2013 marked my 23rd straight year attending what used to be the “San Diego Comic Con” and is now branded as “Comic Con International: San Diego”.
Tony Isabella, on his Spotlight panel, made a very true statement. He said something to the effect of:
There’s something wrong with anyone who cannot have a great time at ComicCon. There are about 20 different cons going on. There’s something for everyone.
This is true. As much as people like to complain about the crowds & Hollywood/video games taking over con, there is still more comic-book content crammed into the 4 days (5 with Previews night) of ComicCon than you’re likely to find anywhere else in this concentration.
I had a very comic-book Con this year. On Wednesday night I went around & bought stuff, some of which (like a silver “Q” pin for the Quantum organization in the James Bond films) had nothing to do with comics. I also picked up the limited “Desolation of Smaug” T-shirt from Weta & the James T. Kirk “ComicKhaaan! 2013” T-Shirt, as well as a 2014 fantasy art calendar by (& autographed by) Boris Vallejo & Julie Bell.
Others items, like the Hero Initiative exclusive cover for the 43rd Overstreet Price Guide, with Katchoo & Francine from Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise as Zatanna & Wonder Woman, were quintessentially comics-oriented.
I had planned to hit a lot of panels this year, and I succeeded. I didn’t hit everything I had initially planned to got to, but I went to a LOT of panels. Also, for the first time I didn’t even attempt to walk up & down every aisle of the main show floor. I pre-planned specific things, people and booths I wanted to see and when I took some time down on the floor I tried to visit things I had specifically planned for.
Thursday I started out on the floor for a while & then hit the “Superman: The Julie Schwartz Era” panel with Gerry Conway, Martin Pasko, Marv Wolfman, Elliot S! Maggin, and moderator Mark Evanier. Lots of great discussion about the Superman books in the 1970s under the direction of one of comics great editors, Julie Schwartz. I went from there to a panel I like to attend every year “The Sergio and Mark Show” with Sergio Aragones, Mark Evanier & Stan Sakai giving an update on what they’re been up to and generally being very entertaining. They revealed that the long awaited Groo vs. Conan comic will be done “Rashomon” style, which makes a lot of sense.
From there it was on to the “IDW: Focus on Artist’s Editions” where we got the sccop on all the latest IDW Artist’s Editions, which are treasures of the industry, preserving & presenting Original Art by masters in the field. I posted a full report on what’s coming here. I won an “Original Art” edition of J Scott Campbell’s 2014 Fairytale Fantasies Calendar by knowing that Walter Simonson worked on the Jurassic Park comics published by Topps in the 1990s. After that I hit the floor for a while & talked to Nate Powell at the Top Shelf booth. I got my HCs of Any Empire and Swallow Me Whole autographed, I also picked up one of the few remaining limited edition HCs of the new March HC, about the “Bloody Sunday” civil rights march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act, autographed by Rep. John Lewis, Nate Powell, and Andrew Aydin. Then it was back to the “Vertigo: Defy” panel and from there we cut out for a wonderful dinner at La Peurta in the Gaslamp before heading off to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund party at the Westgate Hotel where we got to hob-nob with friends and industry professionals.
Next up: Friday. I started at the “Spotlight on Tony Isabella” panel, hosted by Mark Evanier, where I got the quote I started off this blog post with. After that a quick trip down to the show floor where I talked to Jim Balent & picked up the last year’s worth of my “guilty pleasure” comic “Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose” and also had an opportunity to meet Reed Waller, creator of the ground breaking adult comic series “Omaha the Cat Dancer” that I discovered back in the 1980s when I was in college. I also chatted with Matt Kind & had him autograph my HCs of “3 Story” and “Red Handed“. He asked me if I wanted to see something cool and proceeded to pull out a cigarette lighter and burn one of the pages in “Red Handed” to show me how he had the art on one page match up with that on the previous page. Kind of cool to have a book personally burned by the creator:
Back to the panels: Image’s “Rocket Ships, Laser Guns, and Dystopias” panel with Nick Dragotta (East of West), Joe Harris (Great Pacific), Amy Reeder (Rocket Girl), Brandon Montclare (Think Tank), and Matt Hawkins (Aphrodite IX). Some great talk about Sci-Fi genre comics from Image. After that I took another break on the floor and hit the Oni Press booth where I talked to (& got HCs signed by) Ted Naifeh (Courtney Crumrin) and Chris Schweizer (Crogan Adventures). Chris was doing some wonderful watercolor sketches in all the books for his fans (for free!), here’s what he did for me:
Next up was the “Remembering Carmine Infantino” panel, where we had guys like Paul Levitz, Elliott S! Maggin & Martin Pasko cluing us in on how Carmine transformed DC comics. From there to the “IDW: The Panel to End All Panels” where we got announcements & talk on stuff like Walter Simonson’s Ragnarok, Little Nemo Return to Slumberland written by Eric Shanower & art by Gabriel Rodriguez, the 4th Darwyn Cooke Parker GN “Slayground”, Dave Sim’s “Strange Death of Alex Raymond” coming as an 18 issue series, and more. After that I attended “A Celebration of Walt Kelly’s 100th Birthday” hosted by Mark Evanier and featuring Jeff Smith (Bone), Paul Dini (Batman), comic historian R. C. Harvey, & Maggie Thompson (ComicBuyer’sGuide). Some great insights into this master comics creator of Pogo who I only discovered a few years ago. Late to the Pogo party, but I know good stuff when I see it.
For Friday evening, thanks to Trevor Pearson for the introduction and Conan Saunders from the excellent MyComicShop.com (major sponsor of the awards this year), I was invited to sit at one of the VIP tables for the 25th Annual Eisner Awards (full results are here). This was an excellent ceremony, the pacing was good, lots of celebrity presenters (including Edward James Olmos, John Barrowman, James Marsters) helping celebrate excellence in comics. A few pictures from our table:
Don Rosa accepting his “Bill Finger Excellence in Comic Writing” Award.
Chris Samnee accepting award for Best Penciller/Inker from Chris Hardwick (Nerdist.com)
Neil Gaiman & Jonathan Ross cutting up before presenting their awards.
And that was only until Friday evening! I’m going to need to break this up & do Saturday/Sunday in another Blog entry…
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