Program director Gary Sassaman, who also does the same job for the brobdingnagian Comic-Con International in San Diego, invited me to take part in a Saturday panel called "Hey, Kids! Graphic Novels!" The other panelists were Justin Green ("Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary"), Alex Robinson ("Tricked"), Raina Telgemeier ("Smile" and "The Baby-Sitters Club"), Rick Geary ("The Murder of Abraham Lincoln" and other historical horrors), and Linda Medley ("Castle Waiting"). I'd only ever met Raina (who attended with her fiance, Dave Roman) and was really looking forward to meeting some of the others whom I admired as well as others I'd never heard of. No, I won't embarrass myself by admitting which were which.
Left to right: Green, Robinson, Telgemeier, Medley, Geary
and me. About 75 people attended the panel (I remembered
to count this time!) and asked some good questions. Fun.
Justin Green in particular was a real trip. Almost literally. At one point he explained how in his next book he intends to take the same drugs his character takes and draw the story while under their influence. You've gotta admire that kind of dedication. Rick Geary stood out as one of the most easy-going, down-to-earth creators I've ever met. In response to a question about working digitally, I was surprised that we all replied we prefer the experience of putting ink on paper and wouldn't want to work any other way. I think that's an increasingly rare aesthetic. Linda Medley coined a new word, "meditativeness," to capture what she experiences sitting at the drawing board as opposed to the keyboard, and I think we all agreed with her.
APE also provided an opportunity for me to meet up with my Abrams editor Charlie Kochman, who flew out from New York for the event. Charlie took part in a Sunday panel on the topic of how to pitch a story to a publisher. My kids hadn't met him before and he was kind enough to bring me a copy of the soundtrack from the George Reeves "Adventures of Superman" series, which soaked into my DNA through repeated viewings decades ago. Just hearing some of those themes and musical stings conjured a host of happy childhood images.
Possibly the least flattering photo ever taken of either
Raina or me, but it's the only one I've got. I really like her work.
In the background, Linda Medley talks with Charlie Kochman.
I signed a few books, met a few people (including cartoonist Keith Knight), picked up some business cards, and thought APE was a great way to spend some time in my favorite big city in the world.
Signing books after the panel. You can tell I'm at the
Alternative Press Expo because I'm wearing jeans.
That makes me hip and edgy.