Magic happens when creative minds get together. It’s a magic that ignites spontaneously when the right moments, conversation, and people combine like tinder and flint. You long to bottle up the inspirational flame, but it cannot be contained or duplicated. You can only sit by its fire, soaking up the heat, in the exact moment of the spark.
I wax poetic here, but as I slide back into “normal” life after such a grand weekend at Appleseed Comic Con, I find it difficult to put into words how much the experience meant to me.
The thing about the comics scene is it’s so incredibly welcoming. People from all interests, backgrounds, and levels of expertise–comics don’t discriminate. Even as someone whose knowledge of comics was significantly dwarfed by everyone else’s in the room, I felt like part of the family. That’s one of the things that sets Appleseed above all of the other comic conventions out there: the culture. I challenge you to find another con that’s as inviting and focused on the artists and fans. It’s a comic con that celebrates the art of comics–how the stories, illustrations, and characters bring people together and inspire us. I saw countless budding young artists at this show, their eyes wide with hope as they asked established artists for advice on honing their talent and starting their careers. That is what it’s all about–not making money or long lines to see a B-list celebrity and maybe get an autograph… if you have $40 to spare.
For the artists, it’s a chance to meet fans and make new ones, an opportunity to talk about their passion, and a challenge to flex their creativity as they sketch scenes on the spot. After hours, they get together over dinner and drinks, often debating their craft, the arts, and life in general into the dark of night. That’s when the ephemeral magic happens. Several artists agreed this is the true “heart of the convention” for them. Seated amongst Hilary Barta, Jim Terry, and Tom Scioli, it was an honor to witness the banter and absorb the theories swirling around our table. A few of us hurriedly jotted down notes, trying to capture anything we could for later inspiration. I’ll never forget that night as long as I live.
The entire weekend was priceless. My buddy Zack, founder of Appleseed, tapped me for an honor of epic proportion: assisting Jim Steranko. Yes, THE Steranko–musician, escape artist, and comics heavyweight. Holy shit. Was this real life? (In hindsight, it feels like a dream.) I’ve never met such a magnanimous guy. He took the time to talk to every person who came up to the booth, often engaging in long discussions about comics, jazz, movies, and more–always flashing his warm smile that crinkles at the corners of his eyes. And, oh, the stories he tells! If you ever have a chance to meet Jim, make it happen. If you ever have a chance to work with Jim, seize that opportunity with a steely grip. As we parted ways Sunday evening at the end of Appleseed, I felt like I was saying goodbye to an old friend.
That’s another part of the magic of Appleseed: the friendships that take root during that one weekend a year. Friendships that might not otherwise exist. The kind that you can go the entire space in between shows and pick up right where you left off. Old friends, new friends, friends you’ve yet to meet–that’s where the true wealth of Appleseed resides for me. The comics, art, and geekery are great, but those friendships are invaluable.
To those who made the weekend so magical, thank you from the bottom of my heart. To everyone who came out to see what Appleseed is all about, I hope you enjoyed the comic con as much as I did. And to Zack, the head magician and man-behind-the-curtain, it truly was an honor, as always. I’ve struggled with putting this weekend into words that do it justice. As Steranko would say, while pointing at his temple, “We’ll always have this moment–right here. Don’t worry about it!”