Well, I didn’t almost die today, so that’s cool.

I left the laptop in the hotel room this afternoon, because as it’s the first laptop ever created, it clocks in at a sizable ten pounds, and after several hours with the thing slung over my shoulder, the pain shows up in earnest. So I’m traveling lean and planning to explore the exhibit hall a bit more, as I became understandably preoccupied at the Arcade booth for much of yesterday.

With a fresh injection of cash into my bank account by way of the miracle of direct debit, I actually began entertaining the possibility of shopping at the con, because most of my money had been earmarked for food. My boy Nate and I met Randy Lander and Don MacPherson from The Fourth Rail, and turns out we were staying at the same hotel.

I couldn’t talk to them initially because I was in the process of sending yesterday’s column from the hotel business center (please don’t ask me the exorbitant amount I’m shelling out to do this either), but we talked about comic movies on the shuttle ride over, and Nate tried valiantly to defend the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen flick. Despite his efforts, I still think I’m waiting for the DVD.

Checked in at Arcade first thing, and told them when I would be back to sign books, and next ran into Matt Fraction, after wandering over to Kieron Dwyer’s booth and picking up their new book Last of the Independents. Larry Young from AiT/PlanetLar walked me over there actually, and I’ll be back tomorrow to pick up Brian Wood’s Couriers, and Ellis’ Switchblade Honey. Fraction’s an extremely cool guy and Dwyer let me peek at a binder that contained a few “unannounced” things they were working on. Can’t wait to read the book as I’m a big fan of the work Fraction did while at CBR, writing his Poplife column. Most likely, it’ll be something that I’ll read and wish there was still a New Hotness to brag about it in.

Ducked out for an early lunch, and sped back to the center for the Vertigo panel, which was likely THE most crowded thing creative line-up I’ve ever seen. Neil Gaiman was there, alongside Grant Morrison, Pia Guerra, Brian K. Vaughan, Jill Thompson, Brian Azzarello, Andy Diggle, Eduardo Risso, Marcelo Frusin, Steve Seagle, Mike Carey, Bill Willingham, David Tischman, Shelly Bond, and Steve Dillon, with Karen Berger hosting the proceedings. They talked about their current projects, in conjunction with a slideshow, and somewhere along the way, announced that Grant Morrison just signed an exclusive deal with DC for the next two years. I don’t know if it’s Didio, or the pendulum attempting to swing itself in the other direction, but the Distinguished Competition is coming for blood, and Grant is a wonderful feather in their cap. And he’s doing something absolutely huge for the DCU, that I’ve been secretly informed about, and refuse to reveal here. But jaws will drop, trust me.

Did a little signing at Arcade, and talked to Rob about what we’re going to spring with Brigade and some other things he wants to throw my way. Marat Mychaels is once again assuming the art chores on Brigade, and he keeps joking that no one will let him draw anything anymore. I told him I’d write him a story to change all that, but that’s just the bravado talking, and crazy thoughts of writing a tale that recasts superhumans as weapons of mass destruction, sold and traded on the black market. But I may change my mind and take it in another direction. We’ll see.

Joe Quesada’s Cup of Joe was the usual entertaining blend of levity and frankness, the EIC even publicly admitting that the FF/Waid situation was entirely mishandled, and answering my question about the NYX book he’s writing with Josh Middleton on art. I was riding with Marlan Harris, who won that Marvel Talent Search a couple years back, and we ended up sitting directly in front of Matt Brady from Newsarama. Then things got really interesting.

Scored an invite to the Marvel Hospitality Suite, and made the walk over after picking up John Layman and David Baron. I’d tell you who threw me the invitation, and why it was thrown, but I’ve probably already said too much.

So we get there to find the room empty save an editorial assistant named Janet, that preceded to offer us food. We politely declined for about a minute, before hunger overrode etiquette, and before long, we were helping ourselves to sandwiches and drinks, thinking how funny it would be if Quesada or Alonso walked in at that exact moment, and found us helping ourselves to the spread. Everyone felt like we were crashing the party…except there was no party. Everybody makes plans to come back a bit later.

I was intending to hit the Eisners, but no one seemed particularly interested, and going back to the Marvel Suite later on meant that I had to get started on this installment. Tried to order a pizza to the room, and the delivery guy makes it to our door, with an extensive apology about how he gave our pizza to somebody else, and all he has left is this Hawaiian thing. As tempting as that was, the order was placed again, and I settled in front of the computer, figuring the food would show up, we’d eat, and then head back to the Marvel gathering. Only my pizza didn’t show up, and it was getting so late that we just went to the Marvel thing hungry.

On the elevator ride up (the suite was on the 23rd floor) we ran into Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, Duncan Rouleau and J. Michael Straczynski, which was completely fine by me, as we got to follow them in and didn’t have to con our way inside, something I was afraid may happen. “Oh yeah, I’m doing that Youngblood book with Rob Liefeld. Brandon Thomas. No, Thomas. Seriously, I was invited.” Once becoming comfortable with the idea that I was sharing space with Quesada, Humberto Ramos, and JMS, I relaxed and chatted a bit with inker Walden Wong, a couple of UDON staffers, and the colorist from League of Extradordinary Gentlemen, who like me, got to do his first signing at the con. A real cool cat that offered to do a naked Invisible Man sketch for Nate.

We left the thing, still hungry as all hell, and beginning to think that perhaps we were destined NOT to eat tonight. After reaching the hotel room, gave the pizza place one last chance to deliver the goods (they actually did) and am now thinking of all the things I have to do tomorrow on my last day. Tired just thinking about it…


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