Pipeline Travelogue - San Diego Day 00

Traveling companion Dani said I had nothing to write about after only one day of vacation. She may well be right. We're about to find out.

San Diego Con began at Newark International Airport this year. Our flight to San Diego (direct with Continental to avoid a repeat of last year's disaster) was filled with convention people. I'd guess at least three quarters of the plane was filled with con goers, including such luminaries as Mike Carlin and Bob Schreck. Others wore their comics garb, including some rather garish X-Men and Spider-Man shirts that you would never catch me dead in.

The in-flight movie was LIFE OR SOMETHING LIKE IT, the Angelina Jolie stinker from earlier this year. Looking around, I noticed about as many people in the plane watching it as did in the movie's original run, really.

I spent much of the flight attached to Greg Rucka's SMOKER, the third novel in his Atticus Kodiak series. It's a real page-turner and I hated to put it down when we came in for a landing. I did get about halfway through it, though. Unfortunately, I probably won't make it any further into the book until the flight home. That's Monday morning, on about 5 hours of sleep. Ought to be fun.

As always, my De Blieck Luck rang true. The guy seated in front of me decided to spend most of the flight in the reclining position, meaning the seat in front of me rested uncomfortably on my knees. I had nowhere to hide. You know what makes it worse? The guy was seated in the exit row. He had plenty of leg room in front of him, but he had to go and friggin' recline his seat. ARGH!

The lunch was a choice between a lasagna and beef-and-pasta. Dani chose the lasagna and ate only the chicken breast that lay on top of the meal. I went with the beef-and-pasta, which was actually pretty good. I survived airplane beef! The mix of the two smells permeating the cabin wasn't too great, though.

Random thought: Do not discuss the Middle East situation in an airport. Discussing "suicide bombings" will only get you flashed stern looks from others at the airport who only heard the word "bomb." That's not a good idea at Newark International on the way to a direct flight to San Diego. They have a bad record with those, as you may have heard...

Oh, and I got frisked and de-shoed by security. I'm not opposed to either, mind you. I have nothing to hide and it's not like the security guy was feeling me up or anything, but -- my sneakers set off the metal detector! Not my metal belt buckle. Not my watch. It was my friggin' rubber-soled and not steel-tipped sneakers!

Anyway, let's get to the convention:

The center is huge this year, as promised. The official press release puts it at 350,000 plus square feet. It's now extended into the 5th of 8 halls that the convention center has to offer. That neat little dividing line of a staircase that's visible outside is no longer the end of the con hall. It goes past that.

It allows for larger booths and more space between them. It's quite roomy inside the convention this year, although Preview Night still drew enough people to make elbow-bumping an Olympic sport.

While waiting in line for the con, Greg Rucka was off to the side on his cell phone trying to straighten out his badge information. I nearly geeked out. Suddenly, Rucka was godlike to me. I've met him and talk to him before. It's no big deal. But now I'm spellbound in the middle of his third novel and I see the guy in a whole different light. Just strange.

The con floor is a sight to behold. There are a lot of new exhibitors this year, and some that I'm sure I'm just noticing for the first time. The con floor officially opened at 5:30, but it took about 15-20 minutes to load everyone in. They practice a very managed style of crowd control here, which is nice to see.

Highlights so far:

Stopped by the TokyoPop's booth, that's filled with those $10 trade paperbacks they're pushing now. I picked up the COWBOY BEBOP trades I was missing. That was the first $20 spent of the convention season. It'll also be my first experience with reading comics right to left.

Stopped at David Lapham's table to pick up the hardcover edition of the first volume of STRAY BULLETS. The next issue of the series is at the printers, he said. I'm starting from the beginning, so I'm sure I'll get to that issue eventually... He did a wonderful sketch for my sketchbook, also. His table is next to Exhibit A Press, makes of SUPERNATURAL LAW. That booth is next on the list of stops to be made this weekend.

Artists Alley was 95% empty, save two or three artists including Steve Lieber, who held court at the far end of the section. Lieber's table was an oasis of activity in an otherwise deserted area.

Also stopped by the new and improved AiT/Planetar booth, which is always abuzz with activity. Larry Young led the charge with Mimi Rosenheim at hand to keep him honest. Charlie Adlard and Steven Grant also made early appearances.

Found a dealer with WALT DISNEY'S COMICS & STORIES albums on sale for $5 each. It's always nice to fill in gaps in that part of the collection for that cheap.

Speaking of the dealer's area: If you're at the convention and get overwhelmed, go towards the A hall and the line where the comic companies end and the dealers tables begin will become obvious. It's like walking through a forcefield of sound and stepping into some alternate dimension. The decibel level gets cut in half. It's really odd.

The Pipeline Travelogue and Con Report continues tomorrow. Maybe I'll throw in a few words about the hotel then.

You can e-mail me your comments on this column, or post them for all the world to see and respond to over on the Pipeline Message Board.

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