Taking the con at a more relaxed pace is a great way to get more done. I had a full night's sleep, didn't rush to the con, and left early. It was a great day.
The fanboy funk, though, is getting overwhelming. I wish I could bottle it up and transmit it on-line for all of you to smell. It's horrible. And there are certain sections of the con that are so busy all day that it never goes away. Where you get to the dealers area, the space opens up a bit and it almost feels like there's a cool breeze blowing. It's a breath of fresh air. I also took a couple of walks into the lobby outside the halls, just to get away from it all.
Randy Bowen's booth was the subject of today's longest line. I have no idea what their exclusive was this morning, but the line stretched back seven aisles. Each aisle is about 30 feet, and the line stood about three people across on average. Insanity.
Exhibitors and retailers are starting to run out of things already. I picked up my convention t-shirt this afternoon. The woman running the booth said that she didn't know how much longer the shirts were going to last this year, and that certain sizes might be sold out by the end of Friday.
I'm beginning to think an attendance figure of 100,000 is almost too conservative.
I found Pete and Rebecca Woods in Artists Alley and bought far too much art. Wood's ROBIN art is gorgeous stuff. It actually reminds me of a slightly cartoonier version of Alan Davis' work, in a way. If you're at the convention, be sure to stop by his table to take some art off his hands. It's beautiful, it's very reasonably priced, and they don't want to bring it all back to Portland with them. Don't do it for yourself; do it for the safety of the airliner carrying it all back.
Also had the chance to chat with Steve Lieber and Batman letterhack Sarah Beach. Lieber and I reminisced specifically about the golden age of USENET comics activity, his new COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO GRAPHIC NOVELS, and FAMILY REUNION, which will be reviewed in this space on Tuesday.
Picked up a couple of GROO trades from Sergio Aragones, who did little Groo sketches in each book as he signed them. The man is amazing. While I was there, he demonstrated to someone else at the table how his self-portrait has changed over the years. He effortlessly breezed through six sketches of his changing hairline and moustache, before going back to add a strong arm to one face and a fat belly to the last. The man can't help but be a brilliant cartoonist.
The Storm Troopers were very quiet today, replaced by more LORD OF THE RINGS-type costumes and general RenFair types. There's something disturbing about hearing the rhythmic pounding of a group of chainmail-clad warriors walking down the center hall. The surround sound options on my LOTR DVDs do, however, accurately depict the sound.
I made it to only a couple of panels today, and then only after I grew tired of walking in circles on the con floor. I caught the last half hour of Brad Meltzer, Judd Winnick, and Geoff Johns together, talking about being fans turned professionals. They're a lot of fun to listen to. It's obvious that they're friends outside of the convention, and they kept the discussion light and lively.
Meltzer did, however, miss the point about some of the negative reaction to IDENTITY CRISIS. When asked about the series, he said that he believed it was right and proper for comic books to tackle more mature topics, such as rape. I don't think too many people disagree with that. I think people are more upset that DC's big company-wide crossover is featuring such adult material. Is Elongated Man and his wife really the right pair of comic book characters to feature a rape scene with?
The next panel was the Marvel Heroes/Avengers Disassembled Panel, featuring a large number of people. You can read Arune Singh's writeup of the panel here, but I have some of the sillier quotes for you:
When the FANTASTIC FOUR slide came up on the screen, Mark Waid proclaimed, "I still have a job. Yay!"
Joe Quesada referred to Robert Kirkman as Tom Breevort's illegitimate son. The resemblance is scary.
Ed Brubaker discussed his love of Captain America: "It was my favorite comic as a kid. I'm an Englehardt kid." Wait for applause. "I'm so old only 8 people clapped [at that]."
When Brubaker mentioned that he didn't read any of Mark Gruenwald's run on the series, Mark Waid audibly coughed/choked. Brubaker retorted, "Is that CapWolf in your throat?" Even Quesada had a hard time composing himself after that.
One fan's question included the statement, "I was a big fan of Chuck Austen's run [on AVENGERS]," to which Breevort asked, "Where were you on-line?"
I'm not sure what to take away from that. Lesson #1: There are more comic fans than those who are on-line, and that often we are speaking only to ourselves. Or, Lesson #2: Hey, Breevort does listen to us. Yay.
Spoke briefly to Brian Bendis after the panel, who made reference to my "lettering fetish." Ironically, I had to hold myself back from asking Kirkman during the panel if Marvel would let him letter any of his own books. Somehow, we also got to reminiscing about prior days of comics reviewing on the web. That seems to be a recurring theme this year. As the con explodes into a Hollywood convention, we all yearn for simpler times. Yeah, that's my explanation. I'll stick to that. Sure.
I cut out of the con an hour before it closed and headed out to dinner. The Spaghetti Factory, a decent and affordable Italian restaurant just a block from the convention hall, had a 45 minute to an hour wait already by 6:15. We ended up a few blocks further up at Moose McGillicuddy's, which I departed soon after the DJ started spinning tunes at an alarmingly loud level.
After dinner, we headed over to the Hyatt at the far end of the convention center for the Comic Book Idol drink-up, attended by CBI2 contestant John Rubio, CBI2 winner Carlos Rodriguez, and CBI1's winner Patrick Scherberger. J. Torres and Jonah Weiland were also there, along with CBI moderator Brandon Hanvey. We'll be hearing more out of the contestants at the convention on Sunday during the COMIC BOOK IDOL panel. ::hint hint::
Also talked to Erik Larsen there for a bit, mostly about the most recent SAVAGE DRAGON issue and other fun from the top of Image Comics.
On the walk back to the hotel tonight, I recognized another half dozen people, but was too tired to start up conversations while we were all heading off in different directions. That's just part of the magic of San Diego.
This is the first time in the six years I've been coming here that I didn't attend The Eisners. In a way, I do miss it. Not attending, though, means packing a lot less, since I won't need to change into semi-formal garb for one night of the con. And the nice informal dinner and drinks amongst new friends was enjoyable. I'll see who won tomorrow when I get to the con floor and see people posting signs at their booths, "Buy my book! I won an Eisner!"
Tomorrow is con madness. I'll be attending the WildStorm panel tomorrow morning at 10:30. I hear it'll be a real corker. That's followed by the Quick Draw! and cartoon voices panel, both hosted by Mark Evanier. Marvel's Cup Of Joe panel is later in the afternoon. I might even spend a couple hours on the con floor.
Finally, the Dibny-As-Verb Update: I'm hearing reports from around the con today that my new usage of "Dibny" is catching on already. There's talk of a t-shirt. I don't know whether to be proud or frightened.