I’ll admit: I really wasn’t that upset about missing Comic-Con this year until this morning. It’s not that I suddenly realized, while reading tweets about people getting flights or arriving in the city, that the con was actually starting tomorrow – the lack of sleepless nights while so many are already freaking out about travel/accommodation/crushing crowds/everything else was actually rather refreshing, actually – but that I found out that 300 copies of Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant collection will be available early at the show.
Hopefully, that is taken more in the sense of how much I love Beaton’s work – Have I gushed about how great Hark! A Vagrant is here yet? If not, take it as read that it’s the best webcomic out there – than anything else, but it did make me remember that cons are the best place to make unexpected discoveries, whether pre-release sales of books that you’ve been dying to read for a long time (The highlight of this year’s Stumptown was an early copy of Gingerbread Girl, for example), or things you’ve never heard of. There’s a lot to dislike about cons, and about San Diego in particular (The crowds, oh Lord, the crushing uncomfortable crowds that make simply getting from one place to another a chore), but amongst all the craziness and discomfort, there are usually some gems to be discovered.
San Diego, of course, is the con where the gems are so plentiful that it pretty much makes up for the insanity surrounding it; because there are so many people there, with so many different ideas of what comics are, never mind what comics they’re producing, there really is a ridiculous amount and range of material out there to delight and be discovered: Some favorite finds from past years have included Paul Pope’s Pulp Hope, the chance to watch Jon J. Muth do some beautiful ink drawings seemingly effortlessly, and a wonderful, slightly embarrassing-because-I-was-so-starstruck conversation with Eddie Campbell. There are wonders and greatness at San Diego, it’s true, and those are the reasons – along with the many friends who I normally get to see there every year – that I’ll miss the show this year.
But, like I said: Not having the anxiety-ridden sleepless nights ahead of time? That might be worth taking the break, this year.