On April 27th, I was a guest of Toonseum in Pittsburgh. While I haven’t been to every cartoon art museum in the country, I still think that Toonseum wins the prize for World’s Cutest Comic Museum. It’s situated in the moddle of downtown Pittsburgh in a tiny storefront, yet the Toonseum folks managed to squeeze an entire year’s worth of Brenda Starr daily strips, from 1965 to 1966, on their walls without anything looking crowded, and STILL have room for me to give my presentation and talk, and later, to sign books. And after my talk, those lovely Toonseum folks surprised me with an award: the Nemo Award for Excellence in the Comic Arts! (There’s cartoonist Wayno presenting it to me) I’ve been nominated for an Eisner twice but never got one, but now I have a Nemo, so take that, San Diego Comic Con! (Oh, and there I am signing a book for Jessica Heberle. Hi, Jessica!)
Pittsburgh, by the way, is a beautiful city. There are pale yellow bridges everywhere you look, and I loved the old brick buildings. There’s nothing like them here in San Francisco because everything old fell down in 1906. And Andy Warhol was from Pittsburgh! Joe Wos, the executive director of Toonseum and one swell guy, got me into the Warhol Museum for free, and I spent a great afternoon looking at everything Warhol. I found out that he is buried outside of the city, and that people leave soup cans on his grave. Next time I come to Pittsburgh, I am bringing a can of Campbell’s tomato soup for Andy.
FEAR OF BLOGGING SLEEPS IN A MUSEUM!
Well, I didn’t actually sleep in Toonseum, but it sure felt like it! Actually, the museum put me up in the Wyndham Hotel, but when I opened the door to my hotel room, my first thought was, “Oh, somebody’s already staying in this room!” because there were books on comics, cartoons and animation scattered all over the room. Then I noticed that on the walls, where you usually find generic framed prints, were framed original art: comics and animation cels. So my next thought was that the Toonseum folks had snuck into the room like little elves and decorated it for me. But no, it’s a real hotel room at the Wyndham: the “Toon Room,” decor of course by Toonseum. If you’re coming to Pittsburgh, allow me to recommend that you phone the Wyndham and reserve the Toon Room; you’ll find all the comics you need to read during your stay, and with the room you get free entry into Toonseum. Should you get inspired to draw during your stay, there’s a drawing table, too. Look for my signature on it! And if the Toonseum is the cutest cartoon art museum, the Toon Room at the Wyndham is the best hotel room I have ever stayed in!
FEAR OF BLOGGING VISITS THE PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION!
Well, almost. On May 21st and 22nd, Steve and I were guests of the Midwest Comic Book Association at their Springcon, held at the State Fair grounds in St Paul, Minnesota. I’ve never ever been to a State Fair — didn’t even know they still had them! — so I loved the fairgrounds, which are like a miniature city, with shops and restaurants. Except that all the shops and restaurants were closed, because they only open for the State Fair, so it was kinda like a ghost town, which was even cooler. Oh, and here’s the obligatory pic of me at the con: that’s Patricia Gifford to my right and Leyna Gifford standing behind me in the hugs cavernous convention room.
SPRING CON BUYS UNDERWEAR FOR TRINA!
Okay, tights, but tights can be considered underwear and that’s such a great statement to make about a convention! What happened was it was cold! Yeah, I should have realized it would be cold — after all, it WAS Minnesota! And there I was in a dress and bare legs, freezing. So wonderful Mike Frigon (more about him later) took me to the nearest department store to buy tights, and before I could stop him, paid for them! No convention has EVER bought me tights!
FEAR OF BLOGGING SEES THE MISSISSIPPI!
Roberta Gregory, creator of Bitchy Bitch, Winging It, and about a jillion other comics since the early 70s, was a guest at Springcon, and it was wonderful to hang with her and catch up on stuff, as Roberta was one of the early contributors to Wimmen’s Comix, and I have known her since 1974. The day after the con, Mike Frigon (remember I said more about him later? Mike is a voice-over actor, a writer, and an all-around nice guy with a swell taste in music) took Roberta, Steve and me on a tour of St Paul and the Mississippi. I love that river! It makes me want to go back and reread Huck Finn. So there we are in front of the longest river in America, Mike and me and Steve.
As for St Paul, it turns out that it’s the home town of Charles Schultz, and the city hasn’t forgotten its local boy who made good. Statues of Peanuts characters are scattered all over town. We particularly liked this one of Sally and Linus, so here we are: seated, left to right, Sally Brown and Linus Van Pelt, standing, yours truly, Roberta Gregory, Steve Leialoha.