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San Diego Report

Hi Folks!

Sorry it’s taken a few days for my San Diego report. Somehow, it’s a lot easier to whip off quick responses to others posts and harass ebay sellers than it is to sit down and write a little travelogue.

Anywho, I found that driving an hour to the airport, catching a 2 ½ hour flight, taking the 10 minute shuttle to downtown San Diego and walking a few blocks to the Convention Center is a lot easier than driving 18 hours. While going through the convoluted, but well organized, cattle drive that gets "full members" into the Con about an hour before others, I looked in the program and could not find a table listed for Sergio. So I went to where he was last year. Sure enough, he was there, right next to Scott Shaw! (For those who don’t know, you spell his name with an exclamation point)

Sergio greeted me like an old friend, which was cool, and one of the first things I did was whip out my GROO license plate (along with an indelible marker) for him to draw on. I had taken it off my car at the airport parking lot. (It didn’t raise an eyebrow at airport security. I guess those guys have seen everything.) Sergio drew Groo on one side of the "GROO" and himself waiving on the other. Nate has the coolest guitar in the world and now I have the coolest license plate.

Thursday is definitely the best day to go to the Con if you have a narrow focus like me and want to talk to a few individuals. It’s a relaxed day with the fewest people. My M.O. is to talk to Sergio or Stan when no one else is around and then step aside when folks come up and make sure, as others come up, to tell them I am not in line and to get out of their way. A lot of times it is fun to listen to the conversations and it is always fun to watch Sergio & Stan draw. I also talked to Scott Shaw!, who is a really sweet guy with a wisecracking sense of humor a lot like Mark’s. This year Sergio would not do sketches in sketchbooks. He did sign comic books and do a lot of little sketches on them, especially, I think, when he could tell the folks were really pumped to meet him (i.e. were real fans).

OK Nate, here you go. As I told you, Sergio says that GrooFest 2000 is fine with him. He hopes we can get the other Groo Crew Members up there to Ojai as well. It’s simply a matter of working out the logistics, which is up to me. The basic idea is that we all meet at a local landmark or restaurant, have lunch, and go to Sergio’s studio for a tour. We need to figure out what day next Summer will be the best for the most Groopies/Groopers to be able to make it and also not be in conflict with Sergio’s schedule. Next year’s San Diego Con is July 20-23. Eric suggested that we have it right before the Con so that people could do both in one trip. (Ojai is about a 4-hour drive from San Diego.) That would probably be great if it also allowed the most folks to come. I recommend that folks coming a long way think about doing other Southern California stuff, like Hollywood or Disneyland, and make a full-blown vacation out of it.

So here is GrooFest 2000 Organizing Committee Question #1:

When would it work out for you to come to Ojai next summer? Perhaps a better way to answer the question would be to tell me the days that will not be possible between June 20th and August 20th (approx. latest end of k-12 & approx. earliest start of college)

Back to the Con. There was a "Focus on Mark" on Thursday. It was cool. Basically, Mark told funny stories about his career for an hour while answering questions. Mark has met, is friends with, has worked with, or otherwise knows EVERYONE in comics and TV. He has written for some very successful TV shows and also for some bombs. (He had a running joke going about the careers he had assisted in killing.) However, I got the impression from some of the stories that a lot of TV writing is giving the producers what they want. If their concept sucks, the greatest writing in the world won’t save it.

Friday was the Groo Panel, which as others have said, was really great. Lots of funny stories about the creation of Groo, some of which I had heard before, but I didn’t care. Also they talked about how easy it is to work together. (Ken! There was no planned meeting afterward. We were just BS’ing in the hallway. I wish you had spotted us. I was the short guy with the Groo hat dragging around the maroon travel suitcase.) Right before the panel, I ran into Mark and he bought us a quick bite for lunch at a concession stand and we talked a bit.

I found out there will be a Groo Christmas ornament costing $19.95 put out by Moore Creations, Inc. Look for it in Previews in September. Clayton Moore does, among other things, really fabulous fantasy sculptures, some based on artwork of folks like Frank Frazetta. Sergio seemed really pumped that such an excellent sculptor would do one of his characters. He brought over a Groo statue and they were comparing sculpting points. Mr. Moore seemed really pumped that he was getting to do a Sergio character and was as excited about getting an autographed Groo statue as I was when I got mine signed. I love it when really talented folks act just like fans!!!

Tom and Stan are two of the nicest guys around. Stan is soft spoken and was there with his wife and two adorable children. He considers Sergio his major mentor and cannot go two minutes telling you about how he started Usagi or how he writes Usagi without mentioning Sergio. It was really great to see that Stan won an Eisner for "Grasscutter". Nate, you especially should check it out if you haven’t already. I told Stan beforehand that my not being there to jinx him assured he would win.

Tom is also rather soft spoken and also great to talk too. It was interesting to hear the details of how the steps between the colorist and the print plate were very labor intensive and how doing it by computer cuts out most of that, but is actually MORE time consuming for him. Sergio & Mark both gave high praise to Tom for his great coloring of Fanboy, matching the color scheme and style to the different artists’ work perfectly so that it looked like it had been taken right out of that artist’s book.

As for non-Groo stuff, I noticed more buxom women with whom guys could get their picture taken this year than last. More entertaining than looking at women was watching and listening to the guys who surrounded them. One guy was getting his picture taken with some woman whose real name is Alley something and has one of those comics where she is the main character as "Alley Cat". The signs said she was a Playboy lingerie model and she had her "Alley Cat" outfit on (more or less, mostly less). So anyway, this guy is getting his picture taken with his arm around her, and she’s got her arm around him and is striking a cozy pose. One friend is taking the picture and another friend is whispering into picture taker’s ear "Fumble with the camera or something. Give him a little more time." I almost fell on the floor laughing. That’s a guy I’d want in my foxhole!

Finally, (I can hear the sighs of relief) I also bought a piece of art from Sergio. I bought the art from the "Indicia" page of The Groo Adventurer. It’s a big pile of decimated warriors with Groo whistling a merry tune as he and Rufferto saunter off. Sergio told me to go away for a minute so he could add something to it and then I could figure out what it was. It turns out he seamlessly added a caricature of himself as another decimated warrior. Very Cool.

Well, that’s it. I hope you all found at least some part of my report interesting and didn’t mind too much wading through the rest. Don’t forget to let me know what days next summer you are NOT available to go to GrooFest. Take care all-Gary G.