WonderCon | Thoughts on Day Three

Day three at WonderCon was much shorter for me, as I covered two panels for the main CBR site, walked the floor a little bit to say goodbye to some folks and then headed home.

• I did talk to one retailer and one publisher on Sunday. The retailer said that by midday Saturday, he had made as much money as he had during the entire 2008 WonderCon. Everything else was gravy. The publisher was too busy selling books to really talk to me too long, but sales were good for them. As far as crowds go, Sunday did feel a little lighter than Saturday when I got there, but when I hit the floor after my panels it had really picked up. And Matt Maxwell, whose Strangeways we're currently syndicating right here on Robot 6, said he sold more books Saturday "than on entire weekends at other shows."

Mark Evanier talked to a few dealers on Friday:

...a couple of dealers I talked with said that for the first time in many years, they're seeing a noticeable dip in prices. It's not so much on the real rare, high-end comics or artwork but the bad economic news seems to be prompting a downturn in, as one of them put it, "the kind of merchandise that the guy across the aisle is also carrying." I didn't poll the whole room or even a huge sample...but that's what some were saying.

• In general, there were lots of people dressed as Rorschach and Silk Spectre, but I don't recall seeing anyone dressed as Dr. Manhattan at the con.

• On Saturday I posted a tweet from SLG's Twitter feed, which said: "The Word from WonderCon: BUSY. We exist now in a realm where the economic realities do not exist. They will once we leave, though." Dan Vado, SLG's owner and publisher, spoke at length about those economic realities during the SLG panel Sunday. You can read my report, but there's one thing Dan said that really stuck with me after the panel:

“I’ve done this for 23 years,” Vado said. “I can’t say we’ll make it to the end of 2009. And that’s shocking to say because I’ve lived through a lot of crap.”

That's a pretty scary thing to read, that the company that's brought us Rex Libris and Johnny the Homicidal Maniac and Zombies Calling and Milk & Cheese and Midnight Sun and Street Angel and Halo & Sprocket and countless other titles is worried about their survival. SLG's been around for more than 25 years, surviving the black & white bust and the 1990s bust, among other things.

But beyond that segment about Diamond and the economy, the SLG panel was ... well, I don't know how to describe it. I've been to several SLG panels over the last few years, and Dan Vado knows how to talk about a comic and make you want to check it out. He doesn't need to read from a script as he talks about upcoming titles like Captain Blood or this week's Strongman; he markets the title by talking about what he likes about them and what made him want to publish them.

And it's fun to listen to him describe why the art in Strongman works so well or why the Captain Blood comic will look like its printed on parchment or how SLG was the only company that could make the Wonderland comic work. (Speaking of which, Dan said he did have plans for a whole line of classic Disney comics geared around "what came next," sort of like they did with Wonderland, which would not only draw from the films but also from the original source material ... which of course we'll never see now).

So that preceded his comments about Diamond, which he went into because someone asked him for his thoughts. And after he was done talking about Diamond, he showed us a couple of videos they made at the SLG warehouse, due to all the "free time" they have because the economy is down. One of which featured some of SLG's employees using a pallet lifter as a scooter, and skating through the warehouse and out the door until they finally ran into a parked car. Another showed Dan and some employees taking a PC out into the parking lot and executing it (this one included an ode to Christian Bale's recent rants; check it out here).

So I'm not sure if I can really adequately describe the panel. It was one part uplifting marketing presentation, one part depressing but realistic evening news segment on the economy, with a little bit of MTV's Jackass thrown in for good measure. I almost feel like I should have written multiple reports on the panel, as my current one seems a bit disjointed to me.

In any event, I hope this isn't the last year we see books by SLG; to steal a word from Dan, that would "suck."

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