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.