JUST HOW MUCH BUSIER COULD IT GET?
It's at a comfortable level of busy-ness for me today. The crowds are there to make the place look busy, but there's still plenty of room in the aisles and small crowds of people in front of creators. It's really nice. Of course, this is the first day of the con and the next two will only be larger, choking off aisles, blocking off creators, and slowing down traffic through the convention center. The aisles are more uniformly wider this year even than last, thankfully, which should help.
There appear to be more buses on the shuttle route. The San Diego Police Department is herding pedestrian traffic across the street already on Thursday. They need to. Did I also mention that the hall floor is more than a dozen aisles wider than last year? The lines by the various toy dealers for con exclusives stretched out and around the convention hall.
By Saturday, I'll be writing about how I hid in panels all day because I couldn't set floor outside them for fear of being jostled to death. It's going to be very difficult for the convention to have panels at the start of Saturday with big name Hollywood talent when they don't allow pre-registered people in on time. I've heard various stories of people who weren't allowed into the hall until ten minutes after 10:00 this morning, when it was supposed to open. It's only ten minutes, I know, but if you're already registered and wearing your tag, shouldn't you be allowed in?!? Doesn't that just make sense?
COMICS REVIEWERS ON THE WEB
It was a thrill to see my nameplate on top of the table at the front of the room. I made sure to take it with me when all was said and done. I love it.
The panel on comic reviewers on the web was peopled by Tony Isabella, Heidi MacDonald, Adrienne Rappaport, Greg McElhatton, and led by Adam Messano. It was very polite and structured. Someone asked a question and we went down the line to each answer it. Not much in the way of confrontation. The closest we came was when someone from the audience asked about Jess Nevins and Heidi MacDonald artfully dodged the question of the reviewer's real identity.
It's weird doing a panel. I've done radio so I'm used to using a microphone, but it took me a couple of tries before I found a comfortable distance to talk from. Too close and your voice pops, too far away and you get this weird echo from hearing your voice the time it hits the speakers.
The other strange thing to do is to figure out where to look while you're talking. There were about fifty people in the room (yes, I counted), but where do you go? When someone from the audience asks a question, you can address it directly to that person. The rest of the time you just scan over the crowd or only focus on a couple of people who you know.
The panel, itself, was interesting because we all come from such different backgrounds. Tony and I were the most mainstream. Adrienne writes what she refers to as the "emotional review," Heidi doesn't write reviews anymore, and Greg focuses mostly on the small press and alternative comics.
We agreed on most things, except that I didn't like THE BROCCOLI AGENDA. ;-) It's very comforting for me to hear other reviewers talking about the same exact things that I think and feel about review writing. Hopefully, the people listening to us blather on and on learned a thing or two.
One thing's for sure - when you bring together six people who are so used to sharing their opinions so often, you're never going to get us to shut up. The panel started late, but we still ran until 7 p.m. when they waved us off the stage.
Afterwards, I talked to Batman letterhack Sarah Beach, fellow Duck letterhack Joe Torcivia, and Disney writer/editor David Gerstein. After that, we had a mini-Pipeline Message Board meeting with John Claus and Tracie Mauk. It was good to catch up with them, particularly Tracie who I hadn't seen in a couple of years.
OTHER NAME DROPPING
Met Brandon Thomas, the new YOUNGBLOOD scripter and, as it would turn out, a Pipeline reader. We exchanged pleasantries, and he told me his airplane horror story. His tale beats out any of my worst experiences. Look to a future Ambidextrous column on SilverBulletComicBooks.com for that story, I hope. It's the kind of story that should not be kept to one's self.
Talked to Brian Scott Johnson, proprietor of Khepri Comics. Picked up a set of BATTLE POPE trades from him before heading off into the wilds of the dealers area of the con. That was a vast wasteland, I'm happy to say. I don't need to spend more money. I'm doing fine elsewhere. I picked up a complete set of five IRON WOK JAN! manga trades from Comics One. I've heard good things about them and they definitely passed the flip test.
I attended the annual CrossGen Non-Dinner Dinner tonight. It's an annual invite-only gathering of various on-line and professional people with some of the CrossGen staff. This year, I was at a table with Bill Rosemann and fellow web reviewers Randy Lander, Don Macpherson, and Johanna Draper-Carlson. While the theme of the dinner is that we're not supposed to talk about "comic business," that's about all we did. It was really fun to have a meeting of web reviewers and the conversation was a lot of fun.
Mark Alessi made his way around to our table and we all had a pleasant conversation. For those of you with longer memories regarding the early days of CrossGen and web reviews, you'll be pleasantly surprised to hear that no punches were thrown and everyone got along really well. While I hesitate to use the phrase "made peace," it was nice to see. I'll let the associated parties testify to this themselves.
After far too many drinks and too many war stories of web reviewing, we finally broke after midnight and went our separate ways.
So ends Day One. Tomorrow's highlight is the Quick Draw followed closely by the Eisner Awards. I'll be back to report on those by Saturday morning.
San Diego, CA.
2 a.m. PDT