Back From Wizard World Texas:
Wizard World Texas is sort of a "non-Con" to me, as I compare it to my experiences with focused small press shows like SPX or gigantic events like San Diego, and so I had really done all I was going to do in about an hour. A quick sprint through the exhibition hall turned up mostly dealers, and since I have far too many toys and back issues already, they hold little interest for me. Another quick sprint through Artists' Alley turned up some familiar faces and a few other indy creators, but it pales beside the Artists' Alley of San Diego or the concentrated small press goodness of SPX.
That's not to say Wizard World Texas is a bad Con. Really, there are almost no opportunities for people in Texas to catch any of the big names without spending big money on planes and/or hotels, and fans of Ethan Van Sciver, Bryan Hitch and Michael Turner were no doubt delighted by the chance to take a drive instead of a flight and catch a couple of their favorite creators.
I saw Hitch only once, making his way through the hall, but Ethan and colorist Moose Baumann were parked in Artists' Alley throughout a lot of the show and doing really nice full-color sketches for a line of people using fairly reasonable pricing. And if you're a fan of gaming, whether miniatures, RPG or videogames, there was plenty to offer, from the swanky setup of Aeon Flux gaming machines to networked computers and Game Cubes and consoles to Sony's PS/2 and PSP setup in the middle of the hall, all the way to a gigantic gaming area staffed by Wizards of the Coast and Wizkids employees and volunteers.
At any rate, it was a worthwhile weekend trip for me. I got to hang out with Rafael Navarro of SONAMBULO fame and Mike Wellman of MAC AFRO, TEX! and GONE SOUTH, along with a number of friends or acquaintances from here in Austin. I got new sketches for the theme sketchbook from Dave Crosland and Chris Moreno, and a zombie sketch in my regular sketchbook from TRIP TO RUNDBERG's Shawn Richter. All were gorgeous. Richter in particular blew me away with his zombie sketch, and I think this guy might have a Tony Moore-esque "born to draw zombies" quality. Perhaps I should rethink that "zombie moratorium" after all... or maybe I'll just continue to make exceptions for books like RUNDBERG and ZOMBIE TALES.
Outside of convention stuff, we had an enjoyable meal with about a dozen people at Bennigan's (I know, I know, but nobody really had a good local restaurant location for us that we could find, and after a long day of the Con, sometimes you just want a burger and fries) with a waitress who did a really good job keeping up with us, a brief (but late) stop-in at the live art show by Dave Crosland and Jim Mahfood and an immensely difficult time navigating Dallas with stupid Mapquest directions that led to about an hour and a half of drive time for what should have been a 20-minute trip. Thankfully, me and my two travelling companions (Chris Nicholas and Gary Bartos) were in good spirits throughout, including coming up with Nolan Ryan's theme song, and when we finally did get to my sister-in-law's house about 3:00 in the morning, it was nice to have a place to crash.