The Japanese Beetle!
The Japanese Beetle! for May 03, 2004
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May 04, 2004
All right, let's get down to business - here's part one of my convention report!

Pittsburgh Comicon 2004 - Friday
I'd originally intended to prepare for the convention during the week, but things kept popping up that made that impossible. So I was up most of Thursday night putting together a flyer and my CDs. As a result, I wound up oversleeping, meaning I had to rush to Kinko's and actually assemble my minis at the show.

When I finally get to the show, I find I've been stuck in one of the far corners of artist's alley, on the side - the kiss of death, really. You're better off being right in the back, because at least the people turning around get a good look at your booth. I'm sandwiched between Hannibal King and Kensuke Okabayashi, and both of whom are pretty good guys. Ken writes and illustrates a book called Java! which is a near-future action book about coffee, so I like him already. Slightly less cool is the booth down the way which keeps blasting crappy heavy metal music all day.

So I go to set up my table, and realize that I've completely forgotten a number of key things. Like the Space Bug minis that had been sitting beside my drafting table, and my sketchbook, and ink, and also the sign that lists the price for my CDs. Plus, Kinko's f'ed up and the proofs for my new minis aren't lined up on the front and back, which makes them entirely useless. Great.

Sadly, it turned out not to matter. Traffic is dead, dead, dead all day. I manage to sell one CD and even a pair of Button Men, but in general I have a tough time getting people to take a free flyer advertising the site. And it's got Hellboy all over it, for chrissakes. Fortunately, I see a familiar face when Beetle superfan Jim Yeske strolls by at eleven or so. Jim is apparently not aware of the strip relaunch, which bums me out. But then again, I've picked up at least one new reader. So we talk for about baseball for half an hour while I doodle in his sketchbook.

The number of empty tables is totally depressing. Apparently, a large number of artists have completely no-showed, with most of them deciding that they'd rather be at Wondercon. The way this day is going, I can't blame them.

Since there's nothing going on I take a few strolls around the dealers' room looking for odds and ends. I'm not finding much in the way of Nancy, but I do find the John Romita Sr. issues of Fantastic Four that I've been looking for. And I pick up some fun t-shirts from one of the t-shirt vendors. But not much catches my eye, except for a few issues of Police Comics and an issue of Mystic Comics #5, all of which are priced well out of my price range. Let's face it folks, if I had $90 to spend on a single comic, I'd be better off adding a little extra to my car payment.

Eventually Justin from World Famous Comics and Star Wars artist Joe Corroney come down and set up their table. So we chat for a while, since there's not much else to do. Later in the afternoon, Joe and I stroll around the Small Press area and he introduces me to the guys who do Fightin' Fun comics. I pick up a few of their comics, which are really crude - but also utterly hilarious in the way that they painstaking mimic every stupid, cornball superhero cliche. Plus, any comic which pits the heroes against evil versions of Eli Whitney, Betsy Ross and George Washington Carver can't be that bad.

The rest of the afternoon is an excruciating ordeal, as for some reason the convention is open until 7:00 on Friday even though the guests pretty much call it quits by 5:00. By the time 7:00 rolls around everyone's got horrible knots in their back and can barely stand. When the show finally closes, it's a tremendous relief.

Justin, Joe and I go out to dinner at John Harvard's Brew House down the street, and call eMouse to let him know where we are. But eMouse takes forever to arrive, which is okay, because we need all that time to get through the huge appetizers we order. Anyway, we just sit around, drinking and shooting the breeze for a few hours. At about 10:00 or so we call it quits and I head back home so I can get a few blissful hours of sleep.

Tomorrow: I forget more stuff.

Music: Franz Schubert, "Trio No. 2 in E Flat (Op. 100)"

May 05, 2004
For those of you who don't know your roses, here's a quick guide. White roses symbolize innocence. Yellow roses symbolize friendship. Red roses symbolize love. Pink roses say, "I'm too much of a puss to give you a red rose!" Orange, coral, and peach roses say, "I got to the florist's late and all the good colors were sold out!" And brown roses say, "Look what I dug out of the dumpster behind the florist's!"

Pittsburgh Comicon 2004 - Saturday
Saturday I'm hitch a ride to the con with Tom Scioli (The Myth of 8-Opus), as it seems like a waste for both of us to drive to the con when we live so close together. When we get there, I notice that Hannibal King and whoever was on the other side of him have claimed empty tables closer to the entrance, which makes my booth look more pathetic than usual.

I sell three CDs in the first hour of the show, and realize that I only have three CDs left. So I call eMouse and ask him to dupe some more for me, and also if he can bring my copy of The Man Without Fear, which I stupidly left on my bookshelf. Anyway, he really comes through in a pinch, which makes me sad that I only sell a handful of CDs during the rest of the show. Once again, people won't even take my flyers, with at least one person telling me that he just doesn't have

During some slow periods I wander around checking out the stuff I missed yesterday. I pore over Matt Feazell's booth and realize that eMouse picked up copies of just about everything for me at Mid-Ohio last year. I stop at the Top Shelf booth and buy copies of I Never Liked You and It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken from Chris Staros. And I get John Romita Jr. to sign my copy of The Man Without Fear. Our interaction lasts about sixty seconds, and yet it still makes my day. Which should give you an indication of how crappy the rest of the day is.

In the middle of the day Don Simpson pops in and out so quickly that if you blinked, you missed him. I can't blame him, though - he's pretty much given up on the comics scene and this show is a real stinker. He's apparently teaching another figure drawing class this summer, and I make a mental note to sign up for it.

After the show, eMouse and I hit el Campesino's for a big Mexican dinner. On our way home, we get a ring from astralagos and the Duggan, who have decided to come to the con to heckle me and grab some dinner. They seem rather disturbed when we tell them that the con is closed for the day, and that we've already eaten. They decide to hook up with us later that evening, after they eat. Which is good, because that gives me time to clean up my house, which is a mess.

Tomorrow: The forgettable conclusion.

Music: The Pillows, "Little Busters"

May 06, 2004
I'm too tired to lead with anything funny today.

Pittsburgh Comicon 2004 - Sunday
I drive to the con again on Sunday, mostly because Tom is planning on cutting out early. Plus, I want to pop into the toy show that's on the other side of the Expomart because eMouse says they have Nancys over there. He's right, they do - but most of them are Dells, which are no good to me.

When Tom finally arrives, he's brandishing his latest acquisitions - some Wally Wood "adult" comic and some Kirby Thors. What catches my eye, though is Stalker with art by Steve Ditko and inks by Wood. It's such an appealing combination that I run out and buy all four issues. While I'm at it, I pick up a few issues of the stupid but entertaing Kirby run on Black Panther, which Tom and I argue about later.

Artist's Alley is almost as dead as Friday, so I find myself wandering a lot. I grab a copy of the Princess Nine soundtrack from Joy's, and run into Bill from Copacetic while I'm scrounging for issues of Nancy, Automatic Kafka and the Creeper. My search is fruitless - well, actually, it looks like everyone has issue #2 of Automatic Kafka but I really want to pick up a complete run if possible. I also pick up an original sketch by Danielle Corsetto, who's got a really appealing style. Check out her strip, Ramblers, here.

I also spend about fifteen minutes chatting with Marvel Comics inker Wayne Faucher, one of the nicest guys in comics. Turns out his contract status is up in the air - Humbero Ramos's marvel contract expires in a few months, and he's not sure if anyone has work for him after that. Which is terrible, because he's a great inker. Anyone got a job for him?

Anyway, I don't sell a damn thing all day, and wind up cutting out around four. At that point, even the dealers are breaking their booths down, which is not a good sign.

All in all, the show was pretty bad, and not just from my standpoint. Pittsburgh seems to get worse every year, and the decline has only accelerated since they moved Artist's Alley into the annex. It's sad - this show was just one step from being a big convention a few years ago, but let it slip through their fingers. I'll have to think long and hard before getting a table next year...

Music: Princess Nine OST, "Diamond on Fire"

The Japanese Beetle and all related characters are copyright ©1998-2004 by Dave "The Knave" White. All rights reserved. Any passing resemblance to any actual persons, living or dead or otherwise, is purely coincidental except when it isn't. Really, we swear. Please don't sue us. Published on line by 741.5 Comics.