Stewart R: While a huge day for attendance at the New York Comic Convention, the third day proved to be something of a quieter, subtler affair for me as I sought to avoid the crowded areas that I'd endured the previous two days and aimed to spend as little time queuing as possible.
An early-ish visit to Artist Alley (I'd delayed our entrance to the con by being slow on getting my Day Two review written - oops!) paid off thanks to meeting one of my writing heroes, Batman And Robin and former Green Lantern Corps scribe Peter J. Tomasi. I was relieved to hear from the man himself that he has Batman And Robin planned out through to December of 2014 at least with regular artist Patrick Gleason a lock too and so my fix of emotionally-charged Batman crime-fighting is guaranteed for more than a year!
Looking around the hall it was easy to see that some of the bigger names had very busy schedules for the day with a fair few signs stating 'List Full' or giving details of signing times and appearances. Joe Madureira was away once again, though to be honest I'd forgotten to pack my Battle Chasers #1 and my wallet is not going to stretch far enough for a sketch from him on this trip. I did manage to get Jonathan Hickman's signature on my issues of FF #17 and East Of West #1 which Nick Dragotta had signed previously, but he seemed a little rushed and I get the feeling that both his and Dragotta's signing hands may be a little sore after a very busy weekend for them.
It was time to head to my first panel of the day and while I don't pick up a huge amount of their titles I was interested to see what Avatar had to offer in their hour. What followed was a very interesting insight into creator opinion of a publisher who encourages the pushing of boundaries and extremes in their work. The panel was packed with truly top talent: Kieron Gillen, Mike Costa, Simon Spurrier, Canaan White and World War Z author Max Brooks were all involved and all contributed to an amusing, relaxed and enlightening hour. Gillen got to speak about the concept of his new science fiction cop series Mercury Heat and it certainly sounds like a book I'll be looking out for in the new year. We learnt that Simon Spurrier's Disenchanted - a book he semi-jokingly described as 'The Borrowers meets The Wire' - has been four years in the making and that there will be a map of the city available online and the scale of it is something to behold. The web series will be going live every Monday in a similar fashion to the brilliant Crossed: Wish You Were Here which has been released every Thursday and I can't wait to have two portions of Spurrier magic to read each week.
It really was a panel of guys who really do like to talk, yet even the usually expressive Gillen and Spurrier were put into the shade by the effervescent Max Brooks who went into engrossing depth on what he's been trying to accomplish with his vampire/zombie title Extinction Parade and where his inspiration for such an idea arose from. I doubt I would have even bothered to look at the book before sitting in on the panel, yet Brooks has managed to sell me on the concept and I shall definitely be heading over to the Avatar booth today to pick up the three issues that have been released so far.
The East Of West panel was next on the list and the room was packed out with fans eager to hear Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta speak about their experiences on the book, vague future plans - as with most of his projects Hickman knows where it will end and 35 - 50 issues is the scope depending on sales and the writing process - and how they came up with the idea for the sci-fi western hit. It was interesting to hear that Hickman doesn't fill out huge complete scripts for Dragotta to follow, allowing the artist to just work with high concept ideas or simple notes at times and both stated that this was one of the biggest positives of creator-owned working with Image books. Dragotta was also very honest about his abilities and the ways in which his designs have made the process easier for him over time - Death's robot steed was initially drawn with a skeletal head which would prove too difficult to replicate on a regular basis.
The applause from that panel subsiding in my ears I decided that queuing for an hour at least to possibly get into the AMC Walking Dead panel was not likely to be a worthwhile use of the remaining day and so I tackled the area of the main convention hall known as The Block which caters for the more intriguing side of the merchandising spectrum. I came across a stall called Ninja Ink where one comic in particular caught my eye. I thumbed through, loved what I saw and dug into my pocket for the necessary $5. Upon presenting it to the guy behind the stall he informed me that it wasn't for sale as they were just the printers and it was their only example copy!
Him: "...but the girls who wrote and drew it have their stall just a few rows over from here actually..."
A few minutes later I was stood at the Violator Union stall and had a copy of the book in my hands. Hooray for New York Comic Con!
My high spirits were then lifted further when I stumbled across artist Nathan Fox signing copies of the Scholastic Books title Dogs Of War which I've been excited about since the early part of the year when I watched Nathan penciling and inking his work live via stream. A brief conversation revealed that he too would be attending Leeds' Thought Bubble convention in November and that's now three creators (Sean Murphy and Simon Spurrier being the other two) who have asked if I was attending the much loved UK con since I've been in New York. Tell you what folks, I'm starting to seriously consider it again!