Monday, July 13, 2015

Comic-Con 2015, Brian 0

The streets around Comic-Con from high in the Convention Center. If that doesn't look like a good time to you, don't bother coming. I'm ambivalent. I do like the Muppety light-rail train. The whole city of San Diego gets into the spirit.

I've used the joke in that title before, but it's been a few years.

I'm home from Comic-Con in one piece. Interesting visit. The Con continues to evolve in just the decade I've been attending off and on, I can't even imagine what it's like for the old-timers. Probably sad. But I took my daughters along and had a terrific time despite not winning an Eisner Award for Best Digital/Web Comic.

Talking with Robin and Laura afterward, I realized that my favorite thing about Comic-Con is simply the people--seeing friends and maybe making a few new ones. I had at least brief conversations with Dave Roman and Raina Telgemeier, Richard and Wendy Pini, Scott McCloud, Dave Kellett, Tom Richmond, Otis Frampton, Calvin Reid, Rick Geary, Andrew Farago, Brent Anderson and his family, Chris Sparks, Tom Racine, Lucas Turnbloom, Ces Marciuliano, Karen Green, Stephan Pastis, Shena Wolf from Abrams-related people Charlie and Rachel Kochman, Chad Beckerman, Eric Himmel, Chip Kidd. New people Katie Cook, Cece Bell (a real sweetheart), Becky Cloonan and Paul Tobin. I don't expect you to know who all those people are, but some of you will know some of them.

That's not a complete list, it's just off the top of my head. I only learned some friends were at Comic-Con after I'd left.

My girls and I agreed that the frustration of Comic-Con is that even if you're there you're missing it. There's too much going on, and the stuff that makes the news is inaccessible to most. For example, the cast of "Star Wars" was in the same building we were, but if we'd wanted to see them we'd have had to camp out overnight to get into the room. They might as well have been on Tatooine. We'd drag back to our hotel room after a day at Comic-Con and then check Facebook to find out what had happened at Comic-Con.

Here's some of what I saw. Links take you to people's websites and such.

In our hotel lobby even before we got to Comic-Con, I saw these two guys helping each other into their costumes. They're the Marvel superhero Daredevil (in red) and his arch-enemy Bullseye, but these guys were taping up each other's boots and tucking each others hair into their masks almost as if they weren't deadly foes. I knew I was in the right place.
I liked pretend Batman posing in front of real Batman. Except the pretend Batman was a real man and the real Batman was a fake man and then I blew my mind, man.
Had a nice chat with Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy, Teen Boat, Star Bunny) and bought a Star Bunny comic from him. His wife Raina Telgemeier (giant bestsellers Smile, Sisters, Drama) was elsewhere then but we caught up later.
With my friends Rachel and Charlie Kochman (my editor) at my publisher Abrams' booth. That's Abrams Creative Director Chad W. Beckerman lurking in the back. Chad took the lead in designing the paperback cover for Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow.
Galactus, devourer of worlds and aisle space.
My close personal friend Stan Lee, snapped faster than the "Sir! No Pictures!" cops surrounding him could shoo me off.
Friday afternoon with Tom Racine and Chris Sparks. Tom's "Tall Tales Radio" is the best comics podcast in the business (he's had me on a couple of times), and Tom hosts a "Drink and Draw" drop-in event for cartoonists to have a beer and draw funny pictures. Chris is the mastermind behind "Team Cul de Sac," which raises money for Parkinson's Disease. A few hours after this photo was shot, he also picked up Richard Thompson's well-deserved Eisner Award for The Complete Cul de Sac collection.
Still at the "Drink and Draw," Tom with Ces Marciuliano (left). Ces writes the "Sally Forth" comic strip and has put out a successful run of books about cats, poetry and pee. This photo was taken after I'd tried to take three others that all looked bad because one or the other was making an odd expression or stuffing something into his mouth. I said, "You two guys just cannot take a good picture!" and they did this and I snapped it.

Laura and Robin and me before the Eisner Awards. We clean up OK.
Then this happened.

Saturday was a new day.

While my girls slept in Saturday morning, I took a walk along the waterfront. At 8 a.m., two hours before the convention opened, I found a line at least a quarter mile long (literally!) of people waiting for a chance to buy Con-exclusive Legos. These people all got up before dawn. For Legos. 
A little farther down the path I found all these Penguins from the TV series "Gotham" lined up and urging joggers and cyclists to go through for high-fives. Many did. It was silly and fun.
Same walk: stumbled across Andrew Farago from San Francisco's Cartoon Art Museum and Chris Sparks getting a morning coffee. I joined them for a while. Later this day, Andrew was awarded the convention's Inkpot Award for services to comics above and beyond the call of duty. He deserved it (and was dumbfounded when he received it).
A hotel concierge in the spirit. Many of the hotel and restaurant staff around the city wore superhero t-shirts and such to support the cause. I think San Diego really loves Comic-Con (and the business it brings) in a way that other cities wouldn't or couldn't.
I knew Wendy and Richard Pini were doing an Elfquest booksigning at the Dark Horse booth at 11 o'clock, so I began circling the booth around 10:45 to catch them. My stalking paid off. In addition to just saying hi to two of the nicest and most accomplished people in comics, I had an important favor to ask of Richard. Someday I'll tell you about it, but he said "Yes." 
Raina and Dave. She won an Eisner Award this year for Best Writer/Artist. In fact, it's sitting on the table right in front of her.
More of the madding crowd outside. There were a lot of religious protesters out trying to save souls this year. There were also counter-protesters professing their faith in Thor, as well as some pretend-protesters who looked like protesters but were just trying to drum up interest in new TV shows. Sometimes it was very hard to keep all the street theater straight.
This original art from pal Dave Kellett's comic strip "Sheldon" will soon grace my office wall.
Scott McCloud and his wife Ivy. I had a nice talk with Scott about the diversification of comics in terms of sex, age, and publishers represented in the Eisner Awards. Although as two middle-aged white guys we both admit to our self-interest in the old status quo, we're both happy to see work by new, young, often female creators get recognized over the same old Marvel and DC stuff that might have dominated in the past.
Ace caricaturist, MAD Magazine cartoonist, and swell fella Tom Richmond.
From the ABC-TV and Marvel television series "Agent Carter," circled in green are my close personal friends James D'Arcy (Jarvis) and Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter). This is as near as I could get because about 2000 of their other closest personal friends were between us.
Nickelodeon always puts up one of the most colorful, spectacular booths in the hall.
One of the things folks do at conventions is cosplayer gatherings, where people who dress in costumes with common themes--all from the same TV show, video game, or comics company--get together at a particular time for a group photo. These are people cosplaying as DC Comics characters . . .
. . . and these are people taking pictures of the people cosplaying as DC Comics characters.
The Abrams ComicArts panel, presenting Abrams' comics-related works for the coming year. Designer/writer/editor Chip Kidd is at the podium, with my editor Charlie Kochman, and Chad Beckerman giving me the stink-eye. They've got some genuinely great books coming up.

Before flying home Sunday, my girls and I toured the USS Midway Museum. The Midway is a decommissioned aircraft carrier that floats right where all the San Diego tourists can see it, and draws a million visitors per year. Friends and long-time readers may recall that my daughter Laura is on the staff of the USS Hornet Museum in Alameda. The Hornet is (in my opinion) an even more interesting and historic decommissioned aircraft carrier stuck in a hard-to-find place far from casual tourist traffic. We all wanted to see how the rich relations to the south ran their ship.

What I'm really saying is we were on an intelligence-gathering spy mission.

Lunch with Robin and Laura and a Coke. Coca-Cola's doing this thing now where they put names or cute words on their labels. Totally at random and against great odds, the Midway cafe's clerk handed me a Coke with my own name on it. Surely it was a sign. Of something. Haven't figured out what yet.
Selfie on the flight deck. Although I'm honor-bound to express nothing but contempt for the Midway (my loyalties remain with the Hornet), I've got to admit they put on a pretty good tour. Worth a stop if you're in the neighborhood.

This was a good and worthwhile trip for me. I talked to some folks, did some business, had some fun. As far as a pure comics convention goes, San Diego Comic-Con's not my favorite experience. But as a place where everyone in the business you'd want to see and talk to gets together once a year, it can't be beaten.


Mike Peterson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mike Peterson said...

You realize, of course, that the Coke bottle was your Karmic Miracle for the year. I might have saved it up for something else, but you were probably really thirsty, I guess.

Anonymous said...

As far back as you were sitting at the awards, you should have known you weren't going to win!

Brian Fies said...

Mike, you're right of course, but what does it MEAN?! The currents of life sometimes offer clear momentary glimpses at deeper mysteries.

Anonymous, I did have two seats at a VIP table closer to the stage. But they could only give me two seats and we were a party of four, and I'd much rather stay together in the cheap seats than split up to get a better view. Plus we still all got to hit the buffet. We did fine!

Richard Pini said...

You bet your sweet yes I said that. I'm shivering with antici ... pation!