Finally, my SPACE 2004 report. So to speak.
Three pages of quick notes on SPACE 2004. That was all I had written for my con “report” after the event itself. I had hope some quick notes might jog my writer-self into a composing a column on the annual Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo held every April in Columbus, Ohio for the past five years. But the notes just sat on my desk and pretty soon were covered by other papers, bills, and whatnot.
Reports of the convention were soon posted on the Cerebus Yahoo!Group by my fellow Cerebites soon after the show. Lenny posted his best and worst of list of things at SPACE and then later a detailed recollection of the events of the weekend. ‘V’ posted his account of Saturday night spent in the bar / restaurant where all the exhibitors were given free food (but not drink) on Dave’s tab. V also posted his other SPACE con experiences. Larry, while a bit late to the show, still made it in time to see Dave and Ger and posted his travails of getting to the show and his experience there.
You would think the mood would be one of sulking depressed fangirls/boys who miss the aardvark now that #300 had come and gone. And while there was much talk about the end of Cerebus the series and the aardvark, the event was not a downer. Even more Cerebites had shown up this year then last; making the Third Annual Cerebite Gathering its largest yet.
I even risked my precious: Cerebus #1. As I stood in the huge, ever growing never shrinking line to see Dave, Ger and yes, Muppet-Cerebus, I clutched my copy of #1, hiding it behind issue #178 lest some other rabid fan try to wrest it from my sweaty palms (don’t worry, it was protected in a bag with backer board so my sweaty clutch couldn’t harm it). With each footstep closer and closer to the front of the line, my heartbeat seemed to increase also. Then finally, I was Next In Line.
Then Dave stood up. Oh, no, I thought, was he going to leave for a bathroom break or to say his prayer? Would I have to stand here longer waiting (im)patiently? Dave walked around the line and asked if anyone just wanted issues signed but no sketches done. A couple people took him up on his offer. And the guy pulled out a Cerebus #1! Argghh! The presence of my Cerebus #1 was diminished, Dave would be less impressed seeing as how two people in a row were pulling out #1s. I took a deep breath and bitch slapped my paranoid-self. I was next again. Then ‘V’ from the Cerebus Yahoo!Group asked if he too could get a quick signature so he could get back to his table. After one more quick signature I was really Next.
So what did I talk to Dave about? Not much. In fact, I really can’t remember now. I laid down issue #1 for him to sign and he asked me where I’d like it signed (first page, along the right edge of the page). I had brought my #1 more to confirm its authenticity then anything else – and who better to do that then Dave himself? There had been some question about the color of staples in an original #1, but with Dave’s signature it was confirmed that silver staples are indeed the original version.
I quickly hid by issue #1 from plain sight again and pulled out issue #178 “Revelations”. I had just reread Reads (since I got the first 15 phonebooks recently at half price, woohoo!) and the phonebook was a lot better reading this time around. I don’t know why, but I kept going ahhh, or ummm while posing like The Thinker and rubbing my non-existent goatee. Reads had made me think once again and I was torn between issue #178 and #179 to bring Dave and Ger to sign. Issue 178, if you don’t recall, is when Po talks to Cirin, Astoria and Cerebus. (To me, Po is the opposite side of the coin to Viktor Davis and in both I can see bits of Dave Sim from what I’ve read in his essays, NFTP, etc: Dave is not one or the other, but an amalgamation of the two to some extent.) Issue #179 is the conclusion of Po’s talk to the three of them, and Po’s comment (page 80 of the phonebook): (to Cerebus) “You, I’ve never known. I’ve watched your every move…listened to your every word. I’ve shared your every waking thought. There hasn’t been a day go by that you haven’t surprised me.” Both issues stood out amongst the other issues of Reads. Why I just didn’t bring the phonebook itself, I don’t know – perhaps next year.
So Dave does a little head sketch of Cerebus for me and slides the comic over to Gerhard. I step over to his half of the table admiring the life size (yes, really) Cerebus Muppet. I talked to Ger about the Muppet as prolly everyone else in line had. Ger said that he had made the 8 hour car trip with the Muppet and he would not do it again. I just laughed to myself at the pictures of Most Holy and Ger on a road trip together. Though later Sarah, Tony P's wife, took my picture with Most Holy.
Then I asked Ger the one question everyone else asks: What is your last name? He looked over at Dave, who just smiled and continue doing a sketch for the person in line behind me. Ger asked me, do you really want to know? And I said yeah, just out of curiosity more then anything else. So he said how he didn’t have his driver’s license with him, and Dave told the story how Ger had been asked that same question by a fan years ago and Ger pulled out his driver’s license for the fan to see.
Ger looked around in his bags under the table and produced a slip of paper, he started writing on it and then handed it to me. Umm. I put the paper back down on the table. It was his SPACE 2004 name tag – which on the front just had Gerhard written on it. I picked it up again and looked at it. I asked him if I could keep it and he said sure, the whole time with a big smile on his face prolly from the look of an astonished fangirl. Heh.
And no. I’m not going to tell what Ger’s first/last name is. You’ll have to find out for yourself.
When I was done, I had safely folded the paper up and put it in my pocket and I went up to my room to secure my Cerebus #1. The day was still young.
I made my rounds though the many rooms with creators, stopping at a few to chat and see if they had any new stuff. Though I always found my way back to The Line. It was interesting to see what all the other Cerebus fans had brought Dave to sign. From issue #1 (I saw another one later that day, bringing the total to 3 that I know of) to the promo poster for High Society to a piece of original art (from the Spirits of Independence tour stop in Columbus) there were a lot of cool Cerebus items floating around. One guy had brought a box (!) filled with Cerebus appearances in Epic, Swords, Turtles, etc (Update: This same guy, Matt, gave Dave a gold plated watch for his retirement. Go to Matt's page to see his SPACE 2004 photo and what Dave sent him in thanks.) A lot of people had brought issue #300 – I was thinking of bringing #1 and #300 at one point to bookend it, but thought nah, too cheesy – Dave prolly signed at least one copy of the first 15 phonebooks.
A Cerebus fan had made what I would call a Trailer for a Cerebus movie. More like a promo for Cerebus the series, Brian had taken art from the books, some fabulous classical music and his narration to give a dvd presentation of Cerebus. It was great, and Dave asked if it could be put in the public domain for all to see. Brian agreed and said that he would get it posted to a website some where for all to download and appreciate.
Eventually I was tired of standing and walking so a bunch of the “Yahoos” as Dave had taken to calling us made our way to the lobby and sat in the way too comfortable seats there. The lobby was the scene of many an “Incident”: from Lenny killing my cell phone to Larry’s arrival to the post Sausage Haus gathering spot, we must’ve put on quite a show for the hotel staff.
And about 5 o’clock while we were sitting in the lobby someone came down and told us that at 6pm Dave and Ger would post with the “Yahoos” for a group shot. So for the next hour we waited for Dave and Ger to wrap things up. By 5:30 we were sitting at the empty table right beside Friends of LuLu still giggling to ourselves about how Dave was moved right across from them. Ironic in an Alanis Morrisette way.
Finally 6pm came around and Ger came over, he had his camera on the ready and we gathered by the stairs for a picture. We all took our spots, but Dave wasn’t there! We started snapping pictures anyways, as Ger and the gathered Cerebites were all posing. Ger gave up on waiting for Dave, who was still answering questions, and went to the bar for a beer. A couple Cerebites left to go buy him a drink. About two minutes later, Dave showed up. More posing and picture taking later, Dave wished us well and went to eat dinner. It was too bad we couldn't get the two of them together, but it wasn't nothing a little photoshopping couldn't fix.
Starting the previous night, there was talk of a Schmidt’s Sausage Haus in the German town section of Columbus for sausages and beer. I laughed at this and the name, but we managed to get three cars all at different times and head over there. And somehow, we managed to miss our exit, but still managed to find our way there. After fun pics of Steve B and his wife Susan in traditional German garb, and a bit of a wait for a table, we were escorted to a table in the back. We started to feast on sausage and sour kraut (ohhh, so very yummy!) and excellent German beer when in walked more Cerebites. We had come at different times, but still managed to be seated close by each other. After the scared couple seated between us left, Cerebus (the toy) took over the center table for some drinking of a stout or two. A large pastry later, we headed back to the hotel.
Where we were up ‘till 3am (thanks to the spring forward) in the lobby talking a bit off all comic knowledge. The hotel staff were about to kick us out of the lobby and into the convention floor so we could be loud and rowdy there. Maybe they were worried we would wake up Lenny?
The next morning over breakfast we said our goodbyes. And eventually Larry and myself, the feminist-homosexual alliance, left for the airport. I said good-bye to Larry and we made our separate ways: him to Chicago and me to New England. Another SPACE convention in the history books, and another year to start planning for the next one.
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.