Wednesday, July 30, 2008

San Diego Comic Con Reflections, Part Two

So anyway, me and my friend Tiffany got up reasonably early on Saturday morning, with maps of San Diego's touristy locations in my bag and full of good intentions. Comic con be damned, we were going to spend one day comic-free and in Balboa Park basking in sunlight.

And of course we ended up the whole day at the con and its environs. But we had good intentions.

Hollywood has pretty much turned San Diego Comic Con into its own personal marketing test group. The first thing you see as you approach the con from the Gaslamp district are "replicas" of ancient Chinese statues in a field -- these were from the new Mummy movie. Then you see the Knight Rider car. Later that day, we would see a lot full of (rather shabby) cows advertising another sci-fi TV show. And everywhere there is paper, paper pressed in palms.

And this is just outside the convention center.

My favorite promo item? Election stickers touting the combined ticket of Obama and Adama.

The convention center with its elaborate glass facade dominates the landscape, it affords a sense of direction as you travel the neighborhood. It looks at you as if to say, "why are you not in me?"

Once inside the con, there is a palpable sense of danger regarding the chance of possibly missing anything. A panel, an appearance, a signing, an announcement. You sincerely wish you could clone yourself to catch the two or three panels you want to attend that are all being held at the same time. And when you are in the industry, this sense of not wanting to miss a thing extends to the after-hours activities in the hotel bars and restaurants in the area.

In one hotel bar I looked over my shoulder and saw Grant Morrison. I wasn't sure it was him. I know; how could I not recognize him instantly? Well, I didn't. Then I kinda did. My friend Tiffany made sure to accidentally brush his shoulder when she squeezed past him in the crowded bar. That was so she could say that she rubbed shoulders with Grant Morrison. This was a deviously clever idea. I asked her if she picked up any sense of mojo coming off of him. I damned myself for being so shy.

But I'm not big on introducing myself to celebrities. And that what Morrison is -- a celebrity. In this field and out of it. I had nothing to say to him, though I've enjoyed his work. The only person I really did that "you're groovy" thing to was Eric Powell. And that's because the fact that he can turn around a book of that quality like that every month is fucking amazing. And that's what I told him. Except, I didn't curse.

Ironically, I spent quite a bit of time in the DC booth -- the Zuda corner of it specifically. That was ok, I didn't see most of the DCU editors on the floor anyway, or at least not in the volume I have seen them in the past. That might be because they had the option to stay in the DC hospitality suite. And I think a lot of them took that option, and who can blame them? Complimentary lunch or over-priced mini-pizzas from the concession stands, you decide. And then there is the "rabble."

More ironically -- the amount of former DC co-workers who ran into me and gave me a hug. Between this convention and all the others, there have been a lot of them. Even ones who I thought wouldn't even remember me. Some introduce me to other people at the company that were there when I was but I really didn't meet. "You know who this is? This is Valerie D'Orazio!" Awesome.

The Marvel booth was absolutely mobbed with fans. The circulation of fans at the Marvel booth was a bit more of an enthusiastic mass pushing inward towards the center, whereas with the DC booth it was more spread out and browsy. These booths were the nuclei around which the other booths are situated -- but I think I'm only seeing this as a superhero comic fan. I think cons like MoCCA Art Fest are far better at giving the indie publishers a shot.

The real independent stuff -- mini-comics and the like -- were in another part of the con entirely. Maybe they should all be together. And maybe Artists Alley shouldn't be divorced from the publisher booths, either. It's like these huge swathes of TV, movie, and video game promotions were cutting between everything. It took me several tries to even find Artists Alley. I began to doubt that Artists Alley existed, but was only the stuff of legend. I mean, the Harold And Kumar Guantanamo Bay unicorn you could pose on existed. But the artists???

That night was like crushcrushblurhotelbarcrushtalktalktalkblurcrushhotelbar. Nothing could really top what we did the previous year -- having an impromptu dinner with Erik Larsen and listening him to talk candidly about comics and his art for three hours. But almost rubbing shoulders with Grant Morrison, that was pretty special.


  1. Sounds like a lot of fun. My colleagues talk it up a lot. Sadly, if I stick at my current job I'll have to wait a number of years for co-workers to depart before I can even THINK of getting time off when this con happens.

  2. For me Friday was almost worse than Saturday, which was weird. I had more panels I wanted to go to on Saturday so spent most of Friday on the floor. It was about the same amount of crowded as last year I think.

    What are these "after hours" and "parties" you speak of? I think I'm just to shy to get invited to those!

  3. I think you're over-thinking the celebrity of Grant Morrison. When there's liquid courage flowing freely, all you have to do is walk up, offer a hand, and introduce yourself. If it's an industry deal, the understanding is that you have a good reason to be there. I'm shy myself, but something clicked in my head at one point and I was bumming cigarettes with a Lego sculptor and doing tequila shots with Adam Sessler. It's all confidence.