Comfort Love & Adam Withers (comfort_adam) wrote,
Comfort Love & Adam Withers

Convention Report: Dragon*Con 2010

And lo, it came time to present a journeyman’s log of our trip to the fabled sunken city of Atlanta to slay the beastial Dragon*Con. The peasants rejoiced.

Our Heroes Continue Their Epic Journey!

Welcome to part two of the recap of our two-week tour from Baltimore to Atlanta. When last we left our intrepid us’s, we had narrowly escaped the burning of Philadelphia and set sail on the asphalt ocean to sail south – deep south. After around 14 hours of travel over two days, we arrived at the humble but beautiful abode of the famed duo, Jeremy and Kelly Dale. And oh, what a glorious dwelling place in which to, uh, dwell! Such fine chambers, such marvelous accommodations!

Ach, enough of the olden tyme speak. Let's start showing the many, many sketches we did over the weekend while we roll into more contemporary dialogue...

Riddler by Adam

Team Rocket by Comfort

Red Sonja Sketch Card by Adam

Pizzazz and Speed by Comfort

Cosplayer as The Shadow and the REAL Shadow by Adam

So we shows up at Jeremy and Kelly’s digs and find that it’s a fantastic place. Their apartment grounds reminded us a lot of our old place in Grand Rapids. It was almost a homesick feeling, in a way. But where our old apartment felt like it was nestled in a summer camp, theirs had a more tropical feeling to it. There was even bamboo growing!

And the apartment itself was nothing to sneeze at. Spacious and well-appointed, it was a very sweet, homey place. And we immediately fell in love with the studio – it was just awesome. There was comic art hanging everywhere, a big wooden desk that felt like it came off a sailing vessel circa 1765, and a big array of shelves filled with comics and statues. He even had a spinner rack full of comics! Sweet!

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention Kirby. Kirby is the Dale’s dog, and he is, in a word, hilarious. Easily one of the most energetic, lovable dogs we’ve ever encountered, Kirby made us laugh the whole time we were there. He runs in circles, he hops up and down on his back legs, he can be commanded to go to a spot in the room where he’ll sit anxiously while awaiting permission to move around again… Kirby was fantastic. And watching them interact with their dog was icing on the cuteness cake, because the three of them have a kind of repartee that was utterly adorable.

White Queen by Comfort

White Queen by Adam

The Golden Rose by Comfort

Nightcat by Adam

Tigra... with extra arms? By Comfort

So we hung out with them and Kirby, though they had to leave for a while to be at a wedding reception for mutual friends. Which was cool, because it gave us some one-on-one time to really get to know Kirby better. He certainly wanted to get to know us, that’s for sure. And when they got back: Rock Band. Oh, yeah.

We love these guys!

We had all gone downtown to set up at the convention earlier that day, and we got our first look at what Dragon*Con would be. Here is where we should explain our curious expectations of this show. See, unlike normal cons, DC isn’t held in a convention center. It’s held in a series of four hotels over a couple blocks of downtown Atlanta. Not only that, but every hotel has different programming catering to different audiences. Dragon is a comic show, an anime show, an RPG show, a cosplay show, a sci-fi/fantasy novel show – it’s everything.

But more than that, it’s a huge party show. For adults. We’ve been to Anime Cons that felt like big party-shows (re: Otakon for a big example), but where they were definitely aimed 15-25, Dragon was a place where the 21+ crowd could get wild and have some wild times. We heard tales of booze vendors with push-carts, kilt-related shenanigans, and costumes that pushed the boundaries of decency by a fair margin. All of which sounded awesome.

But we also heard that it was really hard for comic creators in the Comic Artist Alley area to do any business. In previous years they had been relegated to hotel basements and cramped confines far from the other artists and the official Art Show. Only the dedicated comic fans would ever come to find them, and at a show that was as diverse as Dragon, you couldn’t count on a large comic fanbase. We’d heard horror stories from pro friends of ours, and tales of big name types never bothering to sit at their tables, choosing instead to just wander the show and have fun. So what we were expecting was a four-day weekend of wild shenanigans but with very meager sales at best.

Skrap Metal by Adam

Sylvia Savage by Comfort

Sokka by Adam

Nightcrawler by Comfort

Lykan and Kanis by Adam

When we set up Thursday afternoon, the Comic Creator space was actually pretty well appointed and nicely laid out. It was one of the smaller Artist Alleys we’d seen, but not tiny; it was snug. Of course, the adjoining Art Show had way more room and big caged doors to prevent people sneaking in or out. It seemed a little ridiculous, but whatever. Anyway, it looked nicer than we expected, but we still had low expectations for what the weekend would bring.

Friday morning, we got up nice and early and rolled down to the hotel quad. We finished last-minute setups and settled in for… whatever might come. To our surprise, within an hour we had our first set of commissions.

And it didn’t stop.

For six hours.

We were drawing commissions non-stop for six hours.

When we left the show that night, we had six more to finish before Saturday. It was nuts. And Jeremy had had just as crazy a day, including some major art sales, so we all decided maybe we’d have a low-key night, get our drawing done, and we’d go out and hang out downtown Saturday night. It was actually really nice, all of us chilling in Jeremy’s studio and drawing while watching the delightful Hot Tub Time Machine. Working on our own all the time, sometimes just having other artists around to sketch with feels like a vacation all its own.

Mystique as Poison Ivy Sketch Cover by Comfort

Power Girl by Adam

Power Girl by Comfort

Ming the Merciless by Adam

Wonder Woman by Comfort

So we roll in Saturday with our sketches almost all done, then headed out to watch the famed Dragon*Con Parade. This thing was awesome. All the people in costume marched through the streets; some made floats, some had themed vehicles they were driving around, all were in costumes each more elaborate than the last. Rather than going on and on describing it, we’ll share the video we shot. That should give you a good sense of the goings on.

There's a lot more video on our YouTube channel, so you can go there to see everything we shot. It was awesome. We’d never seen anything like it, and we’ve been doing cons for 8 years. With happy smiles we returned to our tables for another day of con work. At which point, we were immediately hit with more commission requests. And, again, it didn’t stop the rest of the day. If anything, it was better than the day before. By the end of the day, we had already had more commissions than any show ever, between those we’d finished and those lined up on the list. We left the show with eleven sketches to finish that night. Can you believe it?

So once again, we skipped after-show shenanigans and went back home to work. Sunday, we went back to the show and repeated the friggin’ process all over again. This time we left with another TEN commissions to finish. We were out of our minds! By the middle of the day Monday, we had to start turning people away in order to finish everything before the show was over.

She-Hulk Sketch Cover by Adam

Usopp by Comfort

The Tenth Doctor by Adam

Phoenix by Comfort

Original Character by Adam

When it was all said and done, we’d completed 43 commissions. In four days. But that isn’t all, because as insane as this show was for sketches, it was equally nuts for comic sales, much to our surprise. We sold out of Rainbow in the Dark issues by Sunday afternoon and Uniques Omnibi by Monday morning. People would buy the first issue of Uniques, then come back and demand we sell them the Omnibus. Nothing makes us happier than selling our comics to people and having them get so much enjoyment from them. It just—it feels good. We can’t even really describe it, but having people come up to us who read and loved our work that much is probably the best feeling we ever get at a show.

We got to sit on a couple panels over the weekend too, which was a blast. The first was on Mature Comics (‘cause we loves to curse in Uniques), which was much less about boobies and f-bombs and a lot more about making comics that aim for more intellectual honesty and adult themes. There was a lot of talk about body issues and gender issues, language, and growth and change in comics in general. It was really a much more pleasantly high-brow experience than you might have expected. Then Monday, Comfort was on a panel about marketing yourself in the comic world (Adam was busy sketching and watching the table). It was really successful, and though she was painfully honest (even brutally so, at times), it was good that people know exactly what they’re getting themselves into and how tough this job can really be. Afterward, we had a nice talk with another woman from the panel that was a nice meeting of the minds.

We got to do some portfolio reviews for a trio of awesome people, which is something we enjoy being able to do. Portfolio reviews at cons were the single most important part of our artistic development, and if we can pass that on then we’re honored to be able to do so. We got to say hey to some friends we rarely see, including the guy who most consistently put the bug in our bonnet to get us to Dragon*Con in the first place (we tip our caps, Cap’n). Though, due to the sheer amount of work we were doing, we didn’t get to spend any real time with anybody.

Seriously, if we had one complaint about Dragon – and it’s a silly one, we know – it’s that we were so busy working our hands off that we never got to really experience the show. No lie, one night the Coast Guard was called in to evacuate a hotel that was over-capacity. The hotel was a-rockin’, and we missed it! Another hotel caught fire – twice! And we missed it!!! We saw tons of people with hangovers every morning, but nary a single act of drunken ridiculousness at night! Of all the shows we’ve ever been to, this was the one we most wanted to go out and people-watch at. It sounded like it would be an absolute blast. And we missed all the crazy because we had so much work to do that there wasn’t time.

Yeah, we know – boo hoo, right? Well, we’re done complaining. What’s important is that we had an absolutely amazing time. We drew lots of pictures, we met lots of neat people, we got to at least say hello to some older and newer friends, and we managed to make a butt-load of money at a show where we were warned we’d barely break even. Jeremy and Kelly are two of our favorite friends, and we got to spend loads of time with them. We all went out on Monday night to get burgers (Boardwalk Burgers = Awesome) and see the Scott Pilgrim movie. Adam and Jeremy played a bad-a Terminator: Salvation arcade game while Kelly and Comfort took a long walk around the theater. The movie was awesome (haters can suck it), and the night ended with more Rock Band and some much-needed sleep.

Hetalia's Britain by Adam

The request here was "Belle in her librarian dress doing
the 'Say hello to my little friend' scene from Scarface.
So here you go. By Comfort

Stargirl by Adam

Havok and Fan Portrait Sketch Cards by Comfort

Ms. Freedom by Adam

Fan Portraits by Comfort

Tuesday we packed it in and hit the road once more for another 2-day trip to get back home. Our kitties were ecstatic to see us again (and still haven’t stopped cuddling up to us every night while we’re trying to sleep), and we were happy to be back. On the one hand, we had a fantastic time with some fantastic friends, on the other hand it’s always nice to be back home again after so long away. There’s just something about being in your own bed, using your own shower, sitting in your own chairs…

Before we wrap this recap with some pictures of the few costumes we got to see (seriously, go google “Dragon*Con 2010 costumes” and be amazed at the amazing costumes we didn’t get to see!), we want to take a special time out to extend our greatest possible thanks to the Glass and Dale families for taking us in and giving us places to sleep while we were on this grand adventure. A trip like this would have been absolute murder if we hadn’t had the hospitality of such great friends to make our time enjoyable and fill our long nights with laughs and thoughtful conversation instead of day after day of grimey hotels and cramped spaces. Thanks so much, we can’t express the amount of gratitude we feel.

So that’s all for now. We’re working really hard to wrap Rainbow #2 and will be back with more previews soon. Enjoy the rest of our sketches and some of our photos, and we’ll see you later!

-Adam & Comfort

Cloud and Tifa by Comfort and Adam

Slave Leia vs. Witchblade Sketch Cover by Adam

Fan Portrait as Aquaman and Vixen by Comfort

Wonder Woman regressing by Adam

Original Characters by Comfort

Original Character by Adam

Batgirl by Comfort

The Collector by Adam

Original Character by Comfort

And the photos...


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