Don't be confused by the title, like every year, I didn’t attend SDCC. For all the normal reasons, good and bad --
it’s on the other side of the country, I’m especially broke at this moment in time, I’m super busy with some writing deadlines, I hate crowds and heat, yadda yadda yadda.
However, thinking about SDCC this year, I realized that I'm (pretty sure) it's now been 20 years since I went as a teenager, portfolio in hand (dreams of being a comic book artist – HA!)
Anyway, when you realize it’s been 20 years since just about anything it’s hard to ignore the seriously reflective thoughts that pop unbidden into your head (above and beyond the usual, which is of course...how is it possible I am that old???).
I think the thing I am most struck by, is that as I surfed all the comics and geek-leaning websites reading about all the SDCC news, there was precious little that excited me on the comics front this year. Last year I easily came up with a list of five cool things I was either super intrigued by or super excited about (things that were comics only specific - no movie, TV, games, merch or cosplay). This year, on the comics front? Not so much.
We’ve all been talking for years about how much SDCC has been moving away from even being a COMIC con at all. Thanks to its proximity to Los Angeles among other things it’s become a huge launch pad for film and television stuff. Much of it comics related, some not remotely related. And as a result, there’s less and less room for actual comics announcements. It’s progressively tougher for comics companies to roll out significant comics related announcements at SDCC every year, because you then have to compete in the news cycle with things like…The Hunger Games 2 Trailer (which looks AWESOME).
So why bother?
Well, I think the answer, given the lack of interesting (comics only) related news over the weekend, suggests they’re NOT bothering, and I don’t blame them. But it does kind of bum me out. When I went to SDCC 20 years ago it was a whole different animal, but it was definitely a COMICS animal first and foremost.
I guess the thing that bothers me is that I’m generally a proponent of bringing as many fans to the geek table as possible. I’m a huge advocate for diversity in comics, both because it’s more interesting and because I hope that diversity broadens our audience. Comics are such a fraction of other media that it’s made it tough to survive in this business (on either side of the equation, but especially the independent side) so more fans equals more money equals more people able to do comics for a living equals more great product for us to read. Seems simple enough.
But if the answer to bringing people into comics via other media is that they’re not going to actually become that interested in the comics medium but instead just shove comics out of the way to get to the latest movie premiere…well…then…that just sucks. I’m not saying that’s how it is, just how I sometimes feel. Then again, I did just come back from watching Only God Forgives, which though beautifully shot I found relentlessly depressing (despite the sublime presence of Ryan Gosling) so maybe I’m just in that kind of dark mood. But I’m definitely having nostalgic flashbacks to a simpler time when a SDCC could just be a big comic con. I wish there was a way to compromise, maybe keep one day for "comics only" type stuff, smaller crowds and a focus on what it was all about to begin with, and people uninterested in that stuff wouldn't have to buy passes that included that day...but that's a pipe dream...expanding the con would likely just make it an even bigger event.
On the other hand I have to admit that the stuff that DID excite me, was the movie stuff (and a few TV tidbits), so maybe it’s okay that things are evolving? I don’t really know. The aforementioned Hunger Games 2 Trailer blew me away – and this after not loving the first film. There were multiple moments of what I like to call “superhero chills” in that trailer – more moments in just the trailer than in all of Man of Steel combined, so that’s really exciting.
The Veronica Mars sneak preview was very cool. The actual trailer looked great, and the behind the scenes Kickstarter stuff and interview snippets were fantastic. It really kept the feeling of the Kickstarter itself – i.e. a great project brought forth through fan excitement and grassroots money raising. It really captured the awesome “viral-ness” that permeated the campaign – like getting to see the project his its goal from creator Rob Thomas’s computer.
A preview hasn’t showed up online yet, but just reading this write up from io9 on the X-Men Days of Future Past teaser has me pumped. I’m a big fan of Singer’s X-Men movies and I couldn’t hate Brett Ratner’s X-Men The Last Stand more if I tried (and trust me, I have tried). While there was a lot to like in X-Men First Class (Michael Fassbinder & James McEvoy, mostly) there was a ton I had a problem with (the portrayals of the female characters, the portrayals - and death - of the non-white characters, the worst costuming of a character of all time and not because Frost’s costume was revealing, but because it was ill-fitting and cheap looking as all get out) So, yeah, anything that makes an effort to wipe the slate clean of X3 and gets us back to a place where we’re getting new X-Men movies is excellent news, indeed!
I suppose I have to address the Superman/Batman stuff, but I don’t want to delve deep. The short version is I’m not too excited. Like any fan (Batman IS my favorite superhero of all time y’know) I would love to see the epic-ness of Bats and Supes on screen together. But as you all probably know by now, I REALLY don’t like the new Superman movie…so moving toward MoS with Z. Snyder at the helm and away from Nolan’s Batman movies leaves me pretty cold. Add to that the fact that they didn't even have any great casting announcements or vision - I mean it's basically just a movie idea that's been half cast...that's it? Similarly, the announcements about a planned Justice League movie is just too early for me to get excited. The fact that The Flash is poised to get a feature film before Wonder Woman is disgusting (no offense Flash). At the same time, the more distance between Diana and Z. Snyder the better so...I guess I'm looking at the silver lining there.
The Walking Dead S4 premiere looked solid. I’m still hesitant given the showrunner nonsense that continually seem to be going on, but it looked good, and I mean, at least Andrea is finally dead, that’s gotta make the new season at least 80% better, right?
Agents of SHIELD stuff still looks good and I'm excited, but I've honestly seen a lot of bits here and there already, so nothing seemed that mind blowing.
Image made some cool announcements, though nothing as flashy as what I felt like we’ve gotten over the last year. But again, that’s probably smart on their part, why let your announcements get buried under Batman/Superman announcements?
The Eisner Awards were filled with my favorites - which is always cool – from Saga and Hawkeye to Building Stories and Jeffrey Brown’s Darth Vadar’s Son. However, I was most blown away by the incredible win by Becky Cloonan in the Best Single Issue category. Cloonan absolutely deserved it as her book The Mire is fantastic, but I just floored to see her win an Eisner for something self-published. Not “indie publishing” but full on SELF PUBLISHED. It’s a brave new world, kids. VERY exciting.
The panel I most wish I could have attended? That’s easy! Gender in Comics!
Thing I most wished I could GET from SDCC? That's SUPER easy:
And if any of you got these and are willing to part with them - get in touch - I will find a way!
But that was about all that had me excited as I engaged remotely this weekend.
Strangely, as I find myself looking back at my first SDCC experience, I also find myself looking forward. There’s a chance I will be attending SDCC next year as it's possible my first graphic novel will be out by then (from Dark Horse) and there COULD be other cool things too. In fact, I was actually invited this year (not by SDCC) but by someone fantastic that wanted me on a panel and would have paid for my entry - wonderfully flattering. I had to decline due to my money concerns and writing deadlines, but I found myself wanting to go very much, despite the chaos (and heat). But it left me more curious than ever about what I will find there when I finally end up there again – in 2014 or beyond? Will it look anything like a Comic Con? Will it matter? Is there a way to get the best of both worlds here? Are other comic conventions headed the same direction?