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July 26, 2009


Notes From The CCI 2009 Floor

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The following are notes and observations gathered on the floor of Comic-Con International 2009 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 I recommend Comic Book Resources and then Newsarama. -- Tom Spurgeon

*****

* it's easy to take all this con stuff way too easier, and then you read a quote as goofy as this one from Lev Grossman. The second graph. I'm not one to stand in lines, and those people can look sort of sad sometimes, but no one's been beaten to death and there's little that's ugly about the scene beyond the faint state of not-meeting-expectations that usually comes with focused fan activities. From my perspective, for every bombed-out looking fan there's five little girls psyched to get a drawing ofthe Neopets. Lighten up, Lev. Sheesh.

* big news of the day is actually old news that just wasn't announced via formal press release: Eric Reynolds was named associate publisher at Fantagraphics. Reynolds is the best person I know in comics, and I'm both happy for him and pleased that the company has paid attention to that crucially valuable resource.

* second big news of the day that I heard at least is that Lewis Trondheim will be doing a six-panel color comic for the iPhone that will be available in 18 languages. "Not English," joked Trondheim at his morning panel.

* a third story is that AdHouse Books will be doing an art book with Rafael Grampa, although Grampa's schedule is such that it may be more than a year before it's formally scheduled.

* I hope no one feels I'm doing a disservice by posting these stories in here. They're all good enough to deserve their own headline, and they'll hopefully be archived here that way. I consider such stories every bit as significant as the bulk of the ones more formally announced, and it has me thinking about the state of hype in comics that I'll talk about here Tuesday.

* I'm hearing sales stories all over the place, from apocalyptically low sales at some publishers and some comics retailers to really high sales on unexpected things, like Buenaventura Press doing well with the non North American books they're carrying. One typical sign in the retail section -- which seems about two rows shorter, by the way -- "It's Like It's Sunday Already."

* I think everyone realizes that most people are on hand for something other than the kind of book sales that come from simply not being able to find the books locally.

* folks are still bantering about Asterios Polyp.

* everyone in the indy-alt section of the floor was being very nice to Nate Powell all day for his big win at the Eisners, and feeling good both about Powell's enthusiasm for the win and his parents being on hand.

* you can see a copy of the cover to the re-release of the Bone material here.

* I got to meet Pat Oliphant, who did a sparsely-attended signing at Comic Relief and then hung out for a while afterwards. He seemed like a very nice man and said he was enjoying the experience. It's still very odd to m to see Pat Oliphant in his vest standing next to a group of teenaged goth girls with butterfly wings or whatever.

* someone pointed out to me that it was funny that in the fan-club mezzanine the Battlestar Galactica booth went mostly unmanned, like even they didn't like the finale.

* Calvin Reid of PW suggested Neil Kleid's new book as one that should come out of CCI with more buzz than it might actually be able to generate in these star-driven times.

* Lewis Trondheim was very good, very funny, very thoughtful at his morning panel. At one point he mentioned that he hopes money doesn't flood into comics, because he thought that would mean compromise and difficulty. He also spoke repeatedly about the challenge of a project being exciting to him, trying something different. Also, apparently, he has had very little work published in Japan. I hope Mark Siegel won't mind if I bring this up, but there was a funny moment when he talked about the strip that MOME did of Trondheim's about growing old and French cartoonists, and simply didn't know it had been published in the US, saying it was probably untranslatable because of all the references. Luckily, Kim Thompson was on hand to mention that copies of that work were available -- heavily footnoted, of course -- across those three issues of their anthology.

* I finally saw Mark Siegel frown as he stomped his way outside the convention on his way to another meeting. He told me that Lewis Trondheim set something on fire at their booth to replicate Marvin's fire-breathing abilities, but I don't have confirmation on that or really know how big that fire was. Apparently Brian Heater may have pictures.

* One great image I saw about noon was slipping into the back of the Jeff Smith panel in the CBLDF's masters series -- artists drawing and talking about drawing and then giving that drawing to the CBLDF auction -- ands seeing a bunch of teenagers with lunch and bento boxes eating at the back of the room watching Smith draw. The programming in general has been really strong this year from my perspective, and has been a great balm for the craziness of the show business track and resulting crowds.

* although Brian Doherty of Reason was quick to point out that that the crowds not only didn't seem bigger on the floor they couldn't seem bigger because the attendance was capped at the same number. Good point. As for why Wednesday was the biggest day on the floor, isn't it obvious? It's the only day without an aggressive programming track. Batton Lash told me they killed Wednesday evening sales-wise, and good for them.

* Seth's panel was really cool -- a series of 12 mostly unrelated stories about comic books and his aesthetic development separated by a tiny bell ring. This was accompanied by a slideshow that one person on my way out described as stunning. I guess this is a standard way of him to deal with signings, but it was still nice to see something prepared as opposed to someone plopping into their chair to take questions.

* both Seth and Chris Oliveros received Inkpots before that panel, which was nice. Seth pointed out it was a pretty cool-looking inkpots. I like the Inkpots. They remind me of this thing we had in Indiana called I think "Sagamore of the Wabash" which was basically the government sending you a document telling you you're awesome.

* I nearly killed Leonard Nimoy whipping around a post near one of his signings, but caught myself in time. It's a weird celebrity show, mostly on the floor people you're used to seeing rather than people that are brand new to the show and wander over. I get the sense most of the actors and stars are sticking to that end of the show and then slipping off to the James Cameron party or whatever. Paul Pope was supposed to DJ at that thing last night.

* OTBP: Abrams has their Kurtzman and Brian Fies book here, but I somehow missed they have a new George Booth collection with an introduction by Bill Cosby.

* the one signing that seemed to do really well at the Comic Relief booth that I saw was Stephan Pastis with Richard Thompson -- Richard later told me it was mostly Pastis and that he drew really slowly to look busy, which cracked me up. I saw their panel with Keith Knight that afternoon, and it was slightly scary in that they had really no answers for the ongoing cartoonapocalypse other than maybe more fully embrace diy practices. This wouldn't normally be scary, but the panel's title kind of suggested there might be more ideas generated. All those guys are classy and smart and answered a bunch of questions for wannabe cartoonists in the crowd, though, and I always enjoy hearing Keith Knight talk. Lee Salem and Oliphant sat in the middle of the room, and I kind of wondered what they might have to say on the proposed subject.

* I'm not sure what mainstream news there is out there. Bill Willingham is going to write some stuff for IDW, but isn't everybody?

*****

the show runs from July 23rd through July 26th
 
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