A lot of surprises and new friends came my way, but the crown jewel of my preparations on that day was Marina Sirtis with my drawing of her!!
First, I wasn't sure it was a good idea. I found a paucity of references to it online: not much word out there. My comic book buddy Dana over at Adventures of a Comic Con Girl (check out her fan page on FB) was barnstorming everything remotely like a comic book convention, and I noted she was going...the table seemed affordable...the ride was about two hours on the bus, and I could figure out how to navigate my way across town the remaining three miles plus. So! I spent half the discretionary budget on a bicycle for Angela's upcoming vacation, so we could all ride together, and plunked the rest down on a table and ticket. Anaheim, here I come!
Words worth repeating...With habits, never give in or we lose our dignity. With the self, never give up or we lose our destiny. With others, never give your worst, or you will never develop your best. The saying, "what we give is what we receive". The lesson: Just to give.
What decided me was the idea of drawing the celebrities there giving autographs,so I started researching. Afterwards, I found out one of them has her own site, Max Wasa, which I recommend, as she was very personable and cool, and she's just signed for a new movie, EXECUTIVE RANKS! If you're headed to Comickazee, you should look up the NerdGirlz Booth!!!
I had not drawn as much, with Soul Rocket keeping me occupied (see MY fan page on FB, LOL), but once I started, with three days left, I knocked down one after the next. I had a nap the night before, but by bedtime, all I could think about was getting up and working on more pieces, because I was SO excited! What I pictured was a couple thousand people at least, and I figured they'd keep me awake. I also thought I'd get maybe two minutes with each celebrity, tops. What should I charge? What was something creative I could do with Boba Fett and his kid self? With Colossus? I finished my pencils of Raye Hollit from her webpage, and just barely got any sleep before morning. I was up early for the bus, back at work, and left the house at 7:30 am. This was going to work; this wasn't going to be like the glorified garage sale named the Los Angeles Science Fiction Convention!
I have a lot to tell you about this day. You're seeing actress Max Wasa, actor Marc Donato, American Gladiator Raye Hollit, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION's Marina Sirtis...there were others, like Daniel (X-MEN: THE LAST STAND, TWILIGHT) Cudmore, who I only spoke with momentarily, partially because of a lack of sleep and a place to recover...I literally have at least two thousand words, the content of which I've pondered over the weeks since. I have these drawings I'd like to finish, too...but that may be another blog!
Never mind the Greyhound had no air conditioning. It wasn't as bad as that sounds; ventilation came from SOMEwhere. We were going to stay over in Oceanside for a while, so I stretched my legs. We were still there. So, I walked over to Burger King, where a very nice Hispanic lady with a pretty smile took my order. With Angela, I would've gotten it to go. Silly me, I thought I could watch out the window. My breakfast next involved me getting up with a tray in my hands, running towards a bus as it pulled away! The drive let me aboard with a chuckle: "did you go to Booger King?" So here I sat, dipping my hashbrowns in ketchup on an accidentally purloined tray, which I kept all day, intending to return it to Oceanside Burger King.
In Anaheim, I had to wander around a couple of times to figure out where the bus stops were, first, then how to cross the street to the Howard Johnson. At least the bus had air conditioning, and hey, it wasn't even taking a toll for some reason, so the gregarious bus driver gave me a free lift.
Well, I walked in, tired, and started to worry. Things were a BIT smaller than I thought. Quite a bit. But you know what? First, I set up, then I got to know the actors and actresses over in my room ("is this the exile room?" I wondered). Marc and I talked about mountain biking; Max offered to make me some coffee the first time she talked to me. She just has this way of walking and moving that exudes appeal, and wore something conducive to mystique. She told me it was her birthday. Like a dummy, I asked her if she was kidding. She wasn't. Why couldn't someone unbelievably charming be utterly sincere, after all? That, she is. Later, she would show me her beautiful pictures and even her sketches and script for a cartoon. Then, she posed for some pictures: I couldn't seem to get my pencil started, which sounds like a personal problem, but we came up with something more sophisticated: she asked for a Dr. Who drawing with her, being surprised and whisked away.
As for Raye, she reminded me of my Dad's firecracker sisters. I gave her the print the Marc Kane had signed for her, and she replied: "you drew my BOOBS too small!!!" Ah, me. She actually taped the print up behind her table for everyone to see. First, she asked if I could help her find some tape, and I had seen some in the bedroom reserved for our breaks, complete with sandwiches with mayonaise, which I'll never touch. So I looked around again, and up walks Marina Sirtis, asking if she can help me. I tell her, and now, here's "Councilor Troi" from Star Trek: the Next Generation, who I watched for hours on end in school, casually searching for some adhesive tape in a hotel bedroom with me. I still smile at that.
When things were slow, most people took a smoke break. I don't smoke. Too bad! I think the social possibilities are what keep most smokers smoking, truth to tell.
I kept manning my table as though I were at a convention. Eventually, I just had nothing to hold me up, so I curled up on the bed for a few minutes, tired enough for tears. I had to get into a mindset to deal with this. The retail situation didn't look like it was going to work out to make enough to get me to another convention this summer. I kept in mind this dictum: "Be sure to have fun!!!" I felt so much responsibility to make it work. I'm trying to make this studio successful enough to bring my partner on board full time as well. Sometimes, I feel guilty that I have the freedom already, especially when I'm tired. But what about, "have fun?"
I sat and took some friendly retail advice and some suggestions for selling t-shirts from ...Betty! I'm sure her name was Betty, now. "You're being too serious, LOL" she told me, she even made me a list of ideas, like t-shirts featuring just the famous hair-do's of celebrities, like Amy Winehouse's beehive, which isn't really what I want to do. I'm an artist. (I'm too busy being tortured and extracting happiness from things any poor person in America can find ignored, right?) I want to make things that have meaning for me and share them, not just make things to sell. I'm a business person by default. But I recovered my energy. I did get some friendly customers and EMediastar even bought some of my things. Luann was very cordial, and Max and Marc were a lot of fun, and hearing about their careers and getting to know them took my mind off the rest. Finally, I decided to join the people hanging out at the pool; I envied the fun and energy Raye and the rest had for their fans, and tried to reach inside for some of that sunshine of my own. If there's one thing I've learned from this, you either need a very comfortable way to long distance shows, lots of sleep and less pre-show excitement, or a massive crowd keep you on your feet---and all three would be GREAT!!!
Once I started to schmooze, the rest did its trick, and from that point, I just had fun. The time was gone before I even got to know the two Daniels very well! They seemed fun---and getting to be ANY kind of Boba Fett is pretty cool (even in the later trilogy) and offered some artistic possibilities that might STILL be worth following up, if thinking about them did not make me feel so far behind...but then, I will have to really get the drawing bug again to start making a comic book again! And I have one poster in the cue for a lady who always wanted to be a comic book character, too. I'll tell you about Princess Jenn some other time.
Furthermore, I'd made an impromptu speech about being genuine to the core, how NOT to separate the self you put out there to meet people from a shadowed face that snips, judges and complains and nurses ill-will. If you are genuine through and through, you avoid the trap of superficiality, and you could do this by actively banishing such thoughts every day. Marc was so intrigued, and was such a nice guy, he gave me a lift to the Greyhound station, so we could talk about this and other philosophical points, as he navigated his own hopes and regrets in his career. For him, I've done a preliminary sketch featuring his character in the August Sci Fi movie "Haunted High" interacting with Danny Trejo---yes, "Machete"!---who plays a janitor who studies the occult, for the sake of his lost sister, anticipating the return of the evil headmaster from beyond the grave. Marc's character's probably the most complex of the lot, and I enjoyed the movie when I saw it the next week.
I still feel like I'm learning from that show. I wonder if I could've used the advice to give more away to make more sales? Always look like you have plenty, and roll them military-style---more good advice. The point was really to have fun and make contacts---after all, I'm not just a shirt or even a comic book vendor, I'm a writer, musician, and full-time nut! I especially second guess myself on Raye's picture, because she thought the penciled one was also for her, and I politely told her I planned to maybe sell it to a fan who would like to get her to sign it. I realize now it would've been better off on her table, and who knows, maybe I would've made a friend. You can't think in terms of scarcity, even while you're trying to be responsible. But hey! Marina traded me one of the photographs she sells for autographs for one of my pictures: "I want this one: they're both beautiful, but that one looks like my character, and THIS one looks like me in real life!" She also talked about football and natural cigarettes; she agreed, she's really one of the guys!
Dana also traded me a copy of her very fun comic book for a copy of my very scary and intimate one, and we had a nice chat, traded recommendations, and enjoyed meeting each other. She really liked my art, and c'mon, how can that not cheer you up? The people around me did give me that spark that helped me make the most of what turned out to be a cool day, and I got way more time with the people I talked to than I expected, much more casually. I thought I was too tired to go to the other room, until I wasn't; I couldn't let the opportunity just slip away, and they were obviously having fun in there. Sorry for whatever holes developed in my memory from exhaustion.
You start, when you are tired, being a little cautious about giving away things; you feel a responsibility to make your business work, and fatigue without those objectives achieved is cousin to despair. Believe me, when I thank all of you who are so nice and supportive to me, it's sincere, because there are times when the personal supply of energy can only take you so far, and you are trying to accomplish the unusual and surprising in a world filled with the same mundane obstacles as anyone else.
Yet, you're not just trying to win today, you build your future, and to this end, you have to promote yourself. Maybe one of those shirts should've went home with each celebrity, because you never know who will see it---and I should've gotten a picture with everyone, too. But most of all: more rest, decide you're going early, prepare more material for sale and promotion (that idea didn't hit me until I decided to purchase the table a few days before), and be yourself, have fun, spread joy, don't let the money angle shake you up. One contact with one sincere person could change your whole life in some way you don't even anticipate. It may have nothing to do with money at all; that's hardly the only reward in life. (Just one you can trade in for other privileges; it's stored, potential energy.)
Wish I had Max's Dr. Who drawing done...what a nice thing to slide to her before Comickazee this weekend! But I did complete the layouts from my head, last night, while the Marc typed up her part of a story we're making for a collection that would make you blush. Wanna see?
It's going to look so awesome...
Max is so full of sayings that center the peaceful heart. As time has gone by, her words have been the thing so valuable, I can never regret choosing Science Fiction Saturday Autograph Show by EMediastar. Next year, if I go, though, I think maybe a ticket will be enough. They were very cordial but their press efforts don't publicize the people who bought tables, but maybe that doesn't matter, isn't the point: I never would've gone without trying it with a table, because I am about cultivating the fortunes of Integr8d Soul. I don't pay to go out to things for fun, besides about four movie trips this summer. Integr8d Soul is too urgent for me to even have Netflix! But no--- I don't regret my trip at all!
And hey---it's knowing Max and Dana that put me in tune with Comickaze...so while I didn't make quite enough to go to that con...I learned it exists! That's how it goes...next year, when Integr8d Soul is bigger...
And next time?
I'll write something MUCH funnier. It's time.
My eventual masterpiece for Max Wasa. When I tried just searching for photo reference images on the fly, I had NO real idea where to find her site (Maxine, Max), but from there you can find AMAZING pictures. She was a big surprise, so it worked out cool that I didn't really know...
One other touch? What if I DRESSED like a guy who had written and drawn a chilling horror story? What if I wore one of my black leather jackets, some jeans, my combat boots...built a bit of mystique? Like Max did with her outfit. It's the story of a rebel, even my love is rebellious...of course, in that outfit, I would've burned to a crisp. One of the days, that's a trip I want to make on a motorcycle. I could've gone from generic to genre---gone with a LOOK that would've made more people take my picture. And black leather jackets, I might add, make great psychic armor for some people. Cuddly, approachable and comfortable, with curls you could imagine running your fingers through---that's how I bounce around. My t-shirt holds all the apparent mystique!
Marc and Raye