CONVENTION HOW-TO: “But…It’s Art!” – Justifying Your Questionable Purchase.

This is the second in an Ultra Mega Super series on attending conventions. As a nine-year veteran of San Diego Comic-Con, I hope to share some insight.

With Dallas Comic Con happening this weekend, I figured now is a good time to prepare you for something that will probably happen at some point in time in your geeky life – explaining a Con purchase to your spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend. Here is my story, dear readers, about a 2011 San Diego Comic Con purchase of a limited-run Chris Sanders art print:

In 2006, while strolling through the cavernous hall of the San Diego Convention Center on Preview Night, a poster of a goofy, eyepatched cat caught my eye. The art style was similar to the look of Lilo & Stitch, one of my favorite Disney movies. I approached the booth and struck up a conversation with the artist, and learned about his webcomic, Kiskaloo. It wasn’t long before this happened:

“I love the artwork, it reminds me of Lilo & Stitch. Did you work on that?”

“Why yes, I directed it!”

“You… I… WOW.”

This was back when Preview Night was only open to exhibitors and few attendees, allowing me to talk to Mr. Sanders for a while. I asked him about the making of Lilo & Stitch and what new projects he was working on, which he was happy to discuss. There’s a lovely, playful flow to his work– his characters make mischief, every line is soft and there’s nary a hard corner to be found. I bought his sketchbook, becoming a life-long fan of his artwork. 

As the years went by, I stopped by his booth every Con, picking up the annual sketchbook and buying the occasional pin. Around the time he started work on How To Train Your Dragon, he began selling large prints as well.

From August ’09 to April ‘10, I followed an artwork tutorial on his deviantART page, chronicling the creation of a fun little piece of work he titled Party Witches. Every step included more of the process behind the art: Story, composition, character poses and expression, scanning and digital inking. (Please note that some of the images at the link may be considered NSFW.) That summer, he sold a print of Party Witches at Comic Con, finished with warm coloring by artist CeeCeeLuvins. I didn’t buy it, knowing that my wife Karin would not be fooled if I said it was concept art for a Lilo & Stitch sequel.

But the next year, I did buy it.

I had a plan– a way to ease the introduction of the piece. Upon coming home, I found a nice frame for it. I picked out a high-quality matte in a complimentary burgundy color. I wanted Karin to know it wasn’t a poster, but an art print. When I was done, I hung it on my office wall, perfectly level. Then I showed it to her.


“Um…”

“It’s funny, see? ‘Cause the two hitched a ride and are completely ignoring how uncomfortable it is for the one in the middle!”

“Uh huh…”

“And the familiars are great, too. The cat and the bird and… the dog… holding the purses… And he signed it… You hate it, don’t you?”

“I don’t hate it.”

“If it makes you uncomfortable, I can ebay it. With the frame and all, I could probably make a profit.”

“You don’t have to ebay it.”

“Seriously, if it makes you feel weird or anything, if you want me to, I will.”

“It’s fine. I’m just glad you put it on the wall not facing the door.”

To tell the truth, I’m not quite sure how I got that to work. I think you just have to be honest and open with your partner about the nerdy things you like, whether it’s a 2-foot tall Wampa, a working Pip-Boy replica or a piece of art some people might consider… naughty. When you make a questionable purchase at a Con or anywhere else, make it clear to them that they are more important than the thing in question, because they are. There’s an excellent chance they’ll accept it with a sigh and an eye roll. After all, with love comes understanding, right?

“So what did I tell you, huh? It’s just like Lilo & Stitch.”

“With boobs.”

“Yes… with boobs.”

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  • reply Shanster ,

    I loved this post! I am a big fan of daily comics and really enjoy that art medium. I am fairly ignorant to the fine details of this art form but have always thought Comic Con would be so fun to attend

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