Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ain't That America?

So we went to the United States of America on the weekend. As hard as it is to believe, it was my first time outside the Canadian border.
The first thing I noticed was that America loves to shop and eat. All along the highway, there were signs for places with exotic sounding names like OfficeMax, IHOP, and Jack-in-the-Box.

Second, Americans say things like "Do y'all come from Canada?" and "I hear y'all up there in Canada have some pretty tough hunting laws. It's them environmentalists, isn't it? I heard told that up there in Maine, the whole city's overrun by the deers and wolves because the hunting laws is so tough. Is that true? Is y'all being run out of your cities by the deers and wolves?"
Okay, that was just one guy.

Third thing I noticed is that rural America really does look like a John Cougar Mellancamp video. With slightly newer cars up on blocks on the lawn.

Seattle, though, is a very good looking city, even though we didn't have a lot to say to each other. I especially admired its buildings, of which there are many. Pike Place Public Market is pretty cool, and, to my surprise, there are a few sweet French-style cafes. Complete with snotty servers! (actually the snottiest server we had was at a seafood restaurant I guess because of the former grandeur of the aeronautical industry in the area, a lot of Seattle, a lot of older Seattle, has a pretty wicked space theme, which reminded me of Darwyn Cooke's The New Frontier. A lot of neon phalli.
We were only there for a couple of days, so there was more we didn't do than we did. But I did check out some of the Emerald City ComiCon. It was my first real comic convention and I didn't really know what to expect or what to do once I got there. I showed up late (I got lost) to Sunday's panel focused on Oni Press, which is one of the easiest small press publishers to cheer for, since it publishes a pretty great cross-section of genres, some of which are LEGENDARY, like Greg Rucka's Queen & Country series and Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim series. No surprise, both Rucka and O'Malley were at the panel, though I missed O'Malley's bit, which was the main reason I wanted to go. However, Rucka's bit was pretty cool. He talked about a new series he's launching later this year about a P.I. in PDX, described as greatly influenced by the Rockford Files (which is only the greatest TV show in the history of TV shows). Of course, the new series, Stumptown, will feature a strong female lead with endearing character flaws, like almost of all of Rucka's notable comics.
During the panel's brief question and answer session, O'Malley did address the content of the upcoming Scott Pilgrim movie, saying that the first half half hour of the movie was "pretty much verbatim the first book." It sounds like the Scott Pilgrim movie will contain material from all four published-to-date Scott Pilgrim books.
After the panel, I locked eyes with DC Comics' Executive Editor Dan Didio, who was about to host a panel about how much we all love comics. I don't know how much I love comics lately, so I didn't go. As I wandered around the convention floor, I eventually locked eyes with a lot of funny book superstars, including: Kurt Busiek, Mike Grell, Tom Peyer, Rick Remender, possibly Gail Simone, and certainly Matt Wagner. I didn't know what else to do, and I didn't even know who most of them were until I lowered my eyes to see their nametags.

I did get a sweet Scott Pilgrim T-shirt, and bought another copy of Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life so that I could get BLO'M to sign it for me. There were two guys gushing about how Scott Pilgrim is the coolest thing in the whole world behind me, so I didn't say anything. I just stood there, like a jerk. BLO'M looked at me and didn't say anything either. Then I, a Canadian, handed him, a Canadian, some American money, and we parted ways. His significant other, Hope Larson, had been sitting beside him with her own books earlier, but wasn't there when I got my stuff. If she had been, I probably would have got something from her, since I hear/read that she's very good.

Eventually, I did actually have a real conversation with someone at a comic convention. Matthew Maxwell wrote a pretty swell comic book about cowboys and werewolves called Strangeways: Murder Moon , about which I'll have more to say when I'm finished reading the thing. We shared a couple of laughs about Superman's educational background. He also talked about the challenges of getting a comic book out to the world. It was actually kind of oddly encouraging, talking to a writer about stuff like that, even though I just kinda stood there, like a jerk. He let me in on a secret, though: Black Metal is better than Scott Pilgrim.
So after I talked to Matt, and bought his book, I went back to the Oni booth and got Black Metal. Yeah, it's pretty awesome. I also got thinking about what it would be like if I was a comic book writer, instead of merely a comic book reader. Then I started coming up with ideas. I already had an idea for a 30th Century adventure involving the Legion of Super-Heroes that I'm going to sock away until someone offers ONE MILLION (or possibly one hundred, we'll see where I am when anyone offers me anything for writing again) dollars for it. But I also came up with another idea that was influenced both Maxwell's genre mash-up and by stuff I think about nearly every single day. It'll probably just end up as another pulpy short story I never finish (ask me about my sci-fi art gallery caper story some day--better yet, ask me to finish it!), but it's fun to think about writing. It's also fun to write. It's also fun to get paid to write. SO, if you are looking to pay someone with a background in daily newspapers and rock & roll journalism to write some awesome stories for big money under extreme lax deadlines, look no further.

We've got some wicked new music from the Canadian prairies today. Including a new song by Saskatoon, Saskatchewan's Junior Pantherz, which is cool, cuz I thought they broke up a long time ago. I guess they got better. (that's a comic joke)

mp3: "Black Rice" by Women
mp3: "On and Off" by Junior Pantherz

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