To recap: I had spent half the day at APE
hunting down serendipitously meeting Craig Thompson and had then bought some art off Steve Oliff. Umm, that was it. On to part 2.
So Kate Beaton was due to sign at the Drawn and Quarterly booth. Agenda #1: Find out where the D&Q booth is. Attempting to do that in the hall was a problem because (a) there were no helpful numbers on booths to figure out where you were, at a given moment, and (b) it was hard not to get distracted by the shiny-ness on display. I mean, how can you pass by Stuart Ng books without looking through their collection of artbooks and the out-of-print European comics that they mysteriously manage to keep in stock? How do you control the urge to go spend some time with Richard Starkings and tell him how good the entire Elephantmen run is? (Not to mention the fact that I’ve been reading them on the iPad, and would probably just burst into guilty tears and buy the entire set of 4 hardcovers, which he was selling at the Expo at a sizable discount.) Oh well, I’ve gazed into the abyss, fellas. It’s not pretty. But you just close your eyes, think of beatonna, and scurry to your destination. That’s Kate Beaton’s twitter alias, by the way, and it never fails to make me smirk to myself. I wonder if she selected it for the Japanese reference.
So I find the D&Q table, and sure enough, she’s signing there. Just about three people there clustered around her, so I relax, and ask the guy standing there if he’s in line. “I am”, he says. “And so are they” He gestures behind me. Holy guacamole, there’s an insane line for Kate Beaton! They were cordoning off people three at a time near the table, to keep the crowds moving. The line actually warps around the center of the hall, and there’s an end-of-the-line volunteer waiting to tell people that, yes, that is the end of the line, and no, Kate won’t be signing any sketchbooks – pretty de rigeur for all the artists attending that day. But the line moves ahead merrily, and I take some time to chat with the lady standing behind me, who’s totally getting it on with her dog-eared copy of Bruno Bettelheim’s The Uses of Enchantment (a brilliant analysis of fairytales, a must-read). The guy in front of me is hard-core, carting around – yes, he actually had a cart – a few long-boxes of comics. Of course I get totally judgmental about him – he’s getting every single Beaton appearance signed, including the APE program guide.
When my turn comes, Kate takes some time to flex her fingers. She asks me what my favorite strip is, and in my head I go “shit, do I mention the Nancy Drew covers? No, that’s too generic. Hmm, I liked the Bronte strips, but hold on, there’s something else I am missing”, while out loud, I say “ba-bah-bu-ba”. And then I take the safe way out and say “All of them”. Which probably means that I fail her test, and after having slotted me as “clueless generic comic-book fan”, she proceeds to draw Wonder Woman in my book. In the middle of her sketch, I remember that I loved the Javert strips, and tell her so. I don’t think she hears me.
I totally get my program guide signed too, hah!
In the meantime, I meet a few friends, a few art collector buddies. We laugh about the fact that nearly all of us had mailed each other saying we won’t make it to APE this time, and changed plans at the last minute. For a second or two, all of us look funny at each other, each one wondering if the other’s here for some hitherto undisclosed art deal. The moment passes. We do not kill each other.
Craig Thompson is signing again at the CBLDF booth, and I head there, pick up some books from them. I pick up a few others with a 20% discount from a retailer nearby. “Never ignore a discount” is the corollary to my family motto. (Which is “Carpe Omnius”, before you ask, and um, yeah, I am the only practicing member of my family.) This time the line is longer, probably because people are starting to surge in. I think Craig gets a little spooked when he sees me again, but that could just have been my imagination. I tell him about my friend who cried after reading Goodbye Chunky Rice, and we both snicker a bit. Actually no, he sort of understands.
Last signings of the day – Adrian Tomine and Dan Clowes, who are both signing at the Drawn and Quarterly booth at the same time. I do not realize why until I read this, much later. Their line is longer than Beaton’s, obviously. By the time I get to the front, there’s a crowd around Tomine while Clowes is relatively freer. I spend a few minutes getting some books signed and talking to him, after which he takes a restroom break. Completely unrelated, I assure you. He gets back, and I start talking to him again, both of us taking a moment to scoff at mainstream comics together. We totally bonded, man. I introduced myself to Tomine with a request from a friend who, in a fit of high perversion, wanted me to get a drawing of a blonde girl from Tomine. “I will be your bitch forever if you get that for me”, he said, and who am I to refuse an offer like that? Having inked a quick headshot in my copy of Sleepwalk, Tomine does a self-portrait in Scenes From An Impending Marriage, which I totally love.
And with that, I come to an end of my APE adventure. There is some more wandering around the venue, an excellent dinner at a Spanish restaurant afterwards, and a magnificent Thai chilli lemon sorbet after that.
And this is what I lugged home from the show.