Comic-Con International Wrap-Up

So ends the craziest week of the year in the two-time Eisner Award-winning CBR schedule. And as crazy as the last week has been, I know there's a whole lot of stuff yet to be posted. San Diego is the gift that keeps on giving.

There's no single big story of the con this year, though there was a diverse smattering of cool bits of news along the way. I could make the case (easily) that IDW was the publisher of the show, but I'm so unconcerned with the latest Big Event news from both Marvel and DC these days that I wonder if my perspective is completely skewed.

Instead, we'll cruise across a smattering of newsbits and random observations from the weekend. There'll be plenty of links along the way if you want more information. This is the big convention as filtered through Pipeline.

Let the bullet points roll!

  • Wizard World sent out press releases on Wednesday and Thursday to pimp their upcoming conventions. That's the exact opposite of smart timing. The second release included a count of Eisner-award winning guests they were hosting. If they had waited a day or two for this year's Eisners, they might have been able to boost that number.

  • By Thursday afternoon, I was sick of the word "transmedia." That won't stop me from using it derisively in the next bullet point, though.

  • Dark Horse sold "ChickenHare" to Hollywood. Too bad they didn't publish the third volume of the book, which is being serialized on the web. I guess they might find money to publish it now that there's a "transmedia" tie-in. (I reviewed the original graphic novels in Pipeline back in January 2009.)

  • Dark Horse has Shepard Fairey doing a cover for Tom Morello's "Orchid" comic book. I hope Fairey signs off on all likenesses used for his cover, and that the model releases are in order. I doubt Dark Horse wants a lawsuit on their hands, like with the "Hope" poster.

  • Legendary Comics did one of those insipid "Retweet to Unlock" promotions. Does anyone really think Legendary had any intention of not making all of their announcements at the con? Would news of a Paul Pope art book and a Matt Wagner series have been swept under the rug if we didn't retweet their marketing push? Of course not.

  • Send all your well wishes to Eric Wight, who lost his Frankie Pickle-related domain name on the eve of his next book's launch to a domain thief who won't sell it back to him. In the meantime, check out all the Frankie Pickle books at his publisher's website.

  • How many comics will ship late next month because anxious creators upgraded OS X to Lion without realizing that it might break a feature of Photoshop or Illustrator they need? Probably zero, but nothing would surprise me. Remember, tech fans, not to upgrade mission critical applications in the middle of an assignment. This has nothing to do with the convention, but Apple released the upgrade the morning the show started, so it's fresh in my mind.

  • Unbelievably, Geekscape was hosting porn movie actors at the once family friendly comics convention. I don't know if they were selling videos at the same time or not, but -- sheesh.

  • Bryan Lee O'Malley joined a rare group of creators who got too big for comics. Like Craig Thompson before him, he made his name and a ton of money with a smaller independent comics publisher, and then left immediately for a "real" book publisher for his next project. And like Thompson, it'll take years to complete. Let's hope, for his sake, that the "Scott Pilgrim" heat sticks around to 2013.

  • Marvel is moving ahead with day-and-date digital, now launching Dan Slott's "Amazing Spider-Man" in that category, with the two X-Men titles soon to follow. Even better, David Gabriel promises more to come, as jumping-on points allow. Isn't that what DC is doing, really? They just happened to have a jumping-on point for every title in September, so it worked out all at once.

    Now, if we can fix the ridiculous prices and DRM on the titles, we'd be all set.

  • Reading transcripts from the "The New 52" panel on Thursday, I was amused at how confrontational it was. By now, Dan DiDio is used to handling that, but convention panels are usually lovefests with one or two rare questioners excepted, and immediately booed. It's fun to read about more lively panels.

  • I have newfound respect for DiDio after this convention, too. He worked his butt off all weekend long, judging from the panel reports I read, to convince people that the DC train isn't about to run off the tracks. I imagine part of it must be tremendously frustrating to him -- he knows everything that's happening, but the people complaining about specific plot points or characters don't. And he can't say anything for fear of spoiling the surprises. It leaves him doing a tap dance for the fans, hoping to mollify them just long enough to read the books before deciding what they think. Thankfully for DiDio, he had plenty of PowerPoint slides to show off during his song and dance. Nothing makes fans happier than new and pretty art during a panel.

  • It's a weird world of corporate brotherhood in comics these days. OK, maybe not between Marvel and DC, but we see lots of little cross-pollinations going on. Or maybe it's just IDW, who are borrowing DC's Legion of Superheroes for a "Star Trek" comic (remember the "Star Trek/X-Men" comic?), while borrowing John Romita's "Amazing Spider-Man" art for an "Artist's Edition" book, while sharing KISS with Archie, who's sharing its archives with Dark Horse, though IDW is losing "Angel" to Dark Horse, and both Fantagraphics and BOOM! are publishing books by Marvel's owner, Disney, though not for long in BOOM!'s case...

  • "Archie Meets Kiss?" It's time for a hardcover and oversized reprint of the legendary "Archie Meets The Punisher." Stat!
  • Fantagraphics has picked up the license to reprint EC Comics. These will be black and white editions, most interestingly broken up by creator. Some of the purists may sputter at that, but I think it's a smart thing. Anthologies don't sell well in this market, even as reprints. I think targeting specific creators in an industry filled with fans who follow creators is the best way to maximize the license. I don't have a great affinity for the EC line, but I love Harvey Kurtzman's art. Seeing that a book dedicated to his art is up early, I'm excited for the line.
  • I am inclined to think comics publishers might as well stop soliciting for new comic book material. There are enough exciting reprint volumes that we can live off the past for the next couple of years without a problem. (Yes, this observation is short-sighted and facetious.)

  • BOOM! has made it official that they are done with the Disney comics license. "DuckTales" and "Darkwing Duck" will end it all in the fall.

    Will we see Marvel producing a "DuckTales" series next, then? Or do they want to do something new and fresh, and do a completely modern take on the awful "Bonkers." If anything needs a reboot, that series does. Hell, didn't it reboot itself early on because it was so awful?

    Seriously, I doubt Marvel will do a monthly Disney book. They seem to be viewing those characters as a way to penetrate markets outside the Direct Market: graphic novels, magazines, or something that will show nicely in a rack at a bookstore or a Toys 'R Us. That's where I think we'll see DuckTales next.

  • After a decade or 15 years of people using the same style, Joe Madureira's artwork doesn't look so spectacular anymore, does it? I enjoy it, but it sadly reminds me too much of the imitations and the people he's influenced in the generation of comics since his landmark "Uncanny X-Men" run.

  • Robert Kirkman was a busy man at the convention, but his most exciting announcement to me was for a series of European style graphic novels with Charles Adlard. They'll be available simultaneously in France and America, and will likely look better in French with a bigger page size. C'est la vie, eh?

  • Marvel's next Point One issues will lay the ground work for the next Big Event. The cycle continues, and every "big" event starts looking a little smaller.

  • A MacGyver comic book means a fresh year's worth of misspellings of "MacGyver" now. Ugh. It's very nice that the series' creator will be involved, since last I heard Richard Dean Anderson has no interest in revisiting past successes. Judging by what little co-writer Tony Lee has said so far, it doesn't look like this is a rehash of the failed "Son of MacGyver" pilot, at least. The real question for me is, "Where is Mac living?" The house boat? Or the upstairs apartment? And is Murdoch too obvious a choice for the Big Bad of the story? I hope Jack Dalton shows up. . .

  • Marc Silvestri is drawing "Incredible Hulk." That might make for six fun issues to read. Silvestri has such a great track record, after all, with monthly series. The last long form monthly book he drew was Grant Morrison's "X-Men" title, and that was, what, four issues? (He did six issues of "Hunter Killer" last decade, but it took a year and a half for those to make it out.)

    I'd like to get excited about a book like this, but we know it's only a tease, just enough to grab attention and get your interest before a succession of other artists fills out the title and sales slowly slide into oblivion. Most likely, Silvestri will be replaced by a series of artists trained at Top Cow or Aspen, so we can get a second generation Silvestri-style artist to smooth over the rough edges of transition.

  • Congratulations this year, once again, to G4 for devoting hours of coverage to an event named "Comic-Con" without devoting too many minute to those icky comic things.

  • The great thing about YouTube is that panels and sights from the con floor are so often available on the same day. I caught glimpses of some of the Hall H festivities on YouTube.

    The downside is that YouTube falls into the same "major market" problem that all the major networks do. They tailor their content to the unwashed masses and spotlight videos with tips on getting laid at Comic-Con (I'm not kidding) and highlighting the hot chicks of Comic-Con. Yes, the bar for masturbation jokes creeps lower and lower every year at Google.

    Is the generalization and stereotyping the most obnoxious part of this kind of behavior, or is it the utter laziness of that angle on the convention? It's been done to death by now, hasn't it?

  • It dawned on me this weekend why it is that Hollywood's takeover of the convention center rankles so many. San Diego was once home to a convention that was the highlight of a specific niche audience's object of attraction. Once a year, comic fans could have a city to call their own, where they would rule the roost and their cause would take center stage.

    Now, comic fans are marginalized again, a niche at their own show.

  • With the convention now over, of course, Hollywood returns north, snickering amongst themselves about how they convinced the gullible comics masses that they're "one of them," that they needed Spider-Man growing up as a role model and that they produced a spectacle that nobody questions because the stars were far too bright in their eyes.

    The bigger question each year now is, what will they produce in the hopes of making a bigger viral video? Is Andrew Garfield in a cheap Spider-Man cosplay outfit good enough to rank on YouTube? Or does someone have to get arrested to get attention at Comic-Con?

  • IDW is the star of the convention, aren't they? From a comics perspective, nobody had a better or busier weekend. By Friday afternoon, I thought the rest of the industry had shut down, drowning in a sea of press release announcements from Ted Adams' little company that could. After a strong showing at the Eisners and five awards to their credit, things were only looking up.

    The most exciting thing for me from IDW is the expansion of the "Artist's Edition" line of books, reprinting 144 pages of original art at original size at a time. Doing a Wally Wood book is a strong choice. A John Romita "Amazing Spider-Man" book is a surefire nostalgia winner. But, for me, the most exciting announcement is the 2012 release of a "Spirit" book by Will Eisner. I can't wait to see his art at its original size for such seminal work.

    Random thought: Todd McFarlane has never sold his original "Spawn" art, has he? Wouldn't he have a big stack of pages from that first year sitting in a box at home? That first issue, I know, was drawn on a larger page size before the rest of the run was done at standard comic art page size. Would the difference in page size potentially mess up the purity of the project? (Dale Keown's Pitt pin-up from "Spawn" #1 is in private hands, but that wouldn't be part of a reprint, anyway.)

  • Ladies and gentlemen, Vertigo is not dead. Series are ending and their creators are going elsewhere and their new titles are spin-offs of their last remaining titles, but Vertigo is not dead. It's, er, "consolidating?"


Those Marvel October solicitations call out to me for some commentary, and we'll get to that next week.

I have a photography blog, AugieShoots.com, where I'm talking about a recent Huey Lewis and the News concert shoot! Or, go to VariousandSundry.com to read other oddball thoughts that aren't comics-related.

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