Weekend in review: Comic book madness

keith Knight, Pj Perez, Ryan Claytor

Discussing the art and business of self-publishing with Keith Knight and Ryan Claytor. (Photo by Katrina Miller)

Well, I did it. I broke myself. I kind of knew it would happen, but I was hoping it wouldn’t: I managed to pull through the last few weeks of whirlwind activity and then my body finally gave out upon waking Sunday morning. It’s my usual change-of-season cold (because, of course, the temperature dropped drastically on Sunday as well), but I’m sure it also had something to do with the self-abuse of this past weekend’s shenanigans. But everything went spectacularly well, and despite the stress, it was about as fun as it comes.

Friday — after running around all day with last-minute prep for the weekend’s festivities — we opened the “Inside the Boneyard” original art exhibit at Blackbird Studios during First Friday. It was also the first chance anyone had to get their hands on a physical copy of Tales from the Boneyard. The turnout was great, both for our show, and for the Day of the Dead exhibit in the front of the gallery (in which I also have a terrible piece of art). We sold a bunch of comics, and I sold at least a few pieces of original art. Very exciting! Both shows will be on display through the end of November, so I suggest you waste no time and head to 1551 S. Commerce St. to check them out!

I cut out of the reception early to run over to the Double Down Saloon (OK, so I drove, whatever) to talk comics, music and other shenanigans on Double Down Radio. It’s a pretty impressive set-up they have over there. I expected one dude with a laptop and Radio Shack microphone. But there are actually producers, hosts, call-in lines and all sorts of other fancy broadcasting things going on. Of course, it’s all done while downing shots and beer, but still, impressive. Self-described Star Wars fanatic Dave Prophet hosts the Friday night live shows, and I had a great time just hanging out and talking smack. If you want to hear the program, you can get the full, two-hour episode here, though I don’t come on until about 1:21 (that’s an hour twenty-one).

Saturday morning was a bit of a rough start, as the Double Down was not my last stop the night before, and it got rougher when I failed to find an envelope holding about $125 in petty cash I needed for the Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival, where I needed to be set-up by about 10 a.m. Thankfully, because of sales the previous night at the gallery reception, there was enough cash in that box to get through the day, but misplacing that much cash wasn’t happy news either way (it eventually turned up, two days later).

The festival itself was awesome. We sold copies of Tales from the Boneyard like gangbusters — a feat I owe a lot of credit to the supportive local press, who have been promoting the anthology for almost two months — and my other Pop! Goes the Icon titles didn’t sell too shabbily either. I also sat on my first convention-style panel, a self-publishing discussion with the great Keith Knight and Ryan Claytor. The room was packed, and we must have talked for well over an hour, mostly answering dozens of questions from the crowd.

This year’s festival was packed with people, and felt way too short. I mean, it’s only five hours anyway, but those five hours went by insanely fast. Last year’s event was good, too, but I recall having a few more periods of downtime. Of course, I didn’t have two tables to run or panels on which to sit. It was great to connect with so many people, and I predict next year’s event will just be even more fun.

There was little time to breathe in between the end of the festival (from which I departed at 5 p.m.) and band rehearsal at 6 p.m. It was the first time we were able to practice with our singer Tim in almost a month, and also the first time he’d performed with our former/temporary guitarist Rick in more than a year. But Rick, Mark and I had been practicing nearly every other day, and Tim jumped right into the mix. We blazed through our set relatively error-free, and packed up to head for Brass Lounge downtown, where we were playing the release party for both the Boneyard comic and Dead Neon: Tales from Near-Future Las Vegas.

Despite fears that we’d clear out the room of Saturday night revelers whom Kirby Krackle (which was just a solo, acoustic Kyle Stevens) warmed up, getting them dancing, our performance actually went really well — maybe the best in years. I don’t know if it was Rick’s (temporary) return, the energy of the crowd, the free drinks, or what, but people were actually dancing to our rock-metal-punk attack, and inexplicably cheering. Of course, that was nothing compared to our follow-up act, Jarret Keene’s Dead Neon, which was the obvious main draw of the night. The trio’s post-apocalyptic sludge metal was strangely hypnotic, infectious and grooving, and some hardcore fans were actually hanging on every growling word from Jarret’s mouth.

The final band of the night, 11K, featured a few members from Dead Neon, but its sound was more indie-dream-rock than death metal. Still, it’s a shame so many people left after Dead Neon finished, because 11K put on a great set, and I was kind of sad to learn the band only reunited for that night’s performance (most of the same line-up appears in Minor Suns, who was supposed to play originally).

All in all, it was a good night. We sold a few more copies of Boneyard, and hopefully impressed the booking agent at Brass to invite As Yet Unbroken to perform in the future. Of course, we’re at another crux, as our full-time guitarist parted ways with the band a few weeks ago (hence Rick’s pinch-hitting appearance). Much as we did about this time last year, we’ll probably focus on recording before diving back into the search for a new guitar player. Or, you know, just build a guitar-playing robot. Hmm …

I’m taking it relatively easy this week, though this mild cold I have is also kind of forcing me to do so. I’ve been trying to plug away at my NaNoWriMo entry, but apparently, I’m a slow writer. Also: Brain borked the last few days. I do have one event to attend this week, but I’ll talk about that more tomorrow. Back to my headache and work …

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