Here are some thoughts and links as to things I've seen or discussed on the convention floor and in the barrooms of Comic-Con International.
* when your exit day is everyone else's highlight/most grueling day, there's a weird energy.
* this was the first time I did a lot of work at the hotel during the show, so I did a lot of hotel things and paid attention to what was going on around me. I stay in the best hotel. This yeah I have to admit it was unfortunately upgraded on security and flow issues the same way the rest of the show was. There was a doorman and attention to keys and a denial of use of bathroom facilities, which I just thought were sort of an unfriendly look, especially given nothing in past years seemed crazy or overcrowded or dangerous.
* all hail the tuna fish sandwich at Cine Cafe, the Ralph's for those of us that can't get over to Ralph's.
* the length of the Eisners and all the jokes thereabouts were a discussion point in the morning, equal to the diversity of gender, orientation and race on display -- which was incredibly heartening. When people express sympathy in your direction for having to do too many acceptance speeches, you know you're having a good evening.
* what was weird about the length of that show is that there wasn't any cause. It just seemed like certain speeches dragged and presentation banter crawled at a stately pace. No one did anything that anyone could pivot from, which meant there weren't a lot of jokes that caught on -- making the time spent even more of a thing over which to obsess. I would recommend some pruning of awards -- I don't think anyone gets the distinctions between webcomics/digital comic or one-shot/short story (or whatever that latter category is called). Other than that, I'm not sure what to do.
* saw Emil Ferris' panel, and that was pretty special. There are a lot of things that are great about Emil Ferris on panel: she's funny, she's profane, she's spiritual, she's encouraging, she's smart and she seems like she's been around 30 but also provides a fresh experience. Also with a book like hers there is a significant connection between author and audience. One boy brought her a back-issue comic which he gave her before asking an excellent questionand their exchange was intensely charming. I'm told the book was a continued star sales-wise as well.
* saw the front-end of Scott McCloud's 25 Years Of Understanding Comics panel, and it was very funny and sweet. Lots of grateful dad and husband stuff. He sounds very excited about his next project, which is in comics form but has a much broader platform hitting all forms of communication and understanding. Plus no "Comics" in the title.
* I'm told Gary Groth didn't make it to the Ditko tribute panel. Neither did Ditko. Neither did I. Getting a report I'm told there were some charming stories and one assumes that most of them have a basis in reality. I'm interested in this thread of commentary coming out of Ditko's passing that he was largely inscrutable. I also like that some people are questioning the constant fan visits a bit, what the motivation was there and if they were truly welcome.
* got to meet Gabe Rodriguez, who is noticeably nice in an industry stuffed with nice people. It was great running to Denis Kitchen on the way out of the hotel lobby that afternoon.
* finished my day at the anthologies panel. This felt like kind of a throw-in to get some of the special guests some more panel time. Manuele Fior, for example, admitted sheepishly up top he has barely appeared in any. Still, the panelists were good so the discussion was good. Carol Tyler gave a short history of the Aracade into Weirdo/RAW days. Eric Reynolds described several sharp instances of contrast between MOME and Now. Justin Hall spoke up for cause related to anthologies. Solid panel.
* hit Little Italy for some food and walked the eight blocks to the train, where we got to see people act like assholes for the half-hour as we waited. People refusing to stand in line. People cursing the AMTRAK employee. Just amazing.
* good luck to all of those that braved Saturday night and Sunday and the dead dogs that followed.
* back to work.
photos and additional reporting by Whit Spurgeon and Chris Hatfield
* I'm still slightly traumatized from the fact that the Eisners were 16,000 hours long. This may be slow in coming.
* that said, the number of women and diversely representative winners last night was encouraging and hopeful -- and category to category the right choices. Someone will let us know if that's more winners from underrepresented groups than in the history of the show or several years of it combined, and the fact that people are thinking about that notion out loud tells you something of last night's upbeat mood.
* someone told us last night that designer Jacob Covey has never won the design category, which seems semi-nuts to me.
* wait, I'm going to have breakfast now. If I don't get back to this in a timely fashion, feel free to make the joke about me having a 17-hour breakfast or whatever.
* okay, I'm back and now I only have to worry about packing. I stay Thursday morning to Saturday evening at Comic-Con, mostly because there was a time when $370 hotel rooms were not just painful but impossible. Plus I have a wedding reception in Claremont tomorrow. It's all good, but it makes these weekend windows a bit of a chore.
* only one Artist's Edition item of news this year, but it's a show-stopper: Bernie Wrightson's Frankenstein, one of the comics-maker's career highlights and one of the great illustration projects of the second half of the 20th Century. That one's been a longtime coming, and I can't wait to see it.
* a big highlight for me on Friday was moderating Noah Van Sciver's spotlight panel, which we made a survey of his career. I thought that was the best way to find some connecting threads between works and to talk about specific visual techniques and concerns exploited by Noah. We had a decent crowd for a Friday afternoon at the Siberian end of the show, and at least 3-4 people said they had a grasp of who Noah is and why they might want to buy specific works. So mission accomplished, I guess. Anyway, I'm always honored to be asked to moderate someone's panel and I think Noah has become the interesting cartoonist at which his earlier works hinted. I hope everyone buys Blammo! #10. That comic book is really good.
* Todd Allen has the only report from the D+Q panel I've read. It focuses on John Stanley and Yoshiharu Tsuge, both coming to the publisher in major, serial-volume ways. Every book is interesting, though -- new work from Julie Doucet and a book from Kevin Huizenga, it all sounds great.
* it's great to hear about the new print iteration of TCJ, RJ Casey and Fanta-MVP Kristy Valenti supporting Gary Groth. I think Groth's interviews as a collective whole are going to be reappraised in the next 20 years as the great accomplishment they are, and anything that adds to that legacy like a new run of magazines on paper I am 100 percent interested in backing.
* speaking of Casey, he wore a one-piece jumper with fringe last night to the Eisners, which was fairly impressive. Lots of baby pictures from that guy.
* Top Shelf is working with George Takei on a graphic novel re-telling of his harrowing stories of childhood in a World War 2 interment camp.
* met a European writer-about-comics on the floor whose name is in my notes somewhere but isn't findable right this minute. "I'm so grateful when I see books being sold."
* wide agreement that the show is in its era where the energy on the floor comes from toy sales, and trying to pick how that might develop over the next few years was a lot of fun -- okay, nerdy fun but fun. Like I would imagine we'll get everyday-new exclusives in a more concentrated way very, very soon. I can imagine more book exclusives related to time and place -- I hear a lot about special book editions that never see the light of day. I can imagine some digital exclusives using virtual coin philosophies. It's going to get more complicated before it gets better.
* the first thing about which most folks have talked to me is the intensity with which security and staff are after people to have badges, to wear them correctly and to keep moving in those aisles above all things. It was noticeable to me as I can't remember having anyone give me directions like that for years now.
* closing the road right up next to the convention center is a big hit. Also there are kudos with how responsive and engaged the security and staff people tend to be. People got their questions answered. If it was appropriate, they got one called down from upstairs.
* I did talk to three writers that were discombobulated by the move to one registration line leading upstairs, as the longer initial wait time was more than they thought when scheduling their Thursday AM. Not a big deal to any of them.
* I somehow failed to register for the show as press. That's right. Laugh it up. Since I could show the person manning the panel participation booth that I was in the program for interviewing Noah Van Sciver later today I was able to score a pass. A press pass was offered to me, too. Pretty embarrassing. Everyone was nice.
* the D&Q booth was humming with the Doucet collection and the Lutes book. It was great to see Jason in front of that colossal effort.
* it felt busy in the aisles for a Thursday early afternoon although a lot of the smaller booths I talked to told me it was initially slow, and had been for most on Preview Night as well. It does strike me that the energy of the show in terms of what gets bought is very different now.
* at one point I saw Paul Karasik walking down the aisle, comfortable in his own skin, about two full rows away. I realized I might not see him again this entire trip and wished good thoughts and positive outcomes in his direction.
* my I don't really get fandom moment of the day was a guy playing the Star Wars lone-trumpet ending scene music on the way down the escalator and this performance's wild response.
* saw recently departed Team Billy Ireland member Amy Chalmers and the cartoonist Noah Van Sciver looking for the convention center's back porch to have lunch together -- "we heard you can see the water" -- and it was adorable.
* i made a comment about my regret at not having registered and a friend thought I was saying I regret I didn't register for a movement assistance device so I'm guessing I look pretty damn fat.
* there is a lot of walking, though, and walking that feels more tiring than normal walking because you're always negotiating bodies, backpacks and baby carriages. Only one person noted that the comfortable shoes I brought had holes over the big-toe toenails because I am a disgusting old man now with unicorn horns sticking up from each toe.
* Silver Sprocket's set-up looked great, and they were attracting a lot of young-people attention. I think they're a pretty ideal exhibitor in terms of their being able to do a show like CCI but also every small-press show and arts festival you can think of. Best t-shirts.
* four people mentioned to me how unfortunate the new NCS show was to use rhetoric that made it look like they will be inventing use of the festival model in North America, although everyone also noted their May 2019 show has a strong line-up.
* Sammy Harkham and Kevin Huizenga were there. Brannon Costello. Stéphane Beaujean. The latter two there are newbies and looked slightly stunned and maybe even a tiny bit dismayed. It's not an unfamiliar look there. Miriam Libicki. Larry Marder. Carol Tyler and I walked around looking for Last Gasp; Tyler expressed concern that the convention floor carpets were at different levels of thickness. Rob Salkowitz.
* saw a really fine Robert Williams spotlight panel moderate by Eric Reynolds. About 100 attendees. Williams deflected praise and spoke matter-of-factly about shifts in his own skill set and how complacent he thought American progressives become. Great hour.
* dinner at an impressively crowded Italian restaurant. Hit the party circuit afterwards. Brian Fies sounded gracious and moved in a few minutes of discussion about he and his family losing their home to California fires. Dana Simpson, Andrew Farago and the great Nat Gertler were some of the other folks at the GoComics party. Great to see Nat after about 13 years, and congratulations to him on 20 years of About Comics. Saw Gina Gagliano and a couple of other folks at a lively and high class Scholastic party. The CBLDF was Zander Cannon, Kiel Phegley, Chris Butcher, Brian Hibbs, Alex Cox, Jacq Cohen, Tom Neely, Denis Kitchen. I sat in a chair next to Scott McCloud for a while, but I'm too tired to remember what was discussed except a panel description he thought was the saddest of all time.