WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN SAN DIEGO
For the last x number of years, this is the column I've devoted to discussing the interesting panels at the San Diego Comic Con. Since I'm not going this year, I haven't been able to drag myself through that process. I'd rather beat myself up with a spiked bat, honestly.
But for those who are going to the convention, as well as those following along with it at home through Photo Parades, blog posts, podcasts, CBR news bits, Twitter entries, etc. here are some things to look out for:
- What is the Buzz Book of the convention? Is it going to be Jeff Smith's next book? Shouldn't the Buzz Book really be the one people didn't know was going to be there, though?
This all started with HEROBEAR AND THE KID a few years back. Mike Kunkel debuted his creation at the convention with a small booth and attracted a crowd all weekend long. For years afterwards, whenever two comic journalists met up on the con floor, the first topic of conversation would be, "What's this year's HEROBEAR?"
I'd also like to know where Mike Kunkel ran off to, come to think of it.
- Apple Phones. They've been out for a month. Comic people are often very forward-looking gadget-obsessed techies. Surely, there will be a few on the floor. And some will be using it to track the comics they're looking for in the dealer's room, right? WiFi access isn't free inside the convention center, but the EDGE network should be good enough to access your TaDaList.com page.
Brian Bendis has one. Ask him at a panel to do a demo. I've seen dumber questions asked at panels before.
- Booth Babes. They're not as dominant as they once were during the Dot Com Boom era, but they're still easily found, particularly in the licensor section. Tony Hawk's video game people convinced some to wear full bodysuits a year or two back to demonstrate the joys of the motion capture used to create the game. Riiiiiiight, that was their excuse.
- Weird Al Yankovic. While concerts do sometimes conflict with his schedule, he's made appearances on the show floor more years than not that I've been there. I've never actually had a sighting, though.
- Samuel L. Jackson hiding behind a StormTrooper helmet. OK, that only happened once, but do realize that the omnipresent StormTroopers could, indeed, be anyone.
- Artist's Alley. It's in the back corner. Good luck finding it. It shrunk again this year. Remember artists? They draw comics, you know. You remember comics, don't you? That used to be all the show was about.
- E3 Displays. The big E3 convention (video game convention) happened last week in its new scaled down form. With the days of ginormous booths and glitzy displays over for E3, some speculated that those budgets and those booths might migrate to San Diego. I haven't analyzed the show floor map closely enough, but I don't think too many of them have. Still, I bet we see Nintendo return to the show floor with their DS booth and Wii units.
- The Train. Beat it while crossing the street at the end of the day, or you'll be late for dinner. If it stops in the middle of the street and starts reversing, take a seat.
- Larry Young. His wife is at home this year tending to their newborn son. The poor man is going to be lost this year. Be sure to stop by and give your regards. Make sure he stays focused. If you're flying in, bring some Dunkin Donuts coffee beans with you. He likes those.
- Jonah Weiland. Every year, it's one of the most asked questions I get from comic professionals, "Where's Jonah?" Be danged if I know. Everyone's looking for him, he's all over the con floor all day, and nobody can find him. Good luck.
- The DC Booth. It usually has the plushest carpeting, perfect for resting your feet while standing. The booth will be too crowded to do much inside, but at least you can feel the softness of purple carpeting.
- Marvel Booth. Really, there IS one this year. I forget what they used to look like already.
- Podcasters. You probably won't be able to walk ten feet on the con floor without tripping over one of them thrusting a microphone in a comic creator's face. San Diego is multimedia now.
- Men with sunglasses and clipboards walking slowly through the small, defenseless small press areas. They might be wearing button down shirts with sports coats. They're from Hollywood. They're different from you and me. Look, but do not approach.
- Slave Labor Graphics. I hear their booth is entirely made of cardboard this year. Cool!
- That Independent Creator Guy With The Small Booth Or Table Selling That Same Comic He's Been Selling At Every Convention For The Last Five Years. Just pity him and move on. Or, be nice and point to That Guy With The Sunglasses And The Clipboard. They're looking for each other, whether they know it or not.
- Any animator selling a new comic book. San Diego is where they do it, coming down from Disney, PIXAR, ILM, or wherever. They make interesting comics.
WHAT I'LL MISS
- Stuart Ng Books, the dealer of European hardcovers at the far left side of the convention center. I just discovered them last year for the first time, and now I'll miss my chance at buying more untranslated works I won't have the time to translate through Babelfish for myself. But the art is SO pretty.
- The Sunday stroll through the dealer's room with CBR Executive Producer, Jonah Weiland. It was a convention ritual -- on Sunday morning, we'd walk over to the first aisle and just walk up and down every aisle, seeing what was for sale, but rarely purchasing much.
- The chance meeting with Big Name Pro in the hotel elevator. You just never know who's staying on the same floor as you. Of course, I would have missed it this year for the CBR Party Boat, anyway.
- Storm Troopers lining up and marching out on Sunday morning. I covet my video of all of them streaming up the escalator at the back of the hall, high-fiving the kids on the stairs cheering them on.
- Storm Troopers providing security at the Omni restaurant, much to the delight of the kids in the room, and even the waitresses.
- Larry Young and Mimi Rosenheim at the AiT/PlanetLar booth. It's Booth 2001, you know.
- And, right across from them, the Comicraft booth.
- Rick Geary. It hardly seems like a summer without buying something from him in San Diego.
- Looking for the Marvel booth. That's become an annual game in recent years. First, you look for their Hollywood and Video Game partners' booths, and then look to see which one they're set up behind. This year, you lucky attendees won't have to look so hard.
- The Oni Press booth. Their spread of graphic novels is impressive. And while I've read most of their stuff that I'd want to at this point, I inevitably find something I missed.
- The costumes. Yeah, the mainstream press does focus on it exclusively, and it probably gives the whole thing something of a bad name, but you know what? It's all part of the fun. I would never do it, but it's entertaining in all sorts of ways. ("Wow, that's an impressive bit of sewing." "Wow, why does he think he can get away with wearing white spandex?" "It must be cold in here." "Never thought I'd see someone bother to make a costume for THAT character.")
- The three hundred photos necessary to cover the convention. I think my new goal is to have a digital SLR camera before attending another San Diego, and maybe taking some serious shots on the con floor and in the panel rooms. (Would it be possible to take an HDR picture of anything at the con? It would be tricky with all the movement.) The funny thing is, the current camera I have was bought specifically for its 12x optical zoom that comes in so handy while taking pictures of panels in large rooms.
- The dinners. There's nothing better than having dinner with friends you only get to see once or twice a year, for five nights straight.
- The stroll along the marina in the morning. When the sun is freshly up and the morning air is that perfect temperature, it's a picturesque walk behind the convention center along the marina. If I were on the boat this year, I'd have picked at least one morning to wake up early to watch the sun rise. (Crap, does the sun rise or set on that side? I can't remember.)
- Quick Draw! with Mark Evanier, Scott Shaw!, Sergio Aragones, and Kyle Baker.
- Buying original art.
THOSE IMAGE CHAPS
The first convention I ever really really, really wanted to go to was the July 4th Chicago Comicon 15 years ago. All of the Image Founders were going to be there signing, and I worshipped every last one of them at the time. (OK, maybe not Valentino so much, but SHADOWHAWK certainly converted me quickly.) Alas, I was but a lad of 16, and traveling to Chicago just wasn't going to happen. I gave it one pitch to the family to make a Chicago vacation for my sister's birthday (04 July, seriously), but we all knew that dog wouldn't hunt.
As it turns out, I probably didn't miss much besides a long wait in a hot line in an outside tent to get a few signatures from some guys too busy to ever look up.
This week, I face the trauma of the Image Founders being all together on one panel in San Diego for the first time ever and -- well, for the first time in nearly a decade, I'm not going to San Diego. (It's a recurring theme for this column, isn't it?)
I'm beginning to think they're just avoiding me. Yeah, that's it. It's all about me.
I do find it amusing and encouraging, though, that the panel with the biggest buzz in San Diego this year is not one out of Hollywood. Even with
I don't know, but I'm glad to see that Friday's Image Founders reunion panel is the one that I see the most talk about on the 'net at the moment. It's gotten so much buzz, in fact, that they changed its room to double-sized 6A, and will likely still fill it up completely.
This is good stuff.
PEOPLE YOU SHOULD VISIT
I have a few reviews lined up that won't fit in this column. But I wanted to point out the books and the people in advance so you can meet, greet, and buy their books on the San Diego con floor, where applicable. I enjoyed all these books, and I'll tell you why in the next couple of weeks
MONSTER ATTACK NETWORK is the new graphic novel published by AiT/PlanetLar. You can pick it up at their booth, and I hear the entire creative team should be in the booth over the weekend. It's a fun action-packed high concept book.
NOTHING BETTER is Tyler Page's new graphic novel, self-published. He's the guy who did the excellent STYLISH VITTLES trio of graphic novels. I reviewed the first three chapters of the book two years ago, before Page moved the book to the web. Chapters 1 - 7 are now available in print under one cover. If he's got a booth there, stop by and tell him I sent you. Then buy the book!
BLACK CHERRY is Doug TenNapel's new graphic novel through Image Comics. It's got everything you'd expect in one of his books -- religious exploration, thick black ink line, warped sense of humor -- and some swearing, too.
FIRST IN SPACE came out a couple months ago over at Oni Press, and tells the story of the first chimp in orbit through the American space program. It's an historical dramatization of events that's compelling, interesting, and cute. You can pick that one up at the Oni booth.
Full reviews of all of these books will be in this space in the next couple of weeks, along with the previously promised ASTERIX reviews.
PIPELINE'S SAN DIEGO COVERAGE
I'm not going, as I've said ad infinitum between sobbing fits. But that doesn't mean Pipeline will be absent from the festivities. I'll be attending the con from home, and making updates along the way. There are plenty of web sites, blogs, podcasters, Twitterers, Jaiku junkies, and more attending the convention. We'll be seeing and hearing video and audio recordings from the show throughout the weekend. The CBR Party Boat will be rocking and we'll get to watch over the camera man's shoulder.
Daily coverage of the convention will happen in the pages of this very column, Thursday morning through Sunday. Four all new columns, covering all aspects of the convention. Friday's will be the one to look out for, as I review the Image Founders panel hours before it happens.
Also, I'm going to be podcasting. I'm hoping to do three podcasts on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, with rundowns of the news, some opinions, and maybe a special guest or two calling in along the way.
In the end, I'll be doing more work for the San Diego Comic Con from New Jersey than I would if I were actually present at the thing. Go figure.
THIS WEEK, FROM MARVEL
There aren't any hardcover books with Rob Liefeld's art in them, are there? No NEW MUTANTS/X-FORCE Omnibus or MARVEL MASTERS: ROB LIEFELD. (That UNCANNY X-MEN fill-in issue he did was pretty cool.)
Is the current ONSLAUGHT mini-series destined to be the first? Jeph Loeb is writing it, so it's almost contractually necessary that there be a Premiere Edition hardcover of it, at the very least.
The fourth issue comes out this week, and is destined to be a more satisfying chunk of story for many than CIVIL WAR #7. This one features a real drag-out fight between Iron Man (whose mouth now moves, as he's possessed by Onslaught) and Captain America.
There aren't a lot of backgrounds, mind you, but there is a fight there.
If you do pick it up, count the number of movie references in the issue. I caught at least three: Back to the Future, Untouchables, and The A Team. Sure, the latter isn't a movie, but give Marc Silvestri another couple of years and it might be.
UPDATES AND CORRECTIONS
If you missed it over the weekend, there's a new Pipeline PREVIEWS Podcast available on the feed. Check out ThePipelinePodcast.com for show notes, subscription information, and more.
Most shockingly, Todd McFarlane's ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #100 cover will not be in the upcoming HeroInitiative fundraising book. It would seem that Todd is still so blinded by hatred for Marvel, 15 years later, that he's willing to look like a complete jerk by withholding himself from a charity thing. If he had that big a problem with Marvel, why draw the cover in the first place? Would it hurt to be consistent?
At least he isn't drawing anything for those corporate slave drivers at DC, either. I mean, have YOU seen SPAWN/BATMAN yet? It's only been a year since it was announced. . . Maybe he had a pang of conscience there, too?
He might as well just stomp on other people's rights and start publishing a Miracle Man series, while he's at it. . .
Honestly, I try to like McFarlane, but it gets tougher and tougher.
Also, I missed two on-line comic shops that are currently selling ASTERIX books. The first is the venerable WestfieldComics.com. The other is the popular MyComicShop.com, based in Texas. Sorry for missing you both. And Midtown Comics, where I've picked up a few ASTERIX books in the past, also has an on-line store.
Meanwhile, I'm hoping the Asterix tribute book makes it over to these shores sometime soon. The lineup of artists on it -- including Stuart Immonen -- is tremendous.
. . .
I still can't believe McFarlane isn't allowing his Spider-Man cover to be printed as one page out of 100 in a book for charity. It boggles the mind.
The Pipeline Podcast returns tonight, then the written column comes back Thursday and all weekend long. With any luck, you'll get more podcasts out of it, too. Join all of us at CBR for wall-to-wall coverage of the largest convention in the States of the year.
The regular blog, Various and Sundry, discusses the greatness of the new They Might Be Giants album, the Amazon Marketplace, fun in indexing one's DVD collection, Big Brother 8, and the greatest DVD release of the year.
The VandS Tumblr has the quickest blog entries a boy could make.
The Pipeline Podcast page will give you links to subscribe to the podcast in a variety of places.
More than 700 columns -- maybe even 800 -- are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They're sorted chronologically.