Saturday, Oct. 6, I made a whirlwind trip to the SiliCon convention in San Jose. Lemme tell ya, them one day turn-a-round flights are a killer!
San Jose, for those unfamiliar with Muerto folklore, is the city where EL MUERTO was debuted as a comic book back in 1998...last century, or millenium, if anyone's counting! I was invited to show the film and also attend a comics-to-film panel, so I was arranged to to it all in one day, as that worked best for my schedule.
My flight from LAX was scheduled to leave at 7:45am, and unfortunately I arrived at the airport at about 7:30! I rushed to the ticket booth to get my boarding pass as was told by the nice lady that it was too late to board. I panicked, of course, and tried this line on her: "Um, Miss...I'm scheduled to make an 11:30am appearance at a show in San Jose. Is there anyway I can make that flight?!". So, probably not even concerned with my reason, she dialed the checkpoint upstairs, then told me, "Okay, go up that escalator". So I rushed and then told the security guy running the screening process "Ah, they called from downstairs. My flight leaves in a few minutes..", I tell the guy, even as he's looking at me like he'd rather bounce me down the escalator!. I misunderstand what he says and proceed to the back of the line, which is about 100 or so people long. I hear a very loud, angry yell, "SIR..SIR!!!". It appears that I wasn't supposed to get in the back of the line but actually get to proceed ahead of everyone. It was really nerve-wracking hearing a guard yell in an airport. Everyone looked at me for a second as if I was a Mad Bomber or something!
So I go through the security screening, then scramble down the hall, pulling my jacket and shoes back on as I frantically try to make my gate. Of course, the plane had left.
I felt like a limp noodle. "Ah crap.... Damn...%&$#* *$#&^(%^ _@#$@&$%^ !!!!!" You get the idea. I walk to a United Airlines customer service booth and ask for the next flight. 12:30. And the screening is scheduled at 11:30. More language follows that would embarass a drill sergeant. Okay, better call Chris Knight, my liason at the convention.
"Hey Javier, how's it going?" he asks. "Um, not good.............I missed my flight." Gulp. And worse, I had the copy of the DVD on me! No me, no screening! But I tell Chris to get someone over to Blockbuster ASAP and rent the damn thing, I'll pay! Eventually we suggests that I look at another airline, and lo and behold, another filght is available in about an hour. That means I make the screening and can grab myself a couple of sausage biscuits at McDonald's!
So I board the flight a much nicer, happier Jav. Flying into the city of San Jose, I can't help but think of the time I went there, back in 1998. I drove up with a friend, my boxes of b&w photocopied EL MUERTO comics ready to debut to the world (or at least the attendees to that year's Alternative Press Expo). Now I was flying into the same city, with a copy of the Muerto movie in my carry-on bag! Pretty flippin' cool, I thought to myself.
I get picked up at the airport by Chris and get shuttled to the San Jose DoubleTree, where the con is being held. Because I had just arrived, I wanted a little time to decompress, so I handed the tech guys the DVD and told them I'd be back in an hour and a half for the Q&A. As I wandered around the exhibitors area, I ran into a couple of LA-area comic creators and caught up with them. I also ran into Lee Hester, a local San Jose comics retailer who I had met years ago through my pal Rafael Navarro. Lee's Comics is one of the area's movers and shakers, and Lee himself is a very entertaining, dapper gent. Some years ago he and I walked across the floor of the San Deigo Comic Con singing James Bond Theme Songs! And all the time I was dressed up as Rafael's character, SONAMBULO!! (That was in my pre-El Muerto Creator days, when I could take the time to spokesmodel as my friend's creations!) How's that for a nugget of Jav-Lore?
So Lee and I catch up with one another, and I tell him that my film is screening next door. Lee then tells his employee to watch the booth as me and Mr. Hester head on over to catch EL MUERTO! I wasn't planning on watching the film again, but as usual I sat down and enjoyed it. Each time I seem to focus on another aspect of the story or on a particular character. This time I was transfixed on the lovely Angie Cepeda.... and her character Maria. Not a bad sight to fixate on, believe me.
After the screening, I had about a half hour break until the Comics-to-Film panel I was scheduled for. I relaxed a bit then soon found myself sharing a table with a couple of other comics writers and a the cast/crew of a fan film called THE CROW: PURGATORY 2. These folks apparantly have recieved some good reaction with their film, a sequel to their previous entry. Crow creator James O'Barr is said to have given his support to their film, which is cool. I'd love to see an EL MUERTO fan film, to be honest! Afterwards, I asked the Crow team if I could take a photo with them. I told them that I too often hear knee-jerk reactions that the Muerto comic, and film, are Crow 'wannabees'. That would be because Muerto's got a white skull face and wear's black, and has come back from the dead. But like I told the Crow film folks, all the guys who come back from the dead go for the b&w look: Beetlejuice, Jack Skelington, The Crow, etc.! They laughed, and agreed, and so the creator of El Muerto and the filmakers behind the Crow fan film took this picture in Dead Guy solidarity.
As I was only there at the con for a day, I didn't bring any product to set up. I walked the various exhibits and isles of the convention and did manage to come across R2D2 signing at a table!
I also ran into this gentlemen, who was toting around Rascal, the self-proclaimed Ugliest Dog in the World. Hmm....
I had told a friend of mine, Miguel,that I would be in San Jose that day. We met up at the convention later in the day and left for dinner, as I had about an hour and a half til my flight. Miguel took me to a great little Mexican restaurant not far from the hotel. We indulged in tacos, enchiladas, and strawberry margaritas (well, I did...). He brought a copy of the Muerto DVD he had purchased, and he told me how much he enjoyed the film. I signed his copy, and in fact that's been the first DVD I've signed! That felt like a full circle. Signing a copy of the DVD almost 10 years later after signing the first Muerto comics in San Jose all that time ago......
I made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare. In fact, the place was fairly empty, least by LAX standards. Kinda spooky, but at the same time a welcome relief from the whirlwind day I had experienced. In a way it's been whirlwind decade of EL Muerto. For the next 45 minutes or so I was able to enjoy the downtime. Then I was on a nightflight back to LA.
And another 10 years of EL Muerto. And more Life in general.