Haha! After seeing Stan Lee talk yesterday, it seemed fitting that I answer the title of this post like that! I got the whole thing on video, and (despite the poor quality) I’ll probably be posting the video sometime soon, so be sure to keep an eye out for it! Truth be told though, nothing is completely the wrong answer to ‘what I learned in Charlotte!’ There have been so many great people, panels, and interactions! I almost don’t know where to begin!
I got to see some great panels, that inspired some articles I’ll be posting both here on Blackhole-Comics.com and also on FreestyleRonin.com! Christos Gage and Neal Adams (1st X-Men) were my first panel. Hilarious! The way Neal Adams uses his charm and confidence to manipulate the crowd and conversation is really fun to watch! Then I got to meet Jonathon Hickman for the first time. I had loved his writing on Secret Warriors and Fantastic Four, among other things, but always pictured him as kind of dry and boring. WRONG! He was the coolest guy! Really nice when I got his autograph on his graphic novel, Nightly News, and even drew a picture of the Thing for me! (It looks a bit like Darkseid from DC Comics, but still awesome!) In his panel, he talked about Manhattan Projects and Secret, working for Marvel and Image, and even his thoughts on digital comics. He was very funny, at one point saying he didn’t care if people silenced their phones or not for the panel. He was hoping someone had a cool ring tone! “Who has Van Halen as their ring tone?” He asked. “ME!” He exclaimed as he pointed to his nefariously proud smile!
Past the panels and meeting the creators you love to read, there’s the feeling you get when you walk into a comic convention. Its one that evokes nothing but smiles and laughter. (Mostly for the people there! It’s kinda like ‘People of Walmart’) The costumes, both good and bad, and general people watching is great at a show like this! That’s not what brings about the smiles though. When you see little kids meeting ‘real life superheroes’ for the first time, you can’t help but absorb a bit of that excitement.
Beyond that, coming to something like this with my little brother is really great! We kept seeing walls of the toys we had when we were kids and were taken back to being in those moments. Moments like when we were kids and Ghostbusters was the greatest movie in the world. (Not to say it isn’t now!) Zach, my little brother, couldn’t get enough of it as a child! His jokes were what I remember the most, “Knock knock!” He’d spout out at random. Of course I’d answer “Who’s there?” knowing one of two answers awaited me every time. “Egon.” was usually the first answer, and playing along I’d ask, “Egon who?” He’d light up as he gave the answer ecstatically. “Egon Spangler!!!” The other option was my favorite looking back at it. “Slimer! From Ghostbusters!” As if there were more than one Slimer. Great memories! Now, you could only imagine how excited I was knowing there would be people dressed as Ghostbusters there. I knew Zach would get a kick out of it, and he did, but I didn’t know they’d have their own Ecto-1! (That’s the car they drove for those who don’t know.) I got an excited text from him while I was in a panel with a picture of it, and I knew we’d have to get our pictures taken with it! That aspect is one of my favorites, the fact you can be a kid again with your little brother for a minute or two.
I think the moment I forget about when I go to a comic book convention, is the one were I realize that I could be doing this. I could have a table just like all the creators there! I could be sharing my characters and their stories with the world! I’m always kind of hoping for it to just happen, like some big wig is going to bump into me and say “Oops. Sorry! Hey you don’t happen to write comics do ya?” Needless to say that moment never comes, so I instead attend the panels and try to taken in and learn as much about creating as I can. I always check out the artists that have tables there, feeling out how comfortable they are talking to people. I always want to ask if they want to collaborate on a story, and it never seems to be the case. Is it because I’m socially awkward in those situations? Possibly… hahaha!
The best part though is regardless of the ups and downs in my expectations, I always leave inspired to keep working on comics! I’ve already warned the guys at FreestyleRonin.com that I’m going to come back to town and push them for projects to start happening! Getting those guys inspired is something that inspires me. I feel like the more stuff they do, and the better they do it, I’ll do the same! So I’ll return ti Richmond with some inspiring thoughts and ideas for the Ronin crew, some signed comics to look at when I need some motivation, and a story thought here and there to expand upon and see if it becomes something. I’ll get home with pictures of me and my brother with Ecto-1, road trip stories to share with Billy and Keith, and the idea that tomorrow I can go back towards creating comics as my job. All and all, I’d have to say this was a great trip, that hopefully will be a footnote on the side of my illustrious career someday. Until then, I’ll just have to keep in mind, the world is ours to make.
*Just to note, as I write this I’m sitting next to an awesome fountain at the Panera in downtown Charlotte. The weather is as nice as a summer morning can be, and the people walking by all seem slightly more interesting than normal. The fountain has steps descending into it, so people can wade into it if they like. I’m gonna stick my feet in it! If this is the life of a professional writer, I have chosen wisely!