For a lot of people, Comic Con International: San Diego (know by many as San Diego Comic-Con, or simply SDCC) is all about getting stuff. Free stuff. Exclusive stuff. Or just cool stuff that catches your eye. The show floor is HUGE, several city blocks long.
This was my 29th year at the convention, I started going in 1990, the year before they moved to the current convention center. I’ve watched the show grow until it has become the gigantic 20-conventions-in-one that it is today, consuming not only the convention center, but most nearby hotels and downtown San Diego as well.
I’ve said before that no two people have the exact same convention experience at SDCC, it can be customized in so many ways to focus exclusively in a number of areas (comics, films, TV, animation, video games, the creative process, cosplay, sci-fi, among others) or a mixture of any of the offerings. For me, I like to spend most of the show up in the panel rooms watching things that are primarily comic book and creator based (more on that in future Blog entries). I consciously avoid “walking the floor” during the convention… EXCEPT on Wedsnesay’s “Preview Night”, when I try to squeeze in the majority of the purchases that I have my eye on from doing a bit of pre-convention research on the comic con website.
This Blog is all about showing off “stuff I got” at the convention, a lot of it on Preview night.
The first thing that caught my eye was a DVD about Jack Kirby. A fan production, filmed by a guy who was invited to visit Jack (who was famous for opening up his home and hospitality to his fans) back in 1983. The DVD came with a set of postcards and was my 1st score of the evening.
On the way from the booth with the Kirby videos to my next stop, a metal lunchbox sporting one of my favorite comic book covers of all time caught my eye, and only $10! A refugee from a convention across the country, but I wasn’t fussy… and into my bag it went!
Next stop was the TwoMorrows booth. They are purveyors of many fine publications about comics history, the comic books themselves, the industry, and the creators. I had read they were having a big sale, and picked up 2 hardcover tomes about Will Eisner and Dick Ayers for $10 each, 75% off normal price
Onwards to Bill Sienkiewicz’s booth. I love his art and try to check out his sketchbook each year. Last year he did a New Mutants sketchbook, BUT the hardcover edition I prefer was not shipped to them in time for the show so I skipped it. But they had them in stock for this year’s show and one became mine.
Next I stopped in to see Batton Lash, writer/artist of the wonderful Wolff & Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre, a series about lawyers who specialize in supernatural law taking on clients from werewolves to vampires and many more. Batton generally does tiny little monster paintings on canvas to sell at the con. In past years I had gotten Frankenstein & his bride, as well as Robbie the Robot from Forbidden Planet. This year I added the Creature from the Black Lagoon and his sweetheart to the collection.
As I headed southward across the show floor, my next purchase was at the Black Mask Studio booth. They had a special limited edition issue of a comic series I enjoy, CalExit. This is a series about California attempting to secede from the United States, only to have the full weight of the US Military descend on it, as an occupying force. The SDCC exclusive issue has a new story about a woman running a pirate radio station in San Diego with a pretty cool article at the back talking about real pirate radio with an interview with someone who has run these kinds of broadcasts.
It was at this point that I braved “the Vortex”… my group of friends has started using this nickname of the super-crowed part of the show floor from Dark Horse Comics over to where the Original art dealers hang out. This is the part of the floor that has the Movie/TV studios and the big toy companies, and we generally try to avoid it when possible. I hit the Hasbro booth just to see what the line was like… They sold several convention exclusives online before the show, but NOT to pick up at the show. You had to stop by their booth at the show and have them scan the bar code confirming your purchase, thus ensuring the exclusives were going to someone who was actually attending the show, but the toys themselves were shipped out after the con. There was a HUGE line at the booth for people trying to buy things they had for sale on-site. There was 1 person in front of me in the line to get our bar code scanned, and it took about 1 minute for me to be finished with the process. This worked very nicely.
I got 2 items, the SDCC exclusive Aquaman figure set modeled after the cover of first series issue #35 looks pretty darn good… better than the original cover, which is not one of my favorite examples of Nick Cardy’s work.
The second item was the Thanos copter based on a scene from Spidey Super Stories #39 & packed in a Cosmic Cube!! I would have liked the Hot Wheels of Superman lifting a car based on the cover of Action Comics #1, but that one sold out before I got to it online.
And then my final Preview Night purchase, a 1/2 scale Judge Dredd badge made of metal that looks pretty sweet:
At this point I met a friend and headed out early (around 8:30pm) for dinner – shrimp tacos – at Volcano Rabbit in the Gaslamp before the restaurants were flooded by people being shooed out when the show floor closed at 9pm.
I had a few more purchases during the show. After the Thursday panel on British comics I stopped by the 2000AD booth and picked up some ashcan comics as well as a couple of treasuries they had talked about: A very cool comedy, one page stories about a kid with a mutable face called “Face Ache” and the complete Summer Magic, the story of a magical kid touted as “Before Harry Potter, there was Luke Kirby”
On Friday, I stopped by the Fantagraphics booth to meet writer/artist (and winner, that evening, of 3 Eisner awards!) and have her sign my copy of “My Favorite Thing is Monsters”. While at the booth I chatted with the other artist there at the same time, D.J. Bryant, who did an OGN called “Unreal City”. Some explicit content, so not for kids, but his art really caught my eye, evocative of Daniel Clowes. I also picked up a small hardcover by Gilbert Hernandez that I had missed called “Garden of Flesh”, another pretty explicit set of bible stories that kind of fill in (in perhaps way more detail than I really needed to know) exactly how Adam & Eve ‘begat’ their children…and some other stuff up through the story of Noah. Something for Hernandez completists, but NOT for the easily offended.
While on the show floor, I stopped by to see a couple of other favorite artists to pick up their sketchbooks: Stan Sakai (I have all 15 of his yearly sketchbooks) and Jeremy Bastian, creator of Cursed Priate Girl who does AMAZING things with thousands of tiny lines on very small sized original art pages (the size he works at, about 8.5×11, is surprising given the amount of detail in his work). I missed seeing him last year and was able to pick up both his 2017 and 2018 sketchbooks.
Saturday I stopped in to see Jamie Newbold, owner of Southern California Comics, and author of his comics studded autobiography loaded with insight about comics and collecting, “The Forensic Comicologist”, and I’m honored to have 3 pages of the book reproducing a Blog I wrote about my process of acquiring my copy of Amazing Fantasy #15.
Sunday I bought my only 3 back issues of the show, right at the end of the show, a bit after 4pm as booths were already starting to dismantle… I never really had time to do much shopping this year. Gold Key back issues focusing on 2 of my favorite TV shows from the 60s.
That is ALMOST the end of what I got, but I saved the best for last. Friday night I attended a dinner with Joe Jusko, at the Brazilian Steakhouse Fogo de Chao, hosted by IDW Publishing. Attendees got an extremely limited (to 28 copies) of Jusko’s recent book “Marvel Masterpieces (which, by the way, is gorgeous, I highly recommend picking up the regular edition of this book if you like Jusko’s art), a signed Daredevil print, and…. a commission by Jusko!
Joe was supposed to do 11×14 ink commissions and he ended up doing them 11×17! I asked for Doctor Strange and he even added in a very Ditko-esque background. When I mentioned to him that it was very evocative of Ditko, he responded that it had better be since he directly referenced the background from a Ditko Dr. Strange panel!
…and here is the art!
…and the Ditko Doctor Strange panel (from Strange Tales #138)…
…and that did it for my purchases at SDCC 2018. I’m sure they’re not the exact combo of items that anyone else would get. But that I could get this mixture of items at the conventions is, in my opinion, a great example of how SDCC is about many, many things, and one of those things, if you open you eyes and try to look for it at all, is comic books.
Bob Bretall: email@example.com
http://comicspectrum.com/ By Fans who Love Comics For Fans who Love Comics