Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New York Comic Con 09: Doing The Time Warp

Jimmy Olsen gets the scoop on the future of the comic book industry

I suspect to many in this strange uncertain time, New York Comic Con was a welcome escape from reality. Such as it was for me, and mostly how I used the event. I did more "wandering on my own, losing myself in dollar bins" than I have in the last three years. I bought up all the comics of my youth. I opened up these comics and immediately familiar panels, which I haven't viewed in 20 years, stood out. It's funny how these random panels stick in your memory.

I went to a bar, and one of my favorite former bosses from my DC days got up with his crew to leave -- providing my friends with a space. We sat down, and after an hour a former boss from Acclaim -- who always reminded me of that same guy from DC who just left -- sat down and started talking to us. It was surreal. Full circle. Another friend commented that being at NYCC was like having his life flash before his eyes -- people from so many different eras of his life, his career.

Complicating things was the fact that I had moments where I still thought that my late step-dad was still somewhere, living in his home at NYC or Cape Cod. That it was only a temporary absence. It's like you know absolutely that he's gone, but you distract yourself with the convention and talking with your friends, and everything seems normal. And him being around is part of that normal. But he's gone. I managed to process a lot of my feelings about that this weekend -- but perhaps it was more distraction, less process. I don't know.

Batman & Hellboy wait their turn

I also had a number of freelancers tell me that they missed my opinion pieces (a.k.a. muckraking) regarding the industry, as they felt it provided a useful service. This made me feel flattered and also kinda guilty for not writing that stuff anymore (or, at least, not writing it the way I did).

But is punditry truly a force of real change in the comic book industry? In terms of some of the most shocking things I have personally witnessed or heard about -- not as much as I thought it was. That doesn't mean that these things shouldn't be talked about online. But I think the real change -- the shakeups -- are coming from the economy and the move to digital. These changes are like a monolith glacier that is scraping across the landscape of the comic book industry. I feel like a little bean in comparison.

The sea change cannot be overestimated. It is hard for me to concentrate on who slept with who or who screwed who over in the face of this massive change. I watch and track Change, with all its attendant horribleness and wonder, with the awe and focus of an intense 10-year-old with Asperger's Syndrome.

Hordes of unemployed, angry Jedi storm the floor

Some complained about NYCC feeling a little "flat." Not a lot of OMFG moments, stuff to be revved up about. That's because this is the calm before the tsunami. It's not going to be a "bad" tsunami, in terms of being "evil." It's a tsunami of change. To say "Dan DiDio this and that" is irrelevant at this point. Two years from now, and this landscape will be completely altered. And in the shake-up, some will fall away and other, newer people will come out of seemingly nowhere and rise to the top. It's anybody's game at this point. It's not the time for pessimism, but for asking: "where do I fit within all of this?"

This is the time, that if you're smart, you can really build something for yourself. It is not Armageddon, though I know that term has been passed around as of late.

But change can be very painful, and those feelings need to be processed. And sometimes, there needs to be distraction, simple joys, good times with friends, etc. Seeing so many segments of my life on display at NYCC, blending, colliding, having drinks with each other, slinking away around corners or running up to me from across a crowded convention floor...I feel as if I am at a nexus-point in my life, in my career. And I feel the industry is at a similar place.


  1. Condolences on your loss and thanks for this post. I've been having some similar thoughts regarding the future etc. and it's nice to see someone else write it out in a way I probably could not articulate.

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  3. My OMG moment was when I attended the Friends of Lulu panel, and there was a line! Standing room only. (Not as bad as the Green Lantern panel, but the same space.)

    And then no one is commenting on the upcoming marriage of Archie to both Veronica and Betty. Were I in the press corps, I'd make it a point to visit each publisher and ask them what's new. This Archie thing, it's gonna be mainstream huge. Vera Wang dresses. Everyone reads and knows Archie.

    Otherwise, it was a good convention. Busy, but not crowded. Lots of panels, lots of stuff for everyone. And I met a lot of people I hadn't seen for a while, which is what conventions are all about.

    No Scholastic, no Viz, no Fantagraphics... oh well.

  4. Olson's seen better days.

    Hey I'm pretty sure I saw you Friday and I would've liked to say hi, but it seemed like you were pre-occupied, chatting with a couple people.

    Love your analysis of the Con. But I'm curious as to what kind of "change" you're referring to around the bend?

    Also, I'm updating through the week on the con myself, if you're interested:

    (a contributor posted a somewhat... opinionated review of the Friends of Lulu panel, but no hard feelings)

    *sorry, corrected the web address.

  5. I love to hear/read the different views on the same event. Podcasting comic fanboys are in love with the NYCC while you (not so much)...

    I know you are in a crappy place right now with your recent loss and I know the fanboys are always "high" cuz they just love all the comic "goodness" that happens when collected in one place...

    So I guess the quality and atmpshere prolly falls somewhere in the middle.

    as for the industry I think the floppy will remain "king" until the last Redwood has been chopped pulped and papered...


  6. Anonymous4:03 PM

    Cons are a great "purgatory". Everyone is there, all your old friends, all your new friends. You can totally fanboy Darwyn Cooke and make him feel uncomfortable.

  7. Anonymous6:33 PM

    I spotted Val too at the con and she's much prettier in person. Not to say she photographs badly, I just mean..never mind. I'm digging a hole.

    The funniest thing about the con to me is that so many people have blogs or websites or whatever with their pictures on them that everyone there seemed to look familiar in a vague "did I go to school with you?" way. The internet is creating a weird new class of quasi-celebrity. I was able to place most of them, but a few still elude me. Maybe I did go to school with them.

  8. Wait -- Archie's marrying Betty and Veronica? Is this real? How the jeepers did I miss this.

    Have a good day.
    George Morrow