On April 21, 2002 the Small Press and Alternative Comics Convention (SPACE Con) was hosted by Back Porch Comics in Columbus Ohio. I had heard about the convention in January 2002. I had decided to attend so I could finally meet Dave Sim and Gerhard. Nowadays Dave and Gerhard only do one con a year, and this was it.

So I got my plane tickets and reserved a hotel room, the Days Inn right on the Ohio State Fairgrounds where the SPACE con was to be held. This was in January during the break between fall and spring semesters. Soon school started back up, and I nearly forgot about SPACE. I had marked it on my daytimer though, and when April rolled around finally I got excited. And nervous.

I thought and thought about what to bring for Dave to sign. Should I bring an issue of Cerebus for him and Gerhard to sign? But I already had several Cerebus comics signed by him. How 'bout a sketchbook or a nice piece of blank paper for a sketch? But I already had a sketch of Cerebus and Jaka. I thought of bringing my Cerebus #1, but thought if anything every happened to it I'd die. (Well, not litterally, but you know what I mean I'm sure.) What to bring. What to bring.

So I thought about my reason for making the journey from the East Coast to the midwest. To meet Dave Sim and Gerhard. To verify for myself that they are real and not figments of my imagination. I wanted to shake Dave's hand and get my picture taken with him and to say thanks for the great comic. So I went to the store and got myself one of those little disposable cameras.

A last minute decision was to bring issue #162, the issue from which I had gotten the panel for my tattoo. And I mean last minute. Five minutes after I tracked it down sitting in a pile of Cerebus comics I was out the door and headed to the airport.

After a couple flights, one thunderstorm and a taxi ride later I found myself trying to get into my Day's Inn room. They had those key card type things -- slide the credit card looking piece of plastic though the lock and open the door. Well, the door only opened for like one millisecond. It took me several tries to get into the room. And after a long day of school and traveling I didn't feel like messing around with some door lock.

Anyways. I got myself settled and turned on the teevee. Thats when I heard it. Voices outside of my room. I muted the teevee and put my ear up against the door to listen.

Now, I had heard Dave Sim's voice before -- I had gotten a copy of some magazine that was on CD rom, which had an audio interview with him on it. So I knew what his voice sounded like.

And that was the voice I heard outside my door. I was tempted to go outside and see for sure, 'cause I couldn't see anything though the peephole in my door, but I decided against it. I didn't want to look like the crazy fangirl. Gah.

So I set my alarm and went to bed.

The morning brought sunny skies and morning traffic. And barking dogs. Some dog show was going on at the same time on the fairgrounds, and they were all getting ready to head over there. I went down to the lobby, got my free contential breakfast and ask the clerk where the expo center was located on the fairgrounds. She pointed right across the street at the building with the red top.

I headed back up to my room and met up with two comic book guys getting ready to head out to the con. How did I know they were comic book guys? Lets just say I have my ways. They introduced themselves as Rob and Rick, of Teenagers From Mars fame. We headed over to the con together talking along the way. I got to the Expo center and found out that the con was being held across the street from it at the Rhodes Center.

The time was only 9:45am and the two of them went inside to set up shop. I hung outside, waiting for the ten o'clock show time start. Finally, I went inside and gave the lady my $4.00. "My first paying customer." She said. I just smiled back and said thank you. I didn't want to look like too much the fangirl.

I looked at the board to locate Dave and Gerhard's table. Once I did that, I looked over at it (it was just down from the entrance) and didn't see anything. The table was empty and no one was around. Umm. I wondered to myself. I hope they didn't cancel. So I started looking around at all the other creators. Made my way up and down the aisles, getting plenty of small press comics and zines.

I would talk about them all here, but this column is for my Cerebus experience. Reviews fo minis and zines are for a later column.

So after walking around a bit -- I had lost all track of time, looking at all the comics and spending lots of money does that to me -- I had finally gotten to the aisle where Dave and Gerhard had set up shop. They had a couple people in line so at first I just walked by. Finally, I couldn't contain myself any longer and went up to stand by and see what was going on.

I looked over, and I saw him. Under his black button up shirt, I could barely see the top of a Cerebus tee shirt. Not Dave Sim silly. Tony P from the Cerebus Yahoo!group. We talked for a bit, and then it was finally my turn to meet Dave.

I sat my purse down beside the table (it had all the stuff I had gotten so far and was pretty heavy) and put #162 down on the table. I must've looked pretty nervous 'cause Dave stood up. I shook hands with him and said hello. I asked if it would be okay if I could take my picture with him. He said sure, and Tony volunteered to do the grunt work. While I picked my purse back up to search for my camera, Dave sat down and took my issue. He asked who he should make the sketch out to.

I said 'Margaret.' He looked up at me, wrote my name down on the first page of the comic and did a double take.

"Margaret?" he asked.


"Margaret Liss?"

"Yes, that is me."

He smiled, and went back to drawing. The rest of the time, I could not say a word. I was amazed that he remember my name. Of course, all those letters I've written in. Seesh. Dave started sketching a Cerebus head, and I finally found my camera. So Dave got up, and asked to see my tattoo.

I took off my spring coat and lifted up my sleeve to show him. He looked at it, said not bad, but don't do that again. I promised him I wouldn't and Tony took our picture. I was just amazed. Dave urged Tony to take a couple more shots just in case something happened to the first one, and then he sat back down to continue the sketch.

Watching Dave sketch, using a ballpoint pen he had gotten from some hotel room, wiping off the extra ink with a tissue, and periodically pausing to take a drink from his V8, I felt like a ten year old girl meeting their popstar idol. I can't really explain it. It isn't sexual in nature. Heck, I'm a lesbian. So I don't want to have Dave's kids. It was just to meet someone who I respect so much, whose work I love so much -- it was a little overwhelming.

So when Dave finished the sketch for me, I said thank you and moved over to meet Gerhard. The whole time Dave had worked in silence. Not saying anything, just concentrating on the sketch. The next fan walked up, and Dave's attention turned to him. Gerhard had started working on the background for the sketch, and I watched him work.

After a while I said it would drive me crazy to do all those lines all day. Gerhard looked up at me with a gleam in his eye and said crazy? No, not us! and laughed. Gerhard was just as nice as Dave and within minutes my sketch was done. I thanked them both and left with Tony to go get some lunch.

Next column: Part two of my Dave Sim and Gerhard SPACE con 2002 experience. Or yes, we went back a second time.

From the Cerebus Fangirl Site found on the web at: http://www.cerebusfangirl.com contents maybe printed for later reading if you so desire, just don't copy it and say it's yours though.