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Ambidextrous - Going Back To Cali

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Going Back To Cali

It's official. I am in love with the city of San Diego.

Being an infrequent traveller whose flight coupons have only read Orlando, Florida, the prospects of viewing a fresh locale and returning home in a mere four days becomes infinitely appealing. And San Diego did not disappoint. The weather was an alarmingly comfortable seventy-three degrees the whole time, which was virtually heaven on Earth to someone growing weary at plodding through the wave of humidity that seems to have settled over much of Illinois. Someone referred to the weather here as oppressive. I'd be hard-pressed to disagree with this assessment. With San Diego's convenient trolley system, its impressive architecture, and the quality restaurants...I was prepared to make my stay permanent. And did I mention the weather was beautiful??

Onto the reason I was even there.

My first day of the fabled San Diego Comic-Con International 2001 was Friday and check-in was surprisingly well organized and staffed. After navigating the line and snickering at the league of fully armed Jedi Knights, I found myself on the convention floor, with booths laid out as far as the eye could see. Combine this with the prevalence of overpriced food and snacks, and it was undeniable...I was at the con.

To be truthful, Friday morning was a bit boring. I've attended several Chicago editions and having ventured across the country to witness the San Diego madness, my ever-cynical presence was demanding some breakthrough, some unbelievable experience that would justify my expensive voyage to this strange land with the beautiful temperatures and lack of humidity. Initially, I'd say that there isn't that much difference in structure and scope between the Chicago and San Diego shows, and after completing the process...I'd still agree with that statement. Does that mean I didn't learn anything?? Hell no.

I watched Tom Brevoort give a couple of portfolio reviews and subsequently missed the only opportunity I was going to be afforded to speak with him regarding my Thor submission. After several rounds of repackaging and spot editing, the pitch, Rapid Eye Movement, ended up being placed in a large box with countless others. I'll explain in greater depth below. (I think several people cheated on the one-page limit also as an aside.) I would post it so the viewing public could pick any possible inconsistencies to pieces, but the file appears to have become corrupted on my disc somehow.

Following a solid hour of wandering and stumbling upon a booth set up by a store that only deals in graphic novels (very cool), I found myself in Michael Lovitz's Comic Book Law panel. A significant personal discovery resulted from this...the knowledge that talk of copyrights and trademarks causes my head to spin...and then my eyelids to dip ever so slowly. After escaping with a thick printout in tow that I'm almost afraid to look at, my convention compatriot (the man who designed the Ambidextrous logo) and I dipped out for lunch in Seaport Village before returning for the highlight of my day.

A little background here. It's Chuck Dixon's fault that I want to write comics. Thoughts of writing the great American novel were polluting my subconscious until I stepped through the doors of Mr. Dixon's Ten Commandments of Comic Book Writing. During that single hour a course was determined. You mean I can write comics and make a decent living while doing it?? Oh, hell yeah. Since then I make it my business to attend as many of these behind-the-scenes, no-holds-barred, "I can say whatever the hell I want to because my editor is across the building," sessions. Enter Joe Casey.

I've considered Mr. Casey the "Man" since he fooled me into thinking for several months that Marvel's Cable was a cool character. The only regret I have regarding his run on the title was that the X-office didn't allow him and artist collaborator Ladronn to contribute their own interpretation of the much-famed Twelve saga. (Instead they handed it off to some unknown...think his name was Rob Liefeld or something...)

Anyway, from that I followed him to runs on Hellcop, Deathlok, and the highly underrated Mr. Majestic. The first issue of Majestic's title caused me to realize that this Casey guy was capable of bringing major wood to the world of comic book writing.

For those not yet enlightened, consider this. Mr. Majestic is an essence a Superman-clone that resides in the Wildstorm universe, and at the beginning of this classic he successfully destroys an alien probe lurking in Earth's atmosphere and brings it planetside for further analysis. He learns that the probe has meticulously mapped our solar system for the express purpose of beaming this information across the galaxy to a large entity that means to make a small lunch of the entire damn Milky Way. If it arrives here and the composition of our universe matches the probe's readings, Earth will provide a sizeable appetizer before it devours our sun. What option does this leave Majestic?? Alter the entire universe to make it unrecognizable to the approaching threat. Government cover-ups, the creation of asteroid belts, and the re-positioning of the Earth follows. When the threat enters our system, it doesn't recognize the menu and vanishes into the void. Tell me that's not cool shit.

Then there was X-Men: Children of the Atom, a modern re-telling of the events leading to the formation of the original X-team, without the fancy trade dress and extensive advertising campaign. An Ultimate approach in an editorial environment that wasn't quite ready. Another gem. Then he made Wildcats worth reading and then critical mass was achieved. I'll stop now because I think you get the point...I like the man's work. So I was looking forward to this little discussion about the business of writing comics.

After arriving a few minutes late and catching his breath, Casey introduced himself to those in the audience that may not be as familiar with his work and proceeded to take questions from the floor. What followed was an hour of insights, tricks, horror stories, and work habits. The guy seemed sincere when faced with a roomful of hopefuls and willingly answered any query thrown his way. (Even though he had to censor his language slightly due to a child in the room.) He commented on the difference between New Marvel and Old Marvel, the camaraderie among the Superman writers, and the freedom that Wildstorm provides him with the 'Cats franchise. Quite interesting, quite inspiring...Joe Casey is the man. His session lit a large fire under my ass, and Saturday is tentatively scheduled to involve many more interactions with editors of many shapes and forms.

The evening is spent formulating plans of world domination if Marvel contacts me to inform my humble personage that I've won the talent search, and escaping from Tijuana, Mexico after wondering why there are so many high schoolers in the club, and if there is some conspiracy behind NONE of my cab-drivers knowing where the hell they're going.

Saturday sees the convention mutate into a veritable madhouse, and requires me to stand in line for my ticket a tad longer, providing me the pleasure of suspiciously eyeing a Jedi Knight and silently pondering just where one can find an exact replica of a lightsaber. Stopped by the Marvel booth looking for Tom Brevoort to hand off my Thor submission and was once again denied. An hour later I'd find out why.

The Mighty Marvel Press Conference, featuring Mr. Brevoort, Axel Alonso, Stuart Moore, Bob Greenberger, and the grand pubah himself Joey Da Q, was a bit of well-deserved stroking. "This is why Marvel is offering the most diverse product on the stands today...this is why we'll continue to do so." Like I said, much deserved. The House of Ideas is living up to its moniker in spades these days, and if their slideshow and confident explanations are any indication, this trend will re-present itself in the coming year. No mention of Origin though. Maybe they're saving something for WizardWorld Chicago.

After ducking out slightly early following Kevin Smith's Black Cat announcement, partly because of an impulse to avoid an overactive former associate who feels the need to rush me and immediately solicit my opinion on whatever's of interest in the comic world at the present time. No matter how much time passes between our meetings. I went six months without seeing this kid, and he once felt the need to accept my outstretched hand, while simultaneously asking my opinion of Casey's Uncanny X-Men. If he noticed me concealing my face only twenty feet away, he would've attached himself to me for the duration of the con. Until my annoyance grew unconcealed and he wandered off after deciding life was now complete because he just met Bendis. If only he would say "Hello" first.

Following lunch and another failed opportunity at meeting Tom Brevoort, I ended up at the Dark Horse booth with editor Phil Amara. He's got a submission in the mail with his name on it. I'll let you folks know how it goes.

Waited in line forever for the JLA panel and after finally sitting down and viewing the clip, and hearing the motivations of the show's producers...I'm making sure my new apartment is equipped with Cartoon Network. Finally dropped my Thor submission off without speaking with Brevoort, but my disappointment eventually fades.

On the whole, a very worthwhile trip which gave me a few ideas for Chicago in a couple of weeks. Arrived home to check the mail and found a notice from CrossGen informing me that my writing submission is still being considered...they're just a little behind in reviewing.

Due to nearly uncontrolled expenses, I decide not to return to San Diego next year unless I'm signing books. Come on now editors...I really enjoyed the weather there. :)

Next Time: WE TALK GUILTY PLEASURES....

Peace,
Brandon Thomas

Recommended: Invade your local bargain bin in search of Casey's Mr. Majestic run. Or pester Wildstorm into releasing a trade.


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