I finally finished my big ol’ San Diego Comic-Con International Report, and it’s up on ComicMix now.
Overall, this was one of my least-favorite convention experiences to date – but that owed more to the horrific travel problems we had getting there, followed by a bunch of work-related issues that made coverage of the show a real headache. Disgusted and worn out by these two situations, Jessica and I ended up spending most of the show doing our own thing and trying to make the best of our time in San Diego. The only “party” we attended was Saturday’s PopCandy Meet-Up.
Since it was Jessica’s birthday on Saturday, we met up with one of her friends, Stephanie, who lived on the West Coast who was kind enough to pick us up and bring us out to Mission Beach for dinner at Sushi Ota. It was some of the best sushi I’ve ever had outside of New York, by the way. We drank saki and chatted about the convention scene — as well as the movie Stephanie’s boyfriend just finished and is now beginning to promote. (Here’s the trailer.)
So here’s my roundup of the business end of the show. As always, this is an excerpt of the report with a link posted at the end to the full story over at ComicMix.
So... how was San Diego Comic-Con?
I've been asked that a lot in the last 48 hours, so here's my best attempt at wrangling the bucking, spitting beast that was this year's Comic-Con International in San Diego. It's a long one, so consider yourself warned.
First off, it's worth pointing out that I didn't arrive until late Thursday night after a series of travel problems that included (but were not limited to): canceled flights, one missed connection, a sprained ankle (not mine), an hour spent standing in place during a "security breach" situation in the main Charlotte airport, and a pair of storms that seemed quite capable of ripping the roof off a house or sending various farm animals across the road in an airborne state.
Once I was actually in San Diego, however, there was a slightly more manageable form of chaos to deal with. Here were some of my thoughts on the whole affair, as well as some of the highlights from my chats with publishers, creators and various other groups around the show:
All of the hub-bub about press having a difficult time getting into many of the panels they were assigned to cover was certainly warranted, as entrance into just about every panel covered by the ComicMix team was the product of either several hours waiting in line (and more often than not, having to skip lower-profile panels you would've covered if you didn't have to get in line four hours early for the Watchmen panel), or having the good fortune to know someone from the company putting on the event. As someone who worked as a journalist in the independent media before covering the entertainment industry, the latter requirement for coverage has always made me twitch a bit -- as it's a slippery slope from "friend of the company" to "extension of the company's marketing department." However, I feel like our crew of Arthur Tebbel and Christoper Toia, Chris Ullrich and Van Jensen (who remote-blogged many of the announcements) and the ComicMix Radio team did an admirable job getting into many of these panels without doing anything that makes me twitch.
On a side note, one of my favorite comments about the major media panel events was this assessment by someone I spoke with several days after the screening of Frank Miller's The Spirit footage: "It was like Sin City via 300 and Looney Tunes."
Another interesting item of note is that the crowd never seemed to have a low point this year. From what I'm told, Wednesday's "Preview Night" and Thursday were both massively attended, and not any less crowded than the typical "big days" of the show on Friday and Saturday. Sunday was also a madhouse, with shoulder-to-shoulder crowds for much of the day despite the early departure of many creators, publishers and the like. What Artists Alley lacked in crowds (and artists) on Sunday was more than made up for by the crowds jamming the retailer and mass media sections that same day.
According to one publisher I spoke with, "Wednesday is the new Friday" at Comic-Con.
Among the panels I was able to attend this year, the "World of Graphic Novels" provided a nice counterpoint to all of the mass media chaos, and allowed me to finally meet The Comics Reporter himself, Tom Spurgeon, who moderated the conversation.
I spent a significant time during this year's show navigating the webcomic waters, and there was a lot to report from the digital comics scene. The Dumbrella booth was packed throughout the entire show (or at least what I saw of it), with writer/actor Wil Wheaton (the subject of a recent three-part interview here on ComicMix) and comics creator Scott McCloud (Zot!) each taking turns signing books and creating a long line around the booth that stretched several times around itself. I wasn't able to meet Wheaton, unfortunately, but here's hoping he'll make a return appearance. As I mentioned to Dumbrella hosting guru Phillip Karlsson a few days later, Dumbrella's big presence at this year's show made the webcomic collective a landmark of sorts on the show floor. Much like the way many creators reference their booths' location by way of the can't-miss Penny Arcade table, I heard more than a few people in the crowd using the Dumbrella booth as their point of reference throughout the show.
Head over to ComicMix for the rest of my San Diego Comic-Con Report.