3:20 – OK, so I’m finally here. I found the hotel, registration, bathroom, and ballroom without a single wrong turn. I’m sitting waiting for the 3:30 thingy with Dick Locher to start.
I always feel kinda weird at things like these. I mean, no one is going to know who I am, despite the fact that my name tag reads “Andertoons.” What the hell was I thinking having that put on there? The woman who checked me in asked what it was, and I stammered “it’s my brand. And my website. Andertoons.com.” She had no freaking idea what I was talking about. I’m not much a meet & greet kinda guy, so wish me luck tonight.
3:28 – The thing with Elwood Smith is about to start. Sergio Aragones is talking to Lynn Johnston about ten feet away. Too weird.
3:29 – BTW, my nametag has both “New Member” and “First Timer” ribbons on it. I feel like a complete dork.
3:33 – Elwood Smith is starting his talk. There’s a lot of mic checking, etc…
3:41 – I just realized, where’s the Dick Locher thing?! Of course I’m happy to be digging me some Elwood, but this was unexpected. I know Mike is gonna be pissed he missed this.
3:42 – It’s interesting that people just shout out funny things here.
3:43 – Elwood is showing his high school yearbook artwork and lots of slides of early influences.
3:45 – Elwood reads touching passage his high school teacher penned in his yearbook. She begins it “Famous Artist – “, lauds his talents and predicts great success. Sergio yells out “I got the same letter!” Gotta Love him.
3:47 – Early stuff with a lot of cross-hatching.
3:50 – Now he’s talking about how he fell back in love with his roots (Herriman, Gallagher, Goldberg, etc…) and developed his current style.
3:51 – Pictures of his band. I’m not kidding. He also mentions that, like Herriman, he owns a Scottish Terrier and plays the mandolin. Aragones yells out that they also share the same wife. LOL! I’d love to be able to yell out stuff like that, but I’m so new here I think I’d be escorted out.
3:52 Now we’re into his work. Some early stuff for the Trib.
3:56 – Elwood talks about how he admires serious artists and clarifies that “I’m not a cartoonist.”
4:00 – Some vector art he created in ToonBoom. Kinda weird, but interesting.
4:01 Talks about how he believes his strength is inventing his own world. I agree, and hope I do the same.
He also talks about Drawger(?) Apparently an illustration blog I’ve not heard of. Gotta check it out.
Hey! Like me, he’s delving into learning animation. Neat!
4:02 – Questions begin –
Someone’s asking about pen nibs.
Elwood talks about imitators.
Introduces his wife Maggie as his agent – “And you trust her?” yells Sergio.
When asked about aping a live person’s style versus a dead artist’s, Elwwod says we’ll “talk about it at the bar.”
He discusses marketing via the big books and such. Says he hasn’t done any in a while and finds postcards to be successful. Gotta try some of that this year.
4:09 – A small showcase of some of his own animation, and some inspired by his art. Neat stuff.
4:20 – Mentions that he just does animation for his own satisfaction and that he doubts Bill Plympton is terrified. LOL.
4:25 – It’s over and everyone’s mingling again.
4:30 – Hit the bathroom and noticed King Features’ Jay Kennedy a few stalls over. I wash my hands thoroughly, say hi and remind him of my New Breed work. He said he remembered my stuff, but most likely he remembered me as the guy who kept calling about my submissions. That’ll show him to write encouraging notes.
4:50 – Starbucks – Jay and Hilary Price (I think) are outside the window here as I enjoy a Mocha Frappasomething and a scone. I think he’s tailing me… :
5:00 – Just got off the phone with Margie and Henry’s trying to poke holes in his underwear with his toes. I miss everyone.
5:15 – I’m considering that Jay being five feet away again is an omen to slip him some cartoons, but I bet he hates that. So, I’m not going to. Am I missing out on an opportunity? Probably, but if I were him I’d think I was a dick, so that’s that.
5:16 – I just about spilled my entire frappuccino on my shirt. Close call.
5:25 – Mike Lynch just called and he’s about 25 minutes away on the train. I head back into the hotel lobby and find a place to plug in my laptop. I’ve taken off my name tag to avoid looking like more of a dork than I am.
5:52 – I’ve rewritten my blog notes to make sense and now I’m gonna wait for Lynch to arrive.
10:38 – Whew, what a night! Let’s see… First I met my cartoon compatriot, Mike Lynch, in the lobby and we hung out in his hotel room for a bit.
Although we’ve been close friends for years, this was the first time we actually met in person! Crazy, eh?
We headed down to the cocktail party/dinner and, at first, I gotta tell you, I was a tad out of my element. I’m not very good in big social situations like this, especially when I’m surrounded by the best and the brightest in the business. Mike, however, has preternatural social instincts and chats up pretty much everyone with ease. I was really glad to have him by my side.
After a little bit, though, I relaxed and found myself chatting with some greats:
Jules Feiffer, Mort Drucker, John Reiner, Don Orehek, Dan Piraro, and more. But I think the absolute highlight of the evening was when a gentleman saw me meandering by and said “hey, are you that Andertoons guy?” I sheepishly answered yes and wondered who here could possibly recognize me, much less by the “Andertoons” on my nametag, when he introduced himself as Jim Borgman.
Yep, that Jim Borgman.
He and his wife told me that she had come across my cartoons and had told Jim he should check them out. Jim said he really liked my work and the site and just couldn’t have been nicer. (He even knew about my hot sauce!)
Not only did he like my stuff, but he actually knew who I was. It was definitely the high point of the evening and gave me the confidence boost I needed.
Now I’m riding home on the train trying to type through the bumping and swerving of the Metra, and although I’m a little tired, I’m so SO glad I attended tonight. I can’t wait for tomorrow!
Wish me luck with the late night baby feedings tonight…
(BTW, I’ll throw some pictures up in the next few days.)