So here we are, Monday morning and Comic Con has come and gone. Now that the festivities are over and we’ve had some time to rest our battered feet, we can look back and digest the wonderful weekend.

Wednesday evening we were abuzz with activity, charging camera batteries, printing artwork, putting sodas in the fridge and loading backpacks. At this point, Krystle only had confirmation on vacation for Thursday and Sunday, so we were determined to make the most of it. We had a list of panels we wanted to see, plus backups in case those filled up. The warm San Diego night and the excitement before Comic Con kept us from getting too much sleep, but we woke up right on time at 7am the next morning. With virtually everything ready to go, all we had to do was eat breakfast, get coffee, and head out!

We arrived right on time, with badges in hand–this year, because badges were mailed instead of picked up upon arrival. They were giving them out upstairs in the Sails Pavilion, but we found a booth giving away their own lanyards on the way, so we grabbed those instead. First we wandered the floor which wasn’t too terribly crowded, and wove our way through Artist Alley and the Small Press section. My friend Vince (who goes by PunchyNinja online) was set up in Small Press at his usual booth for 17 Machine Studios (which produces the comic book Native Drums). We chatted and I introduced Krystle to everyone, and picked up their trade paperback which was really cool.

Later we sat in on an Indie Comics panel and tried (but failed) to get into the Voltron panel. After that, we did manage to get into a panel about Inkers, Colorists and Letterers, which was informative and entertaining. While we were in that panel, Krystle missed a call from work. We were dreading the news, but when she listened to the voicemail, her vacation had finally been totally approved, and she’d be free for the whole four days! We were very excited and finished out the day by roaming the show floor and buying a few more comics and figurines. Eventually we made our way out of Downtown because I had to go to the office and do a couple hours work. A late dinner and a quick drive home, we arrived just after midnight and scrambled to get prepped for Friday.

Friday morning we woke up a little later, and headed to Advanced Digital Inking with Brian Haberlin, which was also very cool. He couldn’t say enough good things about Manga Studio/Clip Studio, but also had some good tips for Photoshop brushes and some quick-and-dirty cleanup techniques. Our next panel was an Artgerm/Stanley Lau art panel, and it wasn’t so much an educational panel as it was an informal Q+A session with him while he demonstrated some of his techniques, in painting and linework. It was really fun to watch him work, and inspiring to know that the advice he gave was in line with our current strategies for growth and improvement. We wanted to stay for Drawing with Adam Hughes and Jim Lee, but by this time we were starving and were forced to go to lunch.

Upon our return, we saw more of the show floor, and then attended a Reunion of the Firefly Art Department panel (just for my personal pleasure) and following that a panel on the Psychology of Villains, which wasn’t at all a bad panel, but not what I expected; we thought it was going to be something along the lines of writing believable villains with regard to actual psychological factors, but it actually had more to do with real life people’s psychological profiles and the characters they were likely to enjoy based on that. Still a fun panel, though. That ran until 9pm, so we didn’t get back to our car until around 10, and then home around 11 after a quick dinner.

Saturday morning was going to see us attempting to visit two major panels, but we knew in advance that we would probably have to wait in line long enough that we’d have to pick which one to attend. Being exhausted, we slept in about an hour and decided that the Avatar panel would just have to wait until another year for us. But, we got right into an early DC panel about Rebirth, which was pretty neat. That folded right into a DC panel with Jim Lee and Dan DiDio, the Co-Editors, who basically wanted to know from the fans what DC should be doing. Always cool to see a company be invested in its readership.

So then the big panel of the day began, with Zagtoon presenting the Miraculous Ladybug panel. Ezra Weiss, Jeremy Zag, Thomas Astruc, and a couple producers and a handful of the main voice actors were present, and people went nuts! They spoiled quite a bit, and encouraged us to all take photos and video of anything and everything, which, in my mind is doing PR right! Thomas was really great, he was super happy to be there and was just grinning the whole time. There was to be a signing later, which we weren’t able to get in to, but as luck would have it, things took a turn for the better. An impromptu photoshoot with the entire Zag crew and the cosplayers was announced, so we headed that way to wait. At first, we thought we were in the wrong place, because no one showed up, but then suddenly the crowd descended.

I was able to approach Ezra Weiss, Jeremy Zag, Andre Lake Mayer, Keith Silverstein and Thomas Astruc himself to show them the fan-comic cover I’d been working on (although disappointingly it was still only a work in progress).

BlowOut_Cover_Final

(Sidenote: This will be our next comic worked on! We hope to draw it alongside TaN!)

They all had great reactions to it, including Thomas who took one look at it, said, “I saw that online, you drew that?” Very cool, very encouraging! He was a class act, he really was. Chatted with fans about San Diego and getting to go up to Marvel Studios and such. I shook his hand and congratulated him on the success of his show, and he graciously took a selfie with me (even insisting I retake the shot after I botched the first one, when I said I didn’t want to hold him up and waste his time).

Lots of photos of the cosplay crowd were had, and later at Andre Lake Mayer’s suggestion I showed my comic cover to the people at the Zagtoon booth. At this point we were starving again and got a quick lunch, then did some show floor scouting for planned purchases. Our last panel of the day was with Action Labs Entertainment, doing a brief overview of the projects they have going on right now, as well as upcoming comics. We made sure to leave right after that panel so we could get home and prep for our last day, as well as for the Portfolio Review on Sunday.

Exhausted as we were, we managed to get up a little early and get out the door with time to spare. We arrived right as the show opened and we hoofed it to the Sails Pavilion to sign up for Portfolio Review. Krystle split off to go see the panel with Gene Yang while I waited to be called for portfolio review. The review went amazingly well, and I got some really good advice from Shawn Gabborin, the Editor-In-Chief of Action Labs Comics! He had great things to say, and fair criticisms of my work, and he also gave examples of what he’d like to see in my art. So it was very positive, very constructive. I left feeling really enthusiastic, and ready to double down at the drawing desk to improve my work. We spent the rest of the day traversing the show floor and making a few purchases, I headed back to Punchy’s booth and chatted with him some more about comics and talked with Chuck about writing and their background on Native Drums. About a half hour before Comic Con came to a close, Krystle and I found a spot to sit down and we rested our feet for a while, we were just about at our tolerance limits for walking.

Once the show ended, we were back to shuffling through the floor towards the front, slowly pushing our way towards the street. The trolley ride back to our car was taking quite a toll on our feet (standing room only!) and our backpacks weighed down on us, but it was all worth it. Upon arriving home, I was inspired to start right in to drawing, but I was so tired I almost fell asleep in my chair. I decided a hot shower and an early bedtime would be prudent, since I had to go back to the day job the next morning. I think I was in bed around 10:30, and I was just out like a light. Now, I just need to email the SDCC organizers and let them know that I’d love for them to keep the educational panels going, since they’re so valuable to us aspiring illustrators. My feet and legs are still a little sore, but I’m really excited to be pushing forward with my art, and I’m looking forward to attending Long Beach Comic Con in a couple months (if we can afford it, of course).

What a great weekend, it was really an awesome four days!