Friday, November 13, 2009

Last Gasp Comix Warehouse or Part II of III

OK, let's recap. It is Friday, October 16th, and I'm in San Francisco. I've just survived an action packed, gut wrenching climb up 100's of steps and back down. I then locate a fantastic Japanese Resturant for some Phai Thai. Now, all full, rested and ready for action, I locate the offices of Last Gasp Comix Warehouse. It is very fortunate that I write down everything, like the address of LG. They have no logo, name, anything on the building except for the large 777 on the side. I park nearby and walk around to the front where I'm told the entrance to the party is. I see a small handwritten sign by the alley in the back telling me that, yes, this is the place. I'm to get my badge at 5:00pm for the next two days of fun, and sales, at APE (Alternative Press Expo). I've never been to APE and I'm all psyched. I get to the front of the building and there is one guy standing outside smoking. Nothing else is going on. No signs for anything, no giant Last Gasp logo on the building...OK, I already said that. The guy looks up, sees me stranding there thinking, and he says, "You here for the APE party?" I say, "Yeah." He points to the stairs and says, "Next floor up." I make my way up some light colored wood stairs with white walls. Looks newly remodeled. At the top of the stairs is a simple wooden door, with a door knocker. Like a door to someones house. A small house. I see a little note on the door.

On the little post-it note it says, "This is APE, Come In." And I see the Lasp Gasp Please Knock gold plate over the gold eagle door knocker. I open the door and see a medium size lobby that is crammed with books, and stuff all over the walls. I see no one at this desk. I look left and see more stuff but no one there. I look right and down a short hallway I see some guys behind a table. Before I can say anything, I'm told that the badges are not ready and will be ready in one hour. "Please have something to drink and eat and wonder around the warehouse." I see 4 or 5 guys sitting at the end of this table. On the table is a huge cake with the logo of APE on it. I get a shot of it. The guy behind the table tries to jump out of the shot, but he is too late. I've stolen his soul. (For my collection.). I have a copy of Slam Bang the Explosive Comic Anthology in my hand and I show it to one of the guys sitting at the table. He looks at if for a second and hands it back. No comment.

I walk down the hall which has offices in cubicals on the left and giant circus canvases on the right. Looks like a cool place to work. The offices remind me of when I worked at Sierra and Microsoft, where everyone has comic books, figures and robots, etc....all around their rooms. (See, I'm cool. I guess I don't look cool enough.) These guys have strange posters that look like something during War War II. "Stay Productive, Wasted Time is helping Hitler." Or something like that. I figure these guys are pretty hip. Though, so far I'm not getting that feel from the people working here. These guys are all shy and only sit looking at each other. They have a guy and girl walking around with trays of food and I grab some. I see a sign telling me to go farther back for drinks etc...I'm having a blast just looking the place over. I see some cool/strange stuff, and a wall of famous art by some famous underground artists. Crumb, Robert Williams, etc...

I don't see very many other guys walking around at first but it starts to pick up. They are all doing the same things I'm doing. eating, drinking and looking at the interesting decor. I walk up to a guy and say, "How's it going?" He walks away, looking at a book. I walk up to another guy, about my age, and take his photo. He looks at me like I have some evidence on him, I shouldn't have. I say, "How's it going?" He looks at me and blinks, and turns and walks away. I wonder around some stacks of comics on metal shelves. They have quite a selection of underground and different comics and books, that is for sure. I find some cardboard signs on a wall beam leading me to the restrooms and other areas. I find a room with a long table of food, and a guy tending a drink table. This guy is friendly and I get a beer in a bottle. This will relax me. I don't drink, so I'll have to sip this and take it slow. I see a girl with a tray of sandwhiches and she has me take one. I go and sit down in a room with some pinball machines and lots of images on the walls. Some guy is talking to 3 or 4 other guys and girls who are sitting and drinking. I sit down in a plush, cooshy chair. I almost lose my beer as the seat is a foot deeper than I thought, or the chair is worn completely out. So, I'm a bit jarred but ready to get in on the conversation and.....they see me and shift positions. The guy talking moves closer to the group, and one of them scoots their chair so that I'm now only seeing the back of them, and can't see anyone else. OK, it's a private conversation, I assume. I then just lookaround, taking photos, eating, and watching a guy playing a Capt. Fantastic penball machine.

I've now walked around pretty much all of the place and see a girl talking to one of the employees that is at his desk in one of the interesting cubicals. She tries to include me in the conversation but no one else can get a word in. It's about where she lives and my mind is going blank...time to switch to ice water. No more beer for me. I make another run for the food and look at my watch and it has been one hour now. I go back up to the front and some of the cake is gone and I look up and see a long line now for the badges. Sheeeeet.

I get in line and comment to someone else looking at the line, who also arrived on time. And we make some comments about, "Good thing I was on time, so I'd have to wait an hour to wait in line." etc....I get a chance to see the clearance rack of books, some good deals. I can only check one bag at the airport and not sure how much of my books I'll sell at the show, I can't really grab a bunch of books right now. I'm also way over budget for this adventure but what else is new. I'm here to try and have fun, also, right? I get to the end of the line, tell them who I am, and get a package with my badge, my wife's badge and Dan Burke and his wife's badge. Now I'm reminded again, that I'll only need one. So I tell them and they say, "Just give it out to someone." So that is what I ended up doing. The guy at the hotel that helped me to my room was asking about my trip and I said something about the comic convention and he was all excited. He liked comics and I told him when the show was etc. The guy that brought me my $30 sandwich was also talking about comics as the other guy had told him about me. So when I get back to the hotel I give the first guy two tickets for the show. He thanked me and looked like he would try and go. He was off during the days, and worked nights.

After getting my badge, I didn't see any reason to hang around any longer so made my silent exit back to my car. I did see a very cool painting in the alley behind their office. A bunch of portraits in color. I did my best to get a shot of it, as it was behind some locked bars and I had to shoot between them.

So getting my badge early was great. I got the program book (they had put in everything I told them, exactly! Wow.) and was all set for the next two days at APE. It was worth it just to look around and for all the photos I got.

Next: Part III, the actual APE con. My report with photos and video!

Jump to Part III (APE convention):