Long delay between segments, a lot has been happening, including and interview with me about comics being picked up by the Daily Mail in the UK (which has several inaccuracies, including headlining that I read 115 comics per week, instead of per month) and subsequently it was also featured on CBR’s Robot6. Enough of that for now, though, back to this year’s “Comic Con International: San Diego”.
As I stated before, while many decry this con as “going Hollywood” I disagree. While there is a ton of Hollywood, Video games, celebrities, cosplayers, etc. CCI: San Diego still has the most pure comic book content of any convention out there. I was on a pretty much “Pure Comics” track in all the panels I attended and at any given time I had 2 or 3 different comics panels I had to choose between. Comic fans rejoice. If you can get into this con, it’s well worth it. Watch the ComicSpectrum site, I’ll definitely post on the news page when you need to start thinking about registration for next year.
Back to this year’s con report:
Saturday: This opened with a great panel on Remembering Joe Kubert. Mark Evanier moderated a conversation that included Sergio Aragonés, Paul Levitz, Russ Heath, and Tom Yeates. Neal Adams was supposed to be on the panel but never showed up, he was probably off somewhere signing $20 autographs. Audio of this panel can be found here.
I must say that Evanier has some of the best panels at the con, in my personal opinion. Seeing industry pros talk about their experiences and personal/professional relationships is so much more entertaining for me than going to a panel where we get a live press release that’s going to be on the web within 24 hours anyway. I will sometimes love to hear the press release stuff for things that are really in my personal wheelhouse (like IDW Artist’s Editions) but prefer hearing creators themselves talk about their creations instead of hearing the publishers/marketing guys talk about it. But again, that’s the beauty of San Diego Con, you can get all those kinds of panels and attend the one you like the most.
After Kubert I took a break and jumped down to the show floor. I wanted to see Bob Burden (creator of Flaming Carrot) who was buried all the way in the back left corner of the show floor. It was quite a challenge making my way over to his booth, especially since the cast of The Big Bang Theory was signing at the WB booth & they had a set of aisles blocked off for the event so I had to make a detail through some pretty massive crowds. This was not enough to deter me, I made my way to Burden and secured my goal of getting a Flaming Carrot sketch from him. Bob was “going large” this year, his sketches were a massive 13″ x 19″, here is the one I got, UT!
This year I skipped one of my favorite panels (Quick Draw) in favor of going to the Archie Comics panel. I had heard that they were handing out gift bags with $100 of Archie stuff at the panel and wanted to see how that was going to work out. I’m glad I attended, here’s a pic of the swag I walked away with:
But it’s really not the free stuff that made me happiest about attending the panel. I learned A LOT about Archie that had been totally off my “comics radar” for years. Archie Comics publisher/co-CEO Jon Goldwater, president Mike Pellerito, executive director of editorial Paul Kaminski, cartoonist Dan Parent (Kevin Keller), iVerse Media CEO Michael Murphey, and Gogii Games president George Donovan were there talking about Archie, and the panel was moderated by athe writer of the upcoming Archie movie & the series Afterlife with Archie, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Archie has been chugging along for 60+ years and are often ignored by comics fans. I read Archie’s as a kid and to this day will pick up an issue every now and again. I was genuinely surprised to learn about all the cool stuff they have going on to reach out to fans well beyond the profile of the people you will find in the Local Comic Shop. They have the new zombie series Afterlife with Archie (that I am personally looking forward to and will review on the site), the Archie mobile game, that has a free mode and is also something that can easily suck people in to buying little upgrades as they build their own little electronic Riverdale. There is also an upcoming Archie movie that was not on my radar at all. I’m going to be paying more attention to this low-key powerhouse in the world of comics…..
After the Archie panel I was off to Image Comics and the Genre Fiction Renaissance. Image is my #1 favorite publisher and it’s really this genre stuff that has cemented their position as my fave. The presmise of this panel was that in the golden age of comics we had lots of genres heavily represented on the newsstand (western, romance, war, fantasy, and horror) as opposed to the stranglehold super-heros have on comic shop rack space today. We got some great discussion on the new rise of genre comics and how they’re revitalizing comics. I know they are for me. We had Ed Brubaker (Fatale), Frank Barbiere (Five Ghosts), Tim Seeley&Mike Norton (Revival), Kurtis J. Wiebe (Peter Panzerfaust & the upcoming Rat Queens), and Ron Marz (Ravine). Excellent comics and an excellent panel.
Next up was Will Eisner and the Graphic Novel. A nice touch here was they had free copies of Eisner’s Contract With God GN (celebrating the 35th anniversary of it’s publication) laid out on all the seats for attendees so everyone would be able to sample for themselves what Eisner could do with sequential art. The panel was moderated by Paul Levitz (former DC Publisher & comics writer) he was joined by Comics legends Neil Gaiman (Sandman), Scott McCloud (Understanding Comics), Jeff Smith (Bone), Denis Kitchen (Kitchen Sink Publishing) as they discussed Will Eisner’s pivotal role in the American graphic novel as creator and evangelist. Hearing these phenomenal creators talk about the influence Eisner had on their work was a true treat, and also drive home exactly why the “Academy Awards of Comics” are named after him.
Back across the convention center (upstairs) after the Eisner panel was over to attend Spotlight on Gerry Conway: Secrets Behind the Death of Gwen Stacy. Another fabulous panel, the audio for this panel can be accessed here. Many of the highlights in text format can be found here.
Next up was one of my favorite panels at SDCC, Scott Shaw! Oddball Comics. Unfortunately Scott has an ancient Mac computer & forgot his power cord so the show was derailed for a while. Ultimately his son, Kirby was able to get an internet connection on a borrowed computer and access the Oddball Comics Facebook Page. I’ve seen all the stuff on the Facebook page, so we cut out early and hopped over to That 70’s Panel. Here we got to hear about my own personal golden age of comics (when I started reading comics) the 1970s from people who were there: Martin Pasko (Superman, Swamp Thing), Tony Isabella (Black Lightning, The Champions), Val Mayerik (Man-Thing, Howard the Duck), Elliott S! Maggin (Superman, Green Arrow), George Pérez (Teen Titans, Justice League), and moderator Mark Evanier (Groo the Wanderer, Blackhawk). Audio for this panel is here. That was it for panels on Saturday, we decided to hit the show floor for some shopping…..
I believe Tony snapped this shot of me & Trev riding down the escalator to the floor for a bout of conspicuous consumption……
I picked up my Kickstarter Carbon Sketchbook HC from Flesk/Mark Schultz and then we went shopping for some Original Art. Trev snagged a very nice George Perez page from the New Teen Titans. I got a painted Dan Brereton pinup from The Nocturnals of Starfish & Polychrome. And as a tip, don’t be afraid to haggle on price at a con (I’ll do this with dealers but tend not to when dealing directly with the artist), the worst the vendor can do is tell you “no”. I got $50 off the initial asking price on this.
We had dinner across the street from the Hyatt at Kansas City Barbeque and were joined by ComicSpectrum reviewer Al Sparrow & his lovely wife who was also the SDCC internet sensation “Sharknado Girl”:
We capped off the evening at our annual “Drink & Swap” event that we normally do in the bar area of one of the con hotels but this year Trev & Scott were upgraded to a suite a the Hyatt so we did it in their suite, which was SWEET!
I was trying to down-size this year, so I brought a LOT of stuff to give away and aimed to come away with less than I brought. I succeeded, I got rid of about 20 TPBs that I also had the single issues of (and were thus duplicates) and I took away the following:
Bob Bretall: firstname.lastname@example.org
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