Yes, I was pretty convinced I wouldn´t go but what else was I supposed to do the whole holiday long ? And even if I could not go for the full four days I didn´t have to work until Sunday. So I decided to spend the first two days with comics, comics and more comics....and a bit of rain, but that´s always a given on german comic conventions.
Now true to form I only decided to go to Erlangen at the last minute which meant that on Wednesday after work I had to organize everything. Since I could only attend the convention at the first two days this meant I could not travel back with my brother which meant getting a ticket for the train.
I managed to get a ticket at a relatively moderate price although I didn´t realize it was a stopping train and we would go through every one - horse town on the way back. But more about that later.
So I had my ticket which meant the next step would be to look for a hotel room. As I had waited for the last moment this could have been a problem but since it was only for one day I found a few hotels that had vacancies. I also could have just partied through the night from Thursday to Friday - a suggestion by my brother - but unlike him I tend to see my visits to Erlangen more of a vacation than an opportunity to surpass the twelve labors of Hercules. So getting to sleep in a nice bed is fine by me. One of the hotels with still available rooms was even the hotel were my brother stayed but for money reasons and to stay a bit on my own I decided against it, which was not my best idea. Now with my ticket and my hotel room reservation the only thing left to do was packing the suitcase - or in this case the trolley case. On my last conventions I always took the trolley and it´s always more comfortable. I decided to take the big one because it´s the only one in which the folding chair fits.
When you get to a certain age standing in line for hours is not as much fun as it used to be and even if there was no particular artist announced where I went " Oh, I absolutely have to get a sketch from him. " it´s better to be safe then sorry.
It´s always better to have and not need than to need and have not. And even if I only got to use the folding chair a few times when I was last in Erlangen it sure came in handy when I had to wait half an hour for a bus because there was no bench or other place to sit on at the bus stop.
Now I especially bought this folding chair in Spain, because I couldn´t find an adequate here. Because you need one that´s comfortable, but not too big to fit into a suitcase. It has to be light because you will have to carry it but it must also be sturdy enough to carry your weight. So unless you want to embarrass yourself at the convention you better try it out before buying. And it has to be easy to fold and unfold.
Like I said, there was nobody on my signing list so I didn´t have to pack any comics for signing. And since I have most of the things you need for bad weather ( woolly hat, gloves, scarf, two umbrellas ) and all necessary drawing materials in my working bag anyway I only had to take out a few things and put in my sketchbooks. I also packed some clothes to change after the first day but although I now had everything I needed I couldn´t shake the feeling that I had forgotten something important. Which is just a thing. You always think you have forgotten something even if you didn´t.
Anyway, on Thursday I woke up right on schedule and took a shower before putting the trolley into the trunk of our car. Since there was only the folding chair and some clothes in it I also put my other bag in it but I was pretty sure it wouldn´t work out this way on the way back because then the trolley would be full of comics. I hitched the ride to Erlangen with my brother so the first 20 bucks I spent were for gas but nobody rides for free. This year my brother had decided to take the route we took the last time we came back from Erlangen because - even if it wasn´t shorter than our usual route - it sure was a lot more relaxed and easier to follow.
We even did make good time until the last kilometers when we ended up in one of the only three traffic jams of that day. Twice. So instead of around twelve o´clock - which is when the convention begins - we arrived sortly after one o´clock but all things considered we had worse trips to Erlangen. We even got off the Autobahn a bit sooner than necessary but that was okay.
Since it had already started we decided to enter the convention quickly and not go to the hotel. Even if my brother was surprised I didn´t leave the trolley in the trunk. Yeah, right. I´m hauling this baby all the way to Erlangen only to leave it in the trunk and spend the whole day schlepping all the comics around the Kongresszentrum. No thanks.
The reason why you take a trolley is so you can have the heavy or bulky things with you but only when you need to. You put the bottles of water there or your comics or your jacket when it´s hot. And I really spend a lot of the first day putting my jeans jacket in the trolley and getting it out again. Because outside it was kind of chilly, then it was rather hot inside, then I went outside and it was cold again, then it got warmer, then it started to rain, then it was back again to the convention, then out again.......just endless fun.
No really, whenever Erlangen takes place and no matter how the weather is before it, it always has to rain at least once during Erlangen. The last month had ended with pretty sunny and warm weather but the nearer we came to Erlangen the colder and rainier it got.
Which didn´t interest me that much once I was inside the convention. Although I have to confess I almost forgot that I had to pay for tickets. Normally I just take the four day ticket which is cheaper but this time I had to buy tickets for the two days I was staying.
This time around there was no meticulous game plan to get as many sketches as possible since most of the interesting artists were signing at PANINI and the comicfans have to do a triathlon to get a sketch. I never can understand how they organize these things and it really does seem like the most important thing for the guys from PANINI Germany is that they get to hang out with their favorite artists.
Usually the first thing I do is walk around, greet the usual suspects, shake some hands, kiss some babies, well, what us comic celebrities do when we meet every two years. But since I only would be in Erlangen for two days ( and I had to leave at 15.00 hours on the second day to catch my train home ) I didn´t have as much time to take it all in. Instead I went looking for the one table where I wish I had spent more time the last time around. There is always this ONE table were you just rush through and you tell yourself you will come by a second time but then the convention is over and you never got around to it. There was a table where they sold trades and comic hardcovers for 10 EUROS each and last time I only picked three or four of them.
In the meantime I´m buying much more comics as hardcovers so the table was twice as important now. After 20 or 30 minutes of wandering around without any clue ( which I pretty much continued to do for the rest of my stay at the convention ) I found the table, and like expected there were dozens of people going through the piles of trades and hardcovers.
I was just going through the fourth box when I had the idea to ask one of the staff if the hardcovers in the bookshelf above the table was also at 10 EUROS each. Which is a good bargain price even compared to most of the amazon offers. I think I spent at least an hour there in which I must have gone through all the boxes twice until I had a pile of around 23 trades and hardcovers.
Now since the offer was Buy 11 trades / hardcovers for 100 EUROS ( You get one for free ) and I didn´t want to spend 200 EUROS on the first table I had to thin it down a bit. One of my rules has always been to never spend everything at the first table you get to and although I had singled out this table in particular to spend my first money I didn´t want to have to drag around 22 heavy hardcovers for the rest of the convention. So I made one pile with the comics I didn´t already have, a second pile with all the comics I already have in single form and a third pile with the few hardcovers I just couldn´t leave because at 10 EUROS it´s a price you can´t beat.
Now which hardcovers did I pick ( and they were all hardcovers ) ? First THUNDERBOLTS - SIEGE and THUNDERBOLTS - FEAR ITSELF. Thunderbolts is one of the books where I made the switch from single issues to trades - or rather hardcovers in this case - but where I´m way behind. They are not in sequence but I´ll have to get them sooner or later anyway so this was a no brainer. As were AVENGERS ACADEMY - PERMANENT RECORD and AVENGERS ACADEMY - WILL WE USE THIS IN THE REAL WORLD ? which are volume one and two of the series. Ever since it started I heard nothing but good things about the book but somehow I missed my window of opportunity at amazon. I almost ordered the first four hardcovers from amazon last month but now Í was glad I didn´t.
Another series I always intended to follow was GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY which I left when Paul Pelletier went to another series ( I think WAR OF KINGS at that time ).
I had looked into some scattered issues the following months but the art was really not that interesting. Still I wanted to find out how things went from the last issue I read from Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning so I picked up volumes 2, 3 and 4.
Okay, so far all new books and we´re at seven books already. Now I picked two books from the You deserve to be shot in the head if you don´t buy these pile namely AVENGERS ASSEMBLE volumes 4 and 5. For 10 EUROS each. Since I already have volume 3 I just had to pick these two so that when I get around to re - read them I can do all three in one sweep. Now the art in them is a bit all over the place and I think volume 5 is the weakest in that departement. It has only three issues by Alan Davis, some by Ivan Reis and Kieron Dwyer and one by Brent Anderson. Okay, volume 4 doesn´t have more issues by Alan Davis but most of the rest is done by Jerry Ordway and Steve Epting with one issue by John Romita Jr and Norm Breyfogle thrown in. Still, it´s one big story and now I only have to find the first two volumes which won´t be easy. They have just been reprinted in softcover but if I really buy comics I already have I don´t want it in softcover.
Now I was at nine books which meant that if I could pick another one there was a free one in it too. So the next one I decided on was also from the pile of books I already had, namely the seven part ETERNALS miniseries by Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr. So far I only had the single issues but I have already re - read them three times. My brother bought the german trade - bummer - but I wanted to get the hardcover because I´m not sure if the comic was really done for single issues or if it was just broken up into seven parts. Like MARVEL did with the MAN WITHOUT FEAR series by Frank Miller and John Romita Jr. First it was announced as a graphic novel but then Marvel had some doubts and released it in single issue form to be on the safe side. The bad thing was that the collected edition came out only three months after issue five. So all the readers felt kind of cheated.
Now I´m not saying that the same thing happened with ETERNALS but you can´t help but notice that there are none of the usual last page splashes or cliffhangers in this story. So I hope this reads much better ( or a little better since Neil Gaiman´s writing can´t really improve being of the usual exceptional high standard ) and the variant covers that are included look much better than the regular covers. I never understood why they slapped such fugly covers on the regular issues when they had all those gorgeous covers by John Romita Jr.
Okay, mission accomplished - pile narrowed down to ten hardcovers. So for number eleven I picked the new hardcover printing of AVENGERS - THE KORVAC SAGA which would have been my next pocketbook from amazon anyway. These last few months I have found a few pocketbooks by PANINI UK at amazon and I have to say I really like them. I don´t know what the reasons are why PANINI doesn´t do any pocketbooks in Germany ( maybe the german market is still reeling from the horrible Condor pocketbooks ) but it´s a real shame. I already have four X - MEN pocketbooks - two from the regular series and two from John Byrne´s X - MEN THE HIDDEN YEARS - and the last one was AVENGERS - THE BRIDE OF ULTRON. It contains the issues 158 to 167 and it´s all written by Jim Shooter with incredible art by John Byrne, George Perez, Sal Buscema and George Tuska.
You know, after he quit Marvel Jim Shooter has gotten kind of a bad rep by some people and I almost forgot that he not only wrote one of my favorite megasagas at Marvel, SECRET WARS which was the first one period, but also some of my favorite issues of AVENGERS. Now the next pocketbook that is announced on the last page of The Bride of Ultron is THE KORVAC SAGA ( which features the first appearance of the Guardians of the Galaxy ) so instead of getting the pocketbook for six or seven bucks I picked up the hardcover - for free.
This is my fourth hardcover of these classic story reprints after PROJECT PEGASUS, ASSAULT ON OLYMPUS and THE OVERTHROW OF DOOM and I have to say I really like the full package. There are always all covers included and some factsheets from the OHATMU or somewhere else. The only thing I sometimes miss - but that might just be me because I´m spoiled by the spanish BIBLIOTECA MARVEL editions - is a foreword or an introduction explaining what´s so special about the story I´m about to read. For those who haven´t read this classic tale I don´t want to spoil too much ( you better skip the next paragraphs ) but this is the one where the Avengers blow it. I didn´t get to do a special post on Valentine´s Day but if I ever did one this would be one of the stories I would pick. Because it basically is a love story even if it has the usual fighting and space aliens and end - of - the - world - stuff and capes and tights.
This is the story of Michael Korvac who fell in love with a woman, how he became a god to lay the universe at her feet and how the Avengers killed them for it.
Short and sweet. Okay, I had picked the comics I wanted to buy and even got a nice comicbag to put them all in. Not that I really needed it but when you buy eleven books you should get a bag. And it´s a really nice, sturdy bag. So, this was my first purchase in Erlangen, which was around 290 dollars of hardcovers for 100 EUROS, not a bad deal. Right about now was the moment when I was glad I picked the big trolley since surely all the hardcovers wouldn´t have fit on the bottom of the smaller one. That´s not something you want to do : put hardcovers on top of another. At least not more than you have to.
Okay, that´s enough for Today as I´m starting to make more and more typos and you´re probably as exhausted from reading all this as I am from writing it. And we have only gotten to my first two hours or so.
Whew ! I will continue my account of my visit to the Comicsalon Erlangen 2012 in my next post where we will hopefully get to the other comics I bought on the first day, what else I did at the convention and what happened after the doors closed. For me it´s time to do some cooking and watch the episodes of ONE PIECE I missed while in Erlangen.
Since I wrote so much about the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Korvac Saga here´s a clip form the animated tv series AVENGERS - EARTH´S MIGHTIEST HEROES. The art is a bit blocky but most cartoonshows imitate the style of BATMAN ADVANTURES without really trying to understand why it was so successful. Anyway, despite of the art the cartoon show is quite good, with lots of action and really funny. Just like the old Avengers book used to be. What´s especially good is the interaction between the team members and it seems only the Wasp and Hawkeye seem to get along with the Hulk.
As usual this episode is mixing classic elements ( in this case the Korvac saga ) with the newest developments which is the reason that they didn´t use the team of the Guardians of the Galaxy from that story but the newest version with Adam Warlock, Star Lord, Groot and - best of all - Rocket Racoon. I mean it´s worth to watch the episode just for the racoon. Now since the second season hasn´t started in Germany there are some download links for the full episode for my german readers here , here , here and here .
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Okay, well, you go figure the " gig " out and I´ll be over here figuring out what exactly I´ve been put on this Earth to do, how I ended up in a magical Kung Fu city where no one teaches anyone Kung Fu, and what I´m supposed to do when the cosmic powers of a big firebird dump themselves right on my head.....