San Diego Comic Con International Report

On Saturday, I attended what is considered the US Mecca for comic books and all things pop culture. I've been faithfully attending San Francisco's Wondercon and the Alternative Press Expo (APE) for years, but it's been about 7 years since I went to the San Diego show. It was interesting to attend as a San Diego local now and having worked several events at this venue supporting my "real job," it was great to intuitively know my way around. Here are a few highlights;

* The Pre-Registration process seems to be working well. Though there was an overwhelming looking series of lines outside the convention center and a slight lack of signage denoting which was which, once you were in the correct line, they moved very efficiently. Within about 10 minutes, I had my barcode scanned, was fully badged, and was in. Even had time to drop off some business cards advertising this site onto the freebie tables preceding the exhibit halls.

* First stop was the Oni Press Panel, where I had a chance to ask Editor James Lucas Jones about the fate of the Queen & Country: Declassified mini-series hardcovers. Essentially, he reported that there was a printing snafu and the books would indeed be printed in the crimson and gold editions. That's breaking news folks; you heard it here first!

* Caught the last few minutes of the Cup O' Joe Panel with Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada discussing Civil War. Surprisingly, I found Quesada to be an eloquent and thoughtful speaker. He laid out some hypothetical scenarios that had people instantly flipflopping on whether or not they'd be pro or anti the Superhero Registration Act. He quickly proved that like any art form, we have the ability to spark controversy and generate debate.

* Was pleased to see Alan Moore & Melinda Gebbie's Lost Girls for sale in at least two different booths on the main floor. Though the price varied from $60 to $75, it was great to see retailers unafraid to carry this title. I was really tempted to buy one to reward this practice, but having already pre-ordered one online from Top Shelf, I decided to act fiscally responsible and wait another couple of weeks.

* Attended a great DCU Panel hosted by Executive Editor Dan DiDio and Publisher Paul Levitz. Many top name creators including Grant Morrison, Judd Winick, Gail Simone, Ivan Reiss, Paul Dini, Brad Meltzer, Geoff Johns, Mark Waid, and a few I'm forgetting. DiDio was quite entertaining, bouncing between audience questions and interactive questions to the panel. Not much in the way of big announcements, but a fun time. That Grant Morrison is one hell of a zany Scotsman. Oh, and Bill Willingham said he would "kill a yak" for a chance to do a Mister Miracle book. Come on DiDio, he told you twice! Let him do it! Let anyone do a Mister Miracle book!

* Bumped into pal Tim Goodyear, who penciled my first self-published book - The Mercy Killing, published by Royal 129 Comics - at the Sparkplug Comics booth. He was pushing the new Dash Shaw book published by our regular label, Hidden Agenda Press, as well as his own sketchbook from his travels during the last year.

* The Image Comics Panel was surprisingly dull as they showed a PowerPoint slideshow with some upcoming projects. And there was Publisher Erik Larsen. I don't like Erik Larsen's book Savage Dragon, I don't think he's a particularly good writer, I've never warmed to his penciling style, I don't like his weekly column over at CBR, and I think he's really obnoxious in person. *However,* since he's taken over as Publisher at Image, there has been a great shift in direction at the company and he's been able to green light some projects that I'm really enjoying. There is no denying he has a brilliant eye for talent and is really top notch at this role. So there ya' go, a fairly balanced opinion. And that Joe Casey. Wow. He is one handsome looking devil. A charming, brilliant, cool, likable rogue. Pleased to see he'll have a couple of new projects due out in 2007.

* Had a chance to chat with Christopher Mitten at the Oni Press Booth. Picked up a copy of Wasteland, signed by writer Antony Johnston, cover artist Steve Niles, as well as interior artist Mitten. Was nice to tell Chris in person that I really dug his pencils on his arc of the Queen & Country: Declassified mini-series. He was genuinely appreciative, struck me as a humble guy, and I think I made his day. He didn't seem used to this type of exposure, which was an unexpected little dose of humanity amid the grand spectacle of the San Diego Con.

* Had an interesting chat with Christian Gossett at The Red Star Booth. Apparently there was a printing snafu with the third hardcover edition of the series, Prison of Souls (that's the gray colored one, not the black or white one, for anyone keeping score here), and "less than 160" were actually printed. Well, I have one. Christian himself wasn't even able to get his hands on one, and he offered to buy mine if I ever wanted to part with it. Having already purchased everything in The Red Star stable, whether comics or merchandising, I felt compelled to yet again support them. I found a limited edition promo poster from 1999 for the original series. There were only 50 of these made, signed and numbered by Goss, and I now own #39(!).

* Saw some random people floating around the main floor, including Jon Favreau, Mick Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and all the Stormtroopers you could shake a stick at. Actually, the creepy weird dress-up factor was pretty tame. Sure, I saw some sad looking Nightcrawlers, some bad renditions of Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly, one decent Blue Sun Corporation t-shirt from same, a depressed Gambit, and a Rogue that I had only two words for: "Stair. Master." But overall, nothing too ridiculous or annoying. At one point, I stumbled upon about half a dozen girls dressed rather skimpily as fairies. They looked delicious. Quite delicious indeed.

* Caught the last half of a Writing Panel with Judd Winick, Geoff Johns, Brad Meltzer, and Mark Waid. It was so refreshing to see that these guys (who are all friends in real life), despite their careers now in full swing, are totally genuine, humble, and still down to earth. They offered up some great tried and true advice, that was essentially "write what you know," and "read everything in every medium you can get your hands on," and "writer's write," and "the best way to break in is to self-publish," but they had a way of putting their own spin on it and infusing it with real world successes and failures that is sure to inspire hope to all of us budding writers out there. Really enjoyed this one. It was a nice way to wind down the evening after enjoying a few beers and some good food. Judd also mentioned that he would love to get back to his roots and do some more Barry Ween. Wouldn't that be cool!

* Iended the night a little after 10pm, by shutting down the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's (CBLDF) Annual Charity Auction. All proceeds are donated to the fund in support of the legal defenses for retailers being randomly selected for ridiculous persecution. The current Gordon Lee case, MC/Auctioneer Peter David reported, surrounds a public nudity law so lame that "someone could be fined and jailed for sending a Valentine's Day card via US Mail that had a naked cherub on it." We actually set a new record this year by generating more than $26,000 toward the fund. I say "we" because it was really a combination of two items that put the dollar amount over the top. An art dealer purchased a single Frank Miller original art cover for $7,000, and I was able to pick up two signed special edition scripts of Checkmate, signed by Greg Rucka for a mere $60. So ya' know... "we" did this thing. ;-) Seriously though, it was great to contribute to this cause and it was pretty fun watching people tangle up on bidding, clapping, hooting, and hollering when the bidding would skyrocket. The rowdiness of the crowd seemed to fire people up even more and squeeze additional bids out of them, all for a good cause.

* No real regrets. I noticed in hindsight that I robably only spent a total of maybe 3 hours on the main floor, everything else was dedicated to panels or events. And that was a pretty cool balance considering that the majority of the show has now been co-opted by movie studios, video games, gaming, merchandising, and many things that are interesting in terms of pop culture, but not necessarily comics. Sort of makes me long for the APE in San Francisco, which is still decidedly about indy publishers. Publishers of good ol' comic books. If I had more time to spend at San Diego, I probably would've taken a stroll through Artist's Alley, done one more complete lap around the main floor, tried to spend more time chatting it up with the indy creators, trying their stuff, pitching scripts, and trying to find artists to collaborate with. I might have purchased the new Yoshihiro Tatsumi book from Drawn & Quarterly, or even that cool new Transformer (the Ford GT!), but those are all nice to haves, not need to haves. Next year, I'll definitely use my Press Pass, and also decided to make an effort to attend the Eisner Awards. But, I certainly feel like the experience was complete!


At 10:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

glad to hear you enjoyed SD Comic Con! maybe next year, I'll join ya ;)



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