The (potentially) most awkward convention neighbor of all time (that turned out fine)…
The setting was Heroes Con, 2008. My first time at that comic book show, or in Charlotte, which was exciting. The week before was exciting too.
Monday, First Second sent the latest batch of samples for the Trimates (Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, Biruté Galdikas) book. They were by Maris Wicks, whose work I knew (I had some of her minis) but didn’t remember very well, and never would have thought of approaching on my own for the story. What do I think, asked the fantastic Gina G.? I thought they looked great. I’d been impressed with all the batches of samples I’d seen, frankly, each for different reasons. But the First Second crew thought these were the stuff for the book, and I agreed. The thing is, I told Gina, I see that we’ll both be at Heroes Con this weekend. So. On Tuesday, :01 editors talk, on Wednesday they hook up with Maris, and on Thursday they tell me we are go! On Friday, I arrive in Charlotte and find my table and begin setting up. And setting up at the table next to me, touching mine, right there, less than spittin’ distance and barely more than arm’s reach away?
Karma? Fate? Funny as hell? Who knows…
But the thing that still makes me laugh is this set of hypothetical questions: What if (a) she hadn’t decided yet, or (b) I’d said “no way, can’t stand her art”, or (c) she’d said “on second thought, that’s the worst script I’ve ever read and I wouldn’t do it on a dare or for 3.7 million dollars,” or (d) neither of us had heard back from :01 yet? Answer: The Most Awkward Three Days Ever!
“So, um. Hi. My name is Jim.”
“…Hi. I’m Maris.”
“Cool. I, uh, I’ve seen your work and really, um. Like it. Have you ever seen my–“
“Yeah, sure. It’s, um. Good. Non-fiction comics are really… Good.”
Followed by 72 hours of dead silence and no eye contact.
Instead, we chattered constantly, talked about the book over a gut-busting and tasty breakfast, and the thumbnails I just saw look terrific. I can’t wait for this book to come out.