Image Expo was one of the best convention experiences of my life so far. It was a giant nerd party for people who love comics and storytelling. It was an intimate space where fans could meet the creators of their favorite stories as well as a day full of exciting announcements, silly jokes, and comic creativity at its height. Thinking about going next year? Read on for my insider’s look at this up close and personal expo experience!
This was a very different setup than your average geek convention. For one, there were no costumes. This was an event focused on the creators themselves and the fantastic stories they’re telling. I dressed as Amaterasu from The Wicked + The Divine from the neck up, and there was one other fan dressed as Laura (also from WicDiv), but that was pretty much it.
The day started with the keynote speech. This was the big presentation of the day where all the announcements were revealed, from new titles to the surprise guests appearing that day. The presentation included a slideshow of teaser images and some really impressive numbers about the growth and success of Image Comics in 2014 (hint: it was a banner year, and they are kicking ass and taking names). I spent the entire presentation furiously taking cell phone pictures so I couldlive-tweetas many things as I could (Well, When I wasn’t hyperventilating over Monstress, A.D.: After Death, and The Wicked + The Divine). So much good stuff is coming out of Image this year! Check out ourround-up postfor all the new titles and returning stories revealed!
The rest of the day was split into three sections that was happening at the same time. On one side of the Yerba Buena center, there were back-to-back press conferences for most of the stuff announced in the keynote. In the other building were scheduled signing times for creator meet-and-greets. The main theater hosted the creator panels focusing on different parts of making comics, from world-building to creative freedom. I wanted to attend almost all of those panels, but I was equally excited about hearing more details on the new titles coming our way. Since I was attending on a press badge, the press conferences won out. But here’s a secret: it was also the area where creators were just wandering aroundand hanging out between their scheduled appearances. I am not complaining at all!
I spent nearly all my time running between press conferences and trying to catch creators for one-on-one interviews. I spotted Skottie Young walking down the hall and yelled at him for draining my wallet because I have to buy all his baby variants. He twirled his mustache with a cackle and yelled back, “And they’ll never end!!!” Alex de Campi stopped me for a photo of my makeup and we chatted about her awesome nail polish and all the talented creators who announced passion projects that morning. I met Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, the creators of The Wicked + The Divine, and they knew who I was! Both had seen and shared a few photos of my cosplays from their comic. I just about died.
One of the highlights of the Expo (there are several, so I don’t know how I can pick) was in the press building. In between the 15-minute press conferences, I spotted Brian K. Vaughan finishing up an interview with another press team. I waited until he was done and then walked up and asked him if I could tell him a story. With shaking hands, I pulled out my signed copy of Saga #1 and told him about how his book got me into comics and was the reason I was there today. I told him how I went from Saga to dozens of subscriptions and favorites. To be able to share my comic story with one of the most innovative creators today was alone worth the price to get there. He told me he was sorry he cost me so much money!
After the adrenaline and chaos of the afternoon, I had about an hour and a half to myself to catch the last group of creator signings of the day. Attendees stood in one line and were let into the signing area in small groups to control the crowds, which was a great way to do it. Once it was my turn, I wandered between the tables of Scott Snyder, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, Nick Dragotta, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Ríos, and even ran into Skottie Young again so he could draw an evil mustache sketch on my poster for his new comic, I Hate Fairyland. It was relaxed, intimate, and I never felt rushed. And Kieron Gillen asked me to sign his hand. Man, everyone there was so laid back and just excited and grateful to be there with people who love comics.
As if that day wasn’t enough, there was also an after party at the Comic Art Museum down the street. I got to continue hanging out and making jokes with all the creators, press people, and fans I had met that day. We kept talking about all our favorite comics and the funny things that happened that day. I met the podcasters ofUnder the Comic Coversand we nerded out over Saga and Nailbiter. I joked with prankster Chip Zdarsky that I wasn’t cosplaying Amaterasu after all, but Amateurassu, the character from the WicDiv porn parody in his comic Sex Criminals. (I wasn’t, but we still squeaked in conspiratorial glee and he ran off with a look of pure delight to tell the WicDiv team.)
This event was unlike any other I’d been to. There were no cosplay masquerades or big-name actors. There was no exhibitor hall or photo ops for sale. There was just a bunch of fans and a bunch of writers and artists who love telling stories through art. If you’re a fan of Image Comics, then Image Expo is the place where the creators of your favorite stories go from a name on a page to the coolest people to hang out with for a day.
For more coverage, be sure to check out the Image Comics Facebook page, especially theirphoto albumfrom the Expo. If you want to join the fun next year, keep an eye on the Image website or Facebook page. Regular tickets were only $20 this year!