Saturday, March 24, 2007

My Wizard World LA Experience (Saturday)-- I felt like kind of a big shot

Saturday I was on the schedule from 1:45-2:45 to sign, and then it was off to the KISS 4K panel. I was a bit nervous. Actually, that's an understatement. I usually do fine in situations like this (public speaking, I mean, not panels-- this was my FIRST PANEL!) but that doesn't change the fact that I get nauseated beforehand. Which is what I was. I couldn't eat anything all day, and my stomach was upset. I was going to be on a panel with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley for crying out loud, talking about the comic book I was writing. Holy $#!+!

We all got there pretty early and while everyone else ate at the food court, I sat and worried. I spotted Ed Brubaker, the man who murdered Captain America, sitting across the dining area eating happily, no big deal at all, just another day for him, meanwhile my stomach was in knots. I flipped through the Toy Magazine that someone handed me as I walked into the con that morning, and learned something about how to create your own Spider Man 2099 doll. It seemed like a lot of trouble to go to.

I signed comics from 1:45 to 2:45, and it was a pretty quick hour. Signed maybe 40 books. Then it was up to the Green Room to hang out with my new best friends, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. As I walked into the room, Gene said, "RICKY!" which obviously meant I'd made an impression on them. Paul asked me where my mother was, and I told them I was sure she was sitting in the front row of the Dave Cockrum meeting room, waiting for us. Gene said something about "We're all doing it for our mothers," which is certainly true.

Scott Rosenberg, president of Platinum Comics, and the fourth member of the panel was also there and I can't say enough about him and everything he's done for me. He's done an amazing job of getting the comic out, of promoting it, and, most important, of making ME, Ricky Sprague, feel like a bigshot comic book writer. He was also exceptionally gracious and accomodating in dealing with my mother.

We hung out for awhile, went over a little about how the panel was going to be set up, what kind of questions, etc. It seemed a little casual to me, but what the hell do I know, I've never been on a panel before. Man, was I nervous. Gene and Paul, of course, couldn't have been cooler. Paul spoke very little, content to sit there and exude cool, while Gene made a couple of business deals. The guy never stops!

The panel was great. Paul and Gene both made a point of making sure I got a chance to speak (most of the people in crowd were there for Gene and Paul anyway); we joked and laughed. At one point I said something complimentary about Kiss, and, as a joke, Gene gave me a $20 bill, which I made a show of unfolding and slipping into my shirt pocket. It was a good joke and it got some laughs. I fully intended to give Gene his $20 back immediately after the panel. I really, really did.

After the panel several friends came up to congratulate me on doing a fine job, although I was convinced I hadn't done that well. But I'm not the person to judge and if THEY said I did alright, then I won't argue with them.

Gene and Paul signed and it was another madhouse. Damn, those guys are popular. They sent me over to the table in Artist's Alley to sign with the colorist of Dan Campos's pages, Jason Embury. He's a pretty decent guy and exceptionally talented, as you know if you've already seen the book. Seated beside him was D.J. Coffman, creator of ""Hero By Night"," the winner of the 2006 Comic Book Challenge which was held at the San Diego Comic Con last year. People who got books signed by Gene and Paul were directed to that table, where they got our signatures. Signed a lot of books there, too. Also there was Adam Black, the embarassingly talented creator of the Kiss 4K webcomic. I'd just spoken to him on the phone a week or two before, so it was great that he had the opportunity to come to LA. He brought some artwork along that will make you sick.

At one point, I went for the silver sharpie I kept in my shirt pocket and my hand touched-- the $20 bill Gene had given me. Holy $#!+ I'd forgotten to give it back to him. Of course by the time I'd realized I still had it, Gene and Paul were probably long gone, I didn't bother to go back to the Golden Apple booth to check. I sincerely hope Gene doesn't mind, but next time I see him (a panel in San Diego?) I'll give him his money back.

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