What Todd McFarlane Taught Me

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Following yesterday's post, I was deluged with demands to elaborate on my statement, "Todd is one of the few people who has ever changed one of my attitudes toward convention duties." Which is to say: Tasha Robinson said she'd be interested in a follow-up post.

So OK.

First, keep in mind that the pond has to be pretty tiny before I am a big fish in it. Among celebrities, I am not one. (I sometimes get to hang out around them, mind you, and I treasure every fangirl moment while [usually] managing not to vocalize my "I am so doggoned deliriously happy to be in the presence of Celebrity X, of whom I am a fan" thoughts.) And I love - love - talking to people. Which means I wildly enjoy hanging around the Comics Buyer's Guide booth and talking both with our readers and with innocent bystanders who happen by when I feel like nattering. But there's a downside to "pulling booth duty," and that is that I also need to be out and about in order to talk with people who are trapped at their own booths. And I am occasionally frustrated when I realize that I'm in the middle of what is turning out to be a lengthy (albeit fascinating) conversation with one visitor, while there is actually a line of other people forming behind that person: people who are increasingly ticked off that I'm not wrapping up Conversation One more speedily so as to get to Conversation Two with one of them. And, as I say, I'm not a celebrity.

So, while I enjoy booth duty, sometimes I hate booth duty. And I know true celebrities who seem to feel pretty much the same. And I feel sorry for the super-celebrities who can't even walk through a convention hall without a security contingent to keep away people who want to talk to those celebrities, because ... well ... how much fun can that be? And my attitude in days long gone by was pretty much, "Yeah, I know I'm supposed to be at the booth, but there's a great sale at Booth Whatever, so I'll see you when I get back." And then Todd made what I think was the keynote speech at a long ago Pro/Con (a small convention for working comics pros; no, there hasn't been one since the 1990s). And here (in my words, less eloquent than his) is what he said:

"When I was a fan, I'd be eager to meet an artist I'd admired. I'd go to the table where he was supposed to be appearing, but often whoever it was wouldn't be there. So I'd figure he'd been called away for something important and would be back soon. When I'd return to the table an hour later and he still wasn't there, I'd figure to check back later. If I went to the table much later and he still wasn't there, I'd walk away and, as I did so, I'd think, 'Oh, well, I guess I don't need to see him. And I guess I didn't like his work that much, anyway."

So yikes. Todd's point: If you've announced you're going to be someplace at a particular time, you should be there. If something comes up so that you can't be there, leave something - a note, a sign, a message with others at the booth - that says (a) there's been a change in your schedule and (b) what that new schedule is. He's right, and I've tried to abide by that attitude ever since.


bob July 14, 2010 at 11:42 AM  

"Todd's point: If you've announced you're going to be someplace at a particular time, you should be there."

I agree, but the logical extension of that is "If you've announced you're going to release a comic at a particular time, you should release it on time".

Image United, now six months late, apparently due to Todd McFarlane. Spawn, currently eight months late.

Anonymous,  July 14, 2010 at 2:15 PM  

Todd's example really reminds me of "The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl" in the scene where Fanboy has gone to a con to meet his artist hero. Barry Lyga describes that intense nervousness and anticipation so well that even I, who have never been in that situation, could feel the tension, and dread the possibility of disappointment.

Tasha Robinson July 14, 2010 at 2:44 PM  

Now that is some serious fast service. Thanks! It was in fact fascinating! (Though as Bob says, it'd be nice if he applied that to other areas of his work.)

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