The Middle Ground #13: Once More Into The Breach, Dear Friends

So, it's Comic-Con this week. The kind of thing that, even if I wasn't going -- and, by the way, moderating a panel on Comic Publishing on Friday at 10am in Room 8, with newly promoted BOOM! Studios Editor-in-Chief Matt Gagnon, Dallas Middaugh from Del Rey Manga, Mark Siegel from First Second and Gary Groth from Fantagraphics. Come early to avoid disappointment -- I'd be able to tell was just a day away by the sheer amount of tension in the comics force over the last few days. Yes, Comic-Con may be fun to attend, see your favorite creators, watch some movie trailers and wait in lines for what seems like half of your life in order to stand at the back of a large hall where people you adore might possibly be right there at the other end, if only you could tell (Not that I'm bitter or anything, oh no), but it's also weirdly stressful for many people involved, as well.

I tell you this not as a Public Service Announcement - Although, people who're going to be there? Remember: Comics professionals are real people, just like you - Treat them with respect, kindness and remember that dangling food in front of their face while they're stuck behind a table for the seventh hour in a row will probably lead to physical violence that could delay the next issue of your favorite comic book - but as a lead-in to ask this: What's the point of Comic-Con?

No, really; I'm curious. I'm old and cynical and for me, Comic-Con is all work now (Well, and getting to see friends who're also there, working), and I've kind of forgotten everything else, all the fun stuff - Although there are moments when I get that thrill again; watching Jon J. Muth do speedy ink drawings a couple of years ago was breathtaking, all the moreso when I accidentally stepped into someone and, when I turned to apologize, it turned out to be Kent Williams and oh my God, it was Kent Williams - so I'm an entirely unreliable source, but I can't help but feel that I'm not alone in my weird malaise about SDCC this year. Numerous creators aren't attending, and Dark Horse Comics has even created something called "Not At Comic-Con" to celebrate the fact (Even though Dark Horse is at SDCC; don't ask); DC has been spilling out news and announcements this past week on their blog, blowing minds by seemingly announcing everything not at con, ceding the PR floor, it seems, to Marvel and whatever new Avengers book will be unveiled this year. Except, Marvelman aside, Marvel didn't really bring any massive announcements to Comic-Con last year, and maybe they'll take a similarly quiet tack this time around, and let their movie news shine, instead. Which means... what, exactly?

I don't know. I don't really believe this "Comic-Con isn't about comics anymore!" meme, even if the Big Two shift announcements elsewhen; there're plenty of other comic publishers and creators there, after all, and maybe this means that fans will find out about things that otherwise would've been drowned out in the chatter of new projects. Maybe no big DC news means that there'll be more space in minds and online for people to talk about what IDW are doing, or Oni, or Drawn and Quarterly or whoever. Maybe - and this might just be me being hopeful, naive and just a little insane with all the con-preparation that's already underway - this year's Comic-Con will end up being more about comics, the actual work and the medium and discovering new things and all that good stuff, and maybe that's what Comic-Con will end up being about after all, instead of hype and hoopla about comics that we've already read before under different names.

...Yeah, that's definitely a sign that I need to take a break before tomorrow night, looking back at it.

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