Unshelved comic strip for 6/28/2006

ALA New Orleans, part I

So yeah, we were at ALA. I'm going to try to gather my thoughts while the memories are fresh, but my head hit the pillow at 1am this morning after a long day of conferencing and travel, so forgive me if I forget anything or write even more poorly than normal.

Thursday we flew to New Orleans. This was basically a travel day, but we got a chance to scope out the convention center and drop of several bags worth of goods. The question at these shows is always "will we get hassled for carrying in our own goods" and the answer was clearly No, which was a relief. When we got to the hotel I discovered that I had made reservations for the next night, but they accomodated us. I also discovered that I spent much more than I had to. I conclude that this whole back injury thing continues to affect my ability to think clearly about a wide range of things.

My sister Robin moved here in April to help jumpstart small businesses after Katrina. Shw showed us her cute little sublet in the French Quarter and I ate the best hamburger of my life at Port of Call. I also drink a giant Monsoon and half of Gene's, so I had a little trouble sleeping.

Friday we hopped out of bed, into a taxi, and up to a fan's house (hi, Kimberly!) to pick up our goods. Shipping to conferences is expensive, so it's always helpful when someone can take delivery of good old-fashioned Media Mail a few weeks beforehand. We taxied 20 boxes back to the convention center. Total savings: a guestimated $500-$900, which can be the difference between profit and loss at an expensive conference like this. Gene did all of the lifting and moving of boxes (back problems again) and I set up the actual booth in the very hot exhibit floor while he sat in the air conditioned hallway and played Super Mario Brothers on his DS. Gene and I joined a bus ride of libraries and neighborhoods affected or destroyed by Katrina and the resultant floods. So awful I really can't find the words.

For dinner Robin took us to a wondeful dinner, but I can't for the life of me remember where.

ALA New Orleans, part II

Saturday was the first day of the exhibits. We were busy the whole day, selling stuff and greeting fans. In addition to our usual vendor friends we met Jim, head of P.R. and Marketing from Image, which has been absent from ALA for several years. He turned out to be a fan, god bless him. We handed out pink badge ribbons that asked "What Would Dewey Do?" which were a big hit and attracted a lot of traffic. After the show we stumbled home in the heat and humidity and met Robin for dinner at Bourbon House.

Sunday Gene started without me while I drew Sunday's strip. It was a little slower than Saturday. Our most fervent fans tend to seek us out first day, but we still had respectable traffic and sales. But the toll from travel and sales was adding up, and we were both pretty beat. It was hard to really be on. We almost begged out on dinner, but Robin was strict (did I mention she's my big sister?) and took us to a wonderful dinner at the Upperline, where I had the best pecan pie of my life. We both finally got a good night's sleep

Monday we began with coffee and beignet at Cafe du Monde, which is one of those iconic places that survives despite appalling customer service. They must put something in the powdered sugar. At the show we quickly gave out our 1000th and last badge ribbon, much to the disappointment of a lot of subsequent fans. Monday rocked. We were sure we were selling more than Sunday, but when we closed out it was about the same. It was really just that we had gotten some sleep. Or maybe it was that powdered sugar. We dined with Jim from Image at some chain restaurant. After all the fine New Orleans dining it was somewhat of a relief to just order cheap generic food. We went back to the hotel and watched Spike Lee's Inside Man, which was good but uneven. What was Jodie Foster doing in that movie? I drew Monday's strip.

Tuesday was the last day of exhibits at ALA, which are always terrible. Traffic was low to nonexistant, sales minimal. Jenna from D.C. suggest we taxi to get burritos, and we did. That's where I discovered the uptown neighborhood, which is where I wish we had been hanging out all along. Oh well. Gene and I packed up the booth and, lacking anything better to do, went to the airport early and hung out and read.

Highlights:

  • We met author Scott Westerfeld, who gave us a copy of The Last Days, the sequel to Peeps.
  • I met Vernor Vinge, author of Marooned in Real Time, and got all fanboy. I gave him a Library Raid Jacket which he much admired and promised to wear to dinner that night.
  • Gene and I agreed to do something that I can't tell you about yet, but it will be very cool.
  • Handing over the proceeds of our art auction to the New Orleans Public Library, especially after taking that bus tour.
  • Talking to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of fans. You love the Book Clubs, you wish we made our t-shirts in a wider variety of colors, you loved Randy the randy librarian. You are all excellent.

Can't wait until January, when ALA comes to our town.

This Unshelved strip

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