Image Expo 2014 Recap

image_logoI keep wanting to say that I attended Image Expo over the weekend but that’s not true. Unlike virtually every other convention, Image Expo isn’t really a convention. It’s exactly as advertised: an expo all about Image Comics. Their first show was, in fact, a convention but in 2013, they switched over to a simpler format that just focused on what they were doing minus retailers, booths for creators and other exhibitors. But I’m getting ahead of myself a bit.

I’ve known for a few weeks that I’d be making my way to San Francisco for the show so that could Bill Willingham could announce the project he’s doing with them. However, Image wanted to keep Bill’s presence a secret and therefor also mine (despite the fact that I go to conventions on my own and for the fun of it…).

On Wednesday, I flew out of Toronto early (thank jeebus my flight wasn’t cancelled) and made my way west. Stopped over in Minneapolis to hop on a flight with Mr. Willingham and then carried on our way. We arrived at the airport and were picked up by Image. I wound up in a car full of talented folks including Emi Lenox, Jamie McKelvie, Kieron Gillen, Adam Azaceta, Brandon Graham and Bill. I felt a little out of place, to say the least. We had a long car ride to our hotel in Berkeley so the conversation was flowing and got stranger and stranger as the ride went on. Such topics as the Elementals Sex Special came up, wearing old people skins (but not killing them) and Rob Ford because obviously that’s a thing that has to come up nowadays with a Torontonian in the car.

I wasn’t allowed to tweet any of this. All of these guests were secret… well, most of them.

After getting settled in at the hotel, we had a little mixer with the creators and staff. I hadn’t eaten anything in something like 15 hours, so I was pretty anti-social and focused solely on one mission: oh my sweet lord, where can I find some food to eat?!

Sidebar: at this particular bar, there was a beer called Tricerahops. I was going to order it because how could you NOT order a beer called that but alcohol pre-dinner would’ve been the worst idea ever. I wound up getting food, scarfing all of it down and briefly making rounds to chat with a couple people. Literally, only a couple of people. I stopped and talked to Chris Burnham and Nick Dragotta and hijacked their conversation and awkwardly started talking about how Canada has bags of milk. Seriously. I don’t know how this came up, I really don’t, but if anyone were to pull the bags of milk card out randomly, I guess it seems likely that it would be me. It was time to retire after that and I went upstairs and slept until I had to get up the next day.

Image Expo was on Thursday January 9. Probably the weirdest day to have a convention ever, but there was still lots of people around including press and fans. We piled into a limo to get to the show (again, a car full of intimidatingly talented people ie. Chris Burnham, Jim Valentino, Nick Spencer, Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Bill and myself) and got dropped off at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts – the same location where Apple does their big press conferences. We were ushered backstage before anyone could see us (well, them since it didn’t matter if anyone saw me…) and were led into a green room with snacks and even more talent such as Kelly Sue DeConnick, Matt Fraction, Brandon Graham, Leila Del Duca, Ed Brubaker, Adam Azaceta, Robert Kirkman, Kyle Higgins, Rick Remender and more. There we were fed, given badges and walked through the keynote presentation.

As the guests took their places in line to talk about their books, me and a few other creators were ushered to seats in the auditorium.

Eric Stephenson took the stage to begin the presentation. I’m sure many of you comic book fans saw the line up of books announced post-keynote but it was something else to be in that room. I swear to jeebus that I almost stood up and cheered as Stephenson talked about a new era of comics that are put out there by passionate creators untethered by editors and not being forced into tired events every few months that “change the world forever” in a “desperate attempt to relive past glories”. It was honest to god a speech that was virtually made for me. It was the answer to everything I’ve been complaining about online with comics and it just made me realize that I am an indie comics girl through and through and that they really are the true future of comics.

The creators came out and talked about their books and holy balls… I don’t think I could be more excited for what’s ahead. The presentation ran from 10:30-12:00 so I won’t go into all of the books but some highlights and books to look forward to from the lot include: Low, ODY-C, Bitch Planet, Restoration (I’m still allowed to be excited for books even if I work for half of the creative team!), The Wicked & The Divine, C.O.W.L., The Fade Out, Wytches, Nameless, Cerulean and more. Even though I didn’t list James Robinson’s comic, I have to admit his pitch was probably the most entertaining out of everyone’s. You can see the roundup of all the announcements over here.

Not everything ended there though. Once the keynote was over, a series of panels and signings began giving attendees a chance to listen to creators talk more about their work, their process and themselves. The signings were great and despite blindly bright and warm sun shining through giant glass windows and roasting us like ants under a magnifying glass, it was fun and full of great people. Someone even asked me to sign their badge and after Bill convinced me to, I cleverly did so and finished off my John Hancock (or Jane Hancock?) with a eh? like any good Canadian would do.

The show seemingly continued to run smoothly and I had unique opportunities to chat with a fantastic number of the creators while waiting in the green room. I had an especially wonderful chat with Kelly Sue DeConnick and as if I didn’t think she was wonderful enough, she went and became even more awesome to me.

Post-Expo held dinner and the after party for us. We made our way to the Cartoon Art Museum which was housing an incredible comic art gallery that had art from all sorts of creators including Dave McKean, JH Williams III and other artists who have work on Sandman. It was gorgeous. A good chunk of me just wanted to wander around not talking to anyone all night and just absorbing all of the art around me. I didn’t do that though and instead opted to be mostly social with people I knew and some I didn’t. I met Jesse, Michael and Jeremy, who were great to talk to. Jesse ran into me and told me that her husband, Michael, was a fan of Talking Comics. She brought me over to introduce me and then we all proceeded to chat for a little while. It was also wonderful getting to chat some more with various creators. We wound up being at the party for a bit longer than I would’ve liked (I was still on East Coast time and exhausted) but eventually we got a ride back to the hotel in a swanky limo.

Just like that, it was all over though. Short conventions have this way of messing with my mind. The norm for me for so long has been 3-day shows and last year I attended a couple 2-day shows and it felt so weird to be done with everything before extreme fatigue set in. This was even weirder. Friday felt like Monday and I just couldn’t shake it.

All in all, Image Expo was fantastic though and I hope that I get to check out the show again next year. Being in the room while all the announcements were made was extraordinary and pumped me up like no press release could. They stepped up their game and shouted their warning to DC and Marvel, quietly (or not so quietly) shouting “We’re coming for those top spots…”

Stephanie is [obviously] a comic book fan, but she also considers herself an avid gamer, movie watcher, lover of music, board games fan (although she doesn’t find nearly enough time for them…) and being snarky. Oh, and Twitter. Twitter’s a hobby, right?…

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