There is usually a tide of excitement that follows a convention. Events are announced, creators are wheeled out. You remember why you read comics. This past WonderCon (April 1 – 3rd) seemed to be devoid of some of that. Both DC and Marvel (in its first WonderCon in years) were seeing the launch of their event books mere weeks after the convention, so the news was already out about those, with possibly the most exciting thing being DC’s Retro-Active, a gimmicky series of one shots that bring back one or both members of classic teams back on the book their famous for launching in July.

The main draw was probably the Green Lantern panel, which featured the premiere of new Green Lantern footage. It was exciting to see, but nothing that was diminished by watching it online. The story is teased out a little more, but it is mostly a display of FX and CG. We already knew of the Green Lantern Corp and the ring choosing Hal Jordan and those moments are extended out. The only revelation being that the movie’s villain, Hector Hammond was infected by something inside the deceased Abin Sur, Hal Jordan’s predecessor.

Where the Big Two failed to deliver, the smaller publishers were able to gain more attention. As I said, it was devoid of something. But where it was lacking was in the event announcements and big name creators, it definitely reminded me of why I read comics. The reason for this post coming a week later is that I wanted to be able to read what I picked up.

That list included

  • Locke & Key Vol. 1 (IDW)
  • Essex County (Top Shelf)
  • Mr. Stuffins (BOOM!)
  • Mercury (Atheneum)
  • Pedro and Me (:01 Second)

This was in and of itself a story. I had just run into Judd Winnick at the DC booth, where he signed a copy of “Green Lantern vol. 2 156,” and really wanted to go back with a copy of Pedro and Me. I found a booth where I found another book and asked if the owner had a copy of P&M. He did not, but said he could have it for me tomorrow. I appreciated his offer and took it. Came back the next day and got it half off. Great guy.

  • (the aforementioned) Green Lantern vol 2. 156
  • Carnet de Voyage (Top Shelf)

I wanted to allow myself the time to evaluate what I had picked up, especially since there was no pressing news to report. And I’ve got to say that I kinda hit the jackpot this time. Pedro and Me is a personal favorite of mine. It was one of the first books I picked up down here in Rohnert Park. It is also a fantastic story, retelling of the author Judd Winnick’s friendship with Pedro Zamora, the AIDS activist and HIV positive, while the two were on The Real World: San Francisco. It is as touching as it is informative and something I’ve wished to write on, but I had lost my copy. This trip solved this pressing matter and I am grateful.

Essex County is a wonderful trilogy of books, published together as one trade by Top Shelf. It tells three stories, each set against the beautiful backdrop of Essex County, Ontario. Jeff Lemire is someone I’ve recently begun to like, having gotten a chance to talk to him at Comic Con after a panel. He’s a great guy and a great writer. He’s currently writing Superboy and writing/drawing Sweet Tooth through Vertigo. He was also recently announced as artist on Jonah Hex. Lemire is definitely someone to watch and the best way you can experience him is through Essex County.

Carnet de Voyage is by Blankets creator Craig Thompson. Oh my goodness, Blankets is the most amazing book I have ever read. Thanks to the lovely people at the Sonoma State University, I came upon Blankets. I flipped through a few pages and was intrigued, but didn’t follow through until my friend Caitlin told me that she had picked up a copy and loved it. I borrowed it and read it over a weekend and I was in love. Thompson is such a raw writer, who opens himself up on the page, which might explain why his lines are so think and expressed. Carnet de Voyage is the sketchbook diary of Thompson as he travels around Europe, promoting Blankets. It has no story, except what can be inferred from what Thompson writes about and the accompanying artwork. Thompson displays himself and treats this like a diary in every sense, keeping no secrets from the reader. In conjunction with Blankets, which portrays Thompson as a child and teenager and filled with the fear of God, this Thompson is a stark contrast, indulging in vices and one night stands like a classic Romantic writer and serves as a spiritual sequel of the SPECTACULAR Blankets. As soon as I realized what this book was about, I knew the perfect purpose for it. This past Wednesday was Caitlin’s birthday and I gave to her what she once gave to me: a Craig Thompson yarn.

Now, I must admit that I still haven’t gotten to Mercury. I did get to meet its creator, Hope Larson, who was interested in a possible blog on the book. She was very nice and she drew a whole winter scene on the title page. But what I did get to was Mr. Stuffins. In a twist on Small Soldiers, as if the model of toys for the military was written by the Toy Story team. A broken family is reaching the breaking point as Zach gets his dad to buy him a Mr. Stuffins teddy bear. Unknown to them, Mr. Stuffins is now programmed with the most intelligent military AI ever made. Soon, Zach and the very much alive Mr. Stuffins are on the run from a rogue group of CIA agents attempt to take the AI from our teddy bear hero. Hilarity ensues. I stopped by the BOOM! table to solicit my wares and found myself looking at what they had on the table. I mostly looked at the new trades of Irredeemable, but I also saw that BOOM! was releasing the first ever Peanuts graphic novel, created with the strips by one of my heroes, Charles Schulz. A team of writers and artist created a story using old strips and mixed up with new art by a team from the Charles M. Schulz Museum, which includes Pearls Before Swine creator and local Stephen Pastis and personal friend of the blog, Paige Braddock. But I didn’t want to commit to it just yet so I turned to Mr. Stuffins and was pleasantly surprised.

And as a test to see if he is going to read this, I’ve decided to give my copy signed copy of Green Lantern to my teacher Steve Estes as SSU. He has given me one recommendation and I was planning on asking him for a second and wanted to give him this as a thank you. Steve was my teacher for my Senior Seminar class in History, which was on the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. For my thesis paper, I decided to discuss race in comics, which Steve helped me trim down into race in the Green Lantern Corps. One of the main books I used was by Judd Winnick, which my teacher got a kick out of because of his nerdy 90s street cred with The Real World. This wasn’t the issue I used, but it was still done by Winnick and I got him to sign it. So, it’s a gag gift but its meant to mean something.

Oh. And that brings us to the best one of them all. I like to pal around the IDW booth because I know a few people there. Last WonderCon I met Anthony Del Col, Andy B. and Conor McCreery and a few staff members, so I like to check in. I especially got a kick out of IDW’s Godzilla panel, which discussed the recent start of a new Godzilla monthly title. I’ve been a fan of it since I was seven, so this was especially welcomed. But later at the booth, one guy gave me the sales pitch for a new book called Locke & Key, written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez. He told me that people had picked the first trade on Friday, picked up the second on Saturday and the third one on Sunday. It was a great pitch, so I picked it up. I read it that night and instantly regretted not picking it up on Friday. This book is fantastic and will definitely be the subject of my next post to Four Colors. I just picked up the second book today and already read it. This is a book I cannot get enough of and cannot wait to continue reading.

This was a chill weekend in San Francisco. The weather was nice, the crowd was mellow. It was just about the love of comics. No big draw, no reason to wait in long lines other then a passion for reading comics. As Comic Con now looms over our heads, the chill times will be a thing of the past. The excitement will be maddening and not everyone will remember the joy of reading. It’s a little cynical, but I just blame that on WonderCon making me too optimistic.

Comic-Con is July 20 – 24 in San Diego, CA.