Fun at Short Run
What a whirlwind of a November so far! It's always around the holidays that things start to really get crazy, and time escapes you with ease. "Wait, the month is halfway over already? What happened?!" Work happened, as well as some traveling Amanda and I did at the start of the month.
As some of you are aware, I applied to table at Short Run in Seattle over the summer and got accepted. I always wanted to attend the show, but as I was talking to the incredible Max Clotfelter at San Diego Comic-Con over the summer, and he encouraged me to apply to table so I did. Sure enough, the gods favored me and I was booking myself a plane ticket and hotel room nearby the Fisher Pavilion.
Originally it was just going to be myself flying out, but Amanda decided to tag along at the last second. While she's a fan of Twilight and the Washington town of Forks is featured in the films, I had to remind her several times that she would be on her own, for I was going to be selling comics all Saturday. Plus Forks was a couple hours drive, and apparently very disappointing for fans. Apparently they did more filming in Oregon than Washington? Either way, I don't care. I really don't care. So she eventually settled for a Cat Cafe and a food tasting tour at Pike Place Market. Another plus? We were able to get seats next to each other flying out of Burbank and returning as well.
The last time I was in Seattle was over a decade ago, attending Emerald City Comic-Con and writing about my experiences for Bleeding Cool (Boo! Hiss!). I bought so much original art that trip, that I essentially returned home penniless. Thankfully I had already bought my return ticket ahead of time, otherwise that would have been an awkward call home asking for more money. I remember the sporadic rain and beautiful colors of the trees in Fall, and upon returning several years later it all looked practically the same. I was in a different part of town this time around, right next to the Space Needle, so I had a different skyline featuring a lot more glass buildings in the downtown business district.
I had my FUNGI & FRIENDS comic printed just in time for the show, and packed that along with a little of everything from my personal works. No issues of CLUSTERFUX, those would be a bitch to pack. Plus this show I wanted to feature me as a creator, and all my silly comics I've produced. I managed to pack one side of my carry-on to the brim with comics wrapped in bubblewrap, while leaving just a bit of room in the other half for clothes and essentials. I layered-up on the plane because I knew it would be freezing by the time we landed, and allowed me to pack an extra few things.
We arrived to the hotel around 1pm, and were able to check-in early. First item on the agenda was to get cash/small bills for the show, then we walked to Pike Place Market to wait in line to see the first ever Starbucks. Touristy as all hell, I know, but I've consumed hundreds of thousands of gallons of their coffee throughout my lifetime, so it only felt right to go pay my respects to where their now global empire first started. Afterwards we explored more of the marketplace, and willfully got lost in all its nooks and crannies. We even made it to Golden Age Collectables, the "Oldest Comic Book Shop in the World," and browsed their amazing array of different comic books, as well as their collection of totally legit movie scripts from fan favorite films.
Later that evening, we caught an Uber down to the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery for the Short Run Pre-Party. It was like a holy pilgrimage for me, I love that publisher so much. We immediately ran into Max and I thank him profusely for recommending I apply, and we were just in time for a small interview of Anand by Bubbles' Brian Baynes. Anand was promoting his new comic at the show, Stories From Zoo, that Bubbles was publishing. It was great to chat briefly with Brian after and finally meet him in person. I've sent that man a copy of everything I've ever published since 2020, and I'm not alone. He receives hundreds of comics in the mail every month, so never feel bad or take it personally if he doesn't include you in the next issue of Bubbles. He's only human!
I had warned Amanda ahead of time that I would be a starstruck fangirl the entire evening, so I proceeded to awkwardly wait for openings in peoples conversations to introduce myself and mention how much I enjoy their work. Some of the friendly faces I've met before at other shows (Jasper Jubenvill, Harry Nordlinger, Josh Pettinger, Simon Hanselmann), but two individuals I really wanted to meet were M.S. Harkness and Caroline Cash. They're never on the West Coast, but Seattle was one of the stops on Harkness' Time Under Tension book tour and I had to get everything of hers signed! Caroline was touring with her on the West Coast stretch, and their latest issue of PeePee PooPoo had just recently come out. Again, I brought all their comics too to get signed! I've been a fan of both of them for years now, and the pre-party was going to be my best shot of having a meaningful conversation with them both before the madness of the comic show. Not only did they both know who I was, but we talked about our mutual connections who have appeared in both my CLUSTERFUX and FUGU comics. With M.S. we talked about the amazingly talented Drew B. Hall, and with Caroline we talked about the incredible Hannibal Gerald. Both conversations left me with the biggest smile. I just hope I didn't come across as Chris Farley interviewing Paul McCartney. Truly the highlight of my entire Short Run show!
The next day was the show itself, and I wheeled my carry-on packed with comics a few blocks to the Fisher Pavilion in a light rain. Being right underneath the Space Needle was so cool, and made me wish I had more time that trip to actually go to the top. I've scaled the Eiffel Tower (almost twice as tall), so the Space Needle should have been no problem! I arrived just in time to start setting up my table, and already there was a line of attendees outside waiting for another 40-minutes to get in. There was a flurry of activity inside, with everyone setting up and saying their "hellos". I felt a little embarrassed only because they recommended you bring a table cloth, but I simply had no room in my luggage for one. So my half of the table was buck naked and I tried my best to hide its shame by covering every square inch with my comics. My table mate was Brandon Lehmann, a local creator who has been doing comics for almost 15-years. He was an absolute joy to table with, and clearly had quite the fanbase throughout the day. We traded stories, he gave me some tips, and was such a lovely ambassador for the Seattle comics scene. An absolute great guy, and I highly recommend you pick-up his stuff.
Ten minutes before the show started, a fire alarm went off. It was pouring rain outside, and apparently it triggered flooding that ended up killing power to a few things in the venue which ultimately triggered the fire alarm. I was a little nervous at first, because I really didn't want to have to evacuate and leave all my stuff there. None of us did! But thankfully the firefighters arrived, turned off the alarm, and all was well. The doors opened, an army of people entered, and it was off to the races!
Throughout the day I pitched a brief synopsis of each comic to everyone who stopped by to have a look, sounding like a broken record for sure. My remaining copies of the EAT THE RICH recipe zine sold out quickly, and in retrospect I should have printed more for the show. Liberal Pacific Northwest comic fans love eating the rich! What was I thinking only bringing a handful?! FUNGI & FRIENDS sold well, leaving me with only 15 copies to bring home, and I did sell a few issues of FUGU COMIX #2 & #3, but practically no issues of ULTRAFUGU sold, leaving me with a lot of copies to bring back (why did I pack so many?!). Same with LORD BUTTONCHOPS; sold a few copies, despite being one of the more popular comics kids (and adults) would point to before being ushered away by their parents. Overall I made a decent amount of sales, but again, the real success was tabling at Short Run and being able to slip away to purchase comics and get signatures from other creators I look up to. I got all the comics I brought with me signed by M.S. and Caroline, and as an added bonus I got Sam Szabo's signature in my copy of Poison Pill as well! Amanda stopped by at one point to say 'hi' and tell me about having to walk uphill in the pouring rain and violent winds to get to the Neko Cat Cafe, and my co-worker Jesse Vital also stopped by as well. He lives a few hours away and was in the area to purchase a motorcycle. I haven't seen him in person for years, so it was a nice little reunion.
The only awkward event that took place at my table was towards the end of the show, when this comic creator who was also tabling at the show approached my table and saw my LORD BUTTONCHOPS comic. He laughed at the cover, saw the inside cover featuring a more realistic depiction of the titular character, and squealed with glee as he proceeded to fold the cover backwards, crinkling the paper, and held it up to Brandon to make a comparison. "What the ever-loving FUCK is he doing?!" was all I could think. He then put the crumpled comic back to where it was stacked and asked to do a trade for my latest FUGU COMIX #3, pulling out three of his mini-comics to offer. "Oh, well, I feel like I would be getting the better deal here," I said. "Oh no, you only get to choose one of them," he replied. I was completely shocked by the whole interaction, and made the trade just to get him to move the fuck on. Plus he appeared deranged and local, so I didn't want to make a big deal about it. This is the part of the story where I remind people to know how to behave/conduct yourself at conventions, and don't come across like an asshole like this guy did. While I'm not going to name & shame here, you know damn well I will at the next event I'm at as a warning to other people of who to stay clear of.
Later that evening was an afterparty at the Mini Mart City Park, which also was a soft launch of an art exhibition featuring original art from both Alex Graham and Simon Hanselmann. I was able to admire the art briefly before the DJ turned up the beats and got people dancing. That's not my scene whatsoever, so I made my way outside to grab a beer and enjoy the scenery from the rooftop. I ran into Jasper and his girlfriend Holly and chatted with them for a little bit, then I ran into Brandon again and thanked him for being such a cool guy. Eventually I left, a little disappointed I didn't get to chat with Graham or Hanselmann amongst all the chaos.
The next morning Amanda and I got an all-day breakfast at Portage Bay Cafe where I proceeded to gorge myself on eggs, sausage, breakfast potatoes, and two ginormous pancakes, then checked out of our motel and made our way to the airport for our flight home to Burbank. Our gate got changed without notice, so when I went to look at the departures screen to see what gate to now report to, who do I run into? Simon Hanselmann! We were on the same flight home, and had a lovely little chat about our weekends while waiting to board. It is always a pleasure chatting with him, and was the perfect little ending to my Seattle trip.
Special "Thank You" to Kelly Froh and the entire Short Run crew for making my first time tabling there a breeze! I had so much fun! Also shout-out to Kristy Valenti at TCJ for interviewing me about my Short Run experience for her article covering the show.
With Short Run now officially in the rearview mirror, it is onwards to Permanent Damage 6 on December 10th at Permanent Roadhouse Records again! Stop by and say 'hi' if you're in Los Angeles!