I'm sorry I keep talking about it, but the San Diego Comic-Con
really was a giant bolus of stimulation. I left San Diego last Monday and yet I'm still thinking about the people, events, ideas, conversations, confrontations, etc. etc. (I'll blog about details in my other blog
, where I'm mostly blogging about blogging in this blog). I'm trying to digest the significance of the convention but it's difficult.
One funny note: even though I had an opera and a new book to sell, I was disproportionately proud of my mini-comics. They're small books of my Onion strips. I make them by hand (with the help of the local photocopy shop) and, locally, only Powell's on Hawthorne sells them. They're a dollar each and limited to a run of only-as-many-as-I-feel-like-making. In other words, they're legitimately collectible, especially since I don't sell them as such. Most modern collectibles are contrived as gimmicks to create a false demand for something that wouldn't sell at a garage sale. My comics are rare (though, I don't know that they'd sell at a garage sale, either). I don't sign or number them. I'm not trying to sell them through 'collectibility.' I'm selling them on their own merit.
The opera is similar. Many people ask about a recorded performance on CD or DVD. Nope. Two things. One: operas don't translate to television. Even the best operas by the best composers, the best directors, and the best filmmakers don't look good contained in a glass-fronted box (the TV). I'm proud of what the Too Much Coffee Man Opera team accomplished. We got standing ovations, I think it's great. But, if I can't tolerate watching more than 3 minutes of The Magic Flute on PBS while I'm flipping over to So You Think You Can Dance, I don't see how we'd do better than Mozart. Second: I like the idea that our opera is a moment in time. People want to contain it; have something to hold and own. I see it as an event dependent on actors. If you want to experience it, you have to put out the effort. At the convention I described it to inquiring people by saying, "You want me to put this thing in a box so you can eat it, in your car, as you drive home. It doesn't exist that way. You must sit down with us at our table, and eat it slowly, enjoying and tasting each course as it's served."
I gave a 2 minute (maybe 5 minute) talk preceding each showing of the opera. I got up on stage and did an ad lib B.S. talk. Mostly I thanked people for coming, thanked the San Diego Comic-Con for making it happen, and announced an opera sequel that will premiere in Portland at the PCPA next April. I loved getting on stage. Even more, I loved that people cheered the announcement of a sequel.
I'm in Berkeley, where I've yet to see a personalized license plate. The big news is that Chez Panisse switched to tap water. They're saying that tap water is good water plus they're making a political statement regarding the tangential waste of bottled water. Not everyone is recycling their plastics. All that plastic adds up. Drink tap.
In a similar note, Berkeley no longer produces trash. Each house has Compost, Recycling, pause-for-dramatic-effect, and Landfill. This new news has supplanted my anecdote for explaining my hometown of Berkeley. A while back, the city council renamed Columbus Day as Indigenous People's Day. In both cases, it's just the words that changed (with the hope that ideology is a subject of linguistics). The reality is that you still park for free on that particular Monday and you still put your broken flip-flops in the garbage to go to the dump and I still love Berkeley for its enthusiasm.
I'm trying to work up the guts to call Jello Biafra. I'd love to hang out with him again but I suffer fan-boy stage fright.
I made no progress with my comic about Emotional-STDs and the hot girl with the Too Much Coffee Man tattoo and my business card still hasn't emailed me back.
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Shannon Wheeler is the creator of the long-running comic strip Too Much Coffee Man and he currently writes and draws two weekly strips: "How to Be Happy," which runs in several alternative weeklies, and "Postage Stamp Funnies" for the Onion. His most recent book is Screw Heaven, When I Die I'm Going to Mars, a collection of short cartoons that takes a somewhat sweeter look at life's bigger issues. He lives in Portland, Oregon.