Wednesday, January 15, 2014

San Diego and Beyond

Okay, it looks like I'll have a little time to write, finally.

San Diego Comicon was quite an experience. I hadn't been out of my village for nearly 10 years, and though I was working with Jim Vance on completing the book, it was going at a snail's pace and seemed like working in the coal mine, except for the encouragement of the people on the Cat Dancing With Omaha Yahoo group, who kept us going.

My health has never been good, but at my age things pile up, and before I could venture forward to speak or appear in public, I had to have major dental work done. With no health coverage that was a problem, but I made a deal with my employer, and I got fitted with a full upper denture, only 3 weeks before San Diego. Adjusting to the new appliance was difficult and required several radical changes of diet while I adapted, and those dietary changes were not easy for me either because of my frail digestive system, the result of my colon cancer. But somehow I got myself operating and with some financial help from a fan/collector (you know who you are!) I flew out to San Diego and spent 3 days in the middle of something wilder than anything I've ever seen before.

After fighting my way through a Super Bowl sized crowd 8-10 blocks from the sumptuous Horton Grand Hotel and down the street, weaving my way between gigantic multi-story promotional booths for game companies and TV shows, lugging 40 lbs. of artwork and books, I found my way to the Convention Center, and finally to the NBM booth, and was welcomed by Terry Nantier and his gang.

Here are some photos taken by NBM photographer Justin Brandon at San Diego.

Reed Waller signing and visiting, with Terry Nantier

Reed and Rick Geary sketching (back: Terry Nantier, booth mgr. Patrick Turner)

Over the weekend I only had time to do about half a dozen sketches, I was so busy talking with fans. It was gratifying to see so many people glad to see me and eager to express their appreciation for Omaha, their sorrow over the loss of Kate, and their gratitude to Jim Vance and me for completing it. Though many visitors weren't even aware that we'd done the job, and the premiere appearance of the final volume of Omaha was a complete surprise to them!

It was exciting to emerge from obscurity to be recognized as an Old Pro. But it was also spooky and strange to be there by myself, after so many years of sitting in the hot seat sketching while Kate did all the talking for the two of us.

Terry warned me not to expect to be "the center of attention," since SDCC had changed quite a bit since the Old Days. I had to laugh. As if we were ever the center of attention. "If there's even 50 people there who remember Omaha, I'll be happy," I said. 

I certainly got my wish. All weekend I was kept busy visiting with fans, telling stories, listening to stories, hearing about what kind of impact Omaha had on some people's lives during a time of profound social change.

On Saturday I wove my way through the buildings to the marina, to be interviewed for Comic Book Resources TV.  The video, plus audio interviews with me, Jim Vance, and Denis Kitchen, and Jim's deeply moving introduction to the final volume can all be found by visiting the Omaha home page at NBM. Please check this out!

It took me six months to recover from the ordeal, but it was worth it. Now I'm going to try to catch up on this blog, and begin to repay my old debts.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Back in Commission

Okay, it's been eight years since I published a blog post. Once Jim and I actually got working on the new Omaha pages, I had precious little energy to do this, and whatever comments or communication I had went straight to the members of the "Cat-Dancing-With-OMAHA™" Yahoo Group.

Now, the project has been completed at last! The final volume, Vol. 8 of The Complete Omaha from NBM, is at press and copies will be available at the San Diego Comicon.

And so will I!

Yep, i'm gonna be there, thanks to NBM and my employer at the NRHEG Star Eagle newspaper where I work. I will be at the NBM booth signing, doing sketches, selling whatever merchandise I can drag along, and probably some original Omaha pages, plus visiting with fans. I'm a little old for this sort of thing and have never done it on my own before, but I'm game, and it's going to be an interesting experience.

Thanks to everyone for supporting Jim and me all these years, and still caring.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Omaha Lives!

Okay, many of you have already seen the NBM fall catalog, so you know that Omaha the Cat Dancer™ has been signed with NBM Publications, and will be reprinted in its entirety starting with Volume 1 in October, and a new volume released quarterly after that.

Jim Vance and I have agreed to produce 120 pages of new material finishing the story from Kate's outline. This new material will first be published in 15-page installments in NBM's Sizzle, a Euro-centered adults-only comics magazine, starting with issue #28 this November. Omaha will be on the cover.

Once the story is wrapped up in Sizzle, NBM will collect the new episodes into a final volume, and the entire series will be available in a uniform edition.

I want to thank all the members of the "Cat-Dancing-With-OMAHA™" Yahoo group, for their unwavering support during the 2+ years of painful negotiations, the tragedy of Kate's death, my slow attempts to regain my drawing skills after 10 years of retirement, and Jim's and my determination to keep the story alive. Thank you, one and all.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Okay, Let's Try This Again

In December, after waiting for nearly two years, I finally gave agent Denis Kitchen the word to tell Les Humanoides to either come through or not. They didn't. There will be no publication deal with them. After backpedaling considerably in Deceember, they finally simply failed to come up with acceptable terms, and we had to cancel the negotiations.

Jim and I asked Denis to hunt for an alternative publisher for the Omaha project, since we were now committed to finish the work out of loyalty to Kate. Denis promptly found us another prospect, less lucrative but at least geniune, and negotiations began with them. This process was delayed by, among other things, the passing of comics great Will Eisner, whom Denis represented.

A proposal is currently being worked on that would provide a full reprint series of the Omaha material and, of course, the new material to be created by Jim and me. The good news is, we are probably going to be allotted more pages than LesH was going to give us, so it will be possible to finish off the story the way Kate wanted to, without having to cut secondary characters from the denouement. (It is likely that, if the original deal had gone through, CeeCee, the band, and others may have simply faded from the story due to length.)

On April 24, I was a guest at the MCBA spring comicon at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, the same people who put on the fall show I went to last year. My former assistant Diana Green (now a graphic arts/media instructor in the Twin Cities) escorted me there and we made the appearance with mixed feelings. Last fall, appearing at the con was enjoyable, because I had friends I hadn't seen for years, and news for them, good (about the Omaha deal) and sad (about Kate). However, six months later, with really no progress and no change, it was kind of a hollow feeling to make an appearance among working artists and writers for a long-dead title that *may* soon reappear. Some fans were there despite the lack of advance warning, and were supportive as always, but I don't think I'm going to make another convention appearance until I have something to report, or better yet, until I am actually drawing a live comic again. I hope that will be soon.

Monday, December 06, 2004

No News

As you've probably already guessed if you read this page, the "soon-to-come final word" from LesH has been neither soon to come, nor final. I'm not betraying any confidences by saying that we still don't know the score, but Jim and I have decided to begin work on the new Omaha material as our schedules permit, so that we have some actual product to show either LesH or another publisher, if it comes to that. So my studio has become a busy place. Beginning work on the new pages is currently taking a back seat, though, to my getting all my outstanding commissions done and shipped in time for the holidays.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

With brush in hand...

We are awaiting a soon-to-come final word from Les Humanoides ... will we be able to continue with them, or will we have to look somewhere else?

I went last weekend to the MCBA Fall Comicon in St. Paul. This was my first public appearance in seven years. I was a late addition to the guest list, so I expected to have some time to set up before greeting anyone, but in fact, the Omaha fans were waiting for me.

I greeted the fans as best I could, told them the story, and took brush in hand and began to draw, no computer assistance, no net, nothing but me and my precious characters and the Bristol board, and it was scary, and it was good.

I heard a lot of "It's really good to see you again," a lot of "I'm so glad you're continuing," a lot of "I have always loved Omaha..."

It was humbling, and it felt so good.

It became easier as I continued to draw throughout the weekend. But at the end, it became difficult again, as I became once again involved with what I was doing, and sometimes my heart ached terribly as I painted the familiar lines of these figures that are so much a part of my life, and Kate's, and Jim's too.

It was a wonderful little convention, and I got to talk to old friends, Chas Truog, Gordon Purcell, my beloved former apprentice Diana Green, charter Vootie member Tim Fay, Kitchen Sink compatriot Mark Schultz (briefly), Joel Thingvall, Greg Ketter and Alan Payne. I stayed Friday night with Chris Conroy and Sue Grandys, who have supported me as friends all these years.

I guess I'm back now, for better or worse.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Kate Sings Again

Well, I had to do something to help bring in a few bucks to keep me and Jim afloat until LesH stop stalling and give us that contract. Jim has finished several pages of the new Omaha material, and they're great, and I'm drawing them .. but nobody has offered to pay us for them yet, so other work has to take the front seat.

Anyway, I did a digital restore job on the master tape for the 1988 picture disk album "Omaha The Cat Dancer" by The Shakers (me, Kate, Nate Bucklin, Allan Standish, +David Emerson and others). I wanted as good a version of this music as possible to listen to while I was re-learning how to draw comics the Omaha way. So I've ripped the results to .MP3 and put the disk up for download at my store, just for the fans.

Jim and I are having a bittersweet-but-pleasant time working on Omaha together. I just hope that we can finish this project in such a way as to do Kate the honor she deserves.