IN PRAISE OF THE CONVENTION ORGANIZERS
Organizing the San Diego Comic-Con has to be a nightmare, and I wouldn’t take that job for all the tea in China. 75,000 attendees (for the sake of argument), hundreds of volunteers, staff, security, and police. Dozens of panels happening at the same time. Hundreds of booths, exhibitors, professionals, and press. Tens of thousands of people. 450,000 square feet of space.
It’s an organizational nightmare.
Saturday is traditionally the biggest day of the con and today was no exception. The massive sea of humanity crashed upon the shores of the convention center, leaving nothing in its wake. The line for registration snaked out past the quarter-mile-long convention center, around the building, and back to the marina. It takes hours to get all those people through the door.
The con floor, itself, has its own slipstream. If you want to get from aisle 100 to aisle 5200, you have to find your spot, stick to it, and let it carry you all the way to the other end. On a day like today, I can’t imagine it would take any quicker than 15 minutes. However, the larger size of the convention and the wider aisles that went with it kept traffic moving quite nicely. There were even areas that were relatively quiet and gave you room to move. I almost felt sorry for those exhibitors.
Security was right on top of things, helping to manage the long lines to toy exclusive vendors, and attendees wishing to get their picture taken with George McFly. Volunteers in the panel room kept things moving. I was in room 6B this morning for the Marvel Blockbuster panel with Brian Bendis, JMS, and Joe Quesada. The room was half or three-quarters packed when the doors opened and a stream of people were let in who had no interest whatsoever in the current panel. They were all there for the next panel, featuring members of the SMALLVILLE cast. The line outside the room had grown so large that they needed to free up the hallways again by letting people in. Granted, I really wish the people coming in had any shred of respect for the creators talking and those that were trying to listen to them. I had three people talking constantly behind me about their plans for the rest of the day. Made it difficult to understand the creators talking. Still the volunteers kept the crowd herded well into the center of the room and pushed out along the walls and away from the doors.
Moving the teeming masses of people that attend this con is a daunting effort, but everything I saw today worked well. The staff was firm but fair, keeping things clear. The herds of people were nicely shepherded every which way. I didn’t step anywhere near the ballroom where all the Hollywood stuff was happening, but everything else moved nicely. I’ll assume that did, too. I haven’t heard any complaints near the levels of the near-rioting that occurred in Chicago a couple of years ago for the Kevin Smith/Star Wars panels.
So: a giant thanks to all the good people who worked their butts off today to keep the convention so hospitable and enjoyable.
After four days of this stuff, I’m starting to get cranky. Writing this column at 2 a.m. was fun the first couple of times. Now, I just need to pack and go to sleep. Please forgive me the disjointed nature of this column as I wrack my brains to try to remember today.
- IDW threw the invite-only party of the weekend. Anyone who is anyone was there. Me, too. Special thanks to Beau Smith for being so kind as to extend the invitation to this little peon of the on-line world. I caught up with Anthony Bozzi there, who I hadn’t seen in what seems like forever since he left Image. He’s been doing some movie copywriting work in L.A. and is busy plotting his return to comics.
- Met Nate Piekos of Blambot at his booth. We talked briefly about the sorry state of the shrinking lettering industry. That was invigorating. 😉 Like most others in the world of comics today, he survives by branching out into other non-comics jobs, like logo designs.
- Chatted with Heidi MacDonald at the Comicon/Pulse booth, and swapped war stories of covering San Diego. Long story, short: It’s very tiring. Very very very tiring. We curse ourselves out for doing it every year and repeat the same mistake the next. 😉
- Talked with FIREBREATHER/REX MANTOOTH artist, Andy Kuhn, at great length while he sketched away for me. If you haven’t seen his Mexican wrestler backup in the last issue of SAVAGE DRAGON, you’re missing a really funny six page comic. The whole story is about two Mexican wrestlers who are so busy calling each other names that they never wrestle. It’s hilarious. Kuhn had some pages with him of the Ambush Bug pages he’s doing for the LOBO UNBOUND series. There was no lettering on them, but some of the signs in the background had been lettered and were funny. Keep an eye out for that one.
- The highlight of the weekend might have been Mark Evanier’s Voice Actors panel. The panel featured more than a dozen voice actors whose work you’d all recognize if you heard it. The panel ended with a live reading of a Pinky and the Brain episode, including Maurice LaMarche (Brain) and Rob Paulson (Pinky). Evanier was particularly cruel, picking a tongue twister of an episode for them to read. The entire audience was really into it, cheering each time the actors made their way through a particularly nasty line of dialogue. LaMarche and Paulson were amazing. I haven’t watched much in the way of animated series since the days of ANIMANIACS and PINKY AND THE BRAIN. Those were the high points of televised animation in the 90s. I worshipped those ‘toons, and getting to watch those talents work their magic live was a thrill.
- In the middle of the aforementioned Marvel Blockbuster panel, Hobbit and JEREMIAH co-star, Sean Astin, appeared. JMS introduced him, he ran up on stage and waved to the crowd, and then quickly ran back off. This is part of the thrill of San Diego. You just never know what might happen or who might show up next.
The National Cartoonists Society had a booth again this year, and I was lucky enough to catch HAGAR THE HORRIBLE’s Chris Browne and FAMILY CIRCUS’ Jeff Keane there. Both sketched for all in line, while Browne was particularly nice to everyone. He talked to everyone and wanted to know about each person he was sketching for. Sweet guy, and it was great to meet him.
Here’s some hot Hollywood news: They’re going to make a live action Hagar the Horrible movie next. Just signed the deal last week. I have the promo poster for it, and hope to get it scanned in for a future Pipeline.
Now if ZITS co-creator Jerry Scott shows up tomorrow, it’ll make my weekend complete.
THE END (FOR NOW)
That’s it for the Pipeline Daily updates from San Diego. There are more stories to tell and more analysis to be had with proper perspective. I also have a batch of pictures to show off. Tuesday’s column will be the review index of the column for the year. Next week, I’ll be back with pictures, more stories, and the first reviews of material picked up at the con this year.
Thanks for reading.
San Diego, CA.
20 July 2003, 2:30 AM
- Ad Free Browsing
- Over 10,000 Videos!
- All in 1 Access
- Join For Free!