Sunday, December 30, 2007


Catherine and I had a time in Lubbock ranging from fairly rocking to liverally apocalyptic (yes, that’s a new adverb, my liver caught all manner of revelation, as you are about to see listed). Best just to take it one night at a time.

FRIDAY (12/21/07)
We arrive in Lubbock and make our first stop at the Grand Opening of McGilliguddy’s, an Irish sports bar just started up by an old school buddy of ours who I’ve known for twenty years. Great to see Mom, Dad, and Brett. Had a double Jack and a couple glasses of wine before getting dropped off by the wives for four hours of accelerated debauchery at the Spoon watching Dangerous Dan Earnest tear it up with Dad’s first (or second?) client ever on bass, one Glen Birch, and local stalwart Robert Smith on drums. I only remember the first two rounds of Jack but am told there were several more. I do recall taking my first chug off a new bottle of Lone Star with such gusto that all 12 oz. seemed to be missing. Brett and I got up and sat in with the band and crushed an Albert King tune in C along with Whipping Post. Concluded the night getting dragged down the hall to bed by both parents protesting that I had to hang out with my little brother, then apologizing to the wife that they were so loud. A fine beginning.

Missed the AM, obviously. Watched LOST 3.7 with Brett. Accompanied Dad and Brett jewelry shopping for Mom. Catherine ducked in to give her opinion after shopping with her father. Went to Uncle Mark’s house for an extended family party that went from maybe 6-10. Stayed away from the brown, but rocked the red, easily killed a bottle myself before coming home to hang out with Brett and Stew. We killed a case of Lone Star and ________

Another slow opening of the day. Picked up the sister-in-law from the airport and had dinner with the Millers at a deserted Chili’s, deserted like we were in a Stephen King novel. Really amazing steak and portabella fajitas, almost gave me hope for the onslaught of viral corporate strangulation upon our fine country. Then off to the Spoon for the regular Sunday Blues Jam, which was apeshit. Brett and I pounded Jack and Shiner like Christmas would never come from the moment we walked in the door. Got to get up and play with Johnny & the Trundlers (Chris, Blake & JT) for the first time since ’04 and we just fucking crushed it, hit Lemon Song (Led Zeppelin) Up In Arms (Foo Fighters) and Whipping Post (Allman Bros.) like we were still playing 50 gigs a year. Muscular. So great to make music with those fools. Then Brett got up, JT stayed up, and the great John Sprott took the stage for us to lay down our customary funk/blues double shot of Cissy Strut (Meters) and Killing Floor (Willie Dixon). And we burned those down, as usual. Then bassist extraordinaire Sean Frankhauser took the stage in his Santa hat to sing Thank You Fallitinme Be Mice Elf (Sly & the Family Stone) to charming effect. Brett’s girl Laura had just landed and the three of us concluded late Sunday with the newest two Southparks that none had seen.

Johnny & the Trundlers in action.

The Bass Brothers.

MONDAY (12/24/07)
Went to church, sang some carols and hymns. Came home, opened presents, good times were had by all. Split a bottle of MacAllan with Brett. Watched THE LAST WALTZ here, stunning Scorsese doc of the last show by The Band. Brett’s road bible of late. Highly recommended.

Mom and Dad
Brett, Laura, Catherine and myself.

Mellow. Went over to Catherine’s grandfather’s for an early lunch and to open presents. Came back and got more presents from Santa Claus and had Thanksgiving Dinner with the family. Watched the EXTRAS Christmas special, which was impeccable, killer George Michael and Clive Owen bits adorning Gervais skewering of this celebrity-devouring culture we’ve evolved into. Late night, hit LOST 3.8-10 with Brett and Laura, one turned into three, you can’t turn it off. I enjoy drinking with Desmond David Hume.

Mucked about. Went shopping with Catherine and Mom and Dad, got lots of great clod-weather clothes for Vermont. Had a calzone from One Guy from Italy, the finest object to bear that name available. Watched more LOST with Brett and Laura. Slow night, so we went to Cricket’s to watch Plain Brown Wrapper, the local supergroup comprised of Sprott, Sean, JT and DG Flewellyn. Carbombs, Jack, Guinness and Shiners were consumed. The Night They Drove Ol’ Dixie Down was played. All was well.

(until we got home and a crack about who did a better drum fill on that tune, Levon Helm or Steve Gorman on the Black Crowes cover turned into a two hour fight between Brett and I, probably our first in twenty-odd years—at least this time the BB gun never came out)(Dad was up reading the paper before all was said and done. Fight concluded with drunken snuggling on the couch during aforementioned tune and the encore)

The cracks starting to show, obviously. Went and hung out with my boy Luis, saw his new house, talked about our comic. It was Mom and Dad’s 38th anniversary, so we went to the Frenchman’s Inn, this killer one-chef restaurant down the street, something of a tradition. Killer meal, great conversation.
Turned in early, everyone out by midnight. (which of course meant that Brett and I woke up at 4:45 and 5:30 respectively, wondering what was wrong)(ha, waking up at 4:45 AM is such an impossibility with Brett that he experienced crippling disorientation for entire seconds wondering who had turned out the Sun!) I stayed up until 10:30 and then finally dropped off for a few more hours, which oh wait means it’s___

Ran around all afternoon here, ate lunch at Tom & Bingo’s with Brett, was a VIP guest at my local comics store that wasn’t technically open, went and hung out with a gang of high school friends and played too much Guitar Hero III with a nephew, then gave the family a dry run of my Pynchon workshop for Vermont. They were suitably dismayed. Then had one of the best Dad steaks EVER (and those who have had one appreciate the caliber of that statement). Then Blake and Chris and Espino came over and, yeah, we killed a whole bottle of Vodka on Laura’s kickass pomegranate and dirty martinis before it was suddenly 3 and Brett and I had to sprint through the rest of the season of LOST, were slugging shots of Crown from the bottle until 5:30 for the crushing last scene that’s got me counting days even now.

Which made breakfast at the diner five hours later pretty wonderful, I wot.

Catherine and I got home last night pretty wrecked. Turned in early. Got up today on ten glorious hours of unaddled sleep. We double-featured Sweeney Todd and Juno and caught Texadelphia cheese steaks and now I guess I need to get back to work sprucing up my presentation, but that’s what we did. I’ll post some pics later.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Fine time in Lubbock, as usual. Ate too much. Managed not to drink too much until the last night, which more than made up for it. Gah.

This was the scene at 2:00 on the big day before the Great Devouring began.

I don't see enough of Craig (pictured here with his lovely wife, Lindsay) since he moved to New York . Notice the longing in the eyes and the palpable sense that the evening will be over all too soon.

I'm flanked by Blake, Stew, Chris, and Craig. All of my groomsmen except my own little brother. Ouch. Not that we would've survived if he'd been there. Killed a bottle of 1.75 Jack without him. Truly horrifying.

The morning after.


Went to Dallas the weekend before Thanksgiving to promote the new comic anthology me and a gang of Austinites have released. Had a fine time, got a bunch of autographs from various talented artists, signed some autographs, refused to sell the book to enough saddened ten year olds that I think we're going to go back and make it all-ages. Bought a shot for Scott Porter, one of the best actors on Friday Night Lights and a huge comic book fan in his own right. Oh, and got probably $300 worth of books for a cool $100 and Catherine bought me the Holy Grail, those 3 issues of Flex Mentallo we couldn't even find in San Diego.

Some pics:

The Team Supreme. Luis Estrada and I had a kickass four hours of brainstorming that went well into Sunday morning in which we reworked and compressed the first six pgs into five and invented an incredibly elaborate backstory that will be a blast to weave into the book.

This is Adam Kubert, one of the best artists in the industry. Our table was just down the way from his and I felt so much like his buddy after taking this on Friday that I yelled out, "Good morning, Adam Kubert!" the next two days and "Safe travels, Adam Kubert!" at the end of the day Sunday. He could tell how harmless I was, but I tried not to move too suddenly when I was around him.

Right before this shot, he said, "I like your shirt." I actually didn't get it until I was walking away. There were a lot of comic books around.

Ol' Blue Eyes, himself.

Little known branches of the Claus family tree. That new Vince Vaughn flick really could have used these guys, I'm guessing.

I quickly followed this dude's example and had a fine time drinking beer on the convention floor.

The assembled crew, except for Eroll, who was out sketching for cigarettes, I think. That still cracks me up. From left: Brian, Rita, McClain, John, Chris, Seth, Wayne, and your very own dynamic duo.

And this is what we saw when we walked out Sunday night to drive back to Austin. Only way it could have been better is if there was a rocket lifting off. But then, I always feel that way.


Went to see the Smashing Pumpkins on their big reunion tour. This felt kind of odd, as they were one of my very favorite bands ten years ago and i haven't listened to them that much of late, even with this last new album that came out that was better than I figured it would be but not as good as I'd hoped. Listened to some old live shows on the way out there. It's funny how many things are embedded in your psyche, running around your head, a part of you that you barely remember, sometimes don't even know is there. This was my eighth time to see them, Catherine's fifth. For the Mellon Collie tour, Catherine and I saw them in Austin, drove to Dallas to see them the next night, and then drove five hours to Lubbock after the show. Used to pull into town after sunup quite a bit. Funny how sane and normal that seemed at the time.

Anyway, the present:

They played a pretty excellent set. Chose a couple of tunes I never would've figured. Opened with United States, the best song off the new one. Played Drown, one of the best songs ever, was so glad to hear the first notes. Best thing of the night, though, had to be Starla, never seen that live in all these years, surely one of the greatest B-sides ever recorded, some of the most beautiful ethereal backwards guitar that ever was.

Billy played 1979 solo and Perfect with Jimmy accompanying him on tambourine. They came back with more rock bombast and even encored with Cherub Rock, which was killer. But then they got this old friend of theirs up on stage and played a couple of tunes and it was all right at first but was too long by about ten minutes, totally sucked the energy out of the show. But as Catherine said, Billy was up there grinning and looking like he was having a fine old time, and we haven't really seen so much of that over the years.

Great show.


United States
Bullet with Butterfly Wings
Bring the Light
Tonight, Tonight
Stand Inside Your Love
Pomp and Circumstances
Doomsday Clock
Heavy Metal Machine

Encore: Cherub Rock

2nd Encore: Lucky 13

With Jimmy Frog: I Only Play 4 Money

Solo Salvage: Disarm

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


We mixed it up this weekend, lots of varied choices for entertainment. The Smashing Pumpkins concert scheduled for Friday got bumped into next week after Jimmy Chamberlin went to the hospital (in a stomach-plunging twist reminiscent of Summer '96--here's hoping Redrum was not involved). But that gave us the night off to see Breakin' String, a local troupe of actors, put on their performance of Anton Chekov's THE SEAGULL (recommended by Brian K. Vaughan as "the best writing about writing ever"). And it was excellent to go in cold, with no idea as to the plot. The ensemble was incredible, boasting veterans and young talents alike (including one gangly young man from Lubbock, TX in a bit part!). It was a riveting 2 and 1/2 hours of theatre.

That was followed by the TX Bookfest on Saturday. There weren't many authors I was really excited about seeing, but the exception was Tom Perrotta, author of LITTLE CHILDREN. If you're reading this, you probably know how crushed I was by that movie. Had to power the book for this experience, as well as his latest THE ABSTINENCE TEACHER. He gave a reading in the legislative chambers, which was kind of a funky experience. I got him to break down all the changes to the novel that went into the screenplay and turns out most of the darkness was added by director Todd Field. Here, we find Catherine considering an important piece of pending legislation while waiting for the author to begin.

Then we went to the new Alamo Drafthouse Saturday night for a screening of LITTLE CHILDREN up on the big screen, following a Q&A with the author. So, LITTLE CHILDREN, check. Pretty much picked that one apart for the time being.

Then on Sunday, Catherine and I drove out to Lost Maples, this state natural area renowned for the beauty of its color-changing leaves. We went out as a late anniversary celebration and had a fine old time roasting hot dogs and s'mores over a serious campfire, sang songs with the 12-string, drank a bottle of wine, and got a load of the best sky of stars I can remember seeing. Caught six damn shooting stars. My wishes started canceling each other out! Then we woke up and went on a five-mile hike, up this "hill" with 2,200 ft. elevation (almost half a mile qualifies as more than a hill, say I), saw some beautiful sights, got a little too much sun on our faces, and generally enjoyed the lack of cellphones, teh Intrawub, or Home Depot (still missed Chili's, of course).

Here are the highlights:

Observing the author in his natural environment.

Came across this guy strutting down the trail on a short walk before sunset. Immediately regretted not capturing Catherine's reaction at this moment instead.

Sunset on the hills.

The campsite.

After our evening hike, Catherine said, "Can you beLIEVE I've had these hiking boots for eleven years?" I allowed as how they had held up remarkably.
One mile later, we could believe that the boots were eleven years old, yes.

This is the view from the top of the "hill" where we ate lunch at a scenic overlook. The word "overlook" is kind of charged for all time, isn't it? Brr, hedge animals.

The view from the top of the most gorgeous section of the trail, as you are about to see up close.

After another couple of miles, the soles were flapping like the '20s, so we had to surgically excise them, which caused a marked shift in Catherine's demeanor.

When we got to the bottom, there was this grove of trees that had the most beautiful selection of colors we saw for the entire hike. To wit:

Catherine took this one, the best shot yet.

Which, of course, inspired me to go nuts on that theme. Here's my best.

And we took a few dozen more, but you can only post so many pictures of nature sans explosions, so I'll just close out on the happy couple.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Went out on 6th Street last night dressed as The Idea, the hero of my upcoming comic-book series.

You can't kill an idea, Evey.

Dig the old school yellow insignia.

Blending in beside Beetlejuice and three ladies of questionable repute.

The Idea can cling to walls.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


It's been a great weekend. Last night, we had killer Indian food and then went to see Wes Anderson's new one, THE DARJEELING LIMITED. I enjoyed the first couple of acts but then everything really kicked in for the third and really impressed me. And hey, India. But when we bought our tickets, there was a small little sign on the box office that said COME MEET JASON SCHWARTZMAN AFTER THE 7:15 SCREENING SATURDAY. Sign us up. We woke up, ate La Madeleine and caught the new ELIZABETH flick (decent, until the ridiculous finish, memorable only for the improbable return of that white horse that's been missing ever since disappearing from Sarah Palmer's living room 16 years ago)(turns out he can swim) and MICHAEL CLAYTON, which was pretty tight and right, even though they probably could have sold even more tickets if they'd gone ahead and called it GEORGE CLOONEY and that would've been a little closer to the mark. Tom Wilkinson did tear it up.

Anyways, it's obviously movie season. We rolled back up to the Arbor after dinner and got to catch Max Fischer himself do an entertaining Q&A with the audience. He talked about the process of writing the movie with Anderson and Coppola, how even he didn't know why Anderson made him go barefoot for 4 months of filming, and how great India really is. Also told a story about Bill Murray knocking on his door at 10 at night, Schwartzman's already in his PJs and has a 6AM call, Murray's going over to eat dinner with all these Janes, S is like No no, I can't go, then Murray gives him a hangdog look and Fischer's like, That's fucking Dr Peter Venkman, what's WRONG with me? so throws his clothes on and stays out until 3. Paid for it the next long day of shooting, but it was worth it, of course.

A funny part was the people rolling in for the 9 o'clock showing, a few clearly buzzed, all quite surprised to see one of the film's stars holding court down in front with a microphone.

Then the mob descended for autographs and photo opps. He could not have been nicer, there was no kind of line or anything, just a crowd of people horning their way in, but he kept it civil and joked around with everybody, stayed past the time just so no one would be disappointed. I brought my RUSHMORE VHS tape and it turned out that it still had the original ticket stub from '99 in there, so that was quite cool to get signed "THANK YOU SO SO SO MUCH!" Super-nice guy.

On the way out, we even got to shake hands with Harry and Quint from Ain't It Cool. Harry moderated the event. Good vibes all around. We were still out in the lobby bullshitting with them about movies and comics and then Schwartzman came out and told Harry what a great great time he'd had, was still rapping with Harry when we left. I got a picture for you, Stew.

So yes, friends, Max Fischer is one of you. And he promises that FANTASTIC MR. FOX, Anderson's next project (with freaking Clooney as Mr Fox) will be the best thing anyone has ever seen . . . ever.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


So, Catherine and I are in Central TX, she's giving a couple of trainings in Glen Rose and Cleburne. Been a busy week (hell, a busy summer, I haven't made it over here in 2 months!) but Sunday night we needed to watch 1408 before we left on Monday, as it was due at Blockbuster and what not. Well, I had a meeting and it wasn't until it was 9:00 and we were strapped in ready to hit Play that I realized that we were about to watch a horror movie right before bedtime, something she never does. Pretty much dodges the genre in general. So, I asked her if she realized what she was getting into. She did not but proceeded with courage, pretty freaked out for the first hour with all the creeping scary stuff before they went over-the-top big-budget and removed all the dread that the movie had been excelling at. Not that I didn't dig the ride. But you know, for a while there it was actually really scary, then they overdid it, and it was just a story. Not REAL, I'm saying. Anyway, movie finished and Catherine said, maybe we shouldn't have watched this "tonight of all nights" (take a drink if you're playing the 24 Drinking game), as we had booked a room at the Glen Inn, a bed'n'breakfast off the beaten path. She figured, Why stay at the Best Western again? I laughed and said that it was perfect that we'd watched it.

SO, we rolled up Monday afternoon and walked into this great giant house with a huge lobby and hardwood floors and stairs leading up two stories and a lady in the back who happily informed us that we were THE ONLY ONES booked to stay there for the next two nights and it was fine if we wanted to watch whatever on the massive TV in the living rm (HEROES, check!) and then told us the whole sordid story of how this place used to be a hangout for druggies and the city let this homeless bum squat for the monthly rent of $300 (and, here obviously, one must pause to note that if the dude was making these payments more than once or twice, then he had graduated from being either Homeless or a Bum and had gone on to being a Drug Dealer who'd lucked onto one of the sweetest deals of all time) and apparently the place used to deal with the overflow from the Sanitarium next door back in the 30s or 40s, so suffice to say the place had a checkered history. Then she told us, don't worry, she was going home but her husband was going to be upstairs in Rm 32, he was spending the night, so it wasn't like we were going to be here ALL BY OURSELVES, at which point Catherine turned to me with saucer-eyes. Then, the lady handed Catherine the key and said she upgraded us to a rm with a TV in it, why not? We were the only ones there. "Which room was that?" Catherine asked. "Room 13," she said without batting an eye.


So, we crept upstairs and dropped our stuff off and then drove into Granbery for this killer chicken at a place called Babe's that will become legendary before long, mark my words, but the owners recommended it (and here I should point out that they were as nice as could be, no Bates vibe whatsoever) and we were driving back laughing and laughing about everything until Catherine pointed out that basically the last 2 hours matched up perfectly to the first act of your standard horror movie, no problem. Then, I was the only one laughing.

We got back and hit the access code to the locked front door (our zip code, natch) and let ourselves into the place. The owners were not present. The lights were down in the lobby. Best yet, the CD player was running a medium Billie Holiday tune, which the finest Stephen King and episodes of CARNIVALE have conditioned us to expect that all manner of ugliness is about to unfold at any moment. We creeeeept upstairs to Rm 13 and read until it was time for HEROES and then went down and watched it, and the Nightmare Man stuff was definitely freakier in that setting and . . . that's all. Sorry. No one jumped out and attacked us. We went upstairs and locked the door (and chained it, and locked the door to the bathroom, b/c there's a locked door in it leading . . somewhere) and I finished THE KILLER INSIDE ME. I COULD hear this weird symphonic music coming from a corner in our room for a few minutes, and it was kind of otherworldly, but that kind of thing happens with some regularity.

But, right before I went to sleep, I unlocked the bathroom and folded the roll of toilet paper just like whatever lived in 1408 had. So that that would be there for Catherine when she woke up.

We're checking out tomorrow. It's almost 1:00 as I write this . . .



Friday, August 17, 2007


It was a hot but very fine night to see Rufus Wainwright ply his craft in the backyard of Stubb’s BBQ. He freaking opened with the tune I was probably most looking forward to, the eponymous final track on his new album, rocking the horns and the kind of SNL/Motown flavor he first touched upon with 14th Street. Put that song to bed, killer opening. And what he was wearing had to be a deliberate crime against fashion, this striped number, really short shorts and a matching jacket, orange and green and white and blue. It was awesomely hideous. Followed the first tune with Going To A Town, probably my least favorite on the album. America upsets me at times too, but that number’s just no fun. Powered on with all new tunes, eight total before the intermission. Which is cool, you know, he’s toured heavily so might as well play the new stuff. That Sanssouci was third, great one there. When he started in on Tulsa, I thought it was Art Teacher, those tunes must both be in Eb. He played for an hour, then took an intermission.

Came back out (so to speak, yah-hah) in the lumberjack lederhosen he apparently picked up in Bavaria and they were a grand sight. Opened with Harvester of Hearts, another one I’m not in love with, but followed up with Do I Disappoint You, which he really tore up. Kept the Martha background vocals from the album, and how could he not? Then he let his inner Dorothy shine and sang a couple of numbers accompanied only by piano, A Foggy Day and another Garland tune I didn’t catch the name of. Impassioned solo rendition of Nobody Gets Off the Hook, followed by an excellent Beautiful Child, which I really felt owed, as his drummer completely fractured that tune during the encore when we saw them last time at La Zona Rosa in 3/04. He played the last two songs off the new album that he hadn’t played, that’s right EVERY damn tune got aired, I’ve never seen that in all my years, no, then he did this killer Irish ballad, sounded like Meshuggah (well, less Lovecraftian probably, but those were the phonetics) and then thanked us all for coming out and busted out 14th Street, which he tore up. Every member left the stage until it was just the banjo player. Killer rendition.

Obligatory encore for the sold-out crowd, of course. He came out in a bathrobe and told us all he was naked under there and then played I Don't Know What It Is solo; I did miss the loping McCartney bass on that one, usually supplied my Mr. Jeff Hill. Next was Pretty Things and Complainte de la Butte, the latter of which was especially gorgeous. Over the course of all this, he applied lipstick, then at the end of Butte, he jumped up and threw off his bathrobe to reveal not his johnson but a coat and panty-hose, kind of a Liza Minnelli Cabaret thing, he donned a top hat then had his poor band run out and do their best in a synchronized dance number while he sang Get Happy to, seems like, a backing track. Jazz hands and everything, it was hilarious. Haven’t seen choreography that awesome since Hot For Teacher. It was a spectacle, I tell you what. Great performance, over two hours of music in the hot Austin night.

Set List:

Release the Stars
Going to a Town
Rules and Regulations
Leaving for Paris No. 2
Between My Legs


Harvester of Hearts
Do I Disappoint You?
Foggy Day
Judy Garland #
Nobody's Off the Hook
Beautiful Child
Not Ready To Love
14th Street

I Don't Know What It Is
Pretty Things
Complainte de la Butte
Get Happy


Last day. Tough choice at 10:30, too. Go hear Neil Gaiman and Darwyn Cooke and others talk about how awesome Jack Kirby is or hit the DC panel in which Morrison, Johns, Dini, Reis, Pacheco etc discuss the Big Guns, the major heroes of the universe. I mean, Morrison or Gaiman. What a bitch. We wound up splitting the difference, the X-Men panel later was going to be in the room with the DC guys, so we hit Gaiman first, heard a great 5-minute monologue/anecdote about Kirby’s impact on him through British reprints of 60s Marvel, then excused ourselves down the way to hear Grant Morrison respond to a multitude of FINAL CRISIS questions with “Dogs will eat dogs. Wolves roaming the streets. Worms everywhere. Final Crisis!” which was really hilarious with that accent. Can't freaking wait for that book.

Then we hung out for the X-Men, or I guess, Mutants panel. Brubaker was on hand along with Carey (announced as having killed Cable, I don’t believe it for a second) and Way and Peter David. No big revelations here. Some cool Silvestri art for Messiah Complex. Way kind of came off like a dick, further justifying my decision to drop ORIGINS. David was funny. Brubaker worked in like four CRIMINAL plugs, which was also amusing. This one guy asked a question that was more of a paragraph on how great the entire line of books is right now and, lo and behold, it was Jason Street from FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, just another incognito fan, loving on the X-books. Cool little moment, there.

Then we hit the FABLES panel. Willingham and Buckingham and co. were all there and walked us through a page of FABLES, what it takes to create it, every step of the way, choosing the most recent at the time, pg. 22 of, I think #63. They also gave out a free one-page comic. It was all cool, but man, we was fried.

That one let out at 2, and we were done with official business. Time to hit the floor one last time, get pictures of the Vader masks and Batman and Droids LEGOS, and find some damn comics! Which it was fun to do, after all that other. I asked everybody for FLEX MENTALLO, most people hadn’t even heard of it, will Atlas ever let the TPB happen? What is the deal? Found a great dollar bin and scored some old BATMAN annuals, including #11 by Moore, that wacked out Clayface story, along with the first NEW MUTANTS annual that I’ve somehow never read, and a $3 reprint of ACTION COMICS #1. Figured I’m never going to be able to see every page of THAT one cheaper, so what the hey.

And then we were done. It was kind of sad, looking around and realizing it was time to leave the Convention Center. I told Catherine we could stay another couple of hours and keep thumbing through bins, but no takers. Took quite a few pictures:

Batman made out of LEGOS

The prototype Iron Man armor from the upcoming movie starring Downey Jr. as Stark. Looks amazing.

Black Lightning.

Finally left and went down to the beach with Paul and Lane and got some killer seafood and wine and beer and then went out to this seriously longass pier and toasted the sunset with whiskey and wine.

Then went down to the beach to just get our feet wet but that wasn’t enough so Paul and I swam out into it, dove as hard as I could into wave after wave, to make them batter off the parts of me that weren’t strong enough to hold on, planes taking off and flying right over our heads, one of them heading out right in the direction of Hawaii which was so perfect, the beach and the sound of the Pacific crashing in and all. Goodbye, San Diego.

Drumbeat cut, white letters over black screen.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


So, wiped. We didn’t want to make anything until the HEROES panel at 12:45 but knew that Saturday was going to be crazy. However, we forgot to trill our r’s in a high voice when we said c-r-r-r-r-r-azy. Got some great burritos with Paul and Lane, sauntered into the Convention Center just before 11, plenty of time we figured, but it was the One True Madness. Ballroom 20 was the hot ticket of the day. They were screening the Bionic Woman pilot with the cast, then HEROES, then the Women of Battlestar Galactica, then the cast of Futurama, then Joss Whedon. When we rolled in, the line stretched so far back that we followed it almost the entire way around the Center. A few minutes later, the line lapped itself. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people. I hung out for half an hour then went to go get in line for the JH Williams Spotlight at 12:30. Then they tried to disperse the line outside Ballroom 20, told people they had to right no stand there. In America! Well, Catherine was having none of it and managed to claim a place after hundreds of lesser faith bailed. But the HEROES were lost to us. They trotted out Kevin Smith and said he was going to write and direct an episode of ORIGINS. He said that he wanted to figure out a way to sandwich the two gay Japanese guys in there. When asked what his favorite part of the season was, Mohindir said “Surviving it.” which led Nathan Petrelli to quip “We signed on for a show called HEROES, but none of us realized we were really joining the cast of Survivor.” And the PA started squealing and no one could fix it so Hiro jumped down to fix things. And then gave Sylar trouble for not being able to do the Live Long & Prosper with his right hand.

And there’s lots of other great stuff they said and did. We didn’t get in. But at least we dodged the Season 2 clips they showed.

The JH Williams panel was solid entertainment. I sat on the front row, ten feet at most from Grant Morrison, who was there to discuss their collaboration on SEVEN SOLDIERS. One of the best panels I was lucky enough to catch, felt bad that Catherine had to miss it waiting in line. It was especially interesting when PROMETHEA came up and GM did an impression of Moore calling Williams up to tell him he had the gig. The PowerPoint presentation of the art looked amazing all blown up, shots of Batman and the seven mystery men from Slaughter Swamp who all looked like GM and some truly choice pages from PROMETHEA, including both sides of the cover to #32. The man truly is one of the best in the business. When asked why he bailed on DESOLATION JONES after the first arc, he just said that he accepted the gig thinking it was for him and decided that it wasn’t after six issues. Our loss, but certainly a professional answer. There were a million questions I wanted to ask Morrison, but didn’t want to slight Williams since it was his panel so just asked if they were going to pick up the stories of any of the 7 soldiers, or even do the concepts like GM did with ATOM or METAL MEN last week. Williams said that he had a pitch in for one as a writer (!) but wouldn’t specify. Morrison said he’d love to “but I can’t write EVERYthing!” Never occurred to me to bring stuff for those guys to sign, I blew it on PROMETHEA #1 and anything by GM, but still went up and shook GM’s hand, thanked him for the inspiration, I had written a lot of words on his fuel, he gave me a “Keep AT it, brother!” in his Scottish accent, which brought one Desmond David Hume to mind and made me all kinds of happy.

Made it back to Catherine. Got let in just in time for the GALACTICA panel. Showrunner Ronald Moore of ST:TNG fame came out with Starbuck and Caprica 6 and Lucy Lawless (because she’s so much more than just D’Anna) and Rose Darko herself, the President of the Human Race, Laura Roslin, Miz Mary McDonnell. They were all entertaining enough talking about the show as they head into the homestretch. Showed a clip from the RAZOR movie that should be excellent this Thanksgiving. (Stew, if you haven’t caught up yet, do!, so worth it)

We hung out for the FUTURAMA panel, which didn’t crush me, though it was cool to see Groening in person joking about what a slow weekend he was having.

Then, Joss. It was crazy, he just came out with nothing really to tout except the release of a SERENITY DVD. But then he dropped some crazy news. It looks like he’s going forward with the BBC on a RIPPER movie starring Tony Head, huge for Giles fans. Can’t wait for that. And he’s written the greatest horror movie of all time, his words, with the new wonderboy of writing Drew Goddard, a little number called THE CABIN IN THE WOODS. Wouldn’t say anything else about that, but that’s pretty enticing on title and writing talent alone (to say nothing of the hyperbole). Says he’s still focusing the totality of his energy into THE GONERS. Wants to write Buffy comics for the rest of his life. Goddard’s doing the next arc after BKV. As noted, we had just powered through the entire run of BUFFY and all but the last season of ANGEL so we could read the comics and not have anything spoiled for us. Did people ask about the comics? Did they talk about Buffy? No. All anyone wanted to know about was damn ANGEL 5! It started out all right at first. Someone asked who his favorite character of all to write was. I figured it had to be Mal. But, no, someone we’d never frakking heard of. Illyria. Then he explained who she was and how Amy reading Lady Capulet at the Sunday Shakespeare readings at his place was the genesis of the whole thing. And, yeah, pretty big thing in Season 5, apparently. The second half, looks like. Then the dude got up and dropped the Wesley bomb last, big shame, but we still don’t know a huge chunk of what goes down. (only 11 episodes left, as of this writing)

Then back up Fifth to rest, it was 6. Ate leftovers. Powered some red wine. Went back down to catch Warren’s Q&A at 9. There was a Buffy screening, but it didn’t look like anybody was going to be there and since we just watched them all anyway, Catherine joined me.

I laughed my ass off at that thing, like really fell out of the chair a few times, and there’s no way to do it justice, his accent saying those words just falling like a steel trap on the unwary. I hit him with the influences question, knew he loved Moorcock but was surprised that he was a big Kerouac fan, I asked what besides ON THE ROAD, he said DESOLATION ANGELS was the best one, to which I just told him “excellent” and walked away, just finished that one a few weeks ago myself. This is a better summation by someone who actually took notes:


(I’m there at #11, and #13 was certainly the best news of Saturday, would’ve been the whole convention if not for Morrison)

Okay, no wait, someone asked him for his best Alan Moore anecdote. He thought about it then said he rang AM up one day to see how he was doing and (in an even better impression than Gaiman or Morrison) said "I'm excellent, Warren. I've changed my diet." "Oh? How?" "I used to smoke sixty spliffs a day and eat one meal. Now. I smoke twenty spliffs a day and eat three meals. And I feel wonderful."

And, you know, I always suspected, but there you have it.

Catherine was falling asleep by the time it was done and it WAS a very dense 2 hours. We trudged up the madness of downtown Fifth Avenue at midnight. Saw Cobra Commander and Destro doing some crazy disco dancing while selling food on a street corner. Everything looked and sounded garbled and strange.

We finally made it back to Paul's. She passed out, I took a little nap then got up and had Guinness with Paul when he got home. Only one more day left.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


Got up at 9 to Paul making us eggs and bacon, above and beyond the call. Shoved those down then hauled ass down Fifth because they were giving away the tickets to get Warren Ellis’s 2:00 signature at 10:30, the same time as the panel with all seven Image founders. So Catherine went and got the ticket and I sat and watched the Image Seven stroll in one by one and it was pretty cool. It’s very fashionable to blame these guys and their upstart company for the massive dip in quality comics took as a whole in the 90s, and some of the blame is certainly well-placed, but at the time I remember it being like three Tom Cruises and a few Anthony Edwardses starting up their own Airborne Division. They might not’ve been the Navy but by God they sure tore it up with that initial aircraft carrier. I was close enough to hear what they were saying while milling about waiting for it to start. Coolest thing was easily Liefeld walking up next-to-last, shaking hands, looking around and asking too casually “Where’s Jim?” So much went into those two syllables, friendship and competition and insecurity and affection, it was crushing. Then the panel started. McFarlane talked 70-80% of the time, which was kind of funny when Silvestri would call him out on it every ten minutes or so. Catherine showed up with the Warren ticket, we watched for a while, then took off to damn Hall H.

Here, a mistake. They were showing a bunch of other movies I didn’t care about previewing, the Kidman Invasion flick and Beckinsale in Rucka’s WHITEOUT and a couple others, running from 10:30-12, so silly me, I figured it was early enough in the morning, we could catch the first half of Image, get the Warren ticket, then make it into H by 11:30 or so, in time to watch Snyder take questions about WATCHMEN, which of course I care about quite a bit. Not so, of course. There were hundreds of people in line sitting outside H, no chance of being let in, but just sitting there anyway, in case Crudup showed up as Dr. Manhattan and displaced half the crowd, I guess. That was the thing, the cast got announced. Bad News Little Child Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach, by far the most inspired casting. He showed up with Akerman, the chick they got to play Laurie, never heard of her. And the guy for Comedian seems solid, too. The worst part was later, I saw some dude with a giant poster, a cover that never was, the logo up the left like always and a killer POV as he’s decking the Comedian, sending his cigar flying, a picture of Nixon and Blake up on the wall next to a newspaper article about Jon with the old Who Watches . . tag. Gibbons drew it up special. 3.6.09, children.

So, too bad to miss that. Richard Kelly was doing a signing at 11, got held up because the Rock was stuck in traffic but they let the people who didn’t care about his sig go through, so I got to shake hands with the man who gave us DONNIE DARKO, he signed my Director’s Cut liner notes and we were off to the ungodly line for a chance, a CHANCE, to get a ticket to get in line later for Gaiman autographs. It was insane. Catherine stayed there when Joe Quesada’s panel started. I went and found out that Marvel stole Jimenez away from DC and the awful news that Ramos is going to draw RUNAWAYS when Whedon’s run is over, so that’s one monthly off my list (still pissed about X-MEN #200, should’ve been a classic). DC was mocked. Catherine showed up and said she was unable to draw a winning ticket. I would’ve stayed if we’d understood the system, so I took off and waited a half hour for a shot. And drew a winning ticket! We were to be allowed to line up for Neil! Joy.

Quesada finished. We stayed in the room for a presentation on the Spider-Man animated series, which looked all right. But the reason was to get solid third row seating for the 2:00 Spotlight on Gaiman. And he tore it up.

It was like when you’re at a festival seeing pretty good bands, then the superstars start playing and you’re like “Yes, THIS is why we’re here.” Came out in typical leather jacket and mussed hair. Joked that he might should’ve prepared something, seeing as there were 6,000 of us. My favorite part was him recounting the tale of how Alan Moore dubbed him Scary Trousers (available in a slightly different form, and worth checking out, here: I asked him what stories or authors cut into him as a child and made him know that he was in fact destined to be a master storyteller. He cited Roger Zelazney and Samuel Delaney among others, but I can’t remember them, because he was looking me in the eyes and it was pretty wild. Plenty of other great bits, talked about how someone gave him a Tori Amos tape at the Con in ’91 because she wrote that first song about him and how they got to be friends from that. Said DEATH might actually happen, but he’d be the last to know. And that Gilliam still wants to make GOOD OMENS if someone’ll just give him $70 million. Can’t believe we live in a world where no one will.

Neil finished at 3 and now we had to hurry because Warren was done signing at 4 and Neil was done at 4:15 and we had to get them both. Went over and was surprised to see no line for Ellis. I trooped up, bought his new novel, and got him to sign that as well as PLANETARY #26. He was so nice and subdued, I wasn’t sure what to make of it, really threw me. I expected him to bawl me out for choosing #26! Not quite as ornery in person. I told him what an accomplishment PLANETARY was and he said “Oi jest make shit up, ‘m glad yew loiked it!” Heartening exchange. Went and joined Catherine in line for Neil. Called Stew back.

Got Neil to sign SANDMAN #1 (he drew lines of energy radiating out from McKean’s Morpheus eyes, too) and thanked him for everything, shook hands, even.

Then went to the Vertigo panel with maybe 20 creators on stage, including the FABLES guys and Mike Carey. No BKV, though. He’s trapped in a room, dictating island goodness! It was fine. We were cashed.

Walked back to Paul’s at 5:30. Drank some wine, I had a Guinness, then we got a little dressed-up and got these amazing fish tacos take out from this place Paul recommended and ate them in line for the Eisners, which started at 8:30, really 8:45. And they were fun, but much more slipshod than I would’ve figured, PowerPoint presentations messing up and such. Brian Poseyn was awesome, delivering an entire group of nominations in Klingon. A couple guys from RENO 911 were pretty funny. But the killer was Gaiman and Johnathan Ross, this English chap who assured us he was a massive celebrity from across the pond but not to worry, he loves comics more than he loves to masturbate and he really does love a good wank. He expounded on this theme to the point that Gaiman was reduced to absolute laughter and the rest of us were in the aisles. Earlier, a couple of women reenacted the Madonna/Britney kiss to honor all the women nominees and the rise of “queer comics” in general (how this actually honored them, I can’t say). But Ross thought it would be funny to badger Neil into doing same, so we did actually witness mouth-to-mouth between the two. It was pretty hilarious. Almost made up for Morrison not showing up to collect the Eisner for ALL-STAR SUPERMAN, which would have been a hell of a speech at 11:30, I wot.

Home, home to bed. That second day really took it out of us.


Huge news of the day: I've been wishing they'd cancel ASTONISHING X-MEN after Whedon/Cassaday are done because I honestly can't see who could top it. Warren Ellis and Simone Bianchi are the best candidates that I can come up with. Should be great.

Huger, yet: Morrison. JG Jones. FINAL CRISIS. May 2008. Best. Event. Ever.

To Be Continued . . .