Monday, March 7, 2011

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Emerald City has come and gone, and it's time to sit down with this big sack of memories and sort them out into neat little piles.

First off, thanks to all of you who came by to visit the Nonplayer booth in person. Everybody was eager to talk shop, and it was a pleasure getting to put faces to names. I feel like I'm writing this blog for real people now, rather than for a bunch of disembodied internet beings. I hope the folks I met this weekend turn out to be an accurate sampling of Nonplayer readers in general, because every age group, gender, and lifestyle was well-represented. The only thing you all had in common was niceness and smarts. I especially enjoyed meeting all your kids (and I'm proud that I thought to laminate my sample comic before it was drooled upon by so many babies). And to all of you who bought posters, I hope you like them!

Which brings me to a bit of business: those very posters are now available for purchase at the Nonplayer online store. One last time, here's what the two 11" x 17" posters look like:


Thanks in advance for supporting Nonplayer -- as has been previously discussed in this blog, my wife and I ended up dipping pretty deeply into our savings to get Nonplayer out the door, and this is our first opportunity to slow (or even stop) our inexorable descent toward coal-faced street urchindom.

If you do get a poster, please let us know how the ordering and shipping experience went -- this is our first time selling merchandise online, and we want to make sure nothing's amiss in the poster pipeline. I'd love to hear what you think of your poster, as well. Those who saw them at the convention seemed very happy with the quality of both the printing and the cardstock paper, so I hope that trend continues!

Okay, back to the convention.

I met so many cool people. It was very strange to be sitting next to Nick Spencer during the Image signing. I mean, the guy who writes Morning Glories is right there next to you, and he's treating you like you deserve to be there! He's a really nice guy, and I'm sad I didn't get more of a chance to talk with him. And then just around the corner was Nathan Edmondson, who gave me a couple of free (and totally rad) comics of his own. How have I not read "Who is Jake Ellis" before? I have to say, people named "Nathan" sure do seem to be slightly more awesome than everybody else. And before I forget, Tonci Zonjic is amazing, too. That's one beautiful comic.


Edmondson and Zonjic's "Who is Jake Ellis?"

Of course, as an artist, I was especially excited to meet some fellow doodlers. As expected, I was completely starstruck. Like, to my left during the signing was Ryan Ottley, of "Invincible" fame. The whole time I was supposed to be pimping my comic, I just kept looking over at his pencils and being blown away. There was this one spread of the Hulk punching a dude (I think it was the Hulk) with all these tiny action panels behind the main event, and it was like a little master course in how to compose a two-page spread. That guy. Wow.

Ottley's "Invincible"

And then a little farther down was Brandon Graham, who is another one of those guys who sends me into fits of I'm-not-worthiness. I don't know how much of his work you've seen online, but Multiple Warheads is going to incinerate the comics world and leave it badly irradiated for decades to come. Brandon's color is like ice cream for my eyeballs. If you aren't already aware of his blog, go check it out right now. It's my favorite.

Graham's "Multiple Warheads"

Maybe the biggest surprise of the con was Emi Lenox. I'd already known she was a ninja in the autobiographical comic genre, but when I saw her entry in the Monsters and Dames convention book, I realized she'd been keeping some very big guns in reserve. If she ever lets you beat her at a game of pool, resist the temptation to put money on the next game. If she plays like she draws, you're going to lose your shirt. I hope she gets to do more color stuff soon, because it's super sweet.

Lenox's "Monsters and Dames" Illustration

And those are just the guys I could see from my seat! I bet there were other supertalents just on the other side of the partition. How I'm supposed to make my mark in this sort of company is beyond me, but I'm happy just to have been there. I feel like Moonlight Graham -- somehow, I got bumped up from the minors to play right field for one inning with the Giants.

So that's Image. I still haven't gotten to Frank Quitely and Frank Cho, who frank-ly (HA!) were two of the nicest guys I met at the convention, and who both said some really nice things about Nonplayer. I have trouble understanding how guys who work at that level don't get completely full of themselves. Cho kept asking me if I wanted anything from the concession area. FRANK EFFING CHO. I'm supposed to be anointing his feet with fragrant oils, not taking bottled water from him. And Quitely just showed up at my booth and starting chatting with me about Manga Studio -- we'd been talking for some time before my table-mate Joe whispered to me to ask the guy his name. I'd just thought he was some cool-looking Scottish dude. Sigh. Frank Quitely. Thanks to the devious Ales Kot for bringing Quitely over and then gleefully keeping his mouth shut while I lectured the legendary artist about IllustStudio. Ales, you are a bastard.

Keep an eye out for Ales, by the way. He's quietly wrangling the best artists in the business for some very interesting-sounding projects.

The high point of the weekend came yesterday, when Frank Cho introduced me to hero-since-childhood Geof Darrow. People say you should never meet your heroes, but I say pooh to that. Darrow not only looked at my comic and liked it (possibly for reals), he regaled us with all sorts of stories about Hard Boiled and then gave me one of his drawings! I'm sure I was a blubbering shmoo the whole time, but he was warm, funny, and generous. Geof Darrow: first he blows up my conception of what's possible in a comic, then he turns out to be a swell fellow. My wife said that when I got back to our booth I was beaming. Joe and I just kept giggling about it for the rest of the day.

Geof Darrow and some skinny dude

And that brings me to Joe Keatinge, who offered to share his table with me at the very last minute, long after I'd given up on having a place to sit. Joe is a force of nature -- I've never met anybody as enthusiastic about making comics, or as persistently supportive of everybody around him. He's sort of a volcano of pep. He co-edits the Popgun anthologies (which I finally read last night and enjoyed immensely), and I totally get why they gave him an Eisner for his trouble. He's working on some new top-secret stuff right now, and I can't wait to see how it all comes out. If you see him, be sure to remind him to keep drawing. He's another one of those double-threat guys who's way too humble about his chops, but I think if we work together, we can guilt him into making us some more pretty art.

Finally, Joe got me to start taking Twitter seriously this weekend (and then graciously told his many followers to follow me, as well). I'm @NateSonOfSimp, and I look forward to learning if the hashtag has any function other than turning a tweet into a mini-version of Stephen Colbert's the Word.

It was great meeting you guys -- thanks for making this weekend such a great experience.


  1. Yeh, I'm always surprised by how humble most of the folks I met at comicon are. Right next to you and Joe was Indigo Kelleigh (who does Ellie Connelly) exchanged business cards and I got to find out about Stumptown Comics Fest in Oregon. Now I have something to do other than visiting the in-laws.

    To the right of your (and Joe's) table was Terry Dodson (he does the pencils)and Rachel Dodson (she does the inks+colors), who were so kind to actually let me use paypal to pay for their sketch book. REALLY nice couple.

  2. so awesome, hope someday teleportation can be commercially exploited so i can travel to some Cons and meet all those cool people too!
    And Geof Darrow gave you a drawing?! holy guacamole!!
    Saludos Nate!

  3. So much awesome, man. Thanks for sharing your ride with us. :)

  4. I'm so inexplicably happy for you! I kept having a smile while reading all about your incredible meetings, the legends, talents and nice people.

    Too bad I wasn't near (about 4500 miles away). I would have love to meet you and get a hold of Nonplayer.

    Keep bringing up awesomeness!! Have a great one!

  5. That sounds so awesome! Wish I could have dropped by too. I owe you an email but for now I'm going to stalk you on twitter!

  6. Nice getting to meet you, Nate. I'll be putting your print up on the wall here at Periscope Studio.

  7. It's brilliant to hear you had such a positive experience Nate, and you're brushing shoulders with your heroes...and your heroes are truly admiring your handiwork. SWEET!

  8. Congrats on all the accolades Nate! And thanks for doing the poster to sketchbook trade!

  9. Nonplayer looks amazing. Eyepopping art!

    a big Italian ciao

  10. You know how you felt about Frank Cho...that is how I felt about YOU. And that was back when you were working on your old comic in Korea. You had commented on that drawing that I did of a Drow Elf.

    Dude you are that good. I knew it back then and then you had the nerve to get better.

    Although I secretly hope that you go back to paper....Just so that I can see your stuff at an art show. I think that you won't be erasing as much anymore : )

  11. You know how you felt about Frank Cho...that is how I felt about YOU. And that was back when you were working on your old comic in Korea. You had commented on that drawing that I did of a Drow Elf.

    Dude you are that good. I knew it back then and then you had the nerve to get better.

    Although I secretly hope that you go back to paper....Just so that I can see your stuff at an art show. I think that you won't be erasing as much anymore : )

  12. Peter - Indigo was super-cool -- he was actually the guy who assented to my taking over their extra spot at Emerald City. And then to top that, he invited me to Stumptown (which I will be attending). And on top of THAT, he draws spectacularly well. His stuff is like Herge on steroids, but better-written. And Terry and Rachel were very nice, too, though I didn't really get a chance to talk to them until maybe the last ten minutes of the convention. Again, amazing talents. So much amazing talent everywhere...

    Diantres - I know! The Man, himself. The drawing is this super-meticulous Shaolin Cowboy thing, and there are no visible pencil lines. I think he just poured it out in ink form. No mistakes, no missteps, no white-out. He's working at a whole other level.

    Eagle - Thanks for reading, Eagle. You need to come out to one of these cons someday!

    Woka - It would have been nice to meet you too! You needn't worry about having missed out on copies of the book, though -- they don't exist yet. We're still a few weeks away from release. Are there any comic shops in Chile that stock American comics? If you like, I can try to contact somebody down there to make sure they're carrying it.

  13. Joumana - You will never find a person more forgiving of email tardiness than I, who live in the brittlest of glass houses. I'm spending this whole weekend trying to catch up to my inbox. Brutal.

    Dustin - YOUR STUFF WAS SO RAD. I look forward to meeting you again soon!

    JimEl - Yeah, it was like a dream. So much positive stimulus that I felt literally hung-over from dopamine withdrawal for several days afterwards. I'm trying to go into WonderCon with expectations appropriately minimized, because it'll be nearly impossible to top Emerald City.

    Vinod - I went to Project Freetime last night and we were passing your sketchbook around like a bong. I sure do love the way you draw. Next time we hang out, I want to get a closer look at the type of pencil you use -- you've inspired me to start a sketchbook.

  14. smoky man - Thanks for the ciao and the kind words! Your blog makes me wish I spoke Italian.

    tormentedartist - Aw, you're way too nice, dude. I feel so nostalgic for that time in Korea -- going up to that library on those muggy summer mornings and just drawing my ass off all day. Having a sandwich outside and listening to the cicadas. I think that's really when this whole thing started, isn't it? If only I'd had a Cintiq, I could have gotten going about five years earlier! Anyway, thanks for following along for all this time! See you at the next Emerald City, right?

    Oh, and yeah, I want to start drawing on paper again, too!

  15. Hey,guys!This is so wonderful ! Thanks for your awesome post.