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July 22, 2019


Tales From Comic-Con '19; Notes From This Year's Show

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Below are some observations, news stories and links to same generated by Comic-Con 2019. The pictures are from last year's show.

*****

UP THROUGH MONDAY, JULY 22

* sitting here early in the morning on the Monday after SDCC, twitter is full of personal travelogue wrap-ups and think pieces about Marvel's movie slate. I'm sure those movies will be fine as long as they cast interesting actors and draw from the more intriguing story runs in that gigantic pile of comics from which they're ultimately working. Whether or not this has an effect on the comics being sold -- it will in the broadest terms of what gets published -- mostly depends on how the comics line chooses to do things. It might also be a time to see if the comics publishing arm is slow-developing any material in the Guardians fashion; my guess there is that there may be a lot of Young Avengers material from the last 15 years suited to film translation. The Shang-Chi film strikes me as a way to reclaim a kind of super Kung-Fu film that didn't quite work with the Neflix series group. I wonder if there's a sense they can try some things with Fantastic Four and X-Men as big-property back-ups.

* I spent more time than ever before sleeping during the show. I was tired, and not in good enough shape to be doing that much walking while trying to get some things down. That should never happen again, and I hope I can address that directly in the ramp-up to 20-20.

* congratulations to the show itself for its 50th anniversary, which it celebrate in a series of panels and supplementary acknowledgments. I'm told those panels were occasionally pretty entertaining, especially the small aside that as recently as the Clinton Administration someone like Mary Fleener could share a table with her friends and make costs back and some extra money selling mini-comics. This is true, and it'd be nice if I could be convinced that this generation's Jim Blanchard is out there warping minds and finding a stretch of floor on which to sleep.

UP THROUGH SUNDAY, JULY 21

* as I was being driven out of town on Saturday -- new tip for 2020: ask the cars that fail to pick someone up how much they'd take for a quick airport run -- I noticed a lot more people than I though on the streets above the show. I think that likely has something to do with the perception that things are crowded but not super crowded in the "holy fuck reality is bending get me out of here" way. With a shift from the intensity of the big franchise days there's a lot more of the general fan more likely to want to go have a nice lunch between toy purchases. I just don't get that same must-see insistence, although of course it's still there.

* I really like the Chris Ware panel I saw yesterday, the spotlight moderated by Chip Kidd. They brought a few books and a ton of posters for the big fall book Rusty Brown, and gave away both to designees of a small handout according to proportional amounts available. I like Chris's demeanor, I think the nervousness and self-laceration is real but tempered in a public setting. He seemed genuinely touched by receiving an Inkpot and complimented the award on its handsomeness (it is a really good looking physical award!). I like all the stories about Kidd and Ware working together in the years he was first starting out, and Ware's various design jobs. It was interesting to hear Chris talk about the notion of comics-consumption as a huge sign of lack of social standing, why surrounded by a show where comics is a part of positive experience for so many fans.

UP THROUGH SATURDAY, JULY 20

imageThe Eisners are a Comic-Con awards program, so I don't always agree with some of the In-Memory choices that don't go as deep on the artistic contribution as other factors. Ted Stearn wasn't as significant artists as some, or as part of SDCC, but he was an artist I liked very much and wanted to mention him here.

* I didn't think the Eisners was as long or difficult to sit through as last year's version, although in other ways it felt longer -- like last year I made my first "what the hell is going on?" check with seven awards left while this year there were 11. I think I agree with most people talking (some griping, some almost ruthlessly analyzing) that the only major cut to be made with a dramatic time impact in one shot is do something with the Hall Of Fame, but I'd also love to see an effort to get down to some of the iterations where it's been 24, 25, 26 categories instead of in the mid-30s.

* I saw all the goofery that annoyed many. No more commentary on whether or not you thought you'd win, please. Make notes for who to thank from your prepared professional side rather than your honest-reaction side, if you must. There's no way to play commentary on your getting a nice honor where you come across better ending self-reflective sentences than you looked beginning them. The wink-wink sexist stuff goes over like a lead balloon. I wanted to rush people off the stage that did "you're a hot chick at a comics convention" jokes and put them in a van to take them to a motel and talk them through some things. I was surprised there was almost nothing about all the stuff that faces the comics industry right now, and there's a lot upon which to comment.

* all that said, I'm glad Jackie Estrada made it though what must have been a really tough work. Good for her, and thanks for all of those in her circle able to support her more directly.

* the best thing I saw was Chip Zdarsky's scribbled acceptance-speech note, which was like five hastily scrawled words including "dildoes." I wasn't kidding the Billy Ireland needs that for their files, Chip.

* kudos to Gina Gagliano and Chip Moster for the power move of greeting friends with a hug as soon as they stepped away from the photo area. One weird thing I like is watching the winners walk by with their faces all lit up because of the excitement.

* Simon Hanselmann was this year's best yeller of funny things.

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* just to be clear: I was sad that Ted Stearn didn't make the In Memorium section of the show, but I don't get worked up into a high dudgeon anymore. I think running those lists past a few people is eminently doable. I don't think they're in danger of being overwhelmed by being one or two steps more cognizant of alt/arts talent that died in the last year. Stearn was a uniquely expressive cartoonist and those kind of cartoonists are what have kept me reading the form past the age of 12. RIP.

UP THROUGH FRIDAY, JULY 19

* I tromped a lot around town last night, much to my legs' chagrin. I only let out an audible moan, realizing walking about sixth I had no idea how far away Broadway was at some point. It was easy start to the evening. The Scholastic Party moved from Broadway to the Hilton Gaslamp, so that was convenient. I was standing on my balcony looking that crowd below and noticed Jenni Holm before I figured it out.

* saw Milton Griepp at the Scholastic shindig, too. He was kind about reading my Twitter feed. Milton is a big comic-con memory for me because of my first panel moderation, which was a panel with Larry Marder on it after Image had made the decision to thrown in their lot with a dominant Image as opposed to a Capital City with a fighting chance because of people wanting to carry Spawn. I worked with Kurt Busiek on a panel this weekend; he was in the audience for that panel. Man, we're just rocketing towards death.

* good to know it's still slightly insane

* got to talk to Maggie Thompson at the Scholastic function, someone to whom I rarely get to speak. Sorting through the Walt Kelly material kept by Carolyn over the years sounds fascinating.

UP THROUGH THURSDAY, JULY 18


UP THROUGH WEDNESDAY, JULY 17

* there's a good buzz for this year's San Diego show, at least from where I sit, despite or maybe because the changing shape of the various comics industries.

* Zdarsky and Loo go high-concept -- or the "please make a TV show" route if you're cynical -- with Afterlift. I like Zdarsky writing humor a lot, so i'll look at this for sure. At some point I'm going to sit down and trying to figure out industry veteran Chip Mosher as an editorial director, but this is not that day. That's a much higher profile creative team than most of what's been done so far with those comics.

* Jonathan Hickman and collaborators working on the X-Men comics is a big deal, just in terms of a potential point-and-buy prestige title with a still-potent amount of affection from different corners of its longtime readership. Its mega-story status is the story, at least this week. And then let's see where everything stands a few months in.

* okay, I should do better at this once I stop flying in airplanes. I'm also going to do a couple of comics publishing news stories as stand-alones that deserve then. See you tomorrow.

UP THROUGH WEDNESDAY, JULY 17

* one of the other giant shows on the world calendar, the one in Angouleme, announced a major exhibit/retropective featuring Yoshiharu Tsuge. That would be super-fun to see.

* it may be a rare comics announcement for the show, but it's legit comics news; Warren Ellis an Bryan Hitch team up on a Batman maxi-series. I think the recent mainstream work from both men has been a lot of fun.

*****

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