Sunday, April 2, 2017

(Pre)Con-Man: Extreme Studios 25th Anniversary Signing

This past weekend, Comic-Con International's WonderCon returned to Anaheim after a brief stint in Los Angeles last year. Anaheim is great site for hosting cons due to it's proximity to Disneyland that provides a fantastic infrastructure of highways, roads, hotels and eateries. Even though the show started on Friday, we booked a suite at the Double Tree (gotta love WC pricing!) on Thursday so we could hit Disneyland before all the Spring Breakers showed up. A random Facebook post alerted me of something truly comic book distinct, a 25th anniversary signing of Rob Liefeld's Image Comics imprint Extreme Studios!

Liefeld and Jim Lee's WildStorm studios were the two Image brands I grew up on with multiple runs of Extreme's Youngblood, Brigade and Prophet being part of my collections around the country. I had just purchased the new hardcover edition of Youngblood (forgot to bring it) and was brought back to the 90's in your face showcase of muscles, exposed hair, hot bodies and being superheroes in a media obsessed society. Big Red Comics is located in picturesque old town Orange complete with roundabout and multiple eateries, bars and antique shops. There was already a line down the block but store staff walked the queue explaining how things were going to work. Once inside, you could buy an Extreme Yearbook with bios and artwork from all of the guests along with other titles and rarities like store only Youngblood #1 or Prophet graphic novels collecting the first seven issues. More and more guests showed up and raffles kept the atmosphere light.

The guest list was IMMENSE with Jeff Matsuda, Dan Fraga, Andy Park, Shannon Denton, Chap Yaep, Todd Nauck, Marat Mychaels, Norm Rapmund, Art Thibert, Danny Miki, Matt Hawkins, Dan Panosian, Shelby Robertson, Jon Sibal and Karl Altstaetter. I had already had a brief fanboy moment with Prophet's Dan Panosian at February's Long Beach Con so it was cool when he walked up next to us in line and sighed about Los Angeles traffic making him late. The signing was kind of what you made of it, chit chatting with each guest, I wish I had read the yearbook before meeting everyone! But stories of being 19 when they joined and it mostly being a blur or talking animated X-Men as someone moved into film and TV after comics. Panosian said there would be an anniversary panel at San Diego Comic-Con as there wasn't one at WC while I talked to Matt Hawkins about The Image Revolution being the best documentary of the four he did interviews for. Rob Liefeld was gracious, thanking us for showing up and waiting, ready to sign whatever I wanted. He flipped through the Prophet trade, laughing that he found a box of them so they were vintage!

To cap off a great event, O'Hara's Pub next door had $6 Jameson's...and we still had Disneyland later that evening. Wonder Con 2017 was shaping up nicely and it hadn't even started.

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