SAN DIEGO 2002 WRAP UP
The flight back from San Diego was mostly uneventful. Had one nice thing happen to me, though, for a change. I got a seat at the front of the plane behind a bulkhead. With no seat in front of me, I didn't have to worry about the person in front of me leaning their chair back into my knees. I could also stretch my legs out. On the other hand, I couldn't stow my bag away under the seat in front of me, so I had to stow it away in the overhead bins, and never got to it again until we landed.
The odd thing was when I first sat down. There was a huge lump in the lower portion of the back of my seat. It felt like a lumbar support bar gone awry. I tried changing the way I sat, but it either poked at my spine, or a kidney on either side. I tried feeling the chair next to me to compare, but mine was the only chair with the lump. I got so frustrated at it that I punched it with all my might. And that's when I discovered that the lump was actually the knee of the guy sitting behind me, who felt the need to put his knee up against the back of my chair. I didn't apologize to him, and he didn't put his knee in my back for the rest of the five-hour flight. Lesson to be learned: Respect those around you and you won't get hurt.
I was surprised at how many people there were at the convention who were taller than myself. I'm 6'4". I know there are a couple of people in comics who are taller than me -- Newsarama's Michael Doran and Dark Horse's Mike Richardson, for starters. But there were a bunch of people over the weekend that I had to look up at in the aisles. That's a very odd feeling for me.
The con was huge. That's no surprise. You've been hearing that in all the coverage of it since last week. I don't mind it, but it does mean my list of misses grew in a large way this year. I never got the chance to talk to anyone at the Oni booth, for instance. I think I stopped by it briefly on Preview Night or Thursday afternoon, but never had time after that. Never ran across Eric Stephenson at the Image booth, nor had the chance to talk to Jim Valentino, who I've always chatted briefly with at every other convention I've seen him at. If it wasn't for Erik Larsen seeing me on Saturday and tapping me on the shoulder, I might never have had the chance to renew acquaintances there, either. I know Rob Liefeld was there for a day, but never passed the Arcade Comics booth at that point. I think I was in the panel rooms at the time.
That last minute feeling of, "Oh, crap, what did I have left to do?" gave me a laundry list of things to do this year, most of which were on opposite ends of a con floor that took a good 10-15 minutes to walk across in one direction. There were close to 40 aisles before you hit Artist's Alley at the thing, for goodness' sake.
Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are different. You go to those for three days and you end up running across the same people a lot, get the chance to talk to them for a while here and there, and even make the rounds on the last day to say good-bye to everyone before things end. I made it over to Larry Young's booth to bid him a fond adieu on Sunday afternoon, but that was it. There's not a chance of doing that at any other point.
It seems that the Dot Com money has left the Comicon, only to be replaced by Hollywood money. The question right now to be asked is if this is the beginning of an overall change to a more pop culture-oriented festival, or just the latest fad brought about by the success of comic-based movies in recent years. Will this money go away in a couple of years to be replaced by something else? Or is it here to stay and change the con forevermore?
Speaking of Hollywood connections: As promised over the weekend, here's my tall geek self with the Movie Geek and the Music Geek from Comedy Central's gift to game shows, BEAT THE GEEKS:
I bought one page of original art on Saturday, when I ran across Jimmy Gownley's table at the Indie Island. Gownley is the man behind AMELIA RULES!, a terrific all-ages comic book. He had a glorious page of Amelia talking with her Aunt Tanner. Gownley's original art is done on illustration board, which is much heavier than the traditional Bristol board. It's also slightly smaller, just larger than a Marvel hardcover book. The art and word balloons are all on the board, but the letters that fit in them are put in mostly from the computer afterwards. Special lettering and effects stuff goes on by hand.
Over at the dealer's section on Sunday, I picked up a BATGIRL page from issue #24, page 20. Batgirl is talking to Oracle on it. It's a nice quiet page, and very affordable. At the same table was a Jim Lee page at a price I could afford. It's from DIVINE RIGHT #9. Page 21. I got it because I've always wanted to own a Lee page, plus this one had the bonus of being drawn sideways. Again, it's another quiet page, but it fits in my price range and is another example of art I like. I long ago gave up on the idea of ever buying cover art and splash pages. I'm fine with that. I prefer sequential art, anyway. There's more on the page, if nothing else.
At the very end of the day, I hit up the tables at Artist's Alley. Picked up another Superman page from Mike McKone, and drooled over the rest. (I'm not an EXILES fan. He has some beautiful art from that series, but I don't have enough of an emotional connection to it to pick one up.) Grabbed a page from Roger Robinson, artist on BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS, with the iconic image of a young Bruce Wayne on his knees, surrounded by his slain parents in the streetlight.
Also added some nice sketches to my sketchbook over the course of the weekend, including entries from PRIVATE BEACH's David Hahn, MISTER BLANK's Christopher Hicks (who followed the snow theme of my sketchbook by drawing Mister Blank writing his name in the snow as only he could), STRAY BULLETS' David Lapham, Michel Gagne's Insanely Twisted Snowman, Jimmy Gownley, MINI-MARVELS man Chris Giarrusso, and Paul Mounts (who drew a HULK for me). My 192-page sketchbook is fast drawing to a close, after 3 years. I'll probably get a couple more cons out of it before deciding what to do next. It'll either be a new theme, or a much smaller sketchbook with a collection of head sketches. I have an idea, but I want to wait just a bit before deciding on it.
Overseen at the con: DragonballZ and one other costumed character taking a picture with a small child before heading into the bathroom, accompanied by security.
And then there was this picture, seen on the streets of the Gas Lamp District, much to the bemusement of on-lookers on the street. This was spotted about 8 blocks uphill from the convention center. The poor guy peddling the bike that these three were sitting behind had better have gotten a big tip.
I think one of the more popular dealers at the con was GameSkins.com, whose double-sized booth against the far wall offered a hilarious variety of gaming t-shirts. They had everything from Dance Dance Revolution t-shirts to "WASD" shirts and 8-bit gaming references. I saw people walking around the con all weekend with those shirts on, and even picked one up for a co-worker of mine.
BIRDS OF PREY PILOT
Saw the BIRDS OF PREY pilot episode. It's not all that exciting. There's a lot of potential in there, even with the slightly skewed set-up the series is using. The problem with the show right now is that they want you to think it's a comic book. I don't mean that in the good way that Tim Burton carefully stages his frames, or the way M. Night Shyamalan blocks scenes in UNBREAKABLE. I'm talking something closer to the angled cameras of the old Batman TV series to indicate the villains' lairs. It's a mess.
There are some very good bits to it, though. Alfred is great to see, even if his reason for being there in the first place is nebulous. The casting and writing for Oracle is perfect. The Batgirl costume they use in the flashback scenes is pretty good, also, but Joker looks awkward.
The style they use for Dinah's psychic scenes looks ripped straight from the pages of the mid-1990s TV series, VR.5.
I'm sorry to see the original Harley Quinn won't be in the regular series. I recognized her from her appearances on Dawson's Creek last season. She only suffered from playing the character too two-dimensionally.
THE TODDSTER RETURNS TO SAN DIEGO
Todd McFarlane doesn't know how to shut up. I attended two panels over the weekend that he was on. The first was Saturday's Image Founding Fathers At 10, while the second was the McFarlane/Peter David reunion special. In both places, he exhibited a wonderful inability to cut himself off, summarize something quickly, answer a question directly, or let others speak. Yes, the Tony Twist case had a great result, potentially for all of comics. But does that have to come up in an answer to a question about his favorite toy? At the Founding Fathers panel (also attended by Marc Silvestri, Erik Larsen, and Jim Valentino), he had a tendency to stand up, take over, and not give up the dais for minutes on end with needlessly lengthy answers to simple questions. At the Sunday panel, poor Peter David had to put up with some of the lengthiest evasions of questions since the Whitewater hearings.
At the end of the latter panel, David and McFarlane signed a baseball and put it up for auction for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. My bidding topped out at about $100, and the ball went for a final price of $310. Pretty cool idea.
I just wish McFarlane had come off better than he did with his weak defenses on basic questions regarding the Gaiman lawsuit.
There's more to be talked about from the con, but I'll be sprinkling it in with the regular columns over the coming weeks. I've got plenty of material for review in the columns, and some of that will link nicely back.
More than 400 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, a horrifically coded piece of HTML work.