The panel for Comic Book Tattoo was great. They had not just Tori Amos but 6 of the writers and artists who worked on the book, and most important of all, they kept it balanced. Too often when you have one high-profile guest, the panel ends up focusing entirely on that person. But everyone had a chance to talk about the process.

One of the things that Tori emphasized was that she’d wanted the artists to have complete freedom, because she’d been on too many projects where someone stepped in and said something like, “Did you think about the demographic?” Rantz Hoseley expanded on that, pointing out that many of the artists kept asking him (or, more precisely, Tori, through him) whether they could do things like do a story without word balloons. They were accustomed to that kind of limitation working on other projects. Ted McKeever mentioned a Superman story he turned in that got rejected because he drew the wrong number of belt loops. And Rantz took great pleasure in telling them to go for it, whatever it was.

At one point, Tori mentioned that when she read the stories, she didn’t hear the songs they were based on in her head — she heard new music, which she’s now working on. She and several of the artists talked about the cyclical nature of inspiration, with different kinds of arts all inspiring each other.

I was in the 5th row, off to the side, which was great — but I also had managed to get a slot for the signing this afternoon. I had to skip a bunch of stuff I would have liked to attend — Pushing Daisies, “Quick Draw,” Battlestar Galactica — but you know, I’m going to see those shows when they come back from hiatus. Who knows when I’ll get another chance to meet Tori Amos?

Update: I’ve posted more photos from the panel.

Between the end of the panel and the start of the signing, I wandered a bit, grabbed lunch, went back to Todd Nauck’s table to pick up the Impulse sketch (he was doing a sketch of Secret, and mentioned that he’d started Young Justice as a huge Impulse fan, then started to really like the other characters, and ended up with Wonder Girl as his favorite because he got to show so much character growth over the course of his time on the book.) I caught up with Katie in the line for Pushing Daisies — she got into both the Heroes and Lost panels — and then headed over to the line for the Tori Amos signing around 1:30.

This was the first time I’d been to one of the big autograph signings in the Sails pavilion. They do everything in multistage lines. For about half the first stage I just pulled out the book and read the first few stories. (I must track down a copy of “Here in my Head.”) Then I got to talking with the woman behind me, who had somehow managed a last-minute trip and gotten into just about everything she wanted to do. (Though she disappeared between stages, so I suspect she didn’t know she needed to get her badge signed to get into the signing, and thought she just needed to buy a copy of the book.) During the second stage, I ended up mostly talking with a man in front of me who had been in the comics industry during the late 1990s and left. He said this con, and the book, had inspired him to try to get back into comics.

I got up to the front of the line around 4:10. I’d been trying to think of what to say during my 30 seconds, and promptly forgot all of it. I don’t think I’ve ever been quite reduced to the level of a babbling fanboy as I was when I got to shake Tori Amos’ hand — twice — and try to say something about how I’d loved her music since college, and got this T-shirt at the first concert of hers I went to, and so on, and she just kept looking at me like she was expecting me to continue, and ohmigodi’mtalkingtotoriamos. I remember she asked me if I was local, and I said something about the LA/OC area, and I wanted to mention catching her show at the Grove last December but said something incoherent instead, and that’s honestly the only thing I can remember that she said to me, even though I know there were several more sentences.

Not my book, but the same page that she signed in mine.
Not my book, but the same page that she signed in mine.

I walked away from the signing thinking, “I’m done. I could leave this convention right now and go home, and I’d be perfectly happy.”

Update: I’ve posted more photos from the signing.

Every year I think I’m ready for the Comic-Con crowds. And every year they astonish me. By the time I’ve gotten used to the crowd level from Thursday and Friday, it’s Saturday, and there are even more people.

Katie got up 2 hours before I did to make sure she got a spot in the Heroes line. She succeeded, and managed to get into the hall before I even made it to the convention center. Of course, that was in part because I wanted to grab cash, coffee, and a sandwich to hang onto for lunch before I got in. I think I stood in line for at least 10 minutes waiting for an ATM at a branch in the Gaslamp district. There were two machines, one of which was broken, and the two — just two — people ahead of me were both making deposits. And the machine was slow.

As for coffee, I figured I’d go to a Starbucks just because it was closer — but once I got to the nearest one, I realized I wasn’t far from an It’s a Grind. So I walked the two blocks, and passed another Starbucks on the way. 馃槙 So I grabbed coffee and something to eat, then spent at least 20 minutes at Subway. Then I had to wait for the trolleys so I could cross the tracks…

By the time I got to the convention center, they were letting the Hall H line in. It was running all through the park area at the end of the center, zig-zagging around, and reportedly went all the way to Seaport Village. Which doesn’t make sense, because IIRC Seaport Village is at the other end of the center, so maybe they were talking about the line for badge pickups?

I waited near the front, figuring I’d hand Katie her water bottle and crochet hooks on the way in, but then I asked one of the “Elite” staff when the line started moving — and it had been almost an hour earlier.

So I went back to Artist’s Alley to pick up that sketch from Todd Nauck. He was off doing a signing at the DC booth. So I went to the reservation desk to set up for dinner. Which took a while, since I went through the main floor, which was a very cattle-drive-like experience. At least my shoulders are starting to get used to the backpack again, though I’m starting to feel like I’m in that third-day convention haze. (Plus I had only a scone and coffee, instead of a full breakfast, which might have something to do with it.)

There are a lot more people in costumes here today. As expected, there are lots of Jokers this year — so many, in fact, that I’ve stopped paying attention to them except for the really good ones and the creative ones. I’ve seen at least two Nurse Jokers over the last few days, possibly three.

I’m waiting for the Tori Amos/Comic Book Tattoo panel now. I figured the line would be long, so I showed up about 45 minutes early, but it turned out they were letting people walk right into the Ralph Bakshi panel, so I wandered in, watched the end of it, then moved to a better seat at the break. The room’s packed, and there are about 10 minutes left before the panel. But I’m only 5 rows back, and a little off to the side, which is better seating than I’ve had at any of her concerts.

First morning at Comic Con, we went to breakfast at Cafe 222. Harvey Dent would love this place — it’s 222 Island Ave., and it’s on the corner of Second Street. They have dishes like the Two Plus Two and the Two Plus Two +2. By the time we left, the line to get in was stretching at least 30 people. Great food, definitely recommended.

Arrived around 9:00 AM, about a half hour before the doors opened. I wanted to go straight for the Image booth for the tickets to the Tori Amos signing; Katie wanted to go straight for the Sci-Fi booth for the Big Frakkin Bags — and the lines to get in started at either end of the convention center. So each of us picked a different line, and waited for the doors to open.

Just after 9:30 a huge cheer went up from the front of the line over by A and B. They opened the doors all the way along, so I went in the first one that opened, and made a beeline for the Image booth… where I stood in line for an hour, talking with the people in front of me and behind me in line.

The missing books turned out to be on a truck that jackknifed on the freeway, if I heard correctly on a truck stuck in a massive traffic jam on the freeway. They’re hoping to get them in tomorrow or Saturday, in time for the signing itself. For now, they’re selling prints and offering the book for the price difference, at least for people who arrived in time for the signing “tickets.” I managed to get the 46th slot this morning, out of 75: I’m in for the signing!

After that I went back to Colleen Doran’s table to get Orbiter and A Distant Soil signed, and kicked myself for not bringing The Book of Lost Souls. JMS was standing there talking with her. I waited until he left and said something to that effect, and she said he’d probably be back at some point. But I got the two books signed, and she sketched a space shuttle on the inside cover flap for Orbiter. (Then I noticed a small stack of the Lost Souls trade, and realized I probably could’ve bought a copy right there and had both of them sign it. Ah, well!)

After that I wandered over to the small press area, and found myself in the webcomics neighborhood. I picked up Girl Genius vol.7, got it signed by both Phil and Kaja Foglio, and got Kaja to sign volumes 1 and 2. (They keep coming out right before Comic-Con, so I’ve ended up getting all of them signed… by Phil Foglio. This was the first time I caught them both at the booth while I actually had the books!) While I was paying for the book, Randy Milholland of Something Positive came over and handed the Foglios a copy of the Super Stupor comic book, then left. I’ll have to locate his booth at some point today.

After that it was up to Sails so I could drop some flyers for Speed Force off at the freebie table, where I caught up with Katie again. We wandered a bit, made reservations for dinner, then I headed back to the hotel (such a novel idea!) to drop stuff off. And decided to blog.

General sense: about the same level of crowd as last night. More costumes. Saw lots of Dark Knight-style Jokers, not all of them in purple suits — including one woman dressed as a Nurse Joker. As I waited to cross the street from the convention center, someone actually asked me if I was selling my ticket. 3 hours into a 4-day show? I don’t think so!

Now to grab some food and head back to the con!

I’d been trying to decide whether to pre-order Comic Book Tattoo (the graphic novel anthology based on Tori Amos songs) or pick it up at San Diego Comic-Con next month. Now I know.

Colleen Doran reports that Tori Amos will be signing the book on Saturday. Tickets for the signing — just 200 of them — will be given to people who purchase the book at the con (limited each day, so that they don’t all go on Wednesday).

She’ll also be on a panel on Saturday from 11:30–12:30. Here’s hoping DC doesn’t schedule a “What’s really happening with the Flash” panel at the same time, ’cause if they do, I’m skipping the Flash news. Someone’ll post it online. (Oh, wait…)

I am so looking forward to this…

So, what comic book event of the summer has me the most excited? Is it Marvel’s Secret Invasion?聽 DC’s Final Crisis? The release of The Flash Companion? Geoff Johns returning to The Flash for Rogues’ Revenge?

Well, that last one is close, but it’s actually Comic Book Tattoo, the upcoming ~500-page anthology of comic book stories inspired by Tori Amos’ music announced last December, and Comic Book Resources has a huge article about the project, including art.

(as last time, via Colleen Doran)