:: Comic Con 2004 Photos::

San Diego Comic Convention, "the world's largest comic book and popular art convention": 400,000 sq. feet of exhibits and 75,000 attendees. But there's more than just comics: Thousands of cool people, artists, fellow fans, and people from the boards. Baffling amounts of good artwork, books, posters, sketchbooks, and even animation cells. Previews for movies like "Mirrormask", "Sky Captain" and "The Incredibles" plus in-depth talks with their creators. Modern masters creating art while you watch. Insights from authors like Greg Bear, David Brin, Robert Jordan, Kevin J. Anderson, and Harry Harrison. People dressed up as their favorite characters. Women wearing scandalously impractical outfits. And non-stop partying in San Diego.

My apologies to those I didn't visit or chat with, I did my best but it's a huge con and there were distractions everywhere. If you have any corrections to my text, want a high-res photo, or want me to remove a photo of you -- please contact me at "argh AT angstorm DOT com".

Table of Contents

Olmanic at the Sketchbook Sessions booth, he's one of the artists whose work is featured in their anthology. He's full of great art and we shared a few stories over large glasses of water at the bar.

I lost my camera one dark night, and if he hadn't found it, all these photos would have been gone. Thank you so much for helping it find its way home!

The "Action Cartooning" and "Sketchbook Sessions" isle: Ben C and Angela, Toonimator glancing towards us, Corkbutt's profile, and Eric Weldon, Drug Massacre, and RodGuen sitting at the end.

RodGuen drawing pretty ladies. He's a blast to chat with and it's great to watch as beautiful girls come alive from under his pencils.

Corkbutt and Jen at the Sketchbook Sessions booth.

MonkeyKing talks enthusiastically about ... er .. The Incredibles? The King has been busy, and his new artwork was featured in two books this year.

PabloD snickers at Toonimator reading Ben C's "Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures" comic book. They had a great variety of new drawings to show off in the Zowie and Portfolio books. Yes, Paul looks better with his eyes open and I should have taken a better photo.

Eric Weldon at the Sketchbook Sessions booth. Among other cool things, he had a sketchbook of his own on sale with loads of new goodies.

DrugMassacre showing off his mad inking skillz. He brought along a thick binder of his recent, fine artwork. The funniest part was that the collection was as disjointed as late night channel surfing: on one page you'd find a cute bear, on the next page would be a screaming man with nails coming out of his head, and on the next page would be a hardcore porn scene.

Corkbutt was very proud of his name badge, which ironically didn't show up in the photo. What he should have been proud of was the big folders with his fantastic brushpen images. His "from-life snapshots" at coffee shops, malls and diners were a great treat. And when I could, I'd hover over his shoulder, watching him confidently throw down lines onto paper with his pen as the images materialized.

The ever-adorable Tiramisue. After I begged for a while, she handed me a sketchbook that she described as, "some scribbles I made while I was bored." Sure enough, the pictures were great. There were loads of fun, frolicking critters, zany giraffes, playful kittens, and some very funny raccoons that she drew after a few beers.

Rob, the master mechanic behind the Drawing Board. He's the quiet fellow that setup the site and keeps it running. Thanks for all the great work!

DrugMassacre standing in front of the Zowie sign and wearing a lovely "Shai'Hulud" tee. If you've seen this band live and also know where the name comes from, then you can join our very little club.

Ben C at his booth. He had much to show, including the new 'Action Cartooning' book, 'Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures', original drawings and much more.

RodGuen strikes a dramatic pose.

Hate-filled rage has a name -- and that name is "AgentHelix". My angstful brother flew some 3,000 miles for the sole privilege of having me pester him.

Scruffy and his Right Hand of Coffee, stopping off at the Sketchbook Sessions booth. We later met up at a sports bar to share good talk, Guinness, and discuss the merits of cheese.

WARNING: Limbs Close To The Camera May Appear Larger Than They Are

Oh, and in the background is PabloD handing a book to an eager customer.

Rodolphe yet again. I particularly like how the people behind him blur away.

Cameron Stewart pauses for a quick snapshot before running off to sign autographs for slobbering fans and girls in Cat Woman outfits.

Breehn Burns briefly escapes from the Slave Labor booth. He's the busy man behind a diverse set of artistic creations including 'Dr. Tran', 'Gloom Cookie', 'Deadtime Stories', 'Beyond Grandpa'. Rock on!

Ben C was the boy that couldn't sit still in class. Even in this photo, his hand is a blur of motion. Seeing his endless reserve of energy helped me understand how he was able to draw so many wonderful pictures in so little time.

The dynamic duo at their colorful booth.

Ronnie del Carmen with a new issue of the delightful and touching 'Paper Biscuit', plus posters and tee shirts. In the lower-left hand corner of the photo, you can see some porcelain Japanese dolls he found that look just like critters from Nina's dreams.

Enrico Casarosa sketching away on the front page of my copy of "The Adventures of Mia, Vol. 2". He also did a wonderful illustrated poem that introduces the highly-anticipated Flight Comics premier issue.

My good buddy RamStar. We had a great time chattering like a pair of junior high kids on a sugar high, cruising the isles, pointing at the cute girls, and looking at all the cool toys. Did I mention he's good at drawing too?

Csnyde had a long cross-country trip and the airline lost his luggage in Detroit. That didn't stop him from having fun. He also brought along some fine sketchbooks, and I was lucky enough to snap one up. AgentHelix lurks menacingly in the background.

Gary and his wife Lauren, for Superham Illustration, offered a sketchbook, posters and a prototype of a 'Devil Lady' statue. They also made a children's book that Lauren wrote and Gary illustrated, and I hope they get a publisher for it soon. I spent much time hanging out with the Hams -- they're good people.

Stolleboy and Kathy. He had a number of books for sale, including a set of his colorful, vectorized hotties and an anthology of sketches made along with his coworkers. If you didn't pick these books up, you should contact him to buy a copy. The art is great and the high-end printing captures all the color and detail.

Kathy takes a break from the counter. She's as smart as she is beautiful. We had a lot of fun and interesting discussion about adaptive pedagogy, intercultural linguistics, ethnocentric grammatical structure, and some lighter topics.

Dean Yeagle was besieged at all hours by drooling fans demanding Mandy sketches. He had a new set of sketchbooks out and posters. Although I didn't get to talk to Dean much because he had so many customers -- and I'm happy for him -- but I did spend quality time with his wonderful wife Barbara.

Kazu Kibuishi at the Flight Comics booth. He's the mastermind behind this anthology of stories about flying. It's a thick tome, featuring over a dozen artists with very different styles. Although the images are beautiful, the stories are what make it worthwhile. The crowd was so dense around the booth that I couldn't even fight my way to to the table.

While I didn't get a chance to talk to Kazu-san or his crew, I did have the pleasure of chatting with his very cool mom. The whole Kibuishi clan was out in force, including sisters, parents, and grandparents. Funny story: I muttered, 'Hajimemashite, yoroshiku onegai shimasu,' at his grandfather and bowed, so his grandfather bowed back but very deeply, so I bowed back further to signify that I was of lower social position than him, but his grandfather bowed even further because he figured that I was someone important who was trying to be polite. We kept bowing for a while till we both started laughing.

Chris Petrocchi and Tom Rubalcava (yeticatcher) from Maverix Studios counting their sales. Chris had a lovely sketchbook full of flowing gestural life-study drawings. Tom had a cool collection of 'Chicas', loaded with lots of pretty gals. I had a fun time chatting with them.

Tom and Vaughn Ross. Vaughn had a sweet set of fun and lively sketches. His enthusiastic and cheerful images were a stark contrast to his studio mate Sergio Paez's dark and moody acrylics.

Sho Murase, fabulous illustrator, fashion designer, and model (at least she looks like one). She had her illustrated novel all printed out. I raved about this last year when I saw a preview, but the 'real thing' was definitely worth the wait. Awesome!

Jeff Watts and Ron Lemen (fredflickstone) teach at the Atelier School of Fine Arts using a fast, intense, hands-on technique. This duo creates incredible paintings with Wacom and oils from life, in just an hour. I've seen their gig three times and I'm still amazed. If I wanted to learn to paint, this is where I'd go.

Out on the town with Kathy, Stolle, Gary, Victoria & Celia Calle, and Lauren. The Calle sisters were in town for what seemed like a few short hours before jetting back to NYC, but I'm glad that they dropped by because it was fun to spend time with them again. We picked a restaurant with very loud music, again, and thus could only scream at each other but mostly we just giggled at each other's expressions and hand gestures.
The San Diego Convention Center as seen from the pier. This shows roughly half of the facility. Photo by Allen Matheson.

People leaving convention to get lunch -- and I'm obstructing traffic, yay!

Trey Parker & Matt Stone, the creators of "South Park", talk about "Team America: World Police". Imagine "Thunderbirds" style marionettes beating the crap out of each other. Their Kim Jong Il puppet is a masterpiece. See the tiny dark bumps in front of the middle, purple screen? That's Trey and Matt. The room is that big.

I spent Friday night at a rave with Paul Oakenfold and The Crystal Method. The music was so loud my clothes moved a few millimeters with each explosive pulse of the bass. In the first 30 minutes, I saw more beautiful women than I had in my entire life -- it was like an alternate reality. I got home at 4:30 AM, and despite dancing for six hours, I still felt so jittery that I wanted to go jogging. It was intense.

I hiked about 40 miles during this trip, and sights like this made it all worth while.
Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot (WTF?!)
Not a sight you'll see just anywhere. Earlier in the day, a little boy would slap the creature on the butt, and then run so that by the time it turned, the boy was already behind the creature, ready to slap it again. They ran around each other, just like they did in old cartoons.

Lauren, Kathy, Scott and ... er ... a chicken?

It's a Drug Massacre action figure! I dunno why they dressed him in the funny suit nor why he's holding a glowing bat.

San Diego is plastered with ads for bail bond loans. They're on billboards, posters, telephone books, bus broadsides, and taxi tops ... everywhere. Having never seen an ad for this service until last week, I had no idea it was such a competitive market.

My God, I'm covered in birds!

In case you're wondering -- yes, that's *really* its tongue.

I'm feeding apples to a 5,000 lbs. rhino named Arun. Why is his horn broken? One of his lady friends was corralled overnight, away from him. The next morning, they found a rhino-sized hole in the concrete wall and the lady friend was back in the field. He's sired 16 babies in the last two years, so it's a good thing he didn't think I was sexy.

Isn't he adorable? All this and more can be seen at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. It's not a zoo, it's a safari. They have a huge estate and the animals wander around like they do in the wild, while the humans are kept behind bars -- which is the way it should be.

The Cheesecake Factory? Funny, that's the nickname I gave the booth where Dean, Stolleboy and Superham were at. :p

HERE COMES DR. TRAN!!! ... or you can call for an appointment.

Not one, not two ... but FIVE happinesses.

Red Chinese flag against classic Eastern Bloc architecture? San Francisco's China Town takes its name quite seriously.

We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

East meets West, and boy is it ugly. Notice the happy Chinese couple in traditional garb at the top? And also check out the reflection in the window, including the busy street and confused-looking man.

Creepy stuff in jars at the Chinese apothecary is always entertaining. Notice the yellowed sticky tape used to 'seal' the jar?

San Francisco's Strybing Arboretum and Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park ... they're nifty

Girls, girls, girls!
Supermodel Masuimi Max furiously scratching her knee. It's kind of surreal to see her nekkid the week before for ... er ... drawing class, and then practically run into her while she drinks Starbucks.

The young lady in the Cat Woman outfit stopped traffic wherever she went. She had the very proportions of a Barbie doll. Her waist wasn't much thicker than her neck. The outfit was literally sewn together from little pieces of vinyl.

The pirate had some great gear as well.

She had a great ... outfit.

It was an interesting hybrid of a silk kimono and Victorian corset.

Random gal giving out Everquest literature.

For a while, I felt sorry for these women for being objectified, oggled, groped, and having to wear such impractical outfits. RamStar and I chatted with one of the gals. She whined for a while about how uncomfortable it was, showed off some scary blisters and impressive scratches from her armor. However, the moment someone told her she was pretty and wanted to take her photo, her eyes lit up with such joy that you could tell it was all worth it for her.
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