I first attended San Diego Comic Con to promote my work in 2000. I walked around with the tour of fiends promoting the release of my first book Monster Museum and passed out postcards and stickers. I had my first booth in 2001 and grew from there. I feel proud to look at my humble beginnings (10x10 booth with one book and one shirt) to the MCP mega store that I ended on in 2009 (10x20 booth with 40 shirts, 18 books, prints, buckles, stickers, DVDs, CDs, and more). It was a fun and memorial decade at the con.
In 2010, I decided to not come back to SDCC for a number of reasons. The main reason was that I was working as Director on the development stage of my animated film Pinocchio. But it was more than that. The person I was throughout that past decade was no longer me and I didn't feel like I could do SDCC as I had in the past.
Fast forward one year. I was asked by the publisher of Baby Tattoo Books to be a guest at SDCC to promote the release of my new sketchbook Atrum Secretum (you can order the book here: MCP STORE).
We worked out the details and I announced my return in 2011 to the geekfest (drawing in way over 150,000 attendees). So how did it go?
I had two signings scheduled both Friday and Saturday. The grim buzz this year was the pre-sale of Atrum Secretum. AND...if you were the first 100 to purchase a book, you received a coupon to be redeemed for a sketch among the pages of the sketchbook.
I want to thank everyone for supporting independent publishers and the arts by picking up a copy of this book. At every signing, I was welcomed by a line of fiends. It's good to see that even without my own booth and relocated on the other side of the convention hall, the loyalty remains. I enjoyed meeting you all, drawing in each and every one of your books, and hearing your stories.
I was blown away by a specific tattoo shown to me by John. Why does this tattoo mean so much? About two years ago I went to see one of my favorite artists perform on my birthday. That artist is William Elliott Whitmore. After the show, a few of the attendees found themselves at a saloon across the street. I was identified by John (then a stranger) who found himself emotionally moved. It being his birthday as well, he saw his favorite musician perform and met his favorite artist. We spent the night drinking whiskey and celebrating our birthdays. This tattoo commemorates that evening with Whitmore's logo of the crow clinching a bottle of booze and a piece of my art. Now, wasn't that a sweet story?
John- I'm honored.
Other than my signings at the SDCC, I stayed as far as possible from the gaslamp where the event is held. A place where I can focus on work, peace of mind and focus on my friends who matter the most. The last couple years I attended SDCC, I felt a yearning to stay in a hotel secluded from the hustle and flow. But servicing and managing a booth made it problematic for me or the crew to stay at any distance. This year, I had the luxury of achieving this goal and resided at a little Polynesian paradise I like to frequent in the San Diego area. My girlfriend discovered this hotel which I quickly found an adoration for.
2010 marked the year of the Tiki for me. The MCP crew and I found ourselves searching out Tiki bars and Polynesian architecture all over. I even resurrected a Voodoo Island in my backyard with a Tiki bar, thatch huts, shrunken heads and Tiki sculptures. Although I can't fully relate to the tiki culture, I've fully embraced the darker side of Tiki...Grimly-fied. With that said, there is no other place i would rather stay in San Diego than this paradise. Many hours were spent in the pool or hot tub, sipping Caribbean drinks or just wondering around amongst the tropical plants and Tiki sculptures.
I ate a burrito the size of a baby!
Mornings were spent walking along the shore where we witnessed fish being caught, dogs defecating and pelicans defending their turf against unwelcome foul.
A couple of my MCP brothers joined up with us. We visited one of my favorite spots in San Diego, the Turf Club, for drinks and grilled steaks.
We had a Polynesian feast at Bali Hai. Afterwards, we jumped in the hot tub and listened to the Fab Four (who were performing at our hotel) covering the Beatles. A Martin Denny or Dick Dale cover band would have been more appropriate. But nothing beats witnessing my MCP brother, The Preacher, get sentimental over John Lennon songs.
When all was said and done, SDCC was productive and relaxing. We sold through most of the pre-sale copies of Atrum Secretum. It felt good not being completely tore up from the trip. We even swung by Tiki Highway at Don the Beachcombers on our way back for a kustom car/tiki art show.
I hope I continue to be a guest at SDCC from time to time. I feel like there is a family there, the Society of Grave Robbers, that will always welcome me no matter where my life takes me. I look forward to the day I am on a panel joined by Guillermo Del Toro, co-director Mark Gustafson, Producer Allison Abatte and musicians Nick Cave and Warren Ellis talking about Pinocchio.
Thanks to photographer Mark Berry for supplying event photos