That title seems ever more appropriate, given the whole stabbing incident that overshadowed one day of madness in San Diego. So, yes, I went to Comic-Con and returned with my eyes intact, and my sanity somewhat less so.
The highlight was getting to actually see Dusty Higgins, the ridiculously talented artist of Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer. Though we’ve been working together steadily on this series for two-plus years now, we hadn’t seen each other since well before the first book came out.
Most of our time there was spent doing signings at the SLG Publishing booth. As always, it’s great to get to meet fans and hear their reactions to the book. It’s also nice to sit back and do some people-watching. The most bizarre sight was a guy wearing only tennis shoes, sunglasses and cutoff jorts, his torso covered entirely in tattoos of DC heroines.
We had a fairly light crowd for the PVS panel, but it was a fun talk with moderator Heidi MacDonald. I just hope our digression into the future of journalism didn’t bore everyone to tears. Then on Friday I did a panel with Mark Waid, Terry Moore, Larry Marder and Carla Speed McNeil called Indie Writers Unite! Yes, with an exclamation mark. Waid started off with a call to find out just what we were uniting against.
Waid was a great moderator, managing to turn it into a pretty fun panel. And apologies to Mr. Moore for giving him the “that was a good answer, but…” treatment.
With everyone (or nearly so) in comics on the floor, it was a great chance to meet people I knew only through e-mail and to see people I see all too rarely. Thanks again to everyone who added a sketch to my collection, and thanks to Tom Spurgeon for calling it “the best idea for a sketch book I’ve ever seen.”
I also picked up some great books, highlighted by Fluorescent Black and Frank and His Friend.
One of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked since returning is which celebrities I saw. Here you go: Brian Posehn, the guy from Balls of Fury, Paul Scheer, Alia Shawkat (aka Maeby from Arrested Development), some random model/actress I couldn’t place, a pack of random former child stars I couldn’t place, and I apparently bumped into Joss Whedon without realizing who it was. What really killed me was finding out Tommy Wiseau was haunting the con and I missed him.
Tangentially: Comic-Con clearly isn’t a comics show anymore, and it’s a little saddening to think that I never experienced it in that form. Now it’s an insanely crowded typhoon of promotion, with pretty well every media entity exhaling every piece of nerdery they can. And the bulk of those trapped in the typhoon are those who want to see celebrities, who want to sit on a prop Odin’s throne, who want to stab someone in the eye over the right to watch Harrison Ford talk about whatever Harrison Ford talks about nowadays.
As far as comics goes, the show is increasingly not the great sales event it once was (just ask any retailer or publisher). And it’s not a great opportunity for promotion unless you have a movie coming out (just ask me). With the show’s organizers pondering the next stage of Comic-Con’s evolution (to L.A.?), I would hope they sit down and simply ask what they want the show to be. And if they want it to remain in some significant way a comics show, they need to figure out how to make it worthwhile for the smaller publishers to handle the ever-rising cost associated with attending.
UPDATE — Especially after Heidi MacDonald’s excerpting of this post made it seem as if I had a terrible, terrible time at Comic-Con, I felt like I should reiterate that, on the whole, it was an awesome week, and I was extremely glad I went.
If I came away with any disappointment over the experience, it owes only to my own unrealistic expectations. I’ve been hearing about Comic-Con for more than a decade as the end-all, be-all of comicdom. And so, to finally go there when I’m one of the people making comics, my hopes for the show were pretty sky high.
I was a little let down that, for every fan who came to the SLG booth there were a dozen who would wait hours to buy some exclusive toy or listen to some movie star. But it didn’t take long to readjust to the reality of the floor and enjoy myself.
And if nothing else, my parents were able to look on the Comic-Con Web site and see their boy’s name on the invited guest list a few spots below Ray Bradbury’s.