SAN DIEGO RECAP
Pipeline ran four daily reports from the San Diego con, instead of the intended three. If you missed them and don't want to pour through the mountains of con coverage available at Comic Book Resources, you can just use these links:
This week, I present all the leftover bits I didn't have time to write down during the con itself, along with the Day Four write-up. I also have a pile of books to read and review from the con. Look for those to trickle through in the next few weeks. YOUNGBLOOD: BLOODSPORT is a good bet for next week, though.
SAN DIEGO - DAY ONE
Looking for any opportunity to sit down on the first full day of the con, I dropped by the Marvel Bullpen Films panel. Scheduled for an hour and a half, it promised two films made by the Marvel Bullpen in the late 1980s. Eventually, that's what you got. There was a long delay between films. The convention organizers didn't like the second film that featured an extended FULL METAL JACKET parody, complete with multiple uses of a certain foul word. The con is family-oriented, you see, and that kind of stuff just couldn't be used. So, Mike Heisler worked feverishly in the back of the room on his Mac to re-edit the second film to bleep out all the foul language. In the end, it just couldn't be done, so the audience was warned of what was coming and the movie played as is. (One attempted beep was left in, but it occurred about a second after the actual audio.)
David Wohl, now best known as the guy who wrote WITCHBLADE for a long time, hosted the first short film. It was a comical explanation of the Assistant Editor's function. Some spotty audio made parts of it difficult to understand, but the gist of it was there. I only wish they had time to put in some subtitles, or some graphics to explain who was who. Some of those editors looked vaguely familiar, but I couldn't place them now, 15 years after the film was made.
After that, the panel vamped furiously while Mike Heisler attempted his creative editing. On the dais sat Don Hudson, David Wohl, and Marie Javins. Hudson did his hilarious Stan Lee impersonation and told most of the good stories, while questions were begged of the audience to help fill the time. I eventually asked the panel who drew their "Profiles" on the Bullpen Bulletins pages. Hudson said he never had one, and Wohl thinks that Walter Simonson did his. Javins was off-stage at that point. I should have asked her about her famous wall of cow drawings. Drat.
Eventually, the second film aired. It was much longer than the first and featured Mike Heisler as a drunken bum of a freelance letterer. More cameos abounded of people I couldn't name off the top of my head. The FMJ sequence fell short for me, since I never saw the original Kubrick movie. In the end, I felt much the same way as I did about that home video I made for a creative writing class back in high school. Those of us who made it thought it was hilarious. The people who were watching it just didn't get most of the jokes. (I wrote the script as "People's Court" by way of AIRPLANE!, complete with a couple of stolen jokes from AIRPLANE II.) Someone who was around Marvel at the time would probably have laughed wildly at the film. I just didn't have enough of the background to "get it" all.
Still, it's not something you'll find anywhere else. That's why you go to San Diego. Even when something misfires, it's still something you couldn't do at your local comic shop. That said, the videos might show up on Comiculture's web site some day. Most of the panel is working together there now.
SAN DIEGO - DAY THREE
In the afternoon, I was on a panel of four journalists set to grill CrossGen president Mark Alessi. OK, it was more like "three journalists and one loud-mouthed review hack." While I might fit the definition of "journalist," I don't think of myself as a "reporter."
Things started smoothly, with Alessi introducing Michael Uslan to talk about what's going on in Hollywood with the company. To sum up: Everything is being optioned. Everyone is working closely with CrossGen. Interest in EL CAZADOR skyrocketed after PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN opened strongly. An announcement on THE PATH is expected soon. THE FIRST and CROSSGEN CHRONICLES are being worked on as television series. Zemeckis is looking at ROUTE 666. And Wes Craven is going in a new direction with MYSTIC, creating some sort of urban horror television series.
After that, Alessi made his own presentation, discussing various possibly controversial things that might have otherwise come up in the course of the panel. Then he threw it open to the four of us to ask questions. Of course, he managed to answer most of the questions I had for him in his opening comments. By the time the third round of questions came to me, I was left with, "Did you teach Bill Jemas how to handle Mark Waid?" I think three people in the audience chuckled at that. Since it seemed like half of the audience was made up of CrossGen employees, I can understand the cautious silence.
I did find out, though, that hardcovers are a potential release from CrossGen, as they're talking to some people about that now. That would be exciting to see.
In answering the final question from the panel, Alessi made some bold predictions about where CrossGen and comics would be in five years. Most memorably, he pegged CrossGen as being 20-25% of the direct market sales at that point. Let's all come back to this in 2008, shall we?
In the meantime, check out Newsarama's article about CrossGen to see some of the details from the Q&A. Representatives from Wizard and CBG were also there, so look for more coverage in the coming weeks from those outlets.
SAN DIEGO - DAY FOUR
Taking Tom Galloway up on his challenge the previous day, I walked from one end of the con floor to the other to time it out. I didn't do this through the busy show floor, but in the outside area in the "atrium" type section where people cross through before hitting the floor proper. It took six minutes exactly, at normal walking pace for this 6'4" person, to get from one end to the other. You'd have to double that if you were walking betwixt and between the booths.
Sunday afternoon brought about the return of Scott Shaw!'s Oddball Comics presentation. While it wasn't the funniest one I've seen -- it's tough to top Supergirl and that phallic cannon -- it was a series of new slides (for me) with some good laughs in them. I had planned on skipping out early to attend the Comics Webmasters panel that included CBR's very own Jonah Weiland, but Oddball was going so well that I couldn't leave.
After Oddball, I still caught the last hour of the webmasters panel. You've never seen a more tired looking group of people in your life. Five days of Comicon has a tendency to wear on people, particularly those who huddle back up in their hotel rooms after hours to update websites. Sparsely attended, it was an interesting panel, if only for those of us who spend so much time dealing with these issues from day to day.
With that over -- and you can see photos from it in the CBR Photo Parade -- there was only an hour left before the convention closed down.
One of the rituals of the last day of San Diego Comic-Con is to run around in the last couple of hours and say good-bye to friends both old and new. The people I've run across or talked to multiple times in the previous four days are the ones I want to see one last time. This year, I knew I didn't have a chance of that. There were too many people and too much floor space to cover. I did see a couple people along the way out, but some others had already left early, were too busy, or just weren't in their booths when I passed. The convention ended at Larry Young's booth, where dinner plans were hatched with a small group including James Sime, Isotope's super-retailer. Thus the con ended and a cab to the airport was split with Newsarama's Matt Brady and COMIC BOOK ARTIST's Chris Knowles. There, Chris and I caught a red eye flight back home that landed us in Newark Liberty International Airport at 6 a.m. east coast time.
I racked up a grand total of 45 minutes sleep on the plane. The person in front of me pushed her seat all the way back and trapped my legs. I could tell she was uncomfortable with my knee planted in the small of her back, but I had nowhere else to put my legs, so I made no apologies. And she didn't move, either. She did sleep a lot, though. Good for her. I read 130 pages of a novel. I was so tired I think I read through each page twice.
(Still, Brandon Thomas has me beat for the best airplane horror story this year.)
Slept for much on Monday and grabbed lunch with Chris Eliopoulos on Tuesday, filling him in on everything that he missed in San Diego while trying hard not to repeat every story I had already told in Pipeline Daily.
On Wednesday morning, I returned to work, crankier and more tired than I have been in a long time. I might have to consider taking an extra day off next year. Even a nearly ten-hour sleep on Friday night couldn't shake off all the sleepiness.
GENERAL CON NOTES
I looked back this weekend to pictures I have from previous years' conventions and had a good laugh. I used to be able to take pictures where you could see the end walls at either side of the con floor from the middle. Not anymore. I have pictures where Crossgen, Marvel, and DC have their booths lined up near the 900 - 1200 aisles. This year, the dealers were sticking out that far. Artists Alley started at around aisle 2800. This year, I don't think you could see it until you were in the high 4000s.
Three years ago there was a pit where the Padres' new stadium will be opening in 2004.
I wasn't the only one who started an exercise regimen in the past month or two in the hopes of being able to handle San Diego.
Marc Bowker wrote to remind me that Diet Sunkist soda is caffeine free. No wonder I was falling asleep late at night as the CBR site was still being uploaded.
I need to buy a better digital camera. I think the digital zoom is screwing me up. Any time I use it, I inevitably get a blurry picture. I guess my hands just aren't steady enough. I need to start drinking the booze. Maybe I can bum some rum off Don MacPherson next year. ;-)
There's nothing better than a good industry bitch session. I had a few of those during the weekend.
Attending five straight San Diego conventions changes my attitude towards them. This year, for example, I wasn't as outgoing as I have been in previous years. In those early cons, I wanted to meet everyone and introduce myself to everyone. I was very outgoing. This year, I didn't feel that so much. There were certain people that I sought out to talk to. Those are the people I see once a year at these events and probably not again until the next summer. I had to walk around with Jonah at times just to get into the flow of meeting new people and trying out new books. It worked out for the best, in the end, but I still missed plenty.
Here's another thing: As much as everyone might complain about the size of the convention, four and a half days is, indeed, enough time to cover it all. I spent far too much time walking in circles, afraid that if I stopped I would be losing time I needed to see people. Instead, I wasted time walking when I should have stopped to talk to people, even if they already had a couple of people in front of their table. Next year, I'll learn to handle the larger size better.
Artists Alley was, indeed, a mess. It's segregated far off to the extreme left side of the convention hall, and blocked off by an eating area and some large dealer booths. On the bright side, it wasn't uncommon to find big name artists at tables just twiddling their thumbs. OK, that's not so great for the artist, but as a fan or a collector who wants to talk to the creator or buy some art or get a sketch, it's almost ideal. Put Dave Johnson in the DC booth to sign 100 BULLETS covers and you'll probably get a line wrapping around the booth. Put him in artists alley, and there were four or five people getting autographs.
I blame Steve Lieber for this completely. It almost didn't feel like a con without him.
PIPELINE PHOTO PARADE
Pictures. It's what all you people want. I've seen the hits that the CBR Photo Parade gets. Truth be told, I don't take that many pictures at San Diego anymore, because Jonah grabs most of the same ones I would think of taking. Still, here are a few of the people and places I captures on digital film last week.
Mike S. Miller, besides drawing G.I. JOE/TRANSFORMERS, is also working on HEDGE KNIGHT, based on the novels by George R.R. Martin. He reported better sales at Martin's booth than at his own in the Image pavilion area. Maybe that's a good sign for a crossover comic success?
The Saturday afternoon Voice Actors Panel concluded in spectacular fashion with a reading from a Pinky and the Brain script. Seen here, from right to left, is moderator Mark Evanier, Maurice ("The Brain") La Marche, and Rob (Emmy Award-winning "Pinky") Paulsen. Due to a lack of microphones (or an abundance of voice talent), the two shared a microphone.
I'm tempted to refer to this picture as "Two Fangirls and More Convention Freaks," but the costumes are just too good and the people in them were posing for countless photos out near Artists Alley on Saturday. If they're all having fun, then who am I to judge? There is, however, something funny about seeing a superhero with a San Diego Comic-Con badge on. I have a sneaking suspicion that if I zoomed in on Robin's tag, it wouldn't say "Tim Drake" on it. . .
My first appearance on a San Diego panel was celebrated with a grand total of two pictures. One is my view of the "crowd" just before the panel began. This is only the left side of the crowd. The right side had a few more people. As empty as it looks, there were still a good 40 - 50 people in that room when all was said and done.
The other picture is of the mini-Pipeline Message Board Gathering. From left to right, it's me, John Claus, and Tracie Mauk.
The National Cartoonists Society had signings all weekend. At the end of the day on Saturday, I was lucky enough to talk briefly with both Jeff ("Family Circus") Keane and Chris ("Hagar the Horrible") Browne. Yes, that's Browne in the Viking cap. The man gets into his role as a Viking cartoonist. He's also one of the nicest guys you'd ever hope to meet at a con.
Here's just an assortment of views of the con floor and outside hall, at day and (lit up) at night.
And, finally, here's the warm and inviting (although admittedly somewhat Satanic) visage of mail order uber-retailer Brian Scott Johnson at Khepri.com. He's been kind enough to put up with all my oddball requests for the past couple of years in my monthly orders.
I don't have the time or space to give it a full review, but since it comes out this week, I should mention it: DONALD DUCK ADVENTURES #1 is a great digest-sized book for the kids. Adults will like it, too, but not nearly as much as the regular titles. It definitely feels like it's aimed at a younger demographic than Barks' classic tales. More on that next week.
Pipeline Previews returns on Friday this week with a look through Diamond's latest catalog of materials shipping in two months. My first glance through it shows one of the most anemic solicitations in a long time. We'll see what I come up with upon second examination.
Next Tuesday's column will feature the start of reviews from books I picked up in San Diego, plus stuff that's available in your comics shops today. There's a lot of great stuff out there.
Various and Sundry is chugging right along. I haven't written many reviews in there lately, but there are plenty of links to great sites, move trailers, web games, and more. Also, you can chime in with your weird mall fashions.
Somewhere around 500 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically. The first 100 columns or so are still available at the Original Pipeline page.