Images © Todd Klein.
This year’s Baltimore Comic Con expanded to three days, but I wasn’t able to go on Friday. Early Saturday I drove from home to the Con hotel, and after checking in, walked over to the Baltimore Convention Center, arriving just after the show opened at 10 AM. Lots of others were going the same way.
This year the con is in a different, larger part of the Convention Center than previously, but the entry setup was the same: upstairs for panels and registration, downstairs to the large exhibit hall.
The Con graciously offered me a table this year, and I found it at “Fables Island,” our name for the grouping of a half dozen FABLES creators. Next to me was Bill Willingham, already chatting with fans and signing books. Behind us, on the other aisle were Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Andrew Pepoy and Barry Kitson. “I understand you’re under deadline pressure,” he said as we greeted each other, referring to an issue of FAIREST I’m lettering that has to go to the printer next week. “What else is new?” I answered. “But I’m ahead of the artist, so I’m fine.” The issue is being drawn by the terrific Russ Braun who was hard at work, not at the Con. I’d lettered all the pages he’d done layouts for, and would do the rest when I got them next week. After doing layouts, Russ goes back to produce finished tight pencils, so lettering over layouts gives me a way to get ahead of him a little.
Here’s my own table with my prints laid out for display. I sold 18 of them Saturday, and did lots of signing as well. The Con was busy, and quite a few folks came by to chat with me, so I had a fine time.
As an example, this charming father and daughter came by several times with things to sign, and I enjoyed talking to them, though I didn’t get their names. Each of them picked out a print to buy, too.
This gentleman came by early and asked if I would letter a title for his sketchbook, which I agreed to do. He was quite happy with it.
Comics reporter Heidi MacDonald stopped to say hi, I read her website “The Beat” often to find out what’s going on in the comics world.
As usual, many folks wore costumes, and this pair caught my eye, a modern Batman and (I think) Black Canary.
I stayed at my table most of the day, but did leave to walk around a little, stopping to say hi to artist Mike Manley, here showing off a commission piece. Though we’ve only met in person a few times, I feel like I know Mike pretty well from Facebook and a message board for comics folks he runs.
I should have packed a lunch, as the food area inside the exhibit hall had long lines, so instead I walked down to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor for a nice lunch outside with the U.S.S. Constitution as my view. Very hot and sunny. Then it was back to my table for a few hours.
The big event of the afternoon, and the main reason I wanted to be there, was the Last Fables Panel, which ran from 4 PM until after 6, and was well attended. Both FABLES and FAIREST will be ending next year, so this was to be the last of these popular panels. Bill explained two of his ideas for the panel had proved too expensive: a hot dog stand to feed everyone, and a TV chat show couch and desk setup instead of the usual long table, but he (with Mark Buckingham as co-host) first interviewed each other about how the Fables books had begun, then invited other guests to sit between them and talk. First up was FAIREST cover artist Adam Hughes. Adam is very funny, and I learned for the first time that he and Bill go back to their early days in comics working for the publisher Comico, where both also first met FABLES editor Shelly Bond. Shelly couldn’t be at the Con, but many nice things were said about her.
Paul Levitz was a surprise guest, at least to me, and talked about his support of Shelly’s vision for FABLES, and how, as publisher at the time, he felt strongly about supporting his creative teams. Paul also had other interesting things to say about running DC and working with everyone involved in making and selling comics.
Barry Kitson, occasional FABLES artist, talked about knowing Mark Buckingham in their early comics days in England, and his work on the book.
Another surprise guest was long-time DC marketing chief Bob Wayne, who Bill revealed was a key supporter of FABLES from the beginning, helping to promote the book, and getting it the support it needed to succeed, both at the company and from retailers. Bill described Bob as Shelly’s secret weapon in support of the book at DC.
Andrew Pepoy, the supporting inker on various Fables projects, talked about going from a fan talking to Bill at conventions to actually working on the books. Andrew gained a reputation as a fast and accurate inker able to help meet deadlines, as well as being a great guy we all enjoy working with.
Steve Leialoha, the main FABLES inker, talked about how he was hired to ink everyone on the book originally, when the plan was to have rotating pencillers. That plan fell through when, after finishing his pencils on the second story arc, “Animal Farm,” Mark Buckingham declared to Shelly that FABLES was HIS book, and he wanted to be the regular penciller from then on. Schedules being what they are, Steve has worked with other pencillers, and on the spinoff title JACK OF FABLES got to pencil and ink two issues himself, as well as illustrating the Fables novel “Peter and Max.”
I was the last one on the podium, and enjoyed talking about my work on the Fables books. And as Bill pointed out, I’m the only person other than Shelly Bond who has worked on every page of Fables comics, having lettered all of it, including the spinoffs that Bill didn’t write. Afterwards a fan was kind enough to get this group shot on my camera, which includes a rare photo of me that I actually like.
The big event of the evening was the Harvey Awards, but I had no reason to go this year, so I was able to have a quiet dinner and get to bed early. I appreciated that, as it had been a tiring if enjoyable day. I’ll report on Sunday when I can.