Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Comic Con 2010

Before I get into our version of events for Comic Con 2010, I want to offer some thank yous to Con staff, some tips and suggestions for future Comic Cons. Let's call them little things that we've learned along the way.

1. Buy pre-paid parking. We did this for Wednesday and Sunday. WE LOVED IT. NO or very little traffic. Easy access to the parking garage (showed them the printout and we were in). This is our most favorite thing that Comic Con changed this year. It is BRILLIANT. Two big thumbs up and HUGE thank yous.

2. The very minute you have left badge pick up, secure your badge IMMEDIATELY. Both David and I lost our badges. I lost mine because some asshole parked too close to the line at the hotel and unfortunately, it was the only space available. I had to squeeze out of the car and the badge pulled off as I did so. David found it when we were unloading the car. David lost his because it was either pulled off or the camera and the backpack strap pulled it off. We went to the help desk (and they were a BIG help. HUGE thanks to you know who... :)). Another badge was printed for David and we were on our way again. We were given a tip to 'double' secure the badges, so that the clip isn't just attached to the plastic part of the badge but to the pin or other metal holder as well. See pictures:
3. WE LOVE the tents. L O V E LOVE the outside tents for Hall H. THANK YOU to whomever thought of that brilliant idea. Please please please bring them back for future Cons. Please also think of extending them as there were several big open gaps where we had to stand with the sun beating down on us. Kudos. Clapping hands. We appreciate it and THANK YOU!

4. I learned the hard way. Bring two pairs of shoes and alternate them every day. By Sunday, I could hardly walk. It's now Tuesday afternoon as I write this and my feet are starting to feel better. (Especially dumb if you had just returned home from teaching and driving to/from Colorado and had stood on a hard cement floor in those very same shoes for 3 days in a row).

5. People were much more polite this year. I heard a lot of "Excuse me." or "Sorry!" (I said it a lot too!) My motto is always: Treat people the way you would want to be treated. (Except for that blonde b**** who screamed in my ear (she was doing promo stuff) every time I walked by ...I commented to David. She overheard me and told me she'd scream in my ear again tomorrow unless I took a backpack. I told her to shove the backpack where the sun didn't shine. So, other than, people were VERY nice.)

6. Make your hotel reservation NOW. We've learned to book ours a year in advance. No, we don't stay downtown, but it's cheap and it's affordable compared to what downtown has to offer.

7. Bring little snacks: nuts, granola bars, peanut butter sandwiches, chocolate bars...they do help. Bring a water container, too.

8. Want to be given something at a booth? Put a kid on your shoulders. Crimey. I saw so many things being given to kids on their parents' shoulder. I told David that he should put Tristan on his shoulders and see what happens (LOL). We spent over an hour trying to get the hottest toy (Galactus) at the Marvel booth (in a contest). Galactus wasn't listed on the Con page as an exclusive (I don't like the way the Exclusive list was set up this year. It was hard to navigate. I prefer it all on one page.)

9. If you do take the trolley, be prepared for FULL trains. So many full trains that you can't get on the train. Take the orange (?) line and get off at 12th and Imperial and walk the 2 blocks to the Convention Center. No crowds. That little tip would have saved us a lot of time. The San Diego trolley is confusing compared to what I am used to (Boston's subway is much more user friendly).

10. Hall H...Popular panel problem. We tried to get into several panels: Roger Corman (who wasn't even IN Hall H), Tron, Harry Potter, Thor and Captain America, only to be shut out. Hours spent waiting outside were wasted. Some ideas:
-clear the room between panels (we're wasting our time any way, so who cares if it is spent clearing the room between panels)
-ticket the events (no, not getting a ticket at the convention but BEFORE the convention even starts) If they did give out tickets, you could have a standby line in case people don't show up, etc... a lottery, even?
-put the popular panels first (don't spread them out so that people will park their asses in the hall H all day long). For the first time they offered a schedule online this year (we took advantage of it) that you could plan your day around. You could select the panels you may be attending and have them downloaded to your phone. This was a great way of tracking who might be attending a panel.
-MOVE the popular panels. The studios can afford it-have them rent out larger space elsewhere.
-have more than one popular panel going on at vs. disney, etc... in different locations
-think about renting out Petco station maybe??? The studios can afford it.
-Tickets in advance for parking improved the situation dramatically so why can't it work for Hall H?
-Along those lines, what the hell is up with what happened at the Scott Pilgrim panel? Really? They had us pick buttons. X amount of those buttons had 1-Up printed on them. Those buttons got you in to see Scott Pilgrim at a small local theater for FREE. Why not screen the film right then and there at Con? FREE publicity. Needless to say, we were disappointed.

11. Eisner awards: have the artists who are nominated either BE THERE OR skype them live during the presentation. Don't have a variety of people get up representing the artist, no no no...get the artist there live in some way, shape or form. Even a pre-recorded speech is better than nothing at all...

12. Eisner awards: Please please please consider giving awards to artists while they are still alive. There were several awards given to artists who were deceased vs. artists who are still alive (but who are getting up there in years)...please think about this.

13. Don't buy badges on ebay or through anyone other than Comic Con International. They were scanning the badges this year (a first!) looking for fakes. Even when SDCC sells out far in advance, there are always last minute badges released in July before Con. Watch their twitter feed and their website for more info.

14. More comic related panels, please. There are always tons of panels to go to and see, but this year we were disappointed. It seemed to be mostly film, TV, and gaming panels. Yes, there were comic panels but it just didn't seem as good as previous years. The focus wasn't on comics it was on pop culture.

15. Can we please bring back some of the favorites again, please?? Chris Ware, Robert Crumb, Alan Moore, Seth (yeah, we know he was there last year...LOVE him), Neal Addams (yes, we saw several of his panels and he's a hot shit...I'd listen to him every year), Dennis O'Neil (yes, he was there this year but we'd go to see him again), Steranko, Barron Storey (should have a panel), Joann Sfar, Marjane Satrapi, Richard Corbin, Barry Smith, Art Spiegelman...why not fill Hall H with Stan Lee talking about his LIFE and not just his latest project??? Here's our wish list from last hasn't changed much...

16. I really hope that there isn't a trend toward shrinking booths. Both Fantagraphics and Bud Plant downsized (and that's an understatement). Comic Relief wasn't even there. We saw an increase in booths selling weird things: underwear, tights, gaming stuff, pottery, etc...

This booth (that was selling dice) was bigger than Fantagraphics and Bud Plant combined. David is still bitching about it:

17. Someone seriously needs to make up t-shirts that say:
I survived Hell Hall 2010
Comic Con 2010, I lived to tell the tale
I lost my Pen at Comic Con 2010

18. As you probably already know, if you see it, and you want it, BUY IT. It probably will be gone the next time you go back.

19. Backpack. Backpack. Backpack. No messenger bag. No huge heavy purse slung over one shoulder. Backpack and a damn good one.

20. Small change. Not everyone accepts credit cards, nor can everyone break a large bill. Starbucks at the Marriott wouldn't take a big bill. The Bastards. Especially considering I was desperate enough to pay almost $20 for three frappacinos.

21. We've noticed a trend the last two years: an increase in Steampunk interest
on the exhibit floor: clothing, costumes, accessories, etc... Not to mention the people walking around in full steampunk regalia! We won't be surprised to see, in the near future, Hall H fill up with panels about steampunk movies.

On to the fun stuff.

Here's our loot: (my favorite thing in this picture is the $40 price tag on the Dave Stevens second favorite thing is the deal that David got on Troubled Souls by a kind vendor who quoted him $20 when it was priced at $45 and stuck to his original verbal quote. Nice!)
Some of the drawings:
Gabrielle Bell:
Ralph Bakshi:
Billy Martinez:
Steve Rude:
Barron Storey:
Some cool things we saw/learned/heard/or were told at Comic Con:

Barron Storey eating lunch with his left hand while sketching with his right. Seriously. I stood there watching him sketch like that for about 10 minutes. I thought he was doing a sketch for the guy standing in front of him talking to another guy...but he wasn't. I love that the man has a need to CREATE even as he's eating his lunch.

For Storey fans, there are several projects in the works that they can't talk about yet, but stay tuned. I'll post on my blog when I find out. The Tarot Deck in which Barron participated in, will be reproduced. I was also told that "there are plans for the journals..."

Carol Tyler is working on Book III of You'll Never Know. She also has plans to work on a book about some of her experiences in the 60's.

Lynda Barry has several things in the works. I found out via twitter this morning, that Cruddy is in development as a film! Lynda has several things in the works for Drawn and Quarterly including Picture This, which is a sequel to What It Is. They will also be publishing Ernie Pook's Comeek. See the preview of Picture This here.

Speaking of Drawn and Quarterly, they said they have more plans to publish more of Sonja Ahlers' work. YES!

Will Eisner's A Contract With God to be made into a film! I wonder how well it will translate.

Jim Henson's unproduced screenplay of A Tale of Sands will be made into a graphic novel in 2011.

Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities book to be published in 2011. Yeah, I squealed when I found out...
Our Experience:

We arrived at the Convention Center about 2:30. We pulled into the parking lot without a problem (hardly any traffic once we hit downtown San Diego. The 5 down was a different story). We got in line to get our badges and had them within 20 minutes. We ate an early dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory. We walked around San Diego a bit before we headed over to get in line. We lined up on the second floor along with a few thousand other comic and pop culture aficionados. Wednesday was spent shopping. We hit several of our favorites including Stuart NG, Drawn and Quarterly, Fantagraphics, Bud Plant, Top Shelf, Sparkplug and Chronicle Books. We also took the time to walk around and look at the older comics in the Golden and Silver Age booths. We did quite a bit of our shopping on Wednesday. We ended the night with dessert at Ghirardelli.

Thursday we had a bit of a fiasco with the trolleys. Every car that pulled into the station was full. We finally got onto the orange line and took it to Imperial and 12th. We then got on another trolley and it took us farther away. Ugh. It wasn't fun. Any ways, we walked several blocks to the convention center. We tried to get into Tron. The line was insane. I wanted to go to the top of the convention center and take a picture, but we didn't. The line filled the grass area, stretched across the street and down along the waterfront. There was no way in hell that we were getting in. We trekked back into the convention center to attempt to get in to see Danny Elfman (who was my first choice of seeing). Surprisingly, the room wasn't full yet (it quickly filled up) and we had a great time listening to Elfman talk about various things (I loved hearing him talk about how he wanted to be a scientist as a kid). We stayed for a bit of the following panel, the Frebergs. The panel started out great (they were doing live acts) but quickly became just a commercial when they started playing recordings of their new album.

Next stop, we had time to run around the exhibit hall to scope out a few things. Tristan attempted to get his Snoopy pins (he was only able to get pins for Wednesday night and Sunday), so he was bummed that they ran out. He did pick up his Cartoon Network pins every day and that made him happy.

We walked over to Hall H, aka Hell Hall, for the following panels:
Red (Bruce Willis was was Warren Ellis whose comments on "They paid me a lot of money" had us rolling.)
The Visionaries: Abrams and Whedon (David loved last year's panel with Peter Jackson and James Cameron, so we thought we'd enjoy this one too and we did!)
The Expendables (LOVED seeing Stallone in person)
Scott Pilgrim (Brandon Routh towered over everyone else on stage. He looked like Superman compared to the cast and director. David says he looked like he could inhale them...).
Ended the night with dinner at Ciro's before we hopped on the trolley back to the hotel, tired but happy.

Friday morning we spent walking the exhibit hall again. I picked up a couple of books and took some pictures of some of my favorite artists. Tristan ran around and did his signings. Later in the day we met Steve Rude. He was the nicest guy. His family is adorable, too! I also met Junko Mizuno and we talked about how the Con 'censors' come around and put 'pasties' or post-its over photos/images/art on specific body parts. They're trying to keep the show family friendly. However, they put an orange circle right on the nipple part of the Mizuno print which somehow made it stand out even more. LOL.

We tried to get into Roger Corman, but that didn't work out as people were camped out in the room for Gears of War 3 (which was after Corman). Insane, to put it mildly. David was pissed as it was one of the things that he REALLY wanted to go to. When they told us that no one else would be able to get in to see Corman, only a handful of people left the huge line. That told us right there that most of the people were probably camping out in the hall for Gears of War. Grrrr doesn't even begin to describe it.

We ate dinner at the Whiskey Girl before we headed over to the Eisner awards. As usual, it was funny and well done. We got out at 11:30 p.m. (yay!) Loved Maurice LaMarche and the gang...Sergio should host one year as that man has stories to tell!

Saturday morning we tried to get into Hall H for the Harry Potter panel. That idea was quickly nixed when we saw the line. We spent several hours walking the Exhibit Hall again. Tristan met Ralph Bakshi who graciously did a sketch for him. We were almost run over again by Ray Bradbury flying through the hall in his wheelchair. We attended the end of the spotlight on Dave Dorman, Comic Reprint Revolution and part of Taking Back The Knight. Why was Paul Levitz on that panel? He wasn't there! It should have been just Adams and O'Neil. We left that panel early to try to get into Hall H for Thor and Captain America. While we were standing outside in line, some asshole stabbed someone else near the eye with a pen. That caused Hall H to be in lock down for about an hour and for all of the panels to be delayed. We heard the crowd yell BOOOO loudly and the joke spread that it was Marvel fans vs. DC fans, as a gang of costumed DC fans walked by. I jumped on twitter to see what was up with the line not moving at all. It was there that I read the news of the stabbing. We spent at least four hours in line waiting. An announcement was made over the loud speakers that the hall was closed for the Marvel panel (Thor, Captain America and The Avengers).The powers that be ignored our pleas to "Let Thor In!" as Thor walked away from the line, head held high, he shouted, "I love you guys!"
We missed out on Thor, Captain America and the Avengers (damn) but were able to waltz in for Kevin Smith. He had us laughing our asses off and was exactly what we needed to end the day. Yes, we saw the guy propose to his girlfriend, and her awkward comments moments later. I wonder if there will be a SDCC wedding next year in Hall H...Someone got up and told Smith, "I waited four hours in line to see you." Kevin said, "Come to my house and you won't have to wait." We ate a late dinner at Sammy's California Woodfire Pizza. I want to go back there next year. Hopefully by then they will have cleaned up the women's bathroom.

Sunday morning we checked out of our hotel and headed over to the Convention Center. We ate a delicious breakfast at Richard Walker's Pancake House (we will be back in 2011!). Sunday was the day that I ran around getting autographs. I met Gabrielle Bell, Vanessa Davis, Carol Tyler, Jason Shiga and Barron Storey. Due to my own error, I missed Jillian Tamaki and I'm still pissed about it. Dipshit me didn't want to have to carry around books between Thursday and Saturday, so I missed having her sign anything. We attended three panels together: Archaia: Jim Henson, Spotlight on Dennis O'Neil and Art of the Cover. David and Tristan headed over to see the Matt Fraction Panel while I ran around the Exhibit Hall gathering autographs and sketches. Tristan was finally able to see Andy Runton (of Owly fame, who always has a crowd around him). Andy's the sweetest guy. He remembered Tristan and commented on how much he had grown in the past year. He asked Tristan if he was still doing comics. He has a new hardcover full cover Owly book coming out next year. We'll be buying at least two. One for us and one for my new nephew! I REALLY wanted an Owly backpack, but had to behave. Maybe for my birthday, if there are any left. We also got to meet his Mom, who is as nice as Andy is. She made all of the Owly hats and backpacks. How cool is that??!?

We did some end of the day shopping, too before my feet finally gave out on me and we decided to try to head out early to beat the crowd. We left about 4:20 p.m. It took us about 7 and a half hours to get home. That includes the hour we stopped in Del Mar for pizza, the 30 minutes we spent at Lego Land and the half an hour we spent driving around Laguna Niguel looking for the entrance to the damn Dairy Queen that you can see on the highway. (If I didn't have my new Droid X phone with GPS, we would still be looking for the entrance. I have NEVER seen a set up like that. I should have taken pictures or a video). We rolled into the apartment about 11:30 exhausted. Less than a year to go to Comic Con 2011!

Shots we took:
Danny Elfman
Lining up for Hall H:
Red with Helen Mirren and Bruce Willis:
The Visionaries with J.J. Abrams and Joss Whedon:
Who ya gonna call?
Junko Mizuno:
Billy Martinez:
Steve Rude:
The Penguins of Madagascar cast at Nickelodeon signing (see Tristan):
Malcolm McDowell:
Will Eisner's The Spirit
Random outside shots:
Neal Adams
The Boy and his Loot:
Outside at night:
The Boy getting his buttons:
Stallone hugging Willis, Lundgren looks on, Expendables panel:
Peter Kuper:
Camilla d'errico
Greg Spalenka and Roxana Villa
Matt Groening
Stan Sakai:
Roh Roh!
People camping out for Hall H:
The Klingons took over the Trolleys!
Keith Knight:
The Boy strikes a pose:
I did not write this, but I couldn't resist snapping a picture:
This says it all:
Kevin Smith:
Gabrielle Bell and Vanessa Davis:
Carol Tyler:
Jason Shiga:
Andy Runton: Barron Storey:
On the way home:
We made a little detour at about 7 p.m. and ended up walking around this place for 20 to 30 minutes...they let you in to go shopping, for free.
2011 will be here before we know it...

I also posted daily at Con on my facebook page and my twitter page.