things wound down, we became designated bodyguards, approved by Denis Kitchen, to get his daughter Violet Kitchen safely back to her hotel (the party was, yikes, some 14 blocks or so from the show). Quite the hike. So more stories were swapped in the quieter, but certainly not deserted streets of the Gaslight District. point of all of this was, I played fanboy but I went AWOL from scouting the show for new items, such as sketchbooks. But...the good news is that LaDonna is on the job, and here's a list of what we have coming in for you. Honestly, in some ways its easier to do this outside the show, instead of battling the crowded aisles, tracking down artists, and having them find time to talk.

Rick Berry – Invented People [INVPS] –coming in soon, call to order (call to order means we DON’T yet have it on the website but we do have it in our system)

Terry Dodson – Bombs Away! [BOMB09S] A Terry Dodson Sketchbook Collection –coming in soon, call to order

Joseph Michael Linsner – Dawn 2019 Sketchbook [DAW19S, $20.00] –coming in soon, call to order

Juanjo Guarnido – Art of Juanjo Guarnido 2019 [ARTJG19, $30.00] –coming in soon, call to order

Dan Panosian – Urban Barbarian Volume 2 [DPU02 , $25.00] –coming in soon, call to order

Mindy Lee – Mindy Doodles Book 3 [MIND19, $25.00] –coming in soon, call to order

Tommy Lee Edwards – Analog the Art of Tommy Lee Edwards [ANAL19, $25.00] –coming in soon, call to order

Tim Sale – 2018 and 2019 Sketchbooks [TS18, $25.00], [TS19, $25.00] –coming in soon, call to order

Dean Yeagle – Mandy and Skoots – we actually got this in BEFORE Comic-Con and it’s available now

We’re also working on sketchbooks from Stanley "Artgerm" Lau, Mark Brooks, Chad Hardin, and maybe some more surprises. Don’t call yet on these, but watch our weekly emails.

If you would like to see more pictures from the show, many are being posted to our Facebook page.

I have nothing but gratitude for the committee people who decided to include me in the guest list. It was fun doing the show without an exhibit, but doing it as an invited guest with all the perks, it doesn’t get much better than that. Thanks for bearing with me, and hope you enjoyed my report.


View of the convention center from my room.

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