San Diego 2011 was all about playing the game, about recognizing that Comic Con isn’t gonna be what any of us wants or needs or cares about, it’s instead going to try to be a little bit of what everyone who comes there cares about. All the starfuckers just there to see someone who was on TV one time, all of the PR flacks looking for the next big thing or trying to sell us the next big thing, the toy makers, the funny t-shirt hawkers, the deep discounters, the booth-babes, and even the comics folks—this is the year we all just sucked it up and realized that we were all gonna be in this together, and it’s gonna be in the same old San Diego convention centre in the same old gaslamp, and we’re all just gonna get used to it. So we did. We’re all playing the game now.
–from retailer/blogger/TCAF organizer/Wallace Wells inspiration Chris Butcher’s excellent report on this year’s San Diego Comic-Con. It’s an entertaining blend of photo parade, personal anecdotes, and astute analysis of the comics presence at the show.
Butcher contrasts San Diego with other shows he’s worked at “where 100% of the audience was potentially interested in 100% of what I was selling,” as opposed to even a good year at San Diego, where most attendees are there for something other than buying comics, let alone the specific comics and comic art he was selling as booth manager for Street Fighter publisher UDON and representative of Toronto retailer The Beguiling’s original art sales wing. He also notes that no single book garnered “book of the show” accolades of the sort that previously greeted such works as Blankets, Kramers Ergot, and the one-volume Bone, and that even publishers with a killer suite of products and announcements walked away from the show playing second fiddle to the usual churn of Hollywood advance buzzmaking and Marvel and DC announcements (which were themselves fairly subdued this year).
But! Butcher says it was the best San Diego he’s been to in a while, which is reflective of what I’ve heard from most of the comics-centric attendees this year. Whether it’s due to Hollywood’s lowered expectations for the show and the consequently lessened obnoxiousness from that aspect of the show; the establishment of offshoot events dedicated specifically to comics; recalibrated expectations and/or wholesale retreat from the con by some of its more outspoken alternative-comics detractors; or simply renewed attention to its still-fine line-up of comics publishers, retailers, creators, and programming; the show went over better this year among comics folks than at any time in recent memory, lack of a “book of the show” be damned.