meet and greet
Getting into town was a nightmare. We took I-395 into the city, only to find that all the exits that went into downtown had been closed off — but there were no signs anywhere leading up to those exits to notify drivers of the closures or their cause, leading, of course, to mass confusion on the 14th Street Bridge. We ended up parking in a “permit parking only” zone next to the Botanic Garden (and, thankfully, weren’t ticketed, booted or towed) and hiking across the Mall to meet up with Dari.
On the way, we crossed paths with the reason for our earlier detour: the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, and event that I’d heard absolutely nothing about, and hadn’t seen any closure maps or notices for. Judging from the paucity of spectators assembled on Seventh Street, I’d wager that not a whole lot of other people heard about it, either — certainly not enough to warrant closures of this magnitude. Negotiating our way around the spectating, stroller-pushing masses, we walked in time to the Celtic music played by fiddlers on the Fado float and wondered what folks from Falun Gong, assembled in a staging area, were doing in an Irish parade.
Lunch went reasonably well, although, being the person who had suggested the venue, I felt a bit responsible when the food that Rob and Dari ordered wasn’t especially up to snuff.
Afterward, we headed back across the mall, where Falun Gong had just entered the parade route — complete with large dragon — and made our way to the Freer for the panel discussion.
When I first saw the event listing in December/January for this panel discussion, I’d managed to confuse myself into thinking that writer Neil Gaiman was the star attraction, not Frank Miller — a mistake that inspired no small amount of confusion and minor indifference on my part when, upon lining up to enter the auditorium, we heard murmurings that Miller had called in sick and would not be appearing. Wow, I thought. Miller and Gaiman in the same room would have been pretty cool. Oh well.
Then I finally realized my error and braced myself for an hour and a half panel discussion featuring two guys I’d never heard of and one guy I’d heard a reference to in a “How would comic creators answer the ‘Why’d the Chicken Cross the Road’ question?” joke e-mail but had never actually seen his work.
However, an upshot of it all was that the group sponsoring the event said they’d credit everyone back $15/ticket because of Miller’s absence.
The panel discussion was interesting in parts — particularly Paul Pope’s discussion of his experience working for a manga publisher in Japan — but I got a bit fidgety with all the talk about the business of indie comics publishing and the constant references to indie comics I’d never heard of. I was hoping for more discussion of the actual craft of creating comics and graphic novels; plus, I was frustrated that, for a panel about such a visual medium, there was a striking lack of examples of the comics and styles they were discussing.