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July 26, 2010

Notes From The 2010 CCI Floor


The following are notes and observations gathered on the floor of Comic-Con International 2010 in San Diego, California. For immediate reactions to what's going on from hundreds of people, I recommend an appropriate search or multiple such searches on Twitter. For mainstream comics and panel coverage in general -- this being a key event for publishing news announcements -- I recommend Comic Book Resources and then Newsarama. -- Tom Spurgeon


* it's weird to think that there's actually news-cycle pressure to make this the final report on CCI instead of the last daily report; I'm not certain that's a good thing and I suspect that's a bigger shift in perception than anything Comic-Con seeks to do with its branding.

* if you disagree with anything I'm about to write, I may have to stab you in the eye.

* too soon?

* Sunday is kids day, which means a lot of programming focused on children's entertainment properties and a lot of parents holding hands with smaller versions of themselves. I saw a prominent retailer at the train station greeting his family and small child to sweep them over to the show, I'm guessing for the day. It was really adorable. It's not like I'm going to experience a bunch the bulk of the kids' programming, but there were a lot more kids visible at the show for sure, even in the funnybook sections.

* one thing I noticed for the first time is that the tags for kids had a last name or even more frequently a generic "kids pass" designation instead of a name, which I guess makes sense because you don't want kids clearly labeled in a way that might allow someone outside of their family to exert influence on what he or she is doing by employing their name. I guess there may be another reason for this, but that's the one that popped into my head.

* I saw the writer Joe Casey for a brief moment; he took several moments while we were talking to add his signature to various Ben 10-related comics that kids brought up. He had a new Godland hardcover out, which despite having a couple of interviews with the creators taken from this site is worth a look. He's still in his "disguise" from WonderCon, which I can only describe as "second series of Life On Mars, the BBC version." We talked a bit about comics and proportion, how there are all sorts of paths a creator can take in comics and that the danger may be more in assuming the value you place in a specific vocational goal is the value someone else should place in that something. One man's lifetime gig is another man's first step up the ladder. One editor's prize gig offering may be a lifeline to one creator and an insult to another.

* there wasn't really any Man of Action news that fits naturally into this site, although I guess they're assisting on production of a new animated iteration of Marvel's Spider-Man, which is sort of interesting if it becomes a trend. Given that Peter David is doing a bunch of Young Justice cartoon scripts, it looks like it might.

* one thing I completely forgot to mention is that Alvin Buenaventura was at the show, selling a bunch of Buenaventura Press prints and a ton of his personal art collection. I avoided Buenaventura Press' booth most of the weekend and didn't really say anything worth a damn when I visited because I just sort of felt sad that the business venture had folded and also felt guilty that I didn't do more to be supportive. So I mumbled a lot. It was just as stupid in person as it looks typed out here, believe me. I wish Alvin all the luck in the world, I'm thankful for his time as a full-bore comics and print publisher, and hopefully he'll keep a hand in with a project or two.

* another subject that kind of ended up sprinkled throughout the day was the desire that some of the younger creators had to be mentored in some fashion, and how despite the social media era in which we now live many creators felt like there were barriers between established creators and those starting out that simply didn't exist twenty years ago. Back then, you could mail a creator your work through an address in a publication and there was a chance you might develop a relationship with that creator based on their considering the work and perhaps finding it appealing; now it's one of 14 links they received that day, many of which just wish for a commercial endorsement.

* I don't know if I mentioned that Fantagraphics expected to sell out of their Moto Hagio books by the end of the day, and had very few on hand Sunday morning. That's good news. I'm told through secondary sources that the great cartoonist had a fine time at the show -- something that some people close to the effort of bringing her over worried after -- and I can give first-hand testimony to the fact that she was certainly funny and charming. What a delight to share a weekend with that creator, even in the smallest ways. Also, I can't emphasize this enough, she was kind of hilarious, pointing out on one panel that not only did she learn structure from watching The Patty Duke Show but she had given this a ton of thought and was willing to go into it in great detail if anyone wanted her to, pointing out on another that she got in trouble for some of her earlier stories for killing children characters but that once she found the right publisher she's been killing children ever since, and employing variations of a joke throughout that if she had known that a certain plot point had upset a reader years and years later she never would have made that creative choice.

* the new Vanessa Davis book with her strips from Tablet, which I believe not looking at 4 AM is called Make Me A Woman, looks pretty great on a first glance. I had two different creators walk up to me after taking a peek at the book and ask me "who the heck is that?" questions, which is always a good sign.

* Dylan Williams of Sparkplug told me that they had a really solid show, and that things improved once they adjusted their location on the floor.

* I ran into David Glanzer and when I asked him if he was surviving the onslaught of news about the eye-stabbing fight in the big hall I had to specifically bring up the subject matter of what I was referring to as "the big story." I don't think he was acting. Anyway, he was still in the mode of taking his clues from the police rather than placing a Comic-Con spin on things. He looked like a man on the fourth day of a four-day supershow. I have to imagine there's a certain amount of relief for all the Comic-Con staffers heading into the home stretch, although as I recall they have a lot of post-show work and analysis of the show just past to do even in those years that don't involve deciding on the show's future host city.

* one thing I want to write a bit about tomorrow is that I wish people were more careful in assigning maliciousness to things about the show that don't quite work. There are some bizarre structural issues in play right now with Comic-Con that I don't think get enough analysis.

* speaking of big issues, I caught a New York Times article about the pressure to move the show, which I can't find right this second but brought up the interesting point that the studios might like it in LA simply based on the cost of exhibiting in San Diego. I thought the article was kind of bullshit, frankly, in that it used an anonymous source that might easily be influenced by one of the cities bidding on the show, and more importantly made the huge assumption that ideally the show should grow until it can't grow no more, which I'm not sure should be the goal of Comic-Con.

* let me put this another way: when all is said and done with the decision on where to place the show, how many of those factors will grow out of the concern of the comics publishers? Because frankly, I'm not really upset if the film studios have to pay more money than they want to for the convention they only fully discovered a few years ago.

* I saw Jonathan Ross talking into his watch, but I can't tell if that was for effect or if he really has some sort of Dick Tracy-style device.

* I went to the Digital Piracy panel, but I didn't learn much I didn't already know. There was some interesting rhetoric about how those against scanlation are at a disadvantage because they're being forced to fight against an expression of love on behalf of the fans. There was another idea floated by one panelist a couple of time that it's arrogant for fans to assume they know better than editors and creators, which I don't think is as good an argument as ultimately creators and those to whom creators assign the job have the right to make bad decisions, or, really, any decision they want. Also, that whole group hilariously crushed some of the question-askers in a way you usually don't see at a show like that one.

* I took Amtrak to Los Angeles at 1 PM. I'm going to have to qualify my recommendation of Amtrak for future trips. It's kind of tough to get on the San Diego train during any of the busy days, as it involves a significant standing-up wait and potential delays that it seems are common to that short run. You sure don't want to count on making it back to LA by a certain time, that's for sure. My brother and I passed the time in line by playing a game of "Yep, That's The Line." It's where people leave the train station proper, look at the line with dawning horror, and then try to find ways to talk the Amtrak people to let them up front. Usually to no avail.

* a stab at a convention report tomorrow. I've run out of time for today.


Comic-Con International is done for 2010; a broader, summary report will appear on CR tomorrow and a collective memory should appear tomorrow to run through the rest of the week
posted 4:00 pm PST | Permalink

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