Paul Goes to NYCC 2010 in Words and Pictures

Told myself I'd get a lion's share of Z's Thursday into Friday, be well rested by 5AM when I'd need to shuffle out of bed and do a little dance under the shower head. Instead I spent most of that night thinking about what sketches to ask for from the artists in their Alley. Was like a kid on Christmas Eve, desperate to Harriet the Spy some surveillance photography of Santa Claus brushing snickerdoodle crumbs from his beard. I slept a minute or two here and there and clung to the wall of the shower like a strung-out hieroglyph. In this moment, I hated comics and everyone involved in their production. It took three tries to get my socks on right.

It was brisk and black when I hopped the regional rail down the street from my door, and the sun didn't turn up until I placed my temple to the window of the Amtrak train to New York. I was seated next to a verbose Swedish gentlemen who scowled dramatically at his friend across the aisle when a girl a few rows ahead commented on a stranger's copy of The Girl Who Played with Fire. The Swede never spoke to me, never offered a morsel when he pulled a cartoonishly large sampler of chocolates from his bag. He sat there through most of our trip, flipping through the complimentary magazine, plucking gourmet chocolates like a scorned lover on Valentine's Day. I listened to podcasts and looked for alligators in that marshy section of murk that looks kind of like the Everglades between New Jersey and New York. My ears popped when they were supposed to and I was spit out into the catacombs beneath Penn Station.

My host for the weekend was the gracious and funny Timmy Wood, easily recognizable as a live action Woody from Toy Story. We rolled out to Brooklyn, napped for a bit until making the return trip into Manhattan. It wasn't until we ducked out of the apartment that I noticed the deer head mounted over the kitchenette. One of my favorite details of the weekend was that this head, known fondly as Head, was there before any of the current occupants had moved in. I slept well during my stay in Brooklyn, fell asleep to the sounds of the neighborhood, enjoyed watching locals huddled around windows displaying Spanish language slapstick. Timmy was a wonderful sherpa throughout, making me feel cozy in a strange new land, reminding me to laugh on the humid subway rides. He was the Bat Lash to my mumbly, haggard Jonah Hex. We were beset, for a time, by the closing of the L line, which complicated our back-and-forths from the convention and its parties. But he always had a plan B, and we missed very little.

This year's convention was massive, the comic portion of the con having infected the whole of the Jacob Javits Center and then parceling out a celler space for the Anime Festival. Artists' Alley itself lived and hummed in a section comparable to the entirety of my own city's Wizard World Philadelphia (which I experienced in a single 45 minute burst earlier this year.) In past years I have tried to stroll through the entire convention to make the most of my trip, but this year the surge of people made such a task seem like a trial to be chronicled by blind Greeks. Visiting the restroom involved submitting yourself to the sea of fans and press and exhibitors and professionals. A sea which knew no low tide. You waded out and looked not for openings, but for swells that might carry you to your intended destination, praying that a riptide wouldn't find you and claim you and deliver you unto a professional wrestler's table or into the gullet of a wayward Ugly Doll.

Thus I spent much of my time at our own iFanboy and booth eating fruit salads and showing visitors how to find their favorite comics in the iPad app. Good company there as Adrienne of was lovely and patient and ran an organized ship, the boys made frequent stops to talk about interviews, and friends like Ali and Doug Hills sketched in my book. Chris Neseman and Jason Wood showed me pictures of their art rooms on their iPads. So many of our readers stopped by to share tales from artists' alley and show off some treasures, or even just to say hello. This was the first con where I was recognized by voice, which was surreal and incredible and not at all expected. If you stopped by to shake hands, I want to thank you and I want you to know that I do not for a second take your kind words for granted. We say it all the time, but it's worth shouting from the rooftops. We have the best community in this industry. We do. 

Okay. You're probably wondering about the art. Two pre-orders going in. Harry Houdini by Tom Fowler and Man-Thing by Declan Shalvey. I'm a bit of a (lowercase) magic geek, especially in terms of its history and the promotional art associated with some of the big names. I knew the artist from Mysterius the Unfathomable would probably have a knack for that kind of thing, and Fowler delivered a pretty amazing shackled Houdini. He told me that his research introduced him to Houdini pulp novels and that the escape artist was seemingly a magnet for evil robots, so he added that great Cyberman looking shadow. Things do not look good for our hero, and that makes for a great image. Shalvey, an Irish artist currently working on the Shadowland issues of Thunderbolts, is another great talent I became aware of through the TwArt blog, and I knew I needed to request that Man-Thing. By the time I met him on Saturday morning, his hands were covered in ink. That's the kind of hog-wild passion I love to see. 

Two more major commissions, both from the same table. Thursday night I'd decided I had to track down Mahmud Asrar (Dynamo 5) and Yildiray Cinar (Legion of Super-Heroes) for their marker commissions. Yildiray's blog is rife with incredible images of cosmic power, and I remembered he was a big fan of Simonson's Thor, so I had to ask for the thunder god. The man knows how to convey majesty and power, and I was floored by this one. It was Mahmud who knew me by voice, and he also surprised me by adding a levitating fuzzy typewriter (my Twitter handle, and the name of my podcast) to the spectacular Zatanna image he created for me. I smiled like a maniac. If you see these guys on a con roster, make them a priority. 

I already have a pair of his daily sketches purchased from his Etsy shop, but I kept hearing that current Hulk artist Gabriel Hardman was selling some top notch work for criminally low prices. Josh has compared Hardman's style to that of Michael Lark, and I think that's pretty spot on. Like another of our favorites, Chris Samnee, the guy knows how light and shadow work, resulting in some tremendous drama and atmosphere. He's also a discerning and thoughtful storyteller and one of the nicest guys I've met at a convention. I flipped through his pages with Timmy, and we both bought our first pages of original art right then and there. Timmy grabbed a piece from a flashback scene in Doctor Voodoo #2 that would've felt right at home in a treasury of EC Horror's best. I picked up a page from Avengers vs. Atlas #3 featuring several Avengers, one of the best gorilla heads you'll ever see, and the Hulk on a rampage. We couldn't stop talking about our pages for the rest of the day. Would Timmy's girlfriend like the Doctor Voodoo page? "I hope you like mummies…" A later text would confirm that she did like it.

Sunday was all about meeting with creators in artists' alley and at the booth and walking away with some unexpected free sketches. I chatted with Peter David about Young Justice. I got a stunning "cute girl" from Jamie McKelvie (as did Timmy). A ferocious vampire from an manic Ben Templesmith as he talked about the disparity between American and European cons/festivals. A lovely Tallulah Black sketch and Catwoman print from the sweet and gracious and wonderful Amanda Conner. When I showed Tallulah to Jimmy Palmiotti he smiled and asked if I wanted some additional love, then sketched a pretty badass Jonah Hex profile. My good friend Sam on his first trip out of Australia gave me a colored sketch of me from my walk to San Diego last year, and it absolutely made my Friday. Doug Hills drew Kirby's Demon and I got to watch as he worked on a pitch-perfect Sinestro. We chatted a bit about a project we'd like to work on together, and I'm pretty excited to get scripting.

Oh, cripes and the parties. A Manhattan downed in 30 seconds for this exceptional lightweight was enough to summon bullet-time. Getting to the gorgeous Bergen Street Comics an hour or two late, shaking hands with a reader as I stepped through the door and then being asked by a local reporter, "How's the party going so far?" Sitting in the pitch black Farm of Williamsburg as everyone whispered that Mike Meyers was leaning against the door. "Hey, Fuzzy Typewriter," Gabe Hardman said, heading in from the back garden, "let's go talk to Mike Meyers." Meeting our country cousins Jason and David and Vince from 11 O'Clock Comics out on the street, talking shitty late-night UPenn campus pizza with Jason. Watching Hardman flip through a Creepy comics collection, salivating over ancient horrors as we each hugged our ribs in the chill. Gobo getting loud, Conor embracing from behind like the pottery from Ghost, nuzzling his bald head against my beard. Talking cartoons with Timmy and Chis as we rode back to Brooklyn. Sleep sleep sleep.

I grabbed a slice of pizza before heading back to Philadelphia. A taste I'd been waiting for the whole weekend. My pork pie hat–the hat that made me look like Ed Brubaker–was damp with noggin sweat. I regretted not running off with the's company iPad. There were no discernable Swedes on the train. The conductor took one look at me and let me take the regional rail free. My dogs tackled me like twin Dino's from the Flintstones. I have no idea where to hang any of these pictures. 


  1. It was phenomenal to finally meet you in person Paul! Let’s not wait another year to do it again.


  2. Is that Sam the same as go0ftgnewt on twitter? If so that is a fantastic sketch of you he did.

    Great article Paul.

  3. I had such a blast this weekend with Paul. Such a great time. Can’t wait until next year.

    Here is my page that I got from Gabe Hardman,

    <a href="; target="_blank"><img src="; border="0" alt="Gabriel Hardman Art" ></a>

  4. I saw Paul on Friday afternoon just as I was leaving the con for the first day. He’s recognoziable by the kickass hat, the beard, and the whismy in his eyes. I shoted "PAUL" Llike i was chasing down an Ice cream truck, which is an apt similie because Paul is full of goodness.

  5. Not comment bomb this article. Other highlights.

    – Diner dinner with Ali and Jenn

    – Paul and I had a badass Cab Driver from Colombia named Olympo Qunitero

    – A subway full of moms freak out when a boy got on the subway and doors shut between him and his mom. You could see the fear on the moms face and the fear on the face of the boy in the reflection of the glass

    – Paul and I met a try "J. Mike Strynski" fan as we walked to the Javits center one day. "THERE’S NOTHING HE CAN’T DO!" he said. I held back saying "except finish a book" several times. He was a nice guy, who am I to burst his bubble.

    – I got mad that none of us got Name tags at the Stitch party and made some for everyone. Pauls said P. Money.

    – Chatting it up with Jason Wood and Gabriel Hardman outside of Barn about storyboarding SNL films that never were and the state of Playboy magazine.

    – Chris’s Sexy GPS

    – Josh and I making jokes about how comedians had killed our family members.

    – Talking Improv Shop talk with the one and only Tom Katers

    – Teasing Ali a lot. 

    – Being a chatty cathy to Paul on the train while he’s trying to sleep. "Who is your favorite JSA member? Are you going to buy any books this weekend? Who do you like better Plastic Man or Elongated Man? How come the X-men are despised but the Fantastic Four are loved? Huh? Paul you awake?"


    Great great great weekend.

  6. Damn. I need to clean my scanner. Trust me that all of these images are at least twenty times more beautiful in person. 

  7. Oh man… that Mahmud Asrar Zatanna is amazing! Really every single page you have is awesome! Thanks for sharing. I’m particularly fond of my Fabio Moon quick sketch of Bras from Daytripper and the really simple Krypto sketch Manapul did on the first page of my Superboy hardcover.

  8. It nice to meet Paul in person. He did seen awfully tired though.

  9. It was cool to finally meet you Paul. Looking forward to working on that project. 🙂

  10. PAul i need a favor, I NEED SOME POWER, MAN. YOU GOT ANY POWER!!!!

  11. i love that whenever i meet Paul we happen to share a small moment in time. im crazy jealouse of those sketches, but nothing beats my Grodd Sloth.

  12. heheh "Gobo getting loud"

    I’d forgotten about Conor’s from-behind nuzzle, that was adorable.

  13. where’s my sketch? *pout*

  14. hm, I guess I need to not worry about standing in line to NOT get sketches from the top guys and seek out the up-and-comers.  good lesson learned.  did have an awesome time at the con though!

  15. Awesome meeting Paul, and everyone else in person!

    Great sketches! 

  16. Great article Paul, really showcased how much of a blast the con was. My onky regret is that I wasnt able to come to the party afterwards. still SOOOOOOO many comics!!!

  17. Sounds like I should’ve stayed at the party a little later. It was nice meeting you Mr. Montgomery.

  18. i know its a bit late but i want to send my congratulations from all nerds in ireland to Declan Shalvey. your issue sold out in a day.  you did us all proud

  19. My GPS does indeed have a sexy voice…it’s not a robotic sound, but instead sounds like a news anchor with an attractive voice. Everyone envys it!

    You had quite an impressive art haul, Paul. However, let’s not forget someone elses contribution to the NYCC art scene…yours!

    Paul was gracious enough to contribute to my Godzilla sketchbook with his rendition of King Ghidorah! I posted on my Twitter earlier, but I’ll share it here later when I get home.

  20. Thanks for popping my pic on the article. It was so much fun.

  21. Awe.. Thanks for the shout out. It was GREAT to have your help in the booth, I wouldn’t have been able to do it with out you. – Adrienne