THE SIGHTS OF THE SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON
Everything always happens at the last possible minute. No matter how much you plan for something, it won't get done until the bell sounds. This column usually gets done the night before it sees print, for example. Try as I might, I just can't get up the energy or the will to complete it a few days in advance, unless I absolutely need to.
Such is the case with the San Diego Comic-Con as well. As Sunday was wrapping up, I still had a list of three people I wanted to meet over the weekend. In passing by the Marvel booth, I caught my first fish: Marvel p.r. guy Bill Rosemann. The Marvel booth was just starting to clean itself up and get everything stowed away, so I walked in to the mostly-empty set-up and introduced myself. We had a nice little chat. But I was still sorry that there were two other people I hadn't had the chance to talk to over the weekend -- Joe Quesada and Olav Beemer. Quesada had done a couple of panels and a couple of signings, but the lines were too long to be bothered with. And ace-letterhack Olav was just nowhere to be found. Of course, as luck would have it, both walked into the Marvel booth in the next five minutes. All of a sudden, I had to have three different conversations at the same time. Very strange.
But I can at least use this as an opportunity to show my picture with Joe Q. and tell you about something else exciting that happened to me just Wendesday night. I bought the DAREDEVIL VISIONARIES hardcover from the Graphitti Designs booth at the con on Saturday. If you're not familiar with it, not only does it collect the entirety of Kevin Smith's run on the title (along with Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti), but it also comes with a CD-ROM that includes a treasure trove of materials. It has original scripts, Smith's original proposal (along with Quesada's notes on same, with an assist from Chris Claremont), original penciled pages, the ½ issue, lots of photo reference that Quesada took, and more. The capper is the two hours of audio commentary offered by Smith/Quesada/Palmiotti, as they page through the book one issue at a time. Graphitti did an excellent job in packaging this all together, putting graphics to specific subjects, including plenty of visual materials, and choosing some interesting sound bites. Even though they bleeped out most of it, there's enough questionable stuff in it that I'd rate the disc PG-13. (Some parts are probably a solid R. I'd love to tell you which parts, but I'm keeping this family-friendly.) This whole presentation is an excellent idea for certain titles. I can't imagine something like this being done for a collection of the latest TRANSMETROPOLITAN issues, for example, although maybe for the first book it wouldn't be too bad. With an 'event' title like this, though, it's fascinating. (As much as I'd love to have a similar WATCHMEN edition, I don't know if I could parse through Alan Moore's thick accent enough to understand it. =)
If you have the book, though, put the CD in the drive and go to the fifth book section, and listen to the opening segment of audio. You'll see a picture on the screen of Quesada's Dr. Strange, and the opening two page spread from McFarlane's SPIDER-MAN #1. Smith goes on to talk about how a reviewer had discussed how cool Quesada's art looked in that issue and how nobody does "cool" art anymore. The kicker for this is that I'm fairly certain he's referring to my review of the book! What a neat little kick that was.
I didn't buy a single book from the dealer's room. In fact, I don't think I bought a single thing from that half of the con. Everything I bought came from the creators, themselves, or their company. I got the FRANK CHO ILLUSTRATED from Frank Cho's table where he autographed it with a little head sketch of a Liberty Meadows character. I bought MUTANT ALIENS directly from Bill Plympton at his table. I got a ton of Mike McKone's original art -- both SUPERMAN and VEXT -- from McKone himself. etc. etc.
Anyway, accompanying this should be a picture of the stack of books I did pick up this year. Expect reviews of most of that material over the coming weeks. I have to find time to fit in the usual weekly reviews first. =)
One thing's for certain -- I shouldn't need to buy much in Chicago next week! =)
I first discovered MAYBERRY MELONPOOL at the convention last year. It's a wonderful daily internet comic strip, easily accessibly on the web at melonpool.com. This was the first table I saw at the convention this year that I gushed over. When I saw that a second compilation book had come out in as many years, I whipped out my wallet as fast as I could. The puppet you see here is the one that actually took my money. Yes, the con can be both fun and surreal.
Here's a view from the con floor. I was walking through there, just above the Marvel booth, when I realized what a neat piece of symmetry and perspective you got looking down the aisle there. You can look and be amazed at the overhead shots all you like, but this is what it's really like at floor level. This picture was taken on Sunday morning. The crowd has about as thin as it got that weekend. If it were taken on Saturday, you'd have easily twice as many people on floor level. It's amazing they all fit in.
I should congratulate the security force and the con organizers for putting this all together this year with little incident. Despite an overwhelming crush of people, things managed to move along quite nicely. I didn't observe any odd incidents going on, except for the security guards moving people along who sat down in the hallway upstairs. For a con that could easily become a madhouse, this thing is about as well run as I could imagine it would be. Keep up the good work, con organizers!
Like I said earlier, I bought a bunch of art pages from Mike McKone, who was in America for his first time for this convention. I've met Mark McKenna on a couple of occasions before at New York City conventions. They're both really nice guys. I mean, they'd have to be to voluntarily pose like this with the infamous CBR antennae balls.
You may remember last year that Steve Lieber was the first to draw in my sketchbook. He did a gorgeous illustration of Carrie Stetko from the first WHITEOUT series out on the ice at the South Pole. That inspired me to theme my sketchbook to ask for creators to draw their creations in the snow, or at the South Pole. Most of them have done so without any difficulty. A couple I've let gleefully slide. (When Scott Shaw! agreed to do an Augie Doggie, for example, I wasn't about to put any restrictions on him. I wanted a straight on Augie for my book. How cool is that?)
Here you can see Mike Wieringo drawing Rikk from TELLOS in my sketchbook. He went out of his way to draw Rikk buried head deep in the snow, with a little piece of twig sticking out on one side and a bird perched atop the snow on the other. (Not to be outdone, Todd Dezago drew his dog, Jake, pawing at the falling snow. Then Chris Eliopoulos drew Kennedy, the drunken 3-toed sloth, staring in anticipation of a Saint Bernard and his keg of alcohol… McKone threw in The Thing in front of an igloo, sipping on an ice tea.)
[This also might be a good spot to mention one correction: Lieber and Greg Rucka won for best mini-series at the Eisners for WHITEOUT: MELT, not reprint graphic novel. That's what happens when you write columns way past your bedtime.]
The con is located in a scenic spot just on the water. There's a full marina behind the con center. In fact, you can go out the back door and sit on the patio and look over the water as you have your $3 slice of pizza that is about the size of a VHS videotape, at best.
The shot you see here is out of the window of the CBR San Diego HQ.
IN THE PIPELINE FOR NEXT WEEK
Next Friday's Pipeline2 will be some final words on the San Diego Con. I haven't talked about the Eisner Awards yet, or some of the panels. For the rest of Pipeline: San Diego, take a look out here:
Tuesday's Pipeline Commentary and Review will feature all the usual reviews and news of the week you'd like to see discussed, plus a look at my intended Chicago schedule, for those of you who might want to stop up and say hello.