I left my back in Charlotte

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get a new blog post up– and I promised a HEROES CON report would be up right after I returned from the show. The problem is that I’ve been in agony from what is either a smashed disc or a pinched nerve in the left side of my spine ever since Sunday morning (the last day of the show) and have been unable to sit at my computer for more than 10 minutes or so since I returned from Charlotte. I’m not exactly sure what the specific cause of my pain is– it’s possible that it’s a combination of several factors. The chairs that are provided by the convention center are the worst enemy of ANYONE with back problems, and I’d have to consider myself to be among the ELITE of folks with back problems (a distinction I’d rather not have, mind you). And so, combined with the fact that the tables aren’t able to swivel to an angle like my drawing table at home is, it’s a recipe for a lot of back pain. I’ve ended each day at almost every major multi-day show I’ve been to in the last 5 years or so barely able to walk after the show closes. Another factor, or culprit, could be that I spent 4 hours Saturday morning on my hands and knees drawing a huge piece of art for the annual Art Auction that’s held at HEROES. The poster board they provide was too big to work with on a table, and a bit too flimsy to hold and balance on my lap sitting in a chair, so I had to work on the floor of the hotel room. It was a painful 4 hours, but I ended up being pretty happy with the way the piece came out. The final suspect in the cause of my back pain is possibly my own fault. I went to the gym in the Westin Hotel on Saturday and Sunday morning. On Saturday, I did some weight training and ran on the treadmill for about 20 minutes. On Sunday, I just ran on the treadmill– but this time for about 30 minutes. I felt really good and energetic, and so pushed myself a bit harder than I usually do. When I got off the treadmill, I felt a beginning of the pain that would incapacitate me so much this week. At first I welcomed the pain in the lower left side of my spine, because I’ve lived with pain on the RIGHT side for so many years, it was a welcome distraction from that dull, constant and maddening throb that I feel day in and day out.

But it kept getting worse and more intense.

And so now here I sit, finally able to spend a little longer in the chair at my computer. I went to a doctor a few days ago, got evaluated, and got prescriptions for some powerful pain killers and muscle relaxers that are helping somewhat. But I think the disc, or nerve, or whatever it is, is finally beginning to heal a bit. I hope SO MUCH that is the case– because the last 4 days have been a real nightmare, and for someone like me who has learned to live with constant, chronic back pain, that’s SAYING SOMETHING.

The show itself was a fun experience, overall. It was a BLUR, but an enjoyable blur. The highlight for me was Friday afternoon when my brother Matt and sister-in-law Suzanne showed up, and brought with them a wonderful SPIDER-MAN birthday cake that Suzanne had baked for me. Suzanne is a wonderful cake maker and it was a delicious example of her prodigious abilities. Here’s a picture of the three of us with the cake– the only picture I ended up getting the whole weekend (despite promising tons of pics on my message board).

Me, Matt (aka MAFUS) and Suzanne (aka SQUEEZE) Wieringo with the amazing SPIDER-MAN cake Suzanne made.

It was also very nice to have so many folks who read the blog and read in the HEROES CON program book that it was my birthday on the 24th coming up to wish me a happy one. And being able to spend the day (and the weekend) with my buddies Todd Dezago, Craig Rousseau and Scott Kurtz was wonderful.

And so another HEROES CON goes into the history books. I think I finally learned at this show that it’s virtually impossible to get sketch commissions done during the show itself. After 13 years as a professional comic book artist, I have a LOT of printed material out there. And so trying to sketch while folks are bringing some– or ALL, in a few cases– of this material up to have signed in a never-ending stream of smiling faces doesn’t allow for any time to draw. And to be honest, I’d rather sign comics for folks who have bought them than to try to work up commissions anyway. I deal with more people signing than sitting with my head down and sketching. At future shows, I might (if I have time beforehand) work up a dozen or so sketch pieces to offer to folks and just spend the show time signing for people who have copies of my comics. I don’t know how many people may have been too shy to interrupt me while I had my head down drawing, and ended up just walking away without getting their books signed. Some comics fans are shy like that.

I hope this post hasn’t come off as TOO negative…. it wasn’t my intention. This blog has served at times in the past as a bit of free therapy and catharsis…. and I was just trying to use it for that purpose again. I want to publicly thank Shelton Drum and his great HEROES staff for a wonderful show. And to Matt and Suzanne for being such sweet and wonderful relatives– I love you both. And thank you to Todd and Craig for the wonderful birthday gifts and making each day of the show a blast with your wonderful humor while we were sitting behind the tables. And thanks to my buddy Scott Kurtz for hanging out with me before, during and after the show. It’s been great having you as a house guest and a ‘con buddy’ this past week.

If any other details of interest come to mind over the next week, I’ll be sure to post ’em here.

This is entry 125.


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